It was the middle of the night, and I couldn’t sleep. I was a goddess. It was not required. Neither was pie, but I still loved it. I turned over onto my right side and stared out into the night sky through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Mount Olympus loomed in the background like the foreboding presence it always was.
Once again, I was plagued by the thought I should have never returned. Or, at least, I should have never made my way back here when I did. Would I have these real-but-false memories stalking me if I hadn’t? Would this voice be taunting me if I hadn’t? Would I be the one curled up in Carla’s arms instead of being alone thinking chaotic thoughts about…my body throbbed a little. I sighed, frustrated.
That last part…I was tired of thinking of them. I was tired of ruminating on and wondering about the dark pleasure of taking chaos within. They would wet my taste buds and allow me to drown in all they were. I had sought them out, believing them to be the answer to reversing my imbalance. Yet, since just being near them, I’d been more imbalanced than ever.
They weren’t to blame for the false memories or for the hell I raised when I emerged from them. I licked my lips, squeezing my eyes shut in disgust. I’d raised a lot of hell and sown a lot of bloody Justice. Secretly, I’d hoped they’d show up, at least once, impressed by the mayhem I’d wrought.
And I was confused.
I missed the wisdom of Big Z. Though no Big Z had ever existed. Since that party, I’d stayed far away from my family, so I had no idea what had happened. I honestly had no real need to know or find out. It would incur justice’s wrath, and I was kind of busy. Well, if busy meant lusting after a god/des that was obviously bad for me and not checking for me in the least, while crossing the American continent violently raining the scales down on the heads of racists.
I inhaled deeply and turned to my left, away from the window. The floor was hard, and for a moment, I considered that might be part of the problem. Yeah, it wasn’t the emotional turmoil causing the lack of sleep, definitely the unwelcoming floor space. Sometimes I had to roll my eyes at my own ridiculousness. Kind of like the fact I kept returning to this space but wouldn’t fully claim it. I hadn’t made a decision about what to do with my allotted space at the GC. Hell, at least once an hour I contemplated leaving and never returning. So there was no furniture, which meant trying to sleep required grabbing some floor.
I should’ve just popped over to my place, but when I was out there, the temptation to find Carla was too great. When I was out there, the hum was louder, the voice more aggressive, and mortals…met their mortality at the end of Balance & Truth.
So weak and scared of your own scales, poor Apricot must suffer, the voice taunted through a low snicker, seeming to emanate from the back of my skull.
I popped up to a sitting position before bounding to my feet. Fuck, I hadn’t checked on my baby in a couple of days. It was a bearded dragon, but not fucking immortal. I vanished in a flurry of stars and landed in the middle of Blind Equity.
“Holy Shit!” Esther exclaimed, jumping out of her chair before throwing a post-it note holder at my head. “I hate when you fucking do that.”
I shrugged and looked around wildly.
“Apricot is fine. When you didn’t show the last bit, I went into your suite and got him. He’s been with the kids and me.”
Fucking devoted mortals. I breathed an easy sigh and nodded slowly. “Thank you.”
Esther grunted. “Yeah, whatever. Carla sent over a file. Said she’d sent it before, and it was a reminder. It’s waiting on your desk.”
Well…since I was there, it seemed I might as well work. I nodded before heading to my office at the back of the brownstone.
The file was more like multiple tomes stacked on the oak desk. There were three rows of six columns of expandable manila folders that were filled to their limit. It was so much paper I swear I heard trees weeping.
“Esther!” I yelled, even as I rounded the desk to plop down in the lush office chair that stood behind it.
She strode in, sipping from her coffee mug, a smirk curving her lips.
“What the fuck is all that?”
“The file.” Her smirk curled further up her cheeks.
She hunched her shoulders. “Carla has been sending additional information. One folder every couple days. Said you’d understand once you dug in.”
“And she didn’t elaborate further?”
She tilted her head, assessing me in that annoying way she had for the last few months. “Just that the referral came from April and that it had to do with women.”
My hands clenched, rage vibrating through me at the sound of her name. Carla’s new lover was responsible. Well, maybe I’d just leave shit unbalanced. Let the mortals sort whatever the fuck was stacked on my desk.
Oooooh, petty justice. Delicious.
I ignored the voice, my inner demon, as I waited for Esther to respond.
“Yeah, April.” Her eyes scanned me, taking in way too much, if I was honest. “You know, sometimes it’s more about the message than it is about the messenger.”
Before I could respond, commotion clamored outside my office. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I felt immortal energy. Maybe Atë was calling in her chip. I took a deep breath as the sounds of chaos descended…