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The Struggle

By´╝ÜJennifer L. Armentrout

Chapter 1


Seth

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?”

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