After a trans-Atlantic flight followed by a trans-American flight, I was tired of being cooped up in a narrow tube hurtling through the skies. Sure, I could have tried teleporting to Monterey, but if we’re supposed to be getting more involved in the mortal’s lives, I thought I might as well humor everyone. Besides, to be honest, I hadn’t teleported anywhere outside of the Aegean in ages. I mean, the oceans are Poseidon and Amphitrite’s domain now, and between the Aegean and the connecting seas, that’s enough to keep me busy in my retirement.
That reminded me, according to the little discussion I had with Hermes, I was supposed to come up with some godly business to make Olympus Inc., or whatever they were calling it, look good. I was not willing to sacrifice Bounty of the Sea for the cause. Let’s just say I preferred to hedge my bets in case this whole We’re back! went sideways. It had taken me over two hundred years to get Bounty running smoothly. It was a struggle with all the wars, regulations, jealousy, and down-right pig-headedness displayed by some of the people who claim to run things in that area. Some days I wonder if Circe didn’t have the right idea. I’d love to slip a little of her elixir into the food of a half-dozen, quote, world leaders, unquote.
I hired a limo to drive me to Monterey from San Francisco and spent a half-hour on my phone trying to make all the arrangements for attending Amphitrite’s grand opening at the Nymphaeum. A text from Doris told me she wasn’t going to be able to arrive in time. Apparently, a typhoon had hit down in the Central Pacific, and many of the airports had been damaged. Flights to the U.S. were being rerouted. She and some of our daughters were going to fly to Greece instead and wait for me on the Aegean Star. She told me to be sure and invite Amph to dinner as soon as possible.
That made me smile. If there was one thing Doris loved more than me, it was spoiling her daughters. She could remember exactly what everyone’s favorite dish was and loved to make them herself in her own kitchen. Nothing catered could possibly be good enough for her girls. She also spoiled our two sons, but to be honest, Mama’s girls would always come first.
I must have dozed off somewhere on Highway 101 because the next thing I knew, the driver was speaking to me over his shoulder, telling me we’d be in Monterey in a few minutes. Walking into the Monterey Plaza Hotel, the concierge was quick to inform me that my room was ready and the packages I had ordered had arrived as well.
It was almost dark, so I hurried upstairs to get a shower and change into my clothes for tonight. After sitting for so many hours, it was heavenly, if you’d pardon the expression, to just stand in the shower and let the hot water loosen up my back and legs. I kept telling those youngsters that the first fifty thousand years were easy. After that, it’s a bit harder to keep the ol’ muscle tone. Probably why I still worked on my fishing vessels from time to time.
Once I was beginning to feel like my old self, I placed a call, and fifteen minutes later, an old friend of the family was at the door. “Demetrios, you old rascal. How’s life been treating you?”
“Things are well, Mr. Korias. My eldest son is getting ready to take over the business while my youngest son studies law at Santa Clara and my daughter, the biologist, is about to have twin girls.”
“My heartiest congratulations. I’ve heard from your family back in Greece. Your cousins are some of the finest tailors in the Mediterranean region, but to be honest, they don’t quite have your skill.”
“You flatter me, sir,” he said, but I could see the pride he took in his craft. “I am prepared as soon as you’re ready.”
I pointed to the boxes that had been delivered, and we went to work. While I knew most of the people would be going in modern tuxedos or ball gowns, I had decided there was a better way to make an impression at the grand opening tonight. There was tugging and pulling, and Demetrios fell too with his needles and thread. By dusk, the Tsolias outfit, complete with the 400-pleated fustanella, embroidered waistcoat, cotton shirt with the long loose sleeves, cloth belt, knee bands, and tsarouchia, complete with matching pom-poms, was ready to be seen outside of this room. As soon as the appropriate head wrap was in place and I had passed one last review by Demetrios’s critical eye, I knew I was ready to face my cousins, nieces, and nephews. Whether I was prepared to face my daughter was a completely different issue.
“You know, Alexandros, on many people, this outfit would look ridiculous, but you… Sir, you can carry this look off.”
“And, you, Demetrios, the master tailor, are the reason I would even consider this. I remember my grandfather had an outfit like this that he wore for special occasions and thought it appropriate to wear for the Nymphaeum’s Grand Opening tonight.”
“You received an invitation? That’s quite a coup, sir. I heard many of the local celebrities were vying for the few not already spoken for.”
“Let’s say I called in a few favors.”
After we arranged for his payment and a healthy tip, I slipped out of the hotel, wrapping myself in the traces of fog coming off of the bay. The waters in Monterey Bay are so different from the Aegean, but both teem with life. I can feel myself becoming invigorated simply from the mist in the air.
On my way to the Nymphaeum, I spotted the Monterey Bay Aquarium at the end of Cannery Row and decided I had time for a quick visit. Of course, the aquarium was closed for the day, but as long as it abutted the sea, there was always a way to visit. I walked down to the edge of the bay and morphed myself into my natural form before swimming around to the side of the aquarium most people never pay attention to.
Once I found the location I was searching for, I raised myself on a pillar of water and rested on the concrete wall. In front of me was a dark, deep pool, and I splashed on the water a few times to attract the inhabitants. As I expected, four sea otters came to the surface to investigate.
The oldest rose out of the water to greet me. “Lord Nereus, what brings you here?”
“Serendipity. Are they treating you well here?”
“Indeed, Lord Nereus. We’ve almost got the humans trained perfectly. Some days they’re a little skimpy with the crabmeat, but all in all, they’re almost perfect servants.”
I laughed, wondering how the biologists would like that title. “How fare the others who live here?”
The otter floated on its back, looking up at me with a serious expression. “I seldom hear any complaints. A few of the fish seem a bit nervous about being in the shark tank, but the humans try to keep the sharks and dogfish fed as much as they can without making them fat. I don’t think they’ve taken more than a nip or two out of anyone else.”
“Well, they are sharks, after all.”
The otter bobbed his head. “One cannot deny their nature. Your daughter comes to visit us from time to time. She seems much happier these past few days than when she first arrived.”
“Is that so? What do you think has changed?”
The otter floated closer. “Well, my lord, I’m not one to spread rumors—”
“Perish the thought.”
“—but if you ask me, I think she’s in love.”
I smiled at that bit of information. This may make tonight’s visit even more enjoyable. If Amphitrite is besotted, it may make our reunion less stressful. After all, how can a father not find enjoyment in his daughter’s? I nodded back to the otter. “I thank you for the information and will keep it in strictest confidence.”
A female otter floated over. “Seka, are you gossiping again?”
The eldest waved a hand at her. “Of course not, Laki. Simply speaking with Lord Nereus.”
She ducked Seka’s head under the water. “Pay no attention to this old fool. He loves to get into everyone’s business. Thinks he runs this place.”
I bowed my head to Laki. “I will keep that in mind. With your permission, I should be taking my leave. If you need anything, send for me.”
The eldest dove and then jumped up onto the concrete wall next to me. “Shhh. The humans don’t know we can do this. Take care, my lord. If you get the chance, check with the colony near the mouth of the bay. They may have heard things that have not reached us yet.”
Nodding in agreement, I rose a column of water and used it to lower myself back into the bay as quietly as I had arrived. I came ashore a bit further down the coast, within sight of the Nymphaeum. Double-checking I was out of sight, I morphed back into my human visage and inspected my outfit to ensure everything was perfect.
However, as I walked toward the front door, I knew everything was not perfect. I saw Poseidon approaching the main entrance, looking as nervous as I’d ever seen him. I’d heard the rumors that Poseidon and Amphitrite had been having issues, but I hadn’t wanted to pry. Doris had said if Amphi needed anything, she’d reach out to us. I didn’t want to argue with Doris, but I somehow doubted she’d make the first move if there was an issue. Of all our daughters, she was one of the most independent of the bunch.
I could almost feel palpable waves of tension as Poseidon paused at the door before being admitted. Ah, it was going to be a waste of a perfectly good outfit, but this was supposed to be Amphitrite’s big night. I didn’t want to make this any more awkward than it probably already was going to be, especially if my gossipy friend from the aquarium was right.
Still, I wasn’t quite ready to go yet. I cloaked myself in fog and found a spot where I could watch the building. Perhaps he wouldn’t stay too long, and then I could be fashionably late after giving them some space.
I waited almost an hour, and he showed no sign of leaving, so I decided to call it a night. But, as I turned to go, workers dressed in black clothing began moving through the shadows, erecting something outside the Nymphaeum. I moved closer to observe. They worked quickly and silently, but I sensed nothing hostile in what they were doing. Curious, I decided to wait to see what was going on. They completed their job but lingered in the area, obviously waiting for something.
To my surprise, Erebus came out of the Nymphaeum leading Atë. Well, that’s a couple I never envisioned, but who am I to judge? Erebus gave a signal, and suddenly, the place lit up with lighted trees and a snowmaker shooting white flakes into the sky. I watched as Atë went from flight to delight in seconds, twirling underneath the falling snow. Then a horse-drawn carriage pulled up, and Erebus bundled her inside.
As the cart pulled away, I decided if I couldn’t spend time with my daughter, at least I could have a little fun with these two. I called for a fine mist to come in off the bay and turned it into real snow, sending it to follow them wherever their ride would take them. I wondered if they ever figured out they’d left the range of the snowmaker or they were too busy enjoying the evening to notice.
I let a sappy smile settle on my lips. While not all the gods had enjoyed the time together that Doris and I had, I knew love when I saw it. I ensured the winds and mist would snow for a while and headed back to my hotel. It would be a long flight back to Athens and then to the God Complex, but I wanted to be there before Doris arrived. The stars knew she’d have her opinions about our living quarters there.
I walked into the hotel and took the elevator up to my floor while flexing from one foot to the other. These tsarouchias may go well with the outfit, but they took some getting used to. Getting off the elevator, I sensed something odd, and the sensation only got worse as I reached my room. One glance told me my door was ajar. I pulled moisture from the air and created a hardened water dagger before I pushed the door open as if I suspected nothing.
Gia was sitting on my bed watching TV. “If I had known you were coming back so soon, I wouldn’t have ordered this movie. I wasn’t expecting you for several more hours.”
“I wasn’t expecting you at all.”
“Then you should probably carry your phone with you when you go to parties. I arrived a couple of hours ago. We’ve got a problem back home, and your presence is required.”
Gia shrugged. “Can’t say, and it doesn’t pay to guess. Let’s just say someone found something they shouldn’t have while diving off the coast of Naxos. No time to take a flight home. Can you blip both of us back?”
I stuffed my regular clothes into my suitcase and wrapped an arm around Gia before the blackness of the void enveloped us.