The air flew right out of my lungs. Ice drenched my veins.
He frowned. “He ordered your death, Alex. I figured you’d be happy to know that we have him and he’s not going to be a problem anymore.”
I turned back to the cell. “Gods, how have the furies not reacted to this?”
“I’m not stupid, Alex.” He moved to stand beside me, shoulder to shoulder. “Lucian ordered this and had his Guards carry it out. I was only… along for the ride. Clever, aren’t I?”
“Clever?” I gasped, stepping away from the cell—from Seth. “So this was Lucian’s idea?”
“Does it matter?” He folded his arms. “Telly tried to have you killed—he did have you killed. For that, he has to be punished.”
“That doesn’t make this okay! Look at him!” I pointed at the cell, feeling sick. “What is wrong with him?”
“He’s under a rather strong compulsion not to talk.” Seth tapped his chin thoughtfully. “I’m not sure he’s even thinking. Actually, I think he’s sort of fried.”
“Gods, Seth. Hasn’t anyone ever told you two wrongs don’t make a right?”
Seth snorted. “Two wrongs always make a right in my book.”
“This isn’t funny, Seth!” I tried to calm down. “Who’s going to kill him? The pure-blood Council?”
“No. The new Council will.”
“The new Council? What the hell is that?”
Frustration flared in his amber eyes. “You just need to understand why this is happening. This man serves the gods who want you—us—dead. He has to be taken out.”
I ran my hands over my head, wanting to pull my hair out. “Seth, was this Lucian’s idea or not?”
“Why does that matter? What if it was? He only wants to keep us safe. He wants change and—”
“And he wants Telly’s throne, Seth! How can you not see that?” Coldness seized my insides as I stared at Seth. Lucian wanted power and taking Telly out was one way to achieve that, but that didn’t mean he could take complete control of the Council… or did it? I shook my head. “There’s no way the gods would allow this. They don’t want what Telly did.”
“The gods are the enemy here, Alex! They don’t speak to the Council, but they do speak to the Order.”
“Apollo saved my life, Seth! Not Lucian!”
“Only because they have plans for you,” he said, stepping forward. “You don’t know what I know.”
My hands curled into fists. “Then tell me what you know!”
“You wouldn’t understand.” He turned toward the still form in the cell. “Not yet. I don’t even blame you for it. You have too much pure in you—now more than ever before.”
I flinched. “That wasn’t… wasn’t fair.”
His eyes closed and he ran the heel of his palm over his forehead. “You’re right. That wasn’t fair.”
Taking the moment of clarity, I seized it. “You can’t keep him here, Seth. You’re right. He has to be punished for what he did, but he needs a trial. Keeping him like this, under a compulsion in a cell, is wrong.”
Gods, it was a messed up day when I was the voice of reason.
Seth turned to me. He opened his mouth, but closed it. “I already have too much invested in this.”
Dread inched down my spine. I started toward him, but stopped. I folded my arms over my chest. “What do you mean?”
He reached out toward me, but I jerked away. Confused, he lowered his hand. “How can you want him to live?”
“Because it’s not our place to decide who lives or dies.”
His brows furrowed. “And what if it will be?”
I shook my head. “Then I don’t want any part of that. And I know you don’t, either.”
Seth sighed. “Alex, you’re training to be a Sentinel. You’ll make life-and-death decisions all the time.”
“Is it?” He inclined his head toward me, a smug smile washing away any hesitation.
“Yes! As a Sentinel, I’ll kill daimons. That’s not the same as playing jury and executioner.”
“How can you not see I’m doing what needs to be done, even if you’re too weak to do it yourself?”
Who in the hell was this person beside me? It was like reasoning with a lunatic… .now I knew how people felt when they tried to reason with me. Irony was a cruel, cruel foe. “Seth, where are the keys to the cell?”
His eyes narrowed. “I’m not letting him out.”
“Seth.” I took a tentative step toward him. “You can’t do this. Neither can Lucian.”
“I can do as I damn well please!”
I shoved past him, reaching for the handle on the door, and then I was against the opposite wall with Seth in my face. Fear blossomed low in my stomach as the cord hummed madly. “Seth,” I whispered.
“He’s staying in there.” His eyes flashed a dangerous ocher. “There are plans for him, Alex.”
I swallowed down the sudden taste of bile. “What plans?”
His gaze dropped to my lips, and a whole new fear took root. “You’ll see soon enough. You don’t have to worry, Alex. I’m going to take care of everything.”
Planting my hands on his chest, I shoved him back several feet. Shock and then anger flashed across his features. “You’re freaking insane, Seth. Don’t go down this road.”
Whirling around, he stormed back to the cell and pointed at Telly. “So, you’d rather see this thing free? Free to enslave half-bloods, to order them killed? Free to continue his assassination attempts on you? And then we are to wait for a trial—a trial rigged to protect the pure-bloods? They’d just slap him on the hand. Hell, they might even order you to apologize for screwing up his plans to kill you!”
Anger flooded me. I stepped forward, toe-to-toe with Seth. “You don’t care about what happens to the half-bloods! It has nothing to do with what you’re planning! And you know that. What you’re doing—what you’re agreeing to is wrong. And I’m not—”
“Go,” he cut me off, his voice furious and low.
I stood my ground. “I’m not going to let you do this, Seth. I don’t know what Lucian’s said that’s convinced—”
“I said go.” Seth shoved me—shoved me hard. I barely caught myself. “Maybe next time I’ll bring you roses or puppies.”
That raised my hackles, and so did the smile he gave me. It took every ounce of my self-control to turn and walk away. I hurried up the stairs. Like a thousand times in my life, I didn’t plan on listening to what I’d been told to do. But for the first time, it was probably the right thing to do. Aiden and Marcus needed to know what Seth and Lucian were up to. Maybe they could stop this, before it became too late—before Seth took part in killing the Head Minister and sealed both our fates.
There still had to be hope for Seth. Sure, what he was taking part in was crazy, but not epically crazy. Technically, Seth hadn’t done anything yet. Like Caleb had said, there was still hope. Whatever Lucian had on Seth, however he was pulling his strings, had to be broken before history repeated itself.
I pushed open the doors of the Courthouse and came face to face with the root of all my problems.
Lucian was flanked by several Council Guards, all dressed in those ridiculous white robes. The smile that spread across his face never quite reached his eyes. “I thought I’d find you here, Alexandria.”
Before I knew what was happening, his Guards surrounded me. Oddly, the Guards were all pure-bloods. Smart move, I’d give him that. “What’s going on, Lucian?”
“When will you call me ‘Father’?” He came up the final step, stopping in front of me. Wind blew his robes, giving an appearance that he was floating.
“Um, how about next to never?”
His pleasant smile remained. “One day that will change. We will be one big happy family, the three of us.”
Now that was disturbing. “You mean Seth? He’s as much a part of you as lam.”
Lucian tsked softly. “You will return to my house, Alexandria. There is no need to stay at the St. Delphi residence any longer.”
My mouth opened to argue that, but I clamped it shut. There was no way of knowing if Lucian was aware of my feelings for Aiden, or if Seth had told him anything. Putting up a fight would only arouse his suspicions. There was nothing I could do to stop this. Lucian was my legal guardian. Swallowing down my anger and distaste, I stepped forward. “I just need to get my stuff.”
Lucian stepped aside, motioning for me to follow. “That will not be necessary. Your belongings will be retrieved by Seth.”
Damn him. I stiffened as Seth came out the door. He didn’t spare me a glance as he brushed past me.
Lucian clapped Seth on his shoulder. “Meet us back at our house.”
Seth nodded and went down the steps. On the sidewalk, he looked up and gave me a sardonic grin before heading off toward one of the Hummers parked along the curb.
“Now, my dear, you will come with me,” Lucian said.
Fuming, but unable to do a damn thing about it, I followed Lucian into the other Hummer. Gods forbid that Lucian actually walk to his house. Once he climbed in the back seat with me, I was crawling out of my skin to get out of the car.
Lucian smiled. “Why is it that you’re so uncomfortable around me?”
I turned away from the window. “There is just something about you.”
He arched a brow. “And that would be?”
“Well, you’re like a snake, but slimy.”
He leaned back against the seat as the Hummer moved. “Cute.”
I smiled tightly. “Let’s cut the bull, Lucian. I know about Telly. Why would you do something that even I think is reckless and stupid?”
“The time for change is upon us. Our world needs better leadership.”
My laugh escaped before I could stop it. “Are you high?”
“For too long we’ve been expected to live by the old laws, existing beside mortals as if we are no better than them.” Disgust dripped from his words. “They should take the place of half-bloods, serving our every need or whim. And when they do, we—the new gods—will rule this earth.”
“My gods, you are insane.” There was nothing else I could say. And worse of all, Grandma Piperi had been right, but like always, I hadn’t understood. History was on repeat, but in the worst possible way. And evil had hidden in the shadows, acting like a puppet master pulling strings. Grandma Piperi had been referencing Seth and Lucian. I felt sick. If I’d only figured this out earlier, I could’ve prevented it from going this far.
“I don’t expect you to understand, but Seth does. That’s all I need.”
“How did you get Seth to go along with this?”
He studied his fingernails. “The boy never had a father. His pure-blood mother wanted very little to do with him. I suppose she regretted her relations with the half, but had been unable to get rid of him while he was still in her womb.”