“She should be kept as far away from Lucian’s house as possible,” Apollo said, appearing out of nowhere. Several of the Guards backed off, eyes wide and faces pale. Apollo grinned at them. “Anywhere Seth will be, I suggest Alexandria should not be.”
Every pure and half bowed at the waist. I did too, forgetting the stitches that were healing, and grimaced.
“We need to put a bell on him,” Aiden muttered.
I pressed my lips together to keep from laughing.
“Actually,” Apollo drawled slowly. “She is probably the safest here.”
Deacon sounded like he choked.
Marcus recovered quicker than he had last time. “Have you found something?”
“No.” Apollo glanced at Deacon curiously before his gaze settled on Marcus. “I wanted to speak with you privately.”
“Of course.” Marcus turned to me. “I’ll be back in a few days. Please listen to what Aiden tells you and… try to stay out of trouble.”
“I know. I’m not allowed to leave his house unless Apollo tells me to.” Those were Marcus’ exact words. No one else could remove me from this house other than Apollo, Aiden, or Marcus. Not even Lucian’s Guards. If anyone else tried, I’d been given permission to kick some butt.
Marcus nodded at Aiden and turned to leave. Passing by, Apollo gave us a two-finger salute that just looked bizarre coming from him. Over the past two days, I’d grown used to his random appearances. It seemed he took great pleasure in scaring the crap out of everyone when he did it.
“You ready?” Aiden asked.
Deacon arched a brow.
“Shut up,” I said as I walked past Deacon.
“I haven’t said a single thing.” He spun around and followed me in. “We’re going to have so much fun. It’s like a slumber party.”
A slumber party at Aiden’s house? Oh gods, the images I came up with made me blush.
Aiden closed the door behind the others as they left and shot his brother a look.
Deacon rocked back on his heels, grinning. “Just so you know, I get incredibly bored quite easily and you will be forced to be my source of entertainment. You’ll kind of be like my own personal jester.”
I flipped him off.
“Well, that wasn’t funny at all.”
Aiden brushed past me. “Sorry. You’re probably going to wish you’d stayed in the med clinic.”
“Oh, I’d wager that’s not the case.” Deacon met my glare with an impish grin. “Anyway, did you celebrate Valentine’s Day when you were slumming with the mortals?”
I blinked. “Not really. Why?”
Aiden snorted and then disappeared into one of the rooms.
“Follow me,” Deacon said. “You’re going to love this. I just know it.”
I followed him down the dimly-lit corridor that was sparsely decorated. We passed several closed doors and a spiral staircase. Deacon went through an archway and stopped, reaching along the wall. Light flooded the room. It was a typical sunroom, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, wicker furniture, and colorful plants.
Deacon stopped by a small potted plant sitting on a ceramic coffee table. It looked like a miniature pine tree that was missing several limbs. Half the needles were scattered in and around the pot. One red Christmas bulb hung from the very top branch, causing the tree to tilt to the right.
“What do you think?” Deacon asked.
“Um… well, that’s a really different Christmas tree, but I’m not sure what that has to do with Valentine’s Day.”
“It’s sad,” Aiden said, strolling into the room. “It’s actually embarrassing to look at. What kind of tree is it, Deacon?”
He beamed. “It’s called a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.”
Aiden rolled his eyes. “Deacon digs this thing out every year. The pine isn’t even real. And he leaves it up from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day. Which thank the gods is the day after tomorrow. That means he’ll be taking it down.”
I ran my fingers over the plastic needles. “I’ve seen the cartoon.”
Deacon sprayed something from an aerosol can. “It’s my MHT tree.”
“MHT tree?” I questioned.
“Mortal Holiday Tree,” Deacon explained, and smiled. “It covers the three major holidays. During Thanksgiving it gets a brown bulb, a green one for Christmas, and a red one for Valentine’s Day.”
“What about New Year’s Eve?”
He lowered his chin. “Now, is that really a holiday?”
“The mortals think so.” I folded my arms.
“But they’re wrong. The New Year is during the summer solstice,” Deacon said. “Their math is completely off, like most of their customs. For example, did you know that Valentine’s Day wasn’t actually about love until Geoffrey Chaucer did his whole courtly love thing in the High Middle Ages?”
“You guys are so weird.” I grinned at the brothers.
“That we are,” Aiden replied. “Come on, I’ll show you your room.”
“Hey Alex,” Deacon called. “We’re making cookies tomorrow, since it’s Valentine’s Eve.”
Making cookies on Valentine’s Eve? I didn’t even know if there was such a thing as Valentine’s Eve. I laughed as I followed Aiden out of the room. “You two really are opposites.”
“I’m cooler!” Deacon yelled from his Mortal Holiday Tree room.
Aiden headed up the stairs. “Sometimes I think one of us was switched at birth. We don’t even look alike.”
“That’s not true.” I fingered the decorative garland covering the marble banister. “Your eyes are the same.”
He smiled over his shoulder. “I rarely ever stay here. Deacon does every once in a while, and visiting Council members will stay here sometimes. The house is usually empty.”
I remembered what Deacon had said about this house. Wanting to say something, but at a loss for what to say, I trailed behind him quietly. Over the last two days, Aiden had stayed by my side constantly. Like before the whole stabby incident, we’d talked about stupid, inane things. And he hadn’t been able to get Olivia’s number for me. All he had access to was her mom’s.
“Deacon stays in one of the bedrooms downstairs. I’ll stay here.” He gestured at the first room, drawing my attention.
The urge to see his room was too much to resist. I peeked inside. Like the one in the cabin, there were just the bare essentials. Clothes were folded neatly on a chair beside the full-size bed. There were no pictures or personal effects. “Was this your room when you were younger?”
“No.” Aiden leaned against the wall in the hallway, watching me through hooded eyes. “My room used to be the one Deacon stays in. It’s hooked up with all the stuff Deacon requires. This was one of the guest rooms.” He pushed off the wall. “Yours is down the hall. It’s a nicer room.”
I tore myself away from his room. We passed several closed doors, but one had locked double doors decorated with titanium inlays. I suspected that had been his parents’ room.
Aiden pushed open a door at the end of the carpeted hall and turned the light on. Sliding past him, my mouth dropped open. The room was huge and beautiful. Plush carpet covered the floors, heavy curtains blocked the bay window, and my bags of personal items had been stacked neatly by a dresser. A flat-screen TV hung from the wall and the bed was big enough for four people. I spied a bathroom with a huge tub and my heart went all fluttery.
Seeing my love-struck expression, Aiden laughed. “I figured you’d like this room.”
I looked inside the bathroom, sighing. “I want to marry that bathtub.” I turned around, smiling at Aiden. “This is like going to one of those super-expensive hotels, except everything is free.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know about that.”
“Maybe not to you and all your endless wealth.” I drifted off to the window and parted the curtains. Oceanside view. Nice. The moon reflected off the still, onyx-colored waters.
“That money isn’t really mine. It’s my parents’.”
Which did make it his and Deacon’s, but I didn’t push it. “The house is really beautiful.”
“Some days it’s more beautiful than others.”
I felt my cheeks flush. I pressed my forehead against the cool window. “Whose idea was it for me to stay here?”
“It was a joint effort. After… what happened, there was no way you could’ve stayed in the dorm.”
“I can’t stay here forever,” I said quietly. “Once school is back in, I need to be on the other island.”
“We’ll figure something out when that time comes,” he said. “Don’t worry about that right now. It’s past midnight. You have to be tired.”
Dropping the curtains, I faced him. He stood next to the door, hands curled into fists. “I’m not tired. I was stuck in that hospital room and that bed for what felt like eternity.”
He cocked his head to the side. “How are you feeling?”
“Fine.” I patted my stomach. “I’m not broken, you know.”
Aiden was quiet for a few moments, and then he smiled a little. “Want something to drink?”
“Are you trying to booze me up, Aiden? I’m shocked.”
He arched a brow. “I was thinking more along the lines of hot chocolate for you.”
I grinned. “And what about you?”
Turning around, he headed out of the bedroom. “Something I’m old enough to drink.”
I rolled my eyes, but followed him out of the room. Aiden did make me hot chocolate—with tiny marshmallows—and he didn’t drink anything other than a bottle of water. He then took me on a quick tour of the house. It was similar to Lucian’s—lavishly grand, more rooms than anyone would ever need in a lifetime, and personal property that was probably worth more than my life. Deacon’s room was by the kitchen, accessed through a titanium-trimmed door under the stairs.
Sipping my drink, I laughed when Aiden tried to right the bulb on Deacon’s MHT tree. I drifted around the room, looking for some sort of personal effects. There wasn’t a single picture of the St. Delphi family. Nothing that proved they even existed.
Aiden stood in front of a closed door—a room he hadn’t shown me on the mini-tour. “How’s the chocolate?”
I smiled. “It’s perfect.”
He set his water down on the coffee table and folded his arms. “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what Apollo said.”
“Which part of crazy are you thinking about?” I watched him over the rim of my mug, loving the way he smiled in response to the stupid things that came out of my mouth. That had to be true love, I decided.
“You shouldn’t stay at Lucian’s when he returns.”
I lowered my mug. “Why?”
“Apollo has a point about Seth. You’re in danger because of him. The further away from him you are, the safer you’ll be.”