I am going to be late again because I couldn’t sleep. My headaches are still the same, and my nightmares have not let up once. They seem to be getting increasingly worse. My fear of abandonment is seeping through to my dreams, even if I don’t want to admit it out loud. Every night I dream of my escape, and every night there is no one there for me afterward. But why would they be there for me? I came back and unleashed Hell on everyone. I have no one on my side, but that is also my fault. Right?
On top of that, I keep waking in different rooms in my apartment. It is as though the mists that let me dematerialize are on the fritz. Black smoke wafts off my body, then the next second, I am in the kitchen or bathroom. It is getting infuriating.
I keep rubbing my head to ease the piercing pain. I wear thick-rimmed sunglasses, but at least I did my makeup and even dressed in a black fitted dress today. Feeling like I am falling apart on the inside doesn’t mean I can’t fake it on the outside. The elevator dings as the doors slide open on the damned mortals’ floor. I pinch the bridge of my nose in disgust. Sighing, I walk to the front of Sarah’s new office. I turn the knob, walking right in. The air in the room seems tight, condensed, like a lot of energy has been packed in one place and is dying to escape. I shake my shoulders, thinking the feeling is all in my head. I close the door behind me loud enough to startle her.
She jumps, spinning around to face me. I forget how quiet I can be. If I didn’t know better, I would say I’d caught her doing something scandalous. I tilt my head and lower my glasses a little.
“Are you wearing a dress? And makeup?” I ask.
She looks down at herself, then back at me. She runs her hands down her sides, then slightly touches her face. “I, uh, yes, Atë. I am allowed to wear whatever I like to our sessions.” She stops, clearing her throat, then walks over to the sitting area in front of the therapy couch.
“Uh-huh.” I nod, crossing my arms and turning to sit on the couch opposite her. “New boyfriend?”
“What? No.” She coughs, choking on the coffee she had been sipping when I came over.
“Oh. Girlfriend?” I raise an eyebrow. “I had one of those once. Nykira. She was lovely.”
“No, and we are not here to talk about me, but since you brought up the subject. I think the topic for today should be about relationships. Yes?”
I groan, rolling my eyes as I spread my arms out behind me before meeting her gaze once more. “Ugh, fine.”
“Great. So, you have been in relationships before, then?””
She grabs her notebook and turns back to me. She opens it, clicking that damn pen she loves so much, and begins to take notes as I talk.
“Yes, Doctor, I have. Are you surprised?”
“A little, yes. The air you carry around you and what you have told me previously suggest you harbor a certain amount of intimacy issues.” She catches my glare. “To some extent.”
I tilt my head toward her. “Don’t get too excited. My relationships are nothing like what you mortals crave. You know, your short fleeting lives make you scramble to one another. You hope to have something to hold on to that won’t leave you, something that gives you that warm tingly feeling from believing someone else cares about your miserable existence.”
“So, what were your versions of a relationship?”
My thoughts run back to my time before my fall, and even after. “The ones I have been with meant nothing, they never did. It wasn’t personal. I just never feel anything for anyone, ever. Then, after I fell, the mortals I had relationships with I just used. Every single one. I got close to them because they had a purpose, once that purpose was filled, they were disposable.”
She is writing once again, not looking up as she speaks, “Except Erebus, correct?”
“Excuse me?” My blood runs cold.
She looks up at me as if taken aback. It only takes a second to realize it is because the entire room is suddenly vibrating. She keeps talking, but the throbbing in my head continues to grow. She has no idea what she is talking about. I am so sick of hearing about him, especially after Alejandro’s threat. The safest thing for Erebus to do now is avoid me at all costs. That means I need everyone to believe he is absolutely nothing to me. My feelings, when it comes to Erebus, are scattered like my mind. On the one hand, I still want him. I crave him like a wanderer lost in the desert craves water. Regardless of my emotions, my body is a traitor. That slut. On the other hand, he’d hurt me. He forgot about me. He’d gone on with his life without a second thought, while he thought I was locked up for eternity. It didn’t matter what he said to me. I know what I saw. I’d watched him for weeks. I left him in an abandoned penthouse for a reason and had been good with the whole avoiding him issue as well. It had been a few weeks. Maybe? All I know is I shouldn’t have gone to Europe. I had painted a target on our backs, and for what?
I take a deep breath, forcing myself to try to reign in my powers. “The truth about Erebus is the same. I used him. I left him. I haven’t seen or talked to him since. Can we drop it now?”
I didn’t realize she had moved so far away from me during my little lapse in control. Currently, she is backed up to her desk, surveying the room. “Well, that little outburst would suggest he affects you on some emotional level. That is a good thing, considering I think he can help you.”
I don’t have time to register my next thought. She walks around, opening a door behind her main desk. Erebus walks in slowly, eying the room with his head forward. His tall silhouette fills up the doorway, towering over Sarah as he enters. He is dressed in a casual suit that fits him too well, with his stupid perfect hair and brown eyes with green and yellow flecks. The same eyes I still dream about. Seeing him again, this time not underneath me, my heart feels like it drops from my chest. More than that, it hurts. Every memory from that show replays feelings I repeatedly tried to bury when I left him. You know. Again.
“Hello.” He clears his throat, and I lose it.
I jump up from the couch, flipping the table in front of me across the room. It shatters into pieces as I feel my eyes blaze gold. “What the fuck is he doing here?”
Sarah jumps again, startled by my yelling, and moves to stand behind Erebus. She places one hand on his arm, glancing between us. He catches my eyes, and a new rush of emotions flood my already fractured mind. Her desk doesn’t stand a chance, cracking and breaking under the wave of power that emits from me. The broken piles of wood slowly start to disintegrate as I meet his gaze. The entire building will be next.
“Are you fucking my therapist? Seriously!?”
Erebus wastes no time sending shadows across the room, holding me in place before I even have the chance to crush them both. As soon as his shadows touch me, an array of images I buried dance through my subconscious, which only pisses me off more. Holy Rhea, body! We are in fight mode here!
He steps forward, keeping a few inches between us as he looks me in the eye. “You never called.”
I grit my teeth hard enough to break them as my agitation flares along with the return of old familiar feelings. I struggle, knowing it is useless. He is stronger than I am, and I am all out of Hind’s blood. Not that it worked last time.
“How many buildings do I have to drop for you to Leave. Me. Alone?”
Sarah’s voice chimes in, interrupting my stare off with tall, dark, and distracting, “I am not sleeping with Mr. Erebus. I called him here to help you. I know you are not happy about it, but we have no other options at this point.”
Erebus smirks at Sarah’s words, but responds to mine, “You can say anything you want. You can try to hurt me, Atë. You can try to drive me away, but it won’t work this time.”
My eyes snap to Sarah before darting back to the bane of my existence as I twist and struggle against those damned shadows. Just looking at him has my temper rising as my powers seep out of me once more.
The building trembles as I snap, “Let. Me. Go.”
Sarah’s words ring in my head, The only option. I am unstable. I know that, but if she only knew how she is damning me. I can’t live with him. I can’t barely last five minutes in his presence. But I know it is all because of what I said the last time we talked. I shouldn’t have mentioned him. I keep fucking up. I shouldn’t have let that part out. If I hadn’t, this wouldn’t be happening. She would be none the wiser about the effect he had on me. My enemies wouldn’t know either. Sarah clears her throat and picks up a chair I didn’t know I had kicked out of my way. She motions to Erebus, offering him that one as she sits in the other.
Erebus looks to Sarah, then back to me. “If I let you go, do you promise not to leave?”
I narrow my eyes at him, already planning my next move. “Sure.”
Erebus reluctantly releases his shadows. I immediately turn and run toward the door. My body smacks against a shadowed wall, and I spew a string of curses in every language I knew. Fuck. He knows me too well. Godsdammit!
I growl, a deep animalistic sound, as I drag my nails down the door. I turn around, nonetheless. I move to sit on the couch, my arms folded. I know I am not leaving here. Not while he is here. I can be cocky-arrogant all I want, but he is stronger than I am. Erebus adjusts his jacket before taking a seat in the chair across from me that Sarah offered.
Sarah smiles softly, looking back at Erebus, then at me. I know that look and part of me wants to rip her to pieces. “I have a proposition for you. While yes, you may say no, as I said before, this would be your last option for rehabilitation help. This is for your own good.”
“My own good??? How??? How!?” I snap, looking between them, though I continue to stay in my seat.
Erebus speaks up, “I have purchased a new apartment.”
“Congratulations,” my voice drips with sarcasm as I fake clap.
He tilts his head slightly, his remark deadpan, “It’s for the two of us.”
I bark laughter, tilting my head back for effect before meeting his eyes. “Like fuck it is. There is no us. Do you want me to spell it out for you?”
Sarah speaks up, but blood is pounding in my ears, so I only catch the tail end of what she says. “This will be a safe place for you. You will both be living there. Erebus can help when your powers act up, just like he did here. Plus, having someone who cares about you may help.”
“This is a joke, right?” I turn my head, looking at her, waiting for the punchline. This couldn’t be happening. Right? Maybe I was having another nightmare. I pinch my upper arm where they can’t see. Ouch. Ok, not a dream. Fuck. She looks over at me, her expression not changing. Erebus shifts in his chair, the wood beneath him creaking as he leans slightly forward, his fingers intertwined as he rests his elbow on his knees.
“Atë, I want to help. I know. I know you don’t want anything romantic between us. I am just offering friendship. Nothing more. I want to help you with your powers, so you can control them, just like Sarah said.”
Friendship? Seriously? Oldest trick in the book. Like he won’t bend me over the second I give him the chance. There has to be more. No one is just nice. My nerves, powers, and heart are shot. I scoff as my eyes dart between the two of them. I can’t do this. This would only make everything worse. I have been hunting Kronos. I have people from my past coming back. How was I supposed to convince them he meant nothing if we were in the same fucking house?
“Why?” my voice cracks. My words come out with more emotion than I want them too. I am losing it. I can’t finish the sentence either. Like, why do you care so much? Why can’t you just leave me like everyone else has? Why would he even want to help me? I have brought him nothing but ruin and destruction, since the minute he stepped into my life. Now I am about to bring him even more. I want to scream. I want to yell at him to forget about me and leave, just move on. I mean he did, didn’t he? When he finally had a chance to move on, to be happy, to forget me, he did. Then I came back and ruined that too.
He raises a brow. “Why do I want to help you?
I nod, narrowing my eyes. “Sure, let’s start there. After everything, why? There has to be something you are getting out of this. Money? You don’t need that. So what’s in it for you? Hmm? Hot little therapist ass? Don’t try to lie. I don’t trust you. Not anymore.”
Good. There you go. Be cold. You are good at that.
Sarah shifts in her seat, clearly uncomfortable. Erebus just snorts, seemingly taken aback by my statement. “Let’s just say, I feel guilty for abandoning you.”
Dammit, why can’t he just take my bait? I look away from him as that damn ache comes back. He doesn’t mean it. He doesn’t mean it. I can’t do this. Fuck.
“And what happens if I decline this gracious offer?” I ask, folding my arms tighter as I look at Sarah.
“Simple. You fail. You go back to Tartarus. Permanently.”
I shrug. “Fine. Take me back, because I am not doing this.” I look at Erebus, trying my best at a disgusted look.
He jumps up from his seat, his voice almost booming. The lights in the room flicker, and every shadow flows toward him. “Now you are out of your fucking mind. You’re not going back to Tartarus. I’m not losing you again, and you’re not failing this program. So you either leave with me willingly or I drag you out myself.”
The next second, I am on my feet, my fist clenched painfully at my sides. “I would love to see you try, big guy.”
I feel a small hand touch my arm as Sarah is suddenly standing between us. “Listen, this won’t work unless you both…” she pauses, looking at me, “agree to this. Atë, please, he wants to help, just let him. Think of it this way, the harder you work on your control, the quicker this program is over. Then you won’t have to see him ever again, ok?”
“Move your hand off of me before I feed it to you.” I narrow my eyes at her, then look back at Erebus, before letting out a deep sigh. “Fine.”
The corner of Erebus’ lips twitch as the room suddenly lightens once more, the shadows returning to the corners of the room. He adjusts his jacket again. “So, it’s settled then, you and Ebhot will join me.” Erebus reaches into his pocket, takes something out, then holds his hand out to me. Inside, he palms a key to the new condo. Its silver shine taunts me. I snatch it from his hand, glaring at him.
“I’ll see you at home,” he smirks as he walks out. Asshole.
Sarah clears her throat behind me as she comes forward. “I do apologize for this, Atë, but—”
My hand shoots up, stopping her sentence. “Save it. Also, the session is done for the day.” The sarcasm drips from my tone. “Apparently, I have to go pack.”
I don’t say anything else as I storm from the room, slamming the door behind me. I can do this. It is only temporary, right? I survived trying to destroy Olympus and a thousand years in Tartarus. This will be easy. I’ll just live with the man I am in love with but can’t have, try to hunt down two mad titans, avoid my enemies from my past, and control my powers. Piece of cake.
Who am I kidding? I am fucked.