“Are you done?” demanded Leon, shouldering Aiden back a few steps. “Aiden, you need to stop.”
Aiden wiped the back of his hand over his cheek as he shrugged Leon’s hand off. “Yeah, I’m done.”
The Guards were saying the same thing to Seth, but when they let go of him, Seth shot around them. “You think I’m scared that you’ll turn me in for fighting? Any of you? They can’t touch me! I’m the fu—”
“Stop it!” I screamed. “Just stop!” Seth froze, and several sets of eyes centered on me. “Gods! We were training. There’s no reason to kill each other over this.” I glanced at Aiden. “No reason to do any of this. Just freaking stop.”
Tension still ripened the air, but Seth pulled back and spat out a mouthful of blood. As he straightened his shirt, the marks started to fade. “Like I’d been saying, but apparently all of you are too stupid to understand, we were—”
“Shut up, Seth.” I clenched my hands.
His brows rose.
Aiden still looked furious. His eyes were like pools of silver, consuming his entire face.
“It’s done and over, okay?” I said, mostly to him. “I’m fine. No one is dead. And if you three can manage not to try to kill each other, I’m going to go and take a shower, because now I smell like ten-day-old butt.”
Leon’s lips twitched as if he wished to smile, but after the glare I cut his way, his expression returned to the stoic one I was familiar with.
I headed around them, shivering. Icicles were forming on my jeans.
Seth wheeled around. “Alex—”
“No.” I stopped. There was no way he was coming back with me. I needed to be away from him, putting some distance between his anger and me before I started throwing punches. I needed to figure out what’d happened back there, why I’d felt what Seth wanted so strongly.
“Alex!” Seth called out. “Come on.”
“Leave me alone right now.” I started walking again. “I’m done with this for today. I mean it. I’m done”
SETH KNEW BETTER THAN TO SEEK OUT MY COMPANY Saturday night. I was grateful for that, because I didn’t want to see his face. I did, however, answer the door Sunday evening when he actually knocked. That’s how I knew he was feeling apologetic. Seth never knocked.
His hands were shoved into the pockets of his dark cargos. The right side of his lip was swollen. “Hey,” he said, staring over my head.
He shifted from one foot to the next. “Alex, I’m… sorry about yesterday. I didn’t—”
“Stop,” I cut him off. “I know you were just trying to get me to use akasha and you didn’t mean to knock me over, but you guys were insane. Not in a good way, Seth.”
A sheepish look crept across his face. “I know, but Aiden pissed me—”
“Okay. You’re right. It’s over and done. And I don’t want to argue with you. I’m getting ready to leave.” He looked at me then. “I thought it would be nice if you walked with me to the bridge.”
“Just let me grab something to put on.” I needed to talk with him, anyway. After I grabbed a hoodie, we walked out of the dorm in silence. The campus was dark; only the shadows of the patrolling Guards moved. When I let out my breath, it formed small puffs in the air. “I felt your anger yesterday.”
“I’m sure anyone within a ten-mile radius felt my anger yesterday.”
“That’s not what I meant.” We followed the marbled pathway around the dorms, heading toward the bridge by the main Covenant building. “I really felt it. I wanted to knock the crap out of Leon. It was like… like it was my anger.”
Seth didn’t respond as he stared ahead, eyes narrowed.
“It went away as soon as I wasn’t touching you, but it was pretty weird.” I stopped walking as the bridge came into view. A black Hummer was being loaded with luggage. Exhaust filled the air, and several Council Guards stood post. “You don’t have anything to say about that?”
He glanced down at me. “You were so close to tapping into akasha, Alex. If Leon hadn’t interfered, it would’ve happened.”
As if that was the most important thing that’d happened. “Seth, did you hear a word I said?”
“I did, and I don’t know why you felt my anger so clearly.” He took his hands out of his pockets and folded his arms. “Maybe it was because you were tapping into akasha. It made you more in tune with what I was feeling.”
What I had felt didn’t seem to bother or really surprise Seth. But to me, it was a pretty big deal. “When I Awaken, I’ll feel and want what you want. Don’t you get what I’m saying? I wanted what you wanted already.”
“Alex.” He dropped his hands on my shoulders and pulled me against his chest. “You’re not Awakening. Stop worrying.”
I frowned and pushed off. He let me go. “But it’s really starting to happen, isn’t it? With the marks and now this? And I’m only like a month away.”
“It’s not such a—”
“Alexandria, I am so glad you’ve come to see Seth off,” said Lucian. I turned and was immediately enveloped in a weak hug. The smell of incense and cloves choked me. “I wish it was safe to bring you along. It would ease my worries to have you by Seth’s side.”
My arms stuck out from my sides awkwardly. Ugh. I hated when Lucian did this.
He patted my back and stepped away, addressing Seth. “How many Guards do you think we should bring?”
Lucian was asking Seth for his opinion? What. The. Hell. I turned to Seth in disbelief.
Seth stood straighter. “At least five, which would leave four behind to help keep guard in case something should arise here.”
“Good. You have an eye for leadership, Seth.” Lucian patted his shoulder. “If we had more Sentinels like you, we wouldn’t have such a serious daimon problem.” He paused, smiling. “If we had more men like you on the Council, then our world would be far better.”
I wanted to gag. There was no way Seth could be falling for this epic level ass-kissery. It was so obvious from the way Lucian simpered and cooed. It was blatant, but by the gods, Seth looked like he’d just been handed a million dollars and been told he could spend it all on girls and liquor.
“I’d have to agree.” Seth’s smug smile spread.
I wanted to shake Seth. I was seriously considering it.
Lucian faced me. “You, my dear, are lucky in more ways than most half-bloods. Being blessed as an Apollyon and having this fine young man as your other half.”
I scrunched up my face.
Beside me, Seth went still.
“I’ll leave you two to say goodbye. We shall be leaving in a few moments, Seth.”
I stared at Lucian’s retreating form. The white robes flowed out, never quite trailing on the ground. I thought about how he’d stared at Minister Telly’s throne while I’d given my testimony in the Catskills. No one loved power more than Lucian.
“You know,” drawled Seth, “you don’t have to look so shocked by what Lucian said. It could be worse.”
I laughed. “Are you serious?”
Seth glowered. “I happen to think I’m a pretty damn good catch.”
“You happen to think you’re the greatest thing that ever breathed, but that’s not what I’m talking about. He was kissing your ass, Seth. He’s up to something.”
“He wasn’t kissing my ass.” He folded his arms again. “Lucian happens to think I know what I’m talking about. He also happens to appreciate what I have to say.”
“You have got to be kidding me.” I tried to not roll my eyes.
“Why is that so hard for you to believe?” Displeasure radiated from his voice and stance. “Let me ask you a question, Alex. If that was Lucian or your uncle saying good things about Aiden, would you find it so hard to swallow?”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” And where had that come from? “Aiden is a Sentinel. His ability to make decisions or lead is—”
“What do you think I am?” Seth leaned his head forward, brows lowered. “A joke instead of a Sentinel?”
Yikes. I saw my mistake. “That’s not what I meant. You’re a Sentinel. A damn good one, but please tell me you don’t trust him.” I grabbed his forearm and squeezed. “That’s all I meant to say.”
“I do trust Lucian, and you should, too. Out of everyone around you, he’s the only one who’s trying to make our world different.”
“Seth?” Lucian called. “It’s time.”
“Wait.” I held onto his arm. “What do you mean?”
Agitation blew off him as he stared at me intently. “I have to go. Please be careful, and remember what I said the other night. Don’t even think about trying to make your way to New York.”
I glared at him.
A bit of a smile peeked through. He started to turn away, but stopped. “Alex?”
His mouth opened as he ran his hand over his head. “Just be careful, okay?” When I nodded, he reached into his pocket and pulled out something small and slim. “I almost forgot. I picked this up so we could talk while I was gone.”
I took the cell phone. It wasn’t one of the cheap versions, and I hoped it had a lot of games preloaded on it. “Thanks.”
Seth nodded. “My number is programmed in there. I have yours.”
There was nothing else to say. When Seth reached the Hummer, Lucian clapped him on the back again.
Leon suddenly appeared beside me—my escort back to the dorm, I realized.
Seth climbed into the Hummer, leaving to board a private jet at the airport on the mainland. He glanced back at me as the vehicle began to move.
I forced a smile before Leon guided me away from the bridge, but under the overhead lamps, I saw the brief look of disappointment on Seth’s face. And the satisfied smile that was on Lucian’s.
It was weird with Seth being gone. The cord in me settled down, and I was pretty sure if a god appeared in front of me, Seth wouldn’t have felt a flicker of surprise. It had only been one day since he’d left, but I already felt… normal. Like a weight had lifted off my shoulders.
And that was odd, because my backpack was ridiculously heavy with the Myths and Legends book in it. I was carrying it around, hoping to corner Aiden with it whenever he took up babysitting duties. Right now Leon was trailing behind me at a not-so-discreet distance.
I stopped in the middle of the pathway by the garden and turned around. “Aren’t you cold?”
Leon glanced down at the short-sleeved shirt he was wearing. “No. Why?”
“Because it’s freezing.” And it was. I had a tank top, a long-sleeve thermal, and a sweater on, and I was still cold.
Leon stopped beside me. “Then why are you outside if you’re so cold?”