The chartreuse shirt sailed across the room, landing near the To Be Donated pile. I was so done with it. Just a few more shirts and I was done sorting and packing for college.
College! In a few hours I’d be on my way to Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina. I’d given up fashion marketing and opted for Psychology- Abnormal Psychology. Meg chose to stay in the city and go to the New York Film Academy. Me, I needed space – and distance – from all the memories. For the past two years I’d done nothing but trip over the Greek gods and drowned in their drama.
I thought wistfully about Caz- Castor. As a demi god, there was always some distant relative in the pantheon that had a grudge and was looking to put him under some kind of curse. He’d said goodbye and that he’d see me in what amounted to a century in human years. That was so not going to work for me. Sighing, I resumed my packing. It was probably best to leave all things Greek here.
“Where’s my ski jacket?” I muttered.
And there I was, wearing the latest slope must haves, lounging in an overstuffed chair near a cozy fire. Golden, gem encrusted cup in my hand. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone else’s manicured, long fingered, strong hand.
I knew without looking it was him.
Delaying the inevitable confrontation, I sipped the drink; mmmm, chocolate mint, of course my fave, and without even glancing over I said, “Are you allowed to be here? Isn’t Persephone waiting for you in a boudoir or something, wearing black leather, and ready to fight?”
“Cherie.” His fingers pulled my free hand to his lips where he rubbed his teeth against my knuckles.
I tugged, but he refused to let go.
“You know that when she’s in another realm, I can be here. I thought we might have some winter fun, since I’m usually in Tartarus during your winter. I miss all the best skiing.”
I rolled my eyes and couldn’t stop from looking at him. He smirked and with that slightly crooked smile that had been known to conquer all female resistance—except mine and Meg’s, I snorted.
“You have to power to make perfect ski conditions anywhere, even Hawaii if you wanted,” I retorted, “so just return me back to my room. I have to finish packing for school.”
He pouted a bit, then frowned. “I don’t understand why you bother with the whole” and he waved his hand tiredly, “school thing. I can give you all the knowledge in the world.” He snapped his fingers, and suddenly, I. KNEW. EVERYTHING.
I could solve global warming. Ok, that was cool, Meg would be thrilled. It's one of the things she worries about.
Finally I knew how to fix my computer glitches. Wow, that was handy. No more desperate calls to every geek I know at 2 a.m.
I could tell Stephen Hawking where he was wrong. I would be a media darling.
Euclidean Geometry actually hurt my brain. And when would I ever use that?
All that knowledge was too much for my mortal brain stem. “It hurts!” I grabbed my head and moaned. A migraine would have given me relief.
He snapped again and the knowledge was gone. Relief! He leaned forward, peering at me, his sparkling green eyes gazing deeply into mine, a stray auburn lock falling into his eyes making him look way too irresistible. “I can kiss it and make it better,” he breathed.
Evil dude- most certainly, but holy Helen-of-Troy he was hot.
That’s how he gets his victims, he charms and seduces them. Have some backbone! Meg’s not here to pull your butt out of the Greek fire!
Taking a slow, deep breath and clasping my hands together, I replied, “No, I’m good, but you can give me a genealogy chart so I can keep your family straight. That would help a lot when one pops up and I don’t know whether to beg for mercy or offer them a cookie. Or, you could just tell me where I’ll be working in six years when I’m done with school so I can plan my wardrobe accordingly.”
He huffed and stood up, stretching all glorious 6’4” of him. “Don’t worry about the family, they have more interesting things to do than keep track of your whereabouts.”
Ouch! Forgotten already! I didn't remind him that it never stopped Persephone and Demeter and a few others from sticking their immortal noses into my earthly business.
He leaned against the mantle. “And I can’t tell you the future. The three fates get rather pissy and change everything just to prove how powerful they are, and for messing up their ‘vision.’ A daisy gets stepped on and poof! All life could be wiped out by a meteor. They’re bitchy enough to wait until a new humanity rises out of the slime.” He crossed his arms over his chest, his toned abs and pecs lovingly gloved in his Under Armor.
It’s enough to make a girl’s mouth water- unless she knows him for the scheming, lying snake he is.
“So what’s the big deal with the whole college thing? I can give you whatever knowledge you need.” He waggled his eyebrows. “Or teach you myself... There are many delights...”
Regretfully, I put down the hot chocolate and stood so I could look him almost in the eye.
“Hades, some things have to be experienced. Everything I’ve read about you doesn’t come close to what you’re like in the flesh. At college I get to meet people from so many different places, different cultures. I get to be on my own, and try to balance school and responsibilities and time. I can't get that staying comfy at home.”
“You did all that last year and the previous one,” he huffed, “when you had your scholarship to that alternative high school, worked for me, and still managed to ace your classes. Even when I whisked you off to Tartarus, as my guest, you managed everything.”
I wrinkled my nose. “You mean as your captive.”
“Guest, captive, very good friend, whatever title suits you.”
I took a step back. “Not that good a friend. Anyway, it’s all about living my life, on my own terms. Learning to make good decisions, living with the consequences of bad ones. Where’s the fun in suddenly knowing everything, but never having experienced it?”
He tilted his head. “Maybe I should experience some of this college.”
I practically jumped up and down. “Oh, you’ll love the University of Alaska! Skiing, snowshoeing, the Iditarod. Just leave Cerberus at home, he doesn’t play well with other doggies.” The three-headed guardian of Tartarus was a big wuss- unless another dog came near.
Hades looked puzzled. “But I thought you were going to the University of North Carolina.”
I narrowed my eyes. “I am. If you want the complete college experience, you have to go where you don’t know anyone. And no using your super powers. Learn the old fashioned, mortal way; read, study, write a paper.”
His brows dropped down, hooding his eyes. “I see. You don’t want me going with you.”
I held up a finger, counting. “Let’s see: psychotic wife.” Up went another finger. “Insane mother-in-law.” Third finger rose. “You use your powers to get anything you want.” Another finger stood. “You’ll ruin any chances of me getting a date while you,” and I glared at him, “romance” your way through the student and academic body.” Finally, the thumb. “And who knows what will happen to the fate of mankind if your other wacky relatives drop in. Remember the havoc all of you created in NYC?” Poor Meg was branded a lunatic, mumbling to store windows when it was a communication portal so we could talk while I was in Tartarus. Some people still remembered that.
He shrugged. “Yes, well I guess Persephone and some others might misunderstand that I was simply indulging my curiosity.”
He’d be indulging all right, and not in the academics.
He waved a languid hand and I was back in my room, amidst the chaos of heaped clothes and new bedding to be packed.
On the bed was a box, beautifully gift wrapped in gold, with a tag that read, “Sharisse, no tricks, I promise. L, H.”Should I believe him, and open it, or go by past experience?
Don't know the whole story? Catch up- first with
And tell Sharisse if she should open the box...
And if you're going back to school, have a great year and much success!
And if you're going back to school, have a great year and much success!