“Yeah,” I croaked, and then cleared my throat.
“This is crazy.” Deacon opened the back door and started to climb in. “Everything is going bat—”
“No!” Aiden pushed Deacon toward the Hummer being driven by Solos. “We’re the ones they will target. Go with Marcus. Luke, stay with him.”
All business, Luke nodded and gathered a still-sobbing Lea close to him. I wanted to go to her. She’d lost everything… and each time had had something to do with me. First my mother had taken her parents, and now Seth had taken her sister. Razor-sharp guilt dug in.
Deacon stalled. “No. I want—”
Aiden grabbed his younger brother in a fierce hug. Words were whispered between them, but I couldn’t hear anything over the wind. Pushing my hair out of my face, I turned back toward the Covenant-controlled part of the island.
Something was happening. I could feel it. Electricity filled the air, raising the tiny hairs on my arms.
Deacon stumbled back from his brother and turned away. Tears had gathered in his eyes. He feared for his brother’s life and he should. When Seth came for us, which he would, he wouldn’t pay them any attention. Seth would come for Aiden and me, and even as strong as he was, it was doubtful Aiden would walk away from that confrontation.
My heart sank. I couldn’t do this to them. “Aiden, you can’t go with me. You can’t do this.”
“Don’t start,” Aiden growled as he grabbed my arm. “Get in the—”
Lightning erupted from the sky, streaking above us and down, slamming just off the coast of the Covenant. Despite our distance from the impact point, the flash of light still blinded me.
Solos stopped, halfway behind the driver’s seat. “What the…?”
The wind just stopped. It was unnatural… and so was the silence that descended on Deity Island. Then a rush of seagulls took flight, streaming and squawking in a panic. Hundreds and hundreds of them flew overhead, away from the island.
“What’s happening?” Lea whispered. “Is it him? Is he coming?”
“No,” I said, feeling it in my core. “This isn’t Seth.”
“We need to go now.” Aiden started pulling me toward the passenger side of the car.
In a flurry of activity, everyone jumped into their respective cars. Behind us, people were gathering on the decks of their homes. Guards were scattering across the beach. All were staring across the stretch of ocean that separated the two islands.
I had a really bad feeling about this.
Aiden slammed his door shut and threw the Hummer into drive. He grabbed my hand. “Everything is going to be okay.”
Famous last words.
A bone-shaking boom blasted around us, rattling the car. A stream of water jetted into the air on the other side of the island, taller than the highest Covenant building, thicker than two of the dorms. The wall of water stilled, reminding me of how Seth had played with the water in the pool.
This wasn’t going to be good.
Another stream burst into the sky and then another… and another until over a dozen walls of water dotted the landscape. Power rippled through the air, sliding over my skin, curling around the cord inside me.
And in the center of each of the streams, I could make out a form of a man.
“Oh, shit,” I whispered.
Aiden slammed on the gas and the Hummer lurched forward. “Poseidon.”
I twisted around in the seat, watching the ocean from the back window. Beyond the formidable Covenant buildings, the walls started spinning into the funnels. A shadow of a giant trident fell over the Covenant and the sharpened points touched the main island, spelling doom and death for all who remained. Poseidon, the God of the Sea, the great earth-shaker, was very angry.
“Turn around, Alex.”
My hands clenched the back of the seat. The funnels formed giant cyclones—tornados over water. “They’re going to destroy everything! We have to do something.”
“There is nothing we can do.” With one hand, Aiden grabbed my arm as we crested the bridge to Bald Head Island. “Alex, please.”
I couldn’t turn away. From the way the cyclones moved in, it appeared Poseidon would spare the mortal island, but as the first funnel reached the Covenant, my chest seized. “They can’t do this! Those people are innocent!”
Aiden didn’t answer.
Water crashed through the structures. Marble and wood sliced through the air. Screams from those on the main island crawled deep into my soul where the sound would remain for an eternity.
We flew through the streets of Bald Head, narrowly avoiding the stunned pedestrians watching the freakish outburst of nature. And as we reached the bridge leading to the mainland, I saw the great walls of water recede. No building remained on Deity island. There was nothing. All of it was gone. The Covenant, buildings, statues, pures and halfs… everything had been wiped into the ocean.
HOURS PASSED IN STUNNED SILENCE. I FELT SICK, COLD. How many had been on the island? Hundreds of servants and Instructors had remained at the Covenant during winter break, and people had been in their homes. Hands shaking, I smoothed my hair back as Aiden fiddled with the radio until he caught another station.
“…Meteorologists are saying that the earthquake several hundred miles off the coast of North Carolina had produced at least a thirty-foot wall of water. However, residents on neighboring islands remained unscathed. Some have reported seeing a cluster of up to a dozen cyclones, but those reports have not been substantiated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A state of emergency has been declared…”
Aiden turned the radio off. He then reached over, running his fingers over my arm, my hand. He’d been doing that since we got in the car, as if he was reminding himself that I was sitting next to him, that I was still alive after so many lives had been lost.
I pressed my forehead against the window and closed my eyes. Had Poseidon gone after Seth and Lucian, or had Apollo somehow managed to prevent total destruction? All I did know was that Seth was still breathing, because the connection was still there.
Like I’d done during the last couple of hours, I pictured my pink and glittery walls again and reinforced them with all my strength.
“How are you feeling?” Aiden asked quietly.
I peeled my head off the window and looked at him. Everything about him was stiff and tense, from the way he held the steering wheel to the line of his jaw. “How can you even think about how I’m feeling right now?”
“I saw how you reacted when… he pulled power from you.” He glanced at me, eyes silvery. “Did they… did he hurt you when you were with him?”
I was exhausted. My head ached and I was pretty sure my toes were numb, but I was alive. “No. He didn’t hurt me. And I’m fine. You shouldn’t worry about how I’m doing. All of those people…” I shook my head, swallowing against the sudden tightening in my throat. “What Lucian did by telling them you used a compulsion… I’m so sorry.”
“Alex, you have no reason to apologize. It wasn’t your fault.”
“But how can you go back? Being a Sentinel—”
“I’m still a Sentinel. And with everything that’s happened, I’m sure what I did is the last thing they’ll be thinking about.” He glanced at me. “I knew the risks when I did it. I don’t regret it. You understand?”
Aiden didn’t regret it now, but what about later—if there was a later—and he was tried for treason? Even if he wasn’t, he’d be stripped of his Sentinel duties and ostracized.
“Yes. I understand.” I nodded for extra benefit. “Where are we going?”
His knuckles were bleached white. “We’re going to Athens, Ohio. Solos’ father has a place on the edge of Wayne National Forest. It should be far enough from… him as long as Apollo has given us enough time.”
“I don’t feel him.” We’d stopped referring to Seth by name out loud, like doing so would somehow make him reappear or something.
“Do you think you can shield him, keep him out?”
I glanced at the side mirror; the other Hummer followed close behind. How were they holding up? Lea? “The distance… he shouldn’t be able to connect through the bond, if that’s what you’re worried about. I mean, he couldn’t feel anything when he was in New York, so…”
“That’s not all I’m worried about,” Aiden responded quietly. “It’s about an eight-hour drive.” He brushed his hair out of his eyes as he squinted into the fading sunlight. “We’ll stop along the way, most likely in Charleston, to get gas and something to eat. You think you can hold out that long?”
“Yeah. Aiden… all of those people.” My voice broke as my throat tightened. “They didn’t stand a chance.”
Aiden grasped my hand. “It’s not your fault, Alex.”
“It’s not?” Tears burned my eyes. “If I’d listened to you and Apollo when you suggested that I leave before he came back, this wouldn’t have happened.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes, I do.” I tried to pull my hand free, but Aiden held on. I hoped he was a good one-handed driver. “I just didn’t want to believe that he… would do something so terrible.”
He squeezed my hand. “You had hope, Alex. No one can ever be faulted for hope.”
“You once told me that I needed to know when to let hope go. I was way past the expiration date on hope then.” I tried to smile and failed. “I won’t make that same mistake twice. I swear.”
Bringing my hand to his lips, he placed a sweet kiss against it. “Agapi mou, don’t hold this kind of guilt too close. A different path could’ve been chosen, but in the end you did what you felt was right. You gave him a chance.”
“I know.” I focused on the road ahead, willing the tears away. “It’s gone, isn’t it? The entire Covenant—even Deity Island?”
He took a shuddering breath. “It could’ve been worse. That’s what I keep telling myself. If classes had been in…just a few more days…”
The loss of life would have been astronomical. “What are we going to do? I can’t stay hidden forever.”
What was unspoken lay between us. In other words, unless Seth came to his senses, which seemed highly unlikely, he would eventually find me.
“I don’t know,” Aiden said, merging into the other lane. “But we’re in this together, Alex, to the end.”
Warmth returned to my heart. His hand felt right in mine, and even though everything around us was so incredibly screwed up, we -were in this together. To the end.
It was the middle of the night when we reached Charleston, West “by gods” Virginia and it was snowing lightly. The vehicles rolled to a stop by the pumps in front of one of those travel centers that are the size of a small Wal-Mart. We needed gas and food, and maybe one of those 5-Hour Energy things, too.