“I see you made it,” I said to the pale wraith standing at my door. Ire was growling menacingly near my leg, ready to charge in if I gave the word. An angry, baby honey badger still can deliver a sharp bite.
“Yes, thank you ever so for the invitation. I haven’t heard from you in eons, it seems. What has it been? Two or three hundred years? Last time I saw you, you were wearing some kind of corset and a powdered wig. My hair is so pale, who needs the powder, am I right? Are you going to invite me in? I feel silly standing at your doorway like some traveling olive seller. Are there still traveling olive sellers? I haven’t been topside in so long, I can never remember these things.”
Ire kept growling and I couldn’t blame him. How had I forgotten the verbal diarrhea that came from Gorgyra?
“Yes, please come in. I see you brought a bag. I wasn’t aware we were having a sleepover,” I said, stepping back from the doorway and picking up Ire so he wouldn’t bite my guest. If she kept talking like that, I might change my mind about the biting later.
“Oh, well, I thought I might stay topside for a little bit and see the sites. What with the jailbreak and the rebellion in full swing, you never know when, or if, you will get home. Am I right? Yes, I like to be prepared. What a lovely apartment you have! I see that you just moved in. Quite the change from your old place in the Asphodel Meadows. That was shabby chic before it was a trend. Is that still a trend? I try to watch the home and garden channels whenever I can get them. Did you know that Classic Blue is the color for this year? I’m not really a fan of blue, though I know…”
“Gorgyra, you must be tired after your journey. Please set your bag down and come have a drink. We can talk about interior design later.” I turned my back on the nymph of the Underworld I had known for the last thousand years, and led the way into the living room. I had a fire roaring in the fireplace, mostly for Ire’s benefit. His leather cushion was as close to the flame as he could get without singeing.
“Of course, Lyssa. Sorry for rattling on. Some things never change, do they? Am I right? Yes, I think so. I’ll be quiet so you can tell me why you invited me to visit.” The nymph sat on my leather sofa, curling her white gown around her as she settled into the dark gray cushions. I’d also forgotten how startling those white eyes of hers were. Piercing and yet clueless at the same time.
“I take it you took the route through Tenarus to ‘topside’, as you say, to avoid any nosy questions. Any trouble getting through?” I asked, though I honestly didn’t care. Chit chat was not my favorite activity, even if I was talking with someone who had a brain in their head. The verdict was still out on Gorgyra. On the plus side though, when she was talking, she was often saying more than she intended. Just as long as she kept to a topic that mattered to me.
“Oh, it wasn’t too bad. A few tourists trying to get a picture of where Orpheus traveled for Eurydice, that kind of thing. I might have photobombed a picture on my way to the surface, but I’m not too worried about it. No, it was fine getting topside. The struggle was getting from the very southern tip of Greece to here. It’s not like I carry a bag of drachmas with me. Am I right? Let’s just say it was a good thing I can be persuasive with humans. With all the drama going on with the Titans and the rebellion, I was lucky to slip out unnoticed. Thank you for this.” Gorgyra took the glass I handed her and I relished the bit of quiet as she sipped her gin and tonic. Ire was still making a few growling noises by the fire, but he was winding down to nap in the heat.
“Yes, I am very interested in the state of things in Hades’ realm. How is he coping with everything? It can’t be easy, not with the break up, the rebellion, everything that he has going on. Do you see him much these days?” I sat down on the sofa, angling myself so I could watch Gorgyra’s face closely. Those white irises were unsettling.
“Oh, I never see him. I’m not on par with a God, for Lethe’s sake. As if I would roll in his circle. Am I right? But you can’t live in a place and not hear things. I’m not besties with Persephone, but rumors are rampant that there might be a tinge of bad blood between the King and Queen. I mean, they’ve split up, but it was supposed to be amicable and all. But is it really? I mean, is any break up really fully amicable? Am I right? Someone is always a little pissed, no matter what they say. When Minos broke up with me – you remember Minos, one of the judges of Hades and all-around King asshat – when he broke up with me, we told everyone that we were just better off as good friends. After that, he changed his phone number and I never heard from him again. Jerk.”
A tinge of pinkish red flashed in Gorgyra’s eyes. She still had some unresolved anger apparently. A nice tidbit to save in my memory for a rainy day.
I nodded in agreement. “Oh, yes, I never liked him. That whole Minotaur thing really went sideways, didn’t it? It’s nice to hear how things are going in my old hometown. I’m not really traveling there anymore these days, work keeps me far too busy, but I love hearing the latest news…and gossip, from a friend.” The last words tasted bitter in my mouth; Gorgyra was as far from a friend as I could imagine, but she was also useful, and more importantly, pliable.
“Lyssa, that makes me so happy to hear you say that. I always felt we were close. I know you are a primordial and I am just a nymph, but I never felt like you held that against me. I always thought you got the raw end of the deal, with hardly a temple or a statute raised in your honor. I mean, sure, you don’t need physical representation to be validated as a Goddess, but who doesn’t like a nice selfie? Am I right? Yes, I think you are deserving of your own temple – I always have. But maybe I am just biased, as your friend.” Gorgyra smiled broadly and took another sip of her gin. “We should see what we can do to rectify things.”
I smiled at her, a real smile for the first time. Maybe Gorgyra was smarter than I was giving her credit for. Looking at that colorless face smiling back at me over her cocktail, I wondered if maybe she understood more than I might suppose. Even a Goddess can get it wrong once in a while.
“You know, Gorgyra. I have plenty of space in the apartment. I think you should plan to stay here, for a while. Ire and I get a bit lonely padding around this place by ourselves. We could do with another soul, and it would give us time to catch up on everything I have missed lately. With Hades. With you.”
Her eyes lit up like tiny match flames. “Oh, I would love that, Lyssa. I would absolutely love that. How fun is this going to be? Am I right? Let me take you out to dinner tonight, my treat. That poor cab driver gave me all his money when he heard I was broke. Persuasion, remember? Let’s celebrate our renewed friendship.” She tossed back the last of her gin and stood up from the couch, apparently wanting to head out right then.
I took a last sip of my own drink and stood up slowly, still smiling. “Yes, Gorgy, let’s go celebrate. I know just the place. Down in the lobby, there are some wonderful steaks, blessed by Zeus, no less. Let’s go carve up a fillet, shall we?” I did something then that I haven’t done to anyone in fifty years. I gave her a hug. Her hair still had the faint aroma of the underworld; not unpleasant like the Nightgoyle’s scent when he brought the anonymous gift of Ire, but distinctive nonetheless.
“Oh yes, tell me all about Zeus and everything that has been happening around here. You never know if the rumors are true when you hear things.”
Gorgyra kept talking as she walked back toward the front door. I smiled again, for no one’s benefit but my own. My plan was definitely starting to take shape.