“Hello, Ares,” Aphrodite said. “It’s so good to see you again.”
Like a fool, I could only stare at her. It had been over a thousand years since I had seen her, but she hadn’t aged at all. The passion in her eyes still burned, sending the same longing and desire that I had always had for her into my soul. For a moment, I couldn’t breathe again. It was like no time had passed at all, and she was here with me again, stirring things inside of me that I had not felt in forever. Before I knew what I was doing, I rushed across the room, took her into my arms, and kissed her.
She eagerly wrapped her arms around me and returned my kiss. Desire flowed through both of us, and all I could think was that I wanted to consume her, become one with her again. My hands slid down her back, pressing her closer to me. The white silk scarf she wore around her arms slipped to the ground as she broke the kiss. I started raining kisses down her soft, porcelain neck, nipping gently at her throat. I heard her soft moan as her fingers became entangled in my hair.
And then, just as suddenly, I stopped and pulled away from her.
“What’s the matter?” she gasped.
Picking up her scarf, I handed it to her before walking back across the room. “We can’t do this.”
“Why not? It’s obvious the passion is still there. I know you love me more than anything in this world and beyond.”
“Because this is another place and time,” I said, picking up the paintbrush and putting it on the tray. “We can’t go back to the way it was.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Aphrodite scoffed.
“No, it’s not. You left, without a word. One day, you were there, the next day, you were gone. Dad wouldn’t tell me where you were. He said it was none of my business. All these centuries, he never said a word. Now, you think you can come waltzing back in here and pick up where we left off, like nothing ever happened.”
“You sound like one of those cheesy soap operas I’ve seen,” she laughed. “Can you hear yourself?”
“There’s also your husband to consider.”
“Hephaestus? What about him?”
“He loves you.”
“I don’t think Hephaestus loves anything but his fire and his forge. He’s hardly acknowledged my presence, and when we’ve made plans to go for walks so we can spend time together, he doesn’t show up or he makes some lame excuse to get out of it. Besides, I think he’s got his eye on someone else.”
“Trust me, he still feels very passionately about you,” I said, remembering a few fights the two of us had had over the years about her. “He just doesn’t know how to show you.”
She wandered over to my side of the office, running her fingers up and down my arm. I sucked in some air as chills went down my spine from her touch. “But what if I don’t want to be with him anymore?”
“That is something that the two of you need to decide,” I replied, reaching out to move her hand off my arm.
As my hand touched her arm, Aphrodite quickly reached out with her free hand and grabbed a hold of me. “Ares,” she said softly, “I’m afraid.”
“Of what?” I asked her, not daring to look into her eyes.
“What am I going to do if Hephaestus doesn’t want me anymore? What if he wants to divorce me? What will happen to me?”
“You’re the goddess of love,” I chuckled. “I’m sure you won’t have a problem finding someone’s heart to capture and claim as your own.”
“What about you?” she asked.
“What about me?” I replied, glancing at her.
“If Hephaestus decides he wants to leave me, what about you and I? Would there be a chance for us again?” she said as tears slid down her cheeks.
Pulling her close to me, I let her cry. I understood her fear. She had no parents; she had been forced to marry my brother, and life with him was all she had known for eons. On the other hand, I had no idea where she had been the last thousand years, but I was sure that she hadn’t been by herself. There had probably been other men, but she probably never made a serious commitment to any of them because of Hephaestus. How difficult it must be for her to be the goddess of love, and her own husband couldn’t give himself to her completely.
I stroked her hair, trying to soothe her. Would I want another chance with her if she were free of him? As I felt her heart beating against my chest, I pondered the question. There had been other women in my life, and I had loved each of them in my own way. But I always felt that there was something missing from my life; my heart wasn’t whole. The only time I had ever felt complete was when I was with her. She was my heart and soul, and the only person I would give my immortal life for.
I put my hand under her chin and tilted her head up so I could look at her. “If the time ever came that you were free, then yes, I believe there would a chance for us. But not before then,” I said sadly. Bending down, I grabbed a roll of paper towels by the paint tray, ripped a couple of them off and handed them to her. She blew her nose and wiped her tears. After tossing the towels in the trash, I walked her to the office door. “Go home, Aphrodite. You need to find out for sure what is going on with your marriage. Don’t come back until you’ve figured it out.” I gave her a gentle kiss on the forehead and stepped back.
Her hands slid down my arms as I moved away, and her eyes looked mournful. She started to say something, but changed her mind. She took a step toward me, lovingly placed her hand on my cheek for a moment, then dropped her hand, turned and left.