Of Thorns and Lightning

All Rights Reserved ©

Untitled chapter

Bowties and Bad Decisions

♦️

The Gods woke up to a surprise: a formal invitation from William to one of his infamous parties in Gods Tower in the middle of Manhattan. He stressed the strict formal dress code and offered little to no explanation about why this party was happening. When they asked him, he said “my friends want to meet you, the kids that saved New York City. Why else?” as if it was completely obvious.

But they all faced a problem: none of them had anything to wear.

Upset, Talia was tossing all the clothes that were absolutely unsuitable out into the hallway, including a pair of black red-bottom Louboutin heels that caught Maize’s eye. Meaghan saw this.

“Maize, you have to take those. Talia is literally throwing her clothes out, like this shit is in garbage bags, girl. Do you hear her? She’s doing a closet cleanse, and she doesn’t care about those shoes. They were a gift from an ex, she’s never going to wear them again.”

“Are you, Dike, suggesting I steal something?”

“Well, you’re stealing for a good cause, right? Again, someone at the thrift store is going to buy them for $12 if you don’t just take the shoes and run.” Meaghan convinced. Maize followed through.

Frantic, Peter was trying to put his best pieces together when William pulled him from the depths of his science pun t-shirts and jeans and took him to his closet. William was insistent that Peter would wear his first adult, well-tailored suit, even though Peter felt like it was too much to accept.

“Do you want to go to this party or not?” William asked.

“Well, yeah.” Peter answered. “I’m terrified to meet your friends, but I still want to go.”

“So, take the suit. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to come into the party, Peter.”

“But I can’t even pronounce the name of the company that makes my tie!”

“It’s Dolce and Gabbana, Peter, it’s not that hard to remember. If you scuff up my Gucci shoes, you’re going to die, but you’ll look great!” William mentioned, patting Peter on the back.

Hesitantly, Peter took the suit, feeling like a brand-new man on the inside. Meanwhile, Maize and Meaghan were doing their hair, makeup and nails before getting into their dresses. Maize was wearing the shoes as she was curling her hair, still indecisive.

“They’re just a little too big, I don’t know if I can wear these. Plus, Talia will know I took her shoes and that will cause more trouble with her that I don’t want.”

“Those are genuine Louboutin’s, Maize! You’re going to make them fit! Remember it’s a pointed toe so you’re going to have extra room! Make it work!” Meaghan explained.

“Okay, but I have nothing to wear them with. None of my clothes are black tie.” Maize said, exasperated as she tossed dresses onto her bed.

“Why don’t you wear that red sequined dress you wore for your 18th birthday party?”

“That is way too, how should I put this simply, exposed for this kind of party.”

“Do you have any better options?” Meaghan asked.

Maize looked down at her cotton sundresses and bit her lip, realizing that Meaghan was right.

It wasn’t long before their look was almost complete, and Maize and Meaghan added their finishing touches to their outfits in the mirror.

“Oh God, what would my mother say if she saw me now?” Maize laughed, looking at herself in the mirror. Her dress for the night’s event was a red and black sequined dress with spaghetti straps and an open back, whose hem just brushed the middle of her thigh. Talia’s discarded stilettos completed the look, Maize’s oxblood fingernail and toenail polish complementing her entire look.

Meaghan wore a royal blue, off-the-shoulder, high-low dress with nude pumps and brilliant diamond accessories.

Meaghan and Maize pulled up to Gods Tower later that night and Maize stepped out of her Maserati like a Rockstar. She had the attitude and the swagger; her shoes led her entire persona. She handed the keys over to the Valet and let her long blonde hair swing behind her as she passed Talia, and boy was Talia pissed. Maize made more of an entrance than Talia did, and she did it in Talia’s shoes. It wasn’t a good start to the night for Talia.

Maize and Meaghan walked inside the doors that were opened for them and they took the elevator up to the top floor where the party was taking place. Meaghan and Maize were the only two people in the glass elevator, and Maize felt a surge of chest pain. She was still gaining her confidence around Talia, and that was a big move for her.

“You okay, Maize?” Meaghan asked, noticing a change in her friend.

“Yeah, just experiencing some mild cardiac arrest, but that won’t stop me from partying.” She said just as the elevator doors opened. Maize straightened up instantly and strutted off the elevator, using the room as her catwalk. She passed by Peter in his crisp and well-tailored black and white three-piece suit with a maroon tie that William surely had set him up with. It was probably Dolce & Gabbana, or some shit Peter would never have in his own closet. She held eye contact with him as he quickly darted his eyes up and down her ensemble and a drink tray passed between them. Maize elegantly finessed a glass off of it and raised it to her lips, taking a sip before turning her head away. Meaghan leaned over to Maize and whispered an observation in her ear.

“You and Peter are matching, you two look like you’re going to Homecoming together!”

“Shut the hell up, Meaghan! No, we don’t!” Maize blushed, knowing Meaghan was right.

“You do! Don’t look now, but you do!!” She insisted. “What are you drinking, anyway?!”

“I don’t know but I don’t like it.” She muttered. “I think it’s rum, but it tastes like paint thinner, I thought it would be a cool move with the drink tray and-” Maize explained, her eye twitching at the effect the alcohol.

“Oh, it was awesome. Did you see the way he was looking at you?”

“He doesn’t like me that way, if he did something would have already happened between us. Don’t you think? Come on, Meaghan.” She spoke quietly, downing the rest of whatever the hell was in her glass.

“Maize, you know it’s not always like that. I think he’s got the hots for you but is too shy to admit it. Maybe you have to go make the first move.”

“Nope, nun-uh. No way. I’m not taking that risk, especially if I’m wrong. No thank you.”

Peter, on the other hand was having a hard time watching her roam the room while he was standing there, watching her from the wall.

Maize’s drink had enough staying power for her to meet Talia face to face, although by accident. They bumped into each other in the common space, Maize standing her ground, her chin up. Something in their group therapy seemed to be working because Talia came off differently. They stood face to face for a moment, making awkward eye contact. William caught their interaction from afar and stopped in his place, analyzing what was about to happen. Talia spoke first.

“I like your dress.” She said, coldly with no inflection, but genuine. That was a big step for her, and Maize knew it.

“Thank you, Talia.” She responded, waiting for something else to happen. She had reason to believe there was more to Talia than she was leading on with their history.

“But you should think twice before stealing my shoes.” She spoke again leaving no room for Maize’s retaliation, walking away and purposefully knocking shoulders. Both Maize and William were relieved, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it absolutely could have been. Everyone knows the immense amount of power they both have.

Meaghan and Maize continued to party, Dike’s arm around Meaghan’s strong shoulders. Meaghan’s stomach turned with the decision, but she took a deep breath and let her hand meet Dike’s and their fingers slid together. They weren’t quite dating, but there was something going on there that they refused to talk about but mutually acted upon. Everyone already knew that there was a bit of a romance budding between them, so it wasn’t a big shocker when Meaghan made that move. It was almost a relief for everybody.

What none of them knew was that Talia had something else up her sleeve. She had worked on having better interactions with Maize, only to satisfy her father, but she couldn’t just leave well-enough alone. She noticed that Peter hadn’t left his place near the bar where he was trying to slyly stare at Maize from behind a beer bottle, because she looked amazing. That much was obvious. She also heard Maize say that there was no way he could like her, and she decided to act upon that. When she walked past Maize, she walked towards Peter and dragged him by his tie to a pillar behind a focus tree a few steps removed from Peter’s spot at the bar.

“Talia, what the hell are you-” Peter exclaimed, not knowing what the hell was happening to him. He didn’t know if Talia was going to beat him up, threaten his life, or do any sort of bodily harm to him, but he had no idea what he had even done to cause her to do those things to him. He hadn’t said a word to her in quite some time, so it’s nearly impossible that he could have made her upset... right? Right?!

Talia didn’t explain what she was doing when she attacked him with her lips painted with purple lipstick. Talia, in that moment, looked like a venomous snake ready to bite his head off, and he was concerned that was happening when she aggressively began kissing him. He had no idea how to respond, his body seized up and he froze for the moment. He hadn’t had time to process what was happening, but by the time he realized what Talia was doing, the moment was over and everything else came crumbling down.

At the same time Peter was getting covered in Talia’s purple, almost black lipstick, Meaghan and Maize were standing off to the side, Meaghan trying to convince Maize to make a move with Peter.

“I think you should go get Peter and dance. You’ll never know where it’ll go, Maize!” Meaghan encouraged.

“Yeah, exactly. I don’t know where it’ll go. Besides, he doesn’t look interested in the party.”

“That’s because he’s interested in YOU. Look, he’s still standing over there, ogling at you-” Meaghan directed, they both turned around to the spot where Peter was previously standing only to find him and Talia making out fairly aggressively between a potted ficus tree and a pillar. Talia’s eyes remained open for the sole purpose of catching the very moment when Maize looked over at them.

Talia took it one step too far this time.

Meaghan turned Maize away and found a quiet spot at the opposite end of the floor since she knew that Maize, as much as it hurt her, would never voluntarily look away. She would continue to watch what was happening right before her eyes, or else she wouldn’t be convinced that it was real. Meaghan eased them both down to the small couch in front of an enormous window that gave them a view of the top of the Empire State Building and the lights of the city. Maize felt like she couldn’t breathe, especially when she realized how high in the skyscraper they were. She got a sudden bout of vertigo and was completely in shock. Everything just got turned completely upside down.

“Talia doesn’t like Peter! Peter doesn’t like Talia! That doesn’t make any sense, Meaghan!” Maize tried to reason.

"Talia doesn’t make any sense, Maize. I’ll find out answers for you, but I don’t think it’s best we try going for them now. I don’t want to see you hurt any more tonight.” Meaghan soothed.

When Maize was trying to process what she just saw happen right in front of her eyes, Peter pushed Talia away and wiped his mouth with the corner of his Armani suit jacket, very unhappy.

“Talia, what the hell?!” He asked, she wasn’t the person he wanted to kiss tonight, and she came onto him without any warning or permission.

“Don’t ever do that again, please.” He asked, sounding polite but was boiling over with rage inside of him. Talia had her response all lined up, taking Peter off his guard once more.

“I don’t have to, Peter. Once was all it took to ruin Maize’s night, her hopes, her dreams and her relationship with you. Don’t flatter yourself, Lannigan. It’s not like I wanted to.”

“Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me-!” He growled, lunging towards the general direction of Maize, needing to explain himself immediately. He knew that Maize saw, he saw her out of the corner of his eye when he was panicking as Talia was all up on him. Talia stuck her arm out and grounded it on the pillar, blocking Peter from running off. Talia still had shit to say, her plan wasn’t done yet.

“It’s no use, Peter. She’s already hiding in a corner, crying into her drink. My job is done. She took something I loved, so I took something she loves. She’s never going to talk to you again!” She laughed deviously, touching up her dark purple lipstick in her reflection on the shiny elevator doors before they opened in front of her.

“Enjoy the party, Peter.” Talia taunted as she walked away into the elevator, making a swift exit. Peter could only think of one thing to do, and that was hide in the bathroom until he had a plan.

It wasn’t long before William came over to Maize and Meaghan offering his help. He was standing next to Dr. Banner when it all happened, and he saw Peter, Maize, Talia and Meaghan all react differently in that horrible, horrible moment. He wasn’t sure if Maize even wanted to see him since he was Talia’s father after all and they had already dealt with the troubles between Maize and Talia, or if she was so upset she didn’t want to be around anyone. He thought it was worth a shot to try anyway. Meghan saw William cautiously approaching and she looked up at him while rubbing her back, shaking her head and mouthing

“I wouldn’t.”

“Hey, it’s not a party if someone doesn’t cry, right?” He spoke softly but lightheartedly, rubbing her back. Maize only sobbed harder.

“William, why did you think that would help?!” Meaghan harshly whispered. William shrugged, now panicking as well. He didn’t want to make things worse than they already were, because knowing his Gods-in-training, they would burn the whole place down and then they’d have to do more group therapy...

“Oh, my god I’m going to kill her. I’m going to kill him!” Maize spoke with fervor, jolting up to a standing position. William and Meaghan both put a hand on her shoulder and took her back down.

“No, you’re not going to kill anyone. Calm your lightning hands, Maize.”

“Don’t tell me to calm my-! ...lightning hands?” Maize chirped at William, not realizing that a current of lightning was running through her fingers. Surprised, she watched it for a few more moments before trying to get rid of it.

Maize took a few deep breaths, pushing her hair back off of her face and getting up. She straightened her dress and flicked off the remainder of her tears, grabbing her glass off the table.

“What are you doing, Maize?” William wondered.

“Are you sure you want to go back out there?” Meaghan asked.

“I’ve gotta keep it together, right? You told us not to create a disaster, so I’m not going to.” maize answered.

“I can take you home, you don’t have to stay here and pretend.”

“If I go home, Talia wins. I’m going to try and have a good night anyway. I mean, there’s free booze.”

“Please, no, Maize.” William asked. Maize shrugged and caught her breath before showing her face out there again, not knowing if Peter was going to be there. She wasn’t going to run from her problems anymore. Maize courageously went back out to the party and assimilated in a group with Jordie and some of William’s friends who were discussing training. Maize put on a smile and even tried to laugh. Meaghan found Dike again and they sat together on a couch, watching the party from the outside. William, on the other hand, was still concerned. He made his way over to Thor who was giving alcohol poisoning to a group of old war vets who said they could handle their alcohol, and William pulled Thor aside from it all.

“Hey, Thor, doesn’t it alarm you that Maize can summon lighting through her fingertips and you, well, can’t?” William asked, trying to be nonchalant in his worry.

“Well, I recently learned that I don’t need my hammer in order to be the God of Thunder. I’m not the God of Hammers, Mjolnir just helps me convey my powers. So, it is quite significantly alarming to me that she can already do something that took me thousands of years to learn, but we saw this when she punched your daughter and all the lights in the building went out. I knew that she would never be an exact copy of me and that she and I would have our differences in capabilities, but it leaves me questioning how strong she actually is. I believe that we have yet to tap into her full powers, and she herself is not capable of handling every power she has inside of her. She is not a full god yet, and if we were to ever to try to summon her full powers, she would most likely die. But, the lightning fingers are a cool party trick.”

“Thanks, Thor, that makes me feel so much better.” William responded, ready for anything from Maize at the party for the remainder of the night. He kept a close eye on her from afar, and Thor went back to his shenanigans.

“I didn’t think Thor could even get drunk.” Meaghan stated to Dike as they were watching Maize stand at the bar.

“Neither of them really, truly can. Mortal alcohol has no effect on Big Thor, but Maize? Probably. Even after the ceremony, she’s still growing into her powers.” Dike answered.

“Then explain that.” Meaghan gestured towards Maize, who was leaning against the bar, and it was apparent that she found the tequila. She rolled her ankle a little when she got off-balance, but tried to hide it and right herself again. She eventually found the couch that Thor was sitting on, and she slumped into his side. To preserve her dignity, Thor put his sunglasses on her eyes, crossed her ankles and supported her in his side, making her look as if she was just chilling with him and wasn’t crying and getting pretty drunk just minutes before.

“Well, I can’t. Sorry, honey.” Dike answered, and just seeing her best friend in that condition strummed up her rage for what Peter had done. She removed her hand from within Dike’s and set out on her mission.

“Have you seen Peter anywhere?” She asked.

“Last place I saw him was when he headed into the bathroom.” Dike answered.

“Thanks,” Meaghan said to him, but Dike instantly regretted telling her Peter’s last seen location. She was concerned she was going to cause him extreme bodily harm, but then she calmed down when he remembered that she was Dike and she would do what was right, and hopefully, within reason. She wasn’t scared for what she was going to do, rather, she admired Meaghan’s qualities with the desire to defend and protect her friends. It’s exactly what he would do. He smiled.

Meaghan quickly made her way to the men’s bathroom, pushing open the door and storming inside. The men that were already in the bathroom left, confused as why an angry woman on a mission to destroy was in the bathroom. Peter, though, didn’t even try to move.

“Do you want to explain yourself, Peter?!” She asked, slamming her clutch purse on the edge of the sink. She clicked her nails on the marble, the sound echoing and making the air feel tense, just how she wanted it to be. Peter swallowed hard.

“Meaghan, you don’t understand.”

“You’re right! I don’t understand! That’s why you better have an explanation for the ages, because you just destroyed Maize, your relationship you had with her and ANYTHING you could have ever had with her with that stunt.”

“But it wasn’t my fault! Talia came up to me, grabbed me by my tie and shoved her tongue down her throat, then saying that her job was done, she didn’t want to kiss me, but she wanted to basically ruin everything, and then she told me to enjoy the party! I just need you to forgive me-”

“Forgiveness?!” Meaghan screeched. “You want to talk about forgiveness?!” She repeated, her voice elevating. Her blood was boiling, she was beyond furious. Peter’s eyes widened. Never in his whole life had he ever seen Meaghan that mad, and that mad at him.

“Your only shot at forgiveness is passed out on the fucking couch! Do you know that, Peter? She’s not going to give you the light of day after that stunt. She’s never going to believe you, either! Oh, she kissed me, and I didn’t want it... yeah right, Peter. Maize isn’t that forgiving. She’s not going to let that go so easily, even if she knows you didn’t mean it. It still happened, you kissed Talia when you wouldn’t kiss her, and that was really hurtful to her!”

Peter was silent. There was still an entire storm coming towards him, and he knew it.

“So, it is my duty as Dike and my duty to my best friend to beat you up in a bathroom.”

Simultaneously, Jordie and Maize were having a drunken heart-to-heart at the bar.

“Jordie, I just don’t get it! Why Talia? Why him? Why everything?”

“Nobody gets it, Maize. I don’t have any more answers for you. But I just know that he doesn’t get you! He doesn’t deserve you, Maize. You’ve known him your whole life and he had more than once chance to scoop you up, but he never did. I think he’s missing out on a lot of good shit, Maize. Be with someone who’s going to see that.”

“You know, you’re totally right!” Maize slurred in agreement. “Which is why I say forget about Peter! Come on, what was I thinking? He was actually going to make the first move? He didn’t even want to kiss me the other day. Jordie, I’m completely unbothered! I have moved on entirely, which is why I’m going to make the first move with you and suggest that we go back home and we, like, get to know each other better?”

“Yeah, we’ll be getting to know each other really well.” He agreed. “Let’s get out of this party.”

Maize and Jordie made their way downstairs. William wanted to make sure they didn’t drive back to the compound under the influence of whatever the hell happened to them, so he arranged for them to be driven home. Meaghan walked out of the bathroom; her knuckles bruised but they healed right before her eyes. She brushed the flyaway of her hair back before finding her way next to Dike, who also suggested they get out of there, Dike was getting bored and needed a change of scenery.

Dike drove them in Maize’s Maserati that she hadn’t left the party in, telling her that where they would be going would be a surprise. Meanwhile, Peter gathered himself enough to leave the bathroom, only enough so he wasn’t bleeding anymore. He swallowed his pride and tried to seamlessly rejoin the event, but it was no use. The night was ending, and William approached him with ice cubes wrapped in a napkin he stole from behind the bar.

“Kid, you need to go home.” William suggested. Peter gratefully took the ice cubes and pressed them to his swollen right eye, nodding and following William out into the elevator.

“You’re not going to say goodbye to your party guests?” Peter softly asked.

“Nah, they usually leave on their own. Thor’s still holding down the fort. He probably will until the sun rises in the morning.”

“So, you’re Gatsby. Hmm,” Peter suggested. In a way, yes, William was exactly like the fictional character: always longing for something he couldn’t ever have, living a secretive and lavish life, throwing parties with people he doesn’t know and hiding his true self from everyone he knows. William, like Gatsby, always had some sort of disguise about him.

I heard he killed a man once...

William and Peter drove back to the compound together wordlessly, but William wouldn’t let Peter get off that easily when they pulled into the driveway. Peter immediately felt threatened, knowing what William was capable of. Peter was certain he would probably die if he couldn’t give William the answers to the questions that were about to be thrown his way, and he wasn’t sure he had any answers at all. He swallowed hard, preparing for the worst that William could give him.

**********

“Oh, that was a bad decision.” Maize groaned, realizing she woke up in Jordie’s bed with a pounding headache. He was completely unconscious next to her and she took the chance to get dressed and run quickly and quietly out of his room in an attempt to avoid small talk. She had no idea what that was supposed to mean for the both of them, hoping that it wouldn’t upset the already-dysfunctional dynamic of the team.

It wasn’t long before she ran into Meaghan, who seemed to literally glow with happiness.

“Oh Maize!” She brightly said, causing Maize to squeeze her eyes shut since any sound triggered an icepick headache for her. She got dizzy and threw up a little in her mouth, that signaling only the beginning of a subtle nightmare for her.

“Meaghan, I’m going to go barf and when I’m done you can tell me why you’re beaming. I can still taste the tequila right now, ok?” Maize groaned, wiping her mouth, trying to get the taste out of her throat.

“Mm, so can I and I didn’t even drink any. You need to brush your teeth, like, four times, Maize.” Meaghan responded, the smell of tequila on Maize’s breath was nearly suffocating.

“Would you believe me if I told you I already have?” Maize groaned.

“Yeah, drinking that much wasn’t such a great idea, now was it?”

“No. Never again. Every part of last night was one consecutive bad decision.”

“Oh, I’m well aware. When you’re feeling better, I’ll tell you all the good as well as all the chaos that happened the rest of the night while you were passed out!”

“That just makes me want to go back to being unconscious. The last thing I want to hear is how awful everything is, Meaghan.”

“Well, not for me.” She smirked.

“That’s great for you, I’m going to go throw up and consider the weight of all my regrets and compare them to the physiological toll of being alive, want to join me?”

“I’ll pass on this one. Let me know when you want to know about Armageddon!” Meaghan cheerily spoke, leaving Maize in her misery.

Maize was not ready for what was about to come to her, but it couldn’t possibly be any worse than it had been before.

Besides, how bad could it be?

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.