“Okay. Now that we’ve gotten this out of our systems, let’s get back to the point of this visit.” Aiden pulled me to the couch, forcing me to sit down. “And seriously, Alex, no hitting.”
I rolled my eyes. “Or what? You’re going to put me in a time out?”
Aiden’s grin was daring, as if he was up for the challenge and might even enjoy it.
“Solos and his father will be assets in making sure Telly is removed from the Head Minster position and that an extensive investigation is done to determine how many Order members may be out there. And before you ask me why, as a god, I cannot just see that, I must remind you that we are not omniscient.”
“Why were you guys worried about how I’d react to that?” I asked, confused. “Sounds like a good thing.”
“It’s not everything.” Aiden took a deep breath. “Solos’ father owns extensive property throughout the states, places where we can hide you until all the Order members are uncovered.”
“Not just that,” Apollo added. “We can keep you safe until we know how to deal with Seth and your Awakening.”
I blinked, positive I hadn’t heard them right. “What?”
“The worst thing that can happen right now is for Seth to take on your power and become the God Killer.” Apollo folded his arms. “Therefore, we need to make sure you are far enough away that when you do Awaken, the bond is severed by distance and you cannot connect with him. He cannot be trusted.”
“Why? Why can’t he be trusted? What has he done?”
“He’s lied to you about a lot of things,” Aiden pointed out.
I shook my head. “Besides the lying about the Apollyon stuff, what has he done?”
“It is not what he has done, Alexandria, but what he will do. The oracle has seen it.”
“You’re talking about that whole ‘one to save and one to destroy’ crap? Why? Why would that be the case with Seth and me, when we aren’t the first set of Apollyons?” I tucked my hair back, frustrated and full of the need to… protect Seth’s name. Not like he had a good name, but come on.
Suddenly, Apollo was kneeling in front of me at eye level. Aiden stiffened beside me. “I did not waste my time trying to keep you safe, and argue with Hades over your soul, only to have you throw it away based on foolish and naïve trust.”
I squeezed my hands into balls. “Why do you even care, Apollo?”
“It’s complicated,” was all he said.
“If all you can say is that ‘it’s complicated’ then you can forget that. What about school?”
“Marcus ensured us that you’d graduate on time,” Aiden said.
“You knew about this?”
He nodded. “Alex, I think it’s the smart thing to do.”
“Running is the smart thing to do? Since when do you believe that? Because I remember you telling me that running solved nothing.”
Aiden’s lips thinned. “That was before you were murdered, Alex. Before I—” He cut himself off, shaking his head. “That was before.”
I knew what he meant and I hurt for that. I ached, because he had to worry about me, but that still didn’t completely extinguish my anger. “You should’ve told me this was what you guys were planning. It’s the same as Seth and Lucian planning to whip me away to some distant country. I should be included in these plans.”
“No.” I cut Apollo off and stood before Aiden could stop me. “I’m not going into hiding because there’s a chance that Seth might do something.”
“Then forget the issue with Seth.” Aiden stood, folding his arms. “You need to be protected from the Order.”
“We can’t forget about Seth.” I started pacing, wanting to pull out my hair. “If I up and disappear, what do you think Seth’s going to do? Especially if we don’t tell him, which I know is what you guys are thinking.”
Apollo rose to his feet and tipped his head back. “This would be so much easier if you had an agreeable personality.”
“Sorry, buddy.” I stopped, meeting Aiden’s steely eyes. “But I can’t go along with this. And if you really think that the Order is going to try something again, then we need Seth’s help.”
Aiden turned halfway, his broad shoulders tensed as he growled under his breath. Typically, I’d be annoyed with the testosterone display, but yeah, I kind of found it hot.
The Sun God sighed. “For now, you win, but if I so much as think that this will end badly—”
“How can things end badly?” I asked.
“Besides the obvious?” Apollo frowned. “If Seth does what is feared, the gods would bring their wrath down upon all pures and halfs to make a point. And as I was saying, if it was even to get to that point, you will have no choice.”
“Then why don’t you just let the Order kill me? That would solve all your problems, wouldn’t it?” Not that I wanted to die, but it did make sense. Even I could see that. “Seth wouldn’t become the God Killer then.”
“Like I said, it is complicated.” Then Apollo simply vanished.
“I hate when he does that,” I glanced at Aiden. He stared back at me, brows furrowed jaw tight. I sighed. “Don’t look at me like I’ve kicked a baby pegasus into the street.”
Aiden exhaled slowly. “Alex, I don’t agree with this. You have to know that we are only looking out for what is best for you.”
Hot or not, there went my tenuous grip on my temper. “I don’t need you looking out for what’s best for me, Aiden. I’m not a child!”
His eyes narrowed. “I of all people know you’re not a child, Alex. And I sure as hell didn’t treat you like one last night.”
My cheeks flushed a hot mix of embarrassment and something far, far different. “Then don’t make decisions for me.”
“We’re trying to help you. Why can’t you see that?” Then his eyes deepened to a tumultuous gray. “I will not lose you again.”
“You haven’t lost me, Aiden. I promise you.” Some of the anger seeped out of me. Fear was behind his fury. I could understand that. It was what drove my tantrums on a regular basis. “You haven’t and you won’t.”
“That’s not a promise you can make. Not when there are so many things that could go wrong.”
I didn’t know what to say to that.
Aiden crossed the room, sweeping me up in a tight embrace. There wasn’t a word spoken for several moments just the ragged rise and fall of his chest.
“I know you’re mad,” he began, “and that you hate the idea of anyone trying to control you or force you into doing something.”
“I’m not mad.”
He pulled back, arching a brow.
“Okay. I’m mad, but I understand why you think I should go into hiding.”
He led me back to the couch. “But you’re not going to go along with this.”
Aiden pulled me into his lap, circling his arms around me. My heart did a flip and it took me a few seconds to get accustomed to this openly affectionate Aiden who didn’t pull away and keep his distance.
“You are the most frustrating person I know,” he said.
I rested my head on his shoulder, smiling. “None of you are giving Seth a chance. He hasn’t done anything, and I don’t have any reason to fear him.”
“He’s lied to you, Alex.”
“Who hasn’t lied to me?” I pointed out. “Look, I know that’s not a great excuse, and you’re right, he has lied to me. I know that, but he hasn’t done anything that warrants me running off and hiding. We have to give him a chance.”
“And what if we take that risk and you were wrong, Alex? Then what?”
I hoped that wouldn’t be the case. “Then I’ll have to deal with it.”
His shoulder tensed under my cheek. “I’m not okay with that. I’ve already failed you once and—”
“Don’t say that.” Twisting in his embrace, I met his gaze and cupped his cheeks. “You had no idea Linard was working for the Order. You are not at fault for that.”
He pressed his forehead against mine. “I should’ve been able to protect you.”
“I don’t need you to protect me, Aiden. I need you to do what you’re doing now.”
“Hold you?” His lips twitched. “I can do that.”
I kissed him, and my chest squeezed. Never in a million years would I get used to being able to kiss him. “Yes, that, but I just need… your love and your trust. I know you can fight for me, but I don’t need you to do that. These problems—they’re mine, not yours, Aiden.”
His arms tightened around me, so tight, I found it hard to breathe. “Because I love you, we share each other’s problems. When we fight, we fight together. I’m going to be by your side no matter what, whether you like it or not. That’s what love is, Alex. You never have to face anything alone again. And I get what you’re saying. I don’t agree with it, but I will support you in any way I can.”
I was struck silent. There was really nothing I could say to that. I wasn’t that great with words, not those kinds of words. So I wrapped myself around him like a super-friendly octopus. When he leaned back, I settled over him, not caring that he was still in his Sentinel gear, daggers and all. Quite some time passed before either of us spoke.
“Seth’s not really a bad guy,” I said. “He can be prone to moments of great douchery, but he wouldn’t do something like take out the Council.”
Aiden’s fingers slipped over my cheek. “I wouldn’t put anything past Seth.”
I decided not to respond to that. Since the phone call after Linard’s attack, I hadn’t even heard from Seth. And now that I had calmed down a bit, I started to think logically about what Apollo had said. “Everyone fears Seth—the gods, the pures, and the Order—because he’ll become the God Killer, right?”
“Right,” he murmured. His hand drifted to my shoulder, brushing my hair back.
“Well, what if he doesn’t become the God Killer?”
His hand stilled. “You mean if we stop the transfer of power? That’s what we’re trying to do by keeping you away from Seth.”
“I seriously doubt that’s the sole purpose of keeping me away from Seth.”
“You got me there,” he said, and I could hear the smile in his voice.
Tipping my head up, I decided it was way past time to clear the air. Aiden first… and then Seth, because the last thing I wanted was for anyone to be hurt over this. “I care about Seth—I do. He’s important to me, but it’s not the same. You know you don’t have anything to worry about, right? What Seth and I had… well, I don’t even know what we had. It wasn’t a relationship, not really. He asked to try and see what happens. And this is what happened.”