Driving down the streets of Greece, I make my way to Erebus’s house. I have only been there once since he and Ate moved in. It is a little too far for me to walk. From what I remember, Erebus always preferred his space from the family. No matter. He can’t avoid me. We have been good friends for a long time now. I helped him with an incident two thousand years ago, and since then, we have met up from time to time. It is always the same when I see him, like nothing has changed.
Well, a lot has changed in the past few months. Atë now lives with him, and half the time, I don’t know if she wants to kill him or get it on with him. Her motives always confuse me, but I have never questioned her. She is actually the reason I am heading to the house now.
I have a large bag of presents in the passenger seat. There is something I need to give her. Something from our past that will remind her that she will never be alone again.
Luckily, Eros offered to watch the twins for me while I quickly did this task. Even though I had a hard time leaving, I knew that Hedone would be able to help him out if needed. My hands clutch the steering wheel.
Are they really okay without me? Should I turn back now? What if the apartment catches on fire?
I release a staggered breath. Eros and Hedone got this. I believe in them. Something about being a mother has me more worried than usual. But I have to do this.
Turning down the long driveway, I park my car in front of the house. It takes me a few seconds to pull the bag of presents from the back seat and take the steps up to the door. I knock on it softly, rocking back and forth on my heels while I wait.
The door swings open, and I see my old friend. She gives me a smirk, leaning her thin frame against the doorway.
“Well, this is a surprise,” she purrs. Her voice has always been soothing. It is probably the reason so many mortals and immortals listen to her commands.
“How is your Christmas Eve going?” I ask her, putting the bag on the ground and wrapping my arms around her.
“Ummm, peachy with a side of keen,” she says, hugging me quickly then pulling away. She looks over my shoulder. “What are you doing here? And alone…”
She moves to the side so I can enter. Picking up my bag, I smile at her as I step inside. “I have something for you and your boyfriend.”
“Erebus is not my boyfriend, and he is not home,” she says, closing the door behind me. Atë looks me up and down suspiciously. “And why do you have presents?”
I pull out one of the presents and stick it in the fridge. There is an ongoing joke between Erebus and me about bacon, so obviously, that is what I had to get him. I turn to smile at Atë. “Tomorrow is Christmas, duh. That one in the fridge is for Erebus.”
“Yes, yes…I am well aware. Erebus has made it quite known he enjoys Christmas…” she says, peeking inside the bag. “What is in there anyway?”
I quickly hide the bag behind my back. “No, peeking! We must sit down to open them!”
“Mmm, okay, fine.” She waves her hand toward the living room. I run in, plopping down on a chair, and bounce with excitement as she takes a seat on the leather couch. I pull out the larger gift that I wrapped in blue and white paper. I hold it out to her, and she takes it with a smile before tearing it open. In her hands are the newest style of Jimmy Choo heels in her favorite color of red. “Oh, my! Are these next seasons!?”
“Yes. One of the museum curators has an uncle who works in the fashion industry in Milan. Do you like them?” I giggle, grabbing out the next present.
She continues to examine the shoes, her golden-brown eyes lighting up. “Like? No, I love them! I already know six outfits I can pair with these. You know me so well, little muse.”
“I am glad you like them!” I giggle again, clapping my hands together. “I know Mr. Shadows will like them as well.”
I wiggle my brows at her, but she only clears her throat. I can see why Eros enjoys teasing others so much. It can be quite fun. She puts the shoes aside before looking back at me.
“Yeah, ummm…so what else ya got?” she asks, changing the subject. I smile softly at her, holding out a neatly wrapped silver box.
“Ohhh, Clio, if you got me diamonds, I may have to steal you from Eros,” she says, wiggling her brows before gently tearing the wrapping. She drops it to the floor and opens the box. She freezes, her fingers hovering over the gift. It is a replica of the music box she gave me when I was just a girl. I always carried it with me as I traveled the world. Before my memories of her returned, I had no idea who gave it to me, but I knew it was special. I am glad I never lost it. Atë has always been the older sister I have looked up to. Well, she was more than a sister. When I was a kid, she was the mother I always needed since my own didn’t care for me.
Atë helped me grow into the goddess I am today. Knowing I had forgotten her for all those years burned me. That she was so entirely alone breaks my heart when I dwell over that thought. I hope this gift shows her how much I love her and that I will never forget her again, no matter what happens.
“Y-You remembered…” she stutters and lifts the lid of the music box to reveal the bracelet inside. She looks up at me.
I watch her reaction carefully. “I-I um…got the bracelet enchanted by Hekate. It can play back snippets from the past, and if our memories are ever erased again, it will help restore them. That way, we will never lose each other again. I have one as well.”
“I won’t be forgotten again?” Atë pulls out the silver bracelet, and it shines in the light. She wipes away a stray tear as she looks back at me. “It’s lovely. It really is. Thank you, Clio.”
I give her a quick hug, knowing she isn’t one for affection. “I love you, Atë.”
She holds me for a little longer before pulling away. “I can’t say that yet…it’s just…just give me time, okay?”
I nod, still smiling at her, my support for her unwavering. “Take as much time as you need. I just wanted you to know I will always care about you. Okay?”
She nods, looking back down at the bracelet and the music box. My phone buzzes in my pocket, and I sigh. Time’s up. I have a feeling one of the twins has barfed on Eros. Call it maternal instinct.
“I should probably head back to my family…” I say, standing from the chair. An idea pops into my head, and I look down at Atë. “You know, you and Erebus can both come over for dinner tonight. Spend some time with the kids.”
Atë stands beside me, walking me to the door, her fingers wrapped possessively around the bracelet. “I’ll let him know. He’s out doing something, but I’m sure we can stop by. I’ll just say I’m going, and he usually follows.”
“Perfect! I’ll let Eros know we will be having guests!”
“Sounds delicious.” She smirks wickedly, and I laugh. Tonight is going to be one crazy night.