“Now a sneak peek on the rest of the season on the Bachelor!” the host announced, gesturing dramatically to the giant screen for the studio audience. I smothered a vicious smile, thinking about the drama and chaos that was going to unfold for the delight of the rabid audience. This franchise had caused more heartbreak and chaos than love, which suited me perfectly. Why should mortals have love when I can’t?
I shook the morose thought away, instead focusing on the other producers around me. Most were clapping each other on the back, cheering over the success during yet another commercial break. The host had temporarily departed from the stage to refresh his makeup, and no doubt convince himself he looked as young as he did eighteen years ago when the show first started. No one dared approach me. I may be one of – if not the most – valuable producers to ever work on the show, but they knew I was to be left alone.
I was involved in every facet of the reality tv show, from casting to editing, but no one would dare call me friend, which again suited me. I idly scratched the white kitten cuddled in my lap. I had all I needed.
I felt the mortals’ covert glances on my face, no doubt wondering why I was not in front of the camera, instead of behind it. But they didn’t know – couldn’t know – the truth. I already gave my heart away, to a deceitful witch who betrayed me, who ended up turning me against my own mother.
Since then, I’ve never touched another. The irony. The god of love and desire, abstinent. But it’s the truth. I gave my heart away once, only to have it returned mangled and dead. I have no intention of doing it again.
As the commercial ended, I felt a sudden shift in the atmosphere. I glanced around, shocked when no mortal senses it. I rubbed my hand down the back of my neck with unease. Something’s happened.
There was the sound of roaring in my ears, and I rubbed the heel of my palm over my heart. Something terrible has happened. Something relating to love. Someone with enough power to get my attention has had their heart broken. There were only a handful of beings with that kind of power. And I was related to roughly ninety percent of them.
Something’s happened on Olympus. I’d been studiously ignoring the summons that Hermes kept dropping off. I had no desire to return, to see any of them. I focused on the echo of pain, following it –
I sensed a mortal approaching, and I sent a hostile glare at the young PA, who jumped when subjected to my sole attention. She broke my concentration before I could find the source. The cat sleeping in my lap came awake with a hiss. I palmed his head, luring the feline back to sleep, while gesturing the PA forward, while keeping an eye on the clock that counted down until we returned from commercial break.
“Don’t let Din scare you.” I said, gesturing to the slumbering feline, smothering a smile at my own joke. “He’s all bark, no bite.” I pointed to the identical kitten, slumbering on the floor next to me. “It’s Las you have to watch out for.”
My brother would kill me if he heard I’d named the kittens after him, which only made the names more appropriate.
The PA still shifted in her shoes, tossing her slight weight from foot to foot. “Umm, Mr. Amor, sir, I mean – um…”
I hiss in impatience; I’ve never been a god known for it. “Spit it out.”
She jumped again. “There’s a man here to see you.”
I tilted my head at her in curiosity, reading her heart’s desire easily, to be the one in front of the cameras. Mortals wore their heart’s desires on their sleeves, simmering within them, waiting to burst from their skin. When I resided on Olympus, I had to actually focus to hear those whispers, often only getting my family’s most current desire. Then again, since when do the gods actually know what they want?
I sighed, gesturing her away before coming to my feet, leaving a sleeping Dinlas in my chair. It was extremely rare for them to pull me away during a live show, so whoever was waiting for me must be on the level of the current President or the Queen of England.
I tucked my hands easily into my jean pockets, strolling towards the green room, as if I had all the time in the world, which I did. Eons stretching ahead of me, alone.
Again, I shrugged off the dark thoughts, focusing on the moment, as I pushed one of the two double doors leading into the green room open. My dark eyebrows went in surprise when I find it empty. It should be bursting with activity, PAs and cast milling about, preparing for the return from commercial break. Hm.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed the room wasn’t as empty as I thought. A single, well-dressed figure stood off to the side, his back facing me. I took a moment to study him idly: the cut of the suit was expensive, tailored to his imposing figure; his height was even taller than mine, which was already a tall six and a half feet. When I blinked for half a second, the dark hair slicked back from his face was suddenly glowing and white.
It can’t be.
There was a charge in the air, which was all the confirmation I needed. I spun on my heel, preparing to depart immediately, to forget this encounter even happened. But a forceful gust of wind slammed the double doors back to the stage shut with a loud bang.
My nails dug into the cheap wood that stood between me and my escape route. I’d give anything to be on the other side of it.
“I’ve been ignoring the summons on purpose,” I snapped, turning around to face him.
“I know. Why do you think I came here in person?” Zeus smirked, turning to face me. He dropped the illusion that presented a more modern style of hair cut, and his hair and beard were much the same as they were thousands of years ago. Put him in a toga, and he’s very much the same asshole.
Zeus tilted his head at me, no doubt shocked by my change in appearance. As the god of love and desire, I could shift into any form that is “beloved” by mortals, which was something I used to enjoy very much and still do on occasion.
Those sightings of Tupac? You’re welcome, mortals.
But, I stopped using that power on a daily basis years ago; now, I actually appeared in the same form of two thousand years ago, with some minor changes.
My hair was no longer the golden waves of youth, instead turned dark and straight. Gone was the baby fat that once made my face appear angelic, replaced by hard lines that I devoted hours at the gym to. Last but not least, my wings. It was the one thing mortals got right in their depictions of me, those stupid, fluffy, white appendages, ones I cut off with Thanatos’ scythe years ago. He hadn’t even known it was missing. Black wings were tattooed on my back now, mimicking and mocking the ones I cut.
I’d changed in the last two thousand years. Clearly, Zeus hadn’t.
“What do you want, Grandfather? I already have a job.” I gestured at the studio around me. “I’m good.”
Zeus scoffed. “As a lowly producer, and not even under your true name. This does nothing to benefit us.”
I rolled my eyes. “You mean to benefit you.”
There was a gust of furious wind, but I stood my ground, refusing to budge. “Benefit us. All of us.”
I crossed my arms over my chest, rolling my eyes again. “What could you possibly need from me?”
I knew it was unwise to provoke him, that I risked my immortal life by doing so, but I had nothing to live for, so what did I care? At least it’d be over. No more empty nights, no more wishing things were different, just no more.
Zeus’s smile was evil, noticing when I subconsciously rubbed the center of my chest again. Why hasn’t that gone away? “I see what has happened. You think I need you. No, no, my dear boy. Not me, someone much closer to your heart.”
He broke off, indicating where I was still rubbing my chest. I dropped my hand immediately. “What’s happened?”
The question slipped out before I had a moment of clarity to call it back. You’re not supposed to care, remember?
Zeus’s wicked smile stretched even wider across his face. “To know why something pulls at you, you’ll have to come home.”
Zeus teleported before my eyes, leaving me – as he always did – with more questions than answers. Bastard.