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  • Home > Jennifer Estep > Mythos Academy > Midnight Frost (Page 33)     
    Midnight Frost(Mythos Academy #5) by Jennifer Estep

    I wanted to point out that it took her just as long, but she was giving us some time to say good-bye, so I nodded. Daphne stepped outside and shut the door behind her.

    Rory, Rachel, and I were silent for a moment. Finally, I cleared my throat.

    "So I guess this is good-bye," I said. "Thanks for all your help. My friends and I wouldn't have made it off the mountain without the two of you."

    Rory and Rachel both nodded.

    I looked at the older woman. "What will happen now? To Covington?"

    She sighed. "Right now, he's in a cell in the academy prison. Ajax alerted the Protectorate that Covington was a Reaper and that he killed all of those people in the library. The Protectorate is sending some folks to question Covington to see what he knows about the Reapers' plans. Hopefully, now that we know what really happened, Rory and I can try to clear Rebecca and Tyson's names - at least about what happened in the library. And ours too."

    She smiled at Rory, who returned the expression. The phone rang. Rachel gave me a quick hug good-bye, then excused herself to go answer it.

    Rory looked at me and shook her head. "You know, I heard all those stories about you, and I never believed they were true. But you sure do impress, Princess."

    "So do you, Spartan," I replied. "You kicked some serious Reaper ass up there in the ruins."

    She smiled, but her eyes were still dark and sad. "Some, but not enough. Not nearly enough. Not for what Covington did to my parents and how he planned to frame me and Rachel."

    "I know. I'm sorry about that."

    She brightened. "But at least now you know that you're not really related to a family of Reapers. Or at least that not all of us are Reapers. I just wish . . . I just wish my parents had told me what they were and that they wanted to change."

    "Oh, I think family secrets are a way of life for us Forseti girls," I said, trying to make my tone light. "But you know they loved you. That will help. Maybe not today or tomorrow. But someday, it will help."

    She nodded and stared at the photo of herself with her parents. "I know."

    "Whatever happens, don't let what they were affect who you are - or who you want to be."

    She snorted. "As if. Rachel says that I never listen, anyway. Apparently, being stubborn is another Forseti trait."

    "Well, I think it's a good one," I replied. "If you're ever in North Carolina, come say hi. Because we've got plenty of Reapers to fight out there."

    Rory grinned at me. "I may just take you up on that, Princess."

    I returned her grin. "I hope you do. I really hope you do."

    Rachel finished her phone call, and the three of us stepped outside. My friends were waiting on the porch, and Rory and Rachel walked with us down to the main gate, through Snowline Ridge, and all the way over to the train station.

    Twenty minutes later, my friends and I had our faces pressed against the windows, waving good-bye to Rory and Rachel. All too soon, though, the train started down the mountain, and they disappeared from sight. Yeah, there might be Reapers everywhere, but I had made some new allies, some new friends, these past few days. That made me feel better about things. Maybe I could actually pull off all of the missions Nike had given me. Finding artifacts. Killing Loki. Saving the world.

    We made it down the mountain without incident, and an hour after that, we were at the airport in Denver, getting ready to board the plane home to North Carolina. While the others carried their luggage on board, Logan gestured at me. I stepped over to one side of the tarmac with him.

    He hesitated. "I'd like to fly back to the academy, if that's okay with you. I want to make sure that Nickamedes is okay."

    "Of course," I said. "He's your uncle. I always thought you would fly back with us."

    "It's just . . . after what you said to me in the gryphons' cavern, I didn't know if you'd want me to come along or not."

    We'd been so busy getting back to the academy, packing up, and then getting to the airport that Logan and I hadn't really talked since our argument. He may have been traveling with us again, but he'd kept his distance from me on the train, sitting with Oliver, Alexei, and Carson. He still didn't trust himself around me, and I didn't know what I could do or say to change his mind. Everyone had told me that Logan needed some time. I knew that - really, I did - but that still didn't make it hurt any less.

    "Gypsy girl?" he asked, breaking into my thoughts.

    "Of course I want you to come along," I said, finally answering his question. "I never said I didn't."

    I just don't want you to leave and break my heart all over again.

    That's what I really wanted to tell him, but I kept my mouth shut. I might be hurt and angry, but I didn't want to add to Logan's guilt. He had enough of that already.

    He opened his mouth, but Ajax stuck his head out of the plane's door.

    "Come on, you two," the coach said. "We need to get in the air as soon as possible."

    Logan hesitated again, then held out his hand. "After you."

    I climbed up the steps to the plane with him behind me. I sat down next to Daphne, while Logan moved past me and took a seat next to Oliver, keeping his distance from me yet again.

    I could feel Logan's eyes on me, but I put my head down and pretended to look for something in my messenger bag so he wouldn't see me blink back the tears scalding my eyes.

    I hadn't asked Logan what he would do after we got back to the academy and gave the ambrosia flower to Nickamedes. I didn't have to because I already knew the answer.

    Logan was planning on leaving the academy, on leaving me - again.

    Chapter 35

    It was late that afternoon when we finally got back to North Carolina. The others had managed to sleep on the plane, but I couldn't. Oh, I wasn't worried about having any more nightmares. Not now, when I knew Logan was safe from the Reapers. But too much had happened the past few days - and too much was still on my mind.

    We all kept an eye out for Reapers, but, for once, we managed to make it to our destination without getting attacked.

    Metis and Grandma Frost were pacing back and forth in the waiting room of the infirmary. Grandma looked tired, the wrinkles on her face deeper and more pronounced than usual, the colorful scarves drooping off her body. Metis also seemed exhausted, and much thinner than I remembered, but her face brightened when Ajax handed her the tube containing the ambrosia flower. Metis and Ajax disappeared into the back of the infirmary without another word, leaving the rest of us to sit and wait - just wait.

    I hugged Grandma and pulled her away from the others. "How is Nickamedes?"

    She smiled, but it was a tight, weary expression. "The poison progressed faster than Metis thought it would and faster than her healing magic could handle. She's been using her magic on Nickamedes pretty much nonstop for the last six hours now, and all she's been able to do is keep him alive. It's a good thing you got back when you did, pumpkin. Now, we'll just have to wait and see."

    I let out a breath. We sat down at the far end of the infirmary, away from the others, and I told Grandma Frost everything that had happened - including what I'd found out about my dad and Rory's parents.

    "Why didn't you tell me anything about my dad? And Rory and her family?"

    Grandma shifted in her chair, and her violet eyes took on a distant look, almost as if she was peering back into the past. "After your father was killed by Reapers, Tyson finally managed to track down me, you, and your mom. Tyson told Grace he was sorry for what had happened, and he also told her to keep you as far away from him and the mythological world as possible. He said that he had a daughter too, and that he was trying to figure out some way to keep her safe from the Reapers. I guess he never did."

    We fell silent for several minutes.

    Finally, I looked at her again. "So is this it? Or are there any more deep, dark, horrible skeletons in our family closet that I need to know about?"

    Grandma shook her head. "As far as I know, this is it, pumpkin. No more secrets."

    I grimaced. "Well, I wouldn't say that. Because I have one to share with you."

    I turned to the side so my friends wouldn't see what I was doing and showed her the silver laurel and mistletoe bracelet that Eir had given me. I also told Grandma what the goddess had said about how the laurels could be used to heal - or destroy.

    "What do you think I'm supposed to do with them?" I asked. "Do you think - do you really think that I can kill Loki with the laurels?"

    Grandma reached out and ran her finger across one of the silver leaves. "I don't know, pumpkin. But Eir and Nike wanted you to have them for a reason. You'll figure out what it is when it's time. I know you will. You always do."

    I wanted to tell her that I was sick of mysteries and riddles and having the fate of the world resting on my shoulders, but I kept my mouth shut. It wouldn't help. This was my life, for better or worse, good or bad, and all I could do was make the best of it - and try to do the right thing in the end.

    Even if I was starting to think I didn't have a clue as to what that right thing might be.

    The hours slipped by. We all stayed in the waiting room, although one by one, we drifted off to sleep. Daphne. Carson. Oliver. Alexei. Logan. Vic. Grandma Frost. Even I went to sleep eventually, despite the fact that I couldn't quite get comfortable in my chair. One second, I was shifting in my seat for the hundredth time. The next, I felt someone gently shaking me awake. I opened my eyes.

    Metis was standing over me, her hand on my shoulder. "Nickamedes is awake," she said in a soft voice. "He's asking for you."

    I blinked away the last of my sleep, sat up, and got to my feet. I tiptoed past the others, being careful not to wake them, and followed Metis into the back of the infirmary. Nickamedes was in a room by himself. The librarian looked thin and pale, and his blue eyes were duller than I remembered, but his face was soft and relaxed as he turned his head in my direction.

    Metis went over and pulled his blanket up. "Are you comfortable? Do you have everything you need?"

    "Of course," he said, reaching out and grabbing her hand. "You've taken excellent care of me, Aurora. Just as you always do."

    She smiled, but her expression was a little sad, and she quickly pulled her hand away from his. "Yes. Just like always."

    Nickamedes frowned at her. Apparently, he had no idea how she felt about him. Maybe I'd have to do something about that, when he was well.

    Metis touched my shoulder again. "I'll give you two a minute," she said, pulling the door shut behind her.

    I went over to his bed and stood there, not quite looking at the librarian. What did you say to the person who'd been poisoned because of you? Who'd suffered so much pain? Who'd almost died because of you? I'm so sorry just didn't seem like enough.

    "Thank you," Nickamedes finally said. "Metis told me what you did for me. How you went to the Eir Ruins and all the dangers you faced along the way."

    I shrugged and picked at one of the silver laurels on my bracelet just to have something to do. "It wasn't just me. We all went - together. Daphne. Carson. Oliver. Alexei. Ajax. And Logan was there too."

    He nodded. "I know, but if you hadn't figured out what the poison was, I wouldn't be here right now. So thank you for that, Gwendolyn."

    I shifted on my feet, uncomfortable with his gratitude.

    "I'm sorry," I said, finally raising my eyes to his. "I'm so, so sorry that I wasn't able to stop you from drinking the poison. That you got sick instead of me. If I could go back and change things, I would. I'm so sorry the Reapers hurt you."

    I swallowed, trying to dislodge the hard lump in my throat. Because now came the hard part - telling him something that had been on my mind ever since that horrible night in the library when he'd first collapsed.

    "Maybe - maybe I shouldn't work at the library anymore," I said in a low voice. "The Reapers could always try it again, you know. They probably will try it again, and I don't want you or anyone else getting hurt because you're in between them and me."

    Nickamedes stared at me in disbelief. Then, his blue eyes blazed, and his features fixed into that firm glare I knew so well.

    "Absolutely not," he snapped. "I will not hear of any such thing."

    I blinked. I'd expected him to accept my resignation with no questions asked. In fact, I thought he'd be rather glad to get rid of me. "But - "

    "But nothing," Nickamedes interrupted, his voice as fierce as I'd ever heard it. "I won't hear of you quitting your duties simply because of one measly Reaper attack. You're my best worker."

    I blinked again. "I am?"

    "Yes." He paused. "Despite your perpetual tardiness."

    I rolled my eyes, but I couldn't help smiling. His snippy words and the huffy tone to his voice told me Nickamedes was going to be okay. I started to excuse myself to let him get some rest when he frowned and nodded at my hands.

    "What's that you're fiddling with?" he asked.

    I looked down and realized I was toying with one of the laurel leaves. I started to pull my hoodie sleeve down and tell him it was nothing when another idea occurred to me.

    "Actually, I, um, found something else besides the ambrosia flower while we were out in Colorado," I said. "Some sort of . . . artifact, I guess you would say. Do you feel like taking a look at it?"

    Nickamedes straightened his shoulders. "Of course. I may still be a little under the weather, but I'm not dead yet, Gwendolyn. You should know by now that I'm always interested in artifacts."