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CHAPTER THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY-EIGHT
Hedone smiled at Jill. Her eyes glanced to Tanesha.
“Nice dress,” Hedone said.
“I could say the same to you,” Tanesha said.
Hedone looked down at her golden dress and scowled. Glancing at Tanesha, her eyes flicked to the courtroom behind them. The court of Olympus was in disarray. The Titans were shouting at Zeus and the Olympian crowd was arguing with each other. Tired of being challenged, Zeus randomly threw lightning bolts. Hedone groaned and shook her head.
“Ready to go home?” Hedone asked. “To Denver, I mean. I know I am!”
“Go?” Tanesha asked. “They’re…”
“They’re often like that,” Hedone said. “What started it?”
“Zeus wanted to keep you here in Olympus,” Jill said.
“That would do it,” Hedone said with a smile and a nod. “How did I get here?”
“You were shot,” Jill said.
“Shot? Me?” Hedone asked. “Who would shoot me?”
“The guy who financed the websites which sold the rape videos,” Tanesha said. “You know, and Sandy’s videos too. He tried to steal my mom and make her his slave and he paid someone to shoot you and Tink — but don’t worry, he didn’t get Tink — and…”
Hedone gave a solemn nod.
“Shall we go now?” Hedone asked.
“You don’t care?” Jill asked.
“If we want to get out of here, we’d do well to go now,” Hedone said. “Who started it?”
“My father’s parents,” Jill said.
“Crius and Eurybia?” Hedone smiled. “They are good friends. I assume Artemis and Apollo were the ones who pushed it over the edge.”
“Those guys.” Tanesha pointed to where the twins and their friend were laughing and talking to each other. They seemed oblivious to the hysterics being played out in front of them.
“They remind me of someone,” Jill said. “I just can’t place it.”
“Seriously?” Hedone asked. “Male-female identical twins and their handsome friend. You can’t place them?”
“Yeah,” Jill said. “Familiar but…”
Hedone laughed. She looked up into the crowd and the twins waved.
“We should get out of here,” Hedone said.
“But…” Tanesha said.
“Now,” Hedone said.
She waved to the twins and the male twin, Apollo, jumped down to the center of the court.
“We demand that this matter be brought before the entire court,” Apollo said.
“I don’t have to do what you ask…” Zeus railed at Apollo. He began to scream, “You are not Zeus!”
Apollo glanced at Hedone.
“Now,” Hedone said.
She grabbed Jill left elbow and Tanesha’s right elbow. The next thing they knew, they were standing at the nursery at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Denver.
“Do you know which one is mine?” Hedone asked.
Jill pointed to a baby near the back.
“Tink took him to Seth’s,” Jill said. “They’d just brought him back to the hospital when I got here to help you.”
“He’s very beautiful,” Hedone smiled.
The Goddess leaned forward to get a better look at her son.
“Um, Heather?” Tanesha asked.
She pointed to Hedone’s golden dress.
“And your skin…” Tanesha touched Hedone’s gold tinted arm.
“Where is my husband?” Hedone asked.
“He’s…” Jill started.
Hedone grabbed her and Tanesha’s elbows. They were standing at the protective glass in Blane’s room. Blane was pacing back and forth in his room. Seeing them, he came up to the window.
“Heather?” Blane asked.
“Hedone,” the Goddess said.
“Heather told me I might meet you one day,” Blane said.
“Did she give you a message?” the Goddess asked.
“She told me to tell you that your soul and mine were mated in this lifetime,” Blane said. “We are soul mated for all time.”
“What about Psyche?” Hedone asked. The Goddess sneered at the mention of her mother’s name.
“Your mother is off with your father,” Blane said.
“On who’s authority?” Hedone asked.
“Perses,” Blane said.
Hedone didn’t respond. She stared at Blane.
“Your soul…” Hedone said. She touched her chest. “… and me?”
“We have two sons and a teenage daughter,” Blane said. “I’m recovering from…”
Hedone cut him off with a quick nod. She held her hand up to the glass. Blane looked at her gold-tinged hand for a moment before putting his up on the other side of the glass. Hedone and Blane locked eyes. For a moment, it seemed like the whole world stopped moving. Hedone smiled.
“I love you,” Hedone said with a wide grin. “Me! I actually love you!”
She spun in place with joy.
“And you love me?” Hedone asked.
“I do,” Blane said.
There was a mighty crack of light and Zeus appeared. Hedone groaned.
“I will never allow this,” Zeus said. He shook his fists at Hedone. “A human! A human! Hedone are you mad?”
Hedone looked at Tanesha and Jill.
“You have to save me,” Hedone said under her breath.
“How?” Tanesha asked.
“You have defied me for the last time!” Zeus said and stepped toward Hedone.
Jill touched his forearm as he passed.
“Sir?” Jill asked.
The ruler turned to look into her eyes. For a moment, they stared at each other. The great Zeus took a full breath. And then another. He was still staring at Jill when Apollo and Artemis appeared. They looked from Zeus to Jill. Apollo clapped Jill on the back.
“Well done,” Artemis said in a low tone to Jill. In a louder voice, she said, “Come on, Zeus. Let’s get you home.”
“Home?” Zeus looked up from Jill to see Artemis for the first time. His face broke out into a big smile, and he said, “Hera.”
He smiled at Jill. Artemis put her hand on Zeus’s arm and the three disappeared.
“I knew you could do it,” Hedone said. “Now, where is my human body?”
Tanesha and Jill guided Hedone to the recovery room.
“Oh I wondered where you’d gone,” the recovery nurse said.
Jill and Tanesha blocked the nurse’s view of Heather.
“My father needed some help,” Jill said.
“Nice dress,” the recovery nurse said. She smiled at Tanesha. “You’re Miss T.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Tanesha said. “Heather is my best friend.”
The nurse moved past Tanesha to the bed. When they turned, they noticed that Heather’s skin shone with a slight golden light.
“She’s waking up,” the nurse said. She leaned over Heather, “Heather? Can you hear us?”
“Give me a minute,” the nurse said. She pushed Jill and Tanesha away from the bed and pulled the curtain closed.
“What did you do?” Tanesha asked in a low voice.
“I made Zeus grow up,” Jill said with a smile.
Tanesha clapped her hands together and laughed. Jill nodded.
“Ladies?” The recovery nurse pushed the curtain back. “Heather would love to see you. Because of the surgery, she cannot speak.”
As they passed her, the nurse touched Jill’s arm.
“No drama,” the nurse said. “She’s weak and has been through hell. She has a long way to come back from all of this.”
“We’ll be careful,” Jill said.
“We love her,” Tanesha said.
The nurse nodded and let them pass.
“Heather?” Tanesha said.
Heather held up her right hand. Tanesha grabbed her right hand. Jill went to Heather’s left side. Unable to speak, Heather pointed to Tanesha’s dress.
“We were in Olympia,” Tanesha whispered.
Heather made her eyes go wide with surprise. She gestured for them to tell her everything. So they did.
Sunday morning — 8:25 a.m.
“What are you thinking?” Mari asked Otis.
He was standing in front of the bedroom’s full length mirror tightening his tie. He looked through the mirror to her. She was standing by the edge of the bed. She had changed back into the pink tutu uniform of the Fairy Corps. She was so lovely that he smiled.
“I was thinking about the girl who drove me here,” Otis said. He turned his attention back to his tie. “She loved me.”
He nodded to himself and turned around.
“I’ll never lie to you,” Otis said. “But I wonder, have I hurt you?”
“No,” Mari smiled. Her hands were up as she fixed her long hair into a bun. “I like that you don’t lie.”
“Would you like to know where your driver is?” Mari asked.
“It’s been two days?” Otis asked.
“Day and a half,” Mari said.
“I imagine she’s in Silverton,” Otis said.
“Did you do something to her?” Otis asked.
“I felt badly for the girl,” Mari said. “I effectively stole her rich boyfriend from her. That’s not a very nice thing to do to another girl. Us girls have to stick together.”
Otis smiled and walked to her.
“Why don’t you use magic to hold up your hair?” Otis asked.
“It either stays too long,” Mari said. “Or falls down when you don’t want it to. One time I was late and Abi was mad, so I cast a hasty spell to put it up. It was up in a bun for more than a hundred years. Abi laughed every time she saw me.”
“Not a long time for a fairy, but too long for a bun,” Otis said with a nod.
He kissed the back of her neck.
“Exactly,” Mari said.
“And my driver?” Otis asked.
“She met a guy on the plane back to Denver,” Mari said. “He was taking a spontaneous trip to Denver. It’s true love. They are driving from Denver to Silverton as we speak.”
“They’ll be happy together?” Otis asked.
“Very,” Mari smiled. “It doesn’t hurt that she has the money you left for her. Well, and the Silverton house is gorgeous.”
“That’s very good,” Otis said with a nod. “Thank you.”
“Will you buy me a house?” Mari asked.
“Do you want a house?” Otis smiled.
“Where would you have a house?” Otis asked with a grin.
There was a noise from the main room of the suite. Otis’s eyes shifted to the door of this bedroom.
“I was planning on slipping out of here,” Mari said. “But I realize that’s not the best thing for you.”
“I’ll be fine,” Otis said.
Mari held her wand over her head. In a blink of an eye, she was standing in a floor length rust colored fox jacket. Her practical fairy corps shoes turned into five inch stilettos. She pulled the jacket up around her face. With a wave of her hand, she was wearing overstated make up. Otis scowled at her.
“Yes, I’m aware that I look like a prostitute,” Mari grinned. “You’re my high-class client.”
“We can pass by the room and no one will look twice at us,” Mari said.
“Good.” Otis nodded to her.
She leaned into him and kissed his cheek. Her cheap lipstick smudged on his cheek. He moved to wipe it off.
“Leave it,” Mari said.
“Are we ready?” Otis asked.
“Yes, my love,” Mari said.
She was so surprised by her words that she stopped moving. Her mouth opened and closed. She shook herself head to toe.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me,” Mari said.
“You’re in love?” Otis asked.
“It’s all right,” Otis said “I feel strongly as well.”
“Something akin to that,” Otis smiled. “Psychopaths such as myself aren’t able to feel actual love.”
“Good point,” Mari said.
“I will never lie to you,” Otis said.
Mari smiled and they kissed. He smiled at her and held out his arm. They walked out of the room by the door Mari had created from the room to the hallway. They went only a few feet before encountering yellow police tape.
A uniformed policeman in a Tyvek contamination suit with a respirator stood at the tape. A team of people moved into the room.
“What’s happened here, officer?” Mari laced enough magic in the spell for him to tell her.
“Horrible business,” the policeman said.
“Murder?” Otis asked.
The policeman shook his head. Behind him two people wearing Tyvek suits with the label Experiri Genetics on the back pushed a gurney into the suite. An elderly man wearing gear with the same logo caught sight of Otis and stopped short.
“Plague,” the policeman said.
“Plague?” Mari purred.
“The worst thing I’ve ever seen,” the policeman said. “Ever. Most of the men have these massive bulging…”
The policeman demonstrated on his arm. The elderly man from Experiri Genetics walked to the policeman. Mari glanced at him and then at Otis.
“They have disgusting black tumors. Some of them burst open.” The policeman made a disgusted face. He leaned forward. “There’s blood all over the suite. Ceiling. Floor. Every wall. Windows. Most murder scenes don’t have this much gore!”
“Yuck,” Mari said. She pursed her pretend prostitute lips.
“The maid who found them?” the policeman nodded. “She’s in the hospital. They’re not sure she’ll make it. This shit is that infectious!”
Mari winced. She’d forgotten about the maid. Otis squeezed her hand.
“And…” the policeman continued.
The two men from Experiri Genetics pushed the gurney out of the room. Otis’s son was strapped to the gurney. The financier was alive and in considerable pain. The gurney caught the door frame and the financier’s head lolled to the side. He saw Otis for the first time. The financier’s eye went wide. His mouth opened but no sound came out. Unmoved by their patient’s distress, the Experiri Genetics people banged against the doorframe a few more times before managing to wheel him into the hallway.
“You coming?” One of the Experiri Genetics people yelled to the elderly man.
The elderly man took one last look at Otis before turning in place and following them to the elevator.
“What about that one?” Otis asked.
“Some weird variant of the virus,” the policeman said. “Seems to have caused his dick — sorry, ma’am — to explode and destroyed his voice. Those guys are from some genetics company. They’re taking him to run studies. Human guinea pig.”
“He’s alive?” Mari asked.
“Define alive,” the policeman said. “He can’t talk. The virus paralyzed him. He’s completely helpless. He’s on the line for child rape and kiddy porn. He had a deal with the government, which would have gotten him off. But now that he’s useless, his lawyers settled for him to go to a SuperMax prison. These guys’ll keep him instead.”
The policeman shrugged. Otis looked up as the gurney was pushed onto the elevator. The elderly man gave Otis one last long look before stepping on the elevator.
“Anyway, they’ve got this whole end of the hallway blocked off,” the policeman said. “You should go back the way you came. There’s an elevator at the other end of the hall.”
“Thank you, officer,” Otis said.
“You can thank me by sharing your….” The policeman rose his eyebrows.
“This one would cost you much, much more than you’d ever want to give,” Otis said.
Mari leaned over to kiss Otis’s cheek.
“Probably true,” the police officer said.
Otis smiled and Mari winked at the policeman. They turned around and made their way to the other elevator.
“Who was that guy?” Mari asked. “The one with the genetics company.”
“Someone I met in Kenya a long, long time ago,” Otis said. “He’s the one who found something in my blood.”
“He’s the one who tried to steal your grandson?” Mari asked. “Should I kill him?”
“Nah,” Otis said. “Without him, they wouldn’t’ be so interested in my son.”
The elevator door opened and Otis turned to Mari.
“Fox?” he asked and stroked her fur coat.
“Fairy fox,” Mari said.
They stepped onto the elevator. They had dropped ten floors before Otis had to ask.
“What is a fairy fox?” Otis asked.
“Promise you won’t laugh?” Mari asked.
“I won’t laugh,” Otis said.
“It’s not real,” Mari said. “I could never kill an animal.”
“You said you wouldn’t laugh,” Mari said. “Are you disappointed that I’m not as heartless as I seem?”
“I have not been disappointed by you,” Otis said. “No.”
They traveled down another ten floors before she dared to look at him.
“I’m a vegetarian,” Mari said.
“I knew that wasn’t meat,” Otis said.
“Last night?” Mari blushed. “I just couldn’t stand the suffering of animals. Do you mind?”
He pulled her to him and kissed her hard. She was breathless when he released her.
“This must have been very hard for you,” Otis said.
“I told you before,” Mari said, “I hate evil humans.”
“I’m going to enjoy being a vegetarian,” Otis said.
Mari clapped her hands in a little cheer. He held out his hand to her.
“Let’s put this mess behind us,” Otis said.
She took his hand and they walked out of the building.
Sunday morning — 11:25 a.m.
New York, NY
Sandy had hoped Sissy would be well enough for the doctors to reduce her medications. Sandy had hoped that Sissy would be well enough to wake up. Sandy had hoped that Sissy would be well enough to talk to her.
How many times had she silently wished that Sissy would stop talking? From the moment she arrived, Sissy had been the noisiest child. As an infant, she’d wailed so loud that their mother had left the house to avoid hearing her. Sissy had babbled non-stop. She learned to talk early and would entertain their dying father with her long stories about nothing.
Mitch had loved Sissy’s words. He’d encouraged her to talk. When her voice lagged, he’d ask her questions until she was chatting again. She had so much to say that Mitch’s last moments in this world were filled with the sound of them. Then he died, and Sissy kept talking.
Sandy spent hours listening to Sissy when she was first in the eating disorder clinic. At that time, their mother played the “feel sorry for me my daughter is sick” card. Family therapy revolved around her mother’s pouting and not Sissy’s words.
Sandy wiped a tear from her eye. Aden had taken Noelle back to Denver. Seth was here, but busy with Ivan and the ballet company. Sandy picked up Sissy’s limp hand. This was her turn to be alone with Sissy. She felt very, very alone.
She was so exhausted from the lack of sleep and her strong emotions that every once and a while she saw a flash of light. She knew she should tell one of the doctors, but she was too exhausted to deal with the drama. It was probably just a migraine anyway. She rubbed her eyes.
“Ahem!” Sandy heard as clear as day.
She looked up and around. No one was there. Seth had paid to move Sissy into this posh suite. She had her own attendants but they were nowhere to be found. Sandy shook her head at herself. She was losing her mind.
Without warning, her emotions caught up with her. What would Sissy do if Sandy went crazy? What would any of her family do? Aden couldn’t make it a day. She was the only mother Sissy and Charlie had! Noelle, Nash, even Teddy, needed her. That’s not to mention poor Rachel, who Maresol said hadn’t slept more than a few hours since Sandy had been gone. Sandy started to weep.
“Crap,” the little voice said.
Sandy covered her ears and dropped her head to the bed. She started sobbing uncontrollably.
Denver Cereal continues next week…
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