My head was a mess, my chest ached, and I felt like I was going to be sick. I needed to speak to someone. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I was so sure she would return my feelings, and now I felt lost.
Eros! He’d know what to do. I headed up to the 69th floor of the OA building and knocked on Eros’s door, not noticing the time. Maybe he’s still at the party?
I could hear some movement behind the door and breathed a sigh of relief. The door opened slowly to reveal Clio.
“Oh—uh—hey…” I looked over her shoulder to see if I could see Eros. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that Clio would be there. With everything going on, I hadn’t realized they had gotten their memories back. Of course, she would be here. They were married.
“Is Eros around?” Worry was written all over my face, no matter how hard I tried to conceal my feelings I couldn’t. I was ready to explode.
“He’s asleep. Are you okay? You look unwell.” Clio grabbed at her robe, pulling it tightly closed.
I ran a hand through my hair. I knew I wasn’t acting like myself. I was hardly the image of darkness and primordial. I was so low, though, that I hardly cared. “Not really.”
Clio took a step back, opening the door wider to allow room for me to come in.
“Would you like to talk?”
If Eros is sleeping, do I really want to spill my guts to Clio? I shifted on my feet. I never cared for you. How could I? I used you, and I kept trying to use you to help me defeat my father. Atë’s voice played over in my head. Without answering Clio I pushed passed her and walked into Eros’s flat, the lump in my throat growing.
“I don’t know what to do.” I paced in the kitchen.
“About what, Erebus?” She held out a plate of cookies, offering me one.
I scoffed, pushing the plate away. “A cookie? No, I don’t want a fucking cookie.”
Clio tilted her head, pitying me, no doubt.
“This is a bad idea,” I said, taking a step towards the door. I felt stupid for being so vulnerable in front of her.
Clio put her hand out, pulling me back. “Talk to me.”
I could see the worry written all over her face. She wasn’t feeling sorry for me. She was actually concerned. I pointed to a chair. “Mind if I sit?”
Clio nodded, taking the seat opposite me. I could barely look her in the eye; it was only a few hours ago we were playing that ridiculous game. I absentmindedly rubbed my lips on my sleeve.
“So, what did you want to speak to my husband about?” She kept her eyes lowered like she was ashamed of the kiss as well.
I drew circles on the table, “I thought—” I recalled what Atë said. “I thought we were friends.”
Clio looked confused. “Who?”
“Oh, I didn’t mean you.” I shook my head. “Look, I’m sorry for earlier. I shouldn’t have kissed you like that.”
Clio’s face turned red at the mention of the kiss. “It was a game.”
“Yes, but it was still disrespectful. It was clearly an awkward kiss and not what either of us had in mind.”
“You didn’t disrespect me, Erebus. I volunteered for the game,” she said, smiling. “I knew what I was doing.”
“Have you ever thought something, and believed it with all of your heart, only to find out none of it was true?”
Clio frowned. “Sort of…”
“I just don’t know how I could be so wrong.” The more I thought about Atë and our visit, the more my heart ached.
“Well, what are you wrong about?”
I could see Clio meant no harm and just wanted to help, but I wasn’t so sure I wanted to pour my heart out to her, I barely knew her. And these feelings…this was something entirely new. I couldn’t think of a time where I felt quite like this, not even when Nyx ended our marriage. I didn’t know what else I could do. I needed to speak to someone.
“Atë—she doesn’t have feelings for me, she never has, she used me.” My shoulders slumped, and my head hit the table in defeat.
“What makes you think that?”
“Think? Think! I don’t think, my dear muse, she told me to my face.” I looked up at Clio, she was frowning. “I don’t know how I could have been so wrong?” I said, shaking my head, confused. “I felt it. I know I did.” She used you, she said so herself. I squeezed my eyes tight. No one can just fake it like that? I tried to convince myself it was real.
“She has been through a lot, Erebus. We all abandoned her.”
I opened my eyes and raised my head. “She told me she used me and I didn’t abandon her. I was too wrapped up in my own shit.” I was a selfish primordial. That’s ridiculous, what god isn’t selfish? “I remember her when she was a kid, but I was so wrapped up in myself, with Nyx and the family.” The more I talked, the more comfortable I felt opening up to Clio. She was a good listener. “I thought Atë understood me. We—shared things with one another, we connected.” I rolled my eyes. “At least I thought we connected, but it was all a lie.”
Clio chewed her lip. “She could have been lying? Call this a feeling, but I think she is going to try and push each one of us away.”
I wanted to believe Clio, but Atë was so convincing.
“She could be saying things, things she has made herself believe are true. Am I making sense?”
“I don’t know anything anymore. I can’t tell the difference between the truth or a lie. She messed with my head. If she’s pushing me away, I don’t know why.”
“You know what happened to her, Erebus.”
“Of course, I do,” I sneered.
“If I were her, I wouldn’t trust anyone, and I sure wouldn’t open my heart to anyone. She might be afraid of getting hurt again.”
“And I didn’t get hurt?” I rolled my eyes. “My heart was trampled on, too. I don’t know. Maybe I should just do the stupid dating show and forget about her.” Even just saying that made me feel like a traitor.
“What dating show?”
I looked at her, surprised. I thought Eros and Clio shared everything.
“The one Eros signed me up for.” I looked at her incredulously. “Didn’t you know?”
“No,” she shook her head. “No, I didn’t.”
“Well, he did. They called me a month ago. It’s all set up.”
Eros called out, his voice filled with concern, “Aren? Aren!”
The bedroom door ripped open. Eros stood in the bedroom doorway, his eyes frantic and wild, searching the flat until they found Clio. He walked over as if in a trance, not even noticing me. He held onto her arms, grabbing at her needily, making sure it was really her.
“There you are,” he sighed, looking relieved before turning to me, his brows shooting up. “E, you look like shit.”
Clio took Eros’s hand. “Erebus was just telling me about this dating show?” She didn’t sound amused.
Eros still looked out of sorts.
“Show…oh! The show! Yes, filming starts soon, doesn’t it, E?”
I grimaced. “Yes.”
Clio stood back on her heel, folding her arms on top of one another. “And why is this the first I am hearing of this?”
Eros put an arm around Clio and kissed her on the cheek, calming her. “I’ll tell you about it later.”
Eros looked me over, his eyes narrowed. “You went to see her, didn’t you?”
Eros cleared his throat. “How’d she look?” He sat down at the table, pulling Clio into his lap.
“Horrible.” I rubbed the back of my neck. “This is my fault.”
“How, exactly?” Eros squeezed Clio tight. “I mean, she does deserve it.”
Clio frowned at his remark.
My shadows ruffled. Now was not the time to pick a fight. “I don’t know, I just, I don’t like locking her in there. She’s all alone, and I did that. I locked her in there, I mixed my shadows with hers, trapping her so she could never leave that cell.” My guilt was eating at me.
“You didn’t force her to release the Titans, to force Papu, she knew the consequences if she failed,” Eros rationalized.
“I was supposed to be her friend.” I barely listened. “No wonder she doesn’t want me to visit her.”
“Well, why would she? You’re not in love with her, are you?”
“It doesn’t matter anymore.” I shrugged.
“I thought not. Atë just messed with your mind, giving you all these crossed wires. I’m sure of it.”
Clio opened her mouth to speak, but Eros pinched her side. “I would be able to tell if you were in love, right? I am the God of Love, after all.”
“Don’t you get it! Even if I was, she’s locked up and not getting out.” There is no us. The only reason you feel this connection is because I got into your head. Her voice reminded me it was all in my head. “I should just move on. She clearly doesn’t want me.”
“Then move on. What’s stopping you?” Eros said matter of factly.
Clio looked at me sadly.
“I came here looking for advice…I mean, you’re the God of Love. Where’s the advice?”
Eros raised his brow. “I just gave it. Move on.”
I looked at Clio, knowing she disagreed with her husband. “It’s what she wants, even if she is lying.”
Eros tilted his head. “Why would she lie? She’s not getting out, right? What does she have to gain by lying?”
“I don’t know. I guess she was telling the truth.” My stomach lurched.
“I hate to break it to you, E, but if I were in jail and had no chance of leaving, I’m not telling lies.”
I could feel my insides churning. Something was working its way up my chest, burning it. My heart raced a mile a minute. “What’s the point?” Eros shrugged.
I put my head down on the table. “You’re right.”
“I always am.”
Clio stood up from Eros’s lap, seemingly frustrated as she walked into the kitchen.
“Do the show, E, try something different,” he smirked.
I looked over at Clio, giving her a gentle smile. “I’ll take that cookie now.”
She let out a breath before returning to the table with the cookies. “Here, Erebus.”
“Yeah,” I nodded to Eros with some resolve, “I’ll move on. It’s the right thing to do,” I said while taking a cookie and biting into it. My brow perked. “Do these have bacon in them?”
“They do not.” Clio giggled.
“Do I even want to know?” Eros asked.
I looked at the cookie and winced, putting the cookie down without taking another bite. “You need to work on your baking skills.”
Clio’s jaw dropped. “My cookies taste just fine!”
“Meh, you were better with the sympathetic ear,” I tried joking. I stood from the table. “I’m sorry for the intrusion.” I walked towards the door and turned back to look at Clio, “Thanks for listening.”
“Anytime,” Eros and Clio said in unison.
“Floor 69, we give and receive here.” Eros grinned.
“Really?” Shaking my head at Eros. “You’re nasty.”
“It is way too late for this.” Clio sighed.