Most everyone joined in the cheers, but gradually, they all started asking the same questions I had. Who had invited all of us, and why did we all come if we had no clue who our host was? The only person who could answer any of these questions was the odd man out.
“Daddy, Daddy!” Charlie came running into the room, tears streaming down her face. Her cute little blonde curls stuck to her flustered cheeks. She was my sun in this cold, dark world, the constant glow in my life, and the only reason that I stayed in this shit hole.
A sharp pain hits me between the eyes, my headache returning tenfold. I squint as I place a hand between my eyes, my nose scrunching. I stand, opening them again as every child stops what they were doing and looks toward me.
“It’s what you like, right? What you are.” Alex stands, holding up the picture. “Ruin.”
As I stood over the frying pan, I asked myself the big question. How am I going to be spending this sentence of mine? If I was disallowed from working for a full seven days, I needed to find some other way to spend my time.
I leaned into his hug, needing his strength. “I didn’t cast myself into foam. Gods, I wish I had. It may have been easier. I never gave up, Pater; I wanted to be there, for Atlantis, for Poseidon…I didn’t choose to leave, to disappear.”
I watched how you handled everything that came your way with dignity and grace. I saw your tears, and I saw your joy. I wanted to grant you these Victories today. The first a life worth saving, the second for the lives you saved, and the third for what gives your life true meaning, your family. Thank you. You’re a true hero and champion in my book.
“I care!” How did he not get this? “It’s easy for you, Phobos, and Deimos. You three were always Mom or Dad’s favorites. You all barely had to lift a finger, and you were praised. None of you could do anything wrong. I’m not saying I have it as bad as Dinlas, but—”
“You were my favorite.”
The gun fired. I felt the bullet pierce my torso, followed by the burning sensation mortals often describe. It didn’t hurt, but I could feel it rattling around inside of me. I clutched the wound, falling to my back with my eyes open.
“Eros!” Clio suddenly called out angrily, sending Alexander into a crying fit.
I froze and carefully looked down at the ground. Sure enough, there was an arrow lying on the ground near my feet, the tip slightly stained with shimmering gold ichor. “No, no, no, no, no.”
“What?” Eros’s voice called from behind me. “I thought she should get it over with.”
Maybe it was because I had been a little moody and a lot more broody lately. All I knew was that this party god felt all partied out lately. From Napa to Guam, to all the changes on floor five, to Clio’s baby shower, there had been more drama than a season’s worth of The Young and the Beautiful Generally Spending the Restless Days of our Bold Lives in a Hospital. I hope that made your world turn.
My heart dropped at that nonchalant statement. I knew my eyes were wide with horror. What I didn’t know was if my face was white from blood draining from it in dread or if it was red from rage rushing to my cheeks. Either option was highly likely at that moment. “You were doing what?! Tell me you’re lying!” I knew he wasn’t—after all, it was physically impossible for him to do so—but a girl could hope.
I couldn’t stop thinking about how many people were suffering through this virus. So many had lost their jobs. I needed to do something to bring Victories back to them. I had the beginning of an idea, but I needed to flesh it out more.
Hours later, when they were through, I turned and looked in the mirror and was astounded. I looked…well, I looked regal. The only thing missing was my old diadem, but I had left that in Atlantis, as was proper. I stood slowly and looked around. The stylists had gone, but Mathieu remained. “You’re beautiful, my lady,” he said softly.
“What do you say, Adrestia? Why don’t you prove to your big brothers what a big girl you are now?” Their mocking tones irritated almost as much as Eros’s did. Almost. “If you fail, you tell us who hurt you, and you don’t try to stop us from finding them.”