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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-ONE
Monday morning — 8:42 a.m.
Heather woke with a start from a drug induced sleep. She sensed someone was near her, but, because of her injury, she was unable to move her head. She used her nose to see if she could smell who had awoken her. The girlfriends were the only people approved to visit her. But she didn’t smell Sandy’s distinct perfume or Jill’s hair conditioner. She didn’t smell Tanesha’s shea butter lotion either. She closed her eyes again.
“Don’t go to sleep,” Hera said.
Heather’s eyes popped open. She sneered. Just because she couldn’t see Hera didn’t mean Heather couldn’t give her the stink eye.
“I know, I know,” Hera said. “You have every right to be mad.”
Unable to speak, Heather raised her eyebrows.
“Alright, more than mad,” Hera said.
“Well say something,” Hera said. “After all we’ve been through, I’d think you’d at least want to tell me off or…”
Heather gestured to her throat.
“Oh.” Hera sounded genuinely embarrassed. “Sorry.”
Heather felt a warm glow around her gunshot wound and the surgery sites.
“Better?” Hera asked.
“How did you do that?” Heather asked.
“It won’t last,” Hera said. “I just…”
“You want my forgiveness so you can continue your ridiculous fixation with that awful man,” Heather said.
“He likes you,” Hera said of Zeus.
“I have a vagina,” Heather said.
“He’s better,” Hera said, “less fixated ever since your friend, Perses daughter, touched him.”
“And?” Heather asked.
“I betrayed you and our friendship,” Hera said.
Heather gave an indignant snort.
“Who told you to say that?” Heather asked.
“Your friend, Tanesha,” Hera stood up and leaned over the bed. Heather could see her face for the first time. “You are lucky to have such friends. I’ve never had friends like that.”
Heather gave her an irritated look.
“Except you.” Hera looked embarrassed. “Of course.”
Heather couldn’t help but chuckle.
“And the Charities?” Hera asked.
Heather looked at Hera and the women laughed.
“They are awful,” Hera said. “Have they noticed that you’re living with humans now?”
“Not that I know of,” Heather said.
Hera shook her head at the selfish sisters.
“They are just into their own things,” Heather said. “Everything and everyone else is outside their dance.”
Thinking of the Charities, the women fell silent for a moment.
“Why do you stay with him?” Heather asked to change the subject.
“Remind me again,” Heather said. “Why did we save him from the sea of amber?”
Hera shrugged. Heather shook her head.
“Your husband, Blane. He…” Hera started. She stopped talking for a moment, before starting again. “Blane truly loves you, even though you’re not sexual partners.”
“I looked into his heart,” Hera said. “It’s full of you, your children, your life. There’s a tiny spot for another, but mostly it’s full of you.”
“You know how rare that is,” Hera said.
“I am really lucky,” Heather said.
“You’ve had human families,” Heather said in a low tone.
Hera didn’t respond.
“You loved them,” Heather said. Hera made a soft sound. “And they loved you.”
“Mm-hm,” Hera said. Heather looked up to see tears in Hera’s eyes.
“So why didn’t you support me coming back to Denver?” Heather asked. “To Blane and my children?”
“I…” Hera started.
Hera’s eyes begged for Heather’s understanding. Inside, the loving part of Heather battled for understanding. She was too angry to listen. Heather gave Hera a dark look.
“I don’t know,” Hera said. “It’s fun being the queen?”
“You deserve more than a title and a louse for a husband.”
“So do you,” Hera said. Her head bobbed up and down. “I should have been a better friend and supported you in court. I didn’t, and I’m sorry.”
Heather saw the sorrow and remorse on her friend’s face and her anger slipped away.
“I understand,” Heather said.
“To show you that I’m truly sorry, I have done a few things,” Hera said.
“Uh oh,” Heather said.
Hera mock hit Heather and they laughed.
“What have you done?” Heather asked.
“I’ve ensured clear sailing for your husband’s recovery,” Hera said. “No snags, illnesses, or issues. He will get better and never have another problem.”
“Wow, thank you, Hera!” Heather said.
“That may bring up other problems…”
“Not with me,” Heather said. “I only want for him to be healthy and happy. We are a family.”
“Yes,” Hera said.
She didn’t disguise the envy in her face. Heather held out her arm and hugged Hera.
“I also…” Hera started.
Heather let go of Hera and the Goddess moved back.
“I gave a little boost to Tiffanie,” Hera said.
“She’ll have a little goddessness in her,” Hera said.
“Scary,” Heather said.
“Says one who is a Goddess,” Hera said.
“Half,” they said in unison.
“Like being half of an Olympian diminishes your power,” Hera said.
“I didn’t tell him where you are,” Hera said referring to her husband.
Heather raised her eyebrows in an “you sure?” gesture. Hera nodded emphatically.
“He doesn’t know?”
“No,” Hera said. “And I covered your life so he’ll never know.”
“What?” Heather asked.
“He’ll never know you live here,” Hera said. “Not ever.”
“That’s a real gift,” Heather said. She looked off in the distance for a moment before her eyes turned to Hera. “What do you want in return?”
“I want to be your children’s aunt,” Hera said.
“Aunt Hera?” Heather asked,
“Why not?” Hera asked. “You of all people know how much I love human children.”
“I’ll have to talk to Blane,” Heather said.
“He already said it was okay,” Hera said.
“You talked to Blane?” Heather asked.
“How else would I know he was so great?” Hera asked. She bat her eyes and blushed. “He’s very handsome.”
Smiling, Heather nodded.
“He said that kids need as much love as they can possibly ever have,” Hera quoted Blane. “He wants many more children. I hope you’re up to it.”
“The more the merrier,” Heather said with a nod.
“So what do you say?” Hera asked.
“I need to talk to Blane,” Heather said.
“Probably,” Heather said.
Hera bounced up and down and clapped like a school girl. Heather grinned.
“You’ve been very generous,” Heather said.
Hera beamed at Heather.
“I have to go back when he needs me, right?” Heather asked. “That’s why he sent you here.”
“Sorry,” Hera said.
“At least I won’t be in this bed anymore,” Heather said with a smile.
Hera looked around her and scowled. Heather started to laugh and Hera joined in.
“You will heal,” Hera said. “You’ll be out of here in no time.”
“Good,” Heather said. “I want to be with my babies, Tink, and Blane.”
“Any word from Eros?” Heather asked.
“Oh,” Hera sighed. “There’s something about a love affair between some kind of sea creature and a young man.”
“Something to do while on vacation,” Heather said.
“The man is a menace.”
Heather smiled. After a moment, she sat up and looked at Hera.
“You’re with Zeus because of my father,” Heather said.
“That’s why you were always around,” Heather said.
“Trying to get him to null the arrow,” Hera said. “My husband was in the sea of amber. I wanted a new life.”
“Eros is happy to give me more love, but won’t take away the magic which ties me to Zeus,” Hera said.
Heather shook her head in disgust.
“Can you?” Hera asked.
“I can try,” Heather said.
“I’m kind of used to Zeus,” Hera said. “What would I do without him?”
“Be happy,” Heather said.
“We’ll see,” Hera nodded. “I should go, and you should rest.”
Heather nodded and lay back down.
“Listen to your queen,” Hera said with a chuckle.
Heather rolled her eyes.
“Rest,” Hera said.
Hera hugged her and kissed her cheek before disappearing. Heather lay there for a moment staring at the ceiling. She remembered her first day at Catholic School. She sat near the back of the class to avoid being noticed. Tanesha sat in the front row. They were learning about Olympic Gods. The teacher described Hera as a bitter screw who terrorized Olympia in jealous fits over her unfaithful husband. The teacher had no sooner finished the story than Tanesha’s hand shot up.
“Hera’s a Goddess, right?” Tanesha had asked.
“That’s correct,” the teacher had said. “The Goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth.”
“Then why would she stay with that cheating, good for nothing husband?” Tanesha had asked.
The question caused Heather to sit up in her seat. While the teacher had babbled for a while about what he thought Hera was or did, Heather evaluated Tanesha. The girl in front of her was clearly different. Heather and Tanesha met later that day at recess and had been best friends ever since.
Heather smiled. Hera brought all kinds of things in to her life.
The nurse came in to check on her. When she asked how Heather was doing, Heather opened her mouth to speak. Her voice was gone again. The nurse nodded and reminded Heather that her vocal cords were paralyzed until the doctors felt she had healed. The nurse gave her more pain meds and Heather closed her eyes. She fell asleep thinking of Hera.
Monday afternoon— 12:42 p.m.
New York City, NY
Ivan squeezed Sissy’s hand and got up from his chair in Sissy’s private hospital room. He’d spent most of the morning holding Sissy’s hand and chatting with Sandy and Delphie. Sissy was awake and listening in a drugged out state.
“I will come after I’m done exercising the boys,” Ivan said with a cocky grin at his joke.
He gave an emotion-laced bow and left. They heard Ivan’s progress down the hallway through the open door. Ivan left giggling women in his wake. A woman looked into the room.
“Who was that?” the woman asked.
“He’s a ballerino with the American Ballet Theater,” Sandy said. “Ivan.”
“He’s yours?” the woman asked.
She gave Sandy an assessing glance. Her eyes passed over Delphie and ignored Sissy completely. When Sandy didn’t respond, the woman raised her eyebrows.
“He belongs to himself.” Sissy’s voice came out in croaking syllables. Surprised by the sound, Sandy got up and went to sit on the bed.
“But… I mean… you…” the woman fumbled with words.
Delphie smiled at her and closed the door in her face. As if to protect them against the hoard, Delphie pretended to lean against the door. Sandy gave a light applause for Delphie’s performance and Sissy chuckled. The sound brought Sandy’s attention back to Sissy.
“How are you, Sis?” Sandy asked.
Sissy nodded in such a way to indicate that it was too hard to talk. She gestured to the side where she’d been shot. Sandy nodded.
“I bet it hurts!” Sandy said to empathize. She leaned over and kissed Sissy’s cheek.
“Water?” Sissy asked.
Sandy held up a cup of ice chips. Sissy nodded. Sandy put a few chips on Sissy’s tongue. Sissy never liked people hovering over her, so Sandy shifted away from her. Sissy grabbed Sandy’s hand and whimpered at the effort. Sandy turned to look at Sissy.
“Can you tell me about Ivan?” Sissy asked in puffs of air.
“What about Ivan?” Sandy asked.
Sissy flicked her eyes toward Delphie. Sandy turned to look at Delphie.
“I think she means you,” Sandy said.
Delphie’s face broke into a smile but her eyes were etched with concern. Sandy nodded to the unasked question.
“It’s time,” Sandy said.
Just then, Sissy’s nurse came into the room. She glanced at Sandy and Delphie before going to Sissy’s bedside.
“Your sister is very ill,” the nurse said as she checked Sissy’s vitals. “She’s not up for drama.”
“Yes,” Delphie said with a smile.
“Is this about the gentleman who just left?” the nurse asked.
She looked down at Sissy.
“Ivan,” Sissy whispered.
The nurse glanced at Sandy and then back at Sissy.
“How is your pain?” the nurse asked Sissy.
Rather than respond, Sissy looked away. Sandy’s eyebrows pinched together with worry.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” the nurse said. She looked pointed at Sandy and Delphie. “I’ll give you ten minutes. Then, I’m coming back in with pain and sleeping meds. The man is gone. She can sleep the rest of the day.”
The nurse nodded to Sandy and Delphie.
“Don’t upset her,” the nurse said. She gave them one more stern look before leaving the room.
“Phew!” Abi appeared next to Sissy’s bed. “I thought Nurse Sourpuss would never leave!”
Sissy smiled at Abi. The fairy leaned down to kiss Sissy’s cheek. Sissy’s hand went to stroke the bulge in Abi’s abdomen.
“For luck,” Sissy whispered.
“Give him a good stroke, Sissy,” Abi said.
She put her hands on her hips and stuck her belly out. Sissy pet the fairy’s stomach.
“You want to give it a try?” Abi said to Sandy and Delphie.
“Where did you learn that?” Sandy asked as she reached across the bed to touch Abi’s stomach.
“Ivan,” Sissy and Abi said together and laughed.
The nurse stuck her head in the room, and they choked back a laugh.
“That’s better,” the nurse said.
“You’d better tell Sissy the story,” Abi said. “Or we’ll run out of time.”
Delphie gave Abi a full look.
“Yes, Oracle, I’m nosey,” Abi said. Her face flushed. “I want to know the story too.”
“Sissy?” Delphie asked.
Sissy’s hand came up in a vague wave. Delphie nodded and walked to the window. She looked out for a moment before turning back to Sissy and the room.
“It all starts with Mitch,” Delphie said.
“Tell you what,” Abi shook her head. “Why don’t you think it and I’ll make it happen?”
Delphie scowled and Sandy shrugged.
“It’s faster,” Abi said.
Delphie gave an acquiescing nod. Abi pointed to an area of the room and a mullioned window appeared.
“Seth’s house,” Sandy said.
“Exactly,” Delphie said.
The scene unfolded in front of them.
Mitch Delgado sat on the edge of a hospital bed. His skin was grey and his breath ragged. Alone in the room, he pulled the IVs out of his arm. Each action took tremendous effort. He pulled out an IV and stopped to catch his breath. When his arm was free of needles, he moved to the sensors on his chest. One at a time, he pulled off the round leads until the machines started to scream. He tried to stand but the effort was too much for him. He fell on the monitor of the screeching heartrate machine. He slipped off the monitor and fell to the base of the machine. Still fighting, he grabbed the power cord and gave it a good yank. The heavy end of the cord flew out of the socket and hit him in the eye with a solid “whap.”
He passed out. Holding a damp dish towel, Maresol rushed into the room. She glanced at the bed and panicked.
“Mitch!” she screamed.
He grunted. She went to him.
“I should just leave you there,” Maresol said.
“I have to know,” Mitch said in a solid burst.
He paid for it with gasping breathes. He looked up at her with such desperation that the anger on her face melted. The love between them was palpable. She knelt down to help him up. Cancer had made a shell out of tall, muscular Mitch Delgado, but he was still too heavy for her. She only got half way up and they fell again. Unsure of what to do, Maresol held Mitch’s head against her chest.
“Have… to… know…” Mitch said.
“She can come here,” Maresol said.
Mitch tried to speak but ended up gasping for breath. When he could, he said, “O’Malley.”
“You rang?” Seth’s voice came from the doorway.
“This ridiculous man doesn’t want you to know that he’s going to see Delphie about Charlie and Sissy,” Maresol said.
As if what she’d said was the most normal thing in the world, Seth gave her a curt nod. He came over to where they lay. He pushed the monitors out of the way before kneeling down. He grabbed Mitch under his arm and started to lift him. For a moment, they hung in the air — Mitch’s heavy weight versus Seth’s strength. Seth won. He dropped Mitch on the bed before leaning down to help Maresol up.
“That’s going to be a nice shiner,” Seth said.
Mitch was too done in to respond. Seth gave him an oxygen mask and Mitch gave him the finger. Seth laughed. Maresol expertly replaced his IVs while Seth returned the sensors to his chest. They all breathed a sigh of relief when the heart rate monitor began an even rhythmic beep. Mitch pulled of his mask to speak.
“I need to know,” Mitch said.
“From Delphie?” Seth asked. His face reflected his irritation.
Mitch started to pull of his mask. He held it an inch from his face for a moment before he nodded.
“Why?” Seth asked.
“He wants to know what is going to happen in Charlie and Sissy’s lives,” Maresol said. “He won’t be here so he wants to manipulate their futures now.”
“Some things are simply not in your control.” Seth shook his head.
Mitch pointed to Seth.
“Oh I see,” Seth chuckled. “It’s in my control.”
Grinning, Mitch nodded.
“The woman is annoying as hell,” Seth said.
Seth’s voice held the tone of a warning. Mitch pointed to Seth.
“So am I?” Seth asked.
Seth laughed. He looked at Maresol. Her face implored him to do something to help. Seth looked up at the heavens.
“Fine,” Seth said. “But don’t say I didn’t warn you. She’s exactly what you hate — one of those ‘I didn’t go to the Nam’ Sixty’s flower children, who never grew up.”
“She is a powerful Oracle,” Maresol said. “The only one of her kind.”
“And?” Seth asked.
“A Sixty’s flower child,” Maresol said. “She was never in Vietnam.”
Maresol shook her head at Delphie’s military service. Seth pointed to Mitch.
“Don’t you dare complain,” Seth said.
Mitch pulled off the oxygen mask.
“Agreed,” Mitch said.
He and Seth shared a long look brought about by a lifetime of friendship. Mitch gave Seth a cocky grin.
“No complaints,” Seth pointed at Mitch again.
Mitch gestured, “Me?”
“Seth,” Maresol said.
Seth looked at Maresol.
“She can be here tonight,” Maresol said. “Should I call her?”
“Please,” Seth said.
Just then, the picture disappeared and Abi shrank. Sissy’s nurse came in the door. It had been ten minutes and it was time for Sissy to sleep. A few minutes later, Sissy was asleep.
Sandy glanced at Delphie, who shrugged. They settled in to watch and wait while Sissy slept.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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