The world stilled for me in that moment, and it had nothing to do with the fact that Persephone swept all of the glasses out of the bar cabinet to get our attention. It was the sting of betrayal that got to me. “How could you?” I asked, my voice the quietest it had been since I had arrived. “Eros, you and Din nearly died because of her actions. How can you defend her?”
Regardless of what happened between us and my callous ways, it proves one thing. Erebus cares for me. Which is a problem. So me being me, I do what I always do. I destroy it. Everything he bought, everything he gave me. Ruined.
Why would she be looking for me? “I’m here on business,” I say. “I’d heard they’d let you out. I would have visited, but, well, you know…” I look Atë up and down and raise my eyebrows. The outfit hugs her figure, accentuating her curves, and I don’t need to use my skills to know what every man in the bar is thinking.
I can do this. It is only temporary, right? I survived trying to destroy Olympus and a thousand years in Tartarus. This will be easy. I’ll just live with the man I am in love with but can’t have, try to hunt down two mad titans, avoid my enemies from my past, and control my powers. Piece of cake.
The door slams open, and there is a marked change in the atmosphere. My senses tingle, but I refrain from looking at the newcomer. A frosty silence hangs in the air. I’m sure there was music playing a few moments ago. I hear stilettos crossing the floor. Slow and steady. The entire bar holds its breath. Then a shadow falls on me. I see curves and long flowing hair, and I smile inwardly.
“Well, they don’t feed off the same things we do, but it is exhausting. Also, between us girls, I don’t think I’ll ever fit into what they want me to be. I’m not good or this cosmic being of perpetual bliss. And I don’t think I ever will be.”
So here I am. I will do the rehab like I am supposed to. Shit, I will do anything just as long as they don’t send me back. The room flickers in the next second, her office changing in a blink to the darkened cell of Tartarus and then back.
“It was three thousand years ago. I was naked, Dad pissed me off, so I sprinted across the sea to a place named Carthage. Ended up over tilting the scales of some guy named Hannibal, who went on to make something of a name for himself. After that, it’s been a blur of booze and booty.”
Her voice echoed through the expanse. “Oh, I remember everything. That’s what Tartarus does. It was a thousand years for me. A thousand years of nightmares. Of torture. Of Darkness. Reliving my mistakes over and over again until I begged for an end.”
Sitting back on my heels, I looked at her, taking every inch of her all in. My breath caught in my throat. “It would have at least been nice to be given a choice. But you took that away from me.” As angry as I was, I knew she was right. My eyes softened.
I had been hiding in an old cemetery when she found me. The sound of heels clicking on the stone floor brought me out of the shadows. She trailed her fingers lovingly over a broken pillar of the once beautiful mausoleum as she moved throughout the room. My snakes hissed, and I ducked behind a crumbling piece of wall.
“Atë?” My eyes cut through the darkness as the raven hopped forward on its two legs. Its black eyes stare back at me. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something familiar about the bird. A cold shiver ran down my back as a dark mist covered the room, and just like that, the bird was gone.
He holds up a long silver vial attached to a chain necklace. The ruby filled contents dance as the moonlight touches it. A slow, deadly smile spreads across my face as I open my hand, and he drops it into my palm. I raise my other hand, petting him as he coos and closes his eyes beneath my touch.
I shouldn’t have kissed Amy. It was less than eight hours since our date, and I already couldn’t make good on my promise to leave the past in the past. Not when Atë haunted my dreams, not when I knew she was in hell. I should be there for her. I should have ignored her when she pushed me away.
His eyes light up and he launches himself at me. His tiny hands cling to my front as he buries his spiked head beneath my chin. Little sounds rock his entire body as I wrap my arms around him and hold him for a second. My eyes close, happy that I have someone who cares about me.