“No. Ido.” And I really did… most of the time. “But you just weren’t surprised at all.”
Seth sighed. “Nothing surprises me anymore.”
I thought of something else. “Do you know which of your parents was a half-blood?”
“I guess it had to be my father. Mother was a pure through and through.”
I didn’t know that. Then again, there was very little I knew about Seth. Sure, he liked to talk about himself, but it was all on a superficial level. Then there was the greatest mystery of all. “What’s your last name?”
“Alex, Alex, Alex,” he chided softly, rising to his knees.
I squeezed my hands together, recognizing the calculated edge to his gaze. He was so up to something. “What?”
“I want to try something.”
Since we were on my bed and Seth was a pervert most of the time, my suspicion level was pretty high. It showed in my voice. “Like what?”
Seth pressed me back until I was lying flat. He hovered above, a slight tilt to his lips. “Give me your left hand.”
“Why are you so damn inquisitive?”
I arched a brow. “Why do you always have to invade my personal space?”
“Because I like to.” He patted my stomach. “And deep down you like it when I do.”
My lips pressed together. I was pretty sure the bond between us liked it when he did. I could feel it right now. It practically purred. Whether I liked it was something I was still trying to figure out.
“Give me your left hand,” he ordered again. “We’re going to work on your blocking technique.”
“And we have to be holding hands to do this?” In my bed, I wanted to add.
Sighing loudly, I gave him my hand. “Are we going to sing songs now?”
“You wish.” He straddled my thighs, placing a knee on either side. “I have a lovely singing voice.”
“Do we have to do this right now? I’m not really feeling it after everything.” Practicing blocking techniques of the mental kind required concentration and determination—two things I was lacking right now. Well, to be honest, concentration was something I usually lacked on most days.
“Now is the best time. Your emotions are all over the place. You need to learn how to push through that.” Seth grabbed my other hand, threading his fingers through mine. He bent so far that the edges of his hair brushed my cheeks. “Close your eyes. Picture the walls.”
Closing my eyes was something I did not want to do with Seth sitting on me. The bond between us had been growing stronger every day. I could feel it moving low in my tummy, thrumming to the surface. My toes curled inside my fuzzy socks. The same feeling I had the day I blew up the boulder swamped me. I wanted to touch him. Or the bond wanted me to touch him.
Seth tipped his head to the side. “I know what you’re feeling right now. I totally approve of it.”
My cheeks burned. “Gods, I hate you.”
He chuckled. “Picture the walls. They’re solid, cannot be breached.”
I pictured the brick walls. In my mind, they were neon pink. With sparkles. I gave the walls sparkles because they gave me something to focus on. Seth had said the technique could work against compulsions if done correctly, but when dealing with emotions, the walls weren’t built around the mind, they were built through the stomach and over the heart. The walls formed in my mind first and then I shifted them down, giving myself a body of armor.
“I can still feel it,” Seth said, shifting restlessly above me.
This really must suck for him, I realized. He could tell I was still obsessed with Aiden, upset over my dad, and conflicted over him. And the only thing I got to pick up from him was when he was feeling randy.
The damn cord inside me—my connection to Seth—started to hum, demanding that I pay attention. It was like an annoying pet… or like Seth. I wondered if I could use the cord to block my emotions. Opening my eyes, I started to ask but then shut my mouth.
Seth had his eyes closed and he looked like he was really concentrating on something. His lids fluttered every so often, lips drawn into a tight, tense line. Then the marks flowed over his skin, moving so fast that the glyphs were nothing more than a blur as they raced down his neck, under the collar ofhis shirt.
My heart jumped. So did the cord inside me. I tried to pull my hand free before those marks reached my skin. “Seth.”
His eyes snapped open, glazed over. The marks glided over his skin. A burst of crackling amber light radiated from his forearm. Struggling to get out from underneath him and away from that damn cord, I only succeeded in having my hands pinned down.
Panic unfurled, ripping through me. “Seth!”
“It’s okay,” he said.
But it wasn’t okay. I didn’t want that cord to do what I knew it was going to do. And then it was doing it. The amber cord wrapped around our hands, snapping and sparking, spreading down my arm. I jerked back, trying to scoot sway, but Seth held on, his eyes locked with mine.
“The cord—it’s the purest power. Akasha,” he said. Akasha was the fifth and final element, and it could only be harnessed by the gods and the Apollyon. The hue of Seth’s eyes turned luminous. They almost looked crazy. “Hold on.”
He wasn’t giving me much of a choice. My gaze fell to our hands. Pulsating, the cord tightened and flared a brilliant amber. A blue cord wiggled out from underneath the amber cord, spilling drops of incandescent light onto the bedspread. Vaguely, I hoped we didn’t catch the bed on fire. That would be hard to explain.
The blue cord flickered in and out, fluttering. Vaguely, I realized it was mine and weaker than the amber one. Then the blue jumped and pulsed. My left hand started to burn as the skin pricked. Recognizing the feeling, I freaked.
I squirmed, trying to scoot back. I didn’t want another rune, and we hadn’t held on this long last time. Something was very different about this. “Seth, this doesn’t feel—” My body jerked, cutting off my own words.
Seth’s body tensed. “Good gods…”
And then I felt it—akasha—shifting through the cords, leaving me and entering Seth. It was kind of like a daimon tag, but not painful. No… this was nice, heady. I stopped struggling, letting the glorious tug and pull lift me away. I didn’t think about anything. There were no concerns or fears. The pain in my hand melted away, leaving only a dull ache that was spreading elsewhere. There was just this… and Seth. My eyes drifted shut and a sigh leaked out. Why had I been so afraid of this?
There was a flash of light that I could still see even though my eyes were closed. Seth dropped my hand and it fell limply to my side. The bed dipped beside my head from where he placed his hands. I felt his breath on my cheek, and it felt like warm, salty air rolling off the ocean.
“You okay?” He placed his lips to my cheek.
Seth chuckled, and then his mouth was making its way to mine, and I opened for him. The edges of his hair tickled my cheeks as the kiss deepened. His fingers drifted down the front of my blouse and then they were sliding over the bare skin of my stomach. I wrapped my leg around his, and we were moving together on the bed. His lips were dancing all over my flushed skin as his hands slid down, fingers finding the button on my jeans.
A second later, there was a knock on my door and a booming voice. “Alexandria?”
Seth stilled above me, panting. “You have got to be freaking kidding me.”
Leon knocked again. “Alexandria, I know you’re in there.”
Dazed, I blinked several times. The room slowly came back into focus, as did Seth’s disgruntled expression. I almost laughed, except I felt… off.
“You better answer him, angel, before he barges in here.”
I tried, but failed. I took a deep breath. “Yeah.” I cleared my throat. “Yeah, I’m in here.”
There was a pause. “Lucian is requesting your presence immediately.” Another gap of silence followed. “He is also requesting to see you, Seth.”
Seth frowned as the gleam in his eyes faded. “How in the world does he know I’m in here?”
“Leon… just knows.” I pushed at him weakly. “Get off.”
“I was trying to.” Seth rolled over, running his hands down his face.
I scowled at him and sat up. A wave of dizziness swept over me. My gaze moved from Seth to my curled hand. Slowly, I opened it. Glowing in iridescent blue was a glyph that was shaped like a staple. Both of my hands were marked.
He leaned over my shoulder. “Hey, you got another one.”
I swung at him and missed by a mile. “You did that on purpose.”
Seth shrugged as he straightened his shirt. “You didn’t mind, now did you?”
“That’s not the point, you douchenozzle. I shouldn’t have these.”
He glanced up, brows arched. “Look, I didn’t do it on purpose. I have no idea how or why it happens. Maybe it’s happening because it’s supposed to.”
“People are waiting,” Leon called from the hallway. “Time is of the essence.”
Seth rolled his eyes. “They couldn’t have waited another thirty or sixty minutes?”
“I don’t know what you think you were going to get accomplished in that extra time.”
Still feeling a little dizzy, I swayed when I stood and looked down at my unbuttoned shirt and bra. Now how did that happen?
Seth grinned at me.
I fumbled with the buttons, turning a thousand shades of red. My anger with Seth smoldered inside me, but I was too tired to get into a verbal smackdown. And then there was Lucian. What the hell could he want?
“You missed one.” Seth sprung to his feet and clasped the button above my navel. “And stop blushing. Everyone is going to think we weren’t training.”
His grin spread, and I wanted to smack him upside the head. But I took the time to smooth my hair and tug out the wrinkles in my shirt. By the time we met Leon in the hall, I felt like I looked pretty decent.
Leon eyed me like he knew exactly what had been going on in the dorm. “Nice of you two to finally join me.”
Seth shoved his hands into his pockets. “We take training really seriously. Sometimes we get so caught up in it, it takes a few minutes for us to come down.”
My mouth dropped open. Now I really wanted to hit him.
Leon’s eyes narrowed on Seth then he turned stiffly, gesturing for us to follow him. I trailed behind the two, wondering why Leon would care what I was doing in the room. Everyone wanted us to embrace our Apollyon goodness. Then I thought of Aiden and my heart seized.
Well, probably not everyone.
A weird, twisty feeling took over my stomach. What’d just happened in there? We’d gone from talking to full-on making out when nothing like that had occurred since the Catskills. I glanced down at my hands.
The super-special cord had happened.
I felt sort of sick when I looked up and watched Seth swagger down the hall. Cheeks glowing, he looked like he could barely contain the energy rushing through him. Confusion swept through me. The whole energy transfer thing had actually felt good, and so had the stuff afterward, but Aiden’s face haunted me.