For your reading pleasure, Chapter 6 of Huntress: Of Gods & Men, the story that probably should have been but never will be.
Every time I read these old scribblings, I long to finish the story. Perhaps even market it as a YA fantasy? But too many projects already have my attention and I fear I couldn’t do dear Erica the justice she deserves.
We continued to talk until the sun broke along the horizon. I watched as lights began coming on inside the house and I patted Alejo’s shoulder. “It might be best if you weren’t here when my parents are up.”
He sighed and dropped his head. “I suppose you’re right.” He stood and stretched then turned to me. “Come find me when you’re ready to finish learning about us.”
“How do you know so much?” I asked, standing and walking alongside him.
“The gods told me. Every time I travel to Olympus, I learn something new.” He smiled at me again and it was just as brilliant as the first time I saw it. “You should come with me sometime.”
My eyes widened. “I didn’t think…”
“What? That you’d be welcome?”
I shook my head. “No. That I could. I mean, that’s your gods’ home. My gods don’t live there.”
He laughed again and stepped back, fading from view slightly. “You’re a demigod. You can travel wherever you wish.”
And with that, he slipped away. I had no idea where he had gone but he was truly gone. The energy that bound us when we are near had faded to nothing. I reached out and waved my hand through the space he had just been and there was nothing. Empty air.
I sighed as I walked back toward the house. He had only just left but I already missed him. I pushed open the door and could smell the coffee brewing. Mother was just beginning breakfast so I knew that father would be here soon. I heard the bacon sizzle as she placed it into the pan and I smiled. My father does love his bacon.
“You’re up early.” Her voice actually surprised me. I suppose my mind was preoccupied.
“I didn’t sleep last night.” I slid in around her and reached for a coffee cup.
“No coffee. It will stunt your growth.”
I shot her a smile and reached for the pot anyway. “I’m nearly as tall as father. I think my growth could use some stunting.” She watched me pour the dark liquid and said nothing more about it as I sat at the table and enjoyed the aromas.
“So why didn’t you sleep? Something on your mind?”
I paused mid-sip and stared at the back of her head. I knew better than to lie but I didn’t think she’d understand if I told her the truth. I set the cup down and bit at my lower lip, my mind racing.
“I was talking to a friend.”
She paused but didn’t turn around. “A friend, eh? Somebody I know?”
I shook my head. “I don’t think so. We actually just met ourselves.”
She nodded as she continued turning the bacon. “So does your friend have a name?”
“Alejo. He’s Greek.”
She stiffened then turned slowly. “He’s not the demigod you’re supposed to kill, is he?”
I shrugged slowly. “Maybe.”
Mother groaned and turned back to her bacon. “You’re too big for me to spank, but you better get your head on straight young lady. If your father finds out…”
“Finds out what?”
We both jumped as he spoke. I turned to see him staring at us, his eyes narrowing.
“It would seem that your daughter isn’t sleeping at nights.” Mother was quick on her feet but I didn’t know she was so adept at ‘handling’ him. “She stayed up all night and now she’s drinking coffee.”
Father’s face fell and he turned to me. “I can’t say that I blame you. Nectar of the gods, that is.” He pulled his own mug and poured half the carafe into it. I watched him reach around mother and pluck a piece of bacon from the pan.
“Quit it!” She slapped at his hand with a fork but he stuffed the piece of meat into his mouth then straddled the chair across from me.
“You aren’t sleeping?”
I shrugged. “Only sometimes. I just wasn’t tired.”
He nodded, studying me. He turned his attention back to mother. “Tex drop off the files for me?”
“They’re in your office.” She spun and placed the platter of bacon in front of him and a plate of fried eggs. “Your protein my dear.” She leaned down and kissed the top of his head.
“Thank the gods your mother loves me.” He shoved a handful of the bacon into his mouth and closed his eyes as he savored each bite.
“So, I think I’m going to go to Greece today.” I sipped the coffee and waited for his reaction.
“What’s in Greece?” He didn’t look up from his eggs and I was somewhat surprised that he wasn’t shocked I announced I was leaving the country.
“The target that Thor assigned me.” I reached across the table and snuck a slice of bacon. He narrowed his eyes at me and I swear, there was a low growl that came from him as he watched me eat it.
Mother slapped at him as she set a plate in front of me. I had the same thing as father, just not the same amount. The man ate for a small army. I watched his hand reach across for my food and mother slapped him again.
“She took one of mine.” He sounded like a child as he argued.
“You’ll live.” She turned to me and I caught her raised brows. “How long do you think you’ll be gone?”
“I honestly don’t know.” I chewed hoping she wouldn’t expand on what I had told her.
She sipped her coffee in silence and we waited until father was done and escaped to his office. I knew it was coming and tried to prepare myself. When she was sure he was behind closed doors she turned on me.
“What do you think will happen if Thor finds out that you’ve befriended your target?”
I had to avoid her eyes. I knew what would happen and I didn’t want to think about it. “Mother, he’s too lovely to kill.”
For a moment I thought she had been frozen in place, mouth open, eyes wide. Finally she blinked so I knew she was still alive.
“Did you say ‘too lovely’?”
I swallowed hard and nodded slowly.
“You are entirely too young to think that anybody is lovely!” I didn’t know it was possible to yell at a whisper, but she accomplished it.
I held my hands up and tried to calm her but she couldn’t be calmed. “You are just a child! And…he’s a…boy!”
“Boys don’t really have cooties, mother.”
“Do NOT get smart with me young lady!” She stood and cleared the dishes entirely too enthusiastically. I could hear them threatening to shatter as she tossed them into the sink. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Not only are you going against Thor, but you’re falling for the target.” She continued to rant and I couldn’t take it. I transported myself to my room and prepared a bag.
I know she meant well. She is only concerned for my well-being. She doesn’t want me to make a mistake that I’d one day regret. But every time I thought of Alejo, something inside me told me that it would be wrong to kill him.
Besides, he knew more about being a demi than I ever would. All because his gods believed in him and shared information.
I sat on the bed and pouted that my gods weren’t more open minded like his were.
I felt my anger rising and knew I had to get out of the house. I snatched up my bag and transported myself to Greece.
I stood along the same rocky shores and turned to see the small villa I had visited before. I turned and took the steps leading to the main road and reached out with my feelings, hoping to find whatever it was that had drawn me to him in the first place.
I felt nothing as I strode along the cobblestone paths. I would occasionally stop and allow my mind to reach out, concentrating on him and his amber eyes. His radiant smile. His dark wavy hair.
I spent the better part of the evening searching for him and as the sun set I found myself walking the shores. The sounds of the ocean and the smell of the salt air had a calming effect.
I never felt him approach. I can only assume he stepped out of whatever veil he would disappear into. One moment I was completely alone, the next, I felt him behind me.
I turned slowly and I know that the smile on my face couldn’t be hidden. His matched mine.
“I thought you’d find me. I didn’t think I’d have to come to you again.”
I stepped close to him and he bumped me with his shoulder. Tiny blue arcs crossed between us and I could feel my toes want to curl in the soft sand.
“I didn’t know where you were, so I came to where I found you the first time.”
“I told you about Olympus.” He gave me a look of expectancy. “I sat up there and watched you but you never came.”
I looked up into the darkening sky. “I didn’t know you could see me from there.”
He pointed in the other direction. “There. And yes. The gods watch all of their people from there.”
I blushed. “Am I one of your people now?”
He seemed to sober and his smile faded. “I think you and I are the only two of our people.” His face couldn’t hide the pain he felt.
I suddenly realized that while he was of two different worlds, he never felt that either of them were truly home. He wasn’t truly a god, nor was he fully human. When you are of two lines so fundamentally different from each other, you never really have a place you can call home.
This sudden realization also brought with it a completely new level of confusion. If he and I truly are the only two demigods…shouldn’t we stick together? Shouldn’t we support each other? Shouldn’t we…I had to stop thinking that way. I was suddenly embarrassed at the direction my thinking took me.
It took me a moment to realize what he was asking. I nodded softly and turned from him. “I suppose you’re right. We are the only two.”
“And the gods created them man and woman that they might be fruitful and multiply.”
I spun and stared at him. “What did you say?”
He chuckled and shook his head. “Something from the carpenter’s book. Nothing really.”
He broke away from me and began walking along the shore, the cool water coming in and washing over his feet. I fell into step behind him.
“Tell me what you meant by that.”
He spun around and flashed me his best smile. “Nothing really. It just came to mind.” He bent low and splashed the salt water toward me. “I have a problem with my mouth saying things before my brain can stop it.”
Okay, now that I could relate to.
I side stepped his splashing and closed the distance between us. “What does it mean? What you said.”
He shook off my question. “You want to go someplace fun? I can show you how to get to Olympus.”
I stopped following him and didn’t realize I had assumed my mother’s pose. Both hands on my hips, my brows knitted together. “What does it mean?”
He stopped playing in the water and stared at me. His face became somber and he slowly approached me.
“Nothing really. It’s a reference to when they made men. They also made women. Because the two only work when they’re together. Without one they both die out.” He shrugged and gave me a weak smile. “That’s all. I didn’t really mean anything by it.”
I wasn’t stupid. I knew what the passage meant. I wanted to know what he meant when he uttered the words.
“So you think that since we are the only two demis…and one is male and the other female, that we were created for a reason?”
He reached out and took my hands. I felt the surge of power and didn’t let it distract me. I looked up into his face and his eyes seemed to glow in the moonlight.
“I was hoping.” He gave me a soft smile. “That’s all.”
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as we stood on the edge of the ocean. I stared up at him and watched as he slowly bent, his eyes closing, his lips parting. I knew what was about to come and a part of me was screaming, ‘no, don’t let this happen’ while the biggest part of me was screaming, ‘don’t let it stop’.
I saw no sparks when our lips met. My eyes were closed, too. But I felt the rush of power course through me and felt my chest would explode. It took another moment for my body to adjust and then I felt his lips pressed against my own.
It was glorious. I tingled in places I didn’t know could tingle.
I felt his hand reach down and wrap itself around my waist. I leaned into him and I could feel his tight muscular body pressed against my own. I found my own hands reacting without thought and my fingers were running through that dark wavy hair while my other hand pulled him closer.
I didn’t think we could be any closer but I found myself pulling him tighter to me. I could feel his hands across my back and our tongues met…it was so foreign but felt so right.
Time was at a standstill when we parted and sucked in air. I felt as though I had drank Hildy’s honey wine again as my head swam. I opened my eyes and stared at him. He was just as lovely as the first time I had seen him. He almost seemed to glow, a golden halo of power surrounded him and I watched as his mouth slowly formed a smile.
“That was incredible.”
“Yeah.” I couldn’t think of a way to top what he had just said. Actually, my brain wasn’t really working at all.
It took me a moment to realize that we were still pressed to each other. My hands ran along the length of his arms and I was impressed at the thick muscular ropes he had under his skin. He shouldn’t be allowed to wear clothing that hid such things.
He stepped back slightly and even in the moonlight I could see his face flush. He avoided my gaze and when he let go of me I wanted to snatch his hands and put them right back where they were.
“I’m sorry.” His voice was a whisper, but his words tore at me. “I shouldn’t have just…”
“Don’t be sorry.” I stepped closer to him and lifted his chin so that he was looking at me again. “Nobody touches me that I don’t allow.”
I felt his arms wrap around me again and he pulled me close to him.
I felt like I was finally home.