The saltwater scented breeze teased strands of Plouto’s hair from the sleek updo in which she wore it. Sunlight sparkled off the designer gold coin necklace she wore. I swear the piece looked as if it had come from a ship that had sunk not far from Florida, though back then, many of the coins had looked the same. Her light linen jacket appeared as crisp and unwrinkled as if it’d come fresh from the cleaners, as did her slacks. The only concession to this being a vacation for her was the strappy sandals and deep coral pedicure on her toes, matching her manicure.
“I’m delighted to hear from you and so close to the holidays,” she said. “You hardly leave Par Impar these days. Did I hear correctly that you’ve accepted an office at Olympus Administration? Does this mean I’ll be seeing more of you?”
“I have. And I hope so.” I sipped the mimosa and waited for the waiter to bring us the fruit and pastry platter we’d ordered. The early morning hour kept most tourists from the water and gave us an unobstructed view of the Aegean. “And I’ll have a casino boat docked not too far from here.”
“My, my, who knew my sister of luck would become quite the worldly businesswoman,” Plouto laughed. “But I’m glad to see it. You’ve been keeping too much to yourself as of late. It’s good to see you out and about, both in the mortal world and among the gods.” She raised a hand with gold rings and waved over a young man. “Do be a dear and bring us some of your fresh-squeezed orange juice.” She smiled and gave him a once-over that made me think that my sister was far more enamored of the mortals than she let on.
“It’s been a while. I feel a need to emerge back into the world. Aggie is happy that we have the small farm with groves. A place for us to meet that won’t take him too far from his work. I have capable staff at Par Impar. Why shouldn’t I get out into the world?” I put on a smile I knew my sister could see through, even though it’d been decades since we’d last seen each other.
“You told me you’ve seen Rota.” Her words brought a slice of cold air down the back of my neck.
“In October. Yes,” I admitted. “Have the Ladies of Good Fortune come to gather again? And why?” I drained the last of my mimosa and wished I’d thought to order another while the waiter was here.
He returned at that moment with a carafe of orange juice and our fruit and pastry plate. “Would you ladies like anything else?” His gaze never left my sister.
“Coffee, please. Would you like some?” I asked Plouto.
“I’m fine with the juice and water, but thank you. I try not to drink caffeine. It’s bad for the skin.”
“I will bring a refill for your water as well.” The waiter left, and I tried not to smile at the way my sister worked to bewitch him with her voluptuous charms.
“So your work with the World Bank is going well?” I knew she couldn’t speak about any special projects she was working on any more than I could talk about house secrets. Still, I had to ask. It was the sisterly thing to do.
“It is. Our Brussels office is working with some of the Eastern European countries, trying to make them more stable amidst influence from other world governments.” She waved her hand. “I’m sure you’d find it all terribly boring. There’s very little chance involved. My staff is very good at what it does,” she laughed.
And there had been the big rub between us all those years. I preferred to roll the dice, to help people find their fortunes, or take those away from those who deserved it, sometimes on a whim. My sister, on the other hand, worked to build legacies. Wealth that spanned not just generations, but centuries, and when the World Bank had been formed, she turned her focus to countries. The aftermath of the World Wars had shaken her, changed her, as she saw the havoc that the rise of dynasties and their fall caused. She worked hard to bring every country out of the ashes. Some just moved faster than others.
I shrugged off the slight. We’d been doing this to each other for as long as I remembered. “It’s more fun that way,” I smiled because at one time I’d been concerned with the wealth of city-states and nations and she’d been right by my side, looking after individual merchants. “There’s room for both of our ways and I’ve heard it said that the stock market is its own kind of gambling hall.”
She laughed, the sultry sound making our waiter turn and look at her. “Of course, dear sister. If you have space in the Olympus Administration building, then are you settling down by chance?”
“I haven’t decided that yet,” I replied. “There are things to be done.”
The single word hung between us, a mystical isle that was said to house The Good Luck Society, a group of prosperity and luck goddesses from around the globe. Rota only revealed itself during times of struggle and when there was need of it. I worried what sort of circumstances would have caused it to reveal itself now.
“Have you heard anything?” I asked. With her position among the mortal governments, if some major cataclysm was about to happen, I hoped she’d be able to tell me.
Plouto shook her head. “Other than the usual. Russia…” She waved her hand and rolled her eyes, letting me know what she thought of the situation. “But my focus is on smaller countries and their well-being. I have no time for those who think they run the show.”
“We’re alike in that. I don’t mind taking the money from the high rollers, but I prefer to help others.” I sighed. “So what do we do? I mean, I didn’t reconnect with you just because of Rota, but it’s out there. I’ve seen it. And–”
“You’re worrying too much,” Plouto interrupted me. “They’ll reach out if they need us.” She shrugged. “And you sound like you really needed this vacation. So why don’t I go to OA with you and we can look at your space? If you don’t mind, I could use a desk here just in case things change. If you don’t mind my borrowing a corner of your space, that is.”
“Of course not.” I motioned for the waiter over and settled our bill. “Shall we go now?”
“No time like the present when business is involved, and I know you. A good vacation just doesn’t happen without a little business thrown in,” she laughed. “You are a workaholic, and we love you for it. Even during the holidays.”
# # #
Getting the keys to the fourth floor felt like a right of passage. I’d been on the outside of the Pantheon, not one of Zeus’ children, living down in the Bahamas for so long that I’d forgotten what it was like to walk into OA as a deity. The directory next to the elevator said 4TH FLOOR PAR IMPAR. The words sent a shiver down my spine.
I found the space empty with an entryway and receptionist’s desk that led to four offices. I immediately gave my sister her choice of them, because my office was at the end of the hall with a lovely view all the way to the ocean. The hallway split between the offices and a large conference room. Following the door from the entryway, I saw it opened to a large living space that easily could house a couple of people. I anticipated using it when I stayed for business and didn’t want to go to our small farm.
“So what are you planning on doing besides broadening your casino empire?” Plouto asked. “Have you decided to play amongst the gods after all?”
I turned to her with a smile on my face. “Perhaps I have.”
“Good.” She pulled her tablet from her bag. “Now let’s talk about what you need to really make a world class office.”
“A koi pond,” I said, realizing just how much I missed my gazebo and fish at home.
“Koi? I think that could be arranged. Every other office I’ve been in have had saltwater fish tanks.”
“Mine will have koi. And I want it built so I can see them both in my office and in the apartment. I’ll have to hire someone to tend to them. I’m sure that can be arranged.” I thought for a moment. “And a sound system where I can play the sound of the ocean.”
“You do want to make this like Par Impar, don’t you?” Her smile turned quizzical.
“Not quite, but close.” I went to the window and looked out. “It’s not the Bahamas, but from time to time, I think it will be home. And it’s my holiday gift to myself. Aggie’s gone back to work. He can’t stay away long. After this, I’m going to travel a bit as I find my way back to the Bahamas. But let me know your schedule, because I’ll be here more often than I probably anticipated when I’d first reached out for space. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
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