I burst into the eighth-floor apartment, not bothering to knock or wait for consent to enter the premises. I was not sure what I walked in on. There was some strange woman I didn’t recognize who I startled. Amphitrite looked unphased by my sudden entrance. Hestia allowed her inner fire to take her over as she turned to me and yelled, “Goddammit, Hermes, fracking knock next time!” She clearly thought it was my uncle based on the rude intrusion.
But my eyes hyper-focused on the gorgeous woman who dropped a tray of muffins. “Mom?”
“Hello, my darling,” my mother greeted as she gathered up the fallen pastries. With a smile, she held one out. “Would you like one?”
I completely ignored the question as I charged into the room and threw my arms around her, clinging to her like I did when I was younger and less independent. “I’ve missed you so much,” I muffled into her shoulder, trying so hard to hold back the tears.
I could feel mom’s arms wrap around me, holding me close to her as she pressed her face into my loose hair. “I have missed you, too. Greatly,” she mused. “But I think you took after me, putting Hestia in this sort of distress.”
I chuckled into her hair. “I guess so.”
As if on cue, the Goddess of the Hearth said, “My, Hermes, you’ve grown breasts since I saw you last.”
“Hestia, that’s Adrestia, not Hermes,” Amphitrite corrected.
“Only Hermes does that to my wood.” Despite the obvious dirty joke that presented itself, I know the Goddess of the Hearth was referring to the way I burst into her apartment. “Do you know how many hours I’m going to have to get a chiseled Spartan to polish that footprint off. Do you know how many hours it will take him?” she huffed.
Before I could say anything, Mom pulled out of the hug, holding my face in her hands as she got a better look at me. “As beautiful as I remember,” she mused before becoming a mother again. “Make your apologies to Hestia, and then we can catch up.” She patted my cheek for emphasis.
I nodded before turning to look at Hestia, scratching my head in embarrassment. “Sorry, Hestia. I’ll clean it up.”
“Nah, it’s fine,” the auburn-haired goddess said, waving my apologies away. “I have peons for that. Now, if we were at my center in Boston, you bet your ass you’d be cleaning it up.”
The goddess’ words didn’t really register as I just stared at her face, realizing how long it had been since I had seen my good friend. I walked up to her, wrapping my arms around her as I had with my mom. “I’m glad you’re back.”
“It’s been a while, Tia,” Hestia said in response. As she pulled away from my embrace, Hestia picked up a half drunk glass of wine. “I think the last time we really talked, you got to see me topless.”
Before I could explain, Mom was choking on her drink while Amph was spitting hers out. “Excuse me?” Mom asked.
At the same time, Amph said, “Um, what?”
I chuckled as I shook my head, not caring that Mom and Auntie Amph were already getting the wrong idea. “Oh, us. That was a mess, wasn’t it?”
The stranger took a moment to stop panicking about Hestia’s cat. “Wait. Topless what?”
“I need this story now, please,” Mom demanded in that sweet way that she had.
True to form, Hestia made light of the story. “What story? We were in Greece, Persians attacked, I got to kill a handsy general.” With the SparkNotes version of the story told, Hestia smiled with a fond nod. “Good times.”
“Well, yeah, that pretty much sums it up,” I chimed in too late.
“Did you make it a slow kill, dear?” Mom asked Hestia with a touch of anger in her voice.
That’s when I remembered the one goddess in the room I wasn’t familiar with. Her bluish-black hair was held back from her face with a silky white headband. She was a pale woman with icy blue eyes, a textbook snow princess. “I’m sorry. How rude of me. I’m Adrestia.” I approached the woman and held my hand out to shake hers.
The snow princess gave a wary look at the cat before reaching her hand out to take mine without leaving her curled-up position on Hestia’s couch. “Nice to meet you as well.”
Her touch was chilly, and that was enough for me to know that I was speaking to Khione, the Goddess of Winter.
“Nice to meet you as well.” When I released the snow goddess’ hand, I knelt down and clicked my tongue, aiming to pull the cat’s attention away from Khione and to me instead. The little cat approached, rubbing his left-most head into my open hand and allowing me to pet him.
“So what brings you to my home, Lady Adrestia?” Hestia asked.
I held up the envelope. “Mom invited me.”
Mom turned her confused frown to me. “No, I did not. I wish I had, but I have not sent out anything of the sort.”
Right as my brows furrowed in confusion, Hestia shoved the plate of muffins into my face. “Muffin?”
Mom gave Hestia a look. “Any other unexpected surprises?” she asked dryly, gesturing toward me and then herself.
“Whatever do you mean, dear?” Hestia asked, feigning innocence.
And that’s when it clicked in my head for the first time that evening. Mom’s skin was not normally this mint green color she had been wearing all night. She was also in nothing more than a bikini top and loincloth. Now, I was used to Mom wearing clothes more on the revealing and sexy side, but this felt a little weird even for her. And that’s when I realized that Hestia’s cat—which she didn’t have the last time I saw her—was a three-headed cat…made of fire. That explained why Khione was so skittish around the creature. There was also a definite bust of…Thor? Grandpa better not see that. “Uh, what unstable cougar club did I just get invited into?”
My joke immediately garnered a reaction. Mom started choking on her drink while Amph spits hers out altogether. “That is a fitting name, darling,” Mom said before turning her attention back to Hestia. “You are innocent, but not that innocent.”
“I’m not sure what you mean by that, Dres,” Amph protested. “I’m not a cougar.” I had to hide the smile that threatened to spread across my face.
“Well, dear,” Hestia started, “Amph and Dite were all hot and bothered a few hours ago.” I got the distinct feeling there was more to that statement than what it sounded like. “Clearly cougars. But me? I don’t get those flashes.”
“I have a lynx for a pet, not a cougar, and Hestia clearly has a fire cat.” I looked at Khione, surprised to find someone even more innocent than Hestia and myself. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little as I took a muffin from Hestia’s tray and bit into it hungrily. I had forgotten how much I missed Hestia’s cooking until the pastry’s spices and sugars hit my tongue. I moaned. It was so delicious it nearly put me into a catatonic state. She wasn’t the Goddess of the Hearth for nothing.
“No, no. I hang out with a panther. An absolute suck,” Amphitrite continued to protest.
“Not you too. I thought better of you.” My mother shook her head at her friend.
“See? Totally not cougars,” Hestia stated. “Why would Tia even suggest that?”
“Oh… Oh!” One look and Khione’s wide eyes, and I knew she had finally caught onto the conversation. I took a seat with the others and gladly took the glass of wine that Auntie Amph had poured for me. Yes, I was not supposed to drink to keep focused, but it was a special night. Mom was home, and I could relax a little. I certainly needed it with recent events.
As Mom and the other women continued to talk, I contented myself with listening. Who thought I’d enjoy listening to my mom talk and gossip? When I was little, and she would drag me around to the parties, I would be a little brat, bored out of my mind and whining about how I wanted to go play with Phobos and Deimos instead. And now? Now, this boring old thing she did was so comforting. I had missed it so much. I had missed her so much.
“Anyway, I think the hunk of meat has reached the right firmness. Would anyone like a slice?” I surprised myself when I laughed with Auntie Amph and Khione at the innuendo that Hestia was completely oblivious to.
Mom even choked on her drink again and set it aside, saying, “I think I am done with that for the night.”
“What?” Hestia asked. “Do you want some juicy meat in your mouth or not, Dite?”
“Is she for real?” Amph asked. “Like she doesn’t get it?” Clearly, I knew Hestia a bit more in this case than the rest of the present company.
“Yes, I would love some juicy meat in my mouth,” my mother said through her knowing laughter.
“Me too! A nice thick piece for me,” Amph chimed in.
Hestia skipped into the kitchen, humming an unfamiliar tune before she could hear my mother tease Amphitrite. “I bet you want a thick piece, my sweet.”
“Mom!” I snapped, knowing my face was the complete opposite color of my mom’s weird green skin at that moment.
“What?” she asked curiously, not knowing what she did to make me feel so embarrassed. Yeah, mom and I hadn’t had THAT talk since she explained to me why so many of our family members had some… odd relationships.
Unable to contain her laughter, Khione burst out, “Okay, grab me a hunk too, Hes!” I had to hide my face in my hands just to cope with the suggestive conversation. I thought the Revolt House members were dirty-minded, but it’s true what they say. I came from the biggest family of the biggest perverts to exist.
Hestia returned from the kitchen with a tray of already plated meats and bread. Based on the shape of the meat, I assumed it was beef. A heavy whiff of spices filled my nose as Hestia set the plate down in front of me. It was enough to make me salivate to the point of drooling.
As Hestia was handing Khione her plate, Hestia said, still completely oblivious, “Enjoy your hunk of meat, dear.”
Oh, boy. Unstable cougar club was right.