I had made many late night visits to the lounge, looking for tea, water, or anything else I could get my hands on to help me sleep. My insomnia had not gotten better over the last few weeks, and I was on the verge of resorting to alcohol to knock myself out and keep myself asleep. Dreams of being trapped somewhere dark and held down by chains interrupted my nights. I could never see who or what was in the dreams, could never pinpoint why they woke me bathed in sweat and screaming. They sent me from my room to clear my head.
It was one of those nights when I awoke abruptly, and found myself down in the break room, that I saw a flyer for Hekate’s party on the counter. The God Complex had been like a beehive. Abuzz with action and activity as we tried to recover from the after-effects of the Titans. This was a way for all of us to let our hair down. To relax.
I had initially thought to stay in my apartments for the party, reading up on the rehabilitation plans, writing them out to present, and generally accomplishing nothing. But with much prodding, Selene and Artemis convinced me to go, even finding me something to wear for the night. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of the weight that tipped the scales, in favor of me going, was finding out that Morpheus would be there.
Our paths had been crossing more and more since I returned to the God Complex this spring. Though he had a home in the Underworld, we had not moved in the same rivers below ground. It started at the business meeting. Due to the luck of the draw, we ended up sitting together at the boardroom table. We had not been truly prepared for what was to come or what should be in our reports. That night had been so emotionally draining. I was happy to focus on the one bright spot in the whirlwind. Since then, we had bumped into each other in different places, exchanged greetings in the hallways, and always took a few moments here and there to talk. It was a change of pace to speak to someone who had no preconceived notions of me. I found myself unconsciously searching, hoping to run into him and say hello.
I was an immortal goddess, Queen of the Underworld. I had lived for millennia, and yet, I found myself daydreaming like a mortal girl, staring out the windows in the lounge with him on my mind, and looking through the hallways to catch a glimpse of him. Emotions, frozen in my heart for these centuries of loneliness, started to defrost. I felt a skip of my heartbeat when someone mentioned his name. I was falling, and it felt good, but I was terrified of what it meant at the same time.
The night of the party arrived. I paced my room back and forth, a bundle of nerves, like a young girl. What if I had been misinterpreting the whole thing? Seeing things I wanted to see? I wrung my hands and made several attempts to leave my apartments before I succeeded in opening the door.
When I arrived at the party, almost everyone was already there, with only a couple of faces missing. I almost ran back to my rooms. I was so discomforted standing in the hallway outside the gallery that night. I had not been back above ground for long, and the crowds and noise were hard to adjust to, but Hades and Hekate had already marked my presence, so I gave in and entered. The Gallery was beautiful, decorated to set the mood and ambiance. The room was awash in the bright colors of the attendees, dressed to match the Arabian Nights theme. I made sure to express my excitement and pleasure to Hekate before I moved on to let her mingle as hostess. My eyes tracked the room, searching for the one I desperately wanted to see, but I could not spot him in the crowd. I realized that I did not know what Morpheus would be wearing that evening.
Though I did not immediately see Morpheus in the crowd, I found Selene and Artemis. I watched as they greeted each other before I joined them. We passed about compliments, hugs, and kisses. It relieved my nerves to be in their presence. The camaraderie I felt for them had grown in the last few months, and it was good to have the support of family and friends.
Hekate drew us together to prepare for the main event, the Waking Dream. The nymphs passed out the spelled wine, and with great fanfare, Hekate called Morpheus forward. I was so focused on the wine in my shaking hands that I missed it until I saw Artemis’s smile. She waved into the crowd. That was my first glimpse of Morpheus that night. He gestured he would join us shortly, and I felt my heart flutter, my cheeks burn red. I stepped behind my taller sister and friend out of embarrassment. I used my lack of height to my advantage and peeked between them as he strode forward with confidence in every step. He was wrapped in the garb of shimmering gold with a turban around his head; the light color a sharp contrast from his usual black. He cut an elegant swath through the crowd.
Downing the wine, we listened, rapt with attention to his voice. It soothed us all. He diminished the nervous energy and reactions many of the attendees radiated. His words wove a spell of another time and place. It was a world of draped tents and exotic locales. Soothing and dark, the vision drew us in, and I hung on every word. Morpheus uttered the last phrase like an invitation and bowed with a smile as the dream formed around us.
Thinking back on that night, I still believe the three gifts Hekate gave out were the most generous thing anyone has ever done for us, most of all, for me. Even if they were not redeemed as planned. My wish from the genie lamp was easy to speak once I thought about it. The others, perhaps not so much.
At that point, the party was in full swing. Everyone mingled about with conversations here and there as family and friends talked and caught up, forgetting the drama of the Titans, and genuinely enjoying what it was like to be celebratory once again.
Like most parties on Olympus, it soon became the scene of games, drama, and chaos.
The game was Spin the Bottle. Or, more accurately, Spin the Arrow. And as usual, there were those who grumbled about playing, those who criticized the silliness of the game, and those who jumped in to play.
Selene and I sat together, and Artemis and Morpheus sat across from us. Eris, Clio, Erebus, Hekate, Eros, and Dinlas all joined in the circle.
Once the game got started, it became tense in some ways and nerve-wracking in others. I had agreed to play, and readily jumped in, but then quickly became nervous. Who would I have to kiss? I could count on one hand the number of people I had kissed in my life, and I did not need to use my entire hand. I remember my stomach being tied up in knots as first Clio spun, and the arrow fell on Erebus. I remember the pain on both their faces, but they played by the rules of the game.
And because the fates have a sense of humor, it would, of course, be NOW that father finally showed up. Dressed in his costume, he quickly made his way to the bar and ordered drink after drink.
I lost track of the number of glasses of wine I had put down at this point: three, maybe four, but luckily Selene had my back and cut me off. I was so focused on my own nerves and what would happen next, that I missed quite a bit of the goings-on outside of the game’s confines, except to see Erebus and Hades leave. I think it had something to do with Ate.
From there on, the game became a more chaotic ride of ups and downs. Hekate’s spin landed on Dinlas, resulting in a kiss that heated half the room. Artemis’s landed on Selene. A tender moment shared between them, much to my happiness, and those around us. Zeus spent his time drinking and adding sarcastic comments. Selene was next, and her arrow landed on Eris. As they kissed, I watched Artemis out of the corner of my eye and could see the raw emotions as she tried to distract herself with a trip to the bar, and more of daddy’s jokes. Selene left me at the table to go to Artemis’s side, the two deep in conversation as the game continued without them.
Eros’s spin was met with the shocking result of the arrow pointing to Hekate. Twice in one night, she had to kiss one of her closest friends, and now, the person who always seemed to be able to draw her ire. This is where the first wish was turned in. Clio exchanged herself for Eros, and Hekate being Hekate, it got intense. But I would not know. The floor was pretty interesting, and I spent most of my time staring at it until I heard Eros call on Morpheus.
In an instant, breathing became difficult. My mind ran in circles until it landed, the golden tip of the arrow pointing right at me.