Was this really my life? Ever since the dream, I had felt off. I knew it wasn’t real. I was not that crazy…not most days, at least. But the knowledge of what could have been haunted my every waking moment. I’d had a glimpse of what my life could have been had I not been the Athena. I’d spent so long living for others that somewhere along the way, I’d forgotten to live for myself, and I regretted the life I did not live. More than that, I missed them. The grief over losing those that never existed was stronger than any grief that I had felt before. How could I miss them so much?
“They were not real,” I whispered to myself. Maybe if I said it enough times, I’d actually start to believe it…probably not.
I had so much to do, and for the first time, I didn’t want to do any of it. I needed to find Alex’s killer, stop the cartel, keep Dianna safe and hopefully not lose anyone I cared about along the way. Truthfully, I was not sure this goddess’ heart could take any more loss before the only thing left behind was the nothingness. I may have been a goddess, but I still had some degree of humanity. It was the only way I stayed connected to the mortals. I loved my mortals, most of them anyway. If I didn’t, I’d have stopped giving a damn a long time ago.
I had some family members that might be willing to lend a hand, but we were spread thin. Everyone was so wrapped up in their own lives. It was hard to ask them to step into my world, filled with my issues. Such as missing children that some asshole convinced me I needed. Now they were all I could think about. I had thought about having children many times over the centuries, but never had I longed for children of my own…until that dream.
Facing the harsh realities of my chronically single life was difficult. Now I wanted children. How the hells was I going to manage that? Call up the milkman and ask if he would like to have children with a goddess? If only storks were real. I supposed I could adopt. I had been down that road before, and I loved him, but he had been gone for longer than I cared to remember. He hadn’t been my child, but I loved him as if he were.
If only I hadn’t been so naïve, I could have had a family of my own. Hephaestus had wanted to have children with me, but I was so determined to stay the Virgin Goddess I’d refused. It seemed everyone knew the story of my adopted son, Erichthonius. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if I had agreed to lay with him instead of fighting off his advancements.
All I could think about after my time in the mirror was having a child. I was not even sure who would be a good candidate. Would I want him involved? Would I rather raise a child on my own? What would happen if I did decide to have a child? I knew it seemed silly to contemplate all of that. I was a fucking goddess, and I could not think of anyone to have a child with. Perhaps artificial insemination? But if my child was half-human, they would eventually die. I was strong, but that would break me. That left me with the gods… Shit, it was going to be harder than I’d thought.
I could imagine the classified ad: Lonely and childless goddess seeks another immortal to have mini gods and goddesses with…
“Ms. Athena? Ms. Athena?” A cheerful voice ran through the intercom.
I clicked the button to respond and said, “Charity, I told you, just Athena is fine.”
“Yes, ma’am… I mean Athena. There is someone here to see you.”
“Very well, send them in,” I replied as I stood. I didn’t like being the one sitting when unannounced visitors dropped in. It was not tactically wise to be sitting or have your back to them. So I stood and smoothed my pantsuit as I waited.
The door swung open, and my new assistant ushered my visitor in. In walked Dianna, Alex’s daughter. The thought of him broke my heart. He had confided in his daughter that he was in love with me. He loved me, and it had gotten him killed. I supposed I could add that to my list of reasons that my baby daddy should be an immortal one. At least that way, we would all be harder to kill. The father’s abilities would be important too. Maybe my child would be able to call on the storms and lightning to aid them. Maybe their gifts would be completely different.
“Athena? Earth to Athena…anyone home?” Dianna’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts. Talk about being untactical, I was worried about sitting, and then I was completely zoning out. A ballistic missile could have hit me, and I wouldn’t have seen it coming. I had to do better than that or I would get people that actually existed killed.
“Yes, sorry. I have a lot on my mind. I suppose you’re here to talk about your dad’s case?” I hadn’t been able to say his name out loud, but then again, neither had she. Perhaps using his name was too much for us both right now.
“Yes and no.” She smiled, and I realized it was the first real smile that I had seen since we met.
“Okay. So what’s up?” I t my seat to wait for Dianna to start talking.
“Oh, don’t sit down. I am taking you to lunch. Come on. I’m starving.” Without waiting for me to protest or explain the billion reasons that I was not great company at the moment, she walked out the door. Well, shit, I supposed that I was going to take a lunch break. I grabbed my wallet and followed her.
“Charity, dear, I’m going to go grab some lunch. I’ll be back in a little while. Call my cell if you need me. You can forward any important calls to my cell as well.”
Charity’s eyes widened. “Oh Ms… Athena, I would have gotten you lunch. I really don’t mind running errands for you. After all, that’s what assistants are for.” She beamed.
“Thank you, dear, but I am okay. Feel free to take your lunch break anytime. Call me if you need me.” We smiled at each other as I walked out the front doors.
It was so humid outside that it took me a moment to adjust. The summer air was a stark contrast to the near arctic temperatures of my office. I generated a lot of body heat and did not enjoy the sticky, humid air.
Dianna was leaning casually against my car and scrolling through her phone. She didn’t look up until I was about three feet from the car. A lesser trained eye would have thought she was being careless and not paying attention to her surroundings. However, I knew better. Dianna and I shared many traits, and being a careless fool wasn’t one of them.
I clicked the remote, and the car roared to life. I knew that inside, the air had already started to cool from my AC, and soon it would be tolerable.
“You know you really should get a white car. It would attract far less heat than this black one.” She looked at me with a smile.
“Yes, but in my line of work, the car would be stained with blood before the first week had passed. I’ll stick to my black cars.” I returned her smile. I walked around to the driver’s side of the car and slipped inside. As I was buckling my seatbelt, Dianna entered and did the same.
“So, where are we going for lunch?” I asked, looking over at her.
She gave me a huge grin. “It’s a surprise. Here is the address.” She handed me a slip of paper with an address on it. I punched it into the GPS and pulled out of the driveway.