I tapped my foot as I waited for the lift to arrive. This thing with Davids really stole my goat. It was just frustrating that a mortal would even think about stealing something I’d claimed. I let my hand run through my hair, pausing to scratch behind my left ear.
Anyway, where is that bloody lift? Shouldn’t it have arrived by now?
“Lady Hestia?” Shawn asked from behind me.
I turned and flashed him a smile. “What can I do for you, Shawn?”
“I was looking over your holdings. I’ve noticed that a few out west haven’t been taken care of for years. It looks like they were dropped due to budget issues. We’ve been investigating, but apparently, they were taken by the states about six years ago. We have searched the records, but can’t figure out what happened. I was able to confirm the loss of properties from the state’s websites,” Shawn explained before handing me a folder.
I flicked through a few pages. “Why didn’t the partners bring this up?”
“I was assigned to this part of your account six months ago to perform this decade’s audit,” Shawn said as the lift dinged behind me.
“I see. Thank you, Shawn,” I said as I scratched behind my left ear. “Call me when you have more information.”
“Of course,” Shawn said as I stepped into the lift. As the doors closed, my foot started tapping to the 50s songs from the elevator’s sound system. They didn’t have music when I bought the building, so I’d changed that.
My hips swayed to the music, and by the time the lift hit the ground floor, I was rocking to the music. I froze when the doors opened with a ding. Several people were snickering as I smoothed my dress and calmly walked out. “Never pass up the chance to cut loose,” I said, holding my head high.
As I left the building, my phone rang. “Hestia,” I said by way of greeting.
“Lady Hestia, this is Lady Demeter’s assistant, Lana. She seems to be about out of her special blend of tea and says you’re the only one who knows the recipe. Could I trouble you to make some more?”
“Of course. I’ll have Hermes bring it over.”
“Thank you, Lady Hestia.”
“If that’s all, have a good day,” I said.
“Nope, that’s everything,” Lana said before the call ended. It wasn’t long before I was on a subway car in the Boston Metro, or as the locals called it, the T. I pulled a notepad and pen out and scribbled out a letter.
It has been too long since we last spoke, so it’s time that we corrected this problem. Shall we do dinner soon? Perhaps a place in Japan or Spain? Oh, we could try to rope Hera in. That is, if she’s not terribly busy doing all the work of Zeus. Regardless, we need to catch up. Might have to pick your brain about some legal things with the mortals if my lawyers can’t handle it.
P.S. Enjoy the tea.
I tucked the letter into an envelope as I stood from the train seat. I scratched behind my left ear as I headed to my apartment. It wasn’t long before I was standing on my balcony. My eyes narrowed as I scanned the sky. There was something bugging me, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
Sighing, I turned to the kitchen. A few hours later, I had made my tea blend and a few cakes. I carefully packaged them, tied them together, and taped my letter to the stack. I walked the package to the balcony, setting it on the patio table. Next to it, I left a lemon cake and a pineapple and pepperoni pizza.
“Hermes, I have a package for you,” I said, power lacing my voice. As I waited, I scratched behind my left ear.
There was a flutter of wind a few moments later. “Cake? For me?”
“If you’d like, you can have the pizza too,” I said as I turned to face the messenger god.
“Hestia, you ruined the pizza. It has fruit on it,” Hermes said as he picked up the cake.
“No, the pineapple. It doesn’t belong on pizza.”
“Yes, it does.”
“No, it does not.”
“Yes, it does.”
“No, it does not.”
“Look, who’s right here? The Goddess of the Hearth or the Messenger Boy?”
Hermes narrowed his eyes at me. “Fine. So, a package for Demeter?”
“Give it to Lana. The lemon cake is all yours.”
There was another gust of wind, and my fellow god was gone. I scratched behind my left ear. This time I paused, glancing at my raised arm. What was going on? Something was tickling at me, but what was it? My attention was required but on what? It started with my lawyers. Does that mean it had something to do with Shawn’s findings?
I grabbed his notes from my purse and flicked through them. Utah, Montana, Washington State, and Idaho all had confiscated properties. The state claimed that they were condemned or taken because of eminent domain. I pursed my lips as I pulled out my phone and started googling the addresses.
Well, the eminent domain houses were literally underwater. The properties covered by new lakes. Oh, for the love of… I had kept a large portion of my collection of cookbooks at that Washington property. Oh, there was a shipping manifest, so they at least had saved some of the contents. I didn’t think that it was any of those homes, so I moved on to investigating the others.
My lawyers should have made sure that none of my properties fell into disrepair, much less condemned. Let’s see, the homes in the other states were claimed within the same year. My eyes narrowed as I noticed that one property in Utah didn’t have an address listed. I quickly called the office and was connected to Shawn.
“You didn’t fill out the address for one of my properties. One in Utah,” I said the moment he said hello.
“One moment,” Shawn said, followed by quick typing. “Wait, what? The address is missing from our records. I’ll get back to you. I need to track this down.”
“Call me when you find out,” I said before ending the call. I frowned as I set the phone down. Well, if they didn’t have the address, then I should check my own records. A few quick steps later, I was in my kitchen. I reached behind the refrigerator and pressed the inside plate behind the water connection. With a soft click, the fridge moved forward.
Slipping into the opening, I entered a stairway lined with marble. I followed the spiral down a floor before stepping into a large chamber. One side was lined with small chests about the size of my hand. In the center of the room was a large altar with an ever-burning fire within. The other walls were lined with statues of the gods.
I walked over to the chests, the itch behind my left ear getting worse as I grew closer to the Americas. “Let’s see, where is the American section? Ah, right, the far end,” I mumbled. My hand brushed the shelf that listed Greece. There were several boxes that were black, identifying them as homes lost to time. Several had a golden glow, showing the few temples I still had. Well, more like shrines than temples, but still mine.
The two boxes sitting above the plaque for Utah were made from white fir, the bands and locks still imbued with my magic. The two for Montana were the same but made from ponderosa pine, and the three for Idaho were made from Pacific yew. I brushed my fingers across the locks, frowning.
“So what’s wrong with them? They’ve been condemned and taken, but everything says that they are fine,” I said. I grabbed a large wooden box with my mark burned into each side and loaded the seven boxes into it.
I quickly returned to my kitchen, closing the hidden passage behind me. I took both Utah boxes out and placed them on the counter. With a quick twist of my hand, they burst into flames before clicking open. I extinguished the fire and looked inside. The keys were gone. I checked the other five boxes, my anger rising with each one I found empty.
The cooking fire pit burst into flames and my hair followed suit. Someone stole from me! What was worse, I had no idea that it had happened. They managed to steal from my sanctum. My trophy room. My safe room. I was going to need help.
I wrote two letters:
Artemis and Adrestia,
I’ve had a break-in, with several keys for safe houses stolen. I would like help solving this. Can you both join me at my Boston, Massachusetts, USA Penthouse?
“Hermes, I need you to deliver something for me right the fracking now,” I snarled. I hadn’t finished speaking before he appeared. “Deliver these to Artemis and Adrestia,” I said. My hand snapped up. “I don’t care if they might be mad at you. Deliver now, and I’ll make you a meal you’ll never forget,” I promised. The Messanger God bowed his head and was gone once more.
Someone was going to pay for this.
- The Mysts of Time - November 25, 2022
- The Burbs - October 15, 2022
- The Search - September 9, 2022