I run as far and as fast as I can. I run until the ache in my chest soothes. I run until my mind goes blank, and I forget why I am even running in the first place. I run until I reach Central Park. It is strangely quiet, but I appreciate it. At least no one will see the mess I am.
Something wet is rolling down my face. I brush at it only to realize that I am crying. Me? Crying? I was trained to be an emotionless weapon. Not some blubbering fool. Yet here I am, crying. Why am I so emotional? Why did I let Dominic into my bed? It is his fault I am like this. It is my fault for breaking down these damn barriers I set around myself.
I take a seat at one of the benches, burying my face into my hands and sobbing. I don’t even realize someone has approached me until I hear their voice.
“Miss? Are you…alright?” a man asks.
I jolt, quickly wiping the tears from my face. “Fine.”
The man sits beside me, his movements cautious as if I am a bear ready to spring at him. Didn’t he get the hint? Fine means leave me the fuck alone, though clearly to him it is an open invitation to pry into my private life.
“You don’t seem alright,” he finally says.
“Well, I am.”
He pauses. “Would you like to talk about it? I’m a good listener.”
I turn and look at him fully, snorting when I notice the collar around his neck. Priest huh? Thinking he is going to spread some good into me? Ha.
“Then expect me to repent my sins after? No thanks,” I hiss.
He tilts his head. “Do you have sins you wish to repent?”
“Of course not.” I snort.
His brows furrow. “Then what happened?”
Fine. You want to ask questions? I will play along. I sighed. “I let someone into my bed I shouldn’t have.”
“Ah,” he says. “You are married to…someone else?”
“Me? Married? Ha!” I laugh. “You’re funny.”
“Then why was he the wrong man if you are not wed?” he asks.
“I don’t let people in,” I reply. “I don’t let people take control.”
“Ah, and he did,” he replies, and for a moment, I think about ripping his throat out. “You fear being vulnerable and rejected.”
I glare at him, snapping my teeth. “Watch it.”
He holds his hands up. “Someone hurt you, bad.”
“It is none of your business,” I say, my eyes narrowing.
We are silent for a moment, and I look down at my hands. The silence is torture. Everything in my head spins, trying to pull me back into a vulnerable state. I hate it.
“They seem so oblivious, don’t you think?” the priest finally says.
I look up at the people around us. “What do you mean?”
He points at one of the couples who are walking slowly on the pathway. “They seem so happy. I wonder what nightmares will keep him from sleeping. I wonder if, during those nightmares, he might hurt the woman he loves.”
My brows furrow, an ache forming in my chest. “That’s an odd thing for a priest to say.”
His lips twitch. “You seem to think me being a priest means I’m blind?”
A sharp pain strikes the front of my head, and I pinch my nose. “I…hm…”
“You forget we believe in confessions,” he says, leaning back on the bench. “I hear their darkest secrets. Their heart’s desires.”
The more he says, the more my head aches. My eyes snap open, and rage consumes me as I straddle him, my hands tightening on his throat.
“Who the fuck are you?” I hiss.
“My word,” is the only thing that comes out from the priest’s mouth as he blinks.
“What are you doing to my head?!” I yell.
“I don’t understand.”
I release him, a sudden wave of guilt overcoming me. This isn’t me. I am kind. I am good. No…no…I…I… Looking down at my hands, I gulp. “What is happening to me?”
The priest covers my hands, a look of concern plastered on his face. “Miss? Do you need help?”
That’s when it hits me. I know him. His face, his eyes, his smell, his…taste. It was mine. Wasn’t it? He is mine? No, this is wrong. He is wearing the wrong clothes…the man I know…knew…he wore no shirt. I’d smack him gently, laughing and demanding he wear a shirt. I didn’t want to share what was mine. I continue to search the priest’s face.
“You…” I whisper.
“Your eyes,” he says, gently touching my cheek. His touch sends a bolt of electricity through me, and I wince, squeezing my eyes shut.
“I-I…know you,” he whispers brokenly. I have to push myself away, scrambling as far away as I can. My back hits the tree as tears pour down my face. Memories from another life come flooding forward, and I can’t seem to tell what is true and what is false. It only hurts.
“I… I…” I stutter.
The priest hisses, touching his back. “What’s happening?”
“H-Help me,” I stutter. My vision becomes blurry with tears, and my head continues to explode. I start to bang my head against the tree to relieve the pain. “L-Lykos…”
It’s the last thing I say before my world goes black.
The mirror shatters around us, and shards fall, slicing my side, ichor dripping from the wounds. I hiss loudly at the pain, shaking my head, trying to clear my mind of the fake memories, fake reality. There is only one thing that matters in this reality.
I roll onto my side, barely feeling the glass cutting into my skin, past the clothes I wore on the night of the party. The injuries don’t matter. The memories shoving through my mind don’t matter.
“Aren!” I groan. I try to stumble to my feet. Gods are in similar states around us, lying in the broken shards of their own mirrors. More gods shift and groan as they’re thrown from their mirror lives.
“A-Aren?” I repeat, trying again to get to my feet.
“O-ow,” a soft voice whispers, the sound of more mirrors shattering and falling.
“AREN!” I get to my arms, trying to see through the numerous gods and broken mirrors for my wife.
I groan, crawling over the broken glass to her until I get to her. She sobs when she sees me, throwing herself into my arms. I don’t know who shakes more, her or I.
“I-It happened a-again. It h-happened,” she sobs.
Torn asunder again.
Over and over.
She claws at my shirt, pressing her face into my chest. “L-Lykos…Lykos this….this is you?”
I nod. “It’s me, Aren.”
She grips it tighter. “I…I did…t-th—” she chokes on her words, clogging her throat.
I kiss her head, squeezing her to me. “You weren’t you.”
She shakes her head against my chest. “I…I…”
I squeeze her even tighter, popping to her apartment in the museum, and landing on the bed with her there. She wraps her arms around me even tighter before bolting up. “Our babies! Hedone!”
I grab the phone next to the bed, dialing our daughter. I place it between our heads so she can hear as Hedone answers.
“I thought you promised not to be checking in every couple of minutes?” Hedone asks immediately.
I look at the phone in confusion, then at the clock on the wall. A couple minutes? I lock eyes with Clio, covering the microphone on the phone when she whispers, “We were gone for days…”
Or were we?
Hedone snorts. “It’s been less than an hour.”
I clear my throat, trying to wrap my head around that. “How are the twins?”
“Pater!” she whines.
Clio takes the phone from me. “We will be home in a couple of h-hours. If anything happens, you know what to do.”
“Miteras! I know!” Then only silence.
Clio lets out a shaky breath, glancing up at me, her eyes shimmering with emotion. Whatever happened to her in the mirror world, still had her reeling. I touch her cheek. “I love you.”
Her voice cracks. “I love you .”
Taking her hand, I link my fingers through hers. “We still found each other.”
We will always find each other.
“I-In every life,” she whispers.
I kiss her deeply, probing, wishing I could erase the shadows that now linger in her eyes. “If time didn’t pass here, Aren. It means nothing that happened there was real.”
“It…It felt…so real,” she whispers shakily.
It was supposed to feel real. It was supposed to make us forget.
“Even if it were real, it wouldn’t change how I feel about you, Aren,” I whisper back.
Her eyes tear up. “You promise? What happened was…it wasn’t me.”
I tunnel her fingers into her hair, pulling her closer. “Nothing you could ever do would make me love you less.”
“You’d be shocked.”
I roll with her in bed, putting her beneath me. “Shocked, huh?”
She looks up at me, and a flash of life goes through her eyes. “I had a special room.”
My brows shoot up. “Oh? Tell me about it.”
She winces, shutting her eyes. “It was a room w-with toys. I w-woke up with l-like three o-other people.”
I snicker, kissing her neck. “Oh really?”
She shakes her head. “This is not funny!”
I smirk into her neck. “Tell me more.”
She mumbles something under her breath. I snicker again, pulling away to look down at her. “Aren, you know I have a…checkered history. It can’t be that bad.”
She frowns, that adorable crease in her brow forming. “You are going to make fun of me!”
I roll onto my back, taking her with me. “Me?”
She giggles, nodding. “Yeah, you.”
I brush her hair back over her ear. “Make fun of the love of my immortal life? How could I?”
“I was a dominatrix.”
I have to cover my mouth to keep the laugh from coming out. She hits my chest. “F-Fudge you!”
How could a woman who can’t even say the word fuck ever be a domintrix?
I can barely keep the laughter inside. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry! It’s just…difficult for me to imagine.”
She scrunches her nose. “I was also the head of my own mafia.”
She pales suddenly, pulling away from me. I touch her chin. “Look at me.”
She squeezes her eyes shut, refusing.
“Aren,” I growl in warning.
She shakes her head again. Her eyes sealed shut. “Y-You can’t f-force me to talk about this.”
I release her immediately. “So what? You’re keeping secrets? Again? You remember how well that went last time.”
She flinches away, finally opening her eyes, hurt shining there. “I-I need to process w-what happened.”
I take a deep breath. “I understand that, but you’re shutting me out.”
“Like you shut me out of your nightmares.”
Now, it’s my turn to flinch. “Direct hit, Clio.”
“I-I didn’t mean…”
I sit up, then stand. “Yes, you did.”
She looks at me, sitting up on the bed. “I-I’m sorry.”
I move away from her more. “I had it coming.”
She grabs my arm, luring me back to bed. “No…it w-was unfair of me.”
I tense. “I thought after everything…”
I thought we didn’t have secrets anymore. I thought we shared everything.
She kisses my cheek, pressing her forehead against me. “Lykos…I love you. Only you.”
I stare at the wall, murmuring, “But you won’t share this with me.”
“I need to process this, Lykos. I hurt people! I did horrible things, things I would never do. I fucked someone else! For fuck’s sake, I-I’m just…” she breaks down again, sobbing, “I…I wish…it never h-happened.”
It didn’t happen. It was a cruel trick, something designed to tear us all apart.
I open my arms for her, turning on the bed. “Come here.”
She crawls into my arms, sobbing uncontrollably, weeping for a life that she never lived.