[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]
Hecate sat and stared in shocked silence for a few seconds. Her ands slowly curled into fists, her heart beginning to beat a little more quickly, emotions rising in her throat and threatening to choke her. It was the old emotions, the guilt, the anger, the fear. Only Matt’s presence, his touch, kept her in this time and place.
She took one breath, then another. Her vision swam, eyes watering. He said she was dead. Said she was gone.
The bastard lied.
Matt squeezed her arm gently. She sucked in another breath, squeezing her eyes shut.
Stay. Stay. Stay. You’re all right. You’re fucking all right, just stay.
Then there was Matt’s voice in her ear, gentle, soft. “I’m here, grá mo chroí. I’m here.”
The words came as a croak around the lump in her throat. “The bastard lied to me. He said she was dead.” The words scraped clear, painful. “If I hadn’t already killed him, I’d kill him for this—but slower, more painfully.” Hot tears welled in her eyes.
Why did I believe him?
Matt’s arms closed around her again. She stiffened but didn’t try to break free of his hold. Part of her needed him—but another felt like she didn’t deserve the comfort the embrace offered.
“If she’s alive, that means I abandoned her,” she said. “I promised her that I would protect her.” Another failure. Her fingernails dug into the flesh of her palms.
“There was no way you could have kept that promise,” Matt whispered into her hair. “You know that.”
A shudder shot through her. A small voice in the back of her mind chimed that he was right and that both she and Persephone had known that. It was the emotion behind the words that had mattered.
“You cared enough to make the promise,” Leinth said softly from behind J.T., as if she could hear the thought that echoed through the back of Hecate’s brain. “That and nothing else is what mattered.”
The damnable thing was that she was right.
“How do we help her?” Hecate asked, her voice a bare whisper. “Where can we find her?”
“Well,” J.T. said quietly, “I was hoping maybe you could help with that.”