Doing the right thing had never felt more wrong than it did right then. Maybe that was how it always felt. I wouldn’t know. It was so rare when I actually did the right thing. My knuckles ached from clenching the steering wheel. Every cell in my body demanded that I turn the vehicle around and go back—go back to Josie, because she was mine, and I belonged with her, in her and beside her. But I couldn’t. Everything had changed now. Heady, deadly power churned deep inside me, and it was nothing like what being an Apollyon felt like. Oh no, this was like the Apollyon on steroids. I had a feeling that the unexpected awakening, the even more surprising subsequent ability to kill Atlas, was just the beginning of what I was capable of, because the entire world was different to me now. The sky was a shade I’d never seen before. The sea off the Pacific Coast Highway was a dizzying kaleidoscope of blues. Skin sensitized, I could feel the dampness in the air. I inhaled and it tasted of sea and salt.
I was going damn near a hundred in this SUV, and I felt like I could still go faster—that I should be going faster. And I was hungry. Not for food. For what lived and breathed inside of the pures and the halfs, the demigods and gods, and inside of Josie. I couldn’t be around her. It was too dangerous. Miles were between Josie and me now, and soon there’d be thousands, and it had to stay that way, but I . I could still feel her body beneath mine, her skin soft against mine, and I could still hear her soft cries echoing in my ears. I love her. Pressing my boot down on the gas, I knew where to go.
A place far from here, far from everything. A place where I could think and plan, because I was going to take out every single motherfuc— “You’re making a mistake.” “Shit,” I cursed as I jerked the steering wheel to the right. The tires squealed. Dust along the embankment flooded the air as my gaze flew to the passenger seat. That godsdamn nymph was sitting beside me. He was shirtless, as usual, wearing his doeskin pants, and he was as glittery as a damn disco ball. “What the hell?” I exploded, straightening the wheel before we careened off the highway. A crash wouldn’t kill me, but I really didn’t feel like testing out how indestructible my skin could be. “You could’ve caused me to wreck.
” “As if your life isn’t already a wreck?” he replied, smiling slightly. “The answer would be yes— yes, your life is a wreck.” I gripped the steering wheel. “What in the fuck of all fucks do you want?” “We need to talk.” Anger rippled under my skin. “There is nothing we need to talk about.” “Oh, there is.” The nymph waved his hand, and the engine cut off without any additional warning. Cursing in every language I knew, I was able to coast the SUV to the narrow side of the road, between two large boulders. I dropped my hands and twisted toward him.
“You know I could kill you with a snap of my two fingers.” “You could. And maybe you will one day.” Those purplish eyes glimmered. “But not today.” “I don’t know about that.” Akasha crackled over my skin, casting a whitish-amber glow over the interior of the SUV. It came to me so easily. I barely even had to think about it. “I’m really not in the mood.
” “Because you left Josie?” he replied. Exhaling roughly, I worked a kink out of my neck. “Careful, nymph.” “You’ve chosen to leave, correct? Even though she’s unprotected?” “She is not unprotected.” Unease brewed deep in my gut, because even though she was with the incredibly happy duo known as Alex and Aiden, and even though she was a demigod, the Titans were dangerous. However, I knew from previous experience that the Titans would retreat for a while. After losing Atlas, they wouldn’t come after Josie for a bit, giving me time to search them down and end them. Besides, I was more dangerous to her. There was something inside me, and it was cold and cruel. I could taste it.
I could feel it, and it wanted to devour Josie. “You’ve made your choice, God Killer?” About to tell him that he could dive head-first out of the window, something occurred to me—a memory from when he magically appeared at the Covenant and warned about what was inside of me. “You knew.” “Knew what?” “That I was the God Killer.” “That you could become the God Killer,” he corrected. “We all knew there was a chance. After all, it became your destiny when the other passed.” I shot him a quick look. “What destiny crap are you talking about?” A secretive smile curved the corners of his lips. “There is so much you do not know.
” Why I hadn’t blasted the glittery fuck-face out the window yet was anyone’s guess. “She loves you,” he said quietly. “Do you even realize what that means?” My throat closed off. Within a traitorous heartbeat, I could see Josie in my mind’s eye—her stricken face when I’d admitted to feeding on her. I saw her after I’d taken out Atlas and was about to turn Aiden into a Slurpee. Her and all that hair, all that blonde and brown hair flowing around her beautiful face as she’d nicked me with the blade tainted with the blood of a Pegasus. I saw her staring at me like she had no idea what I was. And then I saw what a dark part of me knew I was capable of doing to her. Closing my eyes, I swore under my breath. I didn’t want to see her.
“No,” he murmured. “No, you do not.” There was a pause. “But you will.” Scrubbing my hand across my jaw, I opened my eyes and stared out at the ocean as cars raced past us on the highway. “I’m only going to ask you one more time. What do you want?” “Do you understand what it means to be a God Killer?” “That I can pretty much kill anything?” “That was an unintelligent response. And I mean that as no insult. The knowledge of what you are capable of exists deep inside of you. It is what led you to force the awakening.
” It was that thing inside me. “You have made your choice,” he stated again. “Yes,” I answered. “I can’t . I can’t be around any of them.” The leather seats crackled as the nymph leaned toward me. I didn’t need to look at him to know he was way too close. “And you know where you want to go?” When I didn’t answer, he asked, “Why would you need to drive there?” Looking over at him, I raised my brows. “Because I figured I’d drive and then I’d have to fly there.” The nymph’s ultra-bright red lips curved into a smile.
“You are the God Killer. You merely need to picture where you want to go and go there.” I stared at him. “You’re shitting me.” “Try it.” He sat back, his eyes like jewels. “And you will learn you are not just capable of death. You are capable of so much more.” My first inclination was to simply throat-punch him right through the car door, but I decided to humor him. “Like what?” “Like creating life.
” A harsh laugh burst out of me. “Yeah, you’re about a second away from ceasing to exist.” “Try it,” he cajoled, completely unafraid. “Picture where you want to go. Try it just once.” Glaring at him, I shook my head, but I did it. I don’t even know why, but I did. I pictured the rocky coasts and blue-green seas, and I could almost feel the golden sun on my skin, but it was more than that. There was another voice that sounded like mine, but wasn’t. It told me where I needed to go.
Andros. Warmth soaked into my skin, and my eyes flew open. “Holy . ” Shock nearly bowled me over. I was no longer sitting inside the SUV. Stumbling back a step, I realized I was staring at the frothy sea—the sea I hadn’t seen in years. My jaw unhinged. Impossible. I had to be hallucinating. “See,” the nymph said, and I jerked to the side.
He was also beside me. “You are capable of a lot, God Killer.” I shook my head. “I don’t . How is this possible?” The nymph turned to the ocean and then his lifted his hands, spreading his arms out. “Everything is possible.” This couldn’t be real, but as I turned around, I knew . Dear gods, it was real, and I was half the world away from Josie in less than a second. I could barely process it. We stood on the thin strip of white sand and rock of Andros, the northernmost island in the Cyclades.
Mountainous and full of water-fed valleys that bore the fruit I used to sneak as a child, it was barely tame. The weirdest damn sensation itched under my skin as I took in the path leading to the stairs climbing the steep hill. Taking a deep breath, I lifted my gaze to the sprawling sandstone home that was perched atop the highest peak. It was a monstrous building, three stories with several wings that, if it were the same, contained nothing more than marble statues and oil paintings depicting the gods. Balconies surrounded the upper two levels, with many nooks and crannies to hide in. The veranda wasn’t empty. “What the . ?” I trailed off. There were people out on it, scores of them staring down at where we stood, and I could sense the aether in the pures and the fainter traces in the halfs. The house should’ve been vacant.
There was no reason for any of the staff to have remained after Mother had died. “Who are these people?” I demanded. The nymph inclined his chin. “Some were your mother’s staff, her servants . her confidants. They are now yours. Others came when you awakened. They are also yours.” What the hell? “I don’t want them here.” “Their master has finally come home.
” Master? “Did you think it would be different?” “Yes.” I frowned as those on the veranda, one by one, lowered themselves onto their knees and bowed their heads. Oh hell. “I thought it would be empty, for starters.” The nymph chuckled. Crossing my arms, I exhaled roughly. “I have no use of them.” “Oh, you will find use of them, I am sure.” I slid him a sidelong glance. “I’m really going to get tired of repeating myself.
I have no need of servants. Gods. Those halfs should be freed.” “Those halfs are here of their own volition. They are here because it is where you are, as I am here because of you,” the nymph said. “I am here to help you.” “Why? Why would you help me?” The nymph smiled. “My kind has walked this realm long before man—before the gods from Olympus overthrew the Titans. We were here even before the Titans ruled.” Well, that sounded like a really long time ago, in a time period called I Don’t Give a Fuck.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Those odd eyes twinkled. Actually twinkled, like a pair of tiny stars. “We believe that the time for change has arrived once more.” The question of what kind of change was due to arrive died on the tip of my tongue. I wanted no part of whatever the nymphs believed in or wanted. I had my own goals. I would ferret out whatever foxhole the Titans were hiding in and I would gladly destroy each one. They would be no threat to Josie. “What is your name?” I did ask. One eyebrow rose.
“Ewan.” I snickered. “Ewan the Ewok.” The nymph frowned. “Never mind,” I sighed and started forward. “Goodbye, Ewan.” “Do you want to know about love?” he asked. Rolling my eyes, I kept walking. “Love is the root of all that is good, and the root of all things that are evil,” he called out. “Love is the root of the Apollyon.
” The fine hairs on my arms rose, and I stopped. The pures and halfs on the veranda waited, the women’s pale blue and rose-colored dresses billowing in the breeze. Something about what the nymph was saying rang eerily familiar. “Fate is afoot,” he continued. “Things cannot be undone. Fate has looked into the past and into the future. History is on repeat.” Slowly, almost against my will, I turned around. The nymph stood where I’d left him, but there was something ancient and wise in his gaze. “Know the difference between need and love.
” Ewan’s voice carried on the salty breeze. Those amethyst eyes rolled back, revealing all-white pupils. “Oh hell no,” I muttered, actually wanting to take a step back to stop what I knew was coming. The nymph glided forward and spoke the words that had been meant for the first Apollyon—for Alex—and brought life to a prophecy once unfinished. “For what the gods have feared has come to pass. The end of the old is here and the beginning of the new has been ushered in.” His voice rose, carrying out to sea and over the cliffs. “For the sun child and the new god will give birth to a new era and the great creators will fall one by one, reshaping our homes and hearths, reaping man and mortal alike.” Oh, fuck me sideways. Sun Child? New God? Give birth, and reapings? Yeah, I wanted no part of this.
“You know, you can—” “A bloody path has been chosen,” he went on, because of course. There apparently was no stopping this. “The Great War fought by the few is coming, and in the end, the sun will fall and the moon will reign until the new sun rises.” My brows rose. Sort of sounded like a normal day to me. “Know this,” the nymph seemed to bellow. “The strength of the sun will be needed to conquer, for the strength of war and cunning will not be enough. Love and need must be reconciled. If not, the great land will perish, for the bull is in the house of the lion.” Well.
I officially had no words. At all. None. Ewan the nymph dropped to one knee. “Goodbye Seth, the God of Life . ” A shiver blasted down my spine as a bolt of lightning struck off the coast, slamming into the ocean. The nymph bowed its head. “The God of Death.”