Demeter felt relieved and then suddenly overwhelmed as she approached the revolving doors in the God Complex. She had just shut a door to the recent experiences in the Bennington Triangle. Now, she was walking back through this door and could hear the clock chiming. She stood there and counted the eight chimes quietly to herself. It was a little ritual she liked to do to start her day on time. Once the last chime struck, a flood of emotions washed over her.
As cliche as it sounded, she didn’t realize how much she needed to be home, how happy she was to be home. Even as a goddess, she felt it was necessary to just have those protections back in place and lower some of the barriers she had put up in the forest.
Yes, Demeter was scuffed up. She had some minor scratches still healing, a large bruise on the inside of her knee, and a stiff neck still from when she fell down the mountainside. Yet, it did feel nice being out in the field rather than sitting in her office or courtroom. Perhaps the trip was necessary, even if she failed.
You tried your best, she thought.
She felt another wave of relief hit her as she continued walking through the lobby. She didn’t realize how much privilege she had given up being out there in the forest. While she was glad Kara was safe, she did have to fight back tears as her mind drifted to the five original missing that she was not able to find. Demeter also was not in any state, physical or emotional, to go back.
She tripped as she approached the elevators, but was able to catch herself before she fell. She mumbled angrily to herself, glaring down at her usual Louboutin peep-toe pumps.. She did not expect to stumble into familiar territory, let alone in her favorite shoes that made her feel empowered. She had become so accustomed to reacting without feeling lately, that the misstep really caught her off guard.
Am I ready for this? Demeter straightened her posture and stepped into the elevator.
Ding. The 11th floor.
After being away for over a month, she was ready for the monotony and routine. The aroma of roasting coffee beans swept over her. As if he could read her mind, Demeter heard Aegis scurrying across the wooden floor to get her coffee. Demeter smiled.
Oh, how I missed that sound.
She extended her hand to touch the cold doorknob and took a couple of steps onto the mahogany floor. It almost felt surreal that she was back. She looked around. Everything was exactly the same in her modern law office, except for Aegis’ desk. He had finally cleared it from the stacks of paperwork and several coffee mugs. Demeter had asked him countless times to keep down the clutter to look more professional for clients, and it looked like he finally had time to do so. Items were in their perfect places.
Aegis smiled brightly at Demeter as he handed her a cup of coffee and gave her a side hug. She patted him lightly on the back to return the gesture.
“Welcome back, Ms. Demeter.”
“Thank you, Aegis,” Demeter said, nodding her head slightly. Everything was routine. “How does my day look?”
“I didn’t want to overwhelm you, so we only have a few appointments today. You have a consultation over the phone at eight-thirty, and the other meeting is at ten-thirty over webcam. You are free after lunch.”
“Well, thank you, Aegis, for thinking about me. However, for tomorrow, please fill up my whole day,” Demeter said, feeling slightly annoyed that Aegis felt she needed an easy day.
How could he not schedule at least one appointment for greeting a client in person? Sometimes, he is too much of a shield.
She walked back towards her office and sat down at her desk. She winced as she hit her knee into the bruise on her thigh while crossing her legs. It was five minutes past eight. Right on time.
She pulled out her laptop from her dark leather briefcase and clicked the icon to check her email. The number of emails started to roll up and hit the hundreds. Demeter sighed, knowing that replying to these emails would take up most of her day. She took a sip of coffee, her eyes widening as she watched the number rise to over fifteen thousand!
Seriously? How could I have that many emails?
She scrolled through the countless emails and just smirked. Her account was flooded with a bunch of spam mail. She chuckled at some of the titles. “Top 10 Ways to Gain New Worshipers.” “5 Ways to Know if Your Acolytes are Worshiping Around (Number 2 will BLOW your mind!)” But her personal favorite that made her choke on her coffee as she read it – “Banned Yoruba Ritual for All Natural Enhancement.”
As she cleared out her inbox, her enthusiasm dissipated. Delete. Click. Delete. Click. Delete… Click. She glanced at the right corner of the laptop’s menu bar to the clock.
Only eight minutes have passed?!
She had only gone through about a hundred emails. A hundred?! This is going to take forever, she thought as she placed her head down into her folded arms. Curse whoever got a hold of my work email address. She sighed and raised her head. Just sip your caffeine and keep going, Demeter.
Click. Click. Click. Click…
The only other piercing sound engulfing the office was the drumming of Demeter’s fingertips with her left hand on the desk. She nodded her head to the rhythmic sounds. Her eyes drooped, and then she caught a look at her nails. Her burgundy nail polish was chipped, and one of her nails was cracked. She flipped her hand over to look at the underside of her nails.
At least I did a job getting the dirt out from underneath them…
It was bittersweet when her favorite nephew, Ares, and his faithful pup finally found her in the cave. Although she was happy to see him, she knew that the Bennington Triangle finally defeated her. Knowing that there were unknown magical forces at play on the mountain, she had made a shelter at the bottom instead. While at times she felt compelled to travel back up to look for the missing people, she dismissed the urge. She reminded herself of her previous experience. Going back up there was not a good idea. Instead, she stayed in place and waited and, although being close to the mountain limited her powers, she could at least use her Cornucopia of Plenty to produce some grains and fruit for nourishment every three days.
The ringing brought her back from her daydream, and she reached for the receiver of her antique rotary phone.
“This is Demeter,” she answered confidently, glancing at the clock. Eight-thirty. This must be the consultation.
The woman on the other side of the line introduced herself, explained that her husband filed for divorce and that she wanted alimony. Demeter dragging, looked at the clock. She had only been on the phone for two minutes. The lady babbled on for another minute before Demeter smoothly cut her off. “Thank you for reaching out to me for your case. I will need to look over the paperwork he has already given you first. Please send the papers over to my assistant, and we will be in touch. Goodbye for now.” Click.
Same old, same old. At least they don’t have kids.
Demeter’s eyes watered as she thought of the poor kid, Paul Jepson, in his red coat, still lost in the Bennington Triangle. How could I not find any trace of them? She had walked miles every day, searching for any clues regarding their disappearances. She even hiked along the Long Trail, where Paula Welden, a sophomore attending Bennington College, was last seen by another couple. She found nothing.
Perhaps your tracking skills could use a refresher course next time…next time? She furrowed her eyebrows. She was fighting the urge to go back.
No, you need rest and more intel before going on another rescue mission.
She stared at the screen as she continued to delete emails and quickly replied to some small requests. Her eyes squinted at the clock again. Seriously? It has only been forty-eight minutes? That is it! She stood up and stretched. I cannot sit here anymore. She had been so used to exerting all of her energy during the rescue mission that she felt guilty, sitting here not doing anything meaningful. She was craving an adventure.
She closed her laptop and hastily threw it in her bag. Demeter could hear Aegis’ office chair scrape against the wood as she approached the front door.
“I need to take care of some things,” Demeter said calmly. “Please reschedule the ten-thirty appointment to a phone call… and perhaps you were right, Aegis, please keep the appointments light this week.” Aegis nodded in acknowledgment.
She closed the office door and strode to the elevator. She wasn’t quite sure where she was going as she pressed the button to the lobby, but she knew that she couldn’t sit in the office anymore. She needed to take action.
I just need to find a new case on my own, she thought as she walked confidently out of the God Complex.