It’s hard being away from the kids. Even leaving them in Hedone and Margaux’s more than capable hands makes my skin tight. My hand tightens on my wife’s, lifting it to my lips, kissing it softly. She asked me to come, even pouted her luscious lower lip at me. Dirty tactic. Worthy of a trickster.
Now that Clio’s memories are restored, she is embracing her trickster side more and more thanks to having Atë and Eris back in her life. She practically beams, a soft iridescent glow emanating from her skin. It infects everyone around her. I don’t know how I was ever blind to her, how I could have ever looked at her and not seen the wife I longed for.
The God of Love, blind to his soul.
The irony is not lost on me, thank you very much. She drags me forward. “We can’t be late, Lykos.”
I drag my feet. “I want to be fashionably late to my funeral.” Like Elizabeth Taylor, mother-fucking-icon. Yeah, I know, the chances of an immortal god having a funeral are nil, but I can dream.
Clio hisses at me and her father, “It’s still rude to be late.”
“It’s rude to be early too. Haven’t you seen The Office?”
When in doubt, the voice of Michael Scott comes to me in times of turmoil. It’s polite to arrive early, only really good friends arrive early. Ergo, arrive early and become a really good friend.
Clio’s hand tightens on my arm. “I have, and if you hiss at me again, you will be having an early funeral.”
Papu storms into the warehouse, larger than life. He looks so much better since I last saw him. His recent trip to Wales rejuvenated him, and h. His eyes sparkle even as his voice booms, “I swear to Rhea, there had better be liquor here.”
I look down at my wife. “We don’t even know who is throwing this.”
Papu looks at me, quirking a platinum brow. “Didn’t we order this building demolished? I really need to check my mail.”
I look around at the warehouse. “I thought we did too.”
A burp comes from under a table, Eris’s head peeking out. “So we’re saying you want me to wreck the place?”
“No,” Clio responds quickly before Eris can run away with the idea.
A mortal waiter holds out a tray of drinks, and my brows furrow as I look at his face. He looks vaguely familiar, but I can’t put my finger on it. I swipe a glass of ambrosia from the tray, trying to figure out how I know him.
More gods filter in. I catch sight of Missy, Selene, and Skelly. It’s a blur of familiar faces as we remain next to Papu and Eris.
“So, I’m really not in the mood for surprises. Who’s getting married? Having babies? Whose babies are getting married? I can’t keep track of you anymore,” Zeus says.
Clio places a hand on her stomach. “Well…”
My eyes bulge. “You’re joking.”
She laughs at my expression. “Of course I am joking. The twins are still a bit much.”
A breath of relief hisses through my teeth. “Give me an ulcer, why don’t you?” I look her up and down. “You look delicious, by the way.”
She giggles softly, making my body warm at the sweet innocent sound. “An ulcer? And thank you.”
How could she still be so innocent, warm, and friendly after everything? Even more gods arrive, snapping me from my reverie, their faces blurring in front of my eyes.
I’m detaching again.
The scent of the ocean fills the room and my eyes lock on a tall god as he steps through the doorway. “Moist Uncle!”
Zeus smiles at his brother as he approaches. Seeing them next to each other, it strikes me how similar they look. Zeus’s hair is white, while Poseidon’s is brown, but their features, the weariness, the powers that sit on their shoulders, frame their similarities.
“Seriously?” Zeus asks, narrowing his eyes at his brother. “You let them call you that?”
Poseidon’s lips twitch as he bows his head to me. “Favorite nephew.” He turns and winks at his brother. “It keeps the boy tame.”
Zeus groans. “I may vomit.”
Adrestia stalks toward Clio and me, her customary frown already in place. Clio ignores that, kissing her cheek. “How are you?”
Adrestia crosses her arms. “Well, Clio, I’m wondering what the hell you and my brother are up to with this whole show?”
Clio tilts her head to the side, and I smother a smirk at how perfectly she imitates me. “Me?”
“Oh, like this doesn’t have you two written all over it,” Adrestia says.
“It’s not us.” I frown. I mean, if I’m being honest, a random party for the gods in a warehouse has me written all over it. Mentally I go down the list of Team Mischief, checking to see who else this sounds like.
Eris? No. Far too tame for their typical tastes.
Atë? Definitely not. She’s not a fan of crowds. And a crowd of family? This is her personal hell.
My thoughts are derailed as Clio leans up to whisper, “Maybe we should find another closet?”
I pull her to me, wrapping my arms around her back. She slides her hands up my chest, pressing her body against mine. Sometimes…it’s hard to believe she’s real. Those fantastic, iridescent eyes that look up at me contain a kaleidoscope of colors in them, the heart so pure it shines. I can’t believe that she’s mine.
Even as the event continues around us, I’m lost in those eyes, and the way she looks at me. Like I’m something worth looking at.
“I love you,” I whisper to her.
She smiles, going to her toes to kiss me softly. “I love you, too.”
The lights dimming is the only warning we get. My grip on my wife tightens as I prepare to defend her. My eyes lock on the reflections of the mirrors surrounding us. The golden frames of each are carved with languages, runes, and fractures of religions and magic that are supposed to be dead. My eyes lock on the one directly in front of me bearing the name CLIO.
My hands tighten on her even more as the spell begins. Clio’s hands lock on me, but the pull is too strong, yanking her from my chest. I grab her hand at the last second, my eyes locking on hers. I use everything I have in me to hold on to her, to hold on to my soul. Our feet leave the ground, dragged in separate directions. The only thing keeping us from being sucked in is our hold on each other.
Don’t let go. Can’t lose her again. Not again. Fight this. Fight this.
Another god hits us as they’re sucked in, and my grip loosens.
Then all I know is darkness.