IX

1K 45 0


[JASON]

JASON ACTUALLY FELT A SPARK of excitement

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.

JASON ACTUALLY FELT A SPARK of excitement. Quebec—at least now he had a goal. Find the North Wind, track down the storm spirits, find out who they worked for and where that ruined house was. Free Hera. All in four days. Cake.

"Thanks, Annabeth." He looked at the photo booth pictures still in his hand. "So, um ... you said it was dangerous being a child of Zeus. Whatever happened to Thalia?"

"Oh, she's fine," Annabeth answered. "She became a Hunter of Artemis—one of the handmaidens of the Goddess. They roam around the country killing monsters. We don't see them at camp very often."

Jason glanced over at the huge statue of Zeus. He understood why Thalia had slept in this alcove. It was the only place in the cabin not in Hippie Zeus's line of sight. And even that hadn't been enough. She'd chosen to follow Artemis and be part of a group rather than stay in this cold drafty temple alone with her twenty-foot-tall dad—Jason's dad—glowering down at her. Eat voltage! Jason didn't have any trouble understanding Thalia's feelings. He wondered if there was a Hunters group for guys.

"Who's the other kid in the photo?" he asked. "The sandy-haired guy."

Annabeth's expression tightened. Jason guessed that it was a touchy subject, "That's Luke," She replied, "He's dead now."

Jason decided it was best not to ask more, but the way Annabeth said Luke's name, he wondered if maybe Percy Jackson wasn't the only boy Annabeth had ever liked. Instead, he focused again on Thalia's face. He kept thinking this photo of her was important. He was missing something.

Jason felt a strange sense of connection to this other child of Zeus—someone who might understand his confusion, maybe even answer some questions. But another voice inside him, an insistent whisper, said: Dangerous. Stay away.

"How old is she now?" he asked.

"Hard to say. She was a tree for a while. Now she's immortal." Annabeth answered,

"What?"

His expression must've been pretty good, because Annabeth laughed. "Don't worry. It's not something all children of Zeus go through. It's a long story, but ... well, she was out of commission for a long time. If she'd aged regularly, she'd be in her twenties now, but she still looks the same as in that picture, like she's about ... well, about your age. Fifteen or sixteen?"

Something the she-wolf had said in his dream nagged at Jason. He found himself asking, "What's her last name?"

Annabeth looked uneasy. "She didn't use a last name, really. If she had to, she'd use her mom's, but they didn't get along. Thalia ran away when she was pretty young." Jason waited, "Grace," Annabeth said. "Thalia Grace."

Jason's fingers went numb. The picture fluttered to the floor.

"You okay?" Annabeth asked.

A shred of memory had ignited—maybe a tiny piece that Hera had forgotten to steal. Or maybe she'd left it there on purpose—just enough for him to remember that name, and know that digging up his past was terribly, terribly dangerous.

'You should be dead', Chiron had said. It wasn't a comment about Jason beating the odds as a loner. Chiron knew something specific—something about Jason's family.

The she-wolf 's words in his dream finally made sense to him, her clever joke at his expense. He could imagine Lupa growling a wolfish laugh.

"What is it?" Annabeth pressed.

Jason couldn't keep this to himself. It would kill him, and he had to get Annabeth's help. If she knew Thalia, maybe she could advise him, "You have to swear not to tell anyone else," he said.

"Jason—"

"Swear it," he urged. "Until I figure out what's going on, what this all means—" He rubbed the burned tattoos on his forearm. "You have to keep a secret."

Annabeth hesitated, but her curiosity won out. "All right. Until you tell me it's okay, I won't share what you say with anyone else. I swear on the River Styx."

Thunder rumbled, even louder than usual for the cabin. 'You are our saving Grace,' the wolf had snarled. Jason picked up the photo from the floor. "My last name is Grace," he said. "This is my sister." Annabeth turned pale. Jason could see her wrestling with dismay, disbelief, anger. She thought he was lying. His claim was impossible. And part of him felt the same way, but as soon as he spoke the words, he knew they were true.

Then the doors of the cabin burst open. Half a dozen campers spilled in, led by the bald guy from Iris, Butch. "Hurry!" he said, and Jason couldn't tell if his expression was excitement or fear. "The dragon is back."

GOLDEN DAYS |JASON GRACE| {1}Where stories live. Discover now