Air rushed from my lungs so quickly I felt dizzy.
“Let’s see.” Telly tapped his chin. “There is your uncle, who I think cares for you far more than he lets on. He was in New York. Then there is that one Sentinel—the one who found you that night in the maze. Leon? Then there is the one who graciously offered to train you. I do believe that would be St. Delphi. And then there is Laadan. All of them are suspects, and I will ensure that all of them suffer. As the Head Minister, I can revoke Marcus’ position. I can even remove Lucian. I can file charges against the rest. With all the unrest and recent incidents, it would be all too easy.”
A lump of horror and frustration formed in my throat. Tears built behind my eyes at the same moment I wanted to smash Telly’s head in.
“You’ll go into servitude and you will go on the elixir. If you refuse, well, things will end badly.”
My hands curled into fists. “You’re… revolting.”
Telly started toward me, his hand streaking out to hit me again.
I caught his wrist, my eyes meeting his and holding. “I’ve been hit enough, thank you.”
A commotion from the hallway caught Telly’s attention and he pulled his wrist free. Marcus’ voice rang loud, demanding entry to his office. Telly raised a brow at me. “You have until dawn on Friday.”
The walls closed in.
Telly smirked as Marcus’ demands grew louder. Neither of us spoke during those moments.
“Why do you hate me so much?” I asked finally.
“I don’t hate you, Alexandria. I hate what you are”
THAT WAS WHAT THIS HAD COME DOWN TO—BECAUSE I was an Apollyon, because I’ll turn Seth into a God Killer. And I knew then, beyond a doubt, that Telly was a member of the Order. In his mind, he was just protecting the gods from a threat, and he saw no wrong in what he did.
The doors swung open as I turned back to the window, struggling for control.
“What is going on in here?” Marcus demanded.
“I had some… unanswered concerns about the night Alexandria left the Council,” Telly replied. “At first she was not very cooperative when it came to the questions, but I do believe we worked out an understanding. After that, she was surprisingly helpful.”
Yeah, he worked it out on my face.
I wondered how quickly I could rip one of those daggers off Marcus’ wall and plunge it into Telly’s eye before his Guards could react. The tension in the room escalated, waves rippling out in every direction.
“And why was I not involved in this questioning? Or better yet, why couldn’t this wait until Lucian’s return?” Marcus said evenly, but I recognized the edge to his voice. Gods knew I’d been on the receiving of it countless times. “He is her guardian and should have been present.”
Telly tsked softly. “This wasn’t a formal questioning or sanctioned by the Council. I had a few concerns I needed to clear up. Therefore I had no need for Lucian’s or your presence. That is, beside the fact that I am the Head Minister and do not need your permission.”
He’d effectively put Marcus in his place.
“Alexandria,” called Telly. “Please do not forget what we’ve discussed.”
I didn’t respond, because I was still weighing whether or not I could stab him before the Guards took me down.
Head Minister Telly excused himself then, giving out pleasantries in such a calm manner I almost found it hard to believe he’d just pulled the world out from underneath my feet.
“Alexandria?” Marcus’ voice broke the silence. “What did he want to discuss with you?”
“He had questions about what happened at the Council.” My voice was unnaturally thick. “That’s all.”
“Alex?” Aiden said, and my heart dropped all the way to my toes. Of course, he was here. “What happened?”
Facing them, I used my hair to shield my stinging cheek from them and kept my gaze plastered to the carpet. “Apparently, I have a bad attitude. We had to work through that.”
Aiden was suddenly in front of me, tipping my chin back. My hair slid off my cheek. Rage blasted off him, swallowing up the air like a black hole of fury.
“He did this?” His voice was so low I barely heard him.
Unable to answer, I looked away.
“This is unacceptable.” Aiden whirled on Marcus. “He cannot do this. She’s a girl.”
Sometimes Aiden forgot that I was also a half-blood, which pretty much zeroed out the whole “not hitting girls” thing. Like with Jackson. Like with most pure-bloods. Our society—our rules and how we were treated—it sucked. There were no words for it.
And at once, a thousand questions rose up, but one stood out. How could I continue to be a part of this world? Being a Sentinel, in a way, was supporting the social structure, basically saying that I was okay with this, and I wasn’t. I hated it.
Shaking my head, I pushed those thoughts out of my head for now. “He’s the Head Dick. He can do whatever he wants, right?”
Marcus looked thunderstruck as he continued to stare at me. Was he really that surprised by Telly’s violence? If that was the case, he’d just lost some intelligence points. He turned to Leon. “She was supposed to go nowhere by herself. Why was Telly able to reach her?”
“She was in class,” Leon responded. “Linard was waiting for her to leave. And no one expected Telly to be here. Not with everything that is happening in New York.”
Marcus cut a dangerous look at Linard. “If you have to sit in class with her, then do it.”
“It’s not his fault,” I said. “No one can watch me every second of the day.”
Aiden cursed. “Is that all you’ll do? She is your niece, Marcus. He hit your niece and that’s your answer?”
Marcus’ eyes deepened to a bright green. “I am well aware of the fact that she is my niece, Aiden. And do not think for one second that I found any of this,” he threw his hand toward me, “acceptable. I will contact the Council immediately. I do not care that she is a half-blood. Telly has no right.”
I shifted my weight. “The Council is going to care? Seriously? You guys beat the crap out of servants all the time. Why would I be any different?”
“You are not a servant,” Marcus said, storming to his desk.
“Does that make it okay?” I shouted, my hands curling into fists. “It’s okay to beat servants because of their blood? And it’s not okay because I have half—” I cut myself off before I revealed too much. All eyes were on me.
Behind his desk, Marcus took a deep breath and briefly closed his eyes. “Are you okay, Alexandria?”
“I’m just peachy.”
Aiden took my arm. “I’m taking her to the clinic.”
I pulled my arm free. “I’ll be fine.”
“He hit you,” Aiden seethed, eyes flashing.
“And it will just bruise, okay? That’s not the problem.” I needed to be out of this room, away from all of them. I needed to think. “I just want to go back to my room.”
Marcus froze with the phone halfway to his ear. “Aiden, make sure she makes it back to her room. And I want her to stay there until we find out what Telly is up to or until he leaves. I will contact Lucian and the rest of the Council,” Marcus said, and his gaze found Aiden’s again. “I mean it. She is not to leave the room.”
I was too busy going over everything that had happened to care about Marcus sentencing me to my dorm. And if Lucian found out about what’d happened, then that meant Seth would, too. At least there was one bright lining in the cloud of crud. If Seth were here, he’d probably kill Telly.
Marcus stopped me at the door. “Alexandria?”
I turned around, hoping he’d make this fast. Bitch me out for antagonizing Telly, tell me not to do again, and warn me about my bad behavior.
He met my stare. “I am sorry that I was not here to stop him. This will not happen again.”
My uncle had an alien in him. I blinked slowly. Before I could say anything, he went back to his phone call. Sort of stunned, I let Aiden guide me out of the office and down the hall.
Once the door in the stairwell closed behind us, Aiden blocked the stairs. “I want to know what happened.”
“I just want to go back to my room.”
“I’m not asking, Alex.”
I didn’t answer, and finally Aiden turned around stiffly and went down the stairs. I followed behind him slowly. Classes were still in session, so the stairwell and the first floor lobby were virtually empty with the exception of some Guards and Instructors. We walked back to my dorm in silence, but I knew he wasn’t going to let this go. Aiden was just biding his time, so I wasn’t entirely surprised when he followed me into my room, closing the door behind him.
I dropped my bag and ran my hands through my hair. “Aiden.”
He grasped my chin like he’d done in Marcus’ office, tilting my head to the side. His jaw tightened. “How did this happen?”
How bad did it look? “I guess I didn’t respond correctly after the first time.”
“He hit you twice?”
Embarrassed, I pulled away and sat on the couch. I was trained to fight and defend myself. I’d walked away from daimon battles with scratches. This whole situation made me feel weak and helpless.
“You shouldn’t be here,” I said finally. “I know Marcus said to make sure I stayed in my room, but it shouldn’t be you.”
Aiden stood in front of the small coffee table, hands on his hips. His posture reminded me so much of our training sessions—the one he got when he knew I was going to push back on something. He was digging in for the long haul. “Why?”
I laughed and then winced. “You shouldn’t be around me. I think Telly has someone watching me—us.”
There wasn’t an ounce of panic in those silver eyes. “You need to tell me what happened, Alex. Don’t even think about lying to me. I’ll know.”
Closing my eyes, I shook my head. “I don’t know if I can.”
I heard Aiden move around the table and sit on its edge in front of me. His hand pressed against my other cheek. “You can tell me anything. You know that. I will help you always. How can you doubt that?”
“I don’t doubt that.” I opened my eyes, ashamed to find they felt damp.
Confusion flickered across his face. “Then why can’t you tell me?”
“Because… because I don’t want you to worry.”
Aiden frowned. “You’re always thinking about someone else when you should be more concerned about yourself.”
I snorted. “That’s so not true. I’ve been really self-centric lately.”
He laughed softly, but when the rich sound faded, so did his brief smile. “Alex, talk to me.”
The terror and panic returned. I’m not sure they’d ever really left. The words just came out. “Telly knows.”
A slight narrowing of his eyes was his only reaction. “How much?”