On such short notice, I would need to travel light, so I stowed my mortal at a Holiday Inn Express. With any luck, I’d be back before housekeeping was making their rounds. Just to be safe, I hung the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.
I learned to take the extra precautions after I had to retrieve one of my borrowed humans from the emergency room. Mortals can be such excitable creatures; they tend to freak out when they find someone slumped over and unresponsive in the ladies’ dressing room.
Without the limitations of a body, I made great time. Once I was close to Olympus, I scouted for a suitable human and spotted a petite, well-dressed redhead entering the “Dark Sparks” cafe. It had been many years since I’d gone with a sporty model and, let’s be honest, I do look absolutely amazing with hair the color of blazing flames. So, I made a snap decision and slid into her just as she walked through the door.
She promptly stumbled over the threshold and fell against the wall, knocking over a display of “Certified Organic, Fairtrade, Hand Picked, Ethiopian, Social Consciousness Blend.” Or, as most of us call it – coffee. Thankfully, only one bag of beans burst open.
As expected, we engaged in the usual struggle for control as we made our way to the counter. I normally plan for a more discreet transition, but I was in a hurry and jonesing for a piping hot cup of bean-brew. The jerking back and forth, combined with the vertigo that initially sets in, made ordering a challenge. Unfortunately, the last throes of our internal battle played out in front of the horrified counter clerk.
“Who? What the hell?”
“Shush! I’ll hafta cat free away. I mean, I half a calf alley way.”
“Sorry. New mouth.” I tried again, enunciating slowly, “I’ll have a cafe au lait.”
The expression on the clerk’s face would have been more amusing if I wasn’t feeling so nauseous. While the barista prepared my order, I leaned on the counter, waiting for the dizziness to subside. The little red haired beauty was a feisty one, unwilling to cede control easily. I admired her spirit.”
With my order finally in hand, I turned from the counter and immediately recognized Hades seated in a corner booth. Feeling better and in the mood for some fun, I sauntered over to his table to try out my new look.
“Excuse me, sir…”
“Hello, Moxie. That was quite an entrance,” he interrupted without missing a beat.
“Awww! You guessed. I never could fool you.”
He chuckled and motioned to the seat across from him. “You are pretty easy to spot.”
I sat down and took a sip of my coffee. “Uh, gods, I needed that. So, H, are you here for the big mysterious meeting?”
He nodded absently and scowled as he tapped a text message into his phone and hit send. Growling lowly, he set the phone back on the table. “Yes. That and I have other business dealings in the area that need attention.”
I pointed at his phone. “Business or Persephone?”
“Nosy, much?” he asked, one eyebrow arched.
“Just curious, mostly. Didn’t know if you were still slipping her the pomegranate these days, what with her…” I stopped short of blurting out the rumors of her infidelity that had been circulating.
A dark cloud descended on his face. I couldn’t tell if it was hurt or anger. Either way, it was not the stoic Hades I’ve always known and loved. People only know him as the Lord of the Underworld. Few know the story of how he ended up there. Hint: he drew the short straw – and all of them were short straws, if you catch my drift. Also, he took the heat when he and Persephone were caught by her mother playing out her kidnap fantasy. He never told a soul that it was her idea.
He took a long, deep breath, then spoke quietly. “I know about the rumors, Mox. I don’t think it’s any secret that her trips topside are spent in the…let’s just say that she doesn’t spend all of her time with her family.”
I nodded and took a sip of my coffee, trying to find a way to change the subject. “Welp. I better get going. I want to get in and get out before the rest of the family shows up. Who needs the drama? Am I right?” I drained the remainder of the coffee from the cup, slammed the mug on the table and stood up.
“Yeah. It won’t be long before the others start filing in,” he agreed.
“Hey, H. You didn’t tell me what you think of my new look,” I said as I turned around slowly.
He laughed lightly. “She looks good on you, but don’t get too attached.”
I had only planned to wear her for the meeting but now I was curious, “Why shouldn’t I get attached? I totally rock the redhead look.”
He picked up his phone, tapped the screen, scrolled, then handed it to me.
I sighed as I read the information on the display, then handed back his device.
“Yeah,“ he said. “She’s expected at the Sulfur Springs Resort & Spa next week.
He nodded. “Pretty much.”