Sentinel, p.13
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       Sentinel, p.13

         Part #5 of Covenant series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
 
Page 13

 

  Some stared back in disbelief, others wore masks of fear. One of the Sentinels in the back spoke up. “Can we even stop Ares?”

  No, whispered that voice. No one can stop Ares. Pressure clamped down on my chest. Swallowing hard, I struggled to ignore the now-familiar anxiety rising within me.

  “He defeated you. That’s what I heard,” said a student. “And you’re the Apollyon. If you can’t defeat him, how can any of our Sentinels or Guards do anything?”

  “Maybe we can reach some sort of agreement with him,” suggested an older pure. “Fighting is not the only answer. ”

  One of the Guards scoffed loudly. “Ares is the God of War, not the God of Treaties. ”

  “He is the God of War,” argued the pure. “How can we defeat him?”

  “So we do nothing?” asked Val from the side of the dais. “We let the fear of falling in battle lead us into surrendering? Is that how a Sentinel or Guard behaves?”

  There were several shouts of disagreement, and all were from the Sentinels and Guards—soldiers who would never leave their posts.

  “I don’t know,” I said, and again, the mass quieted. “I don’t know if we can stop Ares. And you’re right, he did kick my ass every which way from Sunday, but I know that no one is safe if he succeeds. I also know that we’re not alone. We have Apollo, and Artemis, and other gods behind us, and we…we have…”

  A strange feeling unfurled within me, sending a series of shivers like icy fingers all over my skin. I shook my head, causing a sharp pain to crack down my neck. I suddenly found it hard to breathe. It was like waking up unexpectedly and realizing I was already late for something.

  “Alex?” Aiden stepped up beside me, his brows knitting. His eyes searched over my face. He placed a hand on my arm. “What’s wrong?”

  I saw him and Marcus, but every fiber of being was focused on someone else, outside this building and so very close. The crowd shifted nervously. A tremor coursed through my body. Deep inside my core, the cord snapped alive, thrumming frantically. The marks of the Apollyon bled to the surface, swirling over my skin. My heart hammered as tiny hairs rose all over my body.

  “He’s here,” I said to Aiden, my voice a thready whisper. “Seth’s here. ”

  CHAPTER 7

  There were no sirens, and I knew there’d be none. Seth was too cool for that.

  “Alex, hold up. ” Aiden grabbed my arm, pulling me to a stop just outside the Council building. Marcus was behind him, as was Val. “What are you doing? You just left in the middle of your speech. ”

  “He’s here. I know he is. I can feel him. ” Seth wasn’t talking to me, but I could feel him in every cell. The cord was buzzing along happily, in a way it only did when he was near. “Tell Val to make sure everyone is safe, but I have to go. ”

  “Something is happening at the gate,” Val said, placing his hand over an earpiece. “I can’t get a definite response from them, but something’s going on. ”

  “You don’t have to go. ” Aiden’s eyes turned a thunderous shade of gray. “We need to take a minute—”

  “And what? Give him more time? No. ”

  “He’s right. ” Marcus stood at our shoulders. “What is our plan? Go out there and shake Seth’s hand?”

  My eyes narrowed on my uncle. “Actually, my plan was more to stab him in the eyeball and then decide what to do. ”

  Marcus’s jaw locked down. “I think you’re missing the point. If he transfers your power or gains control over you, it is all over. We must think about this. ”

  “He can’t get control over me. ” My eyes flicked to Aiden’s, and I willed him to understand what I didn’t even really understand myself. I didn’t want to face Seth, but I had to see him. I had to know that my instincts were right, that he was here and I wasn’t going crazy. “We are so beyond that phase. ”

  Aiden shook his head. “There have been no sirens, and Val can’t get the Guards at the gate to respond. Think about that. We could be walking into a trap. You could be walking into a trap. ”

  Seth could keep dozens of Guards quiet with a compulsion. That fact didn’t change anything. I pulled my arm free, done with this conversation. Spinning around, I cut through the campus, heading for the gates. I didn’t even look to see if Val was doing anything. Each step made the cord tighten. My skin felt stretched to the point of ripping by the time I passed the courtyard and inhaled the sweet scent of peonies.

  “I swear to the gods, Alex, I will pick you up and throw you over my shoulder. You cannot go out there. Think for a second. ” Aiden was right by my side, head down low and his voice a low warning. “Remember what we talked about last night. If you’re—”

  “I remember,” I shot back, picking up my pace. “And that has nothing to do with this. ”

  “That has everything to do with this!”

  I blinked, sort of stunned that he would yell at me, but how could I be surprised? Aiden would do anything to keep me—and the baby, if there was one—safe, but if Seth was here, there was no hiding. Nothing was safe.

  Marcus appeared on my other side. “What did you two talk about last night? And yes, I know this isn’t the appropriate moment for this discussion, but you two really need to find separate beds so there aren’t any ‘late night’ chats. ”

  I almost laughed, because wow, if only he knew how late in the game that advice was. “This isn’t the right time for that talk. Trust me. ”

  “That I don’t find reassuring. ” Marcus thrust a hand through his wind-tossed brown hair, his bright green eyes narrowed. “Alexandria, please listen to us. This isn’t safe or smart. We have to think about this. ”

  Aiden stepped in front of me, forcing me to skid to a stop. His hands landed on my shoulders. “You’re starting to scare me. Okay?” His cupped my cheeks gently, forcing my eyes to his. “You’re not ready for this—ready for him. ”

  Alex?

  I sucked in a sharp breath as I pulled away. Aiden’s fingers trailed off my cheeks. The cord coiled tightly, straining inside me, and then expanded, yearning for its other half at the sound of Seth’s voice. He came right through the shields. Was it because he was so close? Or was I truly unprepared because this was the first time that we had been near each other since I’d Awakened?

  My gaze shifted beyond Aiden to the walls in the distance. Seth?

  There was a pause, and then the cord snapped inside me. We need to talk.

  I don’t know what it was about those four words that set me off, but rage poured into me, so potent and so quick that I almost screamed in fury. “We need to talk. ” That, after everything, was what he had to say? I wanted to drop-kick that question into his face.

  I took off, my boots digging into the loose dirt. Aiden shouted, and I heard him coming after me, but I was fast when I wanted to be, faster than him. I flew past the last of the statues and almost ran into a pack of Guards crowding the entrance to the wall. They didn’t move, didn’t speak.

  They were enthralled.

  “Move,” I shouted, shouldering the Guards aside. “Get out—” The words died on my lips. I came to a complete standstill, but it felt like the ground was moving under my feet. “Oh my gods…”

  He stood a foot away from the closed gates, separated from me by iron and titanium. His hair was longer than it had been when he’d come back from the Catskills, falling over his forehead in a mess of blond waves. He was dressed as a Sentinel; all the black was a contrast against his golden skin. His impossibly perfect features were devoid of the typical, ever-present smirk, but the inky black marks of the Apollyon glided across his skin, and his iridescent amber eyes were fixed on mine.

  Seth was beautiful. It was like the gods themselves had pieced him together, and in a way, they had. There’d always been a lack of humanity in his beauty, the whole time I’d known him. As I stared at him now, seeing him for the first time in months, there was something brimming in his eyes and etched into his features that had nev
er been there before.

  It made me uneasy in my own skin.

  Movement behind him drew my attention. Luke stepped forward as if in a daze. He didn’t even blink as he unlocked the gate. Hinges groaned, and then the heavy gate swung open. It was just Luke with Seth, but I knew there were others. Every instinct in my body told me an army waited over the crest, just waiting for the signal to attack us.

  Seth stepped forward, his eyes only leaving mine to take in my altered appearance. That emotion strengthened in his eyes and face, and I refused to believe what I was seeing. In that moment, I wanted to kill him and I wanted to touch him. Weird, but I figured it had something to do with what we were.

  “Alex,” he spoke out loud, shattering the trance.

  The very thought of him made my skin crawl. I wanted to find a wool brush and scrub all the memories of him out of my head. I hated him for what he’d become, for what he’d allowed, and I hated him for the fact that a part of me still loved him, because he was a part of me—a part that had turned on me like a venomous pet snake.

  Aiden skidded to a stop beside me, breathing raggedly. He was talking, but I wasn’t hearing him or my uncle shouting at the immobile Guards.

  My brain clicked off—never a good thing for me and definitely not a good thing for Seth. I shot forward, sidestepping Aiden who tried to get between us as I drew my Glock.

  “Make one move I don’t like, and I’ll put a bullet right between your eyes. ” My hand didn’t shake. Whatever fear lived inside me was vanquished by the growing, nearly out-of-control rage. “I know it won’t kill you, but I sure as hell know it will hurt. ”

  Emotion flashed in Seth’s eyes. It wasn’t surprise. More like a lick of pain or regret, but then again, I was probably giving the douchebag more credit than he deserved. He slowly lifted his hands.

  “Release them from their compulsion,” I ordered, my finger steady on the trigger. “Now. ”

  His amber gaze shifted to where Luke stood motionless with the Guards. He didn’t say anything, but I felt the ripple of power brush over my skin like a smooth caress.

  “What the…?” Luke stumbled back a step, placing his hands on the sides of his head. He looked up, saw who was standing there, and sucked in a breath. “Holy shit. ”

  Seth’s stare swung back to meet mine. The tension in the air increased as the others came out of their compulsion and, for the first time in their lives, saw two Apollyons together. “We need to talk,” he said again.

  My head cocked to the side. I hadn’t forgotten the musical lilt of his voice, but hearing it in person was nothing like the voice that came through our whacked-out connection. The cord hummed along, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw Aiden moving around to Seth’s back, leveling his own gun on the First. I knew that, if Seth took one step toward me, Aiden would pull the trigger.

  And I also knew Seth could disarm us both before either of us blinked.

 
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