There was blood everywhere.
The tailored black pantsuit, which hugged my curves perfectly, could handle the spray, but my curls…even a goddess had trouble getting every speck of plasma out of coiled hair.
I hadn’t necessarily wanted it to come to this. Anthony had wormed his way into my heart from moment one. I’d definitely thought he and I could come to an alternate resolution.
Yet, we’d arrived at the part where I was covered in blood. Not Anthony’s blood, but an extension of it—his daddy’s.
My suit was splattered with the life force of the very corrupt Congressman Alton Bell, purveyor of shady deals and state run prisons. I’d tried to play it nice. I let him know what we had on him, what would happen to his family, to Anthony.
All that got me was Alton playing handsy with my ass, as he told me nothing I had would stick while implying his son deserved better. He even threw out a few options about what I could do for him to get him to forget our conversation.
Basically, if Alton wasn’t already on his way to Tartarus, I’d kill him again.
I guess, like Alton’s person, there are now some missing pieces. I suppose I should fill in some blanks while taking care of this mess.
I met a guy, stupidly fell for him even though I knew I’d have to take down his whole family. Then he realized I was a goddess. No, like a legit Greek on high goddess.
Things got a smidge awkward from there, which is kind of understandable. When Bae’s eyes flash silver unexpectedly, some things are going to change.
Like, instead of lovey-dovey cuddles after brunch, you ended up with—I don’t know—the two of us in a stand-off while I hovered over him semi-crouched on my newly waxed hardwood floors.
Then so did I.
When he shifted, it was to arch up and propel himself backwards, further away from me. Unfortunately for him, my instincts kicked in, and I…well, we ended up needing to visit the hospital.
The test results showed a concussion, two broken ribs, and a split lip. In his semi-drugged and partially coherent state, he explained it all away to the staff as a hiking accident and not a moment of immortal-on-mortal domestic abuse.
In his hospital room, I held his hand. My fingers circled across the knuckles, absentmindedly creating patterns, as the pain meds carried him in and out of consciousness.
“I dreamt you were…”
I kissed his arm softly. “It’s okay, lover, we’ll discuss it once you’re better.”
A few minutes later, he’d woken, staring at me intently, and yanked his hand away.
Round and round we went until he was cleared to leave the hospital two days later. He hadn’t wanted to call his parents—fairly understandable, considering—so he was released into my care. Afterward, we stopped to fill his prescriptions and grab some soup and various first aid items. Unsure of the next steps, I drove him back to my house.
“I’m not staying here, Dikê. Is that even your name?”
I rolled my eyes at his dramatics. “Get out of the car, Anthony. And yes, it’s my name, it’s me.” I closed the door and rushed around to his side. “Justice.”
“So, Justice just goes around beating black men’s asses for no reason?”
I looked at him, tilting my head, my eyes focused and intense.
He shook his head, realizing exactly what he’d said. “You know what the hell I mean, Dikê.”
“Come on, Anthony. We can discuss it inside.”
He draped his arm across my shoulders and allowed me to help him into the house. “Ok, but if you kill me, remember the hospital knows I left with you. You signed the paperwork.”
Rolling my eyes, I used one hand to unlock the door and let us in. Walking stutter-step to the couch where Apricot lounged across the back, I offered, “Yeah, well, I’m a goddess. My magic powers allow me to destroy paperwork.”
His eyes widened, darting away from me, then back again. “Really?”
Shaking my head, I turned away as I let his weight sink him into the couch’s plush pillows. “No, Anthony. By the gods, no. I’m not that goddess, and I’m also not some magical elf that can just disappear paperwork or,” I looked back at him as Apricot jumped into his lap, “mortals.”
“Mortals. So you’re immortal, then?”
Sighing, I ignored the inevitable monotony of google-informed questions that continued for the next ten minutes as I made him soup, crackers, and ginger ale with a side of pain medicine and antibiotics.
“Dikê, are you going to answer me? You promised me answers.”
I sat the tray in front of him and plopped down on the couch. “No, probably not. And I didn’t promise you, because I don’t make promises. I said we’d discuss it.”
“How are we discussing it if you won’t answer simple fucking questions?”
“I don’t answer to you, Anthony.” The quaking in my belly was beginning again. The pull on my inner scales reminded me I was off kilter, internally unbalanced. Oddly, I hadn’t felt it once while at his bedside. Maybe my lover was better seen and not heard. I thought of the toy box in my closet, a smirk curving my lips, totally doable.
“Who do you answer to then?” he asked, taking a cracker, dipping it into the soup, then sliding half between his lips.
“Who do you answer to, daddy’s boy?” I snapped back. “Do you answer to your morality? Your principals? Your knowledge of right and wrong, fair and just? Or do you just answer to the whims of your corrupt papa?”
“It’s not that simple. You’d think a so-called immortal would understand the power of family.”
“My mother is a Titan, my father carries a lightning bolt, and my siblings harness powers, good and bad, beyond measure. My family is the balance that fuels the world.”
He smirked, full lips quirking upwards. Those lips looked so kissable over that short beard, even through my urge to pummel his face and re-split his lip.
Deep breath, Dikê. Deep breath.
“That explains a lot. Whether or not you know it, DJ.”
Deflated, I fell back against my side of the couch. “It does, that is my point. They will need to be…balanced in order for this world to feel right again. Ignoring that, because they are my family, is not something I ever could or would do.”
“Then you don’t know the meaning of unconditional love.”
I shook my head sadly. “You’re right. The only thing I know is unconditional is Justice. It just is, Anthony, whether you want it to be or not. Whether the man I love wants his father spared or not.”
“The man you…”
I waved my hand away, dismissing the statement before he could finish. “Inconsequential. Eat your soup.”
By the time he was done scraping the bowl, the sedative I’d slipped into the soup was already working. His head hung down to his chest, close to where Apricot lazed, and he was knocked out.
I stood, bending all the way forward, allowing my muscles to flex and stretch. I felt the kinks knotting my muscles unfurl as rolling energy filled my belly, dancing up my spine. I spared a moment to cover Anthony with the silver and cream duvet before heading upstairs for a quick change and then out the front door. He’d be out for hours.
Even if my heart wouldn’t let me fully judge Anthony, I still owed Congressman Alton Bell a visit. When Alton opened his door to find me standing there, his smile was fake, glacial, and suspicious.
He stepped aside slowly to invite me in. “To what do I owe this unannounced pleasure?”
I smirked, trailing my movements to the left to walk slowly into his study, leaving him to follow. “Fate,” I replied as he shut the study doors behind him.
“Fate?” he asked, walking to his desk. He looked like every political bad guy cliche that had ever been written, leaning back against the polished oak, arms folded, and legs crossed at the ankle.
A smirk tilted my lips. “Actually, Justice.”
He nodded, the chill easing from his smile, though warmth still never reached his eyes. “Well, justice I know about.”
Pulsing fire throbbed within my core. This man was scum. In days past, he would have already been bruised and bloodied. I was trying a new approach, a more calculated and less messy road to balance.
I pushed the building rage down with goddess effort, managing to allow only a sigh to escape my lips. “You know nothing of true Justice, Alton.” His eyes darkened at the use of his first name without an honorarium. I laughed back. “But trust me, you will.”