I sat at my desk, vacillating between my client files and my book draft. I knew what I’d rather be doing, but my sister told me I couldn’t smite people until the lawsuit was over. Well, I may have added the condition myself, but it was the same thing. I hated being told what to do.

The sun had crested its peak and was starting to make its journey back down when Aphaid sent me a message, saying that my 3 o’clock appointment was here. I clicked on the video feed to watch the waiting room. There was a small, unassuming mortal male perched on the edge of one of the waiting room chairs. His hands rubbed nervously over his knees while his eyes bounced around the room. Every once in awhile, he chewed on the corner of his lower lip. Otherwise, he looked pretty composed.

I turned off the feed and smoothed my blouse. I’m not one who enjoyed clutter, so I didn’t need to straighten the files and documents on my desk, as they were already in neat piles. I opened the door and smiled.

“Mr. Ballard. Please come in.”

He ran his hands over his thighs one more time before standing. My smile met my eyes and I stood aside so he could enter my office.

“I’m so glad you could join me today. Have a seat.” I waited for him to choose a spot on the couch and then I leaned casually on the edge of the front of my desk.

He rubbed his hand along the back of his neck and tried to meet my eyes. “Please, call me Shea, my Lady.” He gave me an awkward smile.

“Of course, Shea. Now please, there’s no reason to be nervous. You’ve done nothing wrong. This is simply because you won the auction and are being given the gift of a favor from me.”

“I know, my Lady, it’s just… well…you’re so beautiful and you’re…well…you. I can’t help but be nervous.”

I noticed he was starting to sweat a little and his heart rate increased. This simply would not do. I needed to have a conversation with him before he passed out from my magnificence. I walked forward and he started to breathe a little heavier.

“Shhh, Mr. Ballard. I’m just going to help you breathe.” He scooted back on the couch as far as he could go. I wasn’t upset by the reaction; it is a reflex that smart mortals have when they are approached by divinity. I lightly brushed my fingertips across his temple and blew a soft breath at his forehead, giving him some calming energy. Stepping back, I smiled as his shoulders unclenched and his entire demeanor relaxed. “There we go. Better?”

Shea took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes, thank you, my Lady.”

“Good.” Now that he was calmer, I sat on the other end of the couch and turned to face him. “First, let me congratulate you on having the highest bid. Winning a favor from me is no small feat. Do you know what you want?”

“I’m not really sure, Lady Hera. What is it I can ask for?”

“You can ask for anything. What I grant you is a whole different story.”

“Oh. Um. Well.” His cheeks got a rosy tint to them and he looked away. “I’m ashamed to admit it, but I don’t really know what you’re the Goddess of aside from marriage, and I’m not married.”

I sighed, wishing that the educational system went into more depth about my family so that people weren’t caught so unawares when we showed up. I didn’t want to think about how many times I’d heard whispers of, “Which Goddess is she? Is that Artemis?” Being mistaken for my step-daughter was getting tiresome.

“I am the Goddess of marriage. I’m also the Goddess of women and childbirth, of which you are neither.” I thoughtfully tapped my finger against my lips. “I can also help out with relationships. My business may be for marriage counseling, but you don’t have to be married to get help. Do you have a certain someone you spend time with?”

Shea cleared his throat awkwardly. “Uh, no, my Lady, I do not. I would like one, though.” He turned his dark eyes to me. “I would really like one.”

I smiled and nodded. “Consider it done, Mr. Ballard. I have…connections.” I stood and walked him to the office door. “Have a wonderful evening, sir. I will see you again.” 

He took my hand and placed a light respectful kiss on the back of it before bowing low. “Thank you for your favor, my Queen.”

“You have deserved it, kind mortal. Now go, I have things to take care of.” I watched him walk out of the office and into the elevators, and then I turned to Aphaid.

“Clear the rest of my afternoon please, Aphaid. I need to meet with my grandson.”

“Yes, my Lady.”

I closed my office door and grabbed my phone from my desk. Annoying things these are but they do come in handy at times. I sent a quick message and sat in my chair, waiting.

Three minutes later, I heard the pop of displaced air outside my office and then a quick knock on my door. I smiled a secret, and slightly evil, smile and waited ten seconds longer than I normally would.

Schooling my face, I replied, “Enter!”

My grandson sauntered in on a cloud of confidence, but I could see the hesitation in his eyes. “You rang, Yaya?”

“Sit, please.”

Eros arched an eyebrow at my request, but quickly made his way to the couch. Today he was wearing his black skinny jeans with strategically placed rips in the legs, his black biker boots, and a bright red shirt that said “#LoveIsLove.” He adjusted his thigh quiver as he sat down. His ankle rested on his knee and he tossed his arm along the back of my couch. He wasn’t fooling me, though. I could see the tension in his shoulders. A small part of me regretted putting that there.

I took a deep breath. “I’m in need of assistance, Eros.”

He snorted and laughed at the same time. “Since when do you need anything from me, Yaya?”

I waited until he stopped laughing. “You remember the auction in which a mortal won a favor from me?”

He dropped his foot to the floor and leaned forward on his knees. “Yeah. Did you smite him? Cause I don’t do clean up, Yaya. That’s Dinlas’ job.”

I pressed my lips together to try and keep my tone civil. “I didn’t call you for clean up, Eros. Believe me, I know exactly what you are and are not good for.”

He opened his mouth, but caught whatever it was he was going to say before it passed his lips.

“The mortal has asked for a blessing in a relationship.”

Eros snorted and leaned back. “So bless him then, Yaya. Seriously, why am I here?”

“You never did master the art of patience, Eros. Sit there and shut that hole you call a mouth and listen to me.”

His mouth pinched together in anger and I heard his breath heavy through his nostrils. He waved one of his hands in my direction, as if allowing me a moment to speak. The child is lucky I have let him live as long as I have.

“I will bless him, but he is currently lacking the relationship to be blessed. That is where you come in. I need you to find him a love.”

I expected a lot of things from my grandson, most of them were negative, but I wasn’t prepared for what he said.

Eros met my eyes and said, “No.”

I was stunned and caught off guard. Don’t get me wrong, he’s told me no before, but it’s always been weak and then followed with a “yes, ma’am.” Eros has never said no to me before with such seriousness. I wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed. So I cleared my throat delicately.

“What do you mean, no?”

“I mean no, Yaya. I’m not one of your peacocks that does tricks just to make you happy.”

“I’m well aware that you are not one of my majestic birds, Eros. You will, however, do this for me.”

He stood, crossed his arms, and shook his head. “No, I don’t think I will. Now, if that’s all, I’ve got important things to do. Good afternoon, Yaya.” He strode to the door confidently and I just sat there staring at his back.

Gods dammit. I waved my hand and froze him in place, his hand inches from the door handle. If I hadn’t promised the mortal my blessing, I would toss Eros out my window and watch him plummet the 109 floors without his wings.

I hissed at my predicament. “What do you want?”

“Want, Yaya? Whatever could I want besides, oh, I don’t know, maybe for you to recognize me as a valued member of our family and stop hating me?”

I snorted. The little god certainly aimed high. “Behave as such and maybe one day I’ll see it.” I sorted quickly through my mind at what would entice Eros to help me and remembered something.

“A favor.”

Eros held his breath. “What do you mean?”

I gritted my teeth. “I owe a favor to Urania. I will have her pass it to you.”

Eros was quiet for way too long and then he started to chuckle. “A favor then. Consider it done.”

I waved my hand and released him from my hold. “Good. I’ll send you the mortal’s information.”

“Always good to see you, Yaya,” Eros smirked and gave me a saucy wink before walking out of my office. I slammed my door when he started whistling.

What in the Hades did I just do?

Hera (CJ Landry)
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