Looking wearily at the spare bed, I undo my tie, tempted to shred the thing. I haven’t slept in days, not since I fought with Clio.
Since she put herself in danger.
Since she…lied to me.
I despise liars since I can never lie back. I can skirt, dance, and edge around the truth. I can use sarcasm, but I can’t ever lie.
The words die in my throat, strangling me.
Love always speaks true.
And so does its god.
Clio knows this because she knows me. And still, she lied.
I asked her four times if she had anything she wanted to tell me.
Four chances to confess, she didn’t take them.
So here I am, looking down at the spare bed, knowing I’m not going to be able to sleep.
I can’t sleep without her.
My ears twitch at the sound of shuffling footsteps outside my door. My wife. She’s pacing. Moving to the door, I stand on the other side, my hand an inch away from the knob.
I could open the door and take her into my arms. Then everything would be okay.
My gaze focuses on the doorknob, my hand hovering, not touching it. She continues to pace on the other side.
I drop my hand, letting it fall to my side, right as she knocks.
Slowly opening the door, I frown at her. “Yes?”
Stiff and formal. Because that’s where we are right now.
She doesn’t look at me. “She knows.”
Crossing my arms over my chest, I raise a brow. “She knows what?”
There’s only one she Clio could be referencing.
She still doesn’t look at me. “That we aren’t sleeping t-together.”
I hate this, Clio. I hate fighting with you.
Dropping my arms, I rub my hand down the back of my neck. “What do you suggest, Clio?”
Her name is like acid on my tongue. She’s not Clio to me. She’s never been Clio to me.
She’s my soul.
She shrugs, turning away from me. “I thought you should know.”
My hand reaches out to touch her, but my fingers form into a fist, falling back to my side.
“I should move back to the master.”
It’s not like I’m sleeping here, anyway.
She shakes her head, and my breath catches, hurt blossoming in my chest.
“You don’t want me back in bed with you?”
Her back is to me, and our tie… it’s muddled. I’m feeling a mix of her and the twins, in addition to my own emotions. It’s hard to decipher. Impossible.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
Clio…please, I’m trying.
Her words are ragged and clogged with tears, her shoulders shaking. “We are going to fight.”
I hate fighting with you, but we can call a truce for tonight.
Stepping around her, I make my way to the master bedroom, dropping face-first into the bed, burying my face into my pillow.
I hear the bedroom door shut quietly, and I know she followed me, even before I hear her whisper, “What are you doing?”
Pretending everything is fine.
The sound of the door opening again follows. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Sighing, I roll over, looking at her. “Clio, get in bed.”
She spins to look at me, her beautiful eyes a confusing mass of swirling colors. “I left Hedone alone, it’s fine.”
“I haven’t slept in days. Bed. Now.” Throwing back the duvet on her side, I pat it lightly, luring her over. Her shoulders drop as she walks over the bed, sitting on the edge, rigid.
This time when I reach out for her, I rub a hand down her back, murmuring softly, “Come here.”
And I open my arms for her.
She looks over her shoulder at me, tears already falling as she takes my invitation, crawling into my arms.
Wrapping my arms tightly around her, I absorb the painful wracking that goes through her body as she sobs. Inhaling her scent, I close my eyes, keeping her plastered against me. “I almost stole your pillow. I can’t sleep without you.” She continues crying into my chest, and I rub my hands soothingly down her back. “I’m here.”
She sobs brokenly. “I-I’m so sorry… I’m so s-sorry.”
Kissing her head absently, I murmur, “Shhh. We can talk later. You haven’t been sleeping either, have you?”
She shakes her head, holding me even tighter.
“Shh, sleep. I’ve got you.” Reaching down, I cover her stomach. “I got them, too.”
She relaxes a bit more. “I-I love you.”
My eyes close. “I will always love you.”
She chokes back another sob, slowly falling asleep in my arms.
“Put your hands up! They’re playing my song! Butterflies fly away!”
Groaning loudly, I blindly reach out for my phone. “Fucking alarm.”
Normally, I don’t mind waking up to the dulcet tones of Miley Cyrus, but today…not so much. Without my eyes opening, I find my phone, crushing it in my hand.
R.I.P. Hannah Montana.
The nuisance finally defeated, I roll back to find Clio’s body next to me, smiling and pulling her closer.
She wiggles slightly in my arms. “We have work.”
Kissing her neck, pulling her even tighter against me, I murmur, “You’re supposed to be on bed rest.”
My eyes flash open at my own words, stiffening in bed, everything flooding back to me in a rush.
Clio moves away from me when I stiffen, curling into a ball. Sighing heavily, I sit up in bed, resting my back against the headboard. “Clio.”
She tightens even more into a ball. “J-just go.”
Touching her shoulder, I make her turn onto her back. I cradle her cheek, so her eyes lock on mine. “I’m ready to listen now.”
In the morning light, I see what I missed before. Her eyes are sunken with bright bruises beneath them, and her hair is a little tangled. She croaks, “I’m sorry.”
Brushing her hair from her face, I scan her eyes. “Sorry for what?”
Her bottom lip sticks out, trembling. “I’m sorry for not telling you about the letters. I’m sorry for not telling you about my episodes. I’m sorry for going to the meeting alone.”
I sigh heavily, pressing my forehead to hers. “I just ask for the truth, Clio, that’s all.”
Her eyes water, remaining locked on mine. “I-I won’t lie again.”
Closing my eyes for a moment, breaking the connection, I admit, “I know…I’ve been a lot…with the pregnancy.”
She sniffles, nodding. “It’s been…a lot.”
Laughing shallowly, I cover her stomach with one of my hands as if to provide some protection to them. “I suppose… I’m trying to make up for not being there the first time.”
Kids give us the chance to be better than who we are. Fucking Deadpool, he really applies to all situations.
She kisses me softly, hesitantly, almost unsure if she should. “I think we both are.”
“I spent…two thousand years without you, and some part of me…is waiting to wake up.” Scooting down the bed, I lay next to her. Pressing the side of my face to her stomach, I listen to my children, trying to feel close to them and their mother.
Her hand finds my hair, playing with the ends. “I promise you this is real. Th-this isn’t a dream.”
Kissing her stomach, I murmur, “I know…why you went. You wanted to prove you were strong enough.”
Doesn’t make it right, though.
Her hand pauses on my hair. “Y-yes…”
“And you understand why I was furious.”
“I was reckless…”
I shake my head against her stomach. “No, it was because you put yourself in danger and lied to me to do it.”
She chokes up again. “I really am sorry.”
I pull away from her stomach, stretching out, then pinning her to the bed beneath me. “Are you?”
She blushes slightly, and something about her blushing soothes me. It’s familiar. “Yes, I am. I promise not to lie to you again.”
“And not put yourself in danger?”
She scrunches her nose. “Eros…I will try my best not to.”
Nice try. Making a loud buzzing noise, kissing her nose. “Wrong answer, care to try again?”
She laughs raggedly. “I promise not to put myself in danger.”
I kiss both of her cheeks. I’ve fucking missed her. “Clio…Aren.”
Just saying her name shores up my faith in us. It’s more than a nickname. It always has been. It’s hope.
She gives me a small smile, her body relaxing beneath mine. “Yes?”
I kiss her harder. “If you had asked, I would have gone with you, you know. I need to know…that we’re in this together.” Picking up her left hand, I kiss her engagement ring, then the inside of her palm. “That…this means something.”
She nods, leaning forward, kissing me again. “We are in this together, Lykos.”
I press my forehead to hers again, releasing her hand. “Tell me about the episodes.”
“Th-the last one happened in December. Well, other than the other day at the museum.”
She places her hands on my chest, and I wonder if she knows that stress is leaking out of her. It’s a tangible, frenetic energy in the air. This…distance between us has been killing her.
“Do they hurt?”
They hurt me to watch. Even as enraged as I was at her when I first saw it happen, a bone-deep terror grew inside me at the same time.
“Do you have a warning before they come?”
She nibbles her lower lip, and my mind blanks for a second. I love it when she does that.
“I used to, but the last two have been different…”
Resting on my elbows, I loom over her, fiddling with the ends of her hair. I talk to her, and we mend this gap between us. “Different, how?”
“They were both triggered by an artifact,” she murmurs.
Artifacts can trigger these? You work in a museum!
Rolling off her, I sit up. Reaching into her nightstand, I grab a brush from the drawer, gesturing for her to give me her back. I gather her hair and ask, “What artifact?”
Listen, I’m not trying to say I have a thing for brushing Clio’s hair, but rather I know what this small act does for her. Even the light slide along her scalp makes more tension roll off her. I readjust so that she is between my legs, tugging her back against my chest so I can brush her hair.
It’s easier for her to tell me things when she can’t see my expression. She is quite the over-thinker, this gorgeous wife of mine.
“The first one was a barrette from someone I met on the Titanic. The other was a doll from a little girl who lived in Pompeii…”
“That’s the one L gave you?”
I barely stop my body from tensing you at the mention of the man who lured Clio to the coffee shop.
“His name is Lukas. He sent the first one earlier this week. The second he gave to me at the coffee shop.”
Lukas. What a stupid name.
“So, he knows about your powers.”
She shakes her head. “That’s not it…”
Finishing with her hair, I place her brush on the nightstand. Moving my hands to her back, I press into the knotted muscles there. “Then what is it?”
She moans softly at the massage. “He knows about the mortals I’ve saved…”
Saved? Please tell me that’s not what I think she means.
“You…saved mortals?” I barely keep the horror from my voice, pressing a muscle knot in her lower back.
Fuck. That can only mean one thing.
“You’ve been cursed.”
Probably could have thought of a better way to break that news. I kiss her shoulder. “You averted fate, and these episodes…it’s fate trying to even the score. If you weren’t a goddess, they would have killed you.” Massaging her upper shoulders and sides of her neck. “But you’re immortal, so they’re just episodes.”
Even as the stress in her body disappears, she whispers, “A-are you mad?”
“Mad? Why would I be mad?”
Worried? Yes. Not mad.
She looks back at me, her eyes huge. “I’m cursed.”
Cradling her cheek, I kiss her softly. “I’m happy you’re finally telling me, we’ll figure out a way around this.” I brush her hair over her shoulder, completely untangled. “I’m proud you saved people.”
Her eyes well with tears again, and she shifts, wrapping her arms around me, whispering, “Thank you.”
“I always thought your calling was far more difficult than it appears, to be unbiased…to watch and record, never to interfere.”
I could never do it myself.
She presses harder against me, burying her face into my chest. “It’s so hard, Lykos. I…I had to make rules for myself.”
Rules you didn’t follow. Gods, we are clearly made for each other.
She nods, ticking off on her fingers. “1. Do not get close to any mortal. If I do, I’d have a hard time not saving them. 2. Observe only. Don’t take part. I can’t risk changing the path of the future by being a part of events.”
“We can talk to the Fates.”
She nods, looking down at her stomach. “Okay.”
Now, for my least favorite part.
“I’m sorry I got so angry.”
Closer to enraged.
She looks back at me. “I’m sorry I lied.”
“I love you. I just…need you to talk to me.” I need us to be married, not just wed. My hand drops to cover her stomach. “Do you think they know we have no fucking idea what we’re doing?”
One of the twins presses their foot against my hand. “I love you, too, and yes. I think they do know that.”
Clio yawns big, her eyes fluttering closed. Settling back with her, I hum to her, an ancient lullaby lost to the ages. It’s only a couple of minutes before she’s fast asleep.
Once I’m sure she’s out, I slip out from underneath her, resting her on her pillow. Slipping out of bed, I grab an arrow from my quiver, hanging by the door.
Spinning the golden shaft in my hand, I focus on the vibration pulsing from it. My arrows are more than just a tool. I have a deep connection with them. There’s a reason I was armed with them. The more I focus, the smaller the arrow becomes in my hand, a delicate golden chain sprouting from either side of it, a clasp appearing at either end.
Smirking, I pad back to bed, placing the golden necklace around Clio’s neck. I lock the clasp before sliding into bed next to her. It is more than just a pretty charm. If she has another episode, it will summon me. And…if I touch my quiver, I can summon her to me, from anywhere in the world.
But that’ll just be our little secret…