California Hotel, Part III

The man standing at the door is my Uncle Hades. Hung over his shoulder is a lifeless body. I look at him in concern as he drops the body on my desk before sitting in the chair in front of me.

Taking a seat in my office chair, I flip through a few documents. I haven’t had much time to keep up at the museum. Between Eros’s nightmare situation and teaching Hedone how to read, write, and other things, I have had little time to do anything for my museum. Luckily my sister, Polyhymnia, was able to watch over things for me. She was one of the first people I went to when opening the museum. She volunteered to work in the archives and has helped me with some of the housekeeping. Today, she is out, which left me on my own. Well, I wasn’t alone. My husband has been keeping me company, although he has been more of a distraction than a help. Speaking of distraction. Eros walks behind my office chair, resting his hands on my shoulders. They drift down my arms and he hooks his fingers into the tops of my jeans.

Aren…” he whispers seductively.

I continue to look at my documents. I was not falling for this…again. “Yes?”

His hand slips under my shirt as he kisses my neck and bites it lightly. “You know I don’t think we’ve had sex on this desk yet…”

I put the documents down, turning my chair to face him. “Really? What was that a few minutes ago?”

He leans forward, placing his hands on the arms of my chair. “I mean, we haven’t had sex twice on this desk…”

I giggle, kissing him gently. “You know I need to get some actual work done.”

He growls, kissing me harder. “You sure about that? I think there are many other things we could do instead…”

He places kisses down my neck making it hard for me to focus. I quickly kiss the top of his head before turning to face my desk once more.

“I’m sure. If you are bored, there are some books you can read,” I say.

“Oh? Think I can’t seduce you into seeing things my way?” He leans down next to my ear, growling, “That sounds like a challenge.”

Suddenly, the door to my office opens. It startles me, mostly because the museum is currently closed and there should be no one here other than Eros and me. Uncle Hades strides in the door, a lifeless body slung over his shoulder. I watch in concern as he drops the corpse on my desk before sitting in the chair in front of me. 

“Uncle?” Eros says. “You look like shit.”

“What happened?” I ask. “Are you hurt?”

“I feel like shit, but thank you, Nephew. I’ll be fine. That thing,” my uncle says, gesturing to the body, “is not though. Could I bother you for some water?”

Eros ducks into the back room where my kitchen is located. Hades and I sit in silence as I try to wrap my head around what is happening. It only takes seconds before Eros returns, handing the water to Hades.

“Do I need to call Din?” Eros asks.

“No, it’s not that bad.” He drains the glass. “Thank you.”

I stare at the body, my eyes glowing slightly. “There is no aura…Its soul…” It’s gone. Dead. One thing I have discovered since my memories of Psyche have returned, is that I now have different…powers. I haven’t figured out all the things I am capable of, being the Goddess of Soul as well, but one thing I can do is read the auras of living things.

“I don’t think it had one.” Hades grimaces.

I gulp. “What happened?”

“The thrumming that has been building, she was the cause of it. So I went to look for it, found her, and a damn cult,” he says, tilting his head back and closing his eyes for a moment.

Eros frowns, coming closer to the side of the creature. “Why us? Why not Din and Nyxie?”

“First place where the portal opened. And you have a new exhibit coming up once the museum opens up again. Dead things can be art, too, no?” He sighs heavily, sitting up straighter. 

“Most dead things are art,” Eros says, looking down at his phone.

I walk over to the desk, placing a hand on the creature’s chest. “You mentioned a cult?”

“A cult not run by Z?” Eros remarks. 

Lykos.” I glare at him.

“What?” He shrugs. “Papu has run a couple of cults in his life. And by a couple, I mean like seven hundred.”

“You are not wrong,” Hades adds. “I did not care to stay around long enough to delve deeper, but they seemed to have an extreme distaste for immortals.”

I bite my lip. “Maybe we can get some answers from the body?”

My uncle glances at me. “Yes, that is what I was hoping you would do when I brought it here.”

“The only problem is…I need to look into its eyes,” I mumble. An idea hits me, and I look up at Eros, smiling. “Lykos…”

“No.” He crosses his arms across his chest. “It could give you nightmares.”

“I have you to help me with those.”

Eros frowns at me before moving to the creature’s head. “Fuck, fine.”

“Just hold the eyelids open,” I instruct him.

“Gross,” Eros says, using his thumbs to pull back the creature’s eyelids.

I try not to giggle at my husband’s distaste as my eyes begin to glow. I meet the dark eyes of the creature, its history slowly revealing itself to me. Its past plays in my mind like a movie. A high speed movie that doesn’t pause even when I ask it too. The images that play in front of me are confusing. I can only make out a few things. Once it is done, I fall back into the chair. 

“Are you alright, Clio?” my uncle asks.

Eros drops to his knees, moving to my side. He cradles my head in his hands. “Why do you insist on this, Aren?

I nod, my voice going quiet. “I…I am fine…I am just…I am trying to figure out what I saw.”

“Nothing delightful, I imagine.” Hades grimaces.

Eros looks down at his phone once more. “Fucking, Din.”

I close my eyes, trying to remember some of the images that flashed across my mind.

“There was a ring of fire. A giant tumbleweed statue that looks vaguely like an owl? At least that is what I thought. There were other items like a stone altar, a giant knife, and a shadowy being. They looked like titans b-but I am not sure,” I mumble, shaking my head.

Eros snaps his fingers, pulling my focus to him. “Aren? Take it slowly.”

“Yes, Lykos.” I turn to look at Hades. “Does any of this sound familiar?”

“It is what I saw while I was there.” Hades frowns. “Besides the shadows.”

Eros stands slowly, resting his hands on my shoulder. “Where was this?” 

“Los Angeles,” Hades says. “I forbid you from going there.”

Eros narrows his eyes. “Not recommended to tell me not to do something, Uncle. Though LA doesn’t seem like your kind of style.”

“Why can’t we go there?” I ask Hades, ignoring Eros’s comment.

“I have no interest in being in LA, but that was where the noise originated. It was driving me mad, so I followed it. She was the one making it, though I have no idea how,” Hades says, getting up. He limps over to the body and squints at it.

Something about this whole situation does not feel right. Fear grips at my heart and I grab Eros’s arm, looking at him.

“Where is Kori?” I ask him.

“She is with Nyxie and Din. She is visiting them tonight,” he answers. At least I didn’t have to worry about her. 

“I don’t want her out of anyone’s sight…Uncle, I think we should go back to LA,” I say.

“You’re staying here,” Eros tells me.

“You are both staying here,” Hades corrects.

Eros scoffs. “If you’re going, I am going, too. I have a debt to pay.”

“To who?” my uncle asks.

Eros clears his throat. “Doesn’t matter. You’re not going alone.”

I nod. “I am going to go, too. After what I saw, I think it is best to stick together.”

“No,” Eros immediately says.

“Very well. Let us go then.” Hades sighs, ignoring Eros’s no. He pushes off the desk, conjuring two helmets for us. “I will not listen to either of you bickering, however.”

Eros turns to me, growling, “Aren, please.”

“Eros, let it go.” Hades glances over his shoulder, already at my office door. “I have learned when a woman has set her mind on something she will follow through. Best to just come along.”

He disappears from my office. Eros doesn’t look at me as he picks up his helmet and follows Hades. I take my helmet off the desk and follow behind them. I have made my decision about going with them. A few months ago, I watched Kronos take Eros and Dinlas, and I did not know what to do. This time I was not going to let two people I care about go into the fire without me. I want to help the best I can.

I catch up with Eros and Hades, just as my uncle pushes the entrance doors to the museum open. In front of the steps is Hades’ motorcycle. He waves his hand, and it disappears and is replaced with a Mercedes Benz SUV. Eros grumbles.

“Is the body going to be okay here?” Eros asks.

“It’s dead. The worst thing it will do is stink up my office.” I reply.

“I will have it cleaned later, and you don’t need to wear those right now.” Hades motions to the helmets. “You’ll need them when we get there.”

He rounds the car, getting in on the driver’s side.

“You have no value for your possessions,” Eros says. “Uncle, I can drive. You’re still injured.”

“It’s a flesh wound. I’ll have it looked at later. Come along,” Hades replies.

Eros rolls his eyes and gets in on the passenger side. I slip into the back seat behind my uncle, placing the helmet on the floor beside me.

“Are we going to be fighting, Uncle? Or investigating?” Eros asks.

The car starts up, jazz music playing in the background. Hades reverses the car and starts driving down the road. I look out the window, mentally preparing myself.

“Most likely, both,” Hades says. “I did not leave on good terms.”

Eros puts his helmet between his feet before turning to face me.

“Aren, come here.”

I lean forward. “Yes?”

Eros covers my heart with his hand, a slight red glow flowing from his arm to my chest. Once the light fades, he sits back in his seat.

“You have my armor now. Summon it, and you’re invincible for a short time. Just in case,” he says.

I place a hand on my chest, gulping. This wasn’t going to be a little investigation. We were preparing for a full-on fight, something with which I don’t have much experience. 

“Brace yourselves, please,” Hades alerts, his eyes on the road. He flicks his hand, and a portal opens in front of us. I close my eyes, gripping the seat. I dislike teleportation. Eros reaches back to grab my arm as my uncle floors it. We are launched through the portal, leaving Greece behind.

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