It had been a rough few weeks. Probably the roughest I’ve had in several thousand years. Not only did I almost lose my husband, but I also lost time during which my father captured me and promptly put me back in my private hell. Thankfully, Zeus survived and saved me. After several days of reconnecting with each other, we finally had to leave the bedroom and get back to work. A part of me wanted to lock us in the room and never leave, but Zeus was right. We needed to show everyone we were as strong as ever. Life had moved on, and it was time for us to join it.
I had started taking cases again. Nothing fancy. Just the occasional cry for help by one spouse begging to be noticed by the other. Something I had a lifetime of experience with. Today, I was distracted by the sun shining through my windows and catching the dust mites floating through the air. A situation I had never before been okay with. After all, cleanliness is next to godliness. But today, I found it mesmerizing. So much so I had stopped listening to my clients.
“Ms. Hera? Ma’am?”
I watched the sun rays dance along my carpet, remembering the first rug upon which I smote a mortal and how my grandson used it to dispose of the body. That was my favorite rug, and I missed it. Or was it the second one? I briefly remember it was supposed to be a flying rug. Now that would have been fun.
“Maybe we should go, Richard. She doesn’t seem to want us here.”
“Hush, Lorraine. I’m sure she just has a lot on her mind.”
“If you say so.”
I only heard the conversation as an afterthought. I didn’t want to be here anymore. At least, not today and not for the foreseeable future. How could I give marital advice when all I could focus on was losing my husband? I was practically worthless. I closed my eyes and took a deep cleansing breath, releasing it slowly while running my hands down my slacks to smooth the wrinkles. When I opened my eyes again, they took a minute to focus on the couple in front of me. I offered a small smile.
“I’m sorry, Richard, Lorraine. I do have a lot on my mind, but that is no excuse. We should focus on you right now.” I looked over at Lorraine and saw how desperately she gazed at her husband. I knew that look well. It happened when you loved someone with your entire being, but they barely registered your presence. I looked at Richard and saw his straight-backed posture. How contained he was and how he looked directly at me with little concern for his wife. I tilted my head to the side.
“Why did you marry your wife?”
He stuttered a little as if the question confused him, and he was desperately struggling to find an appropriate answer. His recovery time was quicker than I expected. “I loved her.”
“Did you?” I watched as a small bead of sweat formed on his left temple and waited. Mortals can’t resist the magic of my clock for long. What magic? If you must know, my daughter Nike gifted me a gorgeous peacock clock that hung in my office. I had it imbued with magic that would cause mortals to speak the truth of their feelings. They could lie about anything else, but not their feelings. I told my clients this before they came in for a session, so they were clear I would not abide lies in my office. Every now and again, a man, because it’s always a man, tried to resist the magic. Every time, they failed. But it could be quite amusing to see them try.
“I’ll ask one more time, Richard. Why did you marry your wife?”
Lorraine turned her body to face him on the couch, clearly waiting for an answer but afraid of what she might hear. She nervously twisted a handkerchief in her hands. Lowering her head in defeat, she whispered, “Yes, Richard. Why?”
The bead of sweat now made a slow trail down the side of his face. His lips twisted together as if he thought he could physically keep the truth from coming out. His eyes bore into mine with accusation and a touch of hatred. I smiled.
“Richard, we both know you don’t love your wife now and probably never had. You probably married her out of some obligation or greed. While you maintain a perfect marriage on the surface, you’ve made no attempt to make her happy or take her feelings into consideration for the entirety of your marriage. You’re probably only here because your father-in-law threatened to cut you out of his family fortune if you didn’t.”
His jaw clenched, and his nostrils flared. I could see him starting to unravel at the edges. Lorraine was now a crying mess on the couch. If there was anything I hated more than men who took advantage of women, it was weak women. It was everything I could do not to snarl at her simpering. I was about to open my mouth and chastise her for letting him walk all over her when I saw a red light flash on my desk. It was a bulb that Aphaid triggered if there was an emergency I needed to tend to while I was in session. I closed my eyes briefly, thankful I hadn’t lost my temper. I opened my eyes and stood quickly, startling both Lorraine and Richard.
“You must excuse me for a moment. There is something I need to tend to. I will be right back.” I hurried out of my office, closing the door behind me with a relieved sigh.
“Yes, Aphaid? What is so important?” They looked up at me from their desk, but before they could say anything, I heard my daughter, Hebe, speak behind me. My heart dropped with her first words.
“Mother. Please, you must come quickly.”
I turned to her, worry on my face. “Is your father okay?”
“What? Oh, yes. Yes, Mother, he’s fine. He told me to come get you and tell you to meet him in the penthouse immediately.”
Confusion quickly followed my relief. “He never bothers me during the workday. You’re sure nothing’s wrong?”
Hebe nodded again. “Yes, Mother. He got a letter and told me to have you go to the penthouse. He was extremely excited.”
“Fine. Thank you, Hebe. I’ll go now.” I turned to Aphaid. “Please reschedule the Lawerences and clear my calendar for the foreseeable future. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’ll let you know when I’ll be ready to see clients again.”
“Yes, of course, our Lady Hera.”
I straightened my spine and walked as quickly as I could to the elevator without seeming to be in a hurry. On the ride to our penthouse, I smoothed my hair, nervous for some unknown reason. As the elevator doors opened, I stepped out and called for Zeus.
“Zeus? Hebe said you requested me?” I walked further into the entrance and heard him rummaging through his closet. When I entered the bedroom, I saw clothes thrown about and heard two things. First, my husband was talking to himself about what one would wear to court. Second, the sizzle of electricity through the air.
“Zeus? What’s going on?” Once he realized I was there, he rushed to me, picked me up in a giant hug, swinging me around while he laughed. It was hard to be anything but happy when he was like this. He stopped turning and planted a kiss on me. I hadn’t had the pleasure of tasting in quite a while. It stole my breath, and when I was finally composed again, I ran my fingers lightly across his forehead.
“What made you so excited? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I just want to know how long I will get to enjoy this.”
He set me back on my feet, smacked my bottom, and gave me a saucy wink. “I got a letter!”
I snorted loudly. “What kind of letter makes you behave this way?”
Zeus looked at me with childlike excitement, and I watched the electricity shoot across his sky-blue eyes as he danced on the balls of his feet. I was about to get frustrated with his silence when he whispered the one word I least expected, and the word that excited both of us.