I check my appearance over once more in the mirror, smoothing my hair and fiddling with the button on my shirt. It had been a few days since I stormed Eros’s floor and attacked him. As much as I hate to admit it, it wasn’t his fault. But still, I looked for someone to blame for my undeniable feelings.
No one will love him like you do
The words play verbatim in my mind. Closing my eyes, I clench the sides of the sink until the porcelain cracks. Taking a few calming breaths and shaking my head, I meet my reflection.
I couldn’t love Erebus. I would only bring him ruin. As if all the people I killed just by him being on that damned show, and the destroyed penthouse I left him in, isn’t proof enough. I shiver as the onslaught of memories from that night invades my subconscious before quickly dismissing them. Pushing off the sink, I rip off my yellow top and throw it into the growing pile of stolen clothes around my room. Stomping through the pile of varied colors, I kick a few out of my way, looking for something else.
Why am I so worried about what I wear to meet Persephone anyway?
Oh, that’s right, I’m not. No, I’m distracting myself instead of thinking of the recurring nightmares that came back with a vengeance. I see the cold, damp cell of Tartarus every second. Either the wails and screams of the condemned are begging for freedom in my ear, or I am reliving being tangled up with him. Always. Fucking. Him. Which causes another conflicting emotion in my already throbbing head.
I massage my temples as my phone continues to buzz at me, reminding me I have to meet Persephone for the rehabilitation program that was scheduled upon my release. I am already late. I barely made it back to Olympus, and already I have caused more problems. Ugh! What is the point? I will be no good at this get better scheme. Lifting my head, I spot a loose-fitting, long-sleeved red blouse I haven’t demolished yet and decide to go with that.
Reaching the God Complex sends a chill up my spine and causes my stomach to do somersaults. This was what I was trying to destroy and now look at me, getting ready to walk through the front doors. The sun cuts a glare off the large glass doors that sends another twinge of pain through my brain. I shake off my nerves, my loose curls tickling the back of my arms. Walking through the doors of the God Complex already has me on edge. The click of my heels on the cold marble floor is like an alarm that alerts every fucking person, telling them I am here. Every head snaps my way. If their face doesn’t hold fear, it holds disgust. The mortals working here whisper and scuttle out of my way. They are scared of me or shocked even to see me alive.
Remember, you’re the villain.
I shake my head, trying to keep it held high and head towards the elevator. I try to pay them no mind, but I would be lying if I said the thought of just disappearing and running far away from Olympus doesn’t cross my mind. I hid for centuries before, and I could do it again. I reach the hallway that holds the elevators and turn to the first one I see. I press the button as the circular emblem lights up and fold my arms, waiting as I stare at my reflection in the glass doors. My hair is no longer disheveled, like when I first got out. It’s bouncy again, full of life, unlike me. I almost feel like my old self. But then again, I’m lying. I fake a smile and run my hands through the tangle of curls on one side of my face. I stop as the reflection changes. The shiny marble floors turn slimy and an ashen coal color as the lights flicker. I watch as my black leather leggings and long-sleeve red blouse melt into the blackened outfit from Tartarus.
“No, no, no, no, no!” I whisper.
I grab the sides of my head as the wails and moans fill the hallway, shoving once again back in my prison surrounded by nothing but darkness. A sudden ding cuts through the air and has me snapping my head up as the doors open. I look around, and people I don’t recognize are staring at me. They gasp and clutch their items before scurrying past me. I turn and watch them leave as I rub my forehead, my eyes closing at the sudden pain. A sharp ring hit my ears, the piercing noise causing me to stumble as I step inside the elevator, the doors closing behind me. The ride takes no time to reach her floor. I practically run from the elevator once it opens. Small places seem to drive me even more insane since being locked away, and I can’t bear sitting in that fucking moving box any longer.
I’ll take the stairs next time.
Taking a deep breath, I run my hands over the front of my outfit and stop in front of her door.
I can do this. Maybe.
The brass plate reads Transitonem on the outside. Nodding at the name, I raise my hand, knocking lightly on Persephone’s door.
The door opens, and Persephone smiles. She looks over her shoulder at the clock on the wall.
“Running a little late?” Persephone’s blue eyes shimmer. Fuck, was she crying? “I was beginning to get worried about you.” She holds the door open and welcomes me inside. She obviously decorated the room. It is soft and feminine with well-placed plants and bright, airy colors. It would not take a genius to know that this was her space. “I thought something bad had happened to you. Would you like something to drink?” She opened a hidden cupboard, revealing a small fridge full of iced drinks. “I have coffee and tea.”
I shake my head, still surveying the room. “No.”
I move to the large couch she and take a seat, my head still aching. I lean back, my leg slightly fidgeting as I try to look more relaxed than I feel.
“So, how does this work exactly?” I ask, crossing my ankles.
“It is simple. We meet once a week, see how you are adjusting to being home. We do not even have to talk about anything of substance every time if you do not want to. I want you to feel ready to talk. I am not going to force you to say anything you do not want to.” Persephone sat on the chair opposite the couch. No notebooks, clipboards, or anything to show she was keeping track of what we talked about. “As long as we meet on schedule, and we accomplish something. I am in this for as long as it takes.” She looks at me, her blue eyes full of compassion and understanding. “I just want you to be home with us and be the sister I remember.”
I nod along with Persephone’s words. They seem genuine, and I mean, how could they not be? After all, she visited me in Tartarus with this idea. I still don’t know who released me, nor do I care much. I had assumed it dealt with my help of finding Hera, but I didn’t want to question it. So here I am. I will do the rehab like I am supposed to. Shit, I will do anything just as long as they don’t send me back. The room flickers in the next second, her office changing in a blink to the darkened cell of Tartarus and then back.
I close my eyes tightly, shaking my head. This isn’t real. I’m not there anymore. I open them once more, but the image is still present. Persephone’s mouth moves as if she is speaking to me, but I can’t hear the words. She sits in her chair, talking and smiling like the world around her isn’t dark, cold, and condensed.
No! I am out! I know I am out!
“I know it can be a shock, returning to the Above after being below. The sounds are different. The people different. Being around people after all the loneliness.” Persephone tucks a loose strand of her hair behind her ear as she looks at me. “So this week, I just wanted to look at what you want or need. There is no need to dive in-depth into your feelings or how you are coping with everything that transpired. Unless you want to talk about those, this week what we do is all up to you. Next week, we will have to dive in a little and start with topics that might make you uncomfortable. Okay?”
“I don’t want to be here!” I blurt out, completely unaware of what I am saying until it is too late. “I mean, can we go somewhere?”
Persephone looks at me with uncertainty, her gaze dropping towards the floor. “It should be alright. I mean, we are technically still having the session. What are you thinking? The gardens? The park, maybe? Fresh air would be good.”
I look from her to the cold cell and back. “How about I take you up on that drink offer?”
The club I pick is the one closest to the God Complex. Plus, I heard they are doing a special, since the mortals are currently passing around some disease. Give them a few centuries, and they will have another one, I swear. I watched them decay from the plague, so this one should be a cakewalk.
I am currently sitting at the long bar at Cloud Nine taking shots of tequila with Persephone. I will shoot one back and urge her to follow. It is actually quite amusing, given how her face changes every time the liquor touches her lips.
“Atë! You know I can’t keep up with you!” The music blares with an upbeat tempo that has the mortals practically bouncing out of their skin. I watch the crowd, my back leaning against the bar, as the real motive why I am here starting to form. “Oh. Ow.” Persephone makes a face as she downs another shot, but true to her word, she is attempting to match me drink for drink. “That..really burns, Atë. Like…really bad.” Persephone forces a smile even though it is obvious the alcohol is quickly going to her head. Her usual demeanor is changing, words are slowly slurring, and random things are becoming funny.
I top off my glass with the last of the bottle and wave the bartender down for another. Turning back to Persephone, I shoot back the liquid barley, feeling it scorch my throat. Another perk of Tartarus and its shit. I was having a hard time feeling anything.
I smile at Persephone as the bartender leaves our new bottle. I unscrew the lid, pouring both of us another glass.
“So, Doc. Ask me a question,” I say, taking another drink.
“Hmmmmmm.” She chews her lip as she looks at me, her cheeks already burning red from the flush of the alcohol. “Does this help? Does it help you to forget? The drinking?” She lowers her voice and tries to whisper, but the music drowns her out. She ends up having to repeat her question two more times, finally yelling to be heard over the ramped-up music. “Does drinking help you when you want to just throw everything out the window and say fuck it?” I see her eyes widen in shock at her own audacity in letting that word to escape.
Tilting my head, I pour another drink, thinking of her question. “You know I have to say drunk Persephone is kind of my favorite right now.” I pause, fiddling with the glass in my hand. “And yes, sometimes I do want to, but I can’t.” I force a smile her way before sitting silently.
“That is important, you know. To know you can not. It is a step in the right direction.” Grabbing the glass off the bar top, Persephone throws her head back and downs the shot, but fails to do so smoothly. “Oh, shit,” she mutters, wiping the spilled alcohol from her cheek.
My eyes cut at her for a second, her words a step in the right direction playing over before I look away. If she knew what I had done once I had gotten out of Tartarus, she wouldn’t be thinking that. My blind fury after finding out about Erebus and that damned show and then leaving him like he meant nothing. I am so far off from the right direction, it isn’t even funny. Sighing, I take one last shot and grab her hand as we hop from the bar.
“What? Where are we going?” Persephone tries to put the empty glass back on the bar as I pull her away from the barstool. The glass falls to the ground, shattering as she misses the counter. “Uh oh!” she adds, laughing.
“Enough talk,” I yell over the music, continuing to the dance floor, “time for dancing!”
We weave our way through the crowd, and I less than nicely move several people out of our way. As soon as we hit the middle of the floor, I spin Persephone slightly to get her in the dancing mood. The alcohol, music, and a little mischief in the air, is all it takes. She moves and sways to every beat, throwing herself into the enjoyment of the dance. I grab her hand, pulling her close to me, her body matching the shape of mine.
I hear her giggle as we dance to the heart-pounding music. Persephone drops her head back, the lights of the club tinting her blond hair a myriad of colors. The music takes her over, and it is easy for me to move her exactly where I want her.
“We should do this more often!” she yells as the tempo of the music picks up. “This is fun!”
I nod as we bounce and dip to the music, my smile and laughter matching hers as I yell back, “Yeah!”
My smile is fake, my laugh the same. Yes, this is fun, but this, too, has a purpose. I know Persephone wants to help, but how can she? The visions that sweep my mind from my time in Tartarus plagues me relentlessly. How can she relate to that? The music beat changes again as I spin, releasing more mischievous energy into the room.
A couple of guys from the bar have been watching us the entire time, and with a wink and an innocent smile, they soon get up and make their way over. Perfect. Now time for Plan B. One of them slips a hand around my waist, trying to steer me to dance. I shake my head, pointing over my shoulder at Persephone. He and his friend take the hint, converging on her to dance. She looks at me, still giggling as I smile and nod, encouraging her to have fun. It doesn’t take long before she is distracted, and I leave Persephone in the middle of them. She doesn’t even notice as she laughs and continues to dance, oblivious to anything save the music. Perfect. It is now time for Plan C.
And Plan C stands for Plan Chaos.