Rosen greeted me with a warm smile that illuminated her face as I stepped on board my jet. “Ms. Moon! It’s been so long! How are you?!” She hugged me tightly. As I slipped my laptop from under my arm, she showed me to my seat. Hal stepped out of the cockpit, looking down his nose at me as I sat down.
“Ms. Moon, I understand keeping me on retainer for a few weeks, but not working and getting paid really feels wrong.” He broke his scowl with a grin, closing the distance between us. “How the hells are ya?” He chuckled.
“I’m good, Hal. Rosen. Thank you both so much for keeping things afloat while I have been otherwise engaged. I knew I could count on you. I am well, but CTA, not so much. This virus is really playing havoc on the entertainment industry. I have to do something new to keep it moving forward.” I sighed as I leaned back in my seat.
“I understand that, ma’am, but Nashville?” He wrinkled his nose at me.
“Yes, Hal. There is untapped potential in genres I have otherwise ignored. It makes logical sense to expand into other avenues.” I pulled my tabletop towards me, opening my laptop to begin setting up my calendar of appointments. “Get going, Hal. I haven’t got all day, now.” I winked up at him, no true venom in my admonishment.
He chuckled, giving me a salute. “Yes, ma’am. Right away, ma’am,” he said in quick staccato, turning on his heel and marching back to the front of the jet.
Rosen handed me a glass of whiskey before taking her seat. Knowing I would be focused for most of the trip, she peered out the window at the clouds. We sat in relative silence for the next few hours. I ordered the days I would spend in the city and the venues I would be visiting.
I exited the jet, stepping out into the glaring sun and making my way to the waiting car. A lanky young man held the door open as I slid in the back seat and crossed my ankles.
We pulled up to a downtown building. I stepped out to the cacophony of jazz, country, and blues. The lanky lad walked me to the door of my temporary office and held the door open. “Ms. Moon, I will return at half-past for your next appointment.” He bowed courteously as I laughed.
“Young man, I understand your mother would slap you silly if you were not a gentleman, but relax a little. Okay?” Smirking, I ruffled his neatly combed hair as I sauntered past him through the open door. Catching his reflection in the gold letters on the wall behind the desk, I saw him blush, attempt to straighten his hair, then dash off toward the car.
The rosy-cheeked receptionist greeted me with a bright smile. Her blonde curls bounced as she piped up in her southern twang, “Mornin’, ma’am. Let me show you to your office. This way, please.” She stood and eagerly walked me down the short hallway to a corner office.
First floor. Hmmm. This will not do. Alas, an issue for another day. I sat down at the desk and opened my laptop with a sigh. A whoosh of wings blew my hair across my face, and I turned, recognizing the familiar sound. I found myself slightly surprised by which immortal was visiting me.
“Greetings, Titaness,” Thanatos said, emerging from the shadows of the room.
He was in his cloak with his hood up, but pulled it back to reveal his face. He wore a small smile as his obsidian eyes assessed me.
“Than,” I returned the smile, “what brings you here? Good news, I hope?”
He chuckled at the idea of good news and nodded solemnly. He reached into the pouch on his belt, pulling out a small black box.
“Good news, I have indeed, Titaness. I know you have won the heart of the Huntress. I spent eons trying and pining for that same heart.. So, I come bearing you a gift,” Thanatos said.
He placed the black ring box on the desk. I took it and opened it. A simple silver band sat on the satin lining inside.
I knew what this meant to Thanatos, and a slight glow emanated from me as I looked at the ring. “Oh Than, are you sure? I know what this means to you.” My eyes twinkled as I looked up at him from my seat.
“I am sure. I no longer have need of it. You can give it to her. If she remembers it from the day I asked her, tell her it was a gift from me to the two of you,” Thanatos said.
Closing the box with a single nod, I slipped it into the desk drawer for safekeeping. “I will, Than, and thank you. Things have been so…different lately. I hope this will help.” I grinned up at him. The Primordial and I may not have ever been close, but we had known each other for millennia. This was truly a heartfelt gift.
With that, he nodded, pulled his hood up, and vanished in a cloud of black smoke and flapping wings. The gust of wind disrupted things in the room. I sat there, staring at the drawer, lost in thought before a small rap at my office door snapped me out of it.
I blinked back to the present as the little blonde opened my door. “Ms. Moon, your first appointment is here,” she offered softly. I nodded at her. Glancing at the clock, I realized how long I had been lost in thought.
A rough-edged cowboy waltzed in, guitar slung over his back, with a smug grin spread across his face. Tipping the brim of his hat at me, he spoke, “Howdy ma’am. Name’s Wayne.” He stretched his hand out to shake mine. His skin matched his jeans, rough and stained from manual labor. I looked up at him, taking in his aura, and offered a genuine smile. This is the epitome of a diamond in the rough. I can work with this.
Tilting my head, I looked him up and down. “Wayne, hmmm? May need to work on that, but I see potential. Have a seat and show me what you have to offer me, son.” I stood, walked him to the small seating area, then sat across from him. He pulled his guitar into his lap and began to play.
His voice was a light and beautiful tenor. The song was an original. I felt the emotion in his voice as he sang of lovers, loss, and heartache. My thoughts drifted to Artemis. I hoped I was not too late, that she still felt the same about me. He concluded his song with a deep sigh. I knew then I had made the right choice to come to Nashville. There was potential here, even if it was paved with diamonds in the rough like Wayne.
The rest of my stay went rather quickly. I had little time to continue brooding about the ring in my desk or the woman it was intended for. I found a few more gems, but even more odd rocks. Climbing back onto my jet at the end of the week, I spoke with Rosen a bit more. I gave her a recap on the quest and how Sayeh and Artemis were doing. After landing back in Olympus, I made my way to Artemis’ apartment.
Helios was right. The unrest needed to come to an end. Artemis and I needed to have a heart to heart. I knocked on her door with trepidation, hoping she was there.
“Coming!” I heard her beautiful voice call from the other side of the wood just as my phone vibrated in my pocket. My heart raced in my chest as I waited to see her face, and I wrapped my fingers around the box that rested in my pocket.