Natalie Bartley is a 32-year-old author from Oshawa, Canada. She hopes to one day open her own Pagan store with her partner. Natalie has been writing for most of her teenage and adult life but has only recently started putting those stories out to the world. Natalie’s faith as a polytheistic witch leads her to many different storylines that involve the gods around her. Her first book, Love and Pain in Zion, was a labour of love and heartbreak, and it took her many years to complete it. She lives with her partner and step-son in Oshawa and is also completing her clergy status with the Correllian Nativist Tradition.
“PheePhee, I understand that more than you know, the need to run, to travel, to see the wild, to be the wild again. You missed so much while you were away. You need to take the time to see it all again, to truly appreciate this world you are walking in again.”
We danced, the song lulling me into a sense of security. Or maybe it was Dion’s arms, but something was making this night better than it had been, and I was grateful. I knew that the memories would resurface about what was discussed, what happened, what was broken. But for now, all I needed, all I wanted, was him.
It wasn’t a lie or an evasion. Mathieu and I had put so much time and effort into this event. Now that it was happening and progressing along, I seemed to be lost in it. Dion reached over, sensing my discomfort. He patted my leg and squeezed it softly. I smiled at him. Tonight was taking forever.
I snorted derisively. “Even when we were never technically married? If it ever comes to that, we’ll have that conversation then. But no, I’m not ready to give up the throne. I wasn’t 2,000 years ago, but I couldn’t physically return.”
Hours later, when they were through, I turned and looked in the mirror and was astounded. I looked…well, I looked regal. The only thing missing was my old diadem, but I had left that in Atlantis, as was proper. I stood slowly and looked around. The stylists had gone, but Mathieu remained. “You’re beautiful, my lady,” he said softly.
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.