I blinked my eyes open as the sun poured through the window and across the bed. Who the fuck opened the drapes? Why is my head pounding? And then I remembered. I didn’t bother reaching my hand out this time. Instead, I looked over and saw that it was just me in my bed. Atë wasn’t there, and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Of course, she wasn’t. Wham Bam, thank you, man. I should have known better than to sleep with her again. Rolling over, I tried to go back to sleep, but the sun mocked me through the open window. I growled. She did that. I crawled out of bed, dragging my bare ass to the open window, and yanked the drapes closed. God of Darkness! I screamed in my head. Where was she? Did she have no regard for her actions? I snorted as I heard myself and gave my head a shake. She may be the Goddess of Ruin, but her reign of ruin in my life stopped here.
Pulling on a pair of boxer shorts, I stomped my way down the hall like an errant child. I could hear the young troublemaker in the kitchen. She must be cleaning up the mess we left behind from the night before. After the baby shower, we bickered back and forth, worse than on the car ride there. I forced Pro to drive us back in my Escalade since I wasn’t in any condition to. He didn’t linger, taking off right away. I wasn’t normally a sloppy drunk. I could hold my alcohol, but I must have shotgunned one too many beers. When Atë and I entered the house, it was like a no holds barred wrestling match. And, of course, one thing led to another.
I entered the kitchen, ready to jump down her throat, but she was sitting on a stool looking all proud and sexy. Her beautiful black hair swept up into a loose ponytail, she was wearing only a white see-through tank top and a pair of my boxer shorts. Everything was back in its place. A garbage bag of all the broken evidence sat waiting to be taken out.
“I cooked you breakfast.” She smiled, pushing the bowl towards me.
Rubbing the back of my neck, I hesitantly walked toward her. “You cooked?” My brow rose as I looked inside the bowl. “It’s cereal?” I said, confused.
“Cooked, poured, what’s the difference?” She shrugged.
It was as if nothing had happened between us. Pulling the stool out, I sat down beside her, digging into the bowl and not saying a word.
“Uhh, you’re welcome.”
I looked up from the bowl. She was glaring at me. “Thanks,” I said, mumbling with a full mouth, then went back to eating.
She let out a huge huff, jumping off the stool next to me. “You know I’m trying here, Erebus. Like, really trying. But you make it so impossible.”
I couldn’t help it. My spoon dropped from my hand, clanking down into the bowl. I didn’t even bother to finish chewing my food. “I’m impossible? Me?” I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand as I finished swallowing.
“I cleaned up without any help, and you didn’t even so much as notice. How ungrateful are you?” She began to walk away.
I stuck out my leg, stopping her from moving past it. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! I was sleeping. How was I supposed to know you would be up with the chickens?”
Atë pushed my leg down and out of her way. “You snore.”
“I do not,” I feigned being insulted.
“Whatever,” she said, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
I looked her up and down. “Are we going to talk about what happened last night, or are we just going to pretend we didn’t break rule number one?”
“If you recall, I wasn’t the one undressing me with their drunken eyes.”
I gave her a smirk. She thought she was so clever putting this on me. “You know, when you leave someone not once, but twice after sleeping with them, a guy can get a complex.”
Atë let out a snort. “You already have a complex.”
I went back to eating my cereal while Atë took out the garbage. A buzzing noise came from across the kitchen. My phone. I ignored it, not wanting to speak with anyone, especially if it was my receptionist from After Dark. She was beyond needy. Besides, Atë and I needed to talk about our latest escapade. My thoughts wandered to the night before, the memory of it all a bit fuzzy, but I knew the basics. We had sex. It was amazing. She left again. I gave my head a shake. I can’t let this get in the way of her rehabilitation. It was a mistake. Damn it, Erebus! I scolded myself.
By the time Atë returned, my phone was buzzing again.
“Oh yeah, your phone has been going nuts all morning,” she said, walking over to it to pick it up. She looked down at it, trying to see who was calling. Ms. Nosey pants. I hopped off my stool, crossing the kitchen in a second.
“I’ll take that,” I said, plucking it out of her hand. Thank gods for security measures. I waited until she stopped hovering before opening it up.
“Shit,” I muttered. Ten missed calls from unknown. I flew towards the stairs, abandoning my bowl of cereal, and went to my room, Atë following on my heels.
“Something wrong?” Her breath tickled my ear.
“No.” My mood flipped a hundred and eighty degrees. I needed to get dressed, and I needed stuff from my locked closet. I didn’t want to enter it with her in the room. I stood in front of the door, hesitating to enter the security code. Atë stared at the door with intense interest.
“What do you keep in there, anyway?”
“Nothing.” I spun around to face her, putting my hands on her shoulders, pushing her gently out of my room. “Out.” Once she’d cleared the frame of the door, I closed it swiftly in her face. “Sorry,” I called out, “it’s work related.” At this point, I didn’t even care that my lie wasn’t believable. I punched in the code, opening the door that hid the home security system that Atë had no idea about. I take one stupid night off, and this is what happens.
Atë was still yelling at me from the other side of the door, but I had stopped listening. Nothing else mattered right now. I needed to get across town before my informant was killed. I slipped into some clothes, pocketing my phone into my back pocket. Before exiting my room, I put a ball cap on. There was no time for primping. I flew past a surprised Atë, taking the stairs two at a time, grabbing my coat on the way out.
“Shall I expect you home for dinner?” Atë teased.
“Don’t,” I barked as I turned to face her. I could see that she was insulted, and I didn’t have time to mend her wounded ego. “Can you do me a solid and do as you’re told for once? Stay in the house.” I didn’t wait for her to answer as I climbed into the SUV, shutting the door quickly, and backed out of the garage. Two seconds later, the Bluetooth came through over the speakers. I half expected it to be her chewing my ear out, but when I couldn’t make sense of what I was hearing, I knew it was him.
There was no answer.
“Adrian, did you make it to the safe house?”
A tortured cry reverberated through the interior of the SUV, followed by gunshots, and then the call dropped.
I couldn’t go back home. Lie or not, I had to commit to the fact I told Atë I was leaving for something work related. I would have to figure out a better lie for when I returned. Maybe if I were lucky, she wouldn’t question me. I made my way to the House of Shadows. At least there, I could take out my frustrations and not have to worry about her.
So many questions ran through my head. The number one being, how did Melisseus always know when my guard was down? Was there a mole within Olympus? Perhaps one of the many Titans that no longer resided in Tartarus? Every god in Olympus was a gossip. Shit spread like wildfire. I paced the halls of my sanctuary, thinking of who could betray me.
The baby shower was out in the open, in a park. Anyone could have reported back to him. There must have been a dozen curious eyes watching Atë and me. I knew our bickering could cause a scene. Maybe whoever it was knew we would be occupied upon our return home?
My informant, Adrian, was a mortal who had been tailing Melisseus’ men for months. He was trying to get an in with them the last we spoke. My guess was they didn’t take kindly to strangers.
I had lost too many mortal informants over the years. There was no way I could get that close without being spotted. I needed help, but it couldn’t be just any god. I continued to walk back and forth between my study and the sitting room. Maybe it was time to befriend a Titan? But which one? Selene did owe me…but this wasn’t something I wanted to pull her into. No, it needed to be someone Melisseus wouldn’t expect me to work with. Who could I not stand? I laughed. Well, that was a long list. And then it came to me. I had just the Titan and if he wouldn’t do it, maybe it was time for another black hole visit?