It was early the next morning when I arrived at the OA building. I had Ophelia’s journal tucked under my arm. There was some information in there that I thought Dad would be very happy to see.
I grabbed a Dr Pepper at Dark Sparks – not a coffee drinker, which had nothing to do with Hades, I just hated the stuff – and headed for the elevator. Even though it was early, I knew Dad would be up.
No one was sitting at the desk outside Dad’s office. I paused by the desk, touching the edge of it, picturing Cassandra sitting there with a big smile on her face as she tossed her beautiful red hair over her shoulder. I swallowed the lump that rose in my throat, took a deep breath, and moved forward to knock on Dad’s door.
He was on that damn Peloton bike, riding the streets of Athens. “Good morning,” I said as I closed the door.
Looking at me for a moment over his shoulder, he stopped pedaling, turned off the program, and got off his bike. “I didn’t expect to see you this morning,” Dad said, grabbing a towel from a nearby chair.
“I knew you would want an update on the situation.”
He studied me for a moment, his head tilted slightly. “Alright, son,” he said, motioning to the chairs in front of his desk. “Let’s sit down and talk.”
Instead of going to sit behind his desk, he sat in the chair next to me. He listened as I gave him a rundown of what had happened: finding Cyndi’s body in Dinlas’ office; Cassandra’s death; the battle plans; the execution of the plans. “We put thirty men in the funeral pyre, but left Markos and Cody to the vultures. There’s nothing left of them or the men on the pyre. I stayed there to make sure.”
“I would have never suspected Markos, not in a millenium,” Dad said, stroking his beard thoughtfully. “Hephaestus thought the world of him, trusted him explicitly.”
Putting the journal on the edge of his desk, I said, “It’s all laid out in there. Markos did say that the reason Charlie was killed was because he was starting to develop a soft spot for us. He believed we had honorable reasons for coming back, and decided he wanted to help us instead of fighting us. Markos, of course, took this as an act of betrayal. Cody killed him.”
“Did you kill all of those who were involved?”
I shook my head. “Many of them got away, which is unacceptable, I know. But given there were only four of us, plus the she-wolves, we did very well. We have the names of the others; we can take care of them. Plus, there are names listed there all over the world, not just here. We’re going to need some serious public relations to improve our image to the world.”
“I’m working on that with Moxie,” Dad assured me.
“Well, there is also information there regarding bank accounts, and we’re talking serious money. I’ve already had the money transferred into the OA accounts for you. Spoils of war, you know.”
“You could have kept some of it for yourself.”
I shook my head again. “No, I don’t think so. Besides, I have my own money. I’m not hurting for cash.” I stood up. “If there’s nothing else, I’d like to go back to my apartment in my office building and get some rest. I have funeral arrangements to make for Cassandra.”
Dad also stood up and put his hand on my shoulder. “Ares, I am truly sorry for the loss of that girl. I know how much she meant to you, and it was very evident that you both loved each other. I would have been very proud to welcome her into the family if you had decided to marry her.”
His words took me by surprise, and I looked down at the floor so he wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes.
“Is there anything I can do to help you?” he asked gently.
“No, sir. She had no family left.”
“She had you.”
“And look what that got her,” I said bitterly.
“What do you plan to do?”
“I’m going to have her cremated, then take her remains to Paris.”
“Take as much time as you need,” Dad said, giving my shoulder a squeeze before removing his hand. “There are a couple of things I’d like to discuss with you, but they aren’t important. They can wait until you return.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll be back in a week or so.” I turned and walked to the door, before stopping and turning around. “Dad, I know I don’t say this often, if at all. But I want you to know that despite the fact we fight all the time, I am proud to be your son. I love you.” Opening the door, I hurried out before he could reply.
I pushed the down button for the elevator and stepped back to wait. Ding, the elevator doors opened, and I heard, “Ares, my poor son.”
Mother…I’m not sure I can handle much more, I thought to myself.