I have been waiting for what seems like forever for a call, a text, something from Atë to suggest she isn’t ghosting me after we hooked up. Just when I thought everything was finally working out. Now I look down at my phone and see seven missed phone calls. I hold my breath as I press the button for my voicemail. Instead of Atë, I hear an unfamiliar female voice. Sarah? Who the fuck is Sarah? I listen to three messages before growling with annoyance into my phone. A fucking psychologist! Persephone had been relieved of her babysitting duties and replaced by a mortal shrink. Good fucking luck with that! I’m still not understanding why she is calling me, so I decide to find out.
The phone rings a few times before someone picks up, I can hear papers being shuffled around before the same voice from my voicemail says, “Hello. Sarah Lachland speaking.”
“Uhh…Hello. Sarah, is it? This is Erebus. No last name. But you already knew that, didn’t you?”
“Ahh, yes, I have become quite familiar with the level of confidence you gods seem to produce. Oh my apologies, is Primordial correct?” There is an air of confidence in her own voice. Most mortals are never this certain when it comes to us immortals.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. What’s the big idea, blowing up my voicemail like that?”
“I actually called for a matter that is quite urgent. It has to do with a mutual, let’s say, friend of ours. Are you free to stop by my office at the God Complex, say in the next half hour?”
I can’t hold back the shock in my voice. “You have an office in the God Complex? A mortal? Wow. Zeus is really letting the place go. Yeah, I guess I can make some time in my busy schedule.”
Her voice is clipped, “Great. See you soon.” Before I can answer, she hangs up.
I grumble to myself. I’m only doing this for Atë. I gather my things and head over to the God Complex. I had to go there, regardless. I had yet to stop in there after the stupid show. I can only imagine the mess my secretary left behind, and what kinds of requests for shows waited for me.
“I really need to think of a different job,” I mutter. DJing is getting old. It was a great cover for what I was really doing, not to mention the rush of being on stage is a high like no other. But all the notoriety is beginning to mess with my real job. I enter the lobby to the GC and grab a tea before heading up. Reaching into my coat pocket for my emergency flask of bourbon, I pour a healthy shot into my cup. If I am heading into a shrink’s office to talk about Atë, I am going to need all the help I can get. I head up to her office and stop short of knocking on her door so that I can take a huge gulp of my tea.
The door opens slowly. A woman dressed in a pencil skirt and black blouse stands in the doorway. Her brown hair is pulled back, and she wears black-framed glasses that look fake. She opens the door wide and holds out her hand.
“Hello, Erebus. It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Dr. Lachland, but you can call me Sarah.”
I shake her hand, feeling it tremble under my touch. Glad I haven’t lost my touch. She may sound tough over the phone, but her hammering heart gives her away. I hold her hand a second too long, staring into her eyes. I want to convey the message that I don’t want to be here.
“Sarah. Okay, Sarah.” I brush past her and into her office like I own the place. Turning around, I take a sip of my tea. “Why am I here?”
The doctor smiles softly before closing the door behind me. “Well, let’s start by answering a few other questions since you are concerned about my mortality. Do you know why I am here?”
I circle the office, tinkering with the things on her shelves. “To be honest, I only half-listened to your messages. How did you get my private number, by the way?”
Sarah walks forward, keeping her distance, but admiring me nonetheless. “That’s not important. What’s important is Atë, yes?”
I stop at the mention of my past with Atë. How the hell does this lady know so much?
“From the research I have done, you two have been quite familiar with each other lately. Am I correct?” She continues before I can answer. “Well, the reason why I am here is that she needs a firmer hand. Someone with no family connection. Someone who won’t take her batting eyelashes and clever smile and believe everything she says. Which falls back on the reason you are here,” she says with a smile. Reaching into her desk, she pulls out a notebook and pen. “Now please have a seat.”
I deny her command to sit and cock my head to the side. “What makes you think I don’t fall before Atë’s feet when she bats her eyelashes?”
Sarah sits down in a chair, adjusting her skirt. “Oh, I wasn’t talking about you. I was talking about her previous mentor. But since we are on the subject of you, I have been doing my research on that as well. You are a Primordial. One of the ancient ones? Original beings? And also recently divorced, yes?” She opens her book and starts writing.
I eye Sarah, a bit perturbed. “Yeah, and what’s it to you?”
Sarah continues to write and carry on with her intrusive questions. “Would you say it was a happy marriage? It seemed to last awhile. But now that you are divorced and with Atë, yes? Do you care for her? Or is this something temporary?” She folds her hands in her lap, waiting for me to answer.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” My head explodes. Who the hell does this bitch think she is?
“First, I’m not with Atë. Second, my marriage with Nyx is none of your business. Nor do I see how any of that relates back to Atë and mine’s…whatever we are to one another.” I circle her to try to see what she is writing.
Dr. Sarah closes her book, narrowing her eyes on me before tapping her pen impatiently. “I want you to understand how serious this is, Mr. Erebus. I am a professional. I expect professionalism. If you claim there are no feelings or a relationship between you and Atë, then I am afraid you can’t help.”
She stands from her chair, trying her damndest to be threatening. “So is that your answer? Do you not care? I need honesty and a promise that what you tell me does not leave here.”
Rolling back on heels, I casually sip my tea. “Well, I didn’t say that either now, did I? I have to say, Sarah, I’m not all too sure I like the tone you are taking with me,” I say, wagging a finger at her. “Did you not find during your research on me, or care to notice that I’m a very loyal god.” My voice booms in her small office, “I’ve been known to have a temper from time to time?” I manipulate my shadows to darken the room. Like hell I’m letting some shrink get in my head.
She looks around the room, clutching her notebook close to her body. She squares her shoulders before meeting my dark stare. “Yes, sir, I am well aware of your tactics, which is the reason why you are perfect for my idea.” Dr. Sarah straightens her skirt and walks a circle around me, waving a hand in the air. “I heard that your power was used to contain her. Am I correct? Well, that’s what I am asking for again. In a more, let’s say, less iron-bar-prison-cell type establishment.”
I raise a brow at her. “Come again, Miss Shrink Lady? It sounds like you just asked for my help in locking Atë up? I guess you didn’t find in your research, that while I may have helped contain Atë, as you say, I took no pleasure in that. In fact, it tore me apart.” I start to make my way to the door. “I can’t believe you would ask me here to help you do that.”
“She doesn’t have another choice,” Sarah calls after me, her words stopping me just short of the exit. “You are it for her. She’s volatile, dangerous, unpredictable. No one else will help her. No one else has the power to.” Her plea is less than that, more a warning.
Turning around, I face her. She isn’t kidding around.
“You see, Erebus, what I am asking isn’t a request. Either she stays with you, or she goes back to Tartarus. It’s that simple. I am out of options. She’s out of control, but you already knew that.”
I take a step toward her, holding myself back. “What do you mean she’s going back to Tartarus? Why on earth would she stay with me?”
“If she fails this program, that’s it. She goes back to Tartarus. I fear she’s slipping, and while I cannot tell you how or what we have talked about in our sessions, I know that you are aware of just how unstable she has been. So, the answer is simple. Your power can help contain her if she were to slip, just as you did before. I don’t want her to fail, and neither do you. For this to work, you’ll need to live together.”
A laugh escapes my lips. “Excuse me?”
She nods, confirming what I heard. “Yes, living together. That way, you can keep an eye on her. Make sure Atë stays in control at all times. We would need you to accompany her as well. She is not to be trusted. She can’t be alone during this program. Where you go, so does she, and vice versa.”
“Let me get this straight? Persephone is out as a babysitter, and I’m in. You want her and I to live together, so I can play big bad protector?”
“Think of it in any terms you like. So do we have an arrangement? I do have other meetings to attend today, Mr. Erebus.” She moves back behind her desk.
The moxy this mortal has is irritating. “Oh, I’m sorry. Am I keeping you from other appointments?” I say with sarcasm.
Dr. Lachlan tilts her head up. “You two are very similar. I see why she cares for you. Nevertheless, if you do not wish to participate, I am sure there are more willing suitors.” She goes back to shuffling the papers on her desk.
I raise my hand at her to stop her from talking further. “That’s enough. I know what you’re trying to do. There’s no need. Of course, I will help Atë, although I’m unsure how us living together will prevent her from losing control. If anything, she’ll want to rip my head off even more than she already does.”
She smiles softly. “Great. I’m glad to hear you agree. I will need you to come back next week during one of her sessions so I can deliver the news.”
And just like that, the meeting ends. Sarah goes to the door and opens it. “I will be checking in with you regularly, Mr. Erebus. I would hope you would not ignore my next phone calls.”
“Just Erebus, please,” I say, rolling my eyes. “I do not ignore calls, Ms. LaLaLand. I’m not a child.”
“It’s Lachland. See you next Thursday. 3:30 PM sharp,” she says, holding the door open, anxiously waiting for me to exit.
I make my way to the door, eager to leave myself. I wave my hand in the air for good measure and turn the lights out completely in her office. “Okay, Doc, whatever you say.”