I was squirming in my clothes, and it was not only because I was in a full tailored suit, but it was also the evening of the opening gala of the Nymphaeum, and I really wanted to be on my best behavior. I had a pep in my step, and I was humming along to a long-forgotten song that was sung by the choir in my head. I was on my way to pick up Amphitrite from her suite to escort her to the ballroom.
I should be nervous about this event, knowing that so many immortals would be attending, but I was not. Ever since I had returned, I had gotten the looks, comments, and whispers that the one crazy uncle in the family gets. You would think that if anyone would know that I do not serve the madness, but the madness serves me, it would be my family. I knew who I was and what I could do, and I knew I would have backup.
Maybe it was because I had been a little moody and a lot more broody lately. All I knew was that this party god felt all partied out lately. From Napa to Guam, to all the changes on floor five, to Clio’s baby shower, there had been more drama than a season’s worth of The Young and the Beautiful Generally Spending the Restless Days of our Bold Lives in a Hospital. I hope that made your world turn.
If not for Amphitrite, I would have probably gotten lost in one of my famous walks by now. I would still do just that, probably sooner rather than later. I felt the hunger to just go. But right now, all that would have to wait. There was no way I would miss this opportunity to feed the gossipers by showing up arm in arm with Pheephee. Happy face on!
I barely had enough time to put my hand down after knocking when the door opened a bit too fast. I gulped hard when my Pheephee stepped toward me. I walked in and was happy that she was too busy looking me up and down to notice my reaction. She looked amazing in her blue, crushed velvet, strapless dress. The side slit along her leg climbed up and up and up. Icing on the cake, that. What brought me back for more were those eyes.
Do not worry about me going on a diatribe about Amphitrite’s eyes. Who was I to try to fit such expressions into words? I could not be sure if it was part of the gift of protection I had given her or a boon from the connection we shared, but Amphitrite’s eyes sang to me. All I had to do was look into those eyes, and I could pick up notes of how she felt like a radio receiver.
I could tell that she was nervous, so I turned up the Dion charm and felt her relax. I made her laugh, her cheeks flushing with color. And for that moment, everything was right in the world. I walked with her to the ballroom and took a deep, silent breath to settle down. My smile was back, and it was nice to see most of the family there.
The bar was open. It was already busy, and it would get busier as more immortals made their way to the ballroom. I was sure that some of them had started before even getting here. It did not take long after mingling for the laughs, giggles, and jabs to start flowing. I rolled with them per usual and let the mirth be my armor. I tried to keep the serious things buried deep where the voices could not get to them.
It was time for a short speech by Amphitrite and the ribbon cutting. I could tell that her nerves had returned. I made my way back toward her for support, and it was evident by her smile that she appreciated the gesture. I even cracked a joke when I saw those ridiculously large scissors in her hand for the ribbon-cutting.
Maybe it was me, but the cutting of the ribbon was more like the opening gunshot to a demolition derby, both physically and metaphorically. Murphy and his law took over, immortals or not. And it all started with a late walk-in that stopped Pheephee in her tracks. Her ex, Poseidon, had finally made a showing.
After the initial hellos and a brief pat on Amphitrite’s back as a show of support, I let them walk off toward the bar and have their talk. I knew that this was yet another situation that my dear Pheephee had to deal with face-to-face and not face-to-face-to-face. I made sure to keep my distance as I made small talk. I trusted in the bond that we had and even mentioned that when I was asked.
Fighting my instinct to just drop everything and get involved, I let the conversation lead me toward a different path. I even stayed cool and collected through the part of the night when things started breaking down. Literally. And I will not even go into the special appetites that were sated during dinner. That was a story to be told by others.
As the dinner progressed, I felt more and more out of sorts. There was mention of sacrifice, and my mind reeled for a moment. I was back in Napa, standing with my eyes closed against the gun pointed at me. I felt the sacrifice anew, and I could swear I smelled the gunpowder as I sat in my chair at that dinner table. This time, it was I that needed the support, and Amphitrite was there to lend it to me with a soft comment and a look of understanding.
As dinner was wrapping up, Amphitrite gave a small speech thanking everyone involved and announced that Nymphaeum had, and would, continue to donate part of their earnings for hurricane relief and further education of the importance of the seas and oceans. Something I had grown to appreciate as an old sea dog back in the days of sea dogs. Not too many knew that my outfit during the Halloween/Baby shower celebration was not a costume.
Had it been me running the show, I would have called it a night shortly after the dinner and speech. Presents were exchanged, and as the night wore on, drama picked up pace. I could tell that everyone was on the cusp of some form of frenzy or another. I could feel it on my skin, like the rays of the sun. I tried to pull myself away with some small talk on the balcony, away from all the fracas. My Pheephee had taken some time away from the party, so I kept my profile low. I tried to anyway.
Sometimes when you tried to stay away from trouble, trouble found you. Well, not trouble as much as another immortal that had turned brooding into an art form. In fact, immortals could brood with the best of them. It was like breathing to us. That, and we had no filter at times. I will not get into specifics because this was supposed to be a happy occasion, and I hated thinking that I let Amphitrite down by being part of the downturn of things.
Amphitrite made her return right on time, and things settled down soon after. It was good to know that even in the heat of things, we could still be civil. Not! All joking aside, cooler heads prevailed, and the gala ended with more dancing. Pheephee and I even had our very own dance. I went to the band and asked them to play “Sea of Love” by Phil Phillips. I had been saving that one for one of those moments where we both needed to step away from the drama. Mission accomplished.
Soon after, everyone went their way. A handful of the immortals stayed in the resort. Some spirited back to the GC, some to locations unknown. I always was too grounded to the earth to be able to pop in and out like most immortals. I needed a helping hand like Mourgo. I did not need to go far. I offered my elbow to Pheephee and led her to her suite.
And that….that was the start of our night. There was one more celebration to go.