I leaned into his hug, needing his strength. “I didn’t cast myself into foam. Gods, I wish I had. It may have been easier. I never gave up, Pater; I wanted to be there, for Atlantis, for Poseidon…I didn’t choose to leave, to disappear.”
I followed Gia up the gangplank of the Aegean Star, and even before I could say anything, the crew began preparing for us to pull out of port. I watched as Gia gave Captain Dellis a signal, and I felt the ship get underway.
“And since when does my captain take orders from you?”
“Since I called him from Monterey and told him to have the ship standing by and ready to sail as soon as we got aboard, per your instructions, Lord Nereus.”
I started to say something, but Gia motioned for me to follow her below.
This was the part of my job I hated the most. It was bad enough when I lost a sailor, but having to visit an entire ship’s worth of widows and children and explain to them that their husband or father was not coming home ever again—I’d never gotten used to it. I knew I could assign one of my officers this task, but I was the one who sent them to sea, so the ultimate responsibility was mine.
Frowning, I try to rub the strange sensation out of my chest as I get up from my bed. The cracks in the walls are still there from when I lost control, but something is out of place. I tilt my head, noticing a folded note on my desk. Picking it up with a shaky hand, I scan over the words.
Everything stopped as I walked across the balcony and down the stairs. “I don’t believe you all know me, but let me introduce myself. I am Alexandros Korias. I am the owner of the ship you sank this afternoon.”
I felt a familiar rumbling in the pit of my stomach. I’m really a live-and-let-live kind of person. When I passed the trident to Poseidon all those years ago, I was more than content to spend my days sailing the Aegean and spending time with my fishermen. However, someone was about to find out retired doesn’t mean dead.
Why Rome? Why did I head to Rome, and why didn’t I return? The question was vexing me, and I turned from the figures haunting me as I tried to suss it out. I don’t think they liked it too much that I wasn’t paying attention to them, and the figures started to circle me, chanting that I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t good enough, I was barely a goddess.