Natalie Bartley is a Canadian Adult-Fantasy author. Natalie has been writing for most of her teenage and adult life but started publishing those stories in December 2019 with her first book, Love and Pain in Zion. Natalie’s faith as a polytheistic witch leads her to many storylines involving the gods which surround her. She lives with her partner and stepson in Bowmanville, Ontario and is also completing her clergy status with the Correllian Nativist Tradition. They hope to one day open their own Pagan store together.
Look at me. I’ve turned into a sappy romantic bitch. “Love me, or I’ll die.” Ugh, I can’t even look at myself right now. And yet, it’s how I feel. Like Dionysos is my future, and I can’t shake it. I don’t want to shake it.
I smirked at her. “And if we can’t figure out whose it is by process of elimination, the advice is crystal clear. Don’t dip the binky in the wine more than five times.” I chuckled softly as Nike brought her hand up to cover a laugh, and Eris doubled over.
“Of course, people knew you were missing, Amph. You told them you were heading home, then no one hears from you, and a hurricane breaks in the Pacific.” I nodded sadly as Alessa continued. “Wait, you said we. Who is we?”
He was handsome, alluringly so…maddeningly so. I felt drawn to him, yet I didn’t know why. I felt like I was looking at someone I knew ages ago. For a moment, my mind went to the first time I met Rommel, and I shook my head to clear the incoming memory.
The morning passed as it normally did, with me sleeping in the sun, relaxing under his rays, hoping the darkening of my skin would help to hide the bruises. It was around mid-day that I saw a shimmer in the sand. I got up, making my way closer.
I didn’t know how long I would be healing on this gorgeous island. Looking out the window, I watched the sea, calming after a storm that could have caused massive destruction. It hadn’t, and that thought gave me hope for the future.
As my last bit of essence became one with the sea around me, I felt power reaching out from the golden net, almost like it knew someone was escaping. It rippled, and in that ripple, a pulse of magic was sent out, disrupting my transition. I lost my sense of self, and the tenuous binding that held the parts of my being together shattered.
Why Rome? Why did I head to Rome, and why didn’t I return? The question was vexing me, and I turned from the figures haunting me as I tried to suss it out. I don’t think they liked it too much that I wasn’t paying attention to them, and the figures started to circle me, chanting that I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t good enough, I was barely a goddess.
And that was when I realized I was angry. At myself, at Poseidon, at Atlantis…I was mad at everyone. At the mortals for destroying my seas and forgetting the gods had existed, that I had existed. They would rue the day. Rommel’s eyes grew wide with fear. “Everyone, get out of here. Tell the king his lady is in distress. I fear he may be the only one to bring her out of this.”
“As they do me,” I kept Sel’s gaze a moment longer and kissed her forehead. “You and I are bound, we always have been. I am sorry for being away for so long. But hopefully, we can now work to heal the oceans of the world. And not all mortals are ruining us.”
I was alone. And that was something I had feared since Poseidon and I parted ways. I debated contacting him. I missed him so very much right now. I had my phone out, and his number dialed when I stopped and put it down.
I just hoped sooner rather than later. I had to admit that his kiss, even if it was on the cheek, got me a little hot under the collar that I wasn’t wearing. I flung myself back into the pool and rested there, floating on the surface like foam on the sea. “I hope you find me again sometime soon, Dionysos,” I whispered as I watched the sunset.
I would switch from bright and bubbly, to calm and docile, to violent and stormy. We called it Maelstrom, and the mortals took it as the name of a sea storm. Most of the gods I’d met didn’t know how that felt, to be containing such a force at all times. Feeling her build until she broke and took everything with her.
“No, I am,” I coughed gently, “technically single for the first time in, oh gods…30,000 thousand years? Something like that. I don’t even know what year it is right now. So no, I am going to enjoy myself, the massive bed, and have all the room to move and sleep where I want.”