After our week together in Paris, Artemis and I momentarily parted ways. She went to prepare for me to move into her flat, and I went to my other offices to gather some personal effects I desired to have with me in my new home. I flew to London, then New York, Nashville, and on to Los Angeles. My last stop, Turkey.
As I disembarked my jet in Turkey, Ayberk met me there with the Jeep. We made our way to the caves in relative silence. I entered the cavern where Endymion slept, illuminating the room as I meandered deeper. Along with him, I had my storehouse of drachma, mementos from the past, and secrets kept.
Running my fingers along bits of clothing and golden laurel wreaths my girls once wore, I was flooded with memories of my daughters running and playing in the fields. A grin spread across my lips as I made my way deeper into the cave and to Endymion. Sitting on the edge of his bed, I ran my hand lovingly along his ever-youthful face and leaned in to kiss him gently.
“This is it, Endy. I…I am headed to Olympus to move in with and marry Artemis.” Those seventeen words felt like the gravitational pull on the tides. Each word was weighted by the next. Was I really leaving Endymion, the love of my life? Or was I to spend the next chapter in my immortal life mostly alone.
Opening a canvas duffle bag, I leaned over and raised the dried baby’s-breath from his head, placed it within, and withdrew a fresh wreath for him. I lovingly picked a peck of debris from his hair before placing the fresh wreath on it. I kissed his forehead and stood slowly. Wandering down a corridor, I turned a corner into an expansive cave filled with treasures only a mother could comprehend.
Noodle necklaces, corn-husk dolls, scraps of fabric that were clearly signs of a much-loved blanket or five, leather bits, rackets and trophies alike littered the cave. I stopped in each of the fifty-plus alcoves, picking through the memories for just the right thing to bring with me—the fondest or most tangible memory for each of my daughters.
Pandeia, trying to hide from me, her brightness not yet contained, gave her position away. Ersa and Nemeia, playing in the morning light. Dreyla’s first precarious steps through a field. Phoebe’s first time on a horse. Little memories trickled through as I perused the collection.
I spent hours in the caves, an ocean of souvenirs surrounding me. No, I was not relinquishing my motherhood. No, I was not leaving my children, nor Endymion, but I was moving, changing, evolving into a new phase in my life. And although it was a new and exciting stage, all changes come with a level of release and pain.
My bag, now heavily laden, was lovingly piled on the small mound of suitcases amassed in the cargo area of my jet. Rosen sat beside me, hand gently on my lap. My fingers intertwined with hers in silent support as we flew back towards Olympus and the end of this journey. As I disembarked, I exchanged a kiss on the cheek with Rosen and smiled fondly at my friend.
“See you soon, Ms. Moon,” she said softly. Hal waved from the aircraft’s doorway as I climbed into my car.
I pulled into the GC and parked my car in the car park nearest the tower. To my surprise, Britomartis, Hyale, and Iphigenia met me at the elevator, along with Iain and Jamie. The satyrs helped me unload my luggage, carrying my belongings up behind us.
“Lady Artemis told us to be expecting you and to help you however we could,” Iphigenia said with a slight smile. She had seen our relationship grow in the temple as we tended to Sayeh together these last few months.
“Thank you, Iphigenia. It is much appreciated.” I inclined my head in appreciation to Artemis’s Nymphs. We entered her floor and the main office for the Silver Bow Foundation. I followed Britomartis down the hallway to Artemis’s living quarters. I had been there many times but wanted Bri to keep her sense of command as we were in her office and domain.
Arriving at Artemis’s apartment door, I stepped forward and set my duffle down, retrieving my key from my pocket. Hyale elbowed Bri as I slid the key into the lock, the light above our heads reflected on the pearl embedded into it as I turned the knob.
Artemis looked up as the door opened. Her face lit up as bright as my own in the presence of Helios. Her chestnut hair was flowing freely down her back. It was never down. The twinkle in her eye as she pulled it around her shoulder told me she did that just for me. The nymphs and satyrs came in behind me, set my things down, and then saw themselves out with a nod.
Iain paused in the doorway and glanced back. Crimson rushed along his neck as he watched Artemis and I embrace. Jamie pulled on Iain’s elbow as they slipped out, closing the door behind them.
Glancing at the small pile, she wrinkled her nose at me and wrapped me in her arms. “I am guessing Jamie and Iain are bringing up the rest?” She brushed her nose against mine affectionately as her eyes searched mine for confirmation that this was really all I had to bring.
“This is me, Akti.” I took a deep breath and averted my gaze from hers. Lovingly, she raised my face back to hers with a single, perfect finger and kissed me gently.
“Seli, all of you is mine. It’s not about material things.” She trailed her finger from my face to my chest and stopped above my heart. “I have this, and you,” she took my hand and placed it palm down on her chest, “have this. That is all we need.”
I exhaled a shaky breath I didn’t know I had even been holding and kissed her softly, pulling her bottom lip into my mouth and nibbling it gently. “And this?” I quipped, raising a brow as I searched her face. A mischievous twinkle reflected in my eyes.
We chuckled, and she nodded. “All of me, Seli. All of me.” She laced her fingers into my hair and pulled me in for a deep kiss. Pulling back, I turned and reached into my duffle, retrieving a smooth piece of Selenite, carved into a perfect heart. “For Clio.” I placed the stone in her hand as I stood. “From my daughters and me.”
Artemis pulled me in a tight embrace as a single tear ran down her face. “Oh, Seli! It’s perfect! Thank you for remembering her.”
“Of course, my love. I was rushed during the shower and did not bring her a gift.” I kissed her softly, then turned back to my bags.