I sat at my desk, watching the rain quietly fall against the window. My eyes tracked random raindrops as they made their way down the glass. After a few minutes, I started to feel edgy. Let’s be honest. I’ve been on edge for months, ever since Zeus died. I tapped my nails against my desk impatiently for half a breath and then pushed back from my desk. This is getting ridiculous, and I really needed to get a grip. I’d been hiding out in the penthouse when I wasn’t in my office and saw no one except Aphaid and clients. I needed to reconnect with my family. They needed me more than ever now with my husband off finding himself in Atlantis. I walked out of my office and addressed Aphaid as I passed their desk.
“If I have any other appointments today, reschedule them. Call Demeter’s assistant and tell them I’m on my way down. I need to see her immediately.”
Aphaid picked up the phone. “Yes, m’lady.”
As I waited for the elevator to reach my level, my stomach began to unknot. I really should have gone to see her when she came back, but I just couldn’t bear talking about what happened to me. Zeus was the only one who knew the terror I felt as a child stuck in my father’s dimension. Sure, my siblings were alone and sometimes lonely, but none had a darkness like I did. When my husband found out my father had me again, he understood the urgency of getting to me. All of this happened just after I almost lost him. I honestly don’t know what fear was worse…losing my husband or losing myself.
I got in the elevator and pushed the button for my sister’s floor, holding my breath until the doors closed. I closed my eyes and slowly counted my breaths. I only had to keep it together for another…I peeked out under one of my eyelids…39 floors.
I plopped down in the chair behind my desk, trying to get a grip on what had happened to me and where I would go from there. I rested my head in my hands and closed my eyes. That’s when a knock came at the door. “Go away,” I mumbled under my breath.
“Miss Demeter? You have a delivery from the main office.” I looked up to see a complex messenger with a stack of folders in his hand.
“Fine, hand them here.” The messenger handed me the folders and began ranting about having to go to the top floor and get them. He was a bit too chatty for my liking, but the mention of a hole being punched into my baby brother’s portrait did bring a slight smirk to my face. I had no doubt who had done that.
As I sat there, I opened the folder I’d found earlier. I came to the conclusion that there had been more going on around the complex than I’d first thought. It was worse, much worse.
There wasn’t a lot in the folder, but what was there drew me in for a closer look. I found a picture of Ares and a very pretty, raven-haired girl. I wasn’t surprised as my nephew loved beautiful women, but this was different. They looked happy. In fact, Ares looked happier than I’d ever remembered him looking before. “Oh no,” I said to myself. “He’s actually in love with this one.”
There were several scraps of paper in an envelope. I didn’t recognize the handwriting, but it seemed to be some phone numbers and a few addresses. It had been a long time since I’d done my job, but I still had that itch to get to the bottom of this mystery.
As I came to the last scrap of paper, I found the message, Find Pegasus. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but something told me it wasn’t good. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen Pegasus or even heard anyone talk about him.
From there, I found some receipts, a map, and a set of coordinates. Finally, I came across a sticky note, stuck to the back of the folder, with the name Nikko and a phone number written in pink highlighter. It wasn’t the same handwriting as the scraps of paper, nor was it a man’s handwriting, this was written by a woman.
As I stewed over the contents of the folder, a barely audible knock came at my door. I knew it wasn’t anyone from my family, as they would have either beat on the door or just let themselves in without bothering to knock.
“It’s open,” I yelled at the top of my lungs. It was that squeaky little redhead again.
“Miss Demeter, ma’am,” she said, trying to avoid eye contact. “I…I went to find your, um, nephew, and he…he seems to, um, be…”
“Spit it out, child. I’m not in the mood for guessing games.” I hadn’t intended to snap at the girl, but there was just something about her demeanor that set me on edge.
“Yes, ma’am.” She took a deep breath and tried again. “I went to Mr. Ares’ office to let him know that you were here, but he doesn’t seem to be in the office at the moment. I tried to call his phone, but it went straight to voicemail. I left a message for him to contact you at his earliest convenience.” Her eyes went to the floor as though she were expecting the worst.
A strange calm came over me, and I could tell that she’d done all she could. “Thank you, um, I don’t think I caught your name. Anyway, I appreciate you trying to help, and I hope you can forgive me for my earlier outburst. I’m a little off my game today.”
The little redhead smiled. “It’s fine, Miss Demeter, and it’s Lana. My name is, um, Lana.”
I couldn’t help but smile in return. “Well, thank you, Lana. If you hear from Ares, tell him I need to talk to him ASAP. By the way, how long have you been working for Ares? Isn’t that little schmuck Reginald running the show anymore?”
Lana giggled. “Um, no, ma’am. I mean, yes, ma’am.” It was obvious she was still nervous around me, and I was okay with that.
She cleared her throat and tried again. “I don’t work for Mr. Ares, per se. I was only recently hired as a secretary, but no one really seems to need me. I’ve run from one floor to the next, helping anyone who’d let me, but I don’t actually work for anyone.”
At that moment, the phone in the outer office rang. “Well, Lana,” I said with a slight grin, “let’s remedy that. I am officially hiring you as my secretary. Now go answer that call and let’s see if we can’t get ourselves back to work.”
Lana squealed in delight as she ran out the door. I heard her answer the phone with more professionalism in her voice than I thought possible.
“Demeter Law Offices, how may I help you today?” There was a slight pause before she continued. “Yes, of course. I’ll let her know.”
Lana peeked her head into my office. “Miss Demeter, I’m to let you know that your sister Hera is on her way down to see you. It sounded urgent.”
A lump formed in my throat. Finally, my baby sister was on her way. Though we’d had our differences over the millennia, I was excited to see her once again.
“It’s about time,” I muttered to myself. I looked up at Lana, who appeared a little worried. “Lana, how are you at making tea? Better yet, bring me a nice bottle of wine and something to go with it. Can you do that?”
The smile on the girl’s face lit up the room. “Yes, ma’am. I know exactly what you’ll need. It might take me a bit, but I’ll do you proud. How much do you want to spend?”
I laughed outwardly at that one. “Oh honey, money’s no object. Charge everything to the complex. If certain members of my family don’t like it, tell them I said to come talk to me. Now go, she’ll be here any minute, and we’ve got a lot to talk about.”
Lana ran out of the office, leaving the door wide open. I could hear her beating on the elevator button once again, as though doing so would hurry the process.
I threw my nephew’s folder into my top drawer, not knowing if it should be seen by anyone else or not. I stood up, straightened my jacket, and fluffed my hair. “What in Tartarus are you doing, Demeter?” I thought to myself. “It’s your sister, not a client.”
I looked around at the disarray of my office, thinking I should have done something to clean it up when I heard the elevator stop on my floor. I looked up at my door to see my beautiful sister strolling into the room.
Her eyes took hold of mine. “Where the hell have you been?” she asked with a low growl in her voice.
As I stared deep into her soul, I knew it wasn’t anger that fueled her words. It was pain and anguish. Something had all but broken the Queen of the Gods.
I rushed to Hera, wrapping my arms around her in a heartfelt embrace. She stood stiff, never one to show outward emotion. I felt the pain and hurt coursing through her veins and tightened my embrace until she finally fell into my arms and let her emotions flow free. I hadn’t seen my sister this distraught since we’d emerged from our father’s prison.
As she regained her composure, she took a step back and tried to look as regal as possible. She wiped the moisture from her eyes, then looked back at me as though nothing had happened.
I reached out and took her hand, whether she liked it or not. “By the gods, Hera, what’s going on around here?”
A stray tear escaped her eye as she squeezed my hand. She draped her jacket over the arm of one of the high-backed chairs and took a seat. I sat across from her, my eyes never leaving her face.
This time, she reached out and took my hands in hers. “Oh, Sister, I’ve so much to tell you.”
The story that unfolded jolted me to my core.
- The Trials of Herakles, Part VII - September 1, 2022
- The Trials of Herakles, Part VI - November 5, 2021
- Herakles, Part V - October 18, 2021