Several days after Artemis’ visit, I woke up and got dressed in one of my suits for the first time. I’m glad she came, but I’m not sure how much of an apology I really gave her. It did feel good though, to finally say how I felt instead of keeping it all inside.
I stepped from my private quarters out into my office and was surprised to see Eleni working at my desk.
“Uh, hey,” I said, startled to see someone in my chair.
“Hey,” she replied without looking up, “How you feeling today?”
“Better. What are you working on?”
“Well, I’ve computerized a bunch of the stuff you were doing by hand and put them into spreadsheets. I’ve also set up some front-end stuff for the people working the telephones in order to standardize the data as it gets sent up to the research department.”
I stood staring at her, so she continued.
“That’s just a skin, if you will, that they will use to fill in fields. Then when it goes up to research, they can have all their information readily accessible. It will also allow us to now build a database that can be cross-referenced. We can search for known associates, locations, aliases, as well as many other parameters, and determine the likelihood of various felons knowing one another. Then we will know who we can go shake down for information for example.”
I stood staring at her.
She looked up at me and cocked an eyebrow.
“You have no idea what I’m saying, do you?”
“It’s like you’re speaking Egyptian.”
She chuckled as I stepped around the desk and slid into one of the chairs opposite her. It felt weird being on this side of the desk. I just sat and stared at her. She was obviously of Greek descent. Thick dark hair and a healthy olive complexion. Her eyes were a deep brown. She seemed good-natured and laid back. After a minute she looked up.
“Okay, what?” she asked. “Why are you looking at me all weird?”
I shrugged. “Just looking at you. Is that wrong?”
Eleni dropped the pen she was holding and sighed.
“Look, Dinlas. I know you’ve been through a lot. I know you’re emotionally all…all fucked up inside. But just stop. Stop looking at me like I’m next in line. It’s not going to happen. I will tell you what I told Ares: I am here to do work. I am not here to romance mountain-folk who haven’t been around mortals for thousands of years.”
I scoffed and replied, “You’re kidding, right? I have no romantic interest in you. I…I was just looking, like I said.”
There was a brief pause again as she picked up her pen.
“So my father was hitting on you?”
Eleni tossed the pen down on the desk again and leaned back in my chair. She had a look of solid irritation on her face.
“Okay, let’s get it all out right now. What do you want to ask me? What do you want to know about me? Hmm? We can start with your question. No, Ares never hit on me. He does, however, have quite the reputation, so I went ahead and nipped it in the bud. Same as I did with your grandfather, Zeus. He had the same silly look on his face that you just did when Ares took me to meet him.”
“Wow, you told him what you just told me? I mean, you used the ‘mountain-folk’ line?”
Eleni shook her head. “I was more diplomatic, but yes, same message. So what else? What else do you want to know?”
I cleared my throat. There was something that had been bothering me. “How did you know to come that night?”
Eleni hesitated for a second, then replied. “I didn’t know. Artemis went to Ares the day before and told him you were coming fully unraveled. She was distraught and worried about you. Ares and I talked. I told him I would plant a bug in your office so I could keep tabs on you.”
“Yeah, an electronic listening device. I planned on linking it to my headset so that it looked like I was taking phone calls, but I would actually be listening to you.”
I thought about that for a minute. A month ago, I would’ve been enraged by such a revelation. Now I could see their side of it. I’m sure I did appear out of control and they were concerned.
“You mad?” asked Eleni. “I mean, I’m not going to lie to you. You asked me why I was there.”
I shook my head. “No, I’m not mad. Go on, what happened next?”
“Well your inner door was cracked open and I could hear the girls whining as well as her, um, well, whipping you. At first, I thought, you know, it was you doing your thing, but then I realized it wasn’t. I crept in and found the girls locked in a pentagram. Normally, they don’t have much to do with me, but this time, they seemed to understand I was helping them. I broke the circle and told them to go find Artemis. I figured she was the only one who could understand them.”
“That’s when Estrella heard you and came out here,” I cut in.
Eleni nodded. “She opened the door moments after they streaked away. I stood motionless in the corner. I just knew she was going to see me, then I remembered something Ares told me.”
“He told me if I was ever in dire straits to say, ‘Never see, Night protect me’. If Nyx considered my cause worthy, she would help me, he said.”
“So?” I said.
“I was in the corner and suddenly, a deeper darkness appeared around me. It felt like someone was standing and shielding me. Anyway, when Estrella came out, she looked right at me, but didn’t see me through the darkness.”
“That was Nyx for sure,” I answered. “That’s amazing. She protected you.”
Eleni nodded and said, “I thought so, too. I just stood motionless and she disappeared after Estrella went back in the room. Shortly after that, Artemis teleported back in with the wolves, and you know the rest.”
I sat quietly for a minute, then Eleni pointed to my filing cabinet. “A courier brought that package yesterday.”
Elenis shrugged. “Don’t have any idea. It says it was mailed from Sydney, Australia.”
I stood and looked at it. The box was long, narrow, and heavy. I opened the end of it and pulled out my sword. My ancient sword that killed Ankou from the dream. As I tilted the box, a handwritten note slid out and I grabbed it.
I kept it safe so you’d have it when you needed it.
I looked back at the sword and pulled it partly from its scabbard. The blade was pristine.
“Very nice,” commented Eleni.
“Thank you,” I said as I admired it.
“Oh,” she said suddenly as she rummaged through some papers. She pulled one out and looked at it.
“Did you charge 4824 euro at the ‘Grecian Rave Party Store’ and 11,503 euro at ‘Keggers and More’?”
“No,” I answered.
“Well, someone did.”
I pulled out my wallet and my Olympus Administration Ambrosia Rewards card was missing. Fucking Eros.
“Cancel the card immediately and tell them it was stolen. For that much money, they’ll go hard after whoever did it.”
Eleni nodded and said, “On it now.”
There was a long pause as I continued to look at the blade and thought about sticking it through the back of my brother’s neck and out his big mouth. After a minute or two, I sighed, put it away, and looked back at her.
“So what now, Eleni? I feel like I am getting my strength back. I certainly am restless back in that room all day. I’m ready to come back out into the real world. Or at least claim my desk back.”
“The desk is by all means yours, Dinlas. Does your offer still stand? I would be honored to be your Chief Armorer.”
“What about the Priestess of Ares thing?”
Eleni shrugged and replied, “It doesn’t really take much time. I think I can swing both. But you need to know I have sworn allegiance to him, Ares. I will keep no secrets that may affect your father adversely.”
I thought about it. She plucked at a thought I had been rolling around in my head for over a week now while recuperating. “Maybe that’s not a problem at all,” I said. “I’ve been thinking, what if Ares and I merged and worked together? Security and Bounty Hunting.”
Eleni nodded her head and replied, “I’m guessing it would either be a smashing success, or a smashing failure. Either way, probably lots of smashing.”