I watched through the window into the operating room as the surgeons worked to patch up the young woman they brought in from the woods of Olympus National Parks. She was yet another victim of the hunting club. It was by chance that Jamie and Hyale found her. They recognized her from the tag customarily found on the victims from this “club.” I was appalled by the extent of the woman’s injuries. If I had not known better, I would’ve mistaken her injuries for those caused by mauling from an animal. My knuckles turned white as my nails dug into my fists. I turned and walked back to the OA.
I flipped through the file I had brought back with me from Aunt Demeter’s office, probably for the hundredth time. There were names of a few mortals I recognized, all of them from “high society,” as Kara pointed out. Some of these mortals identified as philanthropists who have keenly expressed their interest in working with my foundation. None of this was making any sense. Why were their names on the file? Who manages this exclusive hunting club? How do I find a way in?
Each time I read the file, I was left with more questions than answers. Frustrated, I threw the file onto my desk. Orion looked up from the computer and shook his head. He walked up to me and started rubbing my shoulders. He bent down to whisper, “All work and no play makes Arty a dull girl!”
“Seriously?” I rolled my eyes and threw my hands up in the air, feeling exasperated. “Where is Iain? And Phi? They were supposed to come back to me with details on these mortals. What’s taking them so long?”
Orion came around to face me. “Arty, we just started looking into this case. You cannot solve it in a day!”
“I know that! But while I am sitting here in my office, innocent people are being hunted for sport,” I shook my head. “I MUST end this!”
“Yes, you must, and you will. But it would help if you had a clear head and sane mind to do it,” he explained.
Bri, who had been standing by the door listening to the conversation, walked in. She put a pile of paperwork on my desk and turned to look at me.
“My Lady, these are all bills and receipts that need your signatures and approvals for the SBF fundraiser events. I understand that you are worried about the mortals at this time, but our foundation is also doing some good work to help. You cannot ignore the needs of SBF or of your staff!”
I looked at Bri with crinkled brows. “I am not ignoring SBF or my staff, Bri.” I did not believe my own words, which came out more defensive than I had intended. She put her hands on her hips and waited for me to accept it. “Fine! I may have been a little distracted by this case.” I turned away from Bri and Orion and walked towards the door.
“All we are saying is that your staff need a break and so do you,” Bri said. Walking over, she led me to the common work area and pointed, “Look at them, My Lady. They are all working non-stop to help you find a lead on this case and to organize a fundraiser worthy of the SBF name.”
I looked at my team and a realization hit me. I was too focused on work to check on my people or the progress of the preparations for the fundraiser. My team deserved to know that I cared for everything they do for the foundation and for the OA. I knew what I needed to do to lift everyone’s morale, including my own. It was the holidays, after all. I sent an email to my staff, inviting them for a meeting at the shelter the next evening.
I arranged with Jamie and Iain to take the occupants and employees of the shelter on a day trip to the Olympus National Museum and on a tour of my temple at Olympus Park. I needed the shelter empty so I could arrange what I had planned for them.
Orion helped me decorate with stars from his constellation. They descended low into the velvety blue sky above the shelter, looking bigger and brighter, shining their bright blue and silver light. Selene promised a full moon, and as promised, she hung low, full, and hazy beneath the eclipse of blazing stars. The stars and the full moon together lit up the street towards the shelter like street lamps leading to a magical enclave.
Magic! Yes…a little magic makes everything better; it was time to make a call to my cousin. With help from Hekate, I was able to turn the place around. She helped me set up a tree adorned with silver and blue trinkets, glitter, ribbons, and a little-winged angel who sang while flying around the tree. The room was filled with the aroma of pine trees, but what really excited me about the décor was that it was all from nature. I placed the carefully wrapped presents for each and every member of SBF and each resident of the shelter under the tree. The chef prepared an excellent spread for everyone, including a gingerbread house and spiced cookies.
It was a magical evening by the fire watching everyone get together. Orion sat beside me as I admired the smiles on the faces of my staff and the residents of the shelter. “You know this right here, the smiles on all the faces? This is what makes it worth it. This is what makes me want to hunt down everyone who is a part of that exclusive hunting club.”
“I know, Arty. I know how much you want to do this, and I promise you I will be here right by your side to help you take them down,” Orion said as he took my hands in his. I pulled my hands and got up to look at him. “Thank you, Orion, I am glad to have you here, I really am,” I said.
My phone pinged; it was from the hospital letting me know that the victim was out of surgery and conscious. I nodded to Orion. He understood and followed me to the hospital wing. We walked into the patient’s room, and I looked at her chart. Her name was Eliza Warren, and she was twenty-one years old. Eliza was asleep when I got to the ICU. I held her hand and looked at her young face, trying to fathom the depth of the trauma the poor girl must have gone through. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I looked at Eliza and stroked her face. That was when I saw it, tattooed on her collarbone: “Property of Stephan Lauder.”
“Stephan Lauder?” Orion asked.
“Orion, please ensure Mr. Lauder gets an invitation for the SBF Fundraiser events!”