[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]
Cold shot through her. The only warm thing was Matt’s hand, and it was hot, burning hot, a touchstone that kept her grounded, that kept her from completely dissociating. Dimly, she could hear Thordin and Carolyn moving with them, could hear Carolyn’s voice as if coming through a tunnel, muffled by distance that only existed in her imagination.
“Orcus? Who’s Orcus?”
“I’ll explain later,” Matt said. “Short version is the next big bad to take aim.”
“What did he want?” Hecate asked, her voice faint. “Matt. What does he want? Is he after Seamus and Leinth?”
Matt stopped walking. Hecate’s heart seized, climbing up into her throat.
No. Oh no.
“Matt,” she whispered, her fingers tightening around his. “He has her, doesn’t he?”
He nodded, lips thinning as he stared at the ground. No sound escaped him, but his shoulders got tense. Hecate sucked in a breath, exhaled it shakily as she bore down harder on his hand, squeezing so tightly her knuckles went white.
“What did he ask for in return?”
Matt said nothing. Thordin cleared his throat, only to have Matt hold up a hand to forestall his answer.
“You,” Matt finally croaked. “He asked for you and I said no. I told him you weren’t mine to give or his to take, almost verbatim.” He finally looked at her, tears shimmering in his eyes. “Giving you up would gut me, Hecate. I won’t lose you again.”
It was hard to breathe. On the one hand, if she did what Orcus asked, if she went, she’d save her friends—her family—from Orcus and maybe free her friend. On the other, she knew what he would probably ask her to do and there were no guarantees that anyone would be safe, least of all her.
And our baby.
She wrapped her arms around Matt, holding him tightly. He pressed his face to her shoulder, his arms encircling her, crushing her against him as he began to cry.