I sip the champagne from my glass as the music in the arena changes to a slow rhythmic melody. Couples group together, the lights dimming as they sway and smile toward their partners. Some lay their heads on their significant others while a few stragglers wander at the edges. A long golden gown catches my eye, the sparkles shimmering as the woman spins. Her beloved turns her again, both smiling as if no one else matters. His dark hair and features send a twinge of pain to my already broken heart. The scene shifts, and I am back on Olympus. Before the fall. Before the chaos. A young goddess who thought mischief was more fun than ruin.
“I don’t want to be here,” I shout at Hera as she pulls me along, but it is no use. Whatever the queen wants, she gets. I huff and adjust my dress at the sides.This place is filled with boring old gods and goddesses, dancing, laughing, and talking. I stay on the outer rim of the dance floor and steal some wine from the large diamond-encased bowl. I am supposed to be having fun, but I am bored out of my mind. I am busy plucking grapes and throwing them in my mouth like the classy lady I am when I feel it. The air changes, and my skin seems to come alive. Only one person makes me feel this way, and it is a secret I hold close to my heart. As if draped by night itself, Erebus and his wife Nyx enter the large column-lined ballroom.
My heart skips just looking at him. I make fun of all the immortals who thought they were immune to Eros’s curse, but fell victim to it, anyway. Yet, when I look at Erebus, I think I get a taste of love. The pull I feel toward him is undeniable, but he is married and not just to anyone. Nyx is the living embodiment of night herself. Who could compete? Maybe it is the risk of the unattainable or the fact that the black mist I wield seems to call to him every time we are in the same area, but he is at the center of all my dreams. Nyx isn’t the only obstacle. My father would have my head if I threatened to ruin the alliance he has with the Primordials. So I try to ignore the pull and brush the attraction off, but it dilutes my feelings for every man, woman, or nymph. I have found myself dissatisfied and pulling further away. Like here, standing at the edge of this massive, gorgeous arena, watching as the lovers dance and smile at each other as if no one else matters.
I stay in the shadows as I pace the outer rim. I watch as everyone laughs and mingles over a battle recently won. So many I have lost count. I pause, my hand bracing against one of the columns as I watch him. The one thing I want more than anything in the world, and yet I can’t have.
Olympus blurs as I am thrust out of my memory and back into reality. The golden-dress mortal dancing with her very human lover continues onward in a circle. A waiter serving drinks walks by and I raise my hand, intending to knock him off balance, spilling the contents of his tray. It will only be a few moments before the gold lady slips and breaks her ankle. My power creeps up, eager to do my bidding, but I squash it. What am I doing? A jealous goddess plotting yet another form of revenge on someone who didn’t drive it? No.
“You showed? And alone. I am impressed.” I hear Peter’s voice behind me and spin. He sips champagne from a clear glass as he smirks at me. His brown hair is cut close to his head, and an overpriced suit I know he can’t afford drapes his five-eleven frame. I know he can’t afford the suit because I took everything from him the minute I met him. He was my one ticket to destroying Olympus, and I almost succeeded. Now my arch-nemesis stares daggers at me behind his cool demeanor.
“Miss me?” he asks, leaning against the bar.
“Go fuck yourself. Which I mean you have to do now anyway, since your wife left you. She took the kids, too, right? And the house, the cars?” I rattle on as I count on my fingers the many assets he’s lost since our short fling.
He stands abruptly, coming a mere few inches from me, all rage and anger. All I do is smile. “What are you going to do, Peter? Hit me? Hurt me? You can’t, remember?”
“Can’t I?” He raises his hand slowly, brushing a loose curl away from my shoulder “Didn’t I? I don’t see tall, dark, and overly muscular around you? What is that guy on, anyway? Steroids? Do gods have that?”
I grab his hand and feel the bones snap in my grip. He doesn’t scream, I will give him that, but his eyes bulge as his face flushes with pain and anger.
“You mention Erebus again or even think about going near him, and what I do to you will make Tartarus look like a picnic when you get there.”
I let go of his hand and he cradles it, his breathing coming in pants between his teeth. “Why do you care? Word on the street is you left him for good this time.”
“Don’t text me anymore, don’t send me threats, don’t ask me to meet. I don’t care what stupid plans you have or what power trip you are on now. Leave me alone. Leave him alone, and your precious family lives, and you get to keep that pathetic life of yours.”
I grab my purse from the bar table and head for the door.
“We aren’t through, Atë!” he screams after me. “You aren’t a heartless bitch like you think you are! I know it, and so do they! This isn’t over. As long as you care about someone, they won’t stop.”
I don’t respond, don’t turn around, just shake my head and head out into the cool night air. My feet barely hit the concrete stairs before I turn into a fine mist and shoot toward the Underworld.
I reach the border, my gown sweeping behind me like a blood-red cape daring anyone to stare. Without a word, I flip several coins to Charon, and I am quiet as we cross the River Styx. My nerves don’t even register as I am once again in the place I hate. So close to the prison that plagued me with nightmares until…until he healed me.
I curse, begging Charon to row faster. He doesn’t.
As soon as the boat hits the pebbled shore, I am in the wind once more and at the door of the only goddess I know can help me. Hekate.
I form outside her gorgeous palace, not even breaking step as I push open the large, black, finely designed door and run inside. I don’t shift, only run. Run as fast as I can as I hold the sides of my dress. Run up the winding stairs toward her room as tears begin to fall. I know what I have to do and what I have to give up. He was right, a heartless bitch I’m not. At least not yet. I’d made enemies, so many enemies, and now they are coming for the ones I hold dear. The silent sobs start and I run down the hall and straight into her room. I fall to the floor, grabbing the carpet beneath my fingers.