I couldn’t believe where the month had gone. It was halfway over. Everything I had planned, everything I wanted to do for Atë, was falling through the cracks. Christmas was a few days away, and I still hadn’t even gotten a tree. I made all these promises, maybe not to her, but to myself. I wanted everything to be perfect. It had been so long since either of us had been in a stable home situation. I wanted to give Atë a Christmas she would remember and one we could build from. Maybe start some new traditions. It may sound silly and completely out of character, but I needed something to look forward to. My days had been consumed with tracking down Melisseus.
Things seemed better between Atë and me. If we were to have a future together, I needed to deal with the past and now. Finding Melisseus was more important than ever. The last thing I needed was him using her as leverage. The hunt had to end once and for all.
Centuries of tracking him, and this time I was so close I could taste it. In the beginning, I was blinded by rage. All I could think about were ways of torturing him. Throwing him into the ring would have been all too easy, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted him to feel true pain. I fought against the urge to take his nymph children from him. It wasn’t their fault he was a bastard. I daydreamed of how my revenge would play out when I finally got retribution for Zagreus. His death would not be in vain.
But as I moved into this last decade, I started looking at things in a new light. Maybe I had been wrong? Maybe revenge wasn’t the way. The idea of revenge began to sour in my mouth, especially after this last year. Watching Atë go through her pain, and all her failed attempts at it was like looking in a mirror. I had been consumed by so much hate that I had forgotten what it was like to love. I had let my work control me and it drowned me in my hate for Melisseus. I let it drag me into the depths of despair. During the dark ages, I certainly lived up to my name and even more so. And it was all for what?
When Atë was thrown into Tartarus, it was only then I realized we had been fighting similar battles. If I wanted to have any sort of life and peace, I needed to let it go. How could I tell Atë to forgive her father and all those who had shut her out for years if I couldn’t do the same? I would be a hypocrite to tell her to give up on her revenge if I didn’t lead by example.
I sat at my desk in the underworld, pulling out my phone. I knew exactly what I had to do. I texted Selene.
Erebus: Time to pay up.
I looked down at my watch and let out an angry groan. She was five minutes late. I paced the floor, searching the aisles. I quickly realized that I had no clue what I was doing. It had been so long since I had done this. I looked around for a salesman, but didn’t see one. I hated asking for help. How hard could this really be? I know I wanted to pick the right one. It had to be perfect, and the right fit for Atë. I walked up and down the display, looking things over. And then I saw it, right in the middle of the pack. It was brilliant. My smile spread from ear to ear. I hoped she would love it. My phone buzzed in my pocket.
“Where are you? You’re never home anymore. Who the fuck is she?”
“Atë, relax. I’m just finishing up some work. I’ll be home shortly. I have a surprise for you.”
“I’m not having a threesome with you and your wench.”
“Atë, jealousy isn’t very becoming,” I said curtly.
I could hear her let out a huge huff. “Fine. We need milk.” Then she hung up before anything else could be said about her attitude.
I felt a gentle poke in my side and turned to see Selene.
“Feeling a bit festive, are we?” she said, looking around.
I raised a brow at her. “It’s for Atë.”
Selene shrugged her shoulders, “No judgment from me.”
“It’s time I cash in that favor you owe me.”
Selene gulped as her eyes widened.
Before I continued with business, I waved down a salesman. “I’ll take this one.” I slapped some money into the palm of his hand. “Wrap it up. I drive the Escalade. You can take it there for me, yes?” I didn’t wait for the man to answer. I grabbed Selene by the elbow and directed her away so that we could speak in private.
“What do you know about Melisseus?”
Pulling away from me, Selene crossed her arms in front of her. “Not much. He’s been hiding.”
I rolled my eyes. “And why do you suppose that is?”
Selene bit her lip in uncertainty, I assumed.
“I have been hunting him for centuries for what he did to Zagreus.”
“Oh, of course.” She nodded.
“He’s always been one step ahead of me, but that ends today. You are going to find him and set up a meeting.”
I shrugged. “He doesn’t trust me, and rightfully so. Maybe he will trust another Titan.”
“I am not sure about that, Erebus. How would I do that? What would the pretense to this meeting be?”
I scowled at Selene, my shadows peeking out, itching to squeeze something. “I don’t care how you get him into your office. You will get him there and make sure he does not leave. That is all you need to do.”
“That is all? And then?”
My brow furrowed. “And then nothing. If everything goes the way I hope, then I will consider your debt paid.”
I looked back at the salesman. He was almost finished wrapping the gift. Selene followed my gaze.
“This is a pretty big step for you two. Are you sure you are ready?”
My eyes cut back to her. “Mind your own business.”
She raised her hands defensively. “No judgment here, Erebus. I was just being cautious for your sake and hers.
“Just set up the meeting, let me know when, and I will be there. He must not find out I’m involved. Otherwise, all hope is lost.”
“I understand, consider it done.” Selene nodded and looked back at the salesman. “It’s perfect, by the way. Atë will love it.”
I let out a sigh. “I hope so.”
Thankfully Atë was out of the house, and I didn’t have to worry about her seeing the gift as I brought it in. Having secrets around her was proving difficult. She had been very curious about my whereabouts the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, my gift would settle her down. I had stopped on my way home to pick up everything else I needed to make this surprise perfect. I wanted her to remember this moment forever.
Maybe with the holidays approaching and Selene taking care of finding Melisseus, I would finally be able to have a vacation. I spent the night setting everything up and waited for Atë to return. I had fallen asleep on the couch when my phone buzzed.
“What’s up, angel?” I said, teasing.
“You know I hate it when you call me that.” Eros didn’t laugh.
I let out a yawn and looked at my watch. It was after midnight, and Atë still wasn’t home. Where the hell could she be?
“Is Atë over there?”
“That’s why I’m calling. You need to get your ass to Paris.”
I sat up straight, instantly awake. “For fuck’s sake, Atë!” I hung up, looking at the brightly lit Christmas tree I had spent all night decorating. So much for a vacation.