It was only nine am but Alex’s day had been long, tiring and extremely annoying.
When Narcissus strole into Olympus Records, Alex’s betrayer heart lost its pace on her chest.
Despite everything, her entire being still reacted to it. To him.
Alex thought it would be easier.
She was tricking herself, of course. Seeing Narcissus was never going to be easier.
Yes, doing the episodes for Echobox – dissing her ex on audio, having tons of people listen to it while she tore him apart anonymously – felt good. Almost therapeutic.
Almost was the key word. It wasn’t exactly helping her heal. She was chewing on her anger, letting her grudge fester into a wound that she couldn’t stop picking at.
And the messages she got defending him – talking about his abs, or his beautiful blond hair, or his love-struck lyrics, lyrics she had written for him – made her want to scream.
Seeing Narcissus stroll through Olympus Records still took her breath away.
And watching him pass through her desk without sparing a glance felt like a punch to the gut.
She was still in love with him. She hated herself for it.
Before he entered Zeus’ office, she almost got up and tried to hold him off. Almost got a hold of his arm to try and talk to him. They hadn’t talked ever since he told her she was holding her down.
She stared at him until he crossed the threshold of the door, and then the almost stayed as it was. Almost.
She fucking hated that word, and kept thinking of it through her break in the kitchen, over her little breakdown, over being woken up by 5am by her boss to chase down his son, but, mostly, over everything she almost had with Narcissus. Almost had his attention, almost had his love, almost, almost, almost.
The word was still running on her head while she sat across from Artemis at a table in the coffee across the street. Alex knew she looked pitiful to the other girl’s eyes. Slightly puffy eyes, eyebags, pouting lips. Alex couldn’t help but feel shy, embarrassed. Artemis had probably invited her out because she felt sorry for her.
She wanted to say she accepted the girl’s invitation because it was an Olympian inviting her out on the Olympus Records floor, and she couldn’t say no to any of them. But she knew otherwise.
She had accepted Artemis’ invitation because she loved her music, and she envied the way she walked the world, and she thought she was pretty.
And anyway, Artemis was the furthest thing from an Olympian that she could ever hope to be. Her denim jacket had a lesbian flag patched into the left breast pocket, and her blond hair was chopped in a way that her dad would never let her.
She never did what her dad said.
There were a couple a few tables over who was looking at them. Well, looking at Artemis. The two girls whispered to each other, their eyes full of love and pride.
Artemis had the effect on queer girls. She was a lesbian icon. A real one – nothing like her brother, who wore his sexuality when it sold, and kept it hidden when it didn’t.
And she seemed unbothered by the looks and stares, while she flipped through the menu.
“How do you take your coffee?”
“Bitter. Like me.” Alex delivered the line with a flat voice, still slightly wary of the looks they were getting. Some were good, yes, but she could tell the man on the corner was staring at them with disgust. She felt defensive, and ready to strike in case needed.
The walls fell down when Artemis laughed, rich and honest, throwing her head back. Alex looked at her in surprise, a blush creeping on her cheeks.
Narcissus never laughed at her jokes. He always said the mean streak didn’t look good on her.
“I don’t think you’re bitter, Alex.”
I’m doing a podcast where I wreck your entire family weekly.
“I think you’re funny.” Artemis said, and Alex snorted at that.
“That’s a first.”
“Well, you know me. I’m honest to the fault.” Artemis pointed, with an arched eyebrow. “I really like the pink frappuccino. Don’t tell my brother. He will make fun of me.”
In a burst of courage, Alex leaned closer to Artemis, reaching for the menu. She read the description of what was inside the pink frappuccino.
Truth was, she never got the expensive drinks, the elaborated ones, because Narcissus insisted that they were silly.
“I’ll have one of those too, then.”
Maybe it was time for new beginnings.