I sat on the beach, drawing shapes in the sand, and feeling useless. I hated waiting. I watched Athena pace along the waterline from the corner of my eye. Everything had happened so fast. I hadn’t given myself time to think about how I felt about her. Ok, so I was lying to myself. She had always been important to me. More so than I wanted to admit. That hadn’t changed. I thought I hated her after she cursed me, but I could finally admit that I used the anger to keep the pain from consuming me.
She tilted her head and looked right at me, the corner of her mouth turned up in a smirk. Damn, she knew I was watching her. I felt heat rush up, and my cheeks burned. She looked terrific, standing with the sunlight glinting off her golden hair and the sea behind her.
For a moment, everything else fell away, and it was just the two of us staring at each other across the sand. I wasn’t sure how long time stood still. It felt like we were frozen in the moment, with our eyes locked on each other. Then, in one fluid movement, Athena spun and strode towards me. Electricity crackled in the air as she closed the distance between us, leaving me feeling like the prey. When she reached me, I stood on shaky legs, close enough to feel the heat pouring from her body as desire pulsed through my core.
My breath caught in a gasp as she slid her hands around my waist and pulled me against her. Her touch ignited a fire beneath my skin, and my knees threatened to give out. I grabbed onto her shoulders to steady myself and got lost in the desire burning within her eyes.
She stood, with her lips a breath away from mine, and waited. I knew she was giving me the chance to break away, to stop before anything more happened between us.
Finally, giving in to the desire that I had been fighting, I closed the distance and pressed my lips to hers. The rest of the world fell away in a rush of heat and passion. I slid one hand over the soft skin of her neck and into her hair, losing myself completely in the kiss.
Athena suddenly pulled away and stepped back. We were both breathing heavily, and her lips were red and swollen.
As I tried to get my breathing under control, I realized we had an audience. I looked down, burying my face in my hands, and tried to smother nervous laughter. We probably picked the worst time for this.
Echoing my thoughts, Athena said, “This probably isn’t the time or place for this.” She grabbed my hand and started pulling me towards the treeline. “Let’s take a walk.”
We walked in silence, keeping to the shadows of the jungle trees that lined the beach, so we weren’t too far from the others if they needed us. When we came to a fallen log with a blanket of leaves littering the ground, we stopped and sat down, leaning against the thick trunk.
“It’s ok, we don’t have to talk about us,” she said, laughing. She put her arm behind me and let my snakes wind around her fingers.
I relaxed, and my snakes hissed happily. It always surprised me how much they liked Athena. We sat under the shade and talked about mundane things, purposely avoiding any deeper conversations, and I was thankful. Athena had always been adept at reading my moods, and I wasn’t sure how I was feeling, let alone ready to talk about it.
The sound of raised voices drew my attention, and I hoped it was good news. “We better get back to find out if Artemis and Selene are back.” Athena nodded, and we jogged back to the beach.
As we broke through the treeline, Artemis rushed up to me, clutching a nautilus shell to her chest. “Medusa, I have it! We need to get back to Sayeh.”
“Of course, we’re ready whenever you are.”
“We are all going to leave together,” Artemis said, grabbing my hand.
Morpheus and Persephone walked up, joining the group, and Artemis took a moment to thank each of us for our help. I looked around the circle as she spoke and realized that I was very happy to have been a part of this quest. This trip hadn’t turned out anything like I thought it would, but it was an experience I’d never forget.
We all joined hands, and with a final look around the island, we teleported home.
It only took a heartbeat, and we were back at the God Complex. The abrupt change from the island to the busy city was jarring. I turned to Athena, unsure of what to say.
“It’s ok, there will be plenty of time for us later. I know you need to go,” Athena said with a smile.
I nodded and gave her a quick hug.
“To your temple?” I asked Artemis.
“Are you able to teleport right to Sayeh? It would save time, I’m afraid we don’t have,” she asked, still clutching the shell to her chest.
I nodded and popped out, not wanting to waste any time. I had been practicing with Luke, but I worried that calling back the stone wouldn’t work the same on a dragon as it had on the bodies.
I teleported to the entrance of Sayeh’s cave and quickly slipped behind the water and rushed to the dragon. She was so still, and for a moment, I was afraid we were too late. My heart was pounding so hard it sounded like thunder in my head. I didn’t even notice that Artemis was beside me until she spoke in a strained voice, “Hurry, please.”
I placed my hands on the smooth scales of Sayeh’s back and took a deep breath. As I let it out, I tried to call back the stone that ran over her body, but it resisted. I pulled harder, fighting against an unseen force. Her body had been wrapped in the stone for too long, and it didn’t want to let go.
My gaze flew to Artemis as I struggled to gain control of the stone. She looked panicked, her eyes wild. Refocusing on Sayeh, I closed my eyes tightly and changed into my Gorgon form. I poured every bit of power I had into the dragon, taking a hold of the stone, then pulled it back.
I felt it respond to my call and exhaled in relief. Opening my eyes, I turned to Artemis. “Hurry, I’m afraid she doesn’t have very long.” I stepped back and almost sank to the ground, exhausted.
I didn’t want to get in the way, and I felt so drained I didn’t think I’d be of any help, so I teleported back to the God Complex to make my way home.