I stalked through the house, grumbling as usual. I glanced at my watch and realized we were going to be late. We still had to pick up Prometheus. I roared internally at the thought. If Atë hadn’t just pulled a disappearing act, I would let her go to the baby shower without me. But, if I were honest with myself, I didn’t like the idea of Pro and Atë going alone together. I didn’t trust him, especially since they spent an evening together. Neither one of them seemed to care about the rules put before her.
“Are you ready to hit the road?” I yelled down the hall to Atë. “We’re going to be late!”
I hastily grabbed some newspaper to wrap the gift I purchased for the baby shower. I thought baby showers were just for women, but I guess times had changed. It would seem everyone gets involved now. Whatever. Eros promised there would be alcohol. I sucked at wrapping gifts, probably one reason why I didn’t give them out too often. I held up the messily wrapped present and shrugged. It would have to do.
“Atë! Did you hear me?”
I could hear her yell from down the hall. “Well, whose fault is that? Someone,” she let out an exaggerated fake cough before adding, “you, didn’t even tell me about the invitation. I found it on the table.”
I walked down the hall to her room. The door was open. Looking in, I saw her adjusting red plastic horns on top of her head. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and winked at herself.
“Cute costume,” I said.
Her eyes cut to me. “Yeah, nice non-costume.” She stepped toward her vanity, looking for something, before pulling out a bright red lipstick. “You would think you’d wear something since, oh I don’t know, you knew about this already.”
My eyes wandered around her room, anywhere but at her. They finally focus on a spot on the ceiling. “Yeah, well, the last time I went to one of these things wearing a ridiculous costume, it didn’t turn out well for me.”
Her silence made me look down at her. She had accidentally drawn on her cheek. She let out a frustrated sigh, and for the first time, I noticed how exhausted she was.
“Can we not?” She looked at me through the mirror, completely deflated.
I stepped back, not wanting to fight either. “I didn’t say a thing. The car is leaving in five minutes. It may be a good time to give your boyfriend a heads up that we are on our way.”
Atë wiped the lipstick off the side of her face and went back to fixing her makeup. She continued, meeting my gaze in the mirror. “Boyfriend? Which one? You’ve gotta be more specific…” she said, letting her voice trail off.
I faintly heard a spirited knock on the front door. Confusion written across my face, I saw the corners of Atë’s mouth twitch.
“Who’s that?” I asked her. Of course, she didn’t answer. “Are you expecting someone?”
I continued to stand in the hall, not moving towards the front door. I didn’t think many people knew about this place. It was very well hidden, which was one of the reasons I had chosen it.
The knocking became more aggressive.
My eyes bored into Atë, waiting for her to answer.
Without so much as looking at me, she fixated on herself in the mirror, primping her hair. “Oh, I told Prometheus to meet us here.”
I tried my damndest not to let my jaw drop. The nerve of her inviting him here. This was our place. I cleared my throat. “Oh, did you now?” Rolling my eyes, I stepped away but made no effort to answer the door. If she wanted to invite him here, she could answer the door.
“That’s what I said now, isn’t it?”
Prometheus was impatient and banged on the door more.
“Are you going to get it, or should I?” Her tone mocked me, and my face grew red with anger. I headed into my bedroom, so neither would see my temperament.
Atë must have transformed into her mist because one minute she was behind me, and the next, she was opening the front door inviting Prometheus in. I could hear her squealing over how great his costume was.
“Sorry, seems Erebus forgot his manners,” she said, her voice carrying up the stairs.
I went to my closet, where I had a hidden security monitor that showed me the entire interior of the house. Something I had installed before Atë moved in. I hadn’t really used it yet, since she hadn’t been home much. It wasn’t entirely for spying on Atë, more a precaution of my secret occupation. I needed to make sure I wouldn’t be found out. I suppressed a laugh when I saw Prometheus dressed head to toe in a Beetlejuice costume. He looked ridiculous. And that’s why I don’t do costumes. I paced back and forth while watching the rest of their exchange.
“No surprises there.” Pro took a step forward, looking around. “Nice place.”
Having another male god in the house made me territorial. Not to mention he was a titan. There are only a few titans I trusted. The fact I hadn’t made my mind up yet about Pro put me on edge, especially since he was with Atë. Atë shut the door behind him, her eyes going to what was in his hands.
“Are those flowers?” Atë’s words echoed off the monitor and from downstairs as she blushed.
I punched a drawer on my dresser shut. I need to invest in a punching bag. I almost didn’t hear Pro tell her the flowers were meant for Clio. That didn’t stop him from giving her a rose from the bouquet. I exited the closet, slamming the door shut as I keyed in the security code, locking it behind me.
Atë tried hard to lower her voice, but it didn’t matter. One thing about being a prime, my hearing was like no other. I could hear her whisper, “Also, don’t mention anything we talked about or Dolus. He doesn’t need to know.”
I couldn’t hold it back anymore. My anger bubbled up, and my shadows spread throughout the room, trying to protect the outside world. Since I couldn’t yell, I decided to throw a few things before opening my door.
Pro’s voice drifted upstairs. “Is he moving furniture up there?”
A few seconds later, I stormed down the stairs, stomping my feet like a child, my gift in hand. “We are going to be late,” I grumbled.
“He’s having a moment,” Atë said quietly before turning to me. “Well, if you would have answered the door, I could have finished with my costume.”
“Hello, Erebus,” Prometheus said. I walked past him and into the kitchen.
Atë turned, heading up the stairs. “I’ll only be a minute, so you two play nice.”
I scoffed at Atë. “He’s your date. Plus, I’m not your father.” I couldn’t hide the disapproval in my voice. I finally acknowledged that Pro was standing two feet away. “Hello.”
He looked around awkwardly. “You know…I can always come back.”
From her room, Atë yelled, “No!” However, I wanted to say, How about not?” But instead, I changed my tune.
“No, no, come in, stay.” My voice was sickenly sweet. Maybe I could get information from him. Like what he and Atë were up to the other night when she didn’t return home.
Atë continued to bellow from upstairs. “Erebus is always moody. Just ignore him, I do.”
Prometheus gave me an awkward smile.
Now that I had a mission, I suddenly forgot we are running late. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“Beer would be good.” Pro settled onto a stool.
“Beer…sure,” I said, all the while muttering under my breath as I walked to the fridge. “How Paleolithic.”
“So, what’s with the newspaper? Is that your gift?”
I wasn’t sure if I could hear judgment from Pro or if he was genuinely curious. “Yes, just something small for the twins. I couldn’t find wrapping paper.” I put a beer down in front of him.
Atë reappeared, looking more and more like a delicious devil, in horns and a red fur coat. “Okay, are we ready?”
Pro held up his beer. “I’ve got my drink for the road.” He stood from his stool, admiring her outfit. “Nice costume, very fitting.”
Atë wiggled her shoulders, all cute and sexy. “Thanks, I thought it was appropriate, given my reputation.”
I rolled my eyes. Her flirtations with Pro were nauseating. Pro looked at me, smiling, as if I would jump in and agree with him. I ignored him, grabbing the car keys. “Let’s go.”
Atë bent down, scratching Ebhot behind the ear, saying her goodbyes.
“What car are we taking?” she asked, bouncing behind me.
Pro chimed in, “You got heated seats?”
I stared at him like he had just asked the stupidest question ever. “I own a top of the line Escalade. Of course, it has heated seats,” I lied. Like I would let that be the deciding factor on what car we took. It was bad enough the three of us were going together. There’s no way in hell I was getting in the back seat of his car. The last thing I wanted to see was him and Atë cozy in the front of his car. I was not going to be someone’s third wheel.
“And a slot for my beer?”
I didn’t bother answering and just rolled my eyes.
Atë eyed me. “Are you going to be pissy all evening, Mister I-know-about-the-baby-shower-but-refuse-to-wear-a-costume?”
“I thought he was coming as the Grinch.” Pro dared to joke.
I glared at Atë. “I thought we agreed not to get into it?”
As if remembering our earlier conversation, Atë let it drop. “Cool, no costume,” she said, hopping into the passenger seat. “Sooo, Prometheus, I may or may not have told anyone you were coming tonight.”
“This is going to be fun then.” Pro sounded thrilled as he climbed into the back of the Escalade, looking slightly uncomfortable.
I smirked at him, adjusting my rear-view mirror and starting the SUV. Music blared through the speakers. I chuckled, apologizing as I turned down the radio and slipped the car into reverse. Atë rolled her eyes at me, and I could hear Prometheus moving around quietly in the back. Then the smell of beer hit me. I turned to see Pro quietly trying to mop up some beer he spilled.
“You know, I could have brought you a sippy cup if you were going to spill.”
I could feel Atë’s cold stare before she turned her attention back to Pro. “Yeah, well, with my recent titan breakout and you being a titan, I wanted it to be like a surprise. Kind of like a, Hey, we’re not trying to kill you guys anymore, type of thing.”
I couldn’t help but grind my teeth at the mention of Titans.
“Hmm… I’m sure they don’t trust me, but hey, it’ll be fun. You don’t think I’m going to kill you, do you, Erebus?”
I looked at Pro in the rear-view mirror. My eyes cut into thin slits. I let out a boisterous laugh. “That’s cute.” Like he could hurt me.
Pro looked away and back to Atë. “So, how’s living together?”
“Terrible,” she answered without blinking.
I looked over at her, frowning. “It’s not that bad.”
Atë averted her eyes, checking her nails. “Yet, another reason on the long list of why I prefer to remain single, unmarried, and alone. For like, ever.”
Pro sat back in the seat. “Ouch.”
I kept my eyes on the road. It’s not like I had considered remarrying. I had never given it any thought, actually. It’s not like Atë and I were in any position to be in a relationship. It was probably for the best. I had been distracted for far too long. I needed to focus on finding Melisseus.
Atë looked over at me and laughed. “Ha! Erebus, seriously? Not that bad. Maybe when you don’t use all the hot water or eat all the food or leave the TV on super loud in the middle of the night. I mean, I literally have a list.”
“Like you’ve even been around to notice,” I muttered.
Prometheus just sat in the back, giving exaggerated nods.
“Sleepovers and such,” I said quietly, looking out the window. I don’t try hiding the hurt in my voice.
Atë folded her arms across her chest, not saying anything. I looked back at Pro, who quickly averted his eyes.
“Can’t you drive any faster?” Atë snapped. “The party is probably over by now.”
“And who’s fault is that? Maybe if we didn’t have to wait around for your date, Beetlejuice here, and all your sex costume primping.” I pressed my foot down on the gas.
“He is not my date. God, what are you, a Neanderthal? Is it weird for different sexes to have friends?” She turned in her seat to face me, morphing into her therapist, Sarah. “How does that make you feel? Are you uncomfortable?”
“I am,” Pro said from the backseat.
“Yes, Erebus, that’s a prehistoric human.”
“I know what they are.” Both Atë and I ignored Pro, who was now muttering to himself.
“Do we need to talk about your feelings now, Mr. Erebus?” Atë stayed in Sarah’s form.
I did a double-take on her. “Would you stop that?”
She cackled before shaking her hair, shifting back into her devil costume and her own body.
The conversation moved fast at this point.
“Are you sure you’re in the right state of mind for driving?” Pro was clearly nervous about how fast the SUV was moving.
“Oh, by the way, Pro. I’m pretty sure Erebus is fucking my therapist, just so you are all caught up.”
Was that what this was all about? Was she using Prometheus to get back at me? Was she jealous? I casually looked back at Pro, realizing he was just a chess piece in one of her games. I smiled at him. “I’m perfectly fine.” I pressed my foot down further on the gas pedal.
Atë waved her hand in an exaggerated motion.
I looked over at Atë and held her stare. “I am not sleeping with her, by the way.”
Pro leaned forward, talking to Atë, “That’s good to know.” Then he looked at me, his voice just a bit shaky. “It’s just, the speed limit is 60, and you’re doing 95. Also, I’m not sure these seats are heated.”
“And that’s a problem?” Expressionless, I looked back at him. I didn’t give two fucks that he was nervous about my driving. What was there to be nervous about? It’s not like we could die.
Atë turned to look out her window, humming loudly. “Are we there yet?”
Prometheus’s last comment only just registered with me. “No, the seats aren’t heated. Quit complaining.” Gods, it was like being stuck in a car with two children. I wanted to put my head out the window and scream. The SUV turned onto the road where the baby shower was being held. I took the opportunity to mock Atë. “Are we there yet? What are you, four?”
“Hmm, let’s see…” Atë held up her hand, slowly pushing each finger down, counting them until just her middle finger was left up.
“Do you think you’ll be asked to be godparents?”
My face grew pale at the thought. “Godparents, us?” I laughed nervously. Why would we be the godparents? I haven’t taken care of a child in several millennia.
Atë wiggled in her seat like shivers had gone down her spine. “Gods, can you imagine? They would have to be insane to want me for that. Their child would definitely be doomed. I don’t know what you’re so scared of. I mean, you have like twelve thousand kids already, E. This is nothing new for you.” She snickered.
“Stepchildren,” I corrected her.
“Suuuurre,” she dragged out the word in exaggeration.
I pulled into the parking lot at Mount Olympus park and not a moment too soon. Atë and Pro started talking about their excursion out the week before.
“My hangover lasted about a week, so thanks for that. I blame you.” Pro winked at Atë.
I turned the car off, ready to hop out, but Pro turned to me. “You’ll have to join us next time, Erebus. I’m sure you’re a laugh a minute after a few drinks.”
Atë laughed before opening her car door. “No, Pro. Erebus doesn’t like fun.”
Ignoring his request to hangout, I stepped out of the SUV, present in hand. I rounded the car to Atë and Pro’s side. From here, I could see the twinkling lights lining the path to the party. The laughter and voices carried to the parking lot. I turned back to see Pro jump out, spilling his beer all over the interior.
“For fuck’s sake, Pro!” Atë busted a gut, and it only pisseed me off more. This was her fault. She invited this idiot.
“Whoops. It’s self-cleaning, though, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, sure, Atë can clean it,” I smirked. I was not kidding one bit.
Atë quit laughing. “Fuck you.”
Prometheus muttered under his breath, “Good luck with that.”
- The Other Guy, Part II - September 28, 2022
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