“Is that all?” I ask, flipping through the photos in my hand as I look up at Chuck. His head bobs as he nods, swallowing the lump in his throat.
I only nod in reply, uncrossing my ankles and rising from the couch. I grab the shawl that hangs from my shoulders, pulling it closer around me as I shove past Chuck and head toward the stairs.
“Where are you going?” Chuck calls as my bare feet touch the first step. I turn toward him, no anger or hate in my voice, only devastation.
“I’m leaving. Take the week off, Chuck. I’ll call you when I need something again.”
Like a fish flopping onshore, he opens his mouth a few times before closing it and nodding once more. I stomp upstairs toward our room…well, his room now. Tiny flapping wings beat down the hall as my imp follows after me. I push the door open so hard it hits the back wall, leaving plaster on the floor. I open the dresser drawer, the same one I put my stuff in, like an idiot. I grab a handful of every color shirt before throwing them on the bed. Next is my underwear drawer, where I collect every lacey piece I own. Lastly, I stalk toward the closet, yanking it open to grab as many pairs of pants, shirts, and shoes as I can.
I toss them on the bed as moisture stains my cheeks. I grab the large brown duffel bag from the floor, shoving everything inside. Every movement is harder and worse than the last as I pile clothes on top of clothes. I thought it would be different after everything we had been through, but maybe it was too much. He’d had his mind toyed with by Peter, the one I bought the statue from when I first returned to Olympus. Maybe that had been it for him. I had brought so much pain with me. Maybe this was him pulling away…keeping secrets from me, but relying on a Titan? Who else was he comfortable sharing with? Sure, we share a home and a bed, but this cuts deeper for me. How can we be anything if he won’t let me in? Maybe I deserve it. I have put him through so much. I don’t blame him. I thought I had lost him. I fought so hard to bring him back. I even said, I—
The words stop in my throat as I tilt my head back, the tears still staining my cheeks. He had been different since. His phone was going off all the time. He would leave, not coming home for days. He was keeping things from me, shutting me out. And now, seeing the pictures with Selene, it broke me. It broke whatever piece I hadn’t known needed healing. Now I was done. Erebus had almost killed me a month ago when they got into his head. Even that hurt less than what I am feeling right now. I can’t stay. I am not the type of goddess to beg a man or woman to love me back, to try…to stay. No, I am done. I have to be completely and wholly done. I zip my bag, not caring about the mess I am leaving as I storm out.
PARIS THREE DAYS LATER
I stare back at myself in the large mirror of the high-end beauty salon in Paris. The black drape hangs around my chest and shoulders as the blonde hairstylist stands behind me, hand resting upon his one cocked hip.
“Are you sure?”
I nod once as he shrugs. The tight, black shirt and pants he is wearing barely move. He grabs my hair, pulling it all to the back. It is so long. I haven’t cut it in so long. Now, every time I look at the length, I am just reminded of the times Erebus would run his fingers through it or grab a fistful of it when I begged him to fuck me harder.
“Chop it all off.”
He raises a brow. But I don’t have much in me to even fight at this point. He takes my hair, folding it underneath itself as he pulls some forward.
“I love the optimism, but what about here?” He smiles at me through the mirror. He has it hanging a little past my shoulders.
I tilt my head. It is different, and that’s what I want to be now. No more ruin. All I have done is ruin. I want a fresh start. I want to be more, so I simply nod. “Make me different.”
I kick my feet atop the glass centerpiece in my apartment, wiggling my toes in the oversized pink fuzzy slippers I bought from Versace. You would think they skinned an animal, given how amazing they feel. Lucky for me, they were having a sale. I ended up buying way too much lingerie that I didn’t need, which was my current outfit. The pink lace set is my favorite. It will be until I die. Well, if I ever die, then I want to be buried in the matching sheer robe.
My imp squeaks from his spot beside me, holding out his tiny spoon, waiting. I roll my eyes, lower the tub of cookies and cream ice-cream I am eating, and offer him some. He takes a big spoonful and shoves it into his mouth. He shudders and makes a face.
“Brain freeze. I warned you, you know, at least three times.”
He shakes his head before smiling, half of the ice-cream on his face.
I giggle to myself as my phone lights up on the kitchen counter. I flip my head backward, hanging off the back of the couch as I eye it. It can wait. I am terribly busy at the moment, eating ice cream and watching Freddy rip this guy in half on TV. You know, they just don’t make horror movies like they used to. I turn back around as another teenager goes on about something else. I scoop another spoonful of ice cream, taking a bite. The city lights dance outside my window as I hear the neighbors upstairs arguing about who forgot to pay the cable bill. I snicker, thinking of how I made the mailman deliver the last two payments to an address I made up. Hey, I may have given up ruin, but never mischief.
I know I could have rented a high-end apartment next to the Paris monument itself, but I am hiding once again, so the low-rent apartment with a leaky sink is home now. Plus, Hekate, the gorgeous badass witch queen, was sweet enough to enchant a rose gold necklace that matches everything. Now, no god or man can find me.
I swallow, my chest tightening at the thought. This is better, right? No, no, don’t even go there. This was not my choice. He made his choice. He lied, kept things from me…after everything. Plus, it will be safer for him now. If everyone in Olympus knows I am gone again, my enemies will stop seeing him as a threat. Then he can have his secrets, his phone calls, and his meetings with other goddesses, whatever the fuck he wants. I throw my ice-cream so hard against the farthest wall it stays embedded there. My imp looks at me, then at the wall, and sits down in a huff.
“What?” I say, placing a hand on my head, coddling my growing migraine. Could goddesses even get migraines?
He says nothing as my phone beeps one more time. Frustrated, I stand, my robe flowing behind me like a cape in the wind. I reach the blasted device, seeing I have a few missed messages. I know who they are likely from as I only gave a few immortals my new number. The rest are for business. I unlock the phone, seeing Chuck’s messages first.
Chuck: No new news with Kronos or the other one. Haven’t heard anything from Peter either. Will keep you updated.
I exit out of that one, stopping on the last one. I am a little shocked. I thought it would be from Clio, checking in like she usually does, but it is from an unknown number.
Unknown: I know what you did and have the evidence to prove it. If you don’t want–
Rolling my eyes, I don’t even finish reading the message as I shut my phone off, returning to the couch. My imp is already digging the ice-cream out of the wall as I flop down, curling the robe tightly around me. I grab the nearest pillow, turning up the volume of my current horror movie. The screams drown out the ones in my head as I lie here. I don’t care about a stupid threat in a text message. What can anyone possibly have over me that will hurt me?
I already left the one person I love more than myself.