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

Seduction (Curse of the Gods #3)

Jaymin Eve & Jane Washington




One





The strange thing about life was that some sun-cycles it gave you reasons to rise above your station and change the world around you, and some sun-cycles it just made you want to punch a girl in the face. That sun-cycle was now, and that girl’s name was Emmanuelle, formerly known as Emmy.

“Did you just re-name me to my original name?” Emmanuelle demanded, her pretty brown eyes narrowed as she jumped up from the bed and stalked toward me.

“Did you just read my mind?” I shot back, sounding just as angry as she had sounded, except that I was mostly just scared and pretending not to be.

Ever since Cyrus had stolen my soul-link from the Abcurses and started reading my mind, I had developed a completely rational fear of people suddenly growing the ability to hear my thoughts.

“No, Willa,” Emmy was almost groaning now, her hand rubbing over her face. Her posture was somehow both rigid and exasperated. It made her look like she couldn’t decide whether to slump back onto her bed or shake her fist at me. “You were speaking your thoughts out loud again. I haven’t magically learnt how to read your mind in the last five clicks.”

“You wouldn’t be the first one,” I grumbled. “It’s happened at least twice … that I know of.”

She ignored that statement, her eyes still steadily narrowed, her hands still firmly planted on her hips. “Why are you revoking my nickname?”

“I saw you with that guy.” I could feel the pout that had started to tug down my lip, and I tried to stop it. I tried really hard.

“Are you jealous?” she asked dryly. “You know I’m allowed to have other friends, right?”

“No,” I returned sulkily.

“Seriously?” She tossed her hands up and fell down onto the mattress beside me. “He’s just a friend, Will. I haven’t forgotten Atti already. I’m dealing with my—”

“You’re not.” I jumped up just as quickly as she had sat down, spinning to face her and adopting her earlier posture, my hands against my hips and my eyes narrowed. “You’re keeping yourself so busy you barely even have time to sleep, let alone grieve properly, and you’re hanging out with that friend—what’s his name again?”

“Fred.”

“Stupid name. He’s stupid. You’re hanging out with him way too much. You’re avoiding. It’s bad for you.”

“You’re not my mother.” She jumped up again, and the mattress seemed to squeak a little in protest this time. “You can’t tell me what to do! That’s my job!”

I tried to stop the sigh from escaping, but I was pacing and rubbing my temples and before I knew it, I was sighing like I really was her mother. “You’re acting out,” I reasoned aloud. “I get it. You went through something terrible. You lost—”

“Stop trying to fix it.” Emmy’s voice had turned cold, almost flat.

She wasn’t even looking at me as she walked to the door and pulled it open. She glued her eyes to the wall beyond, gritting out a goodbye from between her teeth before disappearing altogether. I wanted to scream, or pick up the little sundial that she had left behind and violently throw it at the rough, stone wall … but I wouldn’t do either of those things, because my sun-cycles of being immature and throwing fits to deal with my problems were over. If Emmy was going off the rails, I needed to be responsible.

I needed to … stalk her.

Responsibly.

I marched out of the room, swiping the sundial as I went and shoving it deep into my pocket. I could see her blonde hair through the scattering of dwellers that remained in the underground section of the dweller residence, and I hurried to catch up to her. I didn’t bother trying to hide myself from Emmy, because she was striding ahead with far too much purpose for me to think that she would turn around at any point—but I did keep my head down and my expression hidden from the other dwellers. I didn’t need anyone calling out my name and alerting her to the fact that I was maturely keeping an eye on her. Like a responsible sister. Like an adult that doesn’t throw fits. Like a dweller-sol-hybrid who knows how to weigh up pros and cons and save enough tokens to buy a little hut one sun-cycle halfway between Minatsol and Topia.

It didn’t surprise me in the least to spot Rome in the corridor right above where Emmy’s dorm room would have been on the lower floor. Even though I’d barely felt the tug of the soul-link while I had been in the room, moving toward the staircase had been a lesson in agony. We had figured out this trick a few sun-cycles ago, when I needed to speak to Emmy but refused to drag a contingent of Abcurses down into the dweller-dorms with me.

“Why are you walking like that?” Rome asked, running a broad hand through his short hair, his glittering green eyes flicking down my legs before settling on my face.

“Like what?” I asked, as he fell into step beside me.

He was starting to blow my cover a little bit, because every person—dweller or sol—in our immediate vicinity seemed to be covertly sneaking glances at him as though they were too terrified to look him squarely in the eye. I understood the dilemma. He was kind of huge. Looking him in the eye was difficult, because his eyes were so far up.

“Like you’re scared of the ground,” he replied on a snort. He had taken a micro-click too long to answer, which meant that he had probably been entertaining himself with my thoughts again.

More specifically, my thoughts about how tall he was.

He might be tall but everything else about him is utterly unimpressive, I thought, as loudly as I possibly could.

He smiled, cutting his eyes sideways to look at me again. “Watch out, Rocks, you know what we say about multitasking—”

But it was too late.

One click I’d been walking along in perfectly acceptable sleuth-mode, and the next click I was colliding with another body and causing a domino-effect of toppling sols, books, dwellers and trays. The noise was jarring, as was the elbow in my stomach and the knee in my back. I had no idea how anyone had even managed to fall on top of me, since I had been the one to start the momentum and I had started it in a forward direction, but ever since the guys had told me their theory of me being Rau’s Beta, I had been forced to embrace the irrationality of my own personal brand of Chaos.

“We really need to stop meeting like this,” a voice rumbled out from beneath me.

I flinched, because the voice was familiar. I distinctly recalled shouting something embarrassing at it a moon-cycle ago, while attempting to disguise the fact that I had been hiding in a supply closet with five oversized gods and two unconscious sols. I had shouted because Yael had forced me to shout. Because Yael was an Abcurse. And the Abcurses didn’t like it when other boys touched me. Which made the fact that I was currently sprawled over Dru’s chest a particularly awkward fact.