My headaches have gotten worse. Maybe it is because I am not sleeping. I am uncomfortable, irritable, and agitated. Half the time, I feel like I am not even in my own skin. Which, technically, I am not given that I am Harrison fucking Rex right now. But It doesn’t matter what five-star hotel or penthouse they rent out for this damned show, I still end up sleeping on the floor. The hard surface is what I am accustomed to. A thousand years and beds do jack shit for me now.
It is around some time in the morning when I get a knock on my door. Grumbling under my breath, I get up from the floor. As I walk by the bed I reach over and mess up the covers, so it at least looks like I slept there. I yank the door open, almost ripping it from the hinges as one of the producers, Cole, or is it Chase, greets me.
“Atë, he’s gone. He left a few minutes ago with Ashley.”
I rarely am in my Harrison form when Erebus isn’t around. I don’t need to be. I had the entire crew wrapped around my finger the second I got here. They do what I ask with no questions. I make sure to have their minds wiped, so if anyone gets suspicious, they won’t ask about the raven-haired Goddess. They are my eyes and ears. They tell me what is going to happen, and when, so that I won’t get too close to Erebus. If my powers slip, even while he is so distracted by all of his women, I know the Primordial part of him will catch up and he will know I am here.
“Good,” I reply, rubbing the side of my temple.
“We also have a situation downstairs,” Cole or Chase, whatever his name is, says.
“I literally can’t care less if Corrine lost another goddamn shoe.”
“Umm, no ma’am, it’s actually in the kitchen. Some flying demon beast is terrorizing the staff, but we—”
I cut him off, immediately pushing past him before stopping and remembering I don’t have any clothes for myself and am stark naked. Turning back, I close my eyes, summoning Harrison’s shape again and grabbing clothes. I don’t take the elevator. Instead, I disappear, fly downstairs, and appear in the kitchen.
A few cooks scream as they swat at the creature with large spoons and pans, screaming at it to get back. The little beast squeals and tries to bite at them. I yell into the room.
The chaos comes to a screeching halt as they all turn to look at me. The cooks still hold their kitchen weapons in the air as my imp scurries away from them. He stares, frightened, between them and me. A part of me is elated to see him alive and whole while another part is angry that they have terrified him. I step forward, the twin doors swinging closed behind me.
“Diavoláki, it’s me. It’s Atë.”
I stop close to the long silver island and shake my head, my black waves coming forward, my features changing back into my own. The tailored suit I wear is ill-fitting on my feminine frame. 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. I hadn’t realized how much being here has affected my mood. I am not a hugger by any means, but right now, I just need someone.
I look up, my eyes flashing at the cooks as I tell them to continue their job and forget what they have seen. They happily oblige, going back to preparing food as if nothing happened.
“What are you doing here?” I ask, pulling back to look at him.
“I follow shadow man,” he replies, with a toothy grin.
“Shadow man?” I ask, confused for a second. “You’re with Erebus? Why? How?”
“I look for master. Master in bad place. Shadow man can’t save so he new master. Shadow man feed me, name me, then leave me, so I come here.”
My mind reels from his broken words. So he looked for me and found Erebus. I mean, it makes sense. My imp was there in Italy and left as we fought. Plus, the last time he saw me, I was headed to Olympus to finish what I had started. Erebus was the last immortal contact my imp had seen me with.
I shake my head, my voice going stern. “He is not your master, understand? You can’t trust him, ok?”
“Don’t let him fool you too, Diavoláki,” I state, running a free hand over his horned head, petting him. “He will tell you pretty words. Make you feel wanted, special, but he doesn’t mean them, ok? He will leave you the second he gets a chance. Do you understand me?”
He bobs his horned head before leaning back into my chest, hugging me. I cradle him against me, stroking his folded wings as I turn and head out of the kitchen, my form returning to Harrisons’s.
“Good, because we have work to do, little one.”
I check my watch once more as the film crew and I wait at the top of the mountain. A few others are here, something to do with safety for the rock climbing bullshit, I don’t know or care. I forget how fragile mortals are and also their inability to fly. Rolling my eyes, I sigh as we continue to wait. The others would be here shortly, and I had plans to kill Ashley next. Chase or Cole, whatever his name is, recorded and sent me some of the dates Erebus and she had gone on. The two of them being as close as they are, burns my damned soul. He laughed with her like I wasn’t currently drowning in a sea of depression in my cell in Tartarus. Well, from what he knew.
All I know is that I hate him now.
Which is another reason my little imp was not here. I sent him back to my villa in Rome, if that hadn’t been taken over yet, for a little surprise. There is something there I need that will show Erebus, even though he is a Primordial, that he can fall too. What’s that saying? Hell hath no fury? The sound of giggling and footsteps draws our attention left. I watch as they all come into view, one by one. I plaster on my best Harrison charm, even as my heart aches.
I go over the script before handing the floor over to Erebus. He tells the girls this was his treat to them. Rappelling off a fucking cliff? I hide my massive eye roll the best I can. They start suiting up, and being the gentleman he is, he decides to help a few. A growl escapes my lips at one point, but I hide it with a cough. I am getting to the point of being ready to destroy this whole place and everyone in it. Fuck my plan.
Calm down, Atë. You have a plan. Stick to the plan.
After everyone is set up in their equipment and Go-Pro headgear, the film crew that came with Erebus heads downhill to get a better view. Once they are at the bottom, a few of the girls I don’t have a name for start rappelling down the cliff. I hear Erebus murmuring to one of the girls, Harley, I believe. He is going to go down with her since she is afraid of heights. Insert another massive eye roll. Gods, even I could have come up with a lie like that. It’s the simplest trick in the book. Before I know it, my main target has rappelled down, and makes it safely to the bottom.
Fuck, I wanted to get rid of Ashley.
Bickering behind me cuts off my train of thought and I turn to see Corrine and Gigi trying to fix their ropes, complaining the whole time. Erebus moves to help, but I wave him off, telling him to go ahead. He nods and leaves with Harley down the cliff. The one named Lexi is still here and encouraging her cast mates to hurry and get down there. Gigi seems more eager to go, but a scowl from Corrine makes her second guess herself.
“Go.” I motion to the other two.
They give Corrine a last look, then head down together. I sigh as I hear Corrine still bitching behind me.
“These ropes are too tight. Plus, it messes up my outfit. How am I supposed to go down this stupid mountain in front of cameras and still look hot?”
I close my eyes, rubbing my brows in frustration. “I don’t know, Reject Barbie, you just do.”
“Excuse me! What did you call me? Do you know who my father is? He will have your job and this entire show if he learns how you talked to me.”
I raise my head with a deadly smile. “Oh, will he?”
I hear the film crew behind me shuffle as they seem to buy into Corrine’s threat. I raise a single hand and I turn my head to the side, flashing my eyes, controlling them once more. They stop and freeze in place. I turn back to Corrine, who has her hands on her hips, apparently ticked off.
“You know what I want, Harrison? I want to win this competition. In fact, you are going to let me win and take Erebus home, and if you don’t, I’ll own this entire show,” Corrine says, smiling to herself.
I fold my hands behind my back, my smile still in place as I slowly walk towards her. I have to give the mortal credit. She has spunk. If she wasn’t currently on this stupid show, I might actually like her for her conniving mischievous ways, but alas, she is in the way.
“Am I now?” I remark, stopping a few inches from her. “You know, I like that. You know what you want and would use any means to get it. I relate, I do. But there is no happy ending here for you, unfortunately.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” she asks, crossing her arms.
I stand there, summoning my true self as black smoke billows around me. The Harrison facade disappears, and in its place is the Goddess of Ruin. Well, me in a tailored suit.
Her hand goes to her mouth before anger takes her over. “You-You’re one of them? Is this some kind of joke?” She points to the film crew and then down the mountain. “Do they all know? He knows?”
I follow her movements. My posture still relaxed. “Them? The crew? Yes, although I have messed with their brains so much, that by the time this show is through, they will be mentally damaged.” I pause, looking down the mountain. “And him? No. He’s too distracted by all of you. He doesn’t feel me anymore.”
“But they can see you. Like right now.”
My laugh is cold, deadly as I respond, “Funny story. They can’t. You see, when you said I was one of them, you were right. Right in the fact that I am a Goddess. Goddess of Mischief, Ruin, but let’s not forget delusion, too. A little release of it in the air, and they see what I want them to see. Granted, it takes a lot to fool Erebus, but he’s so far up all of your asses, it’s practically child’s play.”
I watch as she visibly swallows the information given. “Well, I’ll tell them!”
I shake my head slowly to the side. “You won’t be alive.”
She goes to open her mouth as if to scream, but my eyes bore into hers. Soon she is under my compulsion and I shush her. Her lips stay still, but I can see the frantic look in her eyes. I step closer, returning to my Harrison form as my head starts to pound. She caught me off guard and made me use too much power, and now the drumming in my ears is returning.
I move as if helping with her ropes, my voice a whisper on her cheek. “You know the difference between gods and mortals?”
She shakes her head once.
“We can fly.”
With a light touch of my hand, she loses her footing and falls backward. I turn towards the camera crew, waving at them to follow me down the mountain.
“Chase or Cole, whatever, I need this cleaned up pronto. Also, tell the others filming will go on as scheduled. Make it look like an accident.” I tell him as her screams fill the air, then stop before collective cries and gasps from the crowd below take over.