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Seduction (Curse of the Gods #3)
Author:Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington

Neither of us spoke again for some time, each of us lost in our own thoughts, each of us battling our own demons. It wasn’t until she let out a small sigh that the spell was broken, and I found myself reaching out to the side and snagging her around the shoulders, pulling her to me. She resisted for a bit, but I wouldn’t let her escape this time. I just held on tight, wrapping both of my arms around her, and hugged her as tightly as I could without crushing her ribs.

She was stiff, unresponsive, and it had almost reached the point of awkward—where I was about to chalk this up to another failure, and hope to try again later—when a much heavier sigh escaped from her. It whooshed past my ear, blowing my curls back, and then she collapsed against me. She felt so frail in my arms, her thin frame shaking; the intensity of it rattled me. Her chest was heaving with sobs, her breath wheezing in and out as she tried to draw in air and cry at the same time. It was like an avalanche trying to fit through a tiny hole in the side of a mountain, there was so much pain rushing from her with no way to easily escape.

The sudden ache in my chest was so intense that I wondered for a moment if I was having a heart attack. Eventually I realised that my own cheeks were wet, and that my arms were trembling almost as much as Emmy’s as I tried to wrap myself even tighter around her. I felt like I could put her back together just by holding her—all of the broken pieces and the jagged edges that she had been locking away since she lost Atti.

I didn’t know how long we cried for, but eventually the anguished gasps and sobs died off from Emmy, and I started to gently rub her back while whispering nonsensical words of comfort. I told her that we would go back to our village one sun-cycle; that we would explore all over Minatsol, and that I would never let anyone hurt her again. That Atti loved her and would want her to be happy, and that we would all be together again, when the time was right. I had no idea if any of it was true, but they were secret dreams and wishes I held in my own heart, and it felt better to wish them out loud.

She finally fell asleep against me, and I was only slightly disappointed that there had been no revelations about what she was up to with those sols. But we had made progress, and I would have to accept that.

For now.

Untangling myself from Emmy, I tucked her into the bed and spun around to leave the room. I barely managed to cut off my shriek at the shadow there, my feet tangling up as I reached for one of Emmy’s shoes and tossed it blindly. Siret lazily batted it away, sending it into the wall with a muted thud. All five of the Abcurses were standing beyond the doorway to Emmy’s room. All five of them, leaned back against the wall, arms crossed over their chests, expressions sombre.


“How long have you guys been standing there?” I whispered low enough that it might not wake up Emmy. I hadn’t heard or noticed them outside. I hadn’t felt them in our soul-link, or even felt the twinges of pain from their absence while they hadn’t been there. “You were here the entire time?”

Siret shook his head, before holding his arms out to me. Without hesitation, I walked into them, and he wrapped me up as tightly as I had wrapped up Emmy. That ache in my chest increased, and I fought against the emotions that wanted to swamp me.

“Your pain …” Siret’s low murmur drifted to me, and I remembered how they had told me long ago that they could feel my pain.

Another set of arms replaced Siret’s and the burnt sweetness was the only hint I needed to know that it was Aros.

“Felt like your heart was breaking,” he grunted softly, before picking me up off my feet and moving us further away from the room. I heard Emmy’s door click shut, and then his voice rose again to a normal level. “We don’t know if it’s the soul-link, or just because we’ve all spent so much time together, but we can’t ignore it …”

He trailed off as I was passed to another Abcurse. Yael’s strong arms swept around my lower back and hauled me up higher so that we were practically face to face. I blinked a few times, mesmerised by the strange intensity shining from him. It was the glow of god-energy: I had seen it on some of the beings when we went to Topia, but my boys rarely displayed it. It was possibly because Minatsol drained them of their powers gradually, but it was also possible that they were deliberately toning it down to blend in.

We stared for some time, before he set me on my feet and ushered me across to Coen, who was patiently waiting. It was unlike Yael to have nothing to say, but in all truth, that look had held a lot, if you read between the lines of silence. Possession. Reluctance. Relief.

Frustration.

I waited for Coen to hug me, anticipating his strength and those tendrils of pain that he liked to lace across my skin, and I wasn’t disappointed. Just as I was relaxing against his body, Rome joined us. The twins held me. I couldn’t properly describe the sensation of being surrounded like that. Heat and strength and power. It thrummed across my skin and I stopped thinking, letting myself enjoy the moment.

Over the top of my head I heard Rome say something, but it took a few clicks before my ears and brain registered what it was.

Tell Staviti to go screw himself.

I stiffened, before pulling back. They parted slightly, letting me see the other three again.

“What are you talking about?” I demanded. “You can’t tell that … guy … to go screw himself! He will … un-create you—or whatever he does!” The words burst from me in an angry whisper.

Each of them seemed to be staring directly at me with no unease in their expressions whatsoever, but I knew that they had something to tell me. It was obvious. They didn’t just go around muttering that the Creator could go screw himself all the time.

A thought occurred to me, then. “You were all close enough to Emmy’s room to come as soon as you felt my pain. You were already up there waiting for me with Five? Which means … you all came to find me?”

Aros lifted a hand in a placating gesture, which only had my worry spiralling out of control further. “You’re right,” he said, “we were all waiting for you. Staviti has called us for the trial tonight. We just got a message from D.O.D.”

My stomach clenched, and probably everyone in the dweller-dungeon could hear the rapid pulse thrumming through me. “Is that normal? For him to make a date and then change his mind just as quickly?”

Why was I the only one who seemed worried or upset by that? Couldn’t they feel the ominous clouds on the horizon? It felt like we were teetering on the precipice of something terrible, and as soon as the storm hit, the winds would push us right over the edge.

“It’s going to be fine, Willa-toy.” Yael’s voice was low and rumbly, his Persuasion trickling across my mind, calming the rush of adrenaline that had been trying to kick me into action. “Staviti almost always does this; we were expecting it.”

I wanted to growl at them, and I could have fought against Yael. He wasn’t hitting me with too much energy, but another part of me needed to take the edge off my worry. It was too much. So I let him continue to influence me.


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