Zeus made small talk as we strolled along the plushly carpeted hallway to his office. Always starring in his role as benevolent dictator, he was predictably grand, gracious and gregarious. He draped his large, muscled arm around my shoulders and offered me his most charming smile as he spoke.
“Moxie, I’m really glad to have you home,” he said and gave me a firm squeeze that came close to fracturing my shoulder. At the very least, it was sure to leave a nasty bruise on the fair-skinned redhead that I was wearing.
“Hey! Take it easy, will ya?” I scolded. “I’m returning her after this meeting. I don’t want to leave her all banged up.”
“Banged up…” he repeated with a snicker, then grinned at me impishly and wiggled his brows.
You’d think that a two-thousand-year-old deity would have developed a more sophisticated sense of humor by now. But, no. I was still basically dealing with a horny fifteen-year-old.
“Don’t even go there…” I cautioned.
“What?” He gave me the old innocent puppy dog eyes.
I stared at him evenly, then steered the conversation back. “Wait. Home? This is home now?”
“Indeed! I’ve spared no expense in building the finest accommodations for my family,” he boasted enthusiastically.
“I thought this was supposed to be your new Administration Building?”
“It is! It’s both!” he said, then started snapping his fingers as he launched into an animated stump speech, comprised mostly of business buzzwords. “This is a game changer, Mox. Synergy. Work from home. Work-life balance. Transformative, my dear. I’m a change agent; a disruptor, if you will. I’m moving the needle. Thinking outside of the box…”
“Been reading a lot of business books, huh?” I interrupted.
“I have,” he conceded. “Keeping up with the times. You have to stay current or become obsolete.”
“Okay, but uh…didn’t everybody kinda always work from home, living up on The Mount?”
“Yeah, well, everything old is new again,” he mumbled as we came to the end of the hallway. He waved his hand, and two floor-to-ceiling glass doors opened towards us.
“Nice. New trick?” I asked as I walked through the doors.
“Nope. Science.” He beamed and followed behind me. “We have the most bleeding edge mortal technology available. So, what do you think?”
I paused to take in the office. In a word, it was breathtaking. Where walls would normally be, was glass that offered an expansive view of Olympus in three directions.
“Impressive, Z. I’d expect nothing less, of course. Nice suit, too, by the way. You’re really going native, aren’tcha?”
Smiling broadly, he straightened his tie and walked to a massive, semi-circular desk. Resting his hand on the back of an overstuffed, leather executive chair, he motioned for me to sit across the desk from him. “Get comfortable. Let’s talk.”
I glanced to the right where there was a sunken seating area with lush greenery and a palatial couch that encircled a fire pit. Adjacent was a well-stocked bar beneath a bank of television screens that covered the entire upper half of the back wall. It was a perfect area for casual conversation and entertaining. The desk, however, was meant to impress. Sleek and starkly bare except for the large screened monitor set to the side, it was meant for business.
I motioned to the couch, “What? No hospitality? I take it we were going to get right down to it then.”
“Knowing you, it’s safe to assume that you already know a good deal about what we will talk about,” he replied.
I shrugged indifferently. He was guessing. It was a safe bet, but I wasn’t about to spill the beans on Hera.
He studied me for a moment, smiling faintly, “You’re right. Where are my manners? Would you like something to drink?” It was just a conciliatory gesture and bought him time to feel me out.
I shook my head. “Nah, I’m good, thanks.”
He nodded and sat down. “Okay.”
I sank into the comfortable, but low, chair opposite him. “Of course,” I thought. “He would arrange it so that everyone would have to look up to him.”
Changing tactics, he leaned back in his chair and laced his fingers together to cradled the back of his head. “So, how is your mom these days?”
I know him. He doesn’t do idle chit chat. He was trying to disarm me with pleasantries. He also knows me and should know better, but the more he wants something, the nicer he is…until he is told “no.”
“Which one?” I asked.
He exhaled a heavy sigh and sat up bringing his hands to his chest, fingers steepled, “Come on, Mox. Now you are just being willfully obtuse. Alcina is long dead, and we were both with Hera just five minutes ago…”
I leaned forward, resting my arms on his desk. “Oh, see, I thought you were just asking a rhetorical question, since we both know that you and Gaia spoke within the past few days.” It was a good guess, but I wasn’t positive of the fact until I saw his reaction.
He coughed. “Uh. Yeah. I suppose we did.”
I nodded smugly and leaned back in my chair. “So, do you want to just cut to the chase? I’d like to wrap this up and slip out before everyone else gets here. I have a pedicure appointment this afternoon, and my regular human is parked at a hotel. I don’t have time to dawdle.”
“Everyone else?” he asked.
“The rest of the family…for the big meeting?” I asked to clarify.
He chuckled, “Ah. I see. No, dear. No one else is coming today. The big meeting was yesterday.”
I blinked. “Yesterday? What the…?” I stood up and slammed my hands on his desk. “Then why am I here today?”
He grinned and leaned forward. His trademark glint sparkled in his eyes. He was amused and that pissed me off.
“Always so feisty. But isn’t it a bit cliché, Mox?” He waved his hand toward me, “I mean, wearing a fiery redhead for your temper tantrum?” he taunted.
I started pacing back and forth as the resentment bubbled up and spilled out of my mouth in a rant. “Oh, bite me, Z. This is so typical. As usual, I get a last minute invitation, and this time, it’s not even for the right date! I’m an afterthought, AGAIN. You act as if I have nothing better to do than drop everything to come here for your stupid summons. For what? An open house? Fine. The new building is lovely. Just perfect. Spectacular. The greatest building ever. Good for you. Are we done here?”
He threw back his head and laughed.
I was fuming. “I’m so glad you think wasting my time is so damn funny. After all, we are all just here to amuse you, right? Well, good. Laugh it up, lightning bolt-boy, I’m…”
“Come on, Mox,” he giggled and waved his hand to my chair, “Sit down and…” He started laughing again.
“That’s it. We are done here…” I seethed.
“Moxie.” He composed himself and continued “Let’s talk. Please. Sit down. I swear you were not an afterthought. It was planned. Strategic. We are going to do exciting things together, you and I. Now, come sit down and talk with me.”
Arms folded over my chest, I stood my ground and glared. “Hmph.”
“Fine,” he said as he stood up and walked around the desk, then half sat on the edge of it. He shook his head and tittered. “Gods, that temper. You do remind me of your mother.”
I snorted. “Yeah? Which one?”
“All of them.”