Eris removed their turban and placed it on the floor before smoothing out their top and sauntering gracefully to me. “I feel most welcome,” Eris replied with a wink.
Artemis seemed to watch Eris’s every move and crossed her arms as if to pout. Damn, she was cute when she pouted, I thought before turning my attention back to Eris.
With a final smile they leaned in, and cupping my cheek, kissed me fully on the mouth. Lost in the surprising tenderness, I rested my hand on their soft face before they pulled away with a comedic smacking sound. They laughed softly before pressing their lips to my forehead and returning to the other side of the table.
The room started making jokes from passing me around like a bathroom key to rifts of the old mortal song about a pizza pie hitting your eye, but all I noticed was Artemis angrily getting up and heading to the bar.
I followed and watched her pour a large amount of whiskey into a glass. Sitting next to her, I asked, “Arty, are you okay?” When she finished with the bottle, I refilled my glass and took a sip, waiting for her reply.
Artemis looked back at the table and made a remark about whose turn it was, but I didn’t care. I only cared about her and us. I placed my hand on Arty’s arm, drawing her attention back to me. “Arty, are you okay?” I asked again. “You seemed to get upset by the game.”
She finally looked at me and replied, “I…I..feel different. Weird…I don’t know, angry, I guess.”
The rest of the party seemed to fade away, and all I could see and hear was Artemis. “Angry? At what? Me?”
Artemis shook her head. “No, not at you…just..in general.” She stopped again and took another drink. “I don’t know.” Her words seemed to fail her, and I began to put the pieces together. How would I have felt if I had watched her kissing someone else? I reached up to touch the flower in her braid, running my finger along it. “You know you can tell me, right?”
She looked at me and smiled weakly. “Yes, I know.” In a sudden bout of self-consciousness, I dropped my hand from her hair back to the bar, so my fingers were barely touching her arm. She took my hand in hers and asked with a soft smile, “Would you like to spend the rest of the evening with me?”
Trying to play off what I thought she was asking me, I used my free hand to grab my glass. “Should we go sit somewhere to watch?”
Reading past my facade, she smiled brightly at my redirect. She ignored the commotion around us, and added in a seductive undertone, “I am leaving in a bit, but I can come back to get you when you are done.”
“Oh?” I asked. “Going to check on Sayeh?”
Artemis nodded. “Yes, I cannot be away from her for too long. Let me know when you are done. I will come to get you,” she said as she stood to go.
I heard Persephone being a little louder than her usual self and looked over at the crowd to check in on her. She and Morpheus seemed to be getting along well, and I felt he would get her home safe.
“Can I…mind if I come with?” I asked, standing to join her.
Smiling at our friends getting along so well, she turned back to my question with a look of surprise. “Yes, of course, you can come.” Artemis grabbed my hand gently, holding it in hers. “Shall we head out after this?” she asked, tilting her head towards our friends, who were about to have their very public first kiss.
I smiled at her and replied, “Mhm, let’s. I want to see Sayeh.” We watched Morpheus and Persephone exchange a tender kiss, despite the surroundings, and felt confident he would take good care of her tonight.
Artemis headed towards Hekate, while still holding my hand, to bid her good night. “Kate, thank you for a lovely evening, but I must head out now.” I nodded in agreement and thanked Hekate.
I pulled Artemis closer, waving at the room. “Have fun.” Then we turned and walked out of the party together.
The evening was cool, but I hardly noticed in Artemis’s proximity. My entire body was flushed from the night’s festivities and the events that had transpired. Her dress sparkled like the stars and felt as if I was floating in the stratosphere once again. We walked hand-in-hand to Sayeh’s cave in Olympus National Park, with few words spoken between us. I am quite positive we had similar thoughts because as soon as we arrived at the cave and Iphigenia caught sight of us, hands intertwined, she gave us a knowing smile and left the two of us with Sayeh.
Artemis released my hand and laid across Sayeh, stroking her with care. I knelt down by her head and gently rubbed my hand across her snout. “We’ll get to the island and find her heartfire. I just know we will.” Artemis looked back at me, her eyes glistening with unspent tears, and she reached out toward me.
I stood back up, closing the distance between us, and twined my fingers with hers.. She met me in an embrace, and I held her in my arms as the tears began to fall. I stroked the back of her head, running my hands down her braid before resting it at the small of her back. She looked up at me from where she had rested her head and stroked my cheek. “I’m so glad you’re here, Sel. I’m so worried about Sayeh, but having you by my side is comforting. Would you stay by my side tonight?”
The color and warmth I felt when we left the party returned to me as my heart raced in my chest. “I will come anywhere you ask, moonbeam,” I replied softly, cupping her face in my hand. I leaned in and kissed her softly on the lips, in the heart of her temple. She pulled me into a deeper kiss, her fingers wrapped into my hair. A fire, nearly bold enough to relight Sayeh’s heartfire, erupted within me. I knew there was no denying what was between us now. We both softened the kiss simultaneously, and I pulled back to look at her. I tucked a stray hair behind her ear before slipping my hand back into hers. “I’m sure Phi can manage another night. What do you think? Your apartment?”
She smiled gently up at me and nodded, kissed Sayeh one last time for the night, then turned and walked with me to the cave entrance where Iphigenia stood guard.
“Phi, I’m going to try to get some rest. Notify me if there is any change, okay?”
Iphigenia nodded. “Of course, my lady. Rest well,” she replied, with a twinkle in her eye.
The two of us set off hand in hand, Artemis’s head resting on my shoulder as we walked in step, towards the OA building.