“You haven’t left this room, have you?” I asked.
Instead of answering, he bent and placed his lips against my forehead. “I’ll be back shortly,” he promised. “Just try to get some rest and don’t get out of the bed until someone is with you.”
“But I’m not tired, not really.”
Aiden laughed softly as he pulled back. “Alex, you may feel fine, but you lost a lot of blood and you just had surgery.”
And I’d died, but I figured there was no point in adding that. I didn’t want Aiden to worry any more than he did, especially when he looked so exhausted. “All right.”
He moved away from the bed and stopped at the door. Looking back at me, he smiled. “I won’t be gone long.”
I eased onto my side carefully. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“I know. Neither am I.”
I SLEPT LONGER THAN I’D EXPECTED. WHEN I AWOKE, the room was empty and my cell phone had been placed on the bedside table. I hoped that Aiden was getting some rest, and that Marcus was, too. Pushing into a sitting position, I winced as the movement pulled at the skin around the stitches.
Curious, I inspected the jagged scar again. Half-bloods were notoriously fast healers and Covenant blades were designed to cut cleanly, but it had to have done some internal damage. Had Apollo somehow patched me up more? Because I doubted that the doctors could’ve reversed that kind of damage. Other than feeling lethargic, I felt… okay.
But as I glanced around the room, something poked at the recesses of my memories. I was forgetting something—something hugely important. It was on the tip of my tongue just like when I’d been under a compulsion before. This was different, though. It was like waking up and not being able to remember a dream.
Sighing, I reached over and snatched up the cell phone. There was only one missed call from Cuddle Bunny. Scooting down, I called him back.
Seth answered on the second ring. “So, you’re alive?”
My heart flipped over heavily. “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well, I haven’t spoken to you in about two days.” He paused. “What have you been doing?”
“I’ve been sleeping, not doing much.”
“Sleeping for two straight days?”
I poked at my scar and winced. “Yeah, that’s about all.”
“Interesting…” There was a muffled sound, like something had been pulled over the phone. “You’ve been sleeping but Aiden had your phone?”
Crap. “He’s been babysitting me. I don’t know why he answered the phone when you called.” There was another muffled sound, and then Seth grunted. “What are you doing?”
“Pulling on my pants and it’s hard when you’re holding a phone.”
“Um, do you want me to call you back? Like when you’re not naked?”
Seth laughed. “I’m not naked now. Anyway, maybe we have some weird Apollyon malaise. I’ve been exhausted for about two days, but feel fine now.”
So he had felt something. I chewed on my lip. “Can I ask you something?”
“You said that when I Awaken, I’ll know what the past Apollyons knew, right?”
There was a pause. “Yes, I said that.”
Unease twisted my insides. “Then how did you not know about the Order of Thanatos, and that they’d killed Solaris and the First? Wouldn’t you’ve seen what they’ve seen?”
“Why are you asking?” Seth asked.
I took a deep breath. “Because it doesn’t make sense, Seth. You should’ve known. And how did you not know that a half and pure made an Apollyon? None of the Apollyons in the past had ever figured that out?”
“Why are you asking about this—” A distinctive, very feminine giggle cut off his words. When Seth spoke again, it sounded far away and sounded an awful lot like the word, “behave.”
I sat up, sucking in air sharply as my stomach screamed in protest. “Who are you with, Seth?”
“Why? You jealous?”
“Hold on a second,” he replied, and then there was a sound of a door shutting. “Dammit, it’s cold out here.”
“Better be careful. Don’t want anything to freeze and fall off.”
He laughed. “Oh, that was bitchy. I think you just might be jealous.”
Was I jealous that he was so obviously with a girl and he’d been naked? Shouldn’t I be? But I wasn’t jealous—more like annoyed. Annoyed because I’d been getting stabbed and dying while Seth was screwing around. And how could I be mad? I was the one in love with another guy. I really had no room to talk. But I hadn’t gotten naked with that guy, not in several long months. Not since I’d decided to see what could happen with Seth.
Gods, I was so confused and I had no idea what was going on and why it was happening now.
“I’m not doing anything wrong,” Seth said after a stretch of silence.
“I didn’t say you were. Wait. You’re with Boobs, aren’t you?”
“Do you really want to know, Alex?”
Not when he put it like that. I chewed on my lip, unsure of what to say. Suddenly I heard Caleb’s voice in my head. There’s still hope. Weird.
“We never said we were in a relationship, and besides, whatever. You’re there. I’m here. And in a week or so, I’ll be back. And it’s not going to even matter.”
I blinked. “Really, it’s ‘whatever’?”
Seth sighed. “I know he was by your side the minute I left, doing his annoying brooding thing, trying to figure out a way to be with you. And he’s answering your phone while you’re sleeping? Yeah, it’s ‘whatever’.”
My mouth dropped open. “That is totally not what is happening here.”
“Look, it doesn’t matter. I’ve got to go. I’ll talk to you later.” Then he hung up on me.
I stared at the phone for several minutes, shocked and a bit disturbed. Had he just given me permission to do “whatever” with Aiden because he’s doing “whatever” with Boobs? My gods, had I died and come back into an alternative universe?
The door opened then, and Aiden walked through. Setting the phone aside, I was happy to see that he looked a lot more refreshed. Damp hair curled around his temples and the shadows under his eyes had lessened.
“Hey, you’re awake.” He sat beside me and the bed shifted us closer together. “How are you feeling?”
I leaned away from him. “Gross.”
Aiden frowned. “Gross?”
“I haven’t brushed my teeth or washed my face in days. Don’t come near me.”
He laughed. “Alex, come on.”
“Seriously, I’m gross.” I put my hand over my mouth.
Ignoring my protests, he leaned over and brushed my stringy hair back. “You’re as beautiful as always, Alex.”
I stared at him. He must not get out much.
Aiden arched a brow. “Did you call Seth?”
Unwilling to lower my hand, I nodded.
His eyes danced. “Did he seem suspicious?”
“No,” I said from behind my hand. “He was actually with Boobs.”
He looked confused. “Boobs?”
“It’s this girl from New York,” I explained.
“Oh.” Aiden leaned back. “What do you mean by he was with this girl?”
“What do you think?” I lowered my hand.
“Oh, Alex, I’m sorry.”
I made a face. “Why are you sorry? It’s ‘whatever.’ Seth and I aren’t in a relationship.” But he had been behaving himself since he’d returned to the Covenant with me. Pushing that out of my mind, I focused on something more important. “I need to get out of this bed.”
Something flickered across Aiden’s face and then he shook his head. “Alex, you really shouldn’t.”
“I really need to.”
He held my stare and then he seemed to get it. “Okay, here, let me help you.”
The idea of him getting close to me when I felt this gross didn’t appeal to me, but there was no arguing with him. Aiden helped me out of the bed and then insisted on guiding me to the little bathroom. I half-expected him to follow me inside.
Closing the door behind me, I did my thing and eyed the shower stall longingly. Aiden would have a fit if I turned it on. I glanced at the door, debating whether or not he’d dare busting in here. Aiden was way too saintly.
I decided to test that theory out.
The second after I turned the water on, he yelled. “Alex, what are you doing?”
“Nothing.” I pulled off my clothes, wishing I had something clean to put on.
“Alex” Bemused frustration colored his tone.
I grinned. “I’m taking a quick shower. I’m gross. I need to be clean.”
“You shouldn’t be doing that.” The door handle jingled. It wasn’t locked. “Alex!”
“I’m naked,” I warned.
Silence and then, “Is that supposed to make me not want to come in there?”
A warm flush covered my body as I stared at the door.
There was an audible sigh. “Make it quick, Alex, because I will come in there if you are not done in less than five minutes.”
I took the quickest shower of my life. Drying off and dressing quickly, I reveled in the feeling of being clean again, but showering had taken whatever energy I’d had left in me. I sat in front of the sink, because the toilet seemed too far away, and started brushing my teeth. My mouth no longer felt like a woolly mammoth, but as I eyed the sink and realized that I’d have to get back up again, I kind of wished I’d stayed in bed.
I know he was by your side the minute I left, doing his annoying brooding thing, trying to figure out a way to be with you.
Closing my eyes, I clutched the plastic toothbrush and stretched out my legs.
Whatever. You’re there. I’m here. And in a week or so, I’ll be back. And it’s not going to even matter.
Foamy toothpaste trickled down my chin. It wouldn’t matter because Seth would be around? Or it wouldn’t matter because in five weeks, I’d Awaken? Was that what Seth was trying to say in between whatever Boobs was doing?
“Alex?” Aiden knocked on the bathroom door. “Are you okay in there?”
I tipped my head toward the closed door. More toothpaste dribbled from my mouth. “I’m tired.”
The door opened. Aiden’s gaze dropped and his brows went up. A slow smile crept over his face, softening the hard look that had been in his eyes since I woke up. Aiden laughed.
Something fluttered in my chest. “Laughing at a dead girl isn’t nice.”
“I told you that you should’ve stayed in bed.” The light didn’t go out of his eyes as he knelt. He reached over, wiping the toothpaste off my chin with his thumb. “But you never listen. Hold on.”
It wasn’t like I was going anywhere, so I watched him glance at the sink and then rise. Aiden disappeared back into the room, returning with two small plastic cups and some paper towels a few seconds later.