Atë’s raised eyebrow did not fall the entire time I got dressed. I knew she was annoyed with me for making her late, but I struggled to function, my mind still befuddled from the parade of nightmares I’d just been forced to endure.
She stood in my bedroom in a red blouse and a tight black leather skirt, tapping her stilettos on my marble floors.
I gave up trying to match her level of coiffed perfection. I just was not in the mood to put myself together and ended up grabbing a pair of ripped black jeans and a lacy black top and cinching them together with one of Atë’s silver Gucci belts. To give the illusion of dress up, I added silver rings, bracelets, and hoop earrings, before grabbing a witchy hat to hide my messy hair. “This is going to have to do,” I told her raised eyebrow.
I didn’t have the energy to explain that I’d completely forgotten about the party that I’d agreed to accompany her to. She’d left Erebus for good and needed a wingman, and well, when Atë needed me, I was there. It’s a dark goddess thing.
“Are you going to tell me what’s up with you?” Atë crossed her arms.
I sighed, not sure where to begin. How does one explain how they were once married to a man they loved so much, they had their own heart ripped out when he died? How, after a series of loveless escapades with irrelevant men, the damn God of Nightmares was the one to finally figure out it was missing?
And that it was that same god who snuck it back inside me while I slept and proceeded to trick me into falling in love with him under the guise of a handsome, broken mortal named Nikolas?
Apparently, the look on my face was enough for her. “You can explain after the party,” she decided, grabbing an oversized sweater for me. “However, I do want to talk about getting rid of my heart. Is that a witch thing?”
I looked at her in shock, wondering if she could read my mind, but before I could reply, she ported us to the party.
She waved away the black smoke that accompanied our arrival, revealing a full house of Olympus’s finest.
I generally kept my distance from most of my fellow gods and goddesses; there was never animosity. I was just a loner. I was reminded of this awkwardness when I saw the brightly colored fabrics and sparkling displays of glamour and lux catch the light as they twittered amongst themselves. I scanned the room for any other dark Underworld dwellers, but even Thanatos had dipped out before Atë and I arrived.
Atë placed a red-fingernailed hand on her hip. “A warehouse? Seriously?” she muttered under her breath.
Indeed, we were in an abandoned warehouse, but the walls had been covered in elegant black silk, and glittering lanterns hung from the ceiling to reveal tall tables and three separate stocked bars. From what I could see, there were no mortals in attendance. Odd, I thought.
“I’ve long learned not to question anything,” I told her with a sigh. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?”
We were interrupted by Clio, who rushed past me to jump into Atë’s arms. “The two hottest goddesses in the world!” she squealed.
Eris approached us from the side. “My Kallis,” he greeted Atë, giving her a quick kiss on the cheek.
I smiled, happy to see both of them. It had been a while. I waited until the Atë love fest dissipated. “Well, I didn’t think I looked that scary,” I joked.
Clio slipped out of Atë’s arms to peck my cheek. “Hello, Auntie! You must still come visit,” she reminded me.
Eris directed a playful smirk my way as Atë slipped off to find alcohol. “Good to see you, my lady.”
“How are you, lovely?” I greeted them pleasantly. I gestured around to the party, its mysterious nature definitely of the God/dess of Discord variety. “Is this you?”
Eris snorted. “Not me. Not enough riding crops and Gerard over there would be in backless chaps.”
Before I could ask who Gerard was, Zeus interrupted with a booming voice. “Before things get too crazy, I’d like to make a toast.” He stood, lifting his glass. “It occurs to me that we don’t do these nearly as often as we should. Things have been quiet of late. All of us doing our own thing, which is great. But, whoever brought this shindig together, I would like to thank you.”
I noticed Erebus in my peripheral, eyeballing Atë. I casually blocked his view. Goddess code.
Atë made a face at Zeus. “Wait..? You didn’t plan this…?”
Zeus snorted. “Shit no. Every time I leave my office, I either die or end up on another planet.”
The hairs on my skin raised as I was hit with a very bad feeling. “Wait. So why are we here if no one knows who invited us?”
“I believe, free alcohol?” Eros, Clio’s husband, joined us, slipping an arm around her waist.
“Not like my night was going any better, but still…” I murmured, looking around. The rest of the gods appeared concerned, Nike drifting across the room in a flash of gold to check the door.
“Listen, the letterhead on this invite looked official,” Zeus said defensively.
Atë thrust an ambrosia drink into my hands before downing hers.
With my other hand, I searched my pockets for my potions, wincing when I realized I’d forgotten to bring anything with me from the Underworld. We needed to get out of there—fast. I was powerless on Earth without my magic, and if there was anything amiss, I was defenseless.
But before I could warn the others, the lights suddenly lowered, loud chanting coming through hidden speakers. The voices overlapped, creating a magic that surged all around us. I tried to summon my own magic, but it was of no avail. Whatever was being used was something stronger than our divine powers. I cursed under my breath, furious that I’d been so distracted with my own problems, I’d left myself vulnerable.
I watched as the black silk surrounding us fell, revealing glowing mirrors that lined the walls. Etched on each was the name of a god, along with runes. They pulsated with power, all in sync with each other, my eye was drawn helplessly to the one labeled Hekate. The current was too strong for me to resist, and in a flash, my world went black.