The Warrior God (The Ares Trials #1) - Eliza Raine



“Bella, please, put me down.”

I barely heard the words over the blood pounding in my ears. But I knew the voice.

“Bella, I’d really, really appreciate it if you could just let go of my neck.”

The red mist was making my vision cloudy, obscuring the man in front of me, who was pinned to the wall by my hand across his throat.

But I knew his voice.

“Bella, please.” The voice was scratchy and choked but...

“Joshua!” I cried, dropping my rigid arm immediately, the fury raging through my body dissipating as guilt swamped me. “Shit, shit, shit, I did it again, didn’t I?”

Joshua slid down the magnolia-painted wall opposite me, clutching at his throat, his eyes red.

“Yeah. Yeah, you did.”

“Why? Why am I like this?” I couldn’t keep the bitterness from my voice as I crouched down to him, pulling him to his feet.

“That’s what therapy is going to help you with, Bella,” he said, blinking slowly and twisting his neck as we walked back toward his desk, and the long couch I always sat on.

“But I’ve been seeing you for months, and I’m no better.” Anger started to rekindle in my gut, the frustration of not being able to control myself a delicious fuel for my rage. Nothing set off the rage like frustration.

“Anger management therapy is a long process. You’re doing great,” Joshua said, and sat down in his chair.

I slumped down on the patient couch and cocked my head at him. My skin was still fizzing from the adrenaline that always accompanied me getting mad.

“How many times will you let me attack you before you quit on me?” I whispered. I didn’t actually want to know the answer. He was the only man who had ever tried to help me, and I couldn’t face watching him suffer at my own hands over and over again.

“I’m tougher than I look, Bella. I’m not going anywhere.”

He smiled at me, most of the strain on his face now gone, and I so badly wanted to believe him.

I knew it was wrong to have a crush on your shrink. But, in my defense, he was freaking hot. Dark hair flopped over his forehead and curled around his ears, and his hazel eyes were permanently calm and soothing, a balm to my own constant million-miles-an-hour energy. And he looked tough enough to me. My eyes flicked over his body.

Broad shoulders.

Rounded biceps.

Big red mark on his neck... I’d done that. I’d just done that. Guilt made me feel sick, twisting my stomach in knots. Joshua was the only person who had ever truly tried to help me.

But when the red mist descended, I was no longer Bella; mostly decent, if a little hyper, human being. I was a freaking maniac. And strong to boot. It was as though my anger made me physically more powerful, and dangerous. Rational thought abandoned me, my normal senses overtaken completely.

And the worst part was, I desired it. When I was younger, I hadn’t tried to fight it. The feeling of strength and control was like a drug, and I allowed the craving for confrontation to run wild. I reveled in every fight I won, no matter if the person I kicked the shit out of deserved it or not. Every time someone underestimated me, at five foot two with my pixie-face and blonde hair, I took pleasure in smashing their preconceptions to bits. And it wasn’t just their preconceptions I smashed. I smashed everything.

When I got too old for the cops to keep letting me out, I got more careful. But I didn’t stop.

When I was busted for fighting in the underground gambling rings, they gave me a six-month sentence. When I fought with every cellmate I had, I was put in solitary confinement.

And then I got sad. Like really, really sad. Being completely alone sucked. But in the absence of anyone to pick a fight with, I could think clearly for the first time in my life. I realized I needed to control my anger, and I needed to vent it on the right people. The people who deserved their asses booted into next week.

“Tell me more about your foster parents,” Joshua said.

“But what if it triggers me again?”

“We need to work through your problems. I accept the risk that comes with that,” he replied, gently.

I shook my head.

“No. No, I don’t think we should carry on. I’ve already hurt you once today.”

“You’re not a bad person, Bella. The anger in you is chemical, it’s not part of your soul.