Fuck me, she knows everything. All the secrets I’ve buried down deep inside; she knows. I’m still reeling from this revelation. Clio knows everything, and I do mean everything; the things I can’t even admit to myself. Her eyes connected with mine, and though they glowed slightly, I thought nothing of it, a trick of the light, a flare of latent power. Never would the truth have struck me, not in another millennium, were it not for her words.
No one knew the history of what she spoke aloud, no one: not Dinlas, not Nyxie, not Miteras, no one, except, apparently Clio.
Clio knows all the things I can never speak out loud. And…I may have reacted badly to this discovery.
Okay, I may have reacted like a total fucking asshole when I found out.
But I came back when I returned to my senses. I came back and found her being assaulted by some foolish mortal in the alleyway. I should have killed him when I saw what he was trying to do, but I stopped myself – barely – because I knew Clio had seen enough of the monstrous side that I keep locked up.
The part of me, of my father, that courses through my veins; the part that sometimes gets out and wreaks havoc. Like it did earlier when I realized Clio could see everything in my past.
I think she forgave me for my outburst. I guess saving her from the human bought her forgiveness, or at least a little bit of it.
I am concerned about her reactions to my jokes about sex. I mean she’s not Tory, Clio has admitted she fucked people in the past, so why the blushing? Why the shyness?
She’s four thousand years old, blushing should be behind her.
I can’t stop thinking about the absolute paradox she represents, which is probably why I’m currently on my way to see her.
I was supposed to walk her home from the museum but found out that she never made it to work, so I’m going to check on her. Along the way, I take time to mull over the paradox she is. Lost in my thoughts, the idea that someone knows the things I can’t even say out loud, I don’t notice something is off until I approach her home.
Huh, the door is open. Maybe she forgot?
Clio doesn’t strike me as the type of person who “forgets” anything though, not with her power. My brows come down over my narrowed eyes as I carefully approach the door, pulling my bow from its hook on my quiver, lightly stringing an arrow, preparing for anything.
I don’t call out as I slip through the slightly open doorway. If you ever see a movie where people call out when they enter a house in which they suspect something is wrong, let me tell you, those people are idiots. Why would you warn someone that you’re there? Yes, hello, strange intruder, I have arrived! Come kill me!
With just one foot, I slowly close the door behind me. Anyone who tries to escape will have to open it, and doing so will alert me to their presence.
I’m not trapped in here with you, you’re trapped in here with me.
Patrolling through the floor, I’m completely silent as my eyes sweep for the intruder. Nothing seems out of place until I get to her bedroom, and her small fox comes barreling out from under the bed, its little claws scraping along the floor in its hurry.
Duck yips at me softly, running up to me, circling around my legs frantically. My bow is still in my hand, ready and waiting, but I crouch, speaking softly to the fox.
“Where’s your miteras, Duck?” I glance around, still not seeing anything out of place. “What happened to her?”
Clio would never leave Duck behind, not like this. The poor fox appears terrified, frantic.
Something is wrong. Very wrong.
It takes me only a couple more minutes to sweep the rest of the floor, Duck not leaving my side for more than a second. Clio is nowhere to be found, and it doesn’t look like she took anything with her when she left.
Shocking amount of lingerie for a woman who hasn’t been laid in thousands of years.
Before you ask what I was doing in her underwear drawer, I’ll remind you that I, in fact, was making sure she didn’t take anything with her. I just left the museum, so I know she wasn’t there, and I saw Urania earlier today.
Mentally, I list all the places she could possibly be, and slowly, one by one, I eliminate them.
Glancing down at Duck again, a low growl of anger stirs in my chest.
Someone took her.
It’s the only explanation for this.
Leaning down, I scoop the frightened fox into my arms, popping back to my floor at the GC. Din and Las are in full tiger form, prowling the massive space. They let out a low growl when they scent the terrified fox in my arms.
Slowly, I lower the smaller animal for the tigers to inspect. With Duck sitting at my feet, his orange tail wrapped around one of my ankles, the two massive predators circle around us, Din going one way, Las going the other. Duck presses closer to me as Din pauses in front of the fox, his massive head making the fox look positively diminutive in comparison.
Duck cowers slightly against my leg, but Din merely sniffs the smaller animal before leaning forward and taking a long lick of the fox in welcome.
For a moment, all three animals and I hold our breaths, waiting for the reaction of the fox to being welcomed into the fold of the two tigers.
Duck slowly unwraps his tail from where it was locked around my leg, going onto his hind legs to playfully place his paws on the top of Din’s huge head, giving the tiger an answering welcome lick.
Animals are weird. Then again, I suppose their owners are even weirder.
The fox yips happily, crawling up Din’s back, before jumping onto Las from the new height. He licks the other tiger in welcome as well.
At least I know the small fox will be safe with them. Now it’s time to figure out what happened to his mother.
Rhea, have mercy on whoever took her, because I won’t.
Frowning, I try to imagine where someone would take her. I mean, you don’t just kidnap a goddess. Not without causing mass chaos.
Think, Eros, think! Where would they take her? If you were kidnapping a goddess, where would you take her?
Well, that’s an easy answer. You take them to the last place people would ever think to look. Hiding in plain sight.
My eyes glow brightly with anger, then narrow into slits.
The place where no one would think to look. Popping there directly, I startle the aged receptionist with my sudden appearance. I don’t bother to stop for her as I focus on finding Clio.
The place where no one would think to look.
Behind the receptionist’s desk, I spy a door labeled, Basement Access, Employees Only.
I charge for it, throwing the door open with my shoulder, my booted feet thundering down the stairs.
“Clio?” I call out, my rules about calling out in an unknown environment easily forgotten.
There’s a strangled sound from the corner of the dust-covered basement, and I storm to it, barely remembering to pull my bow and nock an arrow as I do.
I’m having trouble focusing, which hasn’t been an issue for me in millennia. I don’t like the idea of Clio frightened, even for a moment.
You mean like how you scared her a couple of days ago?
Fuck off with your facts.
Reaching the corner, I find my little muse, curled in a ball in the corner. Her white sweater and jeans are covered with grime from the basement. When I see she’s alone, I hook my bow back on my quiver, and holster the arrow, leaning down to pull her into my arms.
“Clio? Can you hear me?” I whisper, shaking her when she doesn’t respond.
Her eyes are closed, but I can see them moving frantically back and forth behind her lids. Pressing my ear closer to her, I can hear her steady breathing, though it’s slightly ragged, as if she is running from something in a dream.
“Clio, come on, wake up,” I murmur again, pulling back to brush her hair from her face as I do.
My hand drops suddenly as if burned. She’s got me out of sorts. I’ve got to get her help, not be thinking about how adorable she looks mussed from sleep. Fuck, I need to call Dinlas. He’ll take care of her and provide the distance from her that I clearly need.
Her head suddenly tosses to one side in sleep, throwing her even closer to me as she does. She groans, “Eros…” My brows shoot up in shock at my name tumbling from her lips. What is she dreaming about? And why am I in it?