The elevator doors closed behind us and I turned to Hera to ask her about the mysterious meeting. Before I could speak, she centered her finger on her lips and glanced up to the ceiling. I followed her gaze and saw the security camera. Hera nodded slightly, then moved her finger to her temple, tapping it twice. That was our signal. She had just given me permission to pop into her mind to get the information I wanted.
While all of my powers came from Gaia, it was Hera who taught me how to use them. Hera’s main lessons about this particular gift were:
- Humans are easy. I can and should do as I please.
- Other Gods are harder, but are fair game. Just get in and get out quickly, lest I get caught.
- Never, ever, try it on her without her permission.
I only had to learn the third lesson once, albeit the hard way. You’ve never really been smited until you’ve been smote by Hera. But, I digress.
Hera punched a code into the panel, then pressed the button to her penthouse, and the elevator sped upwards. She turned back to face me, gave me a wink, then chatted casually for the camera. “Moxie-moo, it’s been far too long! Wait until you see my new penthouse. It’s really quite lovely. I have a gorgeous chandelier and Hephy built me…”
I grinned and winked back. Leaning against the mirrored wall, I nodded to her idle chatter as I quickly scan her thoughts. “Moxie-moo…Missed you…Zeus…a comeback…New Olympus Administration…Gaia and I…plan B…Don’t lose your temper…just go along…he’ll get bored…it will pass…integrate with humans…getting jobs.”
“Getting what?!?” I exclaimed aloud.
I cringed and smiled sheepishly. Covering my tracks, I spoke for the camera. “I am…I’m surprised that you were getting an HVAC system for the peacock palace…”
“Yes,” she continued. “It should help to keep the air fresh and the birds cooler. He also…”
I resumed scanning. “Careful. Security everywhere. Zeus…paranoid…sabotage….Aphrodite is back…slut…”
Hera smirked and continued speaking about her penthouse decorations – all just a distraction for whoever was monitoring the security camera.
I picked through other random thought snippets. “Pissed about other Gods…lack of worship…Play along…get it out of his system…get rid of Aphrodite…Hephy and you…”
I rolled my eyes and groaned. I had enough information to see where this was going and I wanted no part of it. I had no interest in Zeus’ comeback scheme or Hera and Gaia’s matchmaking plans for Hephaestus and me.
“Nope. Not happening.” I told her, then remembered the camera and added, “I..uh…can’t see the peacocks today. I have a busy schedule. Other appointments, you understand.”
Hera stepped close, placed her hand on my arm, and whispered quietly, “Don’t worry. I can keep you out of it.” She spoke louder, “…out of the peacock palace. We can save that for another day. But, I’m sure Heph would be happy to see you.”
The elevator slowed to a stop. A soft ping, followed by a sultry voice, announced that we were at the 91st floor. Hera’s brows furrowed and she pressed the penthouse button a couple of times. “This is strange,” she said.
“Not your floor?” I asked.
“No. This is…”
The doors parted. “…my floor,” Zeus finished her sentence. “Hello, my love,” he said to Hera as he stepped in and reached to take her hand, lifting it to his lips.
Hera glanced at me sidelong, then smiled at Zeus. “Hello, darling. I was just going to take Moxie up to see the penthouse.”
Zeus looked at me, then back to Hera, releasing her hand. “Mhm. You can give her the grand tour later. I want to talk with her first.” He paused and narrowed his eyes, then added, “Or, knowing you two, I’m probably already too late. Isn’t that right, My Enchantress?”
Hera scoffed. “Don’t be silly, Light-of-My-Life, our Moxie-moo just got here. We’ve hardly spoken a dozen words between us.”
Zeus pursed his lips and snorted. Holding Hera’s gaze, he gave a tight smile. “As if that matters, My Reason-to-Breathe.”
It was getting uncomfortable. I could feel the tension brewing already. Other couples use pet names as a way of showing affection. Not Zeus and Hera, though. Sure, it starts out that way, but once the nicknames hit six syllables, things were going to start breaking. We were already at five. I needed to move quickly.
I leaned in close and kissed Hera’s cheek. “I promise to stop by before I leave, okay, Mamá?” She usually soften when I called her that. This time was no exception. She smiled tenderly and nodded.
I stepped toward Zeus. “Well, here I am. Ready?”
Zeus moved back out of the elevator and swept his arms wide. “Welcome to the New Olympus Administration, my dear.”
Hera called after us, “I’ll see you soon, Moxie-moo.” Then she added as the doors closed, “I don’t suppose I can count on seeing you for dinner tonight, Mister Divine and Wonder…”
I could see Zeus puffing up with a ready retort, but the doors closed too quickly. He stood there a moment, then a small smile crept on his face as he turned to me and started walking towards his office. “In all the heavens and earth, there will never be another I love more than her.”
He sighed wistfully. “She gets me.”