Alessa was over almost every day, helping me to plan my trip. She’d traveled the world with her interior design expertise and gave me the rundown on all the best places to eat, shop, party, relax, all of it. When I told her I needed to stop first at my restaurant, the poor girl looked confused. I guess I never told her about the other Amphitrite.
“Nisos surprised me with it last year during our Dionysia trip. It’s a beautiful little restaurant in Tunisia, named after me. He made me cry like an idiot when he told me the name.”
“Because you’d always thought humanity had forgotten you?” Alessa asked softly. I nodded, and my friend wrapped me in her arms. “How long has it been open?”
“Years, from what I’ve gathered. It’s a family-run establishment but fell on hard times during the pandemic. Dion made them an offer and has been helping in his unique way to get it back on its feet.” I paused with a smile. “Much as he’s done with me these past two years.”
“Has it really only been two years since you’ve been back, Amph?”
I nodded. I could hardly believe it. “One minute, I remember falling into the sea, a golden net wrapped around my body, threatening to end my existence and steal my powers. The next, I was the sea, escaping through my innate bond with saltwater. After that? I remember realizing that I didn’t need anyone’s approval or say. I was not beholden to anyone or anything, and then bam, I had humanoid form again. Everything happened so quickly after that. I began breaking down the bond between Poseidon and me without even thinking about it, and that was before I ran into Dion again.”
Alessa had remained quiet through my retelling. “I know how important he is to you, but he is the God of Revelry. Don’t you think he’ll get bored?”
I know she meant it more as a kind warning than telling me I’m boring.
“Oh, Alessa, I battle with that thought every day. I’m not the most interesting goddess there is. I don’t have stories written about me or fictional characters created after me. I’m so often mistaken with Thetis or with Thalassa that Amphitrite has all but disappeared into the Ether. Salacia,” I shuddered as my Roman name crossed my lips, “has really only survived thanks to the popularity of salt as a method of paying soldiers, not because of me. I wasn’t even conscious then.”
“That’s part of why I’m so determined to go on this trip. To see how much of the old me is still around.”
“Can’t I come with you?” she asked, leaning her head on my shoulder.
“I’d love for you too, but you need to stay at Nymphaeum and keep Mathieu’s head on straight. You know how he overreacts.” I chuckled.
“Only because his boss, a goddess and queen,” I winced, “sorry, keeps going missing! But you still could be a queen. That is, if what you told me Calix said was true. You could vie for the throne of Atlantis. The sea is your inheritance.”
“No!” The marble floors shook with my sudden outburst. Alessa cringed from me. It was so rare for me to lose control, especially around her. “No. Even if I wanted it, I would have to go before Zeus and plead my case or start a war. I used to think my father was weak for handing over the trident when he did because he didn’t fight for it. For our home. And for a while, I resented Poseidon, from afar, of course. I had never met him until Naxos.”
“And then everything changed,” Alessa whispered, looking at me.
“In ways I couldn’t foresee. A wedding of two perfectly beautiful souls, dancing and music performed by Apollo and all the muses and nymphs. Of course, the attention of various wayward gods would be focused there.” I shivered once more, remembering the first time I saw both Dionysos and Ariadne, and then Poseidon.
“The couple looked happy, in love, and perfectly at peace. Poseidon looked like a predator on the hunt. A gorgeous predator, the kind to lure you in with soothing words, salt on his breath, and muscles for days. Of course, I’d wanted to test myself against him, in more ways than one, but something about the island, the events, the potency of the entire situation, set my teeth on edge. I had to run, and well…you know the rest.”
“I do, and I’m sorry.”
“What are you apologizing for?” I asked softly, refilling our wine glasses.
“You could have been with Dion this entire time,” Alessa replied just as softly.
“Oh no, sweetie, not at all. And I wouldn’t even begin to wish that. They were perfect together, and I know Dion doesn’t regret his time with her in the slightest. Plus, if I hadn’t eventually gone to Atlantis and become queen, I would not have had my two beautiful children. And grandchildren! Oh, I should invite Rhodes and her family to the restaurant’s grand re-opening!”
I pulled out my phone, began dialing Rhodes, and stopped.
“What if she doesn’t want to see me? What if…what if she’s angry with me about abdicating?” I set the phone down, got up, and walked over to the imitation balcony. Looking out over Greece from my window here didn’t give me the same sense of home and familiarity that it used to.
“Why did my phone just go off, Alessa?” I asked, turning to look at her cocky smile.
“I texted your daughter. You really should have locked it. Not that Mathieu and I don’t already know your password. Nisos, really Amph?” I blushed and swiped my phone out of her hand.
Hi, Mom! I’m so glad you messaged! I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground on that place for years. I guess I forgot to mention it when you returned. Sorry. But the family and I would love to come visit you and see it! And, what do you mean, you abdicated? Did father start getting too demanding? Anyways. We’ll have to chat more when you come to the island. Address to follow. Love you and see you soon.
I looked back at Alessa and shook my head. “I should have had the courage to do that myself.”
“Yes, but I understand why you didn’t. Now, I believe you’re heading to Tunisia anyway. What’s a little stop-off on the island named after your daughter before you get there?”
I laughed and hugged her tightly. “Alright, I get the hint. It’s time for my trip to start. Take care of Mathieu and look in on the suite when you can.”
“And Mano?” she asked. I knew she adored my little axolotl, and I nodded before heading over to the tank.
“Okay, Mano, you’re going to Nymphaeum for a while. I’m sorry I can’t take you with me, but… you know what I have to do during this trip,” I whispered softly to him as he crawled out of the tank and onto my shoulder.
“I know, Amphitrite, my lady, but please be careful. The information you’re looking for will not be easy to find. They were exiled for a reason. Plus, you have no way of defending yourself.”
“I’m going to work on that while I’m away. Believe me, when I return, I won’t be the weak and helpless goddess the world has known and forgotten about for generations.” I squared my shoulders and smiled. “I will be a force to be reckoned with, just as unpredictable as the sea.”
“Good, now enjoy yourself, and if anyone asks after you…”
“Tell them I’m enjoying a leisurely trip around the world, taking in the sights and smells that humanity has had to offer these last two thousand years. And if they really care to find me, have them send a letter by messenger, or text me.” I winked and passed him over to Alessa. “Okay, I just need to grab my bag, and then I’ll head out. You two should get going, though. It’s late, and I don’t want you falling asleep on the walk back to your office.”
I pulled Alessa in and kissed her gently on the forehead. “Be safe, and take care of yourself, Amph. I have this feeling like I’m not going to see you again.”
I looked down at her and sighed. “You will, I promise. I have a wedding to perform, don’t I?” She blushed, completely forgetting that she had asked me to perform her wedding with Mathieu.
It was big news, but what was even bigger news was she asked me to run a genealogy search for her. She wanted to find out who her parents were. I agreed and did a little digging. I couldn’t confirm my suspicions just yet, but I did have a stop on this trip that had nothing to do with me and relaxation. I needed to find out if her connection to me was coincidental or not.
“I promise we’ll see each other again, Alessa. Now go. Please.” My friend nodded and left the suite, Mano looking back over her shoulder and waving slightly. Once I heard the elevator arrive and then leave my floor, I raced upstairs and packed my bag. Work out clothing, my usual assortment of sundresses and bikinis, and some really comfortable sandals. I pulled the spear I got from Calix out of the closet and looked at the glowing silver-blue metal.
“Alright, it’s time to visit some family and do a little bit more digging into Cressida and the lost tribe.”