Aphrodite - Kaitlin Bevis

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Tab le o f C onte n ts
P ra is e f o r K aitl in B ev is ’s D aughte rs o f Z eus . . .
B ooks b y K aitl in B ev is
A phro dite
C opyrig ht
D ed ic ati o n
C hap te r I
C hap te r I I
C hap te r I II
C hap te r I V
C hap te r V
C hap te r V I
C hap te r V II
C hap te r V III
C hap te r I X
C hap te r X
C hap te r X I
C hap te r X II
C hap te r X III
C hap te r X IV
C hap te r X V
C hap te r X VI
C hap te r X VII
C hap te r X VIII
C hap te r I X X
C hap te r X X
C hap te r X XI
C hap te r X XII
C hap te r X XIII
C hap te r X XIV
C hap te r X XV
C hap te r X XVI
C hap te r X XVII
C hap te r X XVIII
C hap te r X XIX
C hap te r X XX
C hap te r X XXI
C hap te r X XXII
C hap te r X XXIII
C hap te r X XXIV
C hap te r X XXV
C hap te r X XXVI

Ple ase v is it th ese w eb site s f o r m ore i n fo rm ati o n a b out K aitl in B ev is
Ackno w le d gem ents
About th e A uth o r

Pra is e f o r K ait lin B ev is ’s
Dau gh te rs o f Z eu s . . .
“ F ro m th e fir s t p ara gra p h, I w as e nth ra lle d w ith th is s to ry . I re ad it a ll in o ne s itti n g a nd e njo yed
e v ery m in ute o f i t. W hat a g re at s p in o n a G re ek m yth ! M ove o ver, R ic k R io rd an!”
— Amazo n T op R ev ie w er, R ita W eb b, A uth o r o f
D aughte r o f t h e G oddess
“ I e njo yed H ad es a nd P ers e p ho ne’s s w eet r o m anti c r e la ti o nsh ip . P ers e p ho ne h as h er f la w s, b ut s h e i s
l ik ab le a nd le arn s a lo ng th e w ay. T he a uth o r’s w riti n g is d esc rip ti v e a nd e nte rta in in g. I a m lo okin g
f o rw ard to th e n ext b ook.”
— Reb ecca F oote @ P ara no rm al M use
“ E very o ne n eed s to c heck th is b ook o ut; I c an’t r a v e e no ugh a b out i t. B ev is i s d efin ite ly a n ew ta le nt
t o k eep a n e ye o ut f o r. I g iv e th is 5 /5 .”
— Sara h B ro w n @ H ead S tu ck i n a B ook
“ I fo und th is b ook to b e a fu n a nd fa st- p aced a d ventu re th ro ugh G re ek m yth o lo gy w ith a m odern
t w is t.”
—Ste p hanie W ard @ A D re am W ith in a D re am
“ P erse p hone
is a fu n, im agin ati v e, s m art r e te llin g o f m y fa v orite m yth , fu sin g m odern c ultu re w ith a
r ic h w orld o f m agic . I h ad s u ch a g re at ti m e r e ad in g th is .”
— Amazo n T op R ev ie w er, M olly R in gle , A uth o r o f
Perse p hone’s O rc h ard
“ T his s to ry w ill c o m ple te ly s u ck y o u i n . . . . T his b ook i s th e f ir s t o f a tr ilo gy a nd I c an’t w ait to s e e
w hat’ s i n s to re f o r th ese a m azin g c hara cte rs .
— Amazo n T op R ev ie w er, M elis sa G ro elin g, A uth o r o f
B ea uty M ark s

Book s b y K ait lin B ev is
The D aughte rs o f Z eus
Perse p hone
Daughte r o f E arth a nd S ky
The I ro n Q ueen

Aphro d it e
by
Kait lin B ev is
Im aJin n B ooks

Copyrig ht
This is a w ork o f f ic tio n. N am es, c hara cte rs , p la ces a nd in cid ents a re e it h er th e p ro ducts o f th e a uth or’s im agin atio n o r a re u se d
fic tit io usly . A ny r e se m bla nce to a ctu al p ers o ns ( liv in g o r d ead), e vents o r lo catio ns is e ntir e ly c oin cid enta l.
Im aJin n B ooks
PO B O X 3 00921
Mem phis , T N 3 8130
Ebook I S B N : 9 78-1 -6 11 94-6 94-9
Prin t I S B N : 9 78-1 -6 11 94-6 76-5
Im aJin n B ooks is a n I m prin t o f B elle B ooks, I n c.
Copyrig ht © 2 016 b y K ait lin B evis
Publis h ed in th e U nit e d S ta te s o f A meric a.
All r ig hts r e se rv ed. N o p art o f th is b ook m ay b e r e pro duced in a ny f o rm o r b y a ny e le ctr o nic o r m echanic al m eans, in clu din g
in fo rm atio n s to ra ge a nd r e tr ie val s y ste m s, w it h out p erm is sio n in w rit in g f ro m th e p ublis h er, e xcept b y a r e vie w er, w ho m ay q uote
brie f p assa ges in a r e vie w .
Im aJin n B ooks w as f o unded b y L in da K ic hlin e.
We a t I m aJin n B ooks e njo y h earin g f ro m r e aders . V is it o ur w ebsit e s
Im aJin nB ooks.c om
Belle B ooks.c om
BellB rid geB ooks.c om
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Cover d esig n: D ebra D ix on
In te rio r d esig n: H ank S m it h
Photo /A rt c re dit s :
Wom an in w ate r ( m anip ula te d) © K ata lin ks | D re am stim e.c om
Shell te xtu re ( m anip ula te d) © M ariia P azh yna | D re am stim e.c om
:M aqw :0 1:

Ded ic a tio n
To m y f a v orite
bro th er
, T yle r B ith ell. Y our e nco ura gem ent a nd s u p port m eans th e w orld to
me.

Chap te r I
O NCE U PO N A T IM E, th ere w as a w om an m ade o f sto ne. S he w as b ea utifu l a nd p erfe ct a nd
s tr o ng. B lin d t o h er b ea uty , P yg m alio n t o ok a c h is e l a nd r e sh aped h er t o b ette r f it h is o w n d esir e s.
S till, t h ough h er f le sh s o fte n ed a nd h er s h ape a lte re d , s h e r e m ain ed s tr o ng a nd u nch anged w ith in .
Fru str a te d , t h e m an a ppea le d t o t h e g ods. “ The w om en o f C yp ru s a re a ll u nsu ite d f o r a m an o f
m y s ta tio n. B re a th e l ife i n to t h is s to ne, a nd I s h all b uild a g re a t t e m ple i n y o ur h onor.”
“The c ity o f C yp ru s is fille d w ith w om en m ade o f fle sh a nd b one,” th e G oddess o f W is d om
r e a so ned . “ P erh aps t h e p ro ble m d oes n ot l ie w ith t h em .”
Arte m is n odded . “ D o n ot b la m e t h e p re y w hen y o u a re n ot w orth y o f t h e h unt.”
“N ever.” A re s’s e yes g litte re d w ith d is d ain .
But P yg m alio n fo und a s u rp ris in g a lly in h is q uest. “ B uild m e a te m ple th at to uch es th e s k y,
a nd t h e w om an w ill b e y o urs,” d ecre ed t h e G od-K in g.
Pyg m alio n a gre ed , a nd w hen h e s e t th e la st s to ne o f th e te m ple in to p la ce, Z eu s b re a th ed life
i n to t h e s ta tu e, h ollo w in g o ut h er i n sid es a nd r e m ovin g e very t r a ce o f w ho s h e o nce w as t o r e p la ce
h er v ery e sse n ce w ith w hat P yg m alio n w is h ed h er t o b e.
Acco rd in g t o t h e m yth , t h e s ta tu e b eca m e a p erfe ct w ife . B ea utifu l, d ed ic a te d , a nd o bed ie n t t o
P yg m alio n’s e very w him .
But I k no w b ette r th an a nyo ne th at p erfe cti o n h as a p ric e.
A S T R IN G O F Y ELLO W b ile c o nnecte d m y c hin to th e r im o f th e to ile t s e at. I d id n’t h av e ti m e fo r
t h is . E ig ht m in ute s u nti l th e m eeti n g, tw o m ore f o r P ers e p ho ne to r e aliz e I w asn ’t s im ply r u nnin g l a te ,
a nd
mayb e
th re e b efo re s h e c am e a fte r m e. F ifte en m in ute s i n to ta l i f m y l u ck h eld . I n eed ed to g et to
w ork . “ G et y o urs e lf to geth er, A phro dite .”
Don’t c ry.
Zeus’s w his p er r e v erb era te d i n m y s k ull.
Never c ry.
My s to m ach h eav ed , b ut I h ad n o th in g le ft. T he h o llo w ness in m y g ut b urn ed a ro und th e e d ges.
L eanin g b ack, I d re w m y k nees to m y c hest a nd w ra p ped m y a rm s a ro und th em .
“Ju st a n ig htm are ,” I w his p ere d , th o ugh th e in ad eq uate w ord m ad e m e s o und lik e a s c are d littl e
g ir l tr e m blin g o ver a n i m agin ed m onste r. Z eus w as r e al. R eal d ead , y eah, b ut f a cts n ev er m atte re d i n
t h e n ig ht w hen m y c are fu lly c o ntr o lle d th o ughts b ro ke fr e e to w re ak h av oc o n m y sle ep in g m in d .
A lo ne in th e d ark , I k new w hat I’ d n ev er a d m it to m yse lf a w ake. Z eus w ould n ev er b e d ead . N ot to
m e.
There ’s m ore th an o ne w ay to a chie v e im morta lity . Y ou d on’t a ctu ally h av e to b e a g o d, o r liv e
f o re v er, n o t if y o u c an s c re w s o m eo ne u p s o m uch th ey c an’t fo rg et y o u n o m atte r h o w h ard th ey tr y .
W hen y o u l iv e i n s o m eo ne’s f e ars , i n s o m eo ne’s n ig htm are s, y o u n ev er d ie . N ot r e ally .
I p ulle d m yse lf o ff th e g ro und , a cute ly a w are o f th e s e co nd s ti c kin g b y. G la ncin g a t th e m ir ro r, I
r e aliz e d th ere w as n o w ay I ’ d b e a b le to g et m yse lf p re se nta b le i n ti m e. E ven
I n eed ed a b re ak fr o m
w ors h ip pin g a t th e p orc ela in g o d to l o ok p re se nta b le .

“O kay.” I to ok a d eep b re ath a nd c ast a g la m our. P ie ce b y p ie ce, I p ut m yse lf to geth er u nti l th e
illu sio n o f p erfe cti o n s e ttl e d o ver m e l ik e f in ely f itte d a rm or.
Gla m ours a llo w ed g o ds to c hange th eir a p peara nce. T he c hanges c o uld b e s u b tl e , s u ch a s h o w
I’ d c hanged th e c o lo r o f m y d re ss to b rin g o ut m y e yes, o r v ast, s u ch a s Z eus d is g uis in g h im se lf to
lo ok l ik e s o m e u nfo rtu nate w om an’s h usb and o r h o use ho ld p et. I d id n’t d o f u ll- b ody g la m ours . B ut th e
littl e to uches p acked a p unch. T here ’s p ow er i n b eauty . A nd I n eed ed e v ery a d vanta ge I c o uld g et.
The d oorb ell r a ng, a nd I s w ore u nd er m y b re ath . P ers e p ho ne n ev er a sk ed to c o m e i n . S he p orte d
th ro ugh th e s h ie ld s I k ep t a ro und m y ti n y b each h o use lik e th ey w ere n o th in g. M y m in d r a n th ro ugh a
menta l l is t o f e v ery o ne w ho k new w here I l iv ed a s I s te p ped o ut o f th e b ath ro om .
Pers e p ho ne.
Okay, s h o rt l is t. W ho w ould b e a t m y d oor a t th re e i n th e m orn in g?
“W ho ’s th ere ?” I c alle d , c lo sin g th e b ed ro om d oor to h id e th e ta ngle d a nd tw is te d s h eets . M y
hand tr a ile d a lo ng th e b anis te r a s I w alk ed d ow n th e s ta ir s . T hanks to a s m all, o pen flo or p la n a nd
min im alis t f u rn itu re , I c o uld a lm ost s e e e v ery i n ch o f th e p la ce. N o o ne h id w ith in th ese w alls .
I h esita te d w hen I r e ached th e d oor, lis te nin g. S urf c ra sh ed a gain st th e s a nd , b ut n o o th er s o und
penetr a te d th e w alls . A gla nce th ro ugh th e p eep ho le o nly sh o w ed a sh ad ow y fig ure w ith b ro ad
sh o uld ers . “ W ho i s i t? ”
“M e.”
Are s. G ritti n g m y te eth , I to sse d m y h air b ack a nd u nlo cked th e d oor. F ie ry e yes g re ete d m e,
ig niti n g m onth s o f p ent- u p a nger to w ard m y . . . w hat? E x? D id o ur b rie f flin g la st su m mer e v en
qualify a s a r e la ti o nsh ip ? H ell i f I k new .
“A phro dite .” H e s te p ped f o rw ard , th e m oti o n s e em in g a lm ost u nin te nti o nal a s h is e yes d ra nk m e
in . W hen h e c am e u p a gain st m y s h ie ld , h e f r o w ned .
My h and i tc hed to s la m th e d oor i n h is f a ce. I n ste ad , I c alle d u p m y m ost d azzlin g g rin , d ro pped
th e s h ie ld , a nd th re w m yse lf in to h is a rm s. “ A re s!” I m ad e m yse lf la ugh— as if h e h ad n’t b ro ken m y
heart— when h e p ic ked m e u p a nd s p un m e a ro und . “ I h av en’t s e en y o u i n — ”
The w ord f o re v er c aught i n m y th ro at. G ods c an’t l ie . L ik e, i t’ s p hysic ally i m possib le . B ut h um an
sa yin gs h av e a te nd ency to g et s tu ck i n m y h ead . “ T hir te en m onth s.”
“Y ou c o unte d ?” A c o cky g rin lit u p h is fa ce a s h e s e t m e d ow n a nd c ro sse d o ver th e th re sh o ld .
“G ot y o u s o m eth in g.” H e d re w a l o ng, th in b ro w n p ap er b ag f r o m h is c o at a nd h and ed i t to m e.
I w ith d re w th e p ic tu re b ook in sid e, s m ilin g w hen I s a w th e c o ver. It w as a c hild re n’s b ook o n
myth o lo gy. F lip pin g th ro ugh th e p ages, I s a w ti n y e nv elo pes b eggin g to b e o pened , th re e d im ensio nal
cut- o uts , a nd a h o dgep odge o f i te m s f a ste ned to th e p age l ik e a s c ra p book. A s a n ew g o ddess, s o m e o f
th e n uances o f h um anity e lu d ed m e. R ead in g th eir ta ke o n o ur h is to ry , p arti c ula rly h o w th ey fr a m ed
myth s f o r th eir c hild re n, g av e m e s o m e i n sig ht. I t w as a m azin g h o w m uch h um ans g o t w ro ng.
I f lip ped to a p age th at s h o w ed a y o ung g ir l r e achin g d ow n to p lu ck a f lo w er f r o m th e e d ge o f th e
riv erb ed , s e em in gly u naw are o f th e fr o st c re ep in g u p th e p eta ls . T he h ead in g p ro cla im ed th e m yth o f
Bore as a nd O re th yia a s th e o rig in o f w in te r. I tu rn ed to a no th er s e cti o n a nd m y g aze la nd ed o n a n
illu str a ti o n o f E ris , th e G oddess o f D is c o rd , h o ld in g a g o ld en a p ple b etw een H era , A th ena, a nd
Arte m is . I f r o w ned , r e ad in g th e s e cti o n ti tl e . “ T he D iv in e B eauty C onte st.”
Are s g la nced o ver m y s h o uld er, h is b re ath f a m ilia r a gain st m y n eck. “ If y o u’d b een a ro und b ack
th en, y o u w ould h av e w on th at. H and s d ow n.”
Whate v er A re s s a w o n m y fa ce m ad e h is g rin fa lte r. H e b acked a w ay. “ I w ould h av e c alle d , o r

co m e b y, o r
so m eth in g
afte r— ” H e s h o ved h is h and s i n to th e p ockets o f h is l e ath er j a cket. “ I’ m s o rry .
I w as s tu ck i n a j a r. I t’ s a l o ng s to ry , a nd w e’re a lr e ad y r u nnin g l a te .”
Late ? M y in sid es w ent c o ld , a nd I s e t th e b ook d ow n o n th e k itc hen c o unte rto p. “ S he to ld y o u.”
Pers e p ho ne m ig ht b e a p ow erfu l p atr o n, b ut I ’ d w orrie d m ore th an o nce th at h er n aiv eté w ould b e m y
dow nfa ll.
“P ose id on g o t a le ad o n th e m is sin g d em ig o ds, s o h e p ulle d h er in to a m eeti n g to ta lk s tr a te gy.
Noth in g th ey th in k I’ d b e a ny h elp w ith .” H e s m ir k ed , s te p pin g in to m y s m all liv in g r o om , d ark e yes
flitti n g o ver th e s lim f u rn is h in gs. N o o ne to ok A re s s e rio usly , a nd h e l ik ed i t th at w ay. “ H ad es s te p ped
out lo ng e no ugh to a sk m e to c o lle ct y o u.” A flic ker o f c o ncern lit u p h is e yes a s h e lo oked m e o ver.
“A nd I c an s e nse th at y o u h av e e no ugh p ow er to d re am w alk . S o w hy d id h e s e nd m e?”
Dre am w alk in g d id n’t ta ke m uch p ow er. B ut th e a b ility to
sta y
a sle ep lo ng e no ugh to s lip in to a
dre am sc ap e h elp ed . P ers e p ho ne u nd ers to od w hy p eacefu l sle ep in g w as a n is su e fo r m e, so w e’d
arra nged to m eet e arly . I f I c o uld n’t s h o w , s h e’d ’ p ort i n to p hysic ally p ull m e i n to th e d re am sc ap e.
“B elie v e m e, I ’ m a sk in g m yse lf th e s a m e q uesti o n.” I m oved b ackw ard u nti l I b um ped a gain st th e
co uch. S itti n g d ow n, I c ro sse d m y l e gs a nd s tu d ie d A re s.
His g aze l in gere d o n m y l e gs f o r a s p lit s e co nd b efo re h e c aught h im se lf a nd m et m y e yes. “ H av e
th e n ig htm are s g o tte n th at b ad ?”
Yo u d on’t g et to a sk a bout m y n ig htm are s.
I fla sh ed m y te eth a t h im . A fte r Z eus d ie d , A re s,
Adonis , H ep haestu s, a nd I to ok o ff o n a c ele b ra to ry r o ad tr ip , th in kin g Z eus w ould n ev er tr o ub le u s
again . R ig ht u p u nti l I’ d w oken u p sc re am in g. “ Y ou’re re ally n o t g o in g to e la b ora te o n h o w y o u
managed to g et s tu ck i n a j a r f o r o ver a y ear? S erio usly ?”
“N o, I’ m r e ally n o t.” H is h and s s ta yed in th e p ockets o f h is ja cket a s h e le aned a gain st th e w all
opposite m e, p utti n g a s m uch s p ace b etw een u s a s th e s m all r o om w ould p hysic ally a llo w . “ L ook, I
get it. I’ m th e la st p ers o n y o u w ant to ta lk to a b out th is , b ut y o u n eed r e al h elp , A phro dite . If
th is
is
th e f u ll e xte nt o f P ers e p ho ne’s s o lu ti o n, I m ean, i t’ s c ute , b ut— ”
“C ute ?” I h eld u p m y h and . “ L et m e s to p y o u r ig ht th ere . O ur q ueen i s n o t ‘ c ute ,’ s h e’s — ”
Are s r o lle d h is e yes. “ T hat w ho le q ueen th in g w as n ev er m ad e o ffic ia l.”
“W e s w ore o ver o ur
pow ers!
How m uch m ore ‘ o ffic ia l’ d oes i t g et? ”
“S he g av e th em b ack a fte r s h e k ille d Z eus.”
Not m in e.
W hen Z eus c re ate d m e, h e’d th ro w n in a n e xtr a s p ecia l q uir k , m akin g m e o bed ie nt to
anyo ne i n h is b lo odlin e w ho o utr a nked m e. O nly P ers e p ho ne o utr a nked m e n o w . B ut r e fu sin g to b re ak
th e v ow o f fe alty th at g av e P ers e p ho ne c o ntr o l o f m y p ow ers m ad e o bed ie nce m y c ho ic e r a th er th an
his . A re s m ig ht s e e th e d is ti n cti o n a s m eanin gle ss; a fte r a ll, I w as h ers to c o m mand e ith er w ay. B ut
so m e d ays, th e s u b tl e d is ti n cti o ns b etw een Z eus’s c ho ic es a nd m in e w ere a ll th at k ep t m e s a ne.
“S he’s s tr o ng.” A re s h eld o ut h is h and s i n a p pease m ent. “ I’ m n o t c o nte sti n g th at.”
I r o lle d m y e yes a nd p ic ked u p m y p ho ne, m akin g a s h o w o f l o okin g a t th e ti m e w hile h e ta lk ed .
“B ut s tr e ngth d oesn ’t tr u m p k no w le d ge. I’ v e b een a ro und a lo t lo nger. I k no w a th in g o r tw o
ab out— ”
“A nd w e’re o ffic ia lly l a te .” I to sse d th e p ho ne to w ard h im b efo re h e c o uld e la b ora te . H e d id n’t
kno w a nyth in g a b out w hat I ’ d b een th ro ugh. I f h e d id , th at n ig ht w ould h av e e nd ed a
lo t
diffe re ntl y .
Are s c aught th e p ho ne b y r e fle x. “ Y ou c an’t a ffo rd to b e s e en a s w eak.”
My n ails b it i n to th e p alm s o f m y h and s. “ I k no w .”
“I d on’t th in k y o u d o.” H e c ro sse d th e l iv in g r o om , p ausin g to s e t m y p ho ne d ow n o n th e a rm o f

my c o uch. “ Y ou b ound y o urs e lf to P ers e p ho ne. O n o ne le v el, h er c la im to y o u m ay h elp , b ecause n o
one i s g o in g to to uch y o u u nle ss th ey w ant to d eal w ith h er. B ut i f th ey
do
want to g et to h er o r s e nd a
messa ge, th en y o u’re a g o od w ay to d o i t.”
“I k new th e r is k s w hen I s w ore to h er.”
“D id y o u? B ecause y o u m ad e a s ta te m ent th at y o u d id n’t h av e to . Y ou c ho se a s id e— ”
“T here a re n o s id es a nym ore .” Z eus’s d eath m ig ht h av e s e t m e f r e e, b ut th e c ir c um sta nces o f h is
dem is e c re ate d a m ajo r p ow er v acuum a nd c o m ple te ly u p se t th e h ie ra rc hy o f g o ds, w ho w ere lo ng
accusto m ed to p ic kin g s id es a nd p etty s q uab ble s a nyti m e th ey g o t to geth er. R ig ht n o w , e v ery o ne h ad
fa lle n in to a n u neasy tr u ce. I k new A re s d id n’t e xp ect it to la st lo ng, b ut I h ad h o pe. T his w as a n ew
panth eo n. T here w ere n’t a s m any o f u s le ft, a nd o ur is su es w ere a b it m ore m eanin gfu l th an b eauty
co nte sts a nd s c and alo us g o ssip .
“In th is m om ent, y es. B ut p eace n ev er la sts . P ers e p ho ne m ig ht s lip u p o r P ose id on c o uld g o o ff
th e r a ils — hell, h e’s h alfw ay th ere a lr e ad y. B ut s o m eth in g i s g o in g to h ap pen a nd w e’re g o in g to b e a t
each o th er’s th ro ats a gain . W e a ll k no w i t. W hy d o y o u th in k w e a ll s p ent th e l a st f e w th o usa nd y ears
in o ur s e p ara te c o rn ers , i g no rin g o ne a no th er? ”
“T o m ake it e asie r fo r Z eus to p ic k y o u o ff? ” I s u ggeste d , s tu d yin g th e h alf- m oon in d enti o ns m y
nails le ft in m y p alm s. Z eus h ad b een sy ste m ati c ally k illin g o ff h is o ffs p rin g a nd a b so rb in g th eir
pow ers , unb ekno w nst to th e Panth eo n. That w as, unti l he ab ducte d D em ete r’s daughte r and
Pose id on’s s o n. G oin g a fte r th e c hild re n o f re alm -ru le rs w as to o g re at a n o ffe nse to ig no re , s o th e
Panth eo n c am e to geth er a nd f o ught Z eus i n a b itte r b attl e , h eav y w ith l o ss.
“Y ou m ad e a s ta te m ent, A phro dite . B ut th e o nly a d vanta ge y o u’v e g o t to b ack it u p is c harm .
That’ s n o t a lw ays g o in g to b e e no ugh.”
I c o uld d o s h ie ld s, h ealin g, g la m ours , a nd a ll th e s ta nd ard s tu ff a s w ell, b ut m ost o f th e g o ds th at
were le ft h ad r e ceiv ed s o m eth in g e xtr a fr o m b oth o f th eir p are nts . I o nly h ad o ne— Zeus. “ Y ou m ean
th e c harm I u se d to
co m ple te ly
in cap acita te y o u?” I s n o rte d . “ I’ d s a y i t’ s e no ugh.”
Charm , o r c haris m a, i s l ik e m in d c o ntr o l. I f u se d c o rre ctl y , I c an l o ok a ny h um an, a nd m ost g o ds
in th e e yes a nd m ake th em d o w hate v er I w ant. L ucky m e, s in ce g o ds n eed w ors h ip to s u rv iv e. S in ce
I’ d o nly b een c re ate d a c o up le o f y ears a go , I d id n’t e xactl y h av e a c ult fo llo w in g to s u p port m y
exis te nce.
Are s sh ifte d , v is ib ly u nco m fo rta b le a t th e re m in d er. “ I’ m n o t o ne o f th e g o ds y o u sh o uld b e
worrie d a b out.”
I fr o w ned , tr y in g to fig ure o ut w ho h e th o ught I
sh ould
w orry a b out. A th ena, p ro bab ly , th o ugh
sh e’d a lw ays b een f r ie nd ly e no ugh to m e. P ose id on m ayb e? O nly a n i d io t w ould l e t th eir g uard d ow n
aro und h im . S ti ll, I c o nsid ere d e v ery o ne e ls e i n th e P anth eo n to b e a f r ie nd .
“L et m e h elp y o u.” A re s s te p ped f o rw ard , c lo sin g th e s p ace b etw een u s.
I n arro w ed m y e yes. “ W hat I n eed , y o u c an’t g iv e m e.”
Are s g ritte d h is te eth . “ F in e. B ut fo r n o w , w e n eed a c o nv in cin g re aso n to e xp la in w hy w e’re
la te , n o t to m enti o n w hy w e’re s h o w in g u p to geth er.”
He h ad a p oin t. T he o th er g o ds w ould n’t a ctu ally a sk , b ut I d id n’t w ant to s ta rt th e r u m or m ill
churn in g w ith th e i d ea th at e ith er A re s o r I w ere to o w eak to d re am w alk w ith o ut a ssis ta nce.
“O kay, s o i t’ s th e m id dle o f th e d ay i n B angko k.” A re s’s f a ce s c re w ed u p i n th o ught. “ If w e ’ p ort
in to a tr a ffic j a m th ere , th en w e
co uld
sa y th at w e g o t c aught— ”
“H ow d id y o u e v en s u rv iv e b efo re m e?” I s lid m y a rm s a ro und h im , s h iv erin g w hen m y s k in

cam e i n to c o nta ct w ith h is c o ld j a cket.
“O h.” A re s s a id , c atc hin g o n. H e l o w ere d h is m outh to m in e. “ Y eah, th at’ ll w ork , to o.”
His l ip s b urn ed a gain st m in e, w arm a nd e ager. F am ilia r. T he k is s d eep ened , th en m ulti p lie d . T en
kis se s a s s h o rt a s o ne, o ne a s l o ng a s tw enty , a nd th e e nti r e u niv ers e d is so lv ed i n to A re s’s to uch. F or
one p re cio us se co nd , I fe lt lik e m ore th an a to ol. M ore th an Z eus’s ab om in ati o n w ille d to life .
Som e
one
, n o t s o m eth in g.
But h is k is se s w ere l ie s. A nd th ey h urt m ore th an a ny tr u th I ’ d e v er f a ced . M em orie s s p ra ng to m y
min d u nb id den. T he w his p er o f f a b ric , a g entl e c are ss, h is l ip s a gain st m in e.
What y o u’re l o okin g f o r,
he’d w his p ere d ,
I c a n’t g iv e y o u.
My b ack h it th e c o uch, p in nin g h is a rm b eneath m e.
“A re y o u r e ad y?” h e a sk ed , b re akin g a w ay.
“Y eah,” I w his p ere d , m y v oic e h o ars e w ith w hat? P ain ? W anti n g? W hate v er th is fe elin g w as, I
did n’t l ik e i t. O r m ayb e I l ik ed i t to o m uch.
Are s p re sse d tw o f in gers to m y f o re head a nd p ush ed m e i n to th e d re am sc ap e.

Chap te r I I
S A ND P R ESSE D a gain st m y b ack, n o t q uite a s h o t a s A re s’s a rm s, b ut c lo se . H e p ush ed o ff m e i n a
h urry a nd s c ra m ble d to h is f e et w ith a c urs e .
“B y th e S ty x, A re s, get so m e clo th es on,” A rte m is sn ap ped , but th e la ughte r in her voic e
u nd erm in ed h er ir e . “ B ut th at’ s o ne m yste ry s o lv ed . Y ou o w e m e m oney, H ep h. I to ld y o u h e w asn ’t
m is sin g. J u st h o le d u p w ith s o m e p ie ce o f— Aphro dite !”
“H i, A rte m is ,” I m anaged to s a y, th o ugh I c o uld n’t s e e h er a ro und A re s.
Are s h eld o ut a h and to h elp m e u p , a nd I f la sh ed h im a g ra te fu l s m ile . D re am sc ap es f o llo w ed th e
s a m e s h ifti n g l a w s d re am s d id . Y ou c o uld n’t s e e p ast w hat w as d ir e ctl y i n f r o nt o f y o u. T here w as n o
p erip hery , n o g la nces o f s o m eth in g in th e c o rn er o f y o ur e ye, n o a w are ness o f a nyth in g lu rk in g o ff to
t h e s id e. A rte m is w ould h av e b een a b le to s e e A re s’s b are b ack, b ut n o t m uch e ls e . S in ce c lo th es c an
b e s u m moned i n sta ntl y i n d re am s, th ere w ould b e s o m e n atu ra l a ssu m pti o ns m ad e a b out m y o w n s ta te
o f d re ss p rio r to e nte rin g th e d re am sta te , n o t to m enti o n
why
we w ere l a te .
“A bout ti m e y o u tw o s h o w ed u p .” A c o ld s h ad ow f e ll o ver u s.
I c ra ned m y n eck, sq uin ti n g a gain st th e su nlig ht b la zin g a ro und a P ose id on-s h ap ed silh o uette .
S ho rt, sp ik y, b le ach-b lo nd h air c o m ple te d h is su rfe r-b oy im age. H e d id n’t lo ok m uch o ld er th an
t w enty -fiv e, a nd n ev er w ould , u nle ss h e g la m oure d h im se lf to lo ok o ld er. G ods d id n’t a ge p ast th eir
p rim e. N ot p hysic ally a nyw ay.
“W ell, l o ok w hat th e ti d e w ash ed i n .” I f la sh ed P ose id on m y p re tti e st s m ile a nd d ro pped A re s’s
h and .
“R eally ?” A rte m is p ro te ste d . “ W ith
Are s?
I k no w y o u’re n ew , A phro dite , b ut I th o ught y o u w ere
s m arte r th an th is . D id n o o ne w arn y o u a b out h im ? A th ena, w ere n’t y o u s u p pose d to b e o n th at? ”
“C om e s it w ith m e, A phro dite ,” A th ena d ir e cte d f r o m s o m ew here to m y l e ft. “ W e s h o uld ta lk .”
“A re w e l a te ?” A re s m oved a sid e s o I c o uld ta ke i n th e g ro up o f g o ds g ath ere d a t a w ic ker b each
t a b le a f e w f e et a w ay.
“Ju st a fe w m in ute s,” H ep haestu s r e p lie d fr o m h is s e at. H e g la nced p ast A re s to m e. “ G ood to
s e e y o u, A phro dite .”
Half o f H ep haestu s’s fa ce lo oked lik e a n u nre co gniz a b le w eb o f tw itc hin g s c ar ti s su e w ith s k in
h angin g in o dd p la ces. O ne e ye s o cket d ro oped , e m pty a nd m elte d . T he o th er h alf o f h is fa ce lo oked
c o m ple te ly n o rm al. P erfe ct, e v en. I fo rc ed m yse lf to fo cus o n h is g o od s id e w hen I m et h is e ye a nd
s m ile d . “ Y ou, to o. S orry to k eep y o u g uys w aiti n g. W e w ere — ”
“T M I.” P ers e p ho ne p ush ed p ast P ose id on a nd s w ep t m e in to a h ug th at s m elle d o f w ild flo w ers
a nd s u nsh in e. H er h and s fe lt c o ld a gain st m y b ack, a nd I ju m ped , s u rp ris e d a t th e u nexp ecte d c hill.
S in ce w hen d id th e fr ic kin ’ e m bodim ent o f s p rin g fe el c o ld ? “ W e c an a ll fill in th e b la nks. H ow a re
y o u? I t’ s b een s o l o ng.”
“I s a w y o u a t th e l a st m eeti n g,” I r e m in d ed h er, p ullin g b ack.

“A
month
ago .” T he s m all, f lu ffy b lo nd e l o oked f a r to o y o ung to b e a g o ddess o f a ny i m porta nce,
but tw o y ears a go , P ers e p ho ne w ent f r o m a n eo phyte g o ddess to a s u p er p ow er i n th e P anth eo n w hen
sh e d efe ate d Z eus. A s th e heir to b oth D em ete r and Z eus, and th e w ife o f H ad es, L ord o f th e
Und erw orld , sh e ru le d th re e o f th e fo ur re alm s w ith u nd is p ute d a ccess to th e fo urth , th anks to a n
unlik ely f r ie nd sh ip w ith P ose id on’s d ecease d s o n. N o s in gle d eity h ad a m asse d s o m uch p ow er s in ce
th e d ays o f th e T ita ns. “ W e s h o uld — ”
“I h ate to in te rru p t,” A th ena s a id fr o m s o m ew here b ehin d P ers e p ho ne. “ B ut I h av e a le ctu re to
giv e i n th e m orn in g, s o i f w e c o uld m ove a lo ng, th at w ould b e g re at.”
“R ig ht.” P ers e p ho ne p ulle d m e to w ard th e r e m ain d er o f th e o nce g re at p anth eo n a nd d ro pped i n to
a s e at n ext to H ad es a t th e e nd o f th e ta b le .
Are s s a nd w ic hed h im se lf b etw een H ep haestu s a nd A rte m is , w ho p ro m ptl y s m acked th e b ack o f
his h ead . “ S he’s
th re e
years o ld
.”
I r o lle d m y e yes a s I s lid o ut th e c hair n ext to A th ena’s . T echnic ally , A rte m is w asn ’t w ro ng a b out
my a ge. B ut w hen a g o d i s c re ate d r a th er th an b orn , th ey c o m e i n to th e w orld m atu re . P hysic ally a nd
oth erw is e .
“P ose id on, I b elie v e y o u w ere n ext o n th e a gend a?” H ad es a sk ed , g etti n g u s b ack o n tr a ck.
I g av e m yse lf o ne s e co nd to a d m ir e H ad es’s p erfe ctl y c his e le d fe atu re s, th e e le ctr ic b lu e e yes
bla zin g b ehin d th e m id nig ht b la ck h air h angin g in h is fa ce, a nd th e a m azin g b ody th at w ent w ith it.
Then I to ok a d eep b re ath a nd d id m y b est n o t to d ro ol. H ad es w as th e e p ito m e o f ta ken.
“Y eah, s o rry a b out th e d is ru p ti o n.” P ers e p ho ne s m ile d a t P ose id on.
Pose id on’s e nti r e d em eano r s h ifte d w hen P ers e p ho ne tu rn ed h er a tte nti o n to h im . H is c hin l ifte d ,
and his gaze sta yed riv ete d o n her fa ce, no t ev en flic kin g d ow n th e re st o f her. “N o need fo r
ap olo gie s.” H e g av e a c o rd ia l n o d. “ B ut p erh ap s I o w e A phro dite o ne fo r th e lo cati o n.” H e fo cuse d
on m e. “ I w asn ’t su re h o w y o u’d fe el a b out re tu rn in g h ere , b ut I’ v e p ut so m uch e nerg y in to th is
dre am sc ap e th at c o nstr u cti n g a no th er w ould b e i n co nv enie nt.”
Where w ere w e? I g la nced a ro und fo r a c lu e, b ut d id n’t s e e a nyth in g d is ti n guis h in g th is b each
fr o m a ny o th er.
Oh
. H e c o uld o nly m ean o ne p la ce. C um berla nd Is la nd . Z eus h ad a b and oned m e o n
th is s h o re lin e m om ents a fte r m y c re ati o n. I’ d s p ent d ays te rrifie d b ehin d a s h ie ld u nti l P ers e p ho ne
fo und m e.
Pose id on’s o cean e yes c hurn ed , th e c o lo r flu ctu ati n g w ith th e s e a, s h ifti n g fr o m b lu e to g re en to
bro w n, w ith w hite w av es c re sti n g i n m in ia tu re a ro und h is p up ils . W hen I d id n’t v oic e a ny o bje cti o ns
to th e l o cale , h e r e tu rn ed h is a tte nti o n to P ers e p ho ne. “ I’ v e g o t a l e ad o n th e m is sin g d em ig o ds.”
That
go t e v ery o ne’s a tte nti o n, a nd f o r g o od r e aso n. D em ete r h ad b een th e o ne to n o ti c e th e u p ti c k
in m is sin g p ers o n re p orts m atc hin g th e d esc rip ti o n o f d em ig o ds. A nd d esc rip ti o n w ould b e a ll s h e
co uld g o o n, s in ce m ost h um ans d on’t b elie v e i n g o ds a nym ore , m uch l e ss th at G eo rg e d ow n th e s tr e et
was a ctu ally h alf o f o ne. H ell, G eo rg e p ro bab ly d id n’t e v en k no w th ese d ays. B ut to a nyo ne in th e
kno w , d em ig o ds s to od o ut l ik e a s o re th um b. A ll d em ig o ds s h are d s im ila r c o lo rin g. T he i c ho r i n th eir
blo od tu rn ed th em g o ld to th e e xtr e m e: h air, s k in , e yes, e v ery th in g e xcep t th eir a ctu al b lo od lo oked
go ld en, w hic h m ad e n o s e nse to m e, b ut I h ad n’t b een a ro und d urin g c re ati o n to a d d m y tw o c ents i n ,
so w hate v er.
“Y ou c o uld h av e l e d w ith th at,” A rte m is s a id , s c o oti n g f o rw ard i n h er s e at.
“I o nly w ante d to e xp la in th is o nce.” P ose id on c ut a g la nce to w ard A re s a nd m e, b ut b efo re
eith er o f u s c o uld s a y a w ord i n o ur d efe nse , h is g aze r e tu rn ed to P ers e p ho ne l ik e a m agnet.

“I n o ti c ed a n a no m aly w ith in th is c ru is e lin e.” P ose id on su m moned a sta ck o f b ro chure s a nd
passe d th e i n k-la d en p ap ers d ow n th e ta b le .
“F anta sy C ru is e s? ” I str u ggle d to ho ld th e ad verti s e m ent ste ad y eno ugh to re ad again st th e
whip pin g w in d . “W hat— ? P ose id on, I ap pre cia te th e in sa ne am ount o f d eta il yo u p ut in to th ese
dre am sc ap es, b ut r e ally , c an y o u c ut th e s e tti n g d ow n a n o tc h?”
The w in d d ie d d ow n to a g entl e b re eze . “ T hey l e av e w ith m ore p asse ngers th an th ey r e tu rn h o m e
with ,” P ose id on exp la in ed . “N o o ne se em s to no ti c e, w hic h, if yo u kno w anyth in g ab out hum an
re co rd keep in g, i s u nusu al i n a nd o f i ts e lf.”
That la st b it w as fo r P ers e p ho ne’s b enefit, as th e re st o f us knew
every th in g
ab out hum an
re co rd keep in g. O ne p erk o f b ein g c re ate d a s a d eity in ste ad o f b ein g b orn lik e P ers e p ho ne, w as
co m in g i n to e xis te nce w ith th e a ccum ula te d k no w le d ge o f th e g o ds— unle ss th ey d elib era te ly w ith held
it— over th e e nti r e ty o f c re ati o n. T here w ere e xcep ti o ns, o f c o urs e . W e w ere n’t o m nis c ie nt. U nle ss
pro phecy w as in v olv ed , fu tu re and curre nt ev ents w ere b eyo nd o ur sc o pe. B ut w hen it cam e to
ra nd om h um an c ra p , w e k new a lm ost e v ery th in g.
“Y ou th in k peo ple w ere charm ed in to fo rg etti n g th em ?” A rte m is ’s dark eyes narro w ed in
co ncentr a ti o n a s s h e s tu d ie d th e b ro chure .
“Is th at p ossib le o n th is s c ale ?” P ers e p ho ne a sk ed .
All e yes tu rn ed to m e.
“I
mig ht
b e a b le to c harm a n e nti r e s h ip in to fo rg etti n g th at I e xis t, b ut I m ean, u sin g e no ugh
pow er to p ull o ff m ass a m nesia w ould b e a s tr e tc h, e v en f o r m e.”
Pose id on s u m moned a no th er g ro up o f p ap ers a nd p asse d th em d ow n th e ta b le . “ T he m em ory l o ss
re gard in g th e p ers o n’s e xis te nce d oesn ’t la st lo ng— ju st th e c ir c um sta nces o f th eir d is a p peara nce.
Mis sin g p oste rs g o u p i n a m atte r o f d ays.”
Ath ena h and ed m e th e s h eets . I to ok o ne a nd p asse d th e r e st to P ers e p ho ne, th en s tu d ie d th e p ap er
in f r o nt o f m e, w hic h f e atu re d a s m ilin g d em ig o ddess n am ed O tr e ra .
I sw ap ped pap ers w ith A re s. Sure eno ugh, his m is sin g poste r fe atu re d ano th er dem ig o d.
Dem ig o ds w ere n’t e xactl y c o m mon a nym ore . T hat th is m any w ould u se th e s a m e c ru is e lin e s e em ed
sta ti s ti c ally i m possib le .
Pose id on rifle d th ro ugh m ore p ap ers . “ T here a re a lm ost e xactl y a s m any m is sin g d em ig o ds a s
mis sin g p asse ngers . I’ v e s e nt s p ie s o n th ese s h ip s, b ut th ey c o m e b ack a s c lu ele ss a s th e r e st o f th e
passe ngers . T hat m eans th ey w ere e ith er c harm ed , o r th e p asse ngers w ent m is sin g i n p ort. W e n eed to
get to th e b otto m o f th is . B ut to d o th at, w e’ll n eed s o m eo ne w ith u nre str ic te d a ccess to b oth r e alm s,
who i s to o s tr o ng to b e c harm ed .”
In o th er w ord s, h e n eed ed P ers e p ho ne. B ut ju d gin g b y th e w ay h er s h o uld ers te nse d , s h e d id n’t
want to g o .
Pers e p ho ne g ath ere d h er w av y h air in to a p onyta il a t th e b ase o f h er n eck. “ I h av e n o in te re st in
purs u in g a n in v esti g ati o n in y o ur r e alm a t th is ti m e.” S he h eld th e b lo nd lo cks s te ad y fo r a m om ent
befo re d ro ppin g h er h and w ith a s ig h. T he g estu re m ad e h er l o ok ti r e d . I c o uld n’t h elp w ond erin g h o w
th in gs w ere g o in g f o r h er s in ce Z eus’s d efe at.
“I’ m a w are o f y o ur re lu cta nce to v is it m y re alm . B ut w e
need
to k no w w hat h ap pened to th e
dem ig o ds.” P ose id on’s v oic e s o und ed g entl e , a s i f h e w as tr y in g to b e n ic e, w hic h s o m eho w s e em ed
ev en cre ep ie r th an his usu al le w d sk eev yness. “Y ou kno w I w ould n’t b e ask in g yo u to d o th is
oth erw is e .”

“S he s a id n o .” H ad es’s v oic e l e ft n o r o om f o r a rg um ent. “ N ext o pti o n.”
Pers e p ho ne s h o t h im a g ra te fu l s m ile , a nd I f o und m yse lf s tr u ck a t th e c o ntr a st b etw een th e tw o o f
th em . S he s e em ed to ra d ia te th e v ery lig ht h e a b so rb ed . W hen th ey w ere to geth er, it a lm ost h urt to
lo ok a t th em . I g uess o pposite s
did
a ttr a ct.
“P ose id on h as a p oin t,” A th ena in te rje cte d . “ P ers e p ho ne, I r e aliz e y o ur p la te is a b it fu ll, w hat
with th re e re alm s to ru n, but if yo u dele gate
th ose
re sp onsib iliti e s, su re ly yo u’ll hav e ti m e—
Som eth in g f u nny, A re s? “
Are s sw allo w ed h is sn ic ker, lo okin g c haste ned . “ A ctu ally , y eah. I’ m im agin in g w hat Z eus o r
Dem ete r o r a ny o th er r e alm r u le r w ould h av e d one to y o u i f y o u’d s u ggeste d th ey ta ke ti m e f r o m th eir
ru le fo r re co n. I m ean— ” H e p ause d , g iv in g m e a lo ok s o s ig nific ant a cro ss th e ta b le th at I s a t u p
str a ig hte r. “ Z eus u se d to s e nd H erm es o ut f o r
every th in g
, i n clu d in g k id nap pin g h is d ate s.”
He h ad , h ad n’t h e?
“W ell, w e a ll k no w h o w v este d Z eus w as i n o ur s u rv iv al,” A th ena s a id i c ily .
Pers e p ho ne c le are d h er th ro at. “ H ad es, h o w m any ti m es h av e y o u s e t fo ot o uts id e o f y o ur r e alm
in th e l a st m ille nnia ? T hre e?”
Had es n o dded . “ S ound s a b out r ig ht.”
“H ow a b out y o u, P ose id on? O nce? T w ic e?” P ers e p ho ne a rc hed a n e yeb ro w a t A th ena. “ Y ou
wanna g iv e th em a l e sso n o n ti m e m anagem ent, to o, o r c an w e g et b ack to th e ta sk a t h and ?”
Pers e p ho ne h ad b een u nd er p re ssu re to r e d is tr ib ute h er p ow er e v er s in ce s h e k ille d Z eus. A th ena
knew g o od a nd w ell
why
Pers e p ho ne d id n’t w ant to v is it P ose id on’s r e alm , b ut i m ply in g P ers e p ho ne
wasn ’t c o m pete nt e no ugh to h and le th e re sp onsib iliti e s th at c am e w ith h er re alm s g av e A th ena th e
le v era ge s h e n eed ed to k eep a p ply in g th at p re ssu re .
“W e a re s p re ad c o nsid era b ly th in ner th an w e o nce w ere ,” A th ena r e m in d ed P ers e p ho ne. “ W e
a ll
need to ta ke a m ore a cti v e r o le — ”
“W hy?” H ep haestu s i n te rru p te d . “ S in ce w hen d o w e c are a b out d em ig o ds? ”
“T hey’re w eaknesse s. O ur c hild re n c an k ill u s,” P ose id on a rg ued . “ S o if s o m eo ne is c o lle cti n g
th em — ”
“ Our
child re n?” H ep haestu s g la nced a ro und th e r o om . “ I h ad a fe w s p ir its b ack in th e d ay, b ut
dem ig o ds? N ev er b oth ere d . A nd as fa r as I kno w , m ost o f yo u d id n’t eith er. A rte m is ? H ad es?
Pers e p ho ne? A phro dite ? A ny o f y o u h av e c hild re n a m ong th e liv in g?” H e w aite d u nti l w e s h o ok o ur
head s b efo re c o nti n uin g, a nd I tr ie d r e ally h ard n o t to n o ti c e th at h e h ad n’t in clu d ed A re s a m ong th e
child le ss. “ T hen th ey c an’t k ill u s.”
“B ut S te ele c an,” A th ena s a id , r e fe rrin g to th e o nly w eap on in th e w orld th at c o uld k ill a g o d.
“A nd d esp ite y o ur c la im to h av e d estr o yed i t a ll— ”
“I d id ,” H ep haestu s i n sis te d .
“— it’ s m ad e a r e su rg ence a nd b een l in ked to th e m is sin g d em ig o ds. I f s o m eth in g o r s o m eo ne o ut
th ere is tr y in g to c o lle ct o ur w eaknesse s, w e n eed to k no w w hy.” A th ena’s v oic e le ft n o ro om fo r
arg um ent.
“S end m e.” S in ce I ’ d s w orn f e alty to P ers e p ho ne, I c o uld a ct a s h er p ro xy. B etw een g o ds, v ow s
of fe alty go m uch fu rth er th an o bed ie nce o r p le d ges o f lo yalty . P ers e p ho ne co uld use m e as an
exte nsio n o f h er p ow ers . S he w ould n ev er a sk m e. B ut I c o uld v olu nte er.
“A phro dite .” P ers e p ho ne’s e yes w id ened . “ N o, y o u d on’t h av e to — ”
“T hank y o u fo r th e o ffe r, A phro dite , b ut th is is a b it b eyo nd y o u.” P ose id on d id n’t e v en lo ok a t

me. T hat w ould i n v olv e te arin g h is g aze f r o m P ers e p ho ne’s f a ce.
Had es n arro w ed h is e yes, a p pare ntl y a s c re ep ed o ut b y P ose id on’s i n te nse f o cus o n h is w ife a s I
was. “ U nle ss s o m eo ne e ls e w ants to v olu nte er, y o u’re o ut o f o pti o ns.”
Arte m is s tu d ie d m e f o r a l o ng m om ent b efo re s p eakin g. “ A phro dite h as m ore c harm th an a ll o f u s
co m bin ed , a nd , sin ce sh e’s sw orn to P ers e p ho ne, sh e c an a ct o n h er b ehalf sh o uld m atte rs m ove
beyo nd P ose id on’s r e alm . I t’ s a p erfe ct s o lu ti o n, r ig ht, A th ena?”
Ath ena f la sh ed h er a ti g ht- lip ped s m ile . “ P erfe ct i s a s tr o ng w ord , b ut y es, I s u p pose i t i s th e b est
alte rn ati v e w e c an h o pe to c o m e u p w ith . A re y o u s u re y o u’re u p to th is , A phro dite ? Y ou d on’t h av e
much e xp erie nce— ”
“N eith er d oes P ers e p ho ne. A nd y o u w ere f in e w ith s e nd in g h er.” I tu rn ed to P ose id on, r a is in g m y
eyeb ro w s. “ M ay I h av e p erm is sio n to tr a v el i n y o ur r e alm ?”
“It w ould s e em I h av e n o o th er o pti o ns.” P ose id on’s s m ile d id n’t re ach h is e yes. “ Y our c ru is e
dep arts i n s e v enty -tw o h o urs .” T ossin g m e a th ic k e nv elo pe, h e a d ded , “ D on’t b e l a te .”
Sev enty -tw o h o urs , h uh? T hat w asn ’t n early e no ugh ti m e to s h o p.

Chap te r I II
T H E H EA D C O NCIE R G E, M ig uel, s e t m y b ags d ow n o n th e m arb le flo or o f th e e ntr y w ay w ith a
r e v ere nce g enera lly r e se rv ed f o r h o ly a rti fa cts . A nd l e t’ s f a ce i t, a nyth in g b elo ngin g to m e w as.
“Is th is r o om m ore to y o ur l ik in g?” H is p up ils w ere w id e u nd er th e i n flu ence o f m y c harm .
Lem on-s c ente d c le anin g s o lu ti o n a ssa ulte d m y n o str ils a s I g la nced a ro und th e s u n-fille d r o om .
T he s u ite c urv ed a ro und th e b ack o f th e s h ip . T aup e s h ad es c o vere d th e flo or-to -c eilin g w in d ow s,
w hic h w as j u st a s w ell, s in ce w e w ere s ti ll i n th e p ort.
“T here ’s a k itc henette th ro ugh h ere w ith a fu lly s to cked fr id ge.” M ig uel le ft th e lu ggage a t th e
d oor a nd w alk ed a ro und th e b ar. “ E very th in g is c o m plim enta ry , o f c o urs e . If y o u n eed a nyth in g e ls e ,
s im ply d ia l fiv e o n y o ur p ho ne a nd y o u’ll re ach y o ur p ers o nal c o ncie rg e. L ife ja ckets ” — he e d ged
a ro und th e b ar to o pen a d oor b y th e c urv ed s ta ir c ase — “are l o cate d i n th e h alf- b ath .” H e m oti o ned to
a s e t o f w hite c ab in ets . “ A lo ng w ith a s a fe , b ath ro bes, a nd to w els .”
I n o dded , s te p pin g o ut o nto th e b alc o ny to ta ke i n th e w ic ker l o unge c hair s , w hir lp ool, a nd d in ner
t a b le . M y v ie w o f th e b uild in gs c ro w din g th e M ia m i p ort tu nnel w ould s o on g iv e w ay to e nd le ss
o cean. I g la nced d ow n, e nchante d b y th e w ay th e s te el- b lu e w av es r ip ple d a gain st th e s h ip l ik e s ilk .
“Y ou’ll n eed th ese .” H e p la ced tw o p la sti c c ard s o n th e b ar. “ Y our r o om k eys a ct a s a c re d it c ard
f o r a ny o n-b oard s p end in g. A ll c harg es w ill b e b ille d to th e r o om . Y ou’ll a ls o r e q uir e th e k ey a nyti m e
y o u w is h to l e av e th e s h ip . S ho uld y o u n eed m e, a nyti m e, p le ase l e t m e k no w .”
“A ctu ally . . . w ait.” I r u sh ed b ack in to th e r o om a nd p ulle d a t m y s m alle st s u itc ase , je rk in g to
s to p w hen th e p lu sh c arp et r e nd ere d th e w heels i n effic ie nt. “ I g uess h ere i s f in e.” I g ru nte d , u nzip pin g
t h e f r o nt p ocket to r e ach o ne o f th e b rig ht- y ello w f o ld ers I ’ d tu cked i n sid e. I n sid e i t, I ’ d p ut p ic tu re s
o f a ll th e d em ig o ds w ho ’d v anis h ed o ff th is s h ip w ith in th e l a st y ear. H old in g th e f ile o ut to M ig uel, I
a sk ed , “ D o y o u r e co gniz e a ny o f th ese p eo ple ?”
He flip ped th ro ugh th e m is sin g fly ers , h is e xp re ssio n m orp hin g fr o m e ager to d ev asta te d w ith
e ach s h eet. “ N o.” M ig uel’s s h o uld ers s a gged . “ Is th ere
any
oth er w ay I c an h elp y o u?”
“C ould y o u s h o w th em to th e r e st o f th e c re w ?” G rin nin g a t h im to s h o w th at I w asn ’t u p se t, I
w aite d u nti l th e d is a p poin te d s te w ard m et m y e yes a gain . T hen I e ase d o ff th e c harm a to uch. C harm
c o uld b e tr ic ky. I c o uld n’t h av e m y n ew p ers o nal a ssis ta nt th ro w in g h im se lf o ff th e b oat in a fit o f
d esp air, n o w c o uld I ? “ If a nyo ne r e co gniz e s th em , b rin g th em to m e.”
“O f c o urs e .” H e w aite d , h is d ark e yes a d orin g. “ H ow e ls e c an I p le ase y o u?”
I c o nsid ere d . If a s w ip e o f th e r o om k ey m onito re d e v ery p urc hase , a rriv al, a nd d ep artu re , th en
m ayb e I c o uld p in p oin t e xactl y w hen th e d em ig o ds w ent m is sin g. “ W ould y o u b e a b le to a ccess th e
r e co rd s f r o m p re v io us c ru is e s? ”
His d ark h air fe ll in to h is e yes a s h e n o dded a gain . “ I c an lo ok th em u p b y n am e o r b ookin g
n um ber. W ould th at b e h elp fu l? ”
“W hy, y es, i t w ould .” L ookin g a t th e r e co rd s
afte r
e v ery o ne c hecked i n w ould b e m ore e ffic ie nt.

Afte r a ll, i d enti fy in g th e d em ig o ds
about
to g o m is sin g w as th e f ir s t s te p i n m y p la n.
I th o ught b ack to th e p ic tu re M ig uel to ok o f m e b efo re I b oard ed th e s h ip . “ M y p ic tu re i s l in ked to
my a cco unt, rig ht? ” If th o se p ic tu re s w ere in th e s y ste m , a s im ple s e arc h w ould te ll m e h o w m any
dem ig o ds w ere o n th e s h ip . T hen I ’ d k no w w ho to k eep m y e yes o n.
“It is . W e h av e to m ake s u re th e p ic tu re o n th e c ard m atc hes th e p ers o n h o ld in g it b efo re th ey
make a ny p urc hase s o r l e av e th e v esse l.”
“P erfe ct. W hat ti m e d o y o u g et o ff? ”
“E le v en-th ir ty .”
“I’ ll s e e y o u th en.”
He h urrie d o ut o f th e r o om . W hen th e d oor c lo se d , I k ic ked o ff m y h eels , e njo yin g th e f e el o f th e
th ic k w hite c arp et b eneath m y a chin g fe et b efo re c lim bin g u p sta ir s , d ra ggin g m y s m alle st s u itc ase
with m e. T he w heels th ud ded u p e ach s te p a s I y anked th e h eav y b ag b ehin d m e. E ven in F eb ru ary ,
Mia m i f e lt m uggy. A ll I w ante d to d o w as ta ke a s h o w er a nd c hange i n to s o m eth in g c o ol.
“N ot to o b ad ,” I m urm ure d , lo okin g a ro und th e b ed ro om . It a ctu ally r e m in d ed m e o f th e c o okie -
cutte r b each h o use I’ d c harm ed m y w ay in to b ack in P eb ble B each. T w o w hite c hair s a nd a s m all,
gla ss-to pped ta b le w ere se t u p in fr o nt o f th e h alf- w all th at a llo w ed a n u no bstr u cte d v ie w o f th e
liv in g a re a b elo w . A sm alle r w in d ow ed w all le ad in g o ut to a ti n y b alc o ny sto od a d ja cent to th e
sta ir c ase .
I g ru nte d a s I h eav ed m y s u itc ase o nto th e k in g-s iz e d b ed w ith e no ugh fo rc e to s e nd a r ip ple o f
movem ent a lo ng th e le ngth o f th e w hite c o m fo rte r. B ut I b are ly g o t th e th in g u nzip ped b efo re I h eard
voic es o uts id e m y r o om .
“I’ m te llin g y o u, th is i s
my
ro om .”
“N o, s ir.” M ig uel’s h eav ily a ccente d v oic e s o und ed o ut o f b re ath , a s i f h e’d j u st r u n a m ara th o n.
“T his r o om b elo ngs to a y o ung w om an, I — ”
“O pen. T he. D oor.”
The l o ck c lic ked a nd I m ad e m y w ay to th e s ta ir c ase , d ete rm in ed to c harm w ho ev er c am e i n th e
ro om i n to m ovin g o n.
Belo w m e, th e d oor s w ung o pen, s la m min g i n to th e w all. T he b lu e p ain ti n gs s h ud dere d , b ut h eld ,
and delic ate clin kin g so und s cam e fr o m th e chand elie r. A fa m ilia r dem ig o d ste p ped over th e
th re sh o ld .
“A donis ,” I b re ath ed .
“Ask t h em t o s w ea r f e a lty t o m e.”
The m em ory o f Z eus’s v oic e e cho ed th ro ugh m y m in d .
Adonis h ad b een th ere , a lo ng w ith A re s, H ep haestu s, a nd P ers e p ho ne’s p rie ste ss, M elis sa . B ut
only A donis h ad b een im mune to m y c harm . H e’d s e en th e w ay m y b ody m oved o f its o w n a cco rd ,
fo rc in g m e to o bey Z eus’s c o m mand . I ’ d k no w n w hat w ould c o m e n ext, b ut I w as p ow erle ss to s to p i t.
Zeus h ad p la nned to u se m e to fo rc e A re s a nd H ep haestu s to s w ear o ver a ll th eir p ow er u nti l th ey
tu rn ed to d ust. S uic id e b y d ev oti o n. T hen h e’d p la nned to m ake m e k ill A donis a nd M elis sa fo r h im .
Not b ecause th ey w ere a th re at, b ut b ecause k illin g th em w ould h urt m e. A nd th en m ayb e, if I w as
very , v ery l u cky, Z eus w ould h av e l e t m e d ie i n ste ad o f f o rc in g m e to l iv e o n a s h is p up pet.
Behin d A donis , M ig uel b ab ble d a p olo gie s w hile m akin g w ild m oti o ns to in d ic ate h o w A donis
had f o rc ed h im se lf i n to th e r o om . N eith er o ne o f u s p aid a ny a tte nti o n to h im .
“A phro dite ?” H e l o oked d aze d a t th e s ig ht o f m e.
Mem orie s b om bard ed m e.

Word s ro se in m e, fille d m y m outh , a nd p ush ed a gain st m y lip s. S w allo w in g, I fo rc ed th em
dow n, b ut th ey to re a t m y th ro at. A s tr a ngle d , k een in g w ail fille d th e r o om , s o undin g s o a lie n , s o
desp era te a nd h elp le ss, th at, a t fir st, I d id n’t p la ce it a s m in e. I w ould n’t d o th is to th em . Z eu s
would k ill t h em i n a n i n sta nt. I w ould n’t — co uld n’t — Sto p!
My l ip s p arte d o f t h eir o w n v o litio n, a nd I c la pped m y h and o ver m y m outh . Z eu s c ro sse d h is
arm s, l o okin g b ore d . I c o uld n’t r e sis t f o re ver, a nd h e k n ew i t. E very f ib er i n m y b ein g p ulle d a t m e
to o bey h is c o m mand.
I lo oked aw ay fr o m Zeu s, but fo und I co uld n’t fa ce th e blin d devo tio n in Are s’s and
Hep haestu s’s e yes. T here w as n oth in g le ft o f th em . A ll th ey w ante d to d o w as p le a se m e. T his w as
wro ng. M y v is io n b lu rre d , a nd I b lin ked a w ay t h e t e a rs, l o okin g t o A donis i n ste a d. H is b ra very a nd
str e n gth w as t e le g ra phed i n h is s tiff p ostu re a nd t h e t r u st i n t h e e yes h e k ep t g lu ed t o m y f a ce.
A s m all s m ile f o rm ed o n h is f a ce, c o ol a nd c o nfid en t.
Ju st w ait
, it s e em ed to s a y.
We’ll g et o ut
of th is .
And w e h ad . A ll b ecause o f h im .
“Is h e tr a v elin g w ith y o u?” M ig uel w ed ged A donis ’s s u itc ase b etw een th e d oor a nd th e fr a m e.
He l o oked r e ad y to th ro w A donis o ut o f th e r o om i f I s a id n o .
“Y ou c an g o ,” I to ld M ig uel, in fu sin g e no ugh c harm b ehin d th e w ord s to m ake s u re h e d id a s I
ask ed .
“W hat— ” A donis a sk ed w hen th e d oor c lo se d b ehin d M ig uel. “ H ow — Why a re y o u h ere ?”
Oh, g o ds. I re co vere d fr o m m y s h o ck e no ugh to re aliz e w hat A donis b ein g h ere
mea nt.
“Y ou
need to l e av e.” I r u sh ed d ow n th e s ta ir s , n early tr ip pin g i n m y h aste to r e ach h im b efo re th e c ru is e l e ft
sh o re . “ A donis y o u n eed to
go.
I t’ s n o t— ”
“T his is
my
ro om ,” h e a rg ued , s n ap pin g o ut o f h is d aze e no ugh to g ro w d efe nsiv e. “ B ought a nd
paid f o r. I d on’t k no w w hat y o u’re — ”
“ —sa fe .
You c an’t b e o n th is s h ip .” I r e ached fo r h is b ag a s I g ra b bed h is a rm , p ro pellin g h im
to w ard th e d oor. T hat I’ d c harm ed m y w ay in to h is r o om s e em ed to o g re at a c o in cid ence to p ro cess
rig ht n o w . F or n o w , I j u st th anked th e P rim ord ia ls th at I ’ d d is c o vere d h im o n b oard b efo re i t w as to o
la te . “ C om e o n, I ’ ll w alk y o u b ack to th e d ock.”
“W hat d o y o u m ean, i t’ s n o t s a fe ? H e w re nched h is a rm f r e e a nd g ra b bed h is b ag f r o m m e. “ W hat
is g o in g o n?”
“D em ig o ds a re g o in g m is sin g.” I f ille d h im i n a s b est I c o uld , s te alin g a nxio us g la nces to w ard th e
balc o ny to m ake s u re th e s h ip h ad n’t y et s e t s a il. “ It’ s n o t s a fe f o r y o u to b e h ere .”
Adonis sw ore , h is e yes g o in g to th e c hand elie r a s h e d ig este d w hat I to ld h im . “ I c an’t ju st
le av e,” h e s a id f in ally . “ I’ m h ere f o r w ork . I t’ s th is b ig e v ent. W e’v e g o t s h o ots s c hed ule d a t e ach o f
th e p orts a nd — ”
“A ny o th er d em ig o ds? ” D em ig o ds, p arti c ula rly th o se i n p osse ssio n o f c harm , g ra v ita te d to f ie ld s
lik e m odelin g, p erfo rm in g, o r p oliti c s. W hat b ette r w ay to g et m ulti p le d em ig o ds i n o ne p la ce th an b y
ta rg eti n g th eir m ost p ro bab le c are er p ath s? I m ad e a m enta l n o te to c heck if th e o th er c ru is e s w ere
geare d to w ard a ny d em ig o d-h eav y f ie ld s.
“W hat? ” A donis s h o ok h is h ead . “ N one fr o m m y a gency. A cro ss th e w ho le c o nv enti o n, m ayb e
th re e o r f o ur.” H e s w ore a gain . “ I’ v e g o t to w arn th em .”
Hav in g th re e o r f o ur d em ig o ds o n o ne s h ip w as f a r to o u nlik ely to b e w ritte n o ff a s c o in cid ence.
They w ere p ro bab ly a ll ta rg ets . B ut if h e to ld th em , if th ey b ehav ed d iffe re ntl y b ecause o f w hat th ey

knew , I m ig ht lo se m y c hance to fig ure o ut w ho o r w hat w as ta kin g th em . “ L et m e h and le th at. In th e
meanti m e,” I p ush ed h im to w ard th e d oor, “ w hy d on’t w e fin d y o ur b oss, a nd I d on’t k no w , m ayb e
charm h im i n to th in kin g y o u s ta yed o n b oard th e w ho le ti m e? D o y o u w ant a r a is e ? I th in k I c an w ork
in a r a is e . L et’ s j u st— ”
He d id n’t b ud ge. “ W hat’ s y o ur p la n?”
“R ig ht no w ? T o get yo u o ff th is b oat.” I cle nched m y ja w , w is h in g A donis w ere a no rm al
dem ig o d I c o uld ju st c harm in to le av in g. B ut A donis w as s p ecia l. T hanks to c entu rie s o f in b re ed in g,
Adonis w as n o t o nly im mune to a nyo ne e ls e ’s c harm , h e s e em ed to h av e c o ntr o l o ver h is o w n. T he
in b re ed in g b it i s n ’t a s g ro ss a s i t s o und s. B efo re Z eus d ie d , h e’d e xp erim ente d w ith tu rn in g d em ig o ds
to g o ds. A donis ’s p are nts w ere b oth Z eus’s o ffs p rin g. A s w ere th eir p are nts b efo re th at, a nd th eir
pare nts b efo re th at. M akin g Z eus A donis ’s g ra nd fa th er, g re at- g ra nd fa th er, g re at- g re at g ra nd fa th er, a nd
so o n, o n b oth s id es.
Okay, m ayb e th at is a s g ro ss a s it s o und s, b ut g o ds d on’t h av e th e s a m e in cest ta b oo a s h um ans.
We d on’t p ass o n g eneti c m ate ria l, j u st p ow er.
Adonis le aned a gain st th e d oor. “ I s p ent e no ugh ti m e w ith y o u la st y ear to k no w th at y o u’re n o t
in fa llib le , A phro dite . N one o f y o u g o ds a re , n o m atte r w hat y o u th in k.” H e p ush ed a w ay fr o m th e
door. “ D em ig o ds a re g o in g m is sin g;
I’m
a d em ig o d. S o a re m y l ittl e s is te rs — ”
“Y ou h av e s is te rs ? ”
Adonis g av e m e a l o ok th at w arn ed m e th at to pic w as c lo se d . “ W hat a re y o u p la nnin g to
do
here ?
You’re n o t w earin g a g la m our; w hy? A nyo ne w ho k no w s
anyth in g
is g o in g to lo ok a t y o u a nd s e e
go ddess. Is th at p art o f y o ur p la n? Is th e P anth eo n u sin g y o u a s a d is tr a cti o n? S om eo ne th at r a nd om
pow er s ig natu re s c an b e a ttr ib ute d to w hile P ers e p ho ne o r o ne o f th e g o ds w ork s i n th e b ackgro und ?”
“H ow a b out I e xp la in o n th e w ay.” I p ulle d o pen th e d oor, b ut A donis s h ut it, k eep in g h is a rm
push ed a gain st i t f o r g o od m easu re . W ith a f r u str a te d s ig h, I w hir le d o n h im , ta lk in g f a st s o h e’d
le a ve
alr e ad y. “ I c an’t h id e th at th ere ’s a g o d o n b oard , e v en w ith a g la m our, b ecause
th e p ow er th at i t ta kes
to m ain ta in a g la m our i s s o m eth in g w e c an s e nse . A lm ost n o o ne h as h eard o f m e. I f ig ure i t’ s b ette r to
le t w ho o r w hate v er is b ehin d th is n o ti c e m e s o th ey c an w rite m e o ff. L et th em a ssu m e th at I’ m
not
one o f th e v ery fe w g o ds w ho c o uld w ith sta nd th e le v el o f c harm it ta kes to p ull o ff w hat th ey’re
doin g.”
Adonis f e ll s ile nt w hile h e c o nsid ere d th at, ta kin g a n i n fu ria ti n gly l o ng ti m e to d o s o . “ O kay, b ut
what if in ste ad o f b le nd in g in , y o u u se d a g la m our to lo ok lik e u s. D em ig o ds c an’t n o rm ally c o ntr o l
th eir p ow ers , s o a ny s tr a y p ow er c o uld b e e xp la in ed a w ay i f y o u l o oked l ik e o ne o f u s.” T he m ore h e
ta lk ed , th e m ore e xcite d h e s e em ed to g et a b out h is id ea. “ T here ’s th is d em ig o ddess I k no w — Elis e .
She w as s u p pose d to c o m e to th e c o nv enti o n, b ut s h e la nd ed th is s k in care g ig a t th e la st m in ute . W e
co uld s a y i t f e ll th ro ugh. Y ou c o uld l o ok l ik e h er a nd g et ta ken
with
us. Y ou’ll g et to le arn e v ery th in g
th at’ s g o in g o n a nd i f y o u n eed to , y o u c an te le p ort b ack to th e r e st o f th e g o ds to b rin g i n th e c av alr y .”
I r u b bed m y te m ple s, tr y in g to th in k o f th e fa ste st w ay o ff th e s h ip . W e’d h av e to g o to th e m ain
deck, r ig ht? “ T hat’ s . . . a n e la b ora te p la n.”
“T hanks. S o . . . ? ”
I tu gged a t th e d oor a gain to n o a v ail. “ I c o uld l o ok l ik e h er, b ut I c o uld n’t c la im to
be
her. I c an’t
lie , re m em ber? S o w hat if so m eo ne a sk s h er a q uesti o n th at I
ca n’t
answ er? D on’t y o u th in k I’ d
actu ally d ra w
more
atte nti o n to m yse lf i f I tr ie d a nd f a ile d to i m pers o nate a d em ig o d?”
“B ut y o u’v e lo st th e e le m ent o f s u rp ris e ,” h e p ro te ste d . “ S o w hate v er is b ehin d th is is g o in g to

se e y o u c o m in g. W hat a b out th e d em ig o ds th at h av e a lr e ad y g o ne m is sin g? B y b ein g s o o bvio us, y o u
mig ht a ctu ally b e p utti n g th em i n d anger. A nd th en th ere a re th e d em ig o ds s ti ll o n b oard . D id y o u e v en
co nsid er th em ?”
There w asn ’t a g o od w ay to te ll h im th is w asn ’t a r e sc ue m is sio n. I w asn ’t s u p pose d to s to p th e
dem ig o ds fr o m g o in g m is sin g. Ju st o bse rv e, re p ort, a nd le t th e re alm ru le rs fig ure o ut w hat th ey
wante d to d o w ith th e i n fo rm ati o n.
As it tu rn ed o ut, I d id n’t n eed to s a y a nyth in g. A donis s tu d ie d m e fo r a lo ng m om ent, h is m outh
dro ppin g o pen a s h e f ig ure d o ut w hat I w ould n’t s a y. “ W e’re e xp end ab le to y o u, a re n’t w e? Y ou d on’t
actu ally c are th at w e’re g o in g m is sin g. Y ou ju st w ant to m ake s u re w hate v er h ap pens to u s is n ’t a
th re at to y o u.”
“A donis . . .” I d ro pped m y e yes, u nw illin g to m eet h is g aze .
“A nd y o u w ond er w hy th ey a ll h ate y o u.” H is g o ld e yes lo cked to m in e, s m old erin g w ith r a ge.
“T he f e w m orta ls w ho e v en k no w g o ds e xis t.”
No, w e a ll k new . W e’d n ev er h ad to w ond er. T he b oat b obbed o n th e w av es a s w e l e ft th e p ort. I
fo cuse d o n th e m ovem ent, th e s w ayin g c hand elie r, th e s u b tl e s o und o f th e o cean b eyo nd th e g la ss
walls , u nco m fo rta b le w ith th e tu rn th is c o nv ers a ti o n h ad ta ken.
Adonis c le nched h is f is ts . “ Y ou’re c allo us, a nd s e lfis h , a nd — ”
Okay, e no ugh. C alm in g o cean c ra p c o uld o nly d ro w n o ut s o m any i n su lts . “ Y ou d o r e aliz e y o u’re
no t s p eakin g to a c o lle cti v e h ere , r ig ht? J u st m e.”
“W hat, lik e y o u’re a ny d iffe re nt? ” A donis s h o ok h is h ead in d is g ust. “ Y ou’v e k no w n fo r o ver a
yea r
Z eus w asn ’t th e o ne c ausin g d em ig o ds to g o m is sin g. W hy d id n’t y o u w arn m e?”
“T hey a re n’t d ead .” H ad es w ould h av e s e en th em i n th e U nd erw orld .
“S o w hat? ” A donis c ro sse d h is a rm s, th en d ro pped th em a s if h e’d re aliz e d h e’d m ir ro re d m y
pose . “ Y ou g uys a ssu m ed ‘ n o t d ead ’ e q uale d f in e?”
“Z eus sa id h e d id n’t to uch th e d em ig o ds, b ut th at d oesn ’t m ean h e w asn ’t b ehin d th em g o in g
mis sin g. A nd th e d is a p peara nces s e em ed to s to p w hen h e d ie d . I f I ’ d k no w n y o u w ere s ti ll i n d anger,
Adonis , I w ould h av e w arn ed y o u.”
“Y ou w ould ?”
“O f c o urs e .” I’ d th ro w m yse lf in to th e h o tte st p its o f T arta ru s b efo re I le t A donis g et h urt. H e’d
tr u ste d m e. E ven k no w in g Z eus c o uld h av e m ad e m e k ill h im w ith a w ord , h e’d p ut h is fa ith in m e.
That m eant m ore to m e th an h e’d e v er k no w . I g ra b bed h is h and s. “ I’ m w arn in g y o u
now ,
are n’t I?
You’re m y f r ie nd . Y ou’re n o t e xp en— ”
“W e a re n o t f r ie nd s,” A donis e xp lo ded .
My b re ath c aught. A donis ’s fa ith in m e h ad k ep t m e g o in g th ro ugh o ne o f th e
worst
mom ents o f
my life . A donis ’s s tr e ngth h eld m e to geth er w hen g iv in g in fe lt lik e th e o nly o pti o n. H e h ad n’t ju st
sto pped m e f r o m d oin g s o m eth in g I ’ d s p end th e r e st o f m y l ife r e gre tti n g, h e s a v ed m y l ife . I w ould n’t
sti ll
exis t
if i t w asn ’t f o r h im . B ut n o w , h e w as l o okin g a t m e a s i f h e’d r a th er I d id n’t.
“Y ou r e ally d on’t g et i t, d o y o u?” H is g o ld en e yes r a ked o ver m y f a ce, f u ll o f a nger a nd d is g ust.
“W hat is it y o u’re e xp ecti n g h ere , A phro dite ? G ra ti tu d e? Y ou th in k y o u c an ju st te ll m e m y e nti r e
sp ecie s
is b ein g r o und ed u p , n ev er to b e h eard fr o m a gain , a nd e xp ect m e to le av e? T o fa ll o ver m y
fe et, g ra te fu l y o u d eig ned to w arn m e? H ell, n o . I’ m n o t g o in g a nyw here .” H e s n atc hed h is b ag a nd
head ed to w ard th e s ta ir s . “ If a nyo ne s h o uld l e av e, i t s h o uld b e y o u. I c an’t b e c harm ed i n to f o rg etti n g
anyth in g. D o y o ur g o d th in g a nd p ut a tr a ce o n m e. A ssu m in g ‘ n o t d ead ’ d oesn ’t e q ual c ata to nic , I’ ll

fill y o u i n o n a ll th e d eta ils w hen y o u f in d m e.”
Sti ll s tu nned , I s h o ok m y h ead . “ I’ m n o t u sin g y o u a s b ait.”
“I’ m a h ell o f a lo t m ore m oti v ate d to g et to th e b otto m o f th is th an y o u,” h e a rg ued . “ G o d o
whate v er i t i s th at y o u d o. I ’ ll m ake s u re m y p eo ple s ta y s a fe .”
“I c an’t tr a ck y o u.” T here w ere g o ds th at c o uld tr a ce p ow er s ig natu re s f r o m a cro ss th e g lo be, b ut
I w asn ’t o ne o f th em . “ B ut i f y o u i n sis t o n s ta yin g . . .”
“I d o.”
“T hen I g uess I’ ll b e n eed in g a n ew r o om .” I tu rn ed to g o g et m y b ags, u nw illin g to le t h im s e e
ho w m uch h is w ord s h ad h urt.
“T here a re n o o th er r o om s.” A donis s o und ed ti r e d . “ T hey o ffe re d m e th is u p gra d e b ecause m in e
was d oub le -b ooked . T hen th ey tr ie d to k ic k m e o ff th e b oat e nti r e ly b ecause o f y o u.”
What, w as h e e xp ecti n g a n a p olo gy? I fo rc ed a s m ile to m y fa ce. “ S om eho w , I d on’t th in k I’ ll
hav e tr o ub le f in d in g a p la ce to s le ep .”
“B ecause y o u’re g o in g to c harm s o m eo ne o ut o f th eir s u ite ? N o.”
I r a is e d m y e yeb ro w s a t th at. “ A nd w ho e xactl y i s g o in g to s to p m e?”
Adonis l o oked l ik e h e w ante d to p ro te st, b ut th en h is s h o uld ers s lu m ped . “ Y ou k no w w hat? ” H e
gra b bed h is b ag a nd h ead ed to w ard th e s ta ir s . “ I d on’t c are w hat y o u d o. I’ v e g o t to g et re ad y fo r
orie nta ti o n. Y ou c an g et y o ur s tu ff o ut o f h ere w hen I l e av e.”
Aw kw ard s ile nce f ille d th e r o om a s A donis l u gged h is s u itc ase u p sta ir s . I k ep t m y g aze f a ste ned
on th e w hite carp et, fe elin g ash am ed , d efe nsiv e, and stu nned all at o nce. M ayb e I
sh ould
hav e
worrie d m ore a b out th e o th er d em ig o ds. B ut it w asn ’t a s if I
wante d
a ny h arm to c o m e to th em . I
wasn ’t a m onste r. J u st n o t a ll th at c o m passio nate .
Perse p hone w ould c a re .
Yeah, w ell, P ers e p ho ne w as p erfe ct a nd s h e h ad th e p ow er to d o s o m eth in g a b out th e m is sin g
dem ig o ds. I’ d h ad m y o w n s tu ff to d eal w ith s in ce Z eus d ie d . S o w hat if I’ d a ssu m ed g o ds m ore
cap ab le th an m e w ere in v esti g ati n g th e d is a p peara nces. I w asn ’t w ro ng. A s so on as so m eth in g
popped u p th at I c o uld h elp w ith , I’ d ju m ped in , h ad n’t I? S o w hy d id I fe el lik e th at w asn ’t e no ugh,
all o f a s u d den?
What d o I c a re w hat s o m e h alf- b re ed t h in ks o f m e?
I to sse d m y h air, tr y in g to c o lle ct m yse lf. T o
ig no re h o w h urt h e’d m ad e m e f e el. W hate v er. H e’d m ad e m y j o b e asie r. N ow a ll I n eed ed to d o w as
watc h h im , s e e w hat h ap pened , th en r e p ort to P ose id on.
Scre w A donis .

Chap te r I V
W HEN A DONIS L E FT f o r o rie nta ti o n, I f o llo w ed . S o m ayb e I c o uld n’t c harm h im i n to l e av in g, a nd I
l a cked th e p hysic al str e ngth to d ra g him o ff th e b oat. T hat d id n’t m ean I co uld n’t charm a fe w
p asse ngers i n to h elp in g m e o ut. I ’ d g et a c erta in s a ti s fa cti o n i n w atc hin g h im b e d ra gged o ff th e s h ip .
Rig ht u p u nti l I h ad to r e p ort to P ers e p ho ne a nd P ose id on th at I ’ d m ad e a s c ene u sin g c harm .
Sho uld ers slu m pin g, I re aliz e d th at th ere w as no th in g I co uld d o to re m ove A donis w ith o ut
p utti n g m y m is sio n i n j e o pard y. S o I m ig ht a s w ell u se h im . C hances w ere g o od th at th e o th er d em ig o d
m odels w ould b e a t th is o rie nta ti o n a s w ell. I n eed ed to g et a l o ok a t th e p ote nti a l ta rg ets .
I c aught u p to A donis o n th e s ta ir c ase . H e te nse d , b ut h e d id n’t s lo w d ow n o r a ckno w le d ge m y
p re se nce. B y th e ti m e w e re ached th e p ro m enad e d eck, I h ad a p re tty g o od id ea w here w e w ere
h ead ed . W hen A donis m ad e a b eelin e f o r th e m ain a ud ito riu m , I s lo w ed .
“Y ou k no w , if I h ad a g o rg eo us g o ddess fo llo w in g m e, I’ d s lo w d ow n.” A n u nfa m ilia r d em ig o d
s to od b esid e th e s ilv er s e t o f d oub le d oors . H e l o oked ta lle r th an A donis , b ut w ay m ore m usc ula r.
“T anta lu s.” T he m usc ula r d em ig o d o ffe re d m e his hand , th en sh ifte d , gra b bin g m e b efo re I
w alk ed i n to th e “ P riv ate F uncti o n” s ig n m ounte d o n a g o ld p ole . “ W atc h o ut.”
Letti n g o ut a n e m barra sse d l a ugh, I s tu m ble d i n to T anta lu s. I s h o uld n’t b e s o h ard o n m yse lf; I ’ v e
o nly b een w alk in g f o r th re e y ears . I t ta kes p ra cti c e. “ T hanks.”
“H ere f o r th e c o nv enti o n?” T anta lu s k ep t h is h and s o n m y s h o uld ers a nd d id n’t m ove a w ay f r o m
m e o r o ut o f th e w ay o f th e d oor.
“U m . . . a ctu ally . . .” I tr a ile d o ff, s te p pin g a w ay f r o m h im a nd th ro ugh th e d oub le d oors i n to th e
d ark ened a ud ito riu m . I c o uld c harm h im in to n o t te llin g a nyo ne a b out m y in v esti g ati o n. I c o uld e v en
c harm h im in to r e p orti n g to m e if h e s a w a nyth in g s u sp ic io us. B ut in a r o om lik e th is , th ere w as n o
t e llin g h o w fa r e v en a w his p er c o uld c arry , n o t to m enti o n w ho o r w hat e ls e w ould s e e th e p ow er
s ig natu re f r o m m y c harm . I s e arc hed f o r a no th er r e aso n f o r b ein g h ere , b ut d re w a b la nk. “ I w ante d to
g o o n a c ru is e ?”
I s c o ped o ut th e r e st o f th e r o om , ta kin g a m om ent to g et m y b earin gs. B ooth s d otte d th e r o om ,
a rra nged i n s e m ic ir c le s s o e v ery o ne s e ate d c o uld s e e th e s ta ge, b ut n o o ne s a t. S itti n g w ould i n d ic ate
a ti m e c o m mitm ent n o o ne s e em ed to w ant to g iv e.
Sto ppin g a t th e e d ge o f th e a ud ito riu m , I le aned a gain st th e b ack w all, so und pro ofin g fu zzie s
t i c klin g m y b are a rm s. D eep i n th e c ro w d, A donis s to od o ut l ik e a g o ld en b eaco n, s o m eho w m anagin g
t o a lm ost g lo w d esp ite th e d im lig hti n g. H e w as e ngaged in a n a nim ate d d is c ussio n w ith a w om an
w ho l o oked f a r to o p la in to b elo ng to a m odelin g c o nv enti o n.
Tanta lu s f o llo w ed m e w ith a s m ir k a nd l e aned a gain st th e w all b esid e m e, h and p la nte d r ig ht n ext
t o m y h ead . “ I’ d b uy th at, i f I r a n i n to y o u o n d eck.”
I s m ile d , l o okin g h im o ver. “ M ayb e I ’ m j u st e njo yin g th e v ie w .”
Tanta lu s s te p ped i n f r o nt o f m e, h o ld in g o ut h is h and s a s i f h e w ere th e g o ds’ g ift to m an. W hic h,

te chnic ally s p eakin g. . . . “ W ell, l o ok n o f u rth er, s w eeth eart.”
A v io le nt s h ud der w re nched th ro ugh m e a t th e te rm o f e nd earm ent. I w ra p ped m y a rm s a ro und
myse lf a s i f I ’ d s h iv ere d .
“C old ?” H is e yes r o am ed o ver m e. “ If y o u w ant, w e c an d itc h th is a nd g o s o m ep la ce w arm er.”
The l e er i n h is v oic e l e ft l ittl e d oub t th at h e m eant h is b ed .
I co nsid ere d his p ro positi o n. W ell, no t
th at
angle o f his p ro positi o n. I p re fe rre d m en w ho
wors h ip ped m e, no t th em se lv es. B ut T anta lu s w ould n’t q uesti o n m e fo llo w in g him aro und . H e’d
actu ally w elc o m e th e a tte nti o n. A nd I w ould n’t b e h eartb ro ken if s o m eth in g h ap pened to h im . T hat
mad e h im g o od b ait. “ W hat r o om a re y o u s ta yin g i n ?”
He r a ttl e d o ff th e r o om n um ber. “ It’ s o ne o f th e n ic est o n th e s h ip . I c o uld s h o w y o u.”
Adonis to uched m y a rm , a nd I s ta rte d i n s u rp ris e . I h ad n’t n o ti c ed h im c o m in g th is w ay a t a ll.
“C an I h av e a w ord ?” A donis ’s q uesti o n m ay h av e b een d ir e cte d a t m e, b ut h is g aze n ev er le ft
Tanta lu s.
Tanta lu s s h ru gged , m ovin g b ack a lm ost e no ugh fo r m e to a v oid b ru sh in g a gain st h im a s I e d ged
aw ay fr o m th e w all. “ S he’s a ll y o urs .” H is to ne m ad e th e u nsp oken w ord s “ fo r n o w ” a s lo ud a s if
he’d s h o ute d th em .
I l e t A donis e sc o rt m e f a rth er i n to th e a ud ito riu m , b ut tu rn ed a nd w av ed a f e w f in gers a t T anta lu s
as w e w alk ed a w ay.
“S to p th at.” A donis w hir le d o n m e, g o ld e yes f la sh in g.
“W hy?” I ti lte d m y h ead , a nd a l o ck o f r e d h air f e ll o ver m y s h o uld er. “ W orrie d th e e v il g o ddess
is g o in g to h urt y o ur f r ie nd ? O h w ow , h e’s s ti ll l o okin g a t u s.” I w av ed , f la sh in g T anta lu s a f lir ta ti o us
sm ile . “ D on’t w orry , I d on’t th in k h e’ll m in d m y c o m pany.”
Adonis g av e m e a f la t l o ok. “ A re y o u s e rio us? ”
I kep t m y sm ile p le asa nt. “A s a heart atta ck.” W hic h, all th in gs co nsid ere d , w asn ’t te rrib ly
se rio us to g o ds, b ut I l ik ed th e p hra se . “ I c an g et a ll th e i n fo rm ati o n I n eed w atc hin g h im , w ith o ut th e
anno yin g a tti tu d e.”
Adonis o pened h is m outh to p ro te st, b ut I h eld u p a h and to c ut h im o ff. “ I’ m n o t g o in g to c hase
afte r y o u, A donis . N ot in y o ur w ild est d re am s. A nd if y o u’re e xp ecti n g m e to a p olo giz e o r b eg fo r
yo ur u nd ers ta nd in g, y o u a re s a d ly m is in fo rm ed . B ecause o f o ur h is to ry , I to ld y o u w hy I w as h ere a nd
offe re d to g et y o u s o m ew here s a fe . B ut th at w as j u st a c o urte sy.”
Adonis s n o rte d . “ A c o urte sy ?”
“Y ou a re n’t e nti tl e d to a re sc ue m is sio n ju st b y v ir tu e o f b ein g a d em ig o d,” I re m in d ed h im .
“P eo ple g o m is sin g a ll th e ti m e w ith o ut d iv in e i n te rv enti o n. W hen’s th e l a st ti m e y o u p ers o nally m ad e
any e ffo rt to f in d o ut w hy?”
He c le nched h is j a w , b ut d id n’t r e p ly .
“I h av e n o p la ns to h urt y o ur f r ie nd ,” I a ssu re d h im . “ O r ta ke a d vanta ge o f h im , o r w hate v er i t i s
yo u th in k w e ‘ m onste rs ’ d o, b ut— ”
“It’ s n o t h im I ’ m w orrie d a b out.”
And w hat d id h e m ean b y th at? T he c ro w ded r o om b urs t i n to a p pla use b efo re I c o uld r e sp ond .
“L ad ie s a nd g entl e m en,” c alle d o ut y et a no th er d em ig o d w ho ’d w altz e d o ut o n to th e sta ge.
“W elc o m e to M odel M ad ness.”
“T hre e or fo ur dem ig o ds acro ss th e enti r e co nv enti o n?” I challe nged , w hile th e dem ig o d
la unched i n to a s p eech. S om eth in g a b out w ork , f u n, a nd c harity . I c o uld n’t d ecid e i f h e w ante d to s e ll

me s o m eth in g o r g et m e
re a lly
pum ped u p a b out b ein g h ere .
Adonis s h ru gged . “ C ounti n g th em . T anta lu s w ork s f o r a no th er a gency. N arc is su s,” h e m oti o ned to
th e d em ig o d o n s ta ge, “ ru ns m y a gency a nd th e c o nv enti o n. A nd I a lr e ad y to ld y o u a b out E lis e b ackin g
out a t th e la st m in ute .” H e s h ru gged a gain . “ T here c o uld b e m ore I d on’t k no w a b out, b ut I d oub t it.
We’re k in d o f a c o m munity .”
Yeah, I’ d a lr e ad y le arn ed th at m uch fr o m P ers e p ho ne’s h ead p rie st, O rp heus. T he d em ig o ds o f
to day w ere s o l u cky. B ack w hen O ly m pus s to od, th ey d id n’t h av e I n te rn et a ccess to tr a ck o ne a no th er
dow n a nd f o rm s u p port g ro up s.
“A donis !” A ta ll, l e ggy, d em ig o ddess b ro ke f r e e f r o m th e c ro w d a nd f lu ng h ers e lf i n to h is a rm s.
Adonis e m bra ced h er, b ut th e m ovem ent se em ed m ore o ut o f re fle x th an a ffe cti o n. “ E lis e ? I
th o ught y o u g o t a d eal w ith — ”
“I c hanged m y m in d .” S he m et A donis ’s e yes w ith a lo ok th at m ad e m e th in k s h e w as ta lk in g
ab out s o m eth in g m ore th an a c are er c ho ic e.
“T hat’ s . . . g re at? ” A donis ’s s m ile l o oked h esita nt.
Elis e g av e A donis a q uiz zic al l o ok, th en s ta rte d i n s u rp ris e w hen s h e n o ti c ed m e. “ Y ou’re a — ”
“H i.” I h eld o ut a h and . “ I’ m — ”
“Y ou k no w w hat? I d on’t w ant to k no w .” S he tu rn ed h er a tte nti o n b ack to A donis , d is m is sin g m e
as th o ugh I w as b eneath h er n o ti c e.
My m outh hung o pen. H ad th at ju st hap pened ? I w as a
goddess
. I did n’t get dis m is se d . I
dis m is se d p eo ple . G ritti n g m y te eth , I fo cuse d m y a tte nti o n o n th e s ta ge a s th e c ro w d e ru p te d in to
ano th er ro und o f ap pla use . I co uld hav e sp at so m eth in g w itty and sn ark y rig ht b ack at her, b ut
arg um ents w ith m orta ls w ere b eneath m e. S he w asn ’t w orth m y ti m e.
Yo u k eep te llin g y o urse lf th at, A phro dite . D elu sio ns a re fu n.
If o nly in su lti n g o th er p eo ple w as
as e asy a s i n su lti n g m yse lf. S co w lin g, I s tu d ie d th e d em ig o ddess o ut o f th e c o rn er o f m y e ye. F em ale
dem ig o ds w ere r a re . D iv in e g eneti c s tr ig gere d th e “ Y ” c hro m oso m e m ore o fte n th an n o t. G ood th in g,
giv en h o w m uch s tr o nger d em ig o ddesse s w ere .
Herc ule s g o t a ll h is p re ss f o r k illin g m onste rs i n w hat l o oked l ik e c le v er w ays. B ut i n r e ality , h is
charm d ro ve th o se c re atu re s to th eir d eath . T hey k new h e w ante d th em d ead , so th ey c o m plie d .
Peo ple r e m em bere d th e m onste rs . T hey fo rg o t th at h is c harm a ls o d ro ve h is w ife to k ill h er c hild re n
and h ers e lf. In th e e nd , h e g o t s o o ut o f c o ntr o l th at Z eus h ad a cti v ate d th e ic ho r in H erc ule s’s b lo od
to tr a nsfo rm th e h ero i n to a g o d.
But c o m pare d to H ele n o f T ro y, H erc ule s w as s m all p ota to es. H erc ule s’s c harm k ille d a fe w
monste rs ; H ele n’s d estr o yed a n e nti r e c iv iliz a ti o n. I n eed ed to l e arn th is g ir l’s l in eage. S he m ig ht n o t
hav e a ny p ow ers a t a ll, b ut if s h e d id , th ey’d b e e xp onenti a lly s tr o nger th an a m ale d em ig o d’s o f th e
sa m e b lo odlin e.
Narc is su s’s g o ld en e yes la nd ed o n m e a nd w id ened . A s s o on a s h e w ra p ped u p h is s p eech, h e
ho pped d ow n f r o m th e s ta ge, m akin g a b eelin e f o r o ur w eir d tr io .
“P le ase b e w ith m y a gency,” N arc is su s b egged w hen h e a rriv ed . “ T o s ta nd o ut in
th is
cro w d is
an a cco m plis h m ent.”
Adonis a nd E lis e g av e N arc is su s a f la t l o ok.
“I m ean,” h e s a id , b acktr a ckin g. “ O h c o m e o n, l o ok a t h er. Y ou’re a ll s ta rs , a nyb ody c an s e e th at,
but y o u h av e to a d m it, s h e b urn s a b it b rig hte r. E — ” H e s n ap ped h is f in gers . “ G et o ver h ere .”
For a se co nd , I th o ught h e m eant E lis e . T hen a b eauti fu l w om an w ith w id e, in te llig ent e yes

hurrie d a cro ss th e a ud ito riu m a fte r N arc is su s, d odgin g ta b le s a nd l in gerin g m odels w ith a n ym ph-lik e
gra ce. “ E ” w hip ped o ut a ta b le t a nd h eld a p en a t th e r e ad y.
Narc is su s l o oked m e o ver. “ Is s h e w ith y o u, D onnie ?”
Was I ? I r a is e d a n e yeb ro w a nd l o oked to A donis .
He g la nced b etw een m e a nd E lis e , th en l e t o ut a l o ng-s u ffe rin g s ig h. “ Y eah,” h e d ecid ed . “ S he’s
with m e.”
“W ith y o u?” E lis e s p utte re d . “ W hat d o y o u m ean
with
yo u?”
“C an w e ta lk a b out th is l a te r? ” A donis a sk ed i n a n u nd erto ne.
“U m . N o.” E lis e ’s g o ld e yes fla re d a nd s h e d re w h er h and s to h er h ip s. “ N arc is su s, I a p olo giz e
fo r b ein g s o u np ro fe ssio nal, b ut w e w ere a ctu ally ta lk in g w hen y o u— ”
“It’ s f in e.” N arc is su s s a id w ith a d is m is siv e w av e o f h is h and . “ Y ou tw o c an g o .”
“A donis ? ” E lis e ti lte d h er h ead .
Adonis g ritte d h is te eth , lo okin g b etw een E lis e a nd m e. “ T his is n ’t w hat it lo oks lik e, a nd I’ d
lo ve to e xp la in . L ate r m ayb e. B ut r ig ht n o w — ”
“Y ou e v er c o nsid er a c are er in m odelin g?” N arc is su s a sk ed m e, o bliv io us to th e d ra m a p la yin g
out b etw een th e tw o m odels . “ Y our k in d n eed s a ll th e e xp osu re y o u c an g et, r ig ht? ”
“U m . . .” M y k in d , h uh? M odelin g w asn ’t a n u nco m mon c o ver c are er f o r a g o d s tr u gglin g to f in d
wors h ip . W e n eed ed th e w ors h ip , a nd w e c o uld n’t lie , w hic h m ad e p urs u in g a cti n g o r m ost o th er
care ers th at th re w y o u i n to th e l im elig ht d iffic ult. B ut I h ad c harm . I c o uld g et a ll th e w ors h ip I n eed ed
sim ply w alk in g th ro ugh a c ro w ded r o om .
“A w , c o m e o n. A p re tty g ir l l ik e y o u?” N arc is su s r a is e d h is e yeb ro w s a t m e. “ S ure y o u h av e. E ,
dra w u p th e p ap erw ork .”
“D ra w u p th e p ap erw ork ?” E h ad , a t l e ast, n o ti c ed I h ad n’t a gre ed .
“S he’s n o t h ere f o r— ” A donis p ro te ste d , b ut N arc is su s c ut h im o ff.
“D on’t w ant m e e ati n g u p a ll y o ur g ir lfr ie nd ’s ti m e?” N arc is su s i g no re d E lis e ’s o ffe nd ed s q ueak
at th e w ord g ir lfr ie nd . “ I g et y a. I w ould n’t w ant to le t h er le av e m y s ig ht e ith er if I w ere y o u. I c an
work h er in to y o ur sh o ots , if y o u w ant. I m ean, g eeze , lo ok a t y o u tw o.” H is g o ld en e yes d arte d
betw een u s. “ S te p o ut o f y o ur h eels , d arlin ’.”
“W hat? ” I g av e A donis a c o nfu se d l o ok, b ut e v en h e l o oked ta ken a b ack a t N arc is su s’s r e q uest.
Adonis s h ru gged , s o I o blig ed . T here w ere n’t m any m odels le ft in th e ro om , b ut th e fe w w ho
re m ain ed d id a d oub le ta ke w hen th ey s a w m e s te p o ut o f m y s h o es.
“S ta nd c lo se r.”
Adonis and I m oved unti l w e w ere sta nd in g sid e b y sid e. B eneath m y fe et, th e carp et fe lt
co m pre sse d a nd m ois t. L ik e th e th in f a b ric w as s w eati n g.
“P erfe ct, E , l o ok. T hey f it to geth er l ik e a f u ckin ’ p uzzle .”
“T hey f it to geth er.” H er e yes d arte d u p f r o m h er ta b le t e v ery s o o fte n, a s i f s h e w as tr y in g n o t to
lo ok o ccup ie d b y s o m eth in g o n h er s c re en. W as s h e p la yin g a g am e? W hy b oth er h id in g it fr o m h er
boss? T hro ugho ut th is e nti r e c o nv ers a ti o n, N arc is su s h ad n’t s o m uch a s l o oked a t h er.
Narc is su s s tu d ie d u s fo r a m om ent, h is fin gers h o oked o n th e b elt lo ops o f h is k hakis . “ I’ d b uy
whate v er y o u tw o w ere s e llin g. H ell, y eah.”
“A re y o u k id din g m e?” E lis e s ta re d a t N arc is su s a s i f h e’d g o ne m ad .
Okay, e no ugh. I ste p ped b ack in to m y sh o es a nd m oved a w ay fr o m A donis . “ I’ d o nly b e in
Adonis ’s sh o ots ? ” T hat w ould g iv e m e b ette r a ccess th an I c o uld h o pe to a chie v e w ith o ut u sin g

charm .
“O f c o urs e .”
“I’ m w illin g to c o nsid er th at.”
“E , s e nd h er th e p ap erw ork . A donis ’s s u ite , I p re su m e.”
Adonis o pened h is m outh , th en c lo se d h is l ip s i n a ti g ht l in e, n o ddin g.
“S he’s
sta yin g
in y o ur r o om ?” E lis e d em and ed .
“E lis e . . .“
“F org et i t.” E lis e s h o ok h er h ead a nd w alk ed o ff.
Adonis w atc hed h er g o , e q ual p arts r e lie f a nd r e gre t e v id ent i n h is e xp re ssio n.
I c le are d m y th ro at, d ra w in g N arc is su s’s a tte nti o n b ack to m e. “ I’ m n o t s ig nin g a nyth in g.” G ods
can’t l ie , a nd w ho k new w hat th is g uy w ould tr y to w ork i n to h is c o ntr a ct.
“ ’C ours e n o t.” H e w in ked a t m e. “ A nd e v en if y o u d id , I s o m eho w d oub t y o u h av e a p ro per
pap er tr a il. B ut w hile y o ur w ord a lo ne is g o od e no ugh fo r m e, w e sh o ot a d verti s e m ents a nd n o
co m pany is g o in g to p ay fo r p ho to s w ith o ut a w ritte n r e le ase . If I c an’t s e ll y o u, th ere ’s n o r e aso n to
ta ke yo ur p ic tu re . H ow ab out I sig n th e p ap erw ork fo r yo u la te r, and w ork o ut all th o se p esk y
deta ils ? ”
“M mm . . . s ti ll n o t g o in g to a llo w y o u to p ut m y n am e o n s o m eth in g I d on’t u nd ers ta nd . W alk m e
th ro ugh th e c o ntr a ct o ver d in ner? ” I n eed ed to k no w w ho h e’d s p oken w ith to a rra nge th e c o nv enti o n.
Did s o m eo ne s u ggest th e c ru is e to h im , o r d id h e c o m e u p w ith th e id ea o n h is o w n? W here d id h e
ad verti s e M odel M ad ness?
More l ik ely th an n o t, th e i n fo rm ati o n w ould b e u se le ss. M elis sa a nd I h ad m anaged to h unt d ow n
Adonis l a st y ear u sin g n o th in g m ore th an s o cia l m ed ia . T hanks to th eir d is ti n cti v e f e atu re s, d em ig o ds
were n’t d iffic ult to tr a ck d ow n i f a nyo ne r e ally w ante d to f in d th em . B ut s ti ll, th ere m ig ht b e a c hance
I’ d g le an s o m e d eta il i m porta nt to m y i n v esti g ati o n.
“I’ d b e d elig hte d . T om orro w a t s e v en? I ’ ll d ro p th e c o ntr a ct o ff i n y o ur r o om i n a f e w h o urs . Y ou
can lo ok ev ery th in g over, co m e up w ith any questi o ns yo u lik e. In fa ct— ” N arc is su s pause d ,
co nsid erin g. “ W hy d on’t y o u d o a s h o ot w ith A donis to m orro w to s e e i f th e j o b i s to y o ur l ik in g?”
I g la nced a t A donis . H e r o lle d h is e yes, b ut d id n’t o bje ct.
I f o rc ed a s m ile to m y f a ce. “ W hy n o t? ”

Chap te r V
A DONIS K EPT A N a rm in fr o nt o f th e e le v ato r d oor u nti l w e w ere b oth in sid e. B ut n o t in a p olite ,
“ here , l e t m e g et th at f o r y o u” w ay. N o, h e
held
th e d oor b ack a s i f th e h eav y c o ntr a p ti o n c o uld s p rin g
f r e e a nd c ru sh h im a t a ny m om ent. O nce w e w ere b oth c le ar o f th e tr a ck, h e d re w h is h and i n sid e i n a
f la sh a nd h it th e b utto n f o r o ur d eck, h is s h o uld ers r e la xin g w hen th e e le v ato r r o se w ith o ut i n cid ent.
“O kay . . . w hy?” I m oti o ned to h is a rm , th en w av ed a t th e e le v ato r d oor.
“I s a w th is m ovie o nce . . .” A donis s h ud dere d , m ovin g h is h and s to w ard h is n eck b efo re j e rk in g
t h em d ow n a s i f h e h ad n’t r e aliz e d th ey w ere i n m oti o n. “ E le v ato rs m ake m e n erv ous, th at’ s a ll.”
“M ust h av e b een o ne h ell o f a m ovie .” I s tu d ie d m y d is to rte d r e fle cti o n i n th e s ilv er d oor, u nsu re
h o w I f e lt a b out th e w ay m y b ody s tr e tc hed a nd c o nto rte d d ep end in g o n h o w I m oved . “ D o y o u w ant
m e to s e t th e r e co rd s tr a ig ht w ith y o ur g ir lfr ie nd ?”
“E x-g ir lfr ie nd ,” A donis c o rre cte d a s th e e le v ato r s lo w ed to a s to p. “ A nd ta lk in g to h er w on’t
h elp . S he’s n o t u p se t b ecause s h e th in ks I ’ m w ith s o m eo ne e ls e ; w e b oth m oved o n a w hile a go .”
“D id n’t s e em l ik e i t to m e.”
“N o, i t’ s n o t— ” A donis s w allo w ed h ard a nd h eld th e e le v ato r d oor b ack u nti l w e w ere b oth f r e e
o f th e m eta l c o nfin es o f th e a p pare nt d eath tr a p . “ S he’s l ik e m e.”
I f r o w ned . “ L ik e y o u?”
“W hate v er I a m ? S he’s th e s a m e. I m et h er p are nts . T hey’re b oth d em ig o ds.”
I fe lt th e h air r is e o n th e b ack o f m y n eck. A d em ig o ddess w ith A donis ’s w eir d lin eage w ould
h av e a n i n sa ne a m ount o f c harm , a nd s h e’d b e c o m ple te ly i m mune to m in e. C ould s h e b e r e sp onsib le
f o r c harm in g e v ery o ne o n th e o th er b oats ? N o o ne k new th e tr u e e xte nt o f Z eus’s stu p id sc ie nce
p ro je cts .
Adonis fe ll in to s te p b esid e m e a s w e h ead ed d ow n th e h all. “ T hat’ s w hy w e b ro ke th in gs o ff. I
c o uld n’t g et p ast w hat D em ete r s a id , a b out Z eus h av in g a f e m ale v ers io n o f m e o ut th ere th at I ’ d . . .”
H e tr a ile d o ff, ru b bin g th e b ack o f h is n eck. “ Y ou k no w , b e ‘c o m pelle d ’ to b re ed w ith .” A donis ’s
e xp re ssio n tw is te d , a s if h e’d ta ste d s o m eth in g fo ul. “ S o y o u c an s e e h o w r o om in g w ith a g o ddess,
a fte r I d um ped h er b ecause I d id n’t w ant a nyth in g to d o w ith g o ds, m ig ht s e t h er o ff.” H e fr o w ned
s e arc hin g h is p ockets a s w e a p pro ached th e d oor to th e s u ite . “ W here d id — Rig ht. T hey n ev er g av e
m e a k ey.”
“H ere , I ’ v e g o t m in e.” I s lid m y k ey c ard i n to th e l o ck s lit.
“T hanks.” A donis w alk ed p ast m e i n to th e r o om . “ H ellu v a d ay, h uh?”
“F or y o u, to o?” I la ughed , s te p pin g o ut o f m y s h o es. “ T here ’s a n e xtr a k ey o n th e c o unte r. Y ou
c an h av e th at o ne.”
“I a p pre cia te i t, b ut I ’ ll n eed to g et m y o w n i f I w ant to g et o n a nd o ff th is s h ip w hen w e r e ach a
p ort,” A donis re m in d ed m e. H e m oved to th e fr id ge, o pened th e d oor, a nd sta re d in sid e it fo r a
m om ent, a s if th e c o nte nts m ig ht h av e s h ifte d w hile w e w ere g o ne. A fte r a lo ng m in ute , h e a sk ed ,

“Y ou th ir s ty ?” W hen I n o dded , A donis g ra b bed tw o w ate r b ottl e s o ut o f o ur f r id ge a nd to sse d o ne to
me.
I c aught th e b ottl e a nd s a nk o nto th e w hite c o uch, le tti n g m y s h o uld ers u nkno t a s I le aned b ack.
Sitti n g d ow n i n ste ad o f i n v esti g ati n g s e em ed w ro ng, i n effic ie nt, b ut I c o uld n’t th in k o f a nyth in g e ls e I
co uld l o ok i n to b efo re M ig uel g av e m e a ccess to th e c o m pute rs . “ I’ ll h av e M ig uel ta ke c are o f i t.”
The c ush io n d ip ped w hen A donis s a t o n th e o pposite e nd o f th e c o uch, p ro ppin g h is fe et u p o n
th e w ic ker ta b le . H e l o oked s o d eje cte d a b out h is r u n-in w ith E lis e th at I to ok p ity o n h im .
“Y ou c an d o b ette r.”
“H uh?” H e d id n’t e v en lift h is h ead o ff th e c o uch w hen h e lo oked a t m e, le av in g o ne c heek
pre sse d a gain st th e th re ad y f a b ric .
I s h ru gged . “ Ju st s a yin g. Y ou c o uld d o b ette r th an E lis e .”
“T hanks? ” H e le aned fo rw ard , h unchin g o ver s o h is e lb ow s re ste d o n h is k nees. “ I k no w s h e
did n’t c o m e o ff g re at, b ut s h e’s n o t th at b ad . I a ctu ally — ” H e s h o ok h is h ead . “ D oesn ’t m atte r
. A fte r I
fo und o ut w hat . . . I c o uld n’t— Ah, n ev er m in d .” H e le aned b ack a gain st th e c o uch, s ta rin g u p a t th e
ceilin g. “ I’ m n o t m akin g a ny s e nse .”
“Y ou a re , th o ugh.” I to ok a s ip o f m y w ate r. “ B ein g a liv in g s c ie nce e xp erim ent s u cks, b elie v e
me, I u nd ers ta nd . E ven th e m ost in no cuo us c ho ic es c an fe el . . .” I tr a ile d o ff, u nab le to th in k o f a
str o ng e no ugh w ord to c ap tu re w hat Z eus h ad d one to u s. D iffe re nt m eth o ds, s a m e re su lt. W e w ere
both b uilt to h is s p ecific ati o ns.
“P ro gra m med ?” A donis o ffe re d , c atc hin g m y e ye.
“E xactl y .” M y th ro at w ent d ry . H e
got
it. H e g o t m e. I s w allo w ed h ard , d ro ppin g m y g aze fr o m
his , f e elin g f lu sh ed .
Adonis o pened h is m outh a s i f h e w as a b out to s a y s o m eth in g b ut a k no ck a t th e d oor c ut h im o ff.
When h e r o se fr o m th e c o uch, I w av ed a h and , m oti o nin g fo r h im to s to p. “ I’ ll g et it.” I d oub te d
anyo ne w ho b oth ere d k no ckin g in te nd ed to w his k A donis a w ay in to m is sin g d em ig o d la nd , b ut w hy
ta ke th e c hance?
“M ig uel,” I e xcla im ed w hen I o pened th e d oor. “ Ju st th e m an I w ante d to s e e.”
Mig uel s ta re d a t m e w ith a d ora ti o n a nd h and ed m e a m anila e nv elo pe. “ T his w as to b e d eliv ere d
to M r. E ro s’s o th er r o om . I t w as m ark ed u rg ent, s o I w ent a head a nd — ”
“M r. E ro s? ”
Mig uel lo oked p oin te d ly o ver m y s h o uld er a t A donis a nd I b lin ked . R ig ht. L ast n am es. H um ans
had th em . “ T hank y o u.” I p asse d th e e nv elo pe to A donis . “ C ould y o u d o u s a fa v or? A donis h ere
need s a r o om k ey . . .”
It d id n’t ta ke lo ng fo r M ig uel to g et e v ery th in g s e ttl e d . W hen h e le ft, p ro m is in g to re tu rn w ith
Adonis ’s r o om c ard b efo re th e n ig ht w as o ver, A donis th anked h im , c lo se d th e d oor, a nd r ip ped o pen
th e e nv elo pe. “ C ontr a ct,” h e a nno unced . “ I’ m g o nna h ead u p sta ir s a nd r e ad th is o ver.”
“W hy?” T he c o ntr a ct w as f o r m e, a fte r a ll.
He tu rn ed th e c o ntr a ct a ro und , s ig natu re p age o n to p. F or a m om ent, I c o uld o nly fo cus o n th e
beauti fu l, callig ra p hy-s ty le d sig natu re of Narc is su s’s nam e. W ow , Narc is su s had go rg eo us
hand w riti n g. T hen th e th ir d sig natu re lin e re gis te re d . A donis ’s co ntr a ct m ust hav e changed to
acco m modate m in e.
“I n eed to m ake s u re m y s h o ots d id n’t c hange to o m uch.” A donis h and ed m e a s e co nd c o py o f th e
co ntr a ct b efo re h ead in g u p th e c urv ed s ta ir c ase . “ L ooks lik e y o ur tr ia l s h o ot is e arly to m orro w . S ee

yo u i n th e m orn in g.”
The m orn in g? “ A re n’t y o u g o in g to d in ner? ”
Adonis r e ached th e to p o f th e s ta ir c ase a nd s h o ok h is h ead . “ I’ ll c all r o om s e rv ic e in a b it. D id
yo u n eed a nyth in g u p h ere b efo re I g et s e ttl e d i n ?”
I n o dded a nd g ra b bed m y s tu ff f r o m u p sta ir s , ta kin g th e h in t th at I ’ d b e s le ep in g o n th e c o uch. N ot
th at it m atte re d . G ods d on’t need sle ep . W e’re cap ab le o f it, o f co urs e , lik e eati n g, b ut it’ s no t
necessa ry f o r s u rv iv al.
When I re tu rn ed to th e c o uch, I p ause d to g ra b a n o te b ook a nd a p en fr o m m y lu ggage. F or
so m eth in g w ritte n i n l e gal- s p eak, th e c o ntr a ct s e em ed r e m ark ab ly s tr a ig htf o rw ard . I s ti ll to ok m y ti m e
go in g o ver th e p ap erw ork , b ut e ith er N arc is su s w as m uch m ore h o nest th an h e c am e a cro ss, o r h e w as
sm art e no ugh n o t to p is s o ff a g o ddess.
Afte rn o on tr a nsiti o ned to e v enin g w ith c lo ud s r o llin g in w ith s u ch s u b tl e ty , I d id n’t n o ti c e h o w
dark th e ro om h ad g ro w n u nti l I fo und m yse lf sq uin ti n g a t th e n o te b ook. T he w av es g re w ro ugh,
se nd in g th e s h ip r o ckin g b ack a nd f o rth i n a w ay th at m ad e m e g la d I w as i m mune to m oti o n s ic kness.
Lig htn in g f la sh ed o n th e h o riz o n, d ra w in g m e to th e b alc o ny l ik e a m oth to a f la m e. I p re sse d m y
hand to th e slid in g d oor a s a c ra ck o f th und er re v erb era te d th ro ugh th e th in g la ss. T hen, w ith o ut
fu rth er th o ught, I o pened th e d oor a nd s te p ped o ut i n to th e s to rm .

Chap te r V I
R A IN S PLA SH ED a gain st m y u p tu rn ed f a ce a s I s te p ped o nto th e n arro w s tr ip o f b alc o ny th at w asn ’t
c o vere d b y th e r o of o f th e d eck a b ove. L aughin g, I s p un a ro und , a rm s s p re ad . L ig htn in g fla sh ed a nd
t h und er r u m ble d , b ut I d id n’t c are . I r a is e d m y v oic e, s h o uti n g b ack a t th e s to rm w ith w ord le ss jo y,
a nd g rin ned , k no w in g th at i f i t w as r a in in g w here th ey w ere , H ep haestu s a nd A re s w ould b e d oin g th e
s a m e th in g.
“W hat a re y o u d oin g?” A donis ’s v oic e b ro ught m e to a n a b ru p t h alt. H e s to od ju st in sid e th e
s u ite . T he b alc o ny h ad m ore l e ngth th an w id th , s o h e c o uld n’t b e m ore th an a l o unge c hair a nd a h alf
a w ay fr o m m e. S ti ll, th e d oorw ay m agnifie d th e d is ta nce b etw een u s. A s if w e s to od in d iffe re nt
w orld s.
My w orld w as m ore fu n. “ I’ m c ele b ra ti n g.” I s p un a ro und a gain , r a in d ro ps flin gin g o ff m y s k ir t.
“ Y ou’d k no w a ll a b out th is i f y o u’d c o m e o n th at r o ad tr ip f o r l o nger th an a d ay a nd a h alf.”
“C ele b ra ti n g
what
?” A donis ’s e yeb ro w s w ere a t i t a gain , m orp hin g h is e xp re ssio n f r o m w ary to
c o nfu se d to i n cre d ulo us. “ A nd h o w ? B y p is sin g o ff th e p eo ple i n th e n ext r o om ?”
“O ur r o om is s h ie ld ed . N o o ne c an h ear u s.” I le aned a gain st th e s lic k m eta l b ars s e p ara ti n g m e
f r o m a n e le v en-d eck d ro p in to th e c ho ppy, c o balt w av es. T he b o at lu rc hed , p lu ngin g fu rth er in to th e
s to rm .
“W ould y o u— ?” A donis h eld o ut a h and , j o lti n g f o rw ard i n a la rm .
“I’ m n o t g o in g to fa ll.” I la ughed . “ A nd w hat d o y o u m ean ‘w hat a m I c ele b ra ti n g?’ A re y o u
k id din g?” L ig htn in g f lic kere d o ver th e s e a. “ T his !” M y o uts tr e tc hed h and g estu re d a t th e e nti r e s to rm :
t h e w all o f th ic k, b la ck c lo ud s d om in ati n g th e h o riz o n, th e s to rm -to sse d w av es, e v ery th in g.
“T his ? ” A donis d id n’t s e em to g et i t.
“Z eus’s s y m bol. H is . . . h is i d enti ty .” I ti lte d m y h ead u p , l e tti n g th e r a in d rip d ow n m y b ody a nd
d re w i n a d eep b re ath . “ E very s to rm , e v ery f la sh o f l ig htn in g. H e to ok p ow er i n i t.” M y f a ce h urt f r o m
s m ilin g s o m uch. “ B ut n o t a nym ore .”
The th und er cra cked in th e sk y, and I p ush ed o ff th e ra ils and sp un aro und , yellin g again .
“ B ecause o f u s. W e w ere a p art o f th at.” I c o uld n’t c o nta in th e jo y in m y r a is e d v oic e. “
We
d efe ate d
h im .”
Adonis le aned a gain st th e g la ss d oor, c ro ssin g h is a rm s, h is e xp re ssio n d ub io us. “ Y eah, b ut
d id n’t P ers e p ho ne— ?”
“W e h elp ed .” W ate r g ath ere d o n th e te ak flo or b eneath m y fe et, c o ol, b ut s ti ll n o t a s c o ld a s th e
A /C in th e s u ite . M y m in d fla sh ed b ack to th e r o ad tr ip — th e fa rth er a w ay w e d ro ve, th e m ore r e al
Z eus’s d eath h ad b eco m e. “ O n th e r o ad tr ip , A re s” — I s w allo w ed h ard , u nw illin g to l e t m y a nger ta in t
t h is a m azin g th in g h e’d d one— “m ad e u s p ro m is e w e’d n ev er f o rg et th at Z eus m ig ht s ti ll b e a liv e n o w ,
i f n o t fo r u s. T hat
we
did s o m eth in g g o od, n o m atte r w hat e ls e — ” I k ic ked a t th e w ate r b eneath m y
f e et, s e nd in g d ro ple ts b ack in to th e a ir w ith a b la st o f p ow er, m akin g th em s p ark le b efo re th ey fe ll.

“E very ti m e th ere ’s a s to rm , w e c ele b ra te .”
Adonis r a is e d h is e yeb ro w s. “ B y g etti n g s o aked a nd s c re am in g a t th e s k y?”
“B y d ancin g in th e r a in a nd s h o uti n g to th e h eav ens,” I a m end ed , r e fu sin g to fe el e m barra sse d .
“W e’re g o ds. Y ou’re s u rp ris e d w e l ik e r itu al? ”
Adonis s h ru gged . “ W hate v er f lo ats y o ur b oat.”
“O h, p unny.” I s n ic kere d .
Adonis r o lle d h is e yes, a nd s te p ped b ack.
“O h, c o m e o n, w ait,” I c alle d a s h e r e tr e ate d i n to th e r o om . “ Y ou s h o uld j o in m e.” B ead s o f r a in
drip ped o ff m y o uts tr e tc hed h and . “ T his i s y o ur c ele b ra ti o n, to o.”
“M in e?” A donis l a ughed . “ A ll I d id w as k no ck y o u o ut. N ot m y p ro ud est m om ent.”
I d re w in a s u rp ris e d b re ath . D id n’t h e r e aliz e w hat h e’d d one? “ A donis , y o u s a v ed o ur
liv es
,
and i n d oin g s o , y o u m ig ht h av e a ctu ally ti p ped th e s c ale s i n P ers e p ho ne’s f a v or. I f y o u r e m em ber, i t
was k in d o f a c lo se f ig ht.”
Adonis l o oked d ow n a nd r u b bed th e b ack o f h is n eck. “ I d on’t th in k— ”
I c ro sse d in to th e sh elte re d p orti o n o f th e b alc o ny to g ra b h is h and , d esp era te to g et h im to
und ers ta nd h o w h e’d c hanged m y e nti r e
exis te n ce
. H e’d g iv en m e th e s tr e ngth to re sis t Z eus. H ell,
he’d g iv en m e a
fu tu re .
Back w hen Z eus w alk ed th e e arth , I’ d k no w n m y d ays w ere n um bere d . B ut
no w ? I c o uld d o a nyth in g.
“B attl e s l ik e th at . . .” M y v oic e l o w ere d . “ T hey l o ok l ik e th ey c o m e d ow n to o ne p ers o n o r o ne
acti o n in o ne b ig , fla sh y m om ent, b ut th ey d on’t. M ajo r v ic to rie s c o m e in in ches. E ach a cti o n, e ach
sa crific e, e v ery s m all a ct o f d efia nce a d ds u p . P lu s,” I d ucked m y h ead , tu ckin g a s tr a nd o f w et h air
behin d m y e ar, “ ev en i f y o u d on’t w ant to ta ke c re d it f o r w hat h ap pened to Z eus, I ’ m a liv e b ecause o f
yo u.” W ate r d ro ple ts c lu ng to m y e yela sh es w hen I lo oked u p a t h im . “ T his is y o ur v ic to ry , to o.
Cele b ra te . Y ou’v e e arn ed th is .”
An e xp re ssio n I c o uld n’t r e ad c ro sse d A donis ’s f a ce. “ G ods,” h e w his p ere d , r e achin g f o r m e a s
if e ntr a nced . “ Y ou a re s o — ”
He b ro ke o ff a nd s ta re d a t h is h and a s if it h ad b etr a yed h im . “ U h, h av e fu n.” A donis g av e m e a
ti g ht- lip ped g rin , a nd th en s te p ped a w ay, r e tr e ati n g i n to th e r o om .
Shru ggin g o ff A donis ’s d is m is sa l, I r e tu rn ed to th e e d ge o f th e b alc o ny. I w as fr e e. Z eus c o uld
nev er m ake m e d o a nyth in g a gain .
Excep t i n m y n ig htm are s.
“Y ou c an’t h urt m e.” O penin g m y e yes, I b lin ked th e ra in o ut o f th em . “ D o y o u h ear th at? ” I
dem and ed lo ud er, in fu sin g m y v oic e w ith d ete rm in ati o n. T he th und er r u m ble d , a nd I g rin ned to p is s
him o ff th at m uch m ore . “ I’ m fr e e!” L ig htn in g fla sh ed a nd I w ho oped , s p in nin g a ro und , flin gin g r a in
wate r o ff m e.
“If w e’re go in g to d o th is — ” A donis re ap peare d at th e slid in g gla ss d oor and cro sse d th e
th re sh o ld , c arry in g h is p ho ne a nd a tr a y f ille d w ith s h o t g la sse s a nd tw o l iq uo r b ottl e s. “ W e’re g o in g
to d o th is r ig ht. N o o ne c an h ear u s? ”
I g rin ned a nd s h o ok m y h ead .
He s e t th e tr a y d ow n o n a s m all w ic ker ta b le b etw een th e tw o lo unge c hair s . “ C an y o u?” H e
mad e a v ague w av in g m oti o n a ro und th e ta b le .
“O h, y eah, s u re .” I w aite d f o r h im to p re ss p la y o n h is p ho ne, th en c ast a s h ie ld a ro und th e e nti r e
ta b le , c o ncentr a ti n g o n k eep in g o ut w ate r, n o t f le sh o r s o und . M usic f ille d th e b alc o ny.
“T hanks. R um o r te q uila ?”

“R um .”
He p oure d m e a s h o t. “ T o w in nin g.”
I r a is e d th e g la ss to m y l ip s. “ T o w in nin g.”
The th und er r u m ble d a nd w e b oth y elle d th en to ok a no th er s h o t. I s p un a ro und , g ra b bin g A donis ’s
hand s a nd ta kin g h im w ith m e a s I s p un i n c ir c le s, g etti n g l o st i n th e m usic a nd th e r a in .
An h o ur l a te r, th e s to rm r a ged o n b ut o ur e nerg y w aned . A donis d ra gged th e tw o l o unge c hair s a s
clo se to th e s u ite d oor a s p ossib le to p ro te ct th em fr o m a ny s tr a y d ro ple ts , th en to sse d a c o up le o f
to w els o nto th em .
I to ok th e o pportu nity to f lip o n th e l ig ht s w itc h.
“ That’s
bette r,” A donis c rie d a s lig ht illu m in ate d th e d re nched b alc o ny. H e g la nced to w ard th e
ho t tu b b uilt i n to th e c o rn er. “ S hall w e?” h e y elle d , o ver a th und erc la p .
“M ayb e a fte r th e lig htn in g s to ps.” I la ughed . I c o uld s u rv iv e a lig htn in g s tr ik e, b ut A donis m ig ht
get c ris p y.
“O h y eah. G ood p oin t.” H e c o lla p se d i n to a l o unge c hair. “ O kay th en, y o ur tu rn . Y ou s a y ‘ N ev er
hav e I e v er’ a nd — ”
“A nd th en s a y s o m eth in g I ’ v e n ev er d one.” I ’ d g o tte n th e g is t o f th e g am e th e f ir s t te n r o und s, b ut
Adonis s ti ll s e em ed f la b berg aste d I h ad n’t h eard o f th is g am e b efo re to nig ht, s o h e k ep t g o in g o ver th e
ru le s.
“Y eah. A nd i f I ’ v e d one i t— ”
“Y ou h av e to ta ke a s h o t. G ot i t.” I s w ip ed a p ud dle o ff th e w ate rti g ht s u rfa ce a nd m aneuv ere d a
to w el b eneath m e b efo re p erc hin g o n th e e d ge o f m y s e at. “ N ev er h av e I e v er . . . l ie d .”
“A w , c o m e o n.” A donis w as f o rc ed to ta ke a no th er d rin k s tr a ig ht f r o m th e b ottl e . W e’d l o ng s in ce
fo rg o ne th e s h o t g la sse s i n th is g am e. “ W ell,
I’v e
n ev er c harm ed m y w ay o ut o f a s p eed in g ti c ket.”
I s w allo w ed a m outh fu l o f r u m a s I tr ie d to th in k o f s o m eth in g e ls e I ’ d n ev er d one b efo re b ut w as
pre tty s u re h e h ad .
Adonis sm ir k ed . “ C om e o n, A phro dite , y o u’v e o nly b een a liv e tw o y ears . T his sh o uld n’t b e
hard .

“T hre e.” B ut th e m an h ad a p oin t. “ I . . . n ev er h eard th is s o ng b efo re to day.”
Adonis to ok a d rin k. “ T his i s a g re at s o ng. I ’ v e n ev er s to le n a c ar.”
I s c o w le d a t h im . I ’ d ta ken a s h o t a lm ost e v ery tu rn . “ I’ v e n ev er h it a g ir l.”
Adonis s w ore a nd to ok a no th er d rin k. “ I n ev er a p olo giz e d f o r th at.”
“I’ ll n ev er a sk y o u to .” I l a ughed .
“I n ev er . . .” H is l ip s tw is te d i n a k no w in g g rin . “ S ho plifte d .”
Okay, s e rio usly ? “ Y ou
are
c heati n g,” I s a id , g iv in g h is s h o uld er a p la yfu l s m ack w ith th e b ack o f
my h and . “ Y ou c an’t g et a ll o f y o ur ‘I n ev ers ’ fr o m stu ff y o u a lr e ad y k no w I’ v e d one th anks to
Melis sa ’s b ig m outh .”
Adonis s n ic kere d . “ O h p le ase , M is s ‘ I’ v e n ev er h it a g ir l? ’ K no w le d ge i s a m muniti o n, n o m atte r
th e s o urc e.” H e ta p ped m y b ottl e w ith h is . “ D rin k u p .”
“O kay, o kay.” I to ok a no th er s h o t a nd m ad e a fa ce. “ G eeze , if I d id n’t k no w a ny b ette r, I’ d th in k
yo u w ere
tr y in g
to g et m e d ru nk.”
“O h, y eah, th at’ s m y e nd gam e. Y ou c aught m e.” H e d is m is se d m y a ccusa ti o n w ith a s n o rt. “ C an
yo u e v en g et d ru nk?”
“N ot w ith th is .” I s w is h ed th e r u m a ro und i n th e b ottl e . “ G ods c an g et d ru nk o ff d iv in e d rin ks, b ut

ru n-o f- th e-m ill h um an s tu ff w on’t d o th e j o b.”
“O h, r u n o f th e m ill, h uh?” H e s h o ok h is h ead . “ G ods, ta lk in g to y o u i s m in d -b end in g. I ’ v e k no w n
my e nti r e l ife th at I ’ m a d em ig o d. I m ean, f in d in g o ut I ’ m o ne o f Z eus’s c ra zy s c ie nce e xp erim ents w as
new s to m e. B ut m y d ay-to -d ay s tu ff is g ro und ed in th e n o rm al. Y ou d on’t e v en k no w w here n o rm al
liv es.”
“O h, I d o,” I j o ked . “ F ar b eneath m e.”
“N o, I’ m s e rio us. W e’v e g o t to lik e . . . e d ucate y o u o r s o m eth in g. E very o ne a liv e k no w s th is
so ng. W ho k no w s w hat e ls e y o u’v e m is se d ? W e c o uld — ” H e b ro ke o ff. “ W hat a re y o u d oin g?”
I b ounced u p a nd d ow n, b rim min g w ith i m pati e nce. “ I h av e a g o od o ne!”
“G o o n th en.” H e l a ughed .
“I n ev er . . . “ M y v oic e s o und ed th ic k w ith s e lf- s a ti s fa cti o n. “ K is se d a d em i- d eity .”
Adonis g rin ned . “ I c an f ix th at.”
I w aite d a b eat f o r h im to r e m em ber h is e x-g ir lfr ie nd , w ho m h e’d s u re ly a t l e ast k is se d . “ E lis e ,”
I p ro dded w hen h e l e aned to w ard m e.
“H oly — ” A donis e xcla im ed , l u rc hin g f o rw ard a s i f th e m em ory h ad s lu gged h im . “ H ow d id I —
Augh. F in e,” h e g ro aned , ta kin g a s h o t.
I l a ughed . “ M ayb e w e s h o uld c all i t a n ig ht.”
“U h-u h, m y tu rn .” A donis s to od, ta kin g th e l iq uo r w ith h im . “ N ev er h av e I e v er” — he f r o w ned a s
th o ugh a rti c ula ti n g h is th o ught to ok e ffo rt— “b een a rre ste d .” H is f r o w n d eep ened . “ I th in k.”
“O kay, y o u’v e h ad e no ugh.” I r o se to m y fe et, r e achin g fo r h is b ottl e , b ut fin d in g o nly a ir w hen
Adonis h eld th e te q uila o ver h is h ead .
Thund er r u m ble d , s h akin g th e b alc o ny. A donis a nd I h o lle re d b ack a t i t a s th e b oat s k ip ped o ver
th e c ho ppy w ate r. H e l o w ere d th e b ottl e f o r a f r a cti o n o f a s e co nd w hen h e y elle d , a nd I s n atc hed th e
te q uila f r o m h im , g ig glin g a t th e s ta rtl e d l o ok o n h is f a ce.
“G iv e i t b ack.” A donis r e ached f o r th e b ottl e , b ut I d anced b ackw ard , o ut o f h is r e ach, l a ughin g.
“M ake m e.”
He s n ic kere d a nd s ta rte d to r e p ly , th en s to pped , h is m outh g o in g s la ck a s th e s h ip e m erg ed fr o m
th e s to rm c lo ud s, r e v ealin g a c le ar n ig ht s k y. I tu rn ed to s e e w hat c o uld p ossib ly r e nd er th e d em ig o d
sp eechle ss a nd g asp ed .
Quic ksilv er lin ed th e m id nig ht b lu e s e a, s h im merin g lik e m agic . T he m oon r o se fr o m th e w av es
in a s lo w a sc ent, s e nd in g lig ht s c atte rin g th ro ugh th e w ate r in a w ay th at c o uld o nly b e d esc rib ed a s
eth ere al. W e w atc hed in u tte r s ile nce a s th e lig ht g ath ere d in to a b all o f w hite -h o t, m olte n s ilv er a nd
ro se a b ove th e ti d e, c asti n g a g le am in g p ath i n th e w ate r l e ad in g s tr a ig ht to u s.
The o cean w ent d ark a s th e s h ip p lu nged i n to a no th er s e t o f c lo ud s. S pell b ro ken, A donis c le are d
his th ro at. “ I’ v e n ev er s e en a nyth in g l ik e th at.”
“I w ould n’t h av e e ith er, i f n o t f o r y o u.” S w allo w in g h ard , I s e t th e te q uila d ow n o n th e d eck a nd
stu d ie d th e w ay th e m oonlig ht h it h is s k in a nd th e r a in d rip ped o ff th e c o nto urs o f h is f a ce, c o m mitti n g
ev ery f e atu re o f th e m an w ho ’d s a v ed m e to m em ory .
“W hat? ” H e s h ifte d u nd er th e i n te nsity o f m y g aze .
“I n ev er th anked y o u,” I r e aliz e d .
Adonis lo oked d ow n a t m e, h is g o ld en e yes d ark enin g w ith a n e m oti o n I d id n’t r e co gniz e . “ I’ ll
nev er a sk y o u to .”
Som eho w , w e’d d ra w n c lo se r to geth er, p ulle d lik e th e ti d e. W e h o vere d th ere fo r a m om ent

befo re h is h and s g rip ped th e r a ilin g o n e ith er s id e o f m e. I ti lte d m y fa ce u p to to uch m y lip s to h is .
I’ d i n te nd ed to te ase . A s o ft, s im ple k is s b efo re d uckin g a w ay w ith a b re ath y o ne-lin er. A lw ays l e av e
th em w anti n g m ore a nd w hatn o t.
I w asn ’t p re p are d fo r h is r e acti o n. H is a rm s w ra p ped a ro und m e, p ullin g m e a gain st h im . W hen
his w arm l ip s p re sse d a gain st m in e, th ey c hase d a w ay a ll th e c o ld r a in d rip pin g b etw een u s.
But th ere w as n o c hance I ’ d a llo w m yse lf to b e o utd one b y a d em ig o d. M y h and s g ra b bed a t h is
sh ir t, p ullin g h im to m e w ith th e s a m e d esp era te fe rv or h e’d u se d to p ull m e to h im . G ath erin g th e
mate ria l, I y anked h is s h ir t u p . T he s o ft f a b ric g av e w ay to f ir m f le sh .
He l e t m e g o to u nd o th e b utto ns b efo re th ey c o uld b re ak o r s tr a ngle h im . T he s h ir t d ro pped to th e
so akin g w et f lo or. A donis l ifte d m e u p a b ove th e b ars o f th e b alc o ny a nd o nto th e f la t r a ilin g. H e k ep t
one h and w ra p ped a ro und m e ti g ht, s o lid a nd s u re a s h e b acked m e a gain st th e r a ilin g o ff th e s h ip . I
bum ped a gain st m y s h ie ld a s h is o th er h and s lid a cro ss m y s k in , p ush in g m y d re ss o ff m y s h o uld ers .
I w ra p ped m y l e gs a ro und h im . A s m y d re ss r o de u p m y th ig hs, m y h and s e xp lo re d th e p ath s th e
ra in d ro ps to ok d ow n h is g o ld en f le sh . T here w as n o g iv e to A donis ; h e w as a ll m usc le . H e ta ste d l ik e
sa lte d l im e a nd r a in . H is m outh m oved a w ay f r o m m in e a nd I c rie d o ut i n o bje cti o n, b ut th en I f e lt h is
bre ath a gain st m y s k in , k is se s, fe ath erlig ht, w ork in g th eir w ay d ow n m y th ro at to th e h o llo w in m y
neck, b urn in g a w ay th e c o ld .
A th ro at cle are d . “W ell, th at esc ala te d q uic kly . P la yin g fa st and lo ose w ith th e sh ie ld s, eh,
Aphro dite ?”
Adonis je rk ed to w ard th e v oic e. I s lid o ff h im , o nto th e fla t r a ilin g o f th e s h ip . M y s h ie ld w as
go ne! N oth in g b ut a ir s e p ara te d m e f r o m th e v ery l o ng d ro p i n to th e o cean. T he b oat b ounced , h itti n g
ano th er s e t o f c ho ppy w av es.
My te nuo us p ositi o n o n th e r a il s lip ped i n to a v erti g o -in d ucin g n o th in gness a s I f e ll.

Chap te r V II
P O SE ID ON S W ORE, th ro w in g u p a s h ie ld to s te ad y m e. I p ush ed o ff th e b arrie r a nd s w ung b ack
o ver th e r a ilin g. W hen m y f e et to uched th e d eck, I a llo w ed m yse lf to b re ath e a gain .
Adonis l o oked h o rrifie d . “ A phro dite , I a m s o s o r— ”
“I’ m f in e.” S haken, I b it m y l ip a nd ta ste d s a lt w ate r. W hy w ould m y s h ie ld f a il?
“W ay to g o , h alf- b re ed .” P ose id on’s e yes w ere a s d ark a s th e s e a, a nd m oonlig ht g litte re d o ff th e
w av es w ith in th em a s i f i n m ockery o f th e m om ent A donis a nd I s h are d . H e s to od i n f r o nt o f th e w hite
r a ilin g, th e d ark c lo ud s c re ati n g a d ra m ati c b ackd ro p f o r th e s e a g o d. R ain d ro ps g lis te ned o n h is b are
c hest. H e ra ked h is h and th ro ugh h is h air, a s u rg e o f p ow er d ry in g th e b le ach-b lo nd s p ik es a s h e
e xte nd ed th e s h ie ld to k eep th e r a in f r o m d rip pin g o n h im a nd d is h ev elin g h is d iv in e a p peara nce.
Sile nce d esc end ed o n th e b alc o ny. E ith er A donis ’s p la ylis t h ad e nd ed o r th e p ho ne s a t o uts id e th e
i n flu ence o f P ose id on’s s h ie ld . T he w his p er o f th e w in d d ie d d ow n a nd th e s o und o f w av es s la p pin g
a gain st th e b oat d im med . R ain p atte re d a gain st th e s h ie ld , o utl in in g th e i n v is ib le b arrie r i n a s h een o f
w ate r d ro ple ts g litte rin g i n th e f lo odlig hts .
But w here w as
my
sh ie ld ? I s e arc hed fo r m y p ow er s ig natu re , b ut fo und n o th in g. F ro w nin g, I
r e cast th e s h ie ld , th en c rie d o ut, d oub lin g o ver a s p ain f la re d th ro ugh m e.
Adonis w hir le d o n P ose id on. “ W hat d id y o u d o?” H e p ut a h and o n m y b ack. “ A phro dite , a re y o u
o kay?”
Pose id on h eld u p h is a rm s i n m ock s u rre nd er. “
Me
? I d id n’t— ”
“P ro xim ity .” I w av ed o ff th eir c o ncern . In P ose id on’s d om ain , u sin g m y p ow ers a gain st h im
w ould c ause a n u nco m fo rta b le r e v erb era ti o n. T hro w in g u p a b arrie r w ith in h is m ust h av e c ause d th e
s a m e r e acti o n.
“Y ou d id n’t b rin g a to ken?” P ose id on f r o w ned a s h e l o oked m e o ver.
“N ope.” A to ken w as a n o bje ct d eiti e s u se d to c hannel p ow er fr o m th eir n ati v e re alm s. Z eus
h ad n’t g ra nte d m e th e a b ility to m ake o ne.
“W hat a re y o u d oin g h ere ?” A donis tu rn ed h is a tte nti o n b ack to P ose id on.
“I n eed ed a s ta tu s u p date .” P ose id on’s e yes s w ep t o ver m e, s lo w a nd c erta in . T he o nce-o ver f e lt
i n v asiv e, b ut th e d eta ched l o ok i n h is e yes m ad e m e w ond er i f h is l in gerin g g aze w as m ore f o r s h o w
t h an g enuin e i n te re st.
I m oved to y ank th e s le ev es o f m y d re ss u p m y a rm s, th en s to pped . A cti n g flu ste re d w ould o nly
g iv e P ose id on m ore p ow er, w here as if I p la yed th is r ig ht, I m ig ht b e a b le to k no ck h im o ff b ala nce.
I n ste ad , I fin ger-c o m bed m y hair, affe cti n g an air o f casu al anno yance. “R ig ht th is se co nd ? Y ou
c o uld n’t h av e f o und a b ette r ti m e?”
Pose id on le ere d a t m e. “ I c o uld h av e w aite d , b ut I d id n’t fig ure y o u’d a p pre cia te h av in g a n
a ud ie nce. I f y o u’re i n to th at s o rt o f th in g, th o ugh, b y a ll m eans.” H is h and w av ed i n a r e gal “ carry o n”
g estu re .

Adonis g ra b bed h is s h ir t f r o m th e d eck, m utte rin g o bsc eniti e s u nd er h is b re ath .
“Y our d em ig o d c an l e av e.”
Adonis f o llo w ed P ose id on’s g aze to m e, a nd f o r a m om ent, I w ond ere d w hat I l o oked l ik e. I w as
so akin g w et, m y c lo th es w ere d is h ev ele d , a nd g o ds o nly k new w hat m y h air w as d oin g. B ut P ose id on
lik ed w hat h e s a w , i f h is l e w d g rin w as a ny i n d ic ati o n.
“Y eah.” A donis dra gged th e w ord out, his accent betr a yin g his no rth ern ro ots . H e lo oked
betw een P ose id on a nd m e a nd y anked o n h is s h ir t, h is s h akin g h and s b etr a yin g h im a s h e s tr u ggle d
with th e b utto ns. “ I’ m n o t g o in g a nyw here .”
Pose id on ti lte d h is h ead to w ard A donis . M y s to m ach d ro pped w hen I s a w th e e xp re ssio n o n th e
se a g o d’s fa ce. T he o cean c hurn ed , c ausin g w av es to s p la sh a gain st th e b oat w ith e no ugh fo rc e to
se nd th e s h ip l u rc hin g.
“A donis .” I m oved b etw een h im a nd P ose id on. “ It’ s o kay. G o a head .” In th e te nse s ile nce th at
fo llo w ed , I m enta lly
beg ged
him to c o m ply . T he la st th in g I w ante d w as fo r A donis to g et h im se lf
hurt, o r w ors e , k ille d , b ecause o f m e.
Adonis c le nched h is ja w , to ok o ne m ore lo ok a t P ose id on, th en sto rm ed a cro ss th e b alc o ny,
sh o vin g a l o unge c hair o ut o f h is w ay a s h e c ro sse d th e th re sh o ld i n to th e s u ite .
Pose id on w av ed , f la sh in g A donis a s a v age g rin . “ H av e a g o od n ig ht.”
“E njo y th at? ” I a sk ed a fte r A donis s la m med th e s lid in g g la ss d oor c lo se d .
A lig ht flip ped o n in th e s u ite , fo llo w ed s e co nd s la te r b y a no th er lig ht in th e w in d ow u p sta ir s .
The b alc o ny b rig hte ned a b it, i llu m in ati n g th e l o ng w ooden f lo or a nd g le am in g s ilv er b ars s e p ara ti n g
me f r o m th e s e a.
“O h p le ase , I j u st s to pped y o u f r o m m akin g a h uge m is ta ke. T hat d em ig o d”— Pose id on m oti o ned
to w ard th e r o om — “is a p ro fe ssio nal v ic ti m . I ’ v e b een k eep in g a n e ye o n h im e v er s in ce D em ete r to ld
me w hat h e w as. D o y o u k no w h o w m uch
tim e
he s p end s w hin in g a b out h o w th e g o ds h av e s c re w ed
with h is f a m ily f o r g enera ti o ns? ”
“H e’s n o t w ro ng.” I g av e P ose id on a n a nno yed lo ok, c ro ssin g m y a rm s. “ W hat d o y o u c are ,
anyw ay?”
“O h, I d on’t.” P ose id on la ughed , a s th o ugh h e’d s a id s o m eth in g fu nny. H e m eand ere d to w ard a
lo unge c hair, ta kin g in th e e m pty sh o t g la sse s w ith a m use m ent. “ D o w hate v er y o u w ant w ith th e
dem ig o d; j u st w ait ti ll h e’s n o t d ru nk. T his ” — he h eld u p th e n ear-e m pty b ottl e o f te q uila — “is a lm ost
as b ad a s c harm .”
It n ev er e v en o ccurre d to m e th at A donis m ig ht b e d ru nk e no ugh to c o m pro m is e h is ju d gm ent.
Sti ll, o f a ll th e p eo ple to le ctu re m e. . . . “ S in ce w hen d o
yo u
care a b out th at k in d o f s tu ff a nyw ay?”
Pose id on w as h ard ly th e p oste r c hild f o r c o nse nsu al s e x.
His e xp re ssio n d ark ened , a nd h e s e t th e te q uila o n th e s m all w ooden ta b le p ositi o ned b etw een
th e l o unge c hair s w ith a th unk. “ T hin gs c hange. Y ou c an g iv e m e th at s ta tu s u p date a ny ti m e n o w . I d o
hav e a r e alm to r u n, i n c ase y o u’v e f o rg o tte n. M y ti m e i s r a th er v alu ab le .”
“I s h o uld m ake y o u w ait,” I te ase d , f o rc in g a l ig htn ess I d id n’t f e el i n to m y v oic e to d is g uis e h o w
unnerv ed I f e lt a b out b ein g tr a p ped w ith in h is s h ie ld . “ It w ould s e rv e y o u r ig ht a fte r th at s tu nt y o u j u st
pulle d .”
It w as l ik e a s w itc h f lip ped . P ose id on f la sh ed m e a c o ld s m ile . “ Y ou s e em to h av e f o rg o tte n y o ur
pla ce i n th e h ie ra rc hy.” H e m oved to w ard m e. “ Y ou’re i n
my
re alm . E very th in g a nd e v ery o ne i n i t” —
he g rip ped m e b y m y s h o uld ers , fin gers d ig gin g in to m y fle sh — “is m in e. I b ro ught y o u h ere fo r a

re aso n. S o w hen I a sk fo r a s ta tu s u p date , I e xp ect y o u to d ro p w hate v er, o r w ho ev er, y o u’re d oin g
and g iv e i t to m e. S av vy?”
Who th e h ell d id h e th in k h e w as, a P ir a te o f th e C arib bean? I o pened m y m outh , r e ad y to r ip h im
a n ew o ne f o r th e w ay h is f in gers b it i n to m y f le sh , b ut I s to pped w hen I c aught th e s c ent o f a m bro sia
on h is b re ath . W as h e d ru nk? A m illio n m yth s fe atu rin g a p is se d -o ff P ose id on s w ir le d a ro und in m y
min d , a nd m y th ro at w ent d ry w hen I r e m em bere d s o m e o f th e th in gs h e’d d one, e v en w hen h e
was
cle ar-h ead ed and ra ti o nal: enti r e civ iliz a ti o ns su cked beneath th e w av es, earth q uakes sh atte rin g
villa ges, M ed usa . I f h e w asn ’t i n c o ntr o l, I n eed ed to tr e ad c are fu lly .
I s w allo w ed h ard , d ro ppin g m y g aze f r o m h is s w ir lin g o cean e yes. “ I’ m s o rry .”
Pose id on l e t m e g o s o f a st I s tu m ble d i n to th e r a ilin g. “ G ood.” H e g rin ned a t m e a s i f n o th in g o ut
of th e o rd in ary h ad ju st h ap pened a nd s a t d ow n o n o ne o f th e lo unge c hair s . “ S o, w hat h av e y o u
le arn ed s o f a r? ”
I to ok a d eep b re ath a nd s a t o n th e c hair o pposite h im , p ullin g u p th e s le ev es o f m y d re ss w ith
sh akin g h and s. “ I w as w aiti n g u nti l A donis tu rn ed i n to d o a ny s e rio us i n v esti g ati n g— ”
“Y eah, I s a w y o ur i d ea o f ‘ in v esti g ati n g.’ ” P ose id on g av e m e a w ry l o ok. “ I’ v e g o t a m yste ry y o u
can s o lv e l a te r, i f y o u’re i n te re ste d .”
I r o lle d m y e yes, b ut d id n’t r is e to th e b ait. “ I’ ll h av e m ore i n fo rm ati o n i n th e m orn in g. A s f a r a s I
kno w , th ere a re f o ur d em ig o ds o n th e s h ip , b ut o nly th re e l ik ely ta rg ets .”
“W hy n o t f o ur? ” H e l o oked a t th e l iq uo r b ottl e s f o r a m om ent a s i f c o nsid erin g th e c o nte nts , th en
sh ru gged a nd p ic ked th e te q uila u p , ta kin g a c auti o us s ip . “ T his is d is g usti n g.” H e tu rn ed th e d rin k
over, d um pin g th e a lc o ho l o nto th e te ak f lo or.
I f e lt a s u rg e o f p ow er s o s tr o ng m y h air s to od o n e nd a s th e l iq uid i n th e b ottl e r e p le nis h ed . T he
fr u ity , to o-s w eet s c ent o f a m bro sia f ille d th e a ir. M y m outh d ro pped o pen. H e’d s u m moned a m bro sia ?
Fro m n o th in g? W hat a w aste o f p ow er. H e to ok a g ulp o f th e liq uid , h is e yes fin d in g m e o ver th e
bottl e , g aze e xp ecta nt. R ig ht. B lin kin g, I fo rc ed m y m in d b ack to th e d is c ussio n a t h and . “ U h . . .
Narc is su s r u ns th e m odelin g a gency. C harm in g e v ery o ne i n to f o rg etti n g h e c am e w ould b e d iffic ult, i f
no t im possib le , w ith o ut le av in g so m e m ajo r ho le s in th eir lo gic . P lu s, his assis ta nt fo llo w s him
ev ery w here . I ’ ll f in d o ut w hat r o om s h e’s i n to nig ht, b ut n o d oub t, s h e’s c lo se .”
“D o y o u k no w w here h e m ay b e n o w ?”
I r a ttl e d o ff th e r o om n um ber N arc is su s h ad in clu d ed w ith h is c o nta ct in fo rm ati o n w hen h e s e nt
th e c o ntr a ct, th en r e aliz e d th at w ould n’t m ean a nyth in g to P ose id on. “ It’ s o n th e— ” I w av ed m y h and
vaguely to th e l e ft. “ D o y o u h av e a m ap o f th e s h ip ?”
Pose id on s u m moned a m ap , p ullin g th e s m all w ooden ta b le b etw een u s.
I s tu d ie d th e p ic tu re o f th e s h ip , tr y in g to m ake s e nse o f th e d ecks a nd th e r o om n um bers . “ H ere ,”
I s a id , p oin ti n g. “ A ls o , h is a ssis ta nt m ig ht b e a n ym ph. I c o uld n’t te ll, fo r s u re , b ut s h e h ad th at lo ok
ab out h er.”
“O kay.” P ose id on n o dded . “ I a gre e. H e’s to o h ig h p ro file to g o m is sin g, b ut I’ ll k eep a n e ye o n
him w hen I c an. H ow a b out th e o th er th re e?”
“T here ’s A donis , o bvio usly .” S hiv erin g, I ra ng m y d am p curls o ut th en sto od, se arc hin g th e
balc o ny f o r a d ry to w el.
Pose id on’s g aze f o llo w ed m e a s I m oved a ro und . “ A ls o n o t a l ik ely ta rg et w ith y o u r o om in g w ith
him .”
“I c an m ove to a d iffe re nt r o om .” I l o cate d a s h elte re d s h elf b eneath th e h o t tu b a nd k nelt d ow n to

gra b a b und le o f d ry , te rry f a b ric b efo re tu rn in g m y a tte nti o n b ack to P ose id on.
He sh o ok his head . “Y ou’v e b een se en w ith him , so th e d am age is p ro bab ly alr e ad y d one.
Besid es, I l ik e y o u b ein g h ere .” P ose id on w av ed h is a rm s, e nco m passin g th e b alc o ny. “ E asy a ccess.”
Forc in g a s m ile to m y fa ce, I d ro pped b ack in to m y s e at. “ T anta lu s, a no th er d em ig o d, is in th is
ro om .” I p oin te d a s p ot o n th e m ap . “ H e’s u natta ched . B ut h is p ic tu re s w on’t b e e asy to e xp la in a w ay
if— ”
“P ic tu re s? ”
“T hey’re a ll m odels ,” I e xp la in ed , tr y in g to r u b s o m e w arm th i n to m y a rm s w ith th e to w el. “ It’ ll
be h ard to e xp la in w hy d em ig o ds w ho w ere ‘n ev er o n th e s h ip ’ s h o w u p in p ic tu re s ta ken o n th e
sh ip .”
He s h ru gged . “ T hey c o uld b e c harm ed i n to d ele ti n g th em .”
“A r e gula r p ic tu re o ff a r e gula r c am era , s u re .” I flip ped m y h air d ow n a nd r u b bed th e r e d lo cks
vig o ro usly w ith a n ew to w el. H ad I u se d g la m our, th is w ould h av e o nly ta ken s e co nd s, b ut I d id n’t
dare tr y to u se a ny o f m y p ow ers th is c lo se to P ose id on. T hat p ro xim ity th in g h urt. “ B ut th ey m odel
fo r c o m panie s. T here ’s a n i n v estm ent th ere th at w ould b e h ard to s h ru g o ff, e v en w ith c harm . S o i f th e
models a re g o in g to g o m is sin g, I i m agin e i t w ill b e b efo re th ey e nd u p i n a ny s h o ots .”
“D o y o u h av e th eir s c hed ule s? ”
“I h av e A donis ’s , b ut I c an g et th e o th ers .”
“W ho ’s th e f o urth d em ig o d?” H is e yes l in gere d o n m y l e gs a s I d rie d th em o ff.
“E lis e . I d on’t k no w w here s h e’s r o om in g y et, b ut I ’ ll f in d o ut to nig ht.”
Pose id on r a is e d a n e yeb ro w a t th e o bvio usly f e m in in e n am e, a nd I n o dded . “ Y eah, th ere ’s m ore .
Adonis to ld m e h er p are nts a re b oth d em ig o ds.”
“In te re sti n g. S o s h e’s a ls o i m mune to c harm ?” H e to ok a no th er s w ig f r o m th e b ottl e , f in is h in g o ff
th e a m bro sia .
“I’ v e n o t te ste d it, b ut y eah, m ost lik ely . S he’ll b e s tr o nger th an A donis , rig ht? ” I d ro pped th e
to w els o nto th e d eck, w arm er n o w th at I w asn ’t d rip pin g w et.
Pose id on r a is e d h is e yeb ro w s. “ If th e p atte rn h o ld s. C ould s h e b e b ehin d a ll th is ? ”
“P ro bab ly n o t,” I a d m itte d . T he fa ct th at s h e a nno yed m e d id n’t m ake E lis e s o m e k in d o f e v il
maste rm in d w ho n eed ed to b e e lim in ate d . B ut a g ir l c o uld d re am , r ig ht? “ S ti ll, w e d on’t k no w w hat
sh e’s c ap ab le o f, s o b ette r s a fe th an s o rry .”
“I’ ll lo ok in to h er a s w ell, s o b e s u re to fin d o ut w hic h r o om b elo ngs to h er.” P ose id on s to od,
dro ppin g th e e m pty b ottl e to th e c hair, a nd k ic ked m y to w els o ut o f th e w alk w ay.
I n o dded , r is in g to fo llo w h im , c urio us to s e e if h e’d te le p ort w hen h e le ft o r ta ke a fly in g le ap
off th e b alc o ny. H is w av es c o uld c atc h h im . “ D id th e o th er c ru is e s h o st c o nv enti o ns fo r d em ig o d-
heav y p ro fe ssio ns? ”
“I c an f in d o ut.” A s m ile p la yed o n h is f a ce w hile h e l o oked m e u p a nd d ow n. “ A nyth in g e ls e ?”
The re p eti ti o n o f th e q uesti o n, co m bin ed w ith his le w d grin , m ad e m e nerv ous. I kep t th e
warin ess fr o m m y v oic e, sc ho olin g m y e xp re ssio n to fo llo w su it. “ N ot th at I c an th in k o f a t th e
mom ent.”
Pose id on g av e m e a n e asy g rin , m ovin g c lo se r to m e. “ S ee, th at w asn ’t s o h ard . B y th e w ay . . .”
His e yes flic ked o ver m e in a lo ng o nce-o ver. “ T his is a g o od lo ok fo r y o u. I k no w y o u’re . . .
fr u str a te d I i n te rru p te d y o ur f u n.” H e r e ached f o r m e, h and s k im min g d ow n m y a rm . “ I c o uld h elp w ith
th at.”

Resis ti n g th e u rg e to e d ge a w ay a nd p ossib ly o ffe nd th e s e a g o d, I c ho se m y w ord s w ith c are . M y
pow ers w ere u se le ss a gain st h im , a nd I d id n’t e v en h av e te le p orta ti o n r ig hts i n th is r e alm . I d id n’t s e e
desir e b ehin d th e p re d ato ry g le am in h is e ye a t a ll, w hic h s o m eho w m ad e h im e v en c re ep ie r. H e
lo oked . . . e m pty .
My c are fu l w ord s fle d a s h e p re sse d a gain st m e, a nd I s tu m ble d b ack in a n e ffo rt to g et s o m e
dis ta nce b etw een u s. “ W hy? Y ou’re n o t e v en in te re ste d in m e.”
Stu pid ,
I b era te d m yse lf, ste p pin g
aw ay f r o m P ose id on. T his w asn ’t a b out a ttr a cti o n. I ’ d c halle nged h im , i n su lte d h im , a nd b elittl e d h im .
This w as a b out p ow er.
He c lo se d th e d is ta nce b etw een u s, p ullin g m e to h im . W hen h e tu gged a t th e z ip per o f m y d re ss,
th e fu m ble in h is fin gers s c are d m e a lm ost a s m uch a s w hat h e w as d oin g. “ Y ou d on’t h av e to b e
in te re sti n g.”
Fig hti n g p anic w hen m y b ack h it th e g la ss w all s e p ara ti n g th e b alc o ny f r o m th e s u ite , I s ta m mere d
th e f ir s t e xcuse I c o uld th in k o f. “ I, u h . . . P ers e p ho ne a nd H ad es w ante d m e to k eep th em p oste d . Y ou
kno w , d re am w alk . S om e o th er ti m e?”
For o ne h o rrib le s e co nd , I th o ught h e w asn ’t g o in g to b ack o ff, b ut th eir n am es h ad th e d esir e d
effe ct. P ose id on d ro pped h is a rm s to h is sid es. “ A s y o u w is h . I’ ll sw in g b y to m orro w w ith th e
in fo rm ati o n y o u a sk ed fo r. G et m e a c o py o f th e s c hed ule s a nd th o se ro om n um bers , a nd w e’ll s e e
where th in gs g o f r o m th ere .”
I l e t o ut a b re ath I h ad n’t e v en r e aliz e d I ’ d b een h o ld in g. “ I w ill.”
“S o w ith th is E lis e , th ere m ay b e tw o d em ig o ds i m mune to m uch o f w hat w e c an th ro w a t th em ,”
Pose id on m use d . “ I im agin e th ey w ere in te nd ed to b e a m ate d p air.” H e w alk ed to th e e d ge o f th e
balc o ny. W hen h e r e ached th e s ilv er b ars , h e p ause d , g la ncin g o ver h is s h o uld er a t m e. “ I th in k w e’v e
allo w ed Z eus’s e xp erim ents to liv e lo ng e no ugh, d on’t y o u? If th ey’re im mune to c harm , th ere ’s n o
te llin g w hat o th er o dditi e s th ey h av e a b out th em o r w hat th ey m ay p ass o n. T hey’re to o d angero us.”
My h eart s tu tte re d i n m y c hest. “ I d on’t th in k P ers e p ho ne w ould l ik e— ”
“S he’s n o t i n c harg e o f th is r e alm ,” P ose id on r e m in d ed m e, f la sh in g a v ic io us g rin . “ T hey’re b oth
here ; th at m akes i t m y d ecis io n.”
Sin kin g th e s h ip w ould b e s o e asy fo r h im . “ T hey c o uld b e u se fu l.” I le aned a gain st th e g la ss
wall a nd s tu d ie d m y n ails , tr y in g to s o und d is in te re ste d .
“Y eah, I ’ m s u re y o u’v e f o und p le nty o f
use s
f o r th e h alf- b re ed s.” P ose id on tu rn ed h is a tte nti o n to
th e s e a, h is f in gers g rip pin g th e s ilv er b ars ti g ht e no ugh to w hite n h is k nuckle s. “ B ut th ere ’s to o m uch
we d on’t kno w . W hy Z eus cre ate d th em , fo r in sta nce.” P ose id on’s th o ughtf u l gaze la tc hed o n to
so m eth in g in th e d is ta nce. “ If Z eus w ante d a ll th e g o ds d ead , w hy b oth er c re ati n g n ew o nes in th ese
dem ig o ds? ” H e s h o ok h is h ead . “ I d on’t l ik e i t. T hey s h o uld d ie .”
“S ho uld n’t w e f in d o ut w hy . . . w ho ev er i s ta kin g th e d em ig o ds w ants th em ?” C ould P ose id on b e
behin d th eir d is a p peara nces? T hey’d a ll v anis h ed fr o m h is r e alm . B ut th en, w hy a sk P ers e p ho ne to
lo ok i n to th e p ro ble m ? T o a v ert s u sp ic io n, m ayb e? O r g et h er i n to h is r e alm ?
“N ot i f th ey c an b e u se d a gain st u s. F or a ll w e k no w , th ey c an k ill g o ds r e gard le ss o f b lo odlin e.”
“T hat’ s a p re tty b ig r e ach.” I p re te nd ed to th in k o ver h is c o ncern , a s if m y o pin io n m atte re d to
him o ne w ay o r a no th er. “ B ut y o u c o uld b e o nto s o m eth in g. W e d on’t k no w w hat A donis a nd h is k in d
are c ap ab le o f, b ut I’ m in a p re tty g o od p ositi o n to le arn .” I in fu se d a sm ile in to m y to ne a s I
ap pro ached th e s e a g o d. “ W hy d on’t y o u g iv e m e a f e w d ays to f in d o ut m ore ?” T he b oat w ould d ock
on th e c ru is e l in e’s p riv ate i s la nd i n l e ss th an f o rty -e ig ht h o urs . I f I c o uld g et A donis to l a nd , h e’d b e

sa fe i n P ers e p ho ne’s r e alm .
“Y ou’d lik e th at.” P ose id on stu d ie d th e h o riz o n, m usc le s te nse . In th e d is ta nce, sta rs b la ze d
again st th e b la ck b ackd ro p o f th e n ig ht s k y a s th e c lo ud s r e ced ed in to th e d is ta nce. “ B ut w hat w ould
yo u b e w illin g to d o i n e xchange f o r s u ch a f a v or? ”
My m outh w ent d ry . “ U m — ”
With o ut w arn in g, P ose id on w hir le d a nd p ulle d m e to h im , c o verin g m y m outh w ith h is in a
fo rc efu l k is s. T he a m bro sia o n h is b re ath tu rn ed m y s to m ach. H is h and s r o am ed o ver m e, r o ugh a nd
dem and in g. I s q uir m ed a gain st th e a ssa ult, tr y in g to p ush a w ay f r o m h im , b ut I c o uld n’t b re ak f r e e.
The d oor to th e b alc o ny s la m med o pen, s ta rtl in g P ose id on i n to r e le asin g m e. I m oved a w ay f r o m
him a s f a st a s I c o uld .
“Y ou.” A donis m oved b esid e m e, g la rin g a t P ose id on. “ N eed to l e av e. N ow .”
Oh, g o ds. P ose id on w ould k ill h im fo r in te rru p ti n g. S ti ll s h akin g, I tr ie d to m ove, to p ut m yse lf
betw een th em i n th e f u ti le h o pe I c o uld s to p A donis f r o m g etti n g h urt, b ut I c o uld n’t m ake m y m usc le s
co opera te .
Pose id on d id n’t e v en a ckno w le d ge A donis . H e lo oked p ast h im to m e. “ W ell, A phro dite ? Is th e
pric e to o h ig h?”
I d id n’t h av e to a sk w hat h e m eant. “ A donis , y o u s h o uld g o ,” I c ro aked , f e elin g n ause ate d .
He g la nced b etw een m e a nd P ose id on, th en s h o ok h is h ead . “ N o.”
“A donis , g o .” M y v oic e s h o ok.
Adonis w ork ed h is j a w , a nd th en l e t o ut a d eep b re ath . H e tu rn ed h is b ack o n P ose id on, l o okin g
me s tr a ig ht i n th e e yes. “ W hate v er h e’s g o t o ver y o u i s n ’t w orth i t.”
“I’ m i n clin ed to a gre e w ith h im .” P ose id on s n ic kere d . “ T ake a n ig ht, th in k i t o ver, s w eeth eart.”
I f lin ched a t th e w ord .
“If I’ m s ti ll in te re ste d , I’ ll fin d y o u to m orro w . If n o t? ” H is g aze s lid to A donis . “ W ell, y o u’ll
fig ure i t o ut.” I f e lt a p uls e o f p ow er w ash th ro ugh h im .
“P ose id on, w ait,” I crie d , je rk in g fo rw ard , m y arm s outs tr e tc hed in a fu ti le effo rt to sto p
whate v er h e p la nned to d o n ext. H e s h o t m e a l e w d g rin , th en v anis h ed .

Chap te r V III
T H E F E EL O F P ose id on’s h and s g ra b bin g a t m e, h is lip s p re ssin g a gain st m in e, h is to ngue s n akin g
d ow n m y th ro at, c o ate d m e l ik e a f ilth y r e sid ue. I w ante d n o th in g m ore th an to g et i t o ff.
“A phro dite . . .” A donis s ta re d a t th e s p ot w here P ose id on h ad b een s ta nd in g. “ W hat th e h ell w as
t h at? ”
I p ush ed p ast h im to g et i n to th e r o om . W arm th p ric ked a gain st m y c heeks a s m y s k in a d ju ste d to
t h e l a ck o f w et w in d z a p pin g m y b ody h eat. A donis m ust h av e tu rn ed o ff th e a ir c o nd iti o ner, b ecause
t h e r o om n o l o nger c o m pete d f o r th e ti tl e o f c o ld est p la ce o n e arth .
“I a sk ed y o u a q uesti o n.” A donis l o cked th e s lid in g g la ss d oor w ith a c lic k, a nd th en m oved f r o m
p anel to p anel, yankin g th e ta up e sh ad es d ow n th e flo or-to -c eilin g w in d ow s as if fa b ric co uld
s o m eho w c re ate a b arrie r a gain st P ose id on. U nfo rtu nate ly , a ll i t d id w as m ake th e r o om f e el s m alle r.
“ T im e to th in k o ver w hat? W hat d id y o u j u st a gre e to ?”
“I h av en’t a gre ed to a nyth in g, y et.” If m y h and s w ould s to p s h akin g, I c o uld u nzip th is s tu p id
d re ss a nd c hange i n to s o m eth in g w arm .
“ Ye t?
” A donis r a n h is f in gers th ro ugh h is g o ld en h air, h is f a ce p in ched w ith c o ncern . “ A phro dite ,
d on’t. I k no w h e r u le s a r e alm a nd a ll th at, b ut ju st b ecause h e’s p ow erfu l, d oesn ’t m ean h e’s w orth
— ”
“Y ou th in k th at I ’ d — ” I s ta re d a t A donis i n d is b elie f. “ F or
pow er?
You th in k
th at’s
m y p ric e?”
“W hat e ls e w ould y o u w ant f r o m h im ?”
I s ta re d a t h im f o r a s o lid m in ute , l e tti n g th e w ord s h e’d j u st s a id h ang b etw een u s.
“I’ m s o rry ,” A donis s a id a t l a st, s h ifti n g u nco m fo rta b ly . “ I d id n’t m ean to i m ply — ”
“T hat I’ m a w ho re ?” I sn ap ped , a ll th e a nger a nd fe ar I’ d fe lt o n th e b alc o ny a m om ent a go
l a tc hin g o n to a s a fe ta rg et. “ Is th at w hat y o u th in k o f m e? T hat I’ ll ju st h av e s e x w ith a nyb ody, n o
m atte r h o w m uch th ey m ake m y s k in c ra w l, a s l o ng a s th ey o ffe r m e e no ugh? T hat I ’ d b e
willin g
to — ”
“Y ou’re th e o ne w ho s a id ‘y et.’ ” A donis h eld h is h and s u p in s u rre nd er. “ D esp ite th e fa ct th at
y o u’re s h akin g. T hat n o th in g in y o ur fa ce, n o t a n io ta o f y o ur b ody la nguage in d ic ate s y o u w ante d
t h at
.” H e j a b bed a f in ger o ut a t th e b alc o ny. “ M uch l e ss a nyth in g f u rth er. H e’s o ffe rin g y o u s o m eth in g,
o r h e’s h o ld in g s o m eth in g o ver y o u. A nd I ’ m te llin g y o u, w hate v er i t i s , i t’ s n o t w orth i t. I f e v en h alf
t h e m yth s I ’ v e r e ad a re tr u e, h e’s b ad n ew s. W e’v e g o t to g et y o u o ut o f h ere .”
The h eat o f m y a nger d is sip ate d , le av in g m e c o ld in sid e. M y k nees fo ld ed u nd er m e a s I s a t o n
t h e c o uch, h unchin g f o rw ard to c ra d le m y h ead i n m y h and s. “ I c an’t l e av e.”
“I k no w y o u w ant to fin d o ut w hat’ s h ap penin g to th e d em ig o ds, b ut I c an h elp y o u. “ A donis s a t
b esid e m e. “ I w on’t f o rg et w hate v er h ap pens. I c an’t b e c harm ed , a nd I ’ m s ti ll w illin g to i n v esti g ate
f o r y o u. P ut a g la m our o n m e, a n d le t w ho ev er is b ehin d th is th in k I le ft th e s h ip w ith y o u. Y ou c an
m eet m e w hen w e g et b ack to F lo rid a. I ’ ll f ill y o u i n o n e v ery th in g I s a w .”
The c hill f r o m m y s o akin g-w et d re ss b it i n to m y s k in to o m uch to i g no re . I p ush ed to m y f e et a nd

fu m ble d fo r th e z ip per. “ T hat is n ’t w hat I m eant. I c an’t le av e a s h ip in th e m id dle o f th e o cean, a ny
more th an y o u c an.” M y h and s w ere s h akin g to o m uch, m y fin gers to o n um b. I s w ore . “ D o w e h av e
sc is so rs ? ”
“W hat? ” A donis s to od. “ N o. H ere , l e t m e.” H e c le are d h is th ro at, a nd o nce h e f in is h ed u nzip pin g
th e d re ss, h e m oved a w ay f r o m m e. “ Y ou c an’t te le p ort? ”
“N o.” I w aite d unti l A donis w alk ed to th e kitc hen, care fu l to keep his b ack to m e, b efo re
sh im myin g o ut o f m y d re ss. R eachin g in to th e su itc ase , I p ulle d o ut a p air o f y o ga p ants a nd a n
overs iz e d g ra y s h ir t.
Socks!
M y f e et r e jo ic ed w hen I s lid th e c o tto n f a b ric o ver m y f r e ezin g-c o ld to es.
I fin ger-c o m bed m y hair, and w and ere d in to th e kitc hen. “E xcuse m e.” R eachin g p ast A donis , I
gra b bed a b ottl e o f w ate r.
“W ait.” H e g ra b bed th e b ottl e a nd p ut i t b ack i n th e f r id ge. “ L et’ s g et s o m eth in g w arm . I ’ ll c all”
Adonis b ro ke o ff, h is g aze sw eep in g o ver m e. “ U h, u m . Y ou k no w w hat, ro om se rv ic e w ill ta ke
fo re v er.” H e r e co vere d . “ Is c o ffe e o kay?” H e r u m maged th ro ugh th e d ra w er u nd er th e c o ffe e m aker.
“W e’v e a ls o g o t te a a nd h o t c ho co la te .”
“C offe e’s f in e.”
He n o dded a nd fr o w ned a t th e c o ffe e m aker, th en sta rte d fid dlin g w ith it. “ C an’t P ers e p ho ne
te le p ort y o u o ut? ”
“I’ m n o t fr o m th is r e alm , s o n o .” W hen m y c hest ti g hte ned , I fo rc ed m yse lf to b re ath e.
Yo u’ll b e
fin e.
I p ro pped m yse lf o nto o ne o f th e b ars to ols a nd le aned m y e lb ow s a gain st th e s m ooth c o unte r,
gazin g a cro ss th e w id e e xp anse o f l iv in g r o om , a nd f o cuse d o n ta kin g d eep b re ath s.
The c o ffe e m aker c lic ked . B ehin d m e, I h eard A donis d ra w tw o c up s fr o m th e c ab in et. “ C an
so m eo ne f r o m th is r e alm te le p ort y o u o ut? ”
I s h o ok m y h ead . “
I
hav e to b e fr o m th is r e alm o r h av e p erm is sio n fr o m P ose id on to te le p ort.” I
tu rn ed to s tu d y A donis . “ W ho ’d y o u h av e i n m in d ?” P ose id on w as, to m y k no w le d ge, th e o nly s e a g o d
le ft.
Adonis s h ru gged a nd tu rn ed to th e c o ffe e m aker. T he s o und o f l iq uid p ourin g i n to m ugs f ille d m y
ears a s th e s c ent o f h aze ln ut w afte d in to th e a ir. “ E h, w ell, if y o u tu rn ed m e in to a g o d in th is r e alm ,
th en I ’ d te chnic ally b e f r o m — ”
“T urn ed y o u i n to a — ” I n cre d ulo us, I s p un o n m y s e at to f a ce h im . “ W hat th e h ell k in d o f i d ea i s
th at? ”
Adonis sh ru gged , lo okin g e m barra sse d . “ It’ s n o t so m eth in g I
want.
I’ m ju st p ro ble m so lv in g.
Thro w in g i d eas o ut th ere .”
I g ap ed a t h im . “ W hat m akes y o u th in k i t’ s e v en p ossib le ?”
“D id n’t H erc ule s g et tu rn ed in to a g o d?” A donis p asse d m e a c up o f c o ffe e, b ut I s e t th e m ug
dow n o n th e c o unte rto p w ith o ut ta kin g a s ip .
“F or a l ittl e w hile . H e d ie d f r o m l a ck o f w ors h ip b ack w hen m ost o f th e o th er g o ds d id , b ut— ” I
to ok a s ip o f m y c o ffe e, c o nsid erin g m y w ord s c are fu lly . “ It’ s n o t a n e asy p ro cess fo r e ith er p arty .”
There w as a lm ost n o p ow er i n v olv ed i n a p oth eo sis , th e p ro cess b y w hic h a d em ig o d w as tu rn ed i n to
a f u ll d eity . A ll i t to ok w as a s p ark to a cti v ate th e i c ho r i n a d em ig o d’s b lo od. “ A nd th ere ’s a p ric e.”
“W hat k in d o f p ric e?” C urio sity f lic kere d i n A donis ’s e yes, b ut n o t h unger. M y s h o uld ers r e la xed
a b it w hen I r e aliz e d h e w as l e giti m ate ly c urio us a b out th e p ro cess, n o t d esp era te to tr y i t.
“A cti v ati n g i c ho r d oesn ’t a uto m ati c ally g iv e a d em ig o d e no ugh p ow er to s u rv iv e a s a d eity .” T he
sh ip h it a no th er s e t o f c ho ppy w av es, a nd th e c ry sta ls o n th e c hand elie r h angin g o ver th e l iv in g r o om

chim ed m elo dic ally . L ig hts f r o m th e c ry sta ls m oved a lo ng th e w hite w alls . I s w allo w ed h ard , p ush in g
asid e th e r e m in d er th at e v en w ith in th ese w alls , I w as tr a p ped in P ose id on’s r e alm . “ It, u h, it ta kes
ti m e to b uild u p , a nd e v en m ore ti m e fo r th e d em ig o d’s b ody to c hange e no ugh to h and le d iv in e
pow ers . S o f o r a f e w m onth s, th ere ’s . . .” I h esita te d , tr y in g to th in k o f th e r ig ht w ord . “ A c o nnecti o n?
No, m ore l ik e a tr a nsfe r. I f I tu rn ed y o u i n to a g o d r ig ht n o w , m y p ow er w ould f lo w to y o u, a nd I ’ d b e
all b ut h um an fo r a fe w m onth s. E ventu ally , y o ur b ody w ould s ta b iliz e a nd m y p ow er w ould flo w
back to m e.” T he o pen-e nd ed lin k b etw een g o d a nd n ew ly c re ate d d eity w as a n o dd o ne. W ith o ut
eno ugh p ow er, g o ds s h o uld d ie . B ut th e lin k a llo w ed p ow er to flo w b ack a nd fo rth , e nab lin g b oth
parti e s to liv e th ro ugh th e p ro cess, p ro vid ed th ere w as e no ugh w ors h ip to k eep th em b oth s u sta in ed .
They w ere p re tty m uch u se le ss, in te rm s o f b ein g a b le to
do
anyth in g w ith th eir p ow er u nti l th e
tr a nsfo rm ati o n c o m ple te d , b ut th ey liv ed . “ A nd n o , th is w ould n’t b e y o ur r e alm . Y ou’d b e g etti n g a n
up gra d e, b ut yo u w ere sti ll
born
in D em ete r-la nd .” E ven I’ d b een cre ate d o n la nd . T he “b ein g
str a nd ed i n th e o cean” b it h ap pened a fte rw ard .
Som eo ne k no cked o n th e d oor. I g ra b bed A donis ’s p ho ne o ff th e c o unte rto p a nd c hecked th e ti m e.
“I’ m l a te f o r a m eeti n g.”
“A m eeti n g?” A donis r e ached f o r h is p ho ne, f in gers b ru sh in g a gain st m in e w hen h e to ok th e s lim
dev ic e b ack. “ W ith w ho ? A nd w hy?”
“D o y o u th in k m y in v esti g ati o n is lim ite d to fo llo w in g y o u a ro und a ll d ay?” I a sk ed w ith a
lig htn ess I d id n’t f e el. I p ulle d o pen th e d oor a nd s m ile d a t M ig uel. “ B e r ig ht th ere .”
“I’ m g o in g to s h ie ld th e r o om ,” I to ld A donis a s I c ast th e s h ie ld , d oub le -a nd tr ip le -c heckin g th e
barrie r. T his ti m e, th e fr ic kin ’ th in g h eld w ith o ut a ny tr o ub le . G o fig ure . “ S ta y p ut.” A s if h e h ad a
cho ic e.

Chap te r I X
“ Y OU C A N L O OK u p p asse ngers b y la st n am e, o r a cco unt n um ber.” M ig uel m oved th e c urs o r o ver
t h e c o m pute r s c re en. H e c lic ked o n a ta b , a nd a l e ngth y l is t o f n am es a nd n um bers s o rte d i n to c o lu m ns
f ille d th e s c re en. “ O r y o u c an s e arc h b y r o om n um ber.”
We s a t a t th e g uest s e rv ic es d esk in th e a tr iu m , o ut o f s ig ht, th anks to a c are fu lly c ra fte d s h ie ld .
M ig uel h ad c ho se n th e m id dle o f th e th re e c o m pute rs , c la im in g th e m achin e to b e th e f a ste st.
“D oes i t p rin t? ” I g la nced a b ove a nd b elo w th e d esk ’s s u rfa ce b ut d id n’t s e e a p rin te r.
Mig uel n o dded . “ It’ s h o oked u p to a p rin te r i n th e o ffic e.” H e m oti o ned to th e g la ss d oor b ehin d
u s m ark ed “ S ta ff O nly .”
Passe ngers w alk ed a cro ss th e m arb le flo or in p acks, e ach g ro up g o in g in a d iffe re nt d ir e cti o n
w ith a s e nse o f p urp ose . P ia no m usic p la yed o ver th e s p eakers , th e l ilti n g m elo dy o f
Beyo nd th e S ea
s e tti n g m y fo ot ta p pin g again st th e ro llin g chair I occup ie d as I w aite d fo r M ig uel fin is h th is
u nnecessa ry s o ftw are to ur a nd h and o ver th e f r ic kin ’ c o m pute r a lr e ad y.
“A nd y o u c an s e e th eir tr a nsa cti o ns b y c lic kin g h ere ,” h e c o nti n ued , s h o w in g m e th e a p pro pria te
t a b .
“T he o ne l a b ele d tr a nsa cti o ns? ” I tr ie d to k eep th e f r u str a ti o n o ut o f m y v oic e. S o f a r, e v ery th in g
l o oked p re tty s e lf- e xp la nato ry . S o if I c o uld ju st ta ke th e k eyb oard . . . “ I th in k I’ v e g o t th is , M ig uel.
Y ou c an g o n o w . T hank y o u.”
“H ap py to h elp .” M ig uel g rin ned a nd m ad e a s i f to l e av e, th en h esita te d .
“Y es? ” I d id n’t g la nce u p f r o m ty p in g N arc is su s’s f ir s t a nd l a st n am e.
“T hese p eo ple y o u s e arc h f o r, a nd th e m an y o u tr a v el w ith . . .” M ig uel tr a ile d o ff, a s i f d eb ati n g
w hat to s a y n ext.
I l o oked u p . “ A donis ? W hat a b out h im ?”
“I k no w o f th eir k in d . T hey a re n o t . . . tr u stw orth y. B e c are fu l.”
I th anked h im , s h akin g m y h ead w ith a s m ile a s I th o ught h o w o dd it w as th at M ig uel w ould
r e co gniz e d em ig o ds— and fe ar th em e v en— but h e d id n’t re aliz e w hen h e w as in th e p re se nce o f a
f u ll- b lo oded d eity . T hen a gain , m ayb e h e’d b een o n o th er s h ip s w ith s o m e o f th e m is sin g d em ig o ds
a nd had been charm ed in to fo rg etti n g th em . T he m em ory , or la ck th ere o f, w ould defin ite ly be
u nnerv in g.
Filin g th at th o ught fo r la te r, I se ttl e d in to m y se at and co m bed th ro ugh pic tu re s of all th e
p asse ngers o n th e s h ip , m akin g c erta in I ’ d m et a ll th e d em ig o ds o n b oard .
I h ad . I r e co rd ed th eir r o om n um bers a nd lo oked a t th eir tr a nsa cti o ns, tr y in g to p in a p atte rn to
t h eir d ay I c o uld s h are w ith P ose id on. T hen I tu rn ed m y a tte nti o n to p ast c ru is e s, a nd b egan c o m pilin g
a lis t o f d em ig o d p asse ngers a nd c ru is e d ate s. “ O h, fo rg et th is ,” I m utte re d a fte r s tu d yin g a no th er
s h ip ’s w orth o f p asse ngers . I c o uld c harm a te am in to d oin g th is fo r m e la te r. In ste ad , I k eyed in th e
n am es o f th e d em ig o ds I k new fo r a fa ct w ere m is sin g. I n eed ed to p in p oin t e xactl y w hen th ey w ent

mis sin g o n th eir p arti c ula r c ru is e s a nd f ig ure o ut i f th ere w as a ny c o nnecti o n.
The m usic l o w ere d i n d efe re nce to s le ep in g p asse ngers a s th e n ig ht w ore o n, a nd a g enera l h ush
fe ll o ver th e s h ip , in te rru p te d o nly e v ery s o o fte n b y a g ro up o f d ru nken r e v ele rs m akin g th eir w ay
fr o m o ne c lu b to a no th er. B ut b y th e ti m e I g o t a ro und to ty p in g th e n am e o f th e l a st m is sin g d em ig o d
—Otr e ra E phesu s— in to th e s e arc h e ngin e, e v en th o se g ro up s w and ere d b y le ss o fte n. P eru sin g h er
file , I d is c o vere d th at O tr e ra h ad s a ile d w ith F anta sy C ru is e L in e j u st b efo re s h e w ent m is sin g o n . . .
th is s h ip . S crib blin g d ow n th e n am e o f o ur s h ip , a nd th e d ate s, I m oved o n to th e o th er ta b .
Otr e ra h ad b oard ed th e s h ip th e d ay th e c ru is e s e t s a il, d eb ark ed tw o d ays la te r o n th e s m all
is la nd th e c ru is e lin e o w ned , th en b oard ed la te r a gain th at a fte rn o on. S he h ad n’t s c anned in o r o ut
again th e r e st o f th e c ru is e . C lic kin g o n th e n ext ta b , I s e arc hed th ro ugh h er tr a nsa cti o ns a nd f o und th e
la st o ne to b e a d rin k c harg e a t th re e a .m ., o n th e th ir d n ig ht o f th e c ru is e , f r o m th e k ara o ke b ar. T hen
no th in g, n o a cti v ity a t a ll.
My e yes b urn ed w ith f a ti g ue a s I th o ught o ver w hat I k new . T he m is sin g d em ig o ds h ad n’t a lw ays
tr a v elle d th is c ru is e ’s r o ute , b ut a ll th e s h ip s p asse d th ro ugh th e s a m e c o ord in ate s w ith in tw enty -fo ur
ho urs o f th e d em ig o ds’ l a st tr a nsa cti o ns.
Sta rin g at th e sp ot on th e m ap , I yaw ned . I sa w no th in g no ta b le th ere , ju st m ore ocean.
Actu ally . . . I le aned c lo se r; m easu rin g d is ta nce w ith m y fin gerti p s. W hat m ad e th e lo cati o n n o ta b le
was th e l a ck o f s u rro und in gs. T he c o ord in ate s m ark ed th e c ru is e ’s f a rth est p oin t f r o m l a nd .
I c ra d le d m y f o re head i n m y h and s, y aw nin g a gain . “ T im e to ta ke a b re ak.” I c o uld m ake s e nse o f
all o f th is l a te r. T im e to g et u p , a nd g ath er th e p ap ers , a nd . . .
And . . .
A k no ck o n th e s h ie ld c aught m y a tte nti o n a nd I r a is e d m y h ead . A re s s to od o n th e o th er s id e, h is
hand s p ush ed i n to th e p ockets o f h is l e ath er j a cket.
“W hat? ” I d ro pped m y s h ie ld i n s u rp ris e . “ H ow a re y o u— Why— ?”
“Y ou’re d re am in g, l o ve.” H is p up ils w ere w id e w ith c harm a s h e s te p ped b ehin d th e d esk .
“S to p,” I w his p ere d a s A re s k nelt b efo re m e, g azin g u p a t m e w ith th o se b la nk, a d orin g e yes.
I c o uld n’t s e e Z eus, b ut h e w as th ere . H e w as a lw ays l u rk in g s o m ew here i n m y d re am s, w aiti n g
to tw is t th em i n to n ig htm are s. H is b re ath s ti r re d th e h air o n m y n eck. B ut I c o uld n’t m ake m yse lf tu rn
to fa ce h im . N ot w ith A re s in fr o nt o f m e, s ta rin g a t m e a s if h e’d b een b lin d a nd I w as h is fir s t
glim pse o f th e s u n.
“S w ear f e alty .” T he h ate fu l w ord s l e ft m y to ngue, b ut th e v oic e b elo nged to Z eus.
“I s w ear.” A s A re s s p oke, h e c ru m ble d i n to d ust a nd b ones.
I s c re am ed h is n am e, w re nchin g m yse lf o ut o f th e n ig htm are a nd i n to a d re am sc ap e.
“A phro dite !” A re s’s a rm s c lo se d a ro und m e.
I d id n’t q uesti o n h is p re se nce, ju st b urie d m y h ead in h is sh o uld er. “ I’ m so rry , I’ m so rry ,” I
whim pere d . “ I’ m s o s o rry .” I c lu ng to h im , fig hti n g th e p anic ris in g in m y c hest fr o m th e h o rrib le
nig htm are -tu rn ed -m em ory . I c o uld n’t sa v e a nyo ne. S om eo ne w ould a lw ays fin d a w ay to u se m e
again st th e p eo ple I care d ab out. W hy d id I v olu nte er to co m e here ? W hat d id I th in k I co uld
acco m plis h ? “ I w ould n’t h av e l e t y o u— I d id n’t
want
— ”
He m ad e s o oth in g n o is e s a nd s tr o ked m y h air, h o ld in g m e u nti l m y b ab blin g tu rn ed c o here nt th en
cease d a ll to geth er. E ventu ally , I p ut m yse lf to geth er e no ugh to r e co gniz e th at h is a rm s a ro und m e f e lt
warm a nd f ir m a nd
re a l.
“H ow a re y o u h ere ?” I p ulle d a w ay f r o m h im , v oic e h o ars e .

“Y ou, u h.” H e g la nced d ow n. “ Y ou c alle d m e h ere .”
Horrifie d , I clo se d m y eyes again st th e m em ory o f m e sc re am in g his nam e. T here w as no
re co verin g f r o m th is . N o p re te nd in g. “ I d id n’t m ean to .”
He s h ru gged , p ush in g h is h and s i n to th e p ockets o f h is l e ath er j a cket. “ I d on’t m in d . B ad d re am ?”
“D oesn ’t m atte r.” S cru b bin g a t m y f a ce, I tr ie d to r e gain s o m e s e m bla nce o f c o m posu re . “ I, u m , I
need to m eet w ith P ers e p ho ne. I s h o uld n’t h av e— ”
“Y ou’re a llo w ed to h av e n ig htm are s, A phro dite . H ell, y o u’re e nti tl e d .” A re s d re w b ack, s tu d yin g
me w ith c o ncern . “ A y ear a go , y o u n ev er a p olo giz e d f o r a nyth in g. N ow , y o u’re tr ip pin g o ver y o urs e lf
tr y in g to u nd o w hat I j u st s a w ? W hat h ap pened to y o u?”
Yo u l e ft.
I s ta re d a t h im , tr y in g to c o m e u p w ith s o m eth in g l e ss n eed y, l e ss d esp era te , l e ss . . .
Tru e.
Every o ne h ad l e ft a fte r Z eus d ie d . P ers e p ho ne d is a p peare d i n to h er g rie f a nd th e r e sp onsib iliti e s
of r u nnin g th re e r e alm s f o r m onth s. M elis sa w ent o ff to c o lle ge. E very o ne e ls e w ent b ack to th eir o w n
liv es, b ut I d id n’t h av e o ne o uts id e o f Z eus. A t fir s t, th at fr e ed om fe lt e xhila ra ti n g, fu ll o f p ote nti a l.
Then e v ery th in g I w as so c erta in I k new tu rn ed o ut to b e w ro ng. S urv iv in g h ad n’t e v en b egun to
pre p are m e f o r
liv in g
with w hat I ’ d s u rv iv ed .
I g av e u p a nd th re w h is o w n w ord s f r o m th e o th er n ig ht b ack a t h im . “ I c an’t a ffo rd to b e w eak,
re m em ber? ” S um monin g a h air ti e , I s te p ped b ack a nd p ulle d m y h air i n to a l o ose p onyta il.
“T his is n ’t w eak.” A re s m oti o ned a ro und th e b la nk d re am sc ap e. “ T his is y o u, d ealin g. H id in g
fr o m th e a fte rm ath , a v oid in g m eeti n gs u nle ss s o m eo ne c an p hysic ally p ull y o u in , p re te nd in g w hat
hap pened d oesn ’t a ffe ct y o u a t a ll, th at’ s n o t— ”
“Y our p ro ble m .” I ti g hte ned th e p onyta il. “ A nd fr a nkly , n o t y o ur b usin ess. I’ m n o t o ne o f y o ur
so ld ie rs , A re s.”
A f r o w n m arre d A re s’s p erfe ct f e atu re s. “ Y ou b ro ught m e h ere .”
“I d id n’t
want
to , i t j u st h ap pened ,” I s n ap ped , u nab le to c o nta in m y te m per. “ I j u st” — my te m per
fiz zle d a s a f e elin g o f u ncerta in ty c re p t u p m y s p in e— “d oze d o ff, I g uess.”
“Y ou g uess? ” A re s ti lte d h is h ead , e yeb ro w s r a is e d i n c o nfu sio n. G ods d id n’t n eed s le ep . W hen
we c ho ose to s le ep , i t’ s a c o nsc io us a cti o n. “ A phro dite , w here a re y o u r ig ht n o w ?”
I c lo se d m y e yes a nd s h ifte d th e d re am sc ap e, p ullin g i n m y a w are ness o f th e w orld o uts id e o f m y
sle ep in g fo rm . T he d eta ils fille d in . T he “ C ” s h ap ed d esk , th e b rig htl y lit lo bby, m e, w ith m y h ead
burie d i n m y a rm s, s n o ozin g a w ay. “ M y s h ie ld s a re s ti ll u p ,” I r e aliz e d , r e lie v ed .
“M ayb e th e s tr a in o f b ein g i n a no th er r e alm g o t to y o u.” A re s w alk ed b ehin d m e to s e e th e s c re en
of th e c o m pute r. J u m ble d l e tte rs a nd s y m bols f ille d th e d is p la y, b ut th e p ic tu re s c am e th ro ugh w ith o ut
any p ro ble m . “ It ta kes s o m e g etti n g u se d to . B ut s ti ll . . .”
“I’ m a ls o m ain ta in in g tw o s h ie ld s,” I a rg ued . “ A nd i t’ s b een a l o ng d ay.”
“T w o?” A re s g la nced a ro und .
“O ne a ro und A donis ’s r o om .”
“H e’s h ere ?” A re s ra is e d h is e yeb ro w s. “ T hat c hanges th in gs. W e c an’t le t A donis d is a p pear.
Hav e y o u to ld P ose id on?”
I s w allo w ed h ard . “ Y eah. H e k no w s.”
Are s o pened h is m outh , a nd th en c lo se d i t, s tu d yin g m e h ard .
Part o f m e w ante d to te ll h im , b ut i t w asn ’t a s i f th ere w as a nyth in g h e c o uld d o. H e w as a r e alm
aw ay. T he o nly p ers o n w ho c o uld a ctu ally
do
so m eth in g a b out P ose id on w as P ers e p ho ne. A nd I

wasn ’t g o in g to p ut h im o n h er p la te . S he’d f lip o ut a nd th e o th er g o ds w ould “ m is in te rp re t” w hate v er
her r e acti o n w as a s a p la y f o r P ose id on’s r e alm . “ I’ ll h and le P ose id on,” I a ssu re d A re s. T ho ugh h o w
well I c o uld d o th at r e m ain ed to b e s e en.
“I k no w .” W hen I l o oked u p a t A re s i n s u rp ris e , a g ho st o f a s m ile c ro sse d h is f a ce. “ Y ou s to od
up to Z eus u nd er m uch w ors e o dds. Y ou’re n o body’s d oorm at, A phro dite .”
I d re w i n a s h arp b re ath . “ T hank y o u.”
Are s’s e yes b urn ed i n to m in e. “ A nyti m e.”

Chap te r X
“ A PH RO DIT E, Y OU m ad e it.” P ers e p ho ne’s a rm s w ra p ped a ro und m e in a ti g ht h ug w hen I e nte re d
h er d re am sc ap e.
“P ers e p ho ne . . .” I p ulle d a w ay to l o ok d ow n a t th e s h o rt g o ddess, s m ir k in g a t h er S ailo r M oon
n ig hts h ir t. “ W e ta lk ed a b out th is . W hat h ap pened to a ll th e c lo th es I s e nt y o u?”
“T hey d on’t s ta y o n.”
I g av e P ers e p ho ne a k no w in g l o ok. “ T hat w as k in d o f th e p oin t.”
Pers e p ho ne tu rn ed b rig ht re d . “ N o, I m ean th e— ” S he p lu cked a t th e c o lla r o f h er s h ir t. “ T he
s tr a p s k ep t fa llin g, a nd it g o t a ll tw is ty w hile I s le p t, a nd . . .” S he c o nti n ued b ab blin g, tr y in g to
c o rre ct h er v erb al b lu nd er, b ut o nly s u cceed ed a t g etti n g m ore flu ste re d . “ H ow ’s th e c ru is e ?” s h e
a sk ed , g iv in g u p .
“E h, i t’ s b een i n te re sti n g s o f a r.” I g la nced a ro und , s u rp ris e d to f in d m yse lf i n a g o ld en m ead ow .
S pla sh es o f c o lo rs f r o m i n d is ti n ct w ild flo w ers b lo om ed a lo ng th e l a nd sc ap e. T he h ead y s c ent o f f lo ra
h ung in a ir th ic k w ith su nsh in e. A p ic nic b la nket, d eco ra te d w ith ro w s o f g ia nt d ais ie s, w rin kle d
b eneath m e e v ery ti m e I s h ifte d m y f e et.
“H av e a s e at.” P ers e p ho ne re le ase d m e a nd s a t c ro ss-le gged o n th e b la nket. “ W hat h av e y o u
f ig ure d o ut s o f a r? ”
I f ille d h er i n , l e av in g o ut th e th re ate nin g b its w ith P ose id on.
“W ow , y o u’v e b een b usy.” S he g rin ned , g ra ti tu d e s h in in g in h er e xp re ssio n. “ T hanks a gain fo r
l o okin g i n to th is . S o w ho d o y o u th in k i s c harm in g a ll th e p asse ngers ? T he d em ig o ddess? ”
“I d on’t k no w .” I h esita te d . “ D o y o u th in k th ere c o uld b e a no th er g o ddess o ut th ere lik e m e? I
m ean, m ayb e th e w ay I w as c re ate d . . .”
Pers e p ho ne n arro w ed h er g re en e yes in th o ught. “ I d on’t th in k th at’ s lik ely . Z eus g av e y o u
so
m uch charm ,
and
he kep t eno ugh fo r him se lf to charm m e. E ven w ith th e re m ain s of a T ita n
s u p erc harg in g y o ur p ow ers , o r h o w ev er th at w ork ed , d o y o u th in k h e c o uld h e h av e s p are d e no ugh to
m ake a w ho le ’n o th er g o d?” S he p lu cked a flo w er fr o m th e g ro und , s p in nin g th e s te m b etw een h er
t h um b a nd f o re fin ger.
Zeus h ad c re ate d m e u sin g th e re m ain s o f U ra nus’s d ead b ody to a ct a s m y s e co nd p are nt a nd
e nhance m y c harm . D on’t a sk . I t s e rio usly j u st g ets w eir d er.
“I c o uld b e w ro ng, th o ugh,” P ers e p ho ne b acktr a cked . “ I’ m n o t e xactl y a n e xp ert.”
With th at in sp ir in g b it o f c o nfid ence fr o m o ur fe arle ss le ad er, I le aned b ack o n m y e lb ow s,
d rin kin g in th e brig ht su nsh in e, and flo ate d ano th er th eo ry . “A ny Tita ns bre ak fr e e fr o m th e
U nd erw orld ?”
Pers e p ho ne s h o ok h er h ead . “ N ot th at I ’ m a w are o f. D id a ny o f th e T ita ns e v en h av e c harm ?”
“O ne o f th em h ad to .” G ods p asse d o n th eir p ow ers in lie u o f g eneti c m ate ria l. N ew p ow ers
h ad n’t m anife ste d s in ce C hao s.

“W hic h o ne?” P ers e p ho ne p eele d a y ello w p eta l o ff th e f lo w er. A s tr ip o f g re en s te m f o llo w ed i n
th e p eta l’s w ake. “ I c an l o ok i n to i t, s e e i f th ey’re s ti ll s e cure i n T arta ru s.”
“P ro bab ly U ra nus g iv en, y o u k no w , m e. B ut a lm ost n o k no w le d ge fr o m T he B efo re g o t p asse d
dow n b eyo nd th e f ir s t g enera ti o n.” K no w le d ge i s p ow er, a fte r a ll.
The fir s t g enera ti o n r e fe rre d to H ad es, P ose id on, Z eus, D em ete r, H esti a , a nd H era . T he o rig in al
sib lin gs w ho k ic k-s ta rte d h um an c re ati o n. T hey c alle d e v ery th in g b efo re c re ati o n T he B efo re b ecause
th ey w ere s u p er c re ati v e l ik e th at.
Pers e p ho ne fr o w ned . “ I’ ll fin d o ut. H onestl y , I’ d lik e to h av e a s it- d ow n w ith a T ita n o r tw o
anyw ay.”
I j o lte d u p i n s u rp ris e . “ W ith a T ita n?
Why
?”
Pers e p ho ne h esita te d . “ I’ m h av in g a h ard ti m e n ego ti a ti n g a ll th is n ew p ow er. I t’ s to o m uch, a nd
I’ m to o n ew . E very ti m e I g et a h and le o n i t, th e r u le s c hange. M ayb e th ey’ll h av e s o m e a d vic e.”
“P ro bab ly , b ut th ey h av e n o r e aso n to s h are i t. T hey w ere n’t e xactl y n ic e. A nd w hat d o y o u m ean,
th e r u le s c hange?” I e ase d b ack d ow n o n th e b la nket, r e sti n g o n m y e lb ow s a gain , b ut i n ste ad o f ti lti n g
my h ead u p to th e s u n, I k ep t m y g aze tr a in ed o n h er.
She s h ru gged , p ullin g a no th er p eta l f r e e f r o m th e f lo w er. “ W hen I f ir s t a rriv ed i n th e U nd erw orld
and s ta rte d tr a in in g, th e l e sso ns w ere a lm ost th eo re ti c . I h ad p re tty m uch n o p ow er to w ork w ith , s o I
le arn ed h o w to te le p ort a nd c harm a nd a ll th at w ith o ut a ny r e al f u el b ehin d i t. B ut e v ery th in g c hanged
when m y n am e w ent p ub lic .”
I n o dded , fa m ilia r w ith th e s to ry . M ost g o ds c am e in to b ein g fu lly g ro w n a nd c ap ab le o f u sin g
th eir p ow ers , lik e m e. B ut w hen g o ds w ant th e e xp erie nce o f ra is in g a c hild , th ey g o th ro ugh th e
who le b ab y-m akin g p ro cess a nd s ta rt fr o m s c ra tc h, c re ati n g d eiti e s lik e P ers e p ho ne, w ho a re b orn
and a ge u nti l m atu rity , c o m in g in to th eir p ow ers b it b y b it a lo ng th e w ay. T heir b odie s c an’t
handle
th e fu ll s c o pe o f d iv in ity b efo re th en. P ers e p ho ne h ad o nly ju st b egun c o m in g in to h er p ow ers w hen
Had es h ad o ffe re d h er re fu ge in th e U nd erw orld . B ut th en sh e a llo w ed a ro ck sta r sh e id oliz e d ,
Orp heus, to ta ke h is w ife b ack to th e l iv in g r e alm , a nd h e th anked h er i n a w ay o th er g o ds h av e k ille d
fo r. H e to ok his sto ry p ub lic , te llin g th e w ho le w orld ab out his ad ventu re s and th e b enev ole nt
go ddess, P ers e p ho ne, w ho h elp ed h im s a v e h is w ife . W ith th e a ssis ta nce o f h is c o ncert v enues, f a ns,
and m ed ia c o nnecti o ns, th e s to ry w ent v ir a l. W ors h ip fu els p ow er, s o th e m ore p eo ple ta lk ed a b out
Orp heus’s c ra zy n ew c ult, th e m ore p ow er P ers e p ho ne g ain ed . S in ce s h e c o uld n’t h and le p ow er y et,
Had es h elp ed h er c hannel th e e xcess in to h er tr a in in g, th en s ip ho ned w hate v er w as le ft a w ay s o th e
energ y w ould n’t b urn th ro ugh h er.
She s ig hed . “ N ow th at I ’ v e a ctu ally c o m e i n to m y p ow ers , th is i s a w ho le d iffe re nt g am e. B efo re ,
I n eed ed to th ro w a s m uch e nerg y a s I p ossib ly c o uld in to e v ery s in gle th in g I d id , ju st to s u rv iv e
ano th er d ay. N ow I ’ m s u p pose d to tr y to c o nse rv e i t? ”
“W ors h ip d oesn ’t la st fo re v er,” I r e m in d ed h er. “ C onse rv ati o n is h o w y o ur m om a nd th e o th ers
su rv iv ed s o l o ng a fte r th e f a ll o f O ly m pus.”
“I k no w . I’ m ju st h av in g a h ard ti m e fig urin g o ut h o w to a cco m plis h a ll th e s a m e s tu ff w ith a
lig hte r to uch. I p ra cti c ally h av e to r e le arn e v ery th in g.”
“Y ou c o uld p ass s o m e o f y o ur p ow ers o n.”
She s h o ok h er h ead . “ T he o nly g o d I tr u st e no ugh to g iv e Z eus’s r e alm to i s y o u, b ut s in ce y o u’re
sw orn to m e, th at d oesn ’t a ctu ally a lle v ia te th e p re ssu re a nd — ”
“It w ould b e a p oliti c al n ig htm are .” P lu s, I w asn ’t i n te re ste d i n r u nnin g a r e alm . I h ad e no ugh o n

my p la te r ig ht n o w . “ A th ena’s th e o ld est w ith o ut a r e alm . S he’d b e th e l o gic al c ho ic e.”
Pers e p ho ne s h o ok h er h ead . “ I d on’t tr u st h er, s h e’s to o M achia v ellia n.”
“It’ s n o t a s i f Z eus’s r e alm h as s e nti e nt l ife a nym ore . W ho ’s s h e g o in g to h urt? ”
“I d on’t k no w . I j u st . . . d on’t tr u st h er.”
“T here a re o th er o pti o ns.”
“Y eah, b ut I’ m n o t re ad y to c re ate life rig ht n o w .” S he ro lle d h er e yes. “ M in e is c o m plic ate d
eno ugh a s i t i s .”
“F air e no ugh.” I s m ile d a nd l o oked u p a t th e b rig ht b lu e s k y. L ate r, w hen s h e w asn ’t s o s tr e sse d ,
I’ d h elp h er fix th is d re am sc ap e u p . A mbie nt s o und s w ere n ic e. T his p la ce w as to o q uie t, to o S ile nt
Sprin g-is h . I f s h e a d ded a b re eze , m ayb e s o m e b ir d s c hir p in g, l e av es r u stl in g i n th e w in d , th at s o rt o f
th in g, th is d re am sc ap e w ould b e a ll rig ht. “ W ith a ll th e p ow er y o u g o t fr o m Z eus, T rito n, a nd y o ur
mom , n o t to m enti o n a ll th e w ors h ip y o u g et f r o m g o ds, h um ans, a nd s o uls , y o u’v e g o t to ns o f ti m e to
fig ure i t a ll o ut.”
“Y eah, e xcep t . . .” S he d ro pped th e m uti la te d f lo w er i n to h er l a p a nd b ru sh ed h er h and s a gain st
her w hite s k ir t. “ I
ca n’t
th ro w a s m uch p ow er i n to s tu ff a s I u se d to o r— ” s h e b ro ke o ff, s w allo w in g
hard .
“O r w hat? ” I r o lle d o nto m y s to m ach, s o I c o uld s e e P ers e p ho ne w ith o ut c ra nin g m y n eck, a nd
fo ld ed m y h and s b eneath m y c hin , c ro ssin g m y f e et i n th e a ir b ehin d m e.
Fear f la sh ed i n h er e yes. “
Stu ff
hap pens.”
Could s h e b e m ore v ague? I o pened m y m outh , re ad y to d em and to k no w w hat
kin d
of “ stu ff”
hap pened , w hen th e d re am sc ap e s h ud dere d , a nd I fe lt a p ullin g s e nsa ti o n. “ G uess y o u’re w akin g u p .
See y o u to nig ht? W e c an ta lk m ore , o kay?”
“W ould n’t m is s it.” P ers e p ho ne w av ed , a nd th e d re am sc ap e w ent b la ck a ro und h er. I b lin ked ,
and f o und m yse lf b ack a t th e c usto m er s e rv ic e d esk w ith a c ric k i n m y n eck.
Yaw nin g, I p rin te d o ff th e p asse nger l is t f o r th is c ru is e , c o m ple te w ith th um bnail i m ages. A fte r I
tr a cked d ow n M ig uel and charm ed him and a health y chunk o f th e cre w in to se arc hin g all th e
av aila b le r e co rd s fo r d em ig o ds, I h ead ed b ack to th e e le v ato rs . T he s h eer a m ount o f p ap er I c arrie d
co uld h av e a cco unte d f o r a n e nti r e f o re st.
“L et m e h elp y o u.” T anta lu s’s v oic e c am e f r o m s o m ew here to th e l e ft o f th e m ounta in o f p ap ers . I
cra ned m y n eck a nd s a w h im r e achin g to w ard th e s ta ck.
“H av e a t i t.” I d um ped th e p ile i n h is a rm s.
Tanta lu s g ru nte d u nd er th e u nexp ecte d w eig ht a nd fo llo w ed m e in to th e g la ss e le v ato r. “ W akin g
up , o r h ead in g to b ed ?”
I p unched th e b utto n f o r m y d eck a nd w atc hed a s th e a tr iu m d ro pped a w ay.
Tanta lu s r a is e d h is e yeb ro w s w hen I d id n’t r e p ly . “ W hat i s a ll th is ? ”
“P ap er.”
He l a ughed . “ N o k id din g, b ut w hat’ s i t f o r? ”
The ele v ato r d in ged and I ste p ped o ff. “T his w ay.” I d ro pped th e sh ie ld aro und th e ro om ,
unlo cked th e d oor, a nd f lip ped o n th e l ig ht.
Tanta lu s w alk ed in to th e ro om , h is h ead tu rn in g a s h e g la nced a ro und w ith u nab ash ed in te re st.
“S o, w anna— ”
“W hat th e h ell a re y o u d oin g h ere ?” A donis ’s a ngry v oic e e cho ed fr o m th e s ta ir c ase , w here h e
sto od c asti n g a b le ary -e yed g la re d ow n a t T anta lu s.

“M anual la b or.” I s m ile d a t T anta lu s. “ Y ou c an p ut th o se d ow n o ver th ere .” I m oti o ned to th e
co unte rto p.
Adonis w as th ere b efo re T anta lu s m ad e it to th e k itc hen, r e lie v in g h im o f th e p ap ers a nd n o t s o
su b tl y h erd in g h im b ack o ut i n to th e h all. “ T hanks,” h e s a id , s la m min g th e d oor b ehin d T anta lu s.
“W ow ,” I s ta re d a t th e c lo se d d oor. “ Y ou
re a lly
don’t l ik e h im .”
“W hat ti p ped y o u o ff? ” A donis m anaged a ti g ht s m ile th en g la nced a t h is w atc h. “ Y ou k no w w hat
els e I d on’t l ik e?” H e r a is e d a n e yeb ro w a t m e. “ B ein g l o cked i n m y r o om a ll n ig ht w ith n o w ay o ut.
I’ m r u nnin g l a te , th anks to y o u.”
“L ate ?” T he s u n w asn ’t u p y et. “ L ate f o r w hat? ”
“I n eed to h ead to th e g ym b efo re th e s h o ot. L ook— ” H e r u b bed a t th e b ack o f h is n eck. “ Y ou
don’t h av e to c o m e, b ut I c an’t g et o ut o f th e r o om w ith o ut y o ur h elp , s o i f y o u c o uld j u st— ”
The s h ie ld . R ig ht. “ N o, I ’ ll g o . G iv e m e a m in ute to g et r e ad y.”

Chap te r X I
“ Y OU K NOW Y OU d on’t h av e to a ctu ally d o th e w ork o uts w ith m e, r ig ht? ” A donis h eld o ut a w ate r
b ottl e a s w e e xite d th e g ym .
I to ok it a nd to ok a lo ng d rin k. I’ d k ep t u p w ith h im th e e nti r e ti m e, b ut ju st b are ly . “ I’ v e n ev er
e xerc is e d b efo re ,” I g asp ed . “ I f ig ure d a nyth in g th at w ork s u p th at m uch o f a s w eat h ad to b e f u n.”
“S o, g uess th is m eans s u p er s p eed , s tr e ngth , a nd a ll th at s tu ff i s a m yth .” A donis s te ere d m e d ow n
t h e h all.
“N ot e xactl y . I ” — I m oti o ned u p a nd d ow n m y b ody— “am a s lig h tl y m ore th an p erfe ct v ers io n o f
a h um an fe m ale , w ith m y e xact b uild a t th eir a b so lu te p rim e a nd in to p h ealth . W ay b ack w hen
h um anity h ad n o c lu e h o w th eir b odie s w ork ed , m uch l e ss th e k no w le d ge o r r e so urc es to ta ke c are o f
t h em se lv es, it m ad e a p re tty n o ta b le d iffe re nce. N ow — ” I s h ru gged . “ N ot s o m uch. O f c o urs e y o u’d
o utp ace m e. Y ou’re ta lle r, y o u h av e a m ore m usc ula r b uild , a nd y o u d ed ic ate a to n o f ti m e k eep in g
y o urs e lf i n g re at s h ap e. P lu s, y o u’re a d em ig o d. T hat g iv es y o u a b oost a nyw ay.”
A s m ile p la yed o n A donis ’s l ip s. “ W hate v er. I o utr a n a g o d to day. I ’ m j u st g o nna b ask i n th at f o r
a b it.”
“B ask a w ay.” I w av ed m y h and s, a s th o ugh g ra nti n g h im p erm is sio n.
Afte r w e g o t c le aned u p a nd r e ad y, w e m ad e o ur w ay d ow n to th e c o nfe re nce r o om s o n th e o th er
s id e o f th e s h ip . A donis k ep t u p a s te ad y s tr e am o f p la yfu l b ante r, b ut th ere w as a n u nd erc urre nt o f
a ggra v ati o n to it. H e d id n’t w ant m e h ere . I c o uld n’t b la m e h im fo r n o t b ein g th rille d w ith h av in g a
s h ad ow a t w ork . I t c o uld n’t h av e b een f u n to b e l o cked i n h is r o om a ll n ig ht, o r f a cin g d ow n a ngry s e a
d eiti e s o n m y b ehalf. W hate v er a lc o ho l- in d uced w arm th e xis te d b etw een u s l a st n ig ht h ad f le d i n th e
h ars h lig ht o f d ay. B ut a t le ast h e w as m akin g a n e ffo rt to b e c iv il ra th er th an o penly h o sti le . T w o
s te p s f o rw ard , o ne s te p b ack.
As s o on a s h e w alk ed th ro ugh th e d oor o f th e c o nfe re nce ro om , a w om an c am e a t m e w ith a
m ake-u p b ru sh . “ O h, I d on’t n eed m akeup ,” I s a id .
She s m ile d in a w ay th at lo oked d ecid ed ly u nfr ie nd ly , h er te eth g litte rin g a gain st h er d ark s k in .
“ Y ou’re th e n ew g ir l, h uh? T he o ne a d ded to th e s h o ots
afte r
a ll th e c lo th es a nd s u p plie s w ere p acked
a nd l o ad ed o nto th e s h ip ,
co m ple te ly
sc re w in g u p a ny s e m bla nce o f o rd er w e m ig ht h av e e xp erie nced
f o r th e r e st o f th e w eek?”
I f la sh ed m y te eth a t h er, ta kin g i n th e s m all m ir ro re d r o om a s a no th er w om an d ir e cte d A donis to
a c hair n ext to E lis e . “ T hat’ s m e.”
At th e s o und o f m y v oic e, E lis e o pened h er e yes. “ R eally ?” s h e s a id , tu rn in g to A donis . “ T ell m e
y o u tw o a re n’t h ere f o r th e d eo dora nt s h o t.”
“N ah, c lo th in g,” A donis r e p lie d . “ W e’re i n c o nfe re nce r o om C .”
“W ell, p rin cess,” th e m akeup te chnic ia n s a id , d ra w in g m y a tte nti o n b ack to h er, “ yo u m ay n o t
n eed m akeup d ay-to -d ay, b ut i f y o u d on’t w ant to l o ok l ik e a b le ached -o ut s p ir it d ra ggin g A donis o ff

to th e n eth erw orld , th en y o u’re g o in g to s ta nd s ti ll a nd le t u s d o o ur w ork .” S he lo oked m e u p a nd
dow n, h er e yes n arro w in g i n a p pra is a l. “ L et’ s s e e w hat w e’v e g o t i n y o ur s iz e .”
Over th e n ext h alf h o ur, th ey p oked , p ro dded , a nd p ain te d m e w hile I tr ie d n o t to s e eth e a t th e
in su lt.
Wors e , th ey c o m ple te ly ig no re d m e. T he m akeup a rti s ts c hatte d o ver m y h ead a b out th e s h ift in
th e s c hed ule a s th ey c urle d m y e yela sh es a nd f ile d m y f in gern ails .
“I’ m ju st s a yin g, it’ s n o t h is c all,” o ne s a id , s p ritz in g m y h air w ith s o m eth in g th at s m elle d lik e
citr u s.
The o th er l o oked u p f r o m f ilin g m y n ails . “ M ig ht a s w ell b e. H av e y o u e v er h eard a nyo ne s a y n o
to th at m an?”
“A re y o u ta lk in g a b out N arc is su s? ” I h ad n’t s e nse d a ny p ow er c o m in g fr o m th e d em ig o d, b ut
th eir d esc rip ti o n s o und ed a n a w fu l l o t l ik e c harm .
“D on’t m ove, d ear.” T he s ty lis t y anked a t m y h air, w ork in g th e c itr u sy s tu ff i n to th e c urls .
“F org et a b out N arc is su s.” E lis e s tu d ie d m e in th e m ir ro r. “ D o y o u h av e
any
id ea w hat y o u’re
walk in g i n to ?”
“A donis ,” s o m eo ne c alle d f r o m th e o th er c o nfe re nce r o om . “ W e’re r e ad y f o r y o u.”
“Y ou m ean, a m I re ad y to s ta nd a ro und a nd h av e m y p ic tu re ta ken?” I c ra ned m y n eck to k eep
Adonis i n s ig ht a s th ey w his k ed h im a w ay.
“S ta y
still.
” A w om an w ith b obby p in s s ti c kin g o ut o f h er m outh s n ap ped , y ankin g m y h ead b ack
in to p la ce.
The w om an w ith th e m akeup b ru sh ti lte d m y h ead to w ard h er a nd th e tw o k ep t
to uch in g
me,
cro w din g m e, n ud gin g m e th is w ay a nd th at. I g ritte d m y te eth , s w allo w in g h ard a s fa m ilia r fe elin gs
unco ile d i n m y c hest.
Anxie ty . F ear. P anic .
But th ese w ere ju st h um ans, a nd I w as a g o ddess. G etti n g w ork ed u p o ver th is w as a b out a s
rid ic ulo us a s r u nnin g i n f e ar f r o m a n a nt w and erin g o n m y p ic nic b la nket.
“H ey, B eth .” E lis e h eld o ut h er h and s. “ S he’s b ra nd n ew , re m em ber? ” E lis e sto od, c heckin g
hers e lf o ut i n th e m ir ro r.
“R ig ht.” B eth d re w in a d eep b re ath . “ S orry , it g ets k in d o f c hao ti c a ro und h ere . W hat’ s y o ur
nam e, d oll? ”
“A phro dite ,” I m anaged .
That r a is e d s o m e e yeb ro w s, b ut th e w om en c o nti n ued w ork in g.
“I’ m B eth .” T he w om an p oin te d th e b ru sh a t h ers e lf, th en a t th e w om an o n m y o th er s id e. “ S ara h.
And th at’ s E lis e .”
“T hey d o a m azin g w ork ,” E lis e s a id w ith a s m ile . “ B ut . . . m ayb e th ey c an ta ke a s e co nd to w alk
yo u th ro ugh w hat th ey’re d oin g?” S he g av e th e w om en a lo ok, h o ld in g th eir g aze s u nti l th ey n o dded .
“G re at.” S he s m ile d . “ It’ s e asy to f o rg et h o w o verw helm in g i t i s to b e n ew , b ut w e’v e a ll b een th ere .
Now , J a ne’s i n ‘ C , r ig ht? ” S he g la nced a t th e m akeup a rti s t.
“Y eah,” S ara h r e p lie d .
“S he’s v ery g o od.” E lis e s to od s ti ll a s h er a ssis ta nt p ulle d o ff h er r o be a nd q uic kly w ra p ped th e
dem ig o ddess i n to a th ic k, te rry to w el. “ V ery p ro fe ssio nal. B ut th in gs a re k in d o f c hao ti c th is m orn in g.
So w hen y o u g o o ut th ere , s h e’ll h av e a q uic k c hat w ith y o u a b out w hat s h e e xp ects . If y o u h av e a ny
obje cti o ns to b ein g to uched , o r if th ere ’s a nyth in g y o u’re n o t c o m fo rta b le w ith , s a y s o fr o m th e s ta rt.

She’s v ery r e sp ectf u l.”
“U m , th anks? ” I e yed th e d em ig o ddess i n s u sp ic io n.
“Y ou k in d o f lo oked te rrifie d .” E lis e s h ru gged in r e sp onse to m y u nask ed q uesti o n. “ Y ou m ig ht
want to w ork o n th at. G ood l u ck.” S he f o llo w ed o ne o f th e a ssis ta nts o ut o f th e r o om .
“R ead y fo r w ard ro be?” a w om an w ith a c lip board d em and ed , p ush in g a r a ck o f c lo th es in to th e
ti n y r o om .
Beth a nd S ara h d id m ake th e e ffo rt to ta lk m e th ro ugh a w hir lw in d o f c lo th in g c hanges u nti l th ey
deem ed m e s ty le d a nd d re sse d to s u p er-p erfe cti o n. I w ore a p air o f je ans a nd a w hite c am is o le to p
with a p lu ngin g n ecklin e. C lip board -w om an r a ttl e d o ff a s e rie s o f in str u cti o ns a s s h e le d m e in to th e
co nfe re nce ro om , th en n ud ged m e to w ard A donis w hile a no th er s e t o f ra nd om h um ans s e t to w ork
checkin g th e l ig hti n g.
I s tu m ble d , a nd a s h ir tl e ss A donis , w earin g v ery ti g ht l o w -rid in g j e ans, g ra b bed m e, h o ld in g m e
ste ad y. “ S ta nd c lo se r to m e.” H e s lip ped a n a rm a ro und m y w ais t.
“T ouch o r n o to uch?” th e f a sh io n e d ito r d em and ed .
“W hat? ” I b lin ked , tr y in g to g et m y b earin gs. W e s to od in fr o nt o f a w hite s c re en, a ll th e lig ht
fo cuse d o n u s. D ark ness s w allo w ed th e r e st o f th e r o om . P eo ple w earin g b la ck s h ir ts m ille d a b out o n
th e p erip hery w ith a n a ir o f o rg aniz e d c hao s a s th ey c hatte d i n to e arp ie ces.
The m an g ro aned . “ S he r e ally i s n ew .”
“T ouch is fa ste r,” A donis e xp la in ed . “ T hey p ut y o u in th e p ose s th ey w ant, b ut so m e m odels
are n’t c o m fo rta b le w ith th at, s o th ey o nly g et v erb al i n str u cti o ns.”
“U h . . .” I d id n’t l ik e th e i d ea o f b ein g m oved a ro und l ik e a p up pet.
“It’ s a l o t f a ste r, a nd w e’re a lr e ad y b ehin d s c hed ule ,” A donis g ru m ble d .
“Y eah, o kay. W hate v er.”
“A ll r ig ht, l e t’ s g et s o m e te st s h o ts ,” a no th er w om an w earin g a n e arp ie ce c alle d .
“Is n ’t th is fo r a c lo th in g lin e?” I re m em bere d s e ein g th e b ra nd ’s s to re s a t th e m all c o vere d in
bla ck a nd w hite p ho to gra p hy a nd b la sti n g l o ud m usic . “ S ho uld n’t w e b e w earin g s o m e?”
Adonis lifte d m e in to th e a ir a nd s p un m e a ro und . “ L augh,” h e in str u cte d . W hen I c o m plie d , h e
ad ded , “ T hey fin d th e m ore th eir m odels w ear, th e le ss th ey s e ll.” A donis s a t m e d ow n, a nd h o oked
his th um bs th ro ugh m y b elt l o ops, p ullin g m e c lo se r to h im . “ T he p ay s u cks, b ut th e e xp osu re ’s g re at.”
“C le arly .” I s te p ped b ack, g iv in g A donis a n a p pra is in g l o ok. H e a nd P ose id on c o uld c o m pete f o r
th e ti tl e o f l e ast- d re sse d .
Adonis b urs t o ut la ughin g. “ S orry , so rry ,” h e c alle d to th e p ho to gra p her, b efo re re su m in g h is
se rio us e xp re ssio n.
The pho to gra p her fla sh ed him a sm ile befo re la unchin g in to ano th er se t of bew ild erin g
in str u cti o ns l ik e “ A ct n atu ra l,” a nd “ D on’t s m ile . P out! ”
“C an w e f ix th at i n p ro ofs ? ” o ne te chnic ia n— I’ d l o st tr a ck o f w ho d id w hat b y n o w — ask ed . “ O r
sh o uld w e g et m akeup to . . .”
“S he lo oks fa m ilia r.” I s q uin te d in to th e d ark ness, ig no rin g th e c hatte r a ro und m e a s I tr ie d to
make o ut th e p ho to gra p her’s f e atu re s.
Adonis to uched m y c hin , d ra w in g m y g aze b ack to h im b efo re th e p ho to gra p her c o uld p ounce o n
my s lip -u p . W hen h e w as m oved to a p ositi o n th at p ut h is b ack to th e c am era , h e s o lv ed th e m yste ry
fo r m e. “ T hat’ s J a ne. Y ou p ro bab ly s a w m e ta lk in g to h er y este rd ay.”
My m in d fla sh ed b ack to th e p la in w om an h e’d b een sp eakin g w ith a t o rie nta ti o n. “
Oh.
I’ d

wond ere d w hat sh e w as d oin g th ere .” I sm ile d to m yse lf, fe elin g fo olis h fo r n o t c o nsid erin g th at
ev ery o ne a t o rie nta ti o n w ould n’t n ecessa rily b e a m odel “ M akes to ta l s e nse to h av e h er
beh in d
th e
cam era .”
Adonis s tr u ggle d to m ain ta in a “ se rio us” e xp re ssio n a s h e p ulle d m e to h im . H is h and s k im med
my s id e a s h e lifte d m y c am is o le a ti n y b it, a s in str u cte d . M y b re ath c aught. A ll I c o uld th in k a b out
were h is l ip s b urn in g a w ay th e r a in a nd c o ld l a st n ig ht. T he p ho to gra p her’s v oic e p ie rc ed th e b uzzin g
in m y e ars , a nd I fo llo w ed h er in str u cti o ns w ith o ut th o ught, p utti n g a h and to A donis ’s c hest, a nd
lo okin g u p a t h im . H is h eart p ound ed a gain st m y p alm a s h e s w allo w ed h ard a nd tu cked m y h air
behin d m y e ar. H is g entl e f in gers tr a ced m y j a w lin e to m y c hin , l ifti n g m y f a ce to h is , k is sin g-c lo se .
“O kay,” J a ne c alle d a fte r a m om ent. “ L et’ s r e se t.”
Peo ple poure d out of th e w oodw ork , m ovin g aro und us to ad ju st th e eq uip m ent. A s th ey
re arra nged w hite b oard s a nd ta ll s ta nd s w ith u m bre lla s a tta ched to th em , th e a m bia nce in th e ro om
sh ifte d . I’ d n ev er th o ught o f lig ht a s s o m eth in g w ith te xtu re b efo re , b ut a s th e s h ad ow s in th e ro om
sh ifte d f r o m s o ft to h ard , I w ond ere d i f a nyth in g w as s a fe f r o m th e m anip ula ti o ns o f g o ds a nd m en.
“It m akes s e nse fo r h er to b e b ehin d th e c am era ?” A donis d em and ed a s s o on a s it w as s a fe to
ta lk . “ W hat d o y o u m ean b y
th at? ”
I b lin ked , c o nfu se d . “ S he’s p la in , i s a ll.”
“T hat w om an,” h e in clin ed h is h ead in th e p ho to gra p her’s d ir e cti o n, “ sp eaks th re e la nguages,
giv es h alf h er p aycheck to T he H um ane S ocie ty , a nd w ould s k in s o m eo ne a liv e if th ey m esse d w ith
one o f h er m odels . S he is
th e
pers o n I’ d c all if I e v er n eed ed to b ury a b ody, a nd s h e’s s o fr ic kin ’
sm art, s h e c o uld p ro bab ly g et a w ay w ith it. A nd in o ne s e nte nce, y o u’v e r e d uced h er to n o th in g b ut
her f e atu re s.”
“W hat e ls e a m I s u p pose d to g o o n? I ’ v e s e en h er i n a c ro w d, tw ic e. I t’ s n o t a s i f I k new h er l ife
sto ry .” S he h ad n’t e v en in tr o duced h ers e lf. “ A nd fo r th e r e co rd , I c o uld lite ra lly c o m pel a c o rp se to
dig th eir o w n g ra v e, s h ie ld th e lo cati o n, a nd c harm w ho ev er d are d in v esti g ate y o u in to th in kin g th at
th ey’re a b unny r a b bit. I f y o u n eed to b ury a b ody, c all m e.”
“O h m y g o ds.” A donis th re w u p h is h and s i n f r u str a ti o n. “ C ould y o u
be
more c o nceite d ?”
“O kay, r e ad y,” J a ne c alle d , c utti n g A donis o ff a s s h e s tr o de o ver a nd s itu ate d A donis a nd m e in
ano th er h alf- e m bra ce. I f o llo w ed h er i n str u cti o ns, p utti n g a h and to A donis ’s c hest, a nd l o okin g u p a t
him .
“W hy i s th at a b ad th in g?” I w his p ere d a s J a ne w alk ed b ack to h er c am era . “ I h o nestl y d on’t g et
ho w a nyo ne m anages to f u ncti o n i n a s o cie ty w ith s u ch a c o m ple x a nd c o ntr a d ic to ry s o cia l c o de. Y ou
cla im to v alu e h o nesty , y et y o u th riv e o n lie s. C allin g a p la in p ers o n p la in is so m eho w a n in su lt
in ste ad o f a s ta te m ent o f f a ct, m eanw hile — ”
“T hat’ s n o t— ”
“— th e o nly a ccep ta b le fo rm o f v alid ati o n is fr o m
oth er
peo ple g iv in g y o u c o m plim ents . B ut
th en, y o u h av e to d eny th em ,” I sa id . T hat d id n’t se em rig ht. “ I’ m n o t fr o m y o ur so cia l str u ctu re ,
re m em ber? T ho se ru le s d on’t a p ply to m e. If y o u k eep e xp ecti n g m e to a ct lik e I’ m h um an, y o u’re
go in g to b e d is a p poin te d . I c an’t l ie . N ot e v en i n k in d ness.”
Adonis r o lle d h is e yes, b ut r e fr a in ed fr o m c o m menti n g w hile J a ne lin ed u p th e n ext fe w s h o ts .
When J a ne a sk ed m e to tw in e m y a rm s a ro und h is n eck, h e h is se d in m y e ar, h is b re ath s ti r rin g m y
hair, “ Y ou s a y th at a s i f y o u’re
so
f a r a b ove u s. L ik e y o u’re b eyo nd c arin g a b out l o oks a t a ll, b ut I ’ v e
nev er s e en y o u w alk p ast a re fle cti v e s u rfa ce w ith o ut c heckin g y o urs e lf o ut. I
have
s e en th at s e lf-

sa ti s fie d l o ok o n y o ur f a ce w hen y o u r e aliz e y o u’re th e f ir s t th in g e v ery o ne n o ti c es i n th e r o om . D on’t
pre te nd yo u d on’t enjo y it. I d on’t kno w w hy yo u’re so hung up o n im pre ssin g p eo ple yo u so
obvio usly th in k a re b eneath y o u, b ut— ”
He bro ke off w hen tw o w om en w ie ld in g pow der bru sh es cam e over and dab bed at our
fo re head s.
“Y ou
re a lly
hav e a l o w o pin io n o f m e, d on’t y o u?” I s a id o nce th ey’d m oved a w ay. W hy d id th at
keep s u rp ris in g m e? H e’d fla t- o ut to ld m e h e h ate d g o ds a nd im plie d I’ d s le ep w ith s o m eo ne fo r
pow er. H is o pin io n o f m e
mig ht
slip lo w er if I b ath ed in th e b lo od o f c hild re n e v ery n ig ht, b ut it
would n’t h av e v ery f a r to f a ll. “ I l o ok a m azin g. O w nin g th at, b ein g p ro ud o f th at, i s n o t s o m e k in d o f
fla w I n eed to o verc o m e.”
“N o,” h e a gre ed . “ B ut a cti n g l ik e y o u’re s o m eho w s u p erio r— ”
“I
am
s u p erio r.” H ow d id h e n o t g et th is ?
“T hat d oesn ’t m ean y o u h av e to a ct l ik e i t.”
Pers e p ho ne k ep t s a yin g th e e xact s a m e th in g a nd i t d ro ve m e n uts . “ B ut
why
?” I c o uld n’t k eep th e
fr u str a ti o n o ut o f m y v oic e. “ W hy d o y o u g iv e p eo ple th e p ow er to d efin e y o u lik e th at? W hy d o I
hav e to p re te nd to b e l e ss, j u st to m ake s o m eo ne e ls e m ore c o m fo rta b le w ith — ?”
Ja ne c le are d h er th ro at. “ L ookin g a l ittl e te nse , g uys. T ry to r e la x, p le ase .”
I f u m ed i n s ile nce a s o ne o f h er a ssis ta nts r e arra nged u s i n a n a w kw ard p ositi o n w here I h ad o ne
hand o n m y r ig ht h ip a nd th e o th er i n A donis ’s l e ft p ocket. H is p ose e cho ed m in e a nd I c o uld f e el th e
pre ss o f h is f in gers s e p ara te d f r o m m y s k in b y o nly a th in b it o f f a b ric . I f o rc ed a s m ile to m y f a ce th at
I d id n’t fe el, a nd th e s e co nd I w as p ose d w ith m y fa ce a w ay fr o m th e c am era , I r e su m ed s p eakin g.
“Y ou s a w Z eus to w ard th e e nd . D id y o u h ap pen to n o ti c e y o u w ere th e s a m e h eig ht? ”
Adonis s p oke w ith o ut m ovin g h is l ip s. “ S o?”
“M mm . . . s a m e b uild , to o.” I r a n a h and u p A donis ’s a rm , s q ueezin g w hen I r e ached th e m usc le
per J a ne’s i n str u cti o ns. “ S o te ll m e, d o y o u h o nestl y th in k i t’ s a c o in cid ence th at y o u a nd I — How d id
Narc is su s p ut i t? ” M y v oic e h ard ened . “ F it to geth er l ik e a f r ic kin ’ p uzzle .’ ”
“Z eus a sse m ble d m e. P ie ce”— I w alk ed m y f in gers u p h is c hest— “b y p ie ce. H e w ante d m e to f it
to h im lik e th is .” I p re sse d m yse lf a gain st A donis . “ I’ m th is c o lo rin g b ecause h e h ad a th in g fo r
re d head s. I d on’t h av e a s o lita ry fe atu re h e d id n’t p ut th ere fo r h is o w n p ers o nal e njo ym ent. E very
asp ect o f m y b ein g, e v ery
pie ce
of m e— ” I b ro ke o ff, d iffu sin g th e h eat i n m y v oic e. “ S orry ,” I c a lle d
to J a ne, v oic e b rig ht. “ L ik e th is ? ” I l e aned a gain st A donis , p ullin g h im i n to a n e m bra ce th at s h ie ld ed
me f r o m th e b rig ht l ig hts .
“L et’ s g et y o u to m ove b ehin d h im ,” J a ne s u ggeste d . “ A donis , c an y o u k neel d ow n, a nd . . Y ou
go t i t.” T he p ho to gra p her f la sh ed u s a th um bs-u p . “ T ilt y o ur h ead a l ittl e — There y a g o , l o ok th at w ay,
don’t s m ile . A donis , p ut y o ur h and s o ver h ers a nd l o ok h ere . . . P erfe ct! ”
“W hat y o u s a id e arlie r,” I w his p ere d in A donis ’s e ar. “ A bout fe elin g p ro gra m med ? Y ou d on’t
kno w th e h alf o f i t. A nd I ’ ll b e d am ned i f I e v er g iv e a nyo ne th at k in d o f p ow er o ver m e a gain .”
Adonis c o uld n’t r e p ly , fa cin g th e c am era lik e h e w as, b ut I s a w h is ja w tw itc h. A fte r a m om ent
went b y w ith o ut u s a rg uin g, th e h eat fu elin g m y in d ig nati o n c o o le d , le av in g h o llo w ness in m y c hest
th at a ched a ro und th e e d ges w ith d ual p arts s h am e a nd a nger. I h ate d th e w ay h e m ad e m e f e el a s i f I ’ d
done s o m eth in g
wro ng.
I w as g etti n g ti r e d o f d efe nd in g m yse lf.
“H mm.” J a ne e v alu ate d u s fo r a m om ent. “ U h, n ew g ir l? T hat e xp re ssio n is n ’t w ork in g fo r m e.
Thin k l o vely th o ughts , a nd g aze o ff i n to th e d is ta nce.” S he w av ed h er h and s. “ T hata w ay.”

Lovely th o ughts ? W here w ere w e, N ev erla nd ? S ti ll, I p aste d a s m ile o n m y fa ce a nd g aze d o ff
in to th e d is ta nce.
“O kay, a l ittl e m ore s o le m n.”
The fa sh io n e d ito r d arte d in to th e lig ht to re p ositi o n m e, d ra p in g m e a ro und A donis lik e a n
accesso ry , a nd r e q uesti n g I h o ld th e u nco m fo rta b le p ositi o n. W e c o uld n’t ta lk w ith b oth o f u s fa cin g
th e c am era l ik e th is , s o I w as l e ft w ith n o th in g to f o cus o n b ut th e th o ughts I ’ d s ti r re d u p a nd th e c hao s
of th e s h o ot.
“M ove th at k nee,” a n a ssis ta nt to ld A donis , m akin g m e j u m p.
I hate d kno w in g th at Z eus desig ned m e. S om eti m es, lo okin g in th e m ir ro r and se ein g his
hand iw ork m ad e m e sic k. I co uld change ab so lu te ly ev ery asp ect o f th e w ay I lo oked . B eco m e
so m eo ne e ls e . B ut w as th at b ette r?
“G et h er l ip s m ore d ew y.”
A w om an d ab bed s o m eth in g c o ld a nd s ti c ky o n m y l ip s, ti lti n g m y c hin u p to e xam in e th em i n th e
lig ht. “ O kay.”
I’ d b eco m e s o m e s c are d g ir l, h id in g b ehin d a g la m our, liv in g in fe ar o f m y tr u e r e fle cti o n. B ut I
wasn ’t g o in g to g iv e Z eus th at m uch p ow er o ver m e. M ayb e h e h ad d esig ned m e, b ut I w as m ore th an
ju st h is p la yth in g.
“A dju st th at l ig ht— There y a g o .”
Ano th er m akeup w om an d arte d i n to th e l ig ht a nd j a b bed a t m e w ith a s ti ff b ru sh .
More th an s o m e p ose ab le d oll.
The f a sh io n e d ito r d ucked i n to th e s h o t to p oke a nd p ro d m e i n to p ositi o n w hen I d id n’t r e sp ond
fa st e no ugh.
More th an a p up pet.
My c hest c o nstr ic te d a s a s e t o f h and s d arte d i n to th e p erip hery o f l ig ht, tu ggin g a t m y s h ir t w hen
a p ose tw is te d th e f a b ric th e w ro ng w ay.
I w as a
goddess.
Str o ng, a nd b eauti fu l, a nd p ow erfu l, a nd n o o ne c o uld —
When I fe lt h and s o n m y h ip s, s u b tl y g uid in g m e to th e c o rre ct p ose , I lo st it. “ W ould y o u
sto p
th at? ” I j e rk ed a w ay f r o m th e h and s a s I s tr u ggle d to d ra w i n a d eep b re ath .
“A phro dite — ” A donis s to pped w hen h e g o t a g o od l o ok a t m y f a ce. W hate v er h e s a w th ere g av e
him p ause . “ O kay, l e t’ s ta ke a b re ak. C an y o u g uys g iv e u s a m in ute ?”
The w om an w ith th e e arp ie ce r o lle d h er e yes. “ W e d on’t h av e— ”
“T hat a ctu ally w asn ’t a q uesti o n.” A donis lo oked h er fu ll in th e e yes. “ W e’re ta kin g a m in ute .
Giv e u s s o m e s p ace.”
Charm . H e m ust b e u sin g c harm , b ut fo r s o m e r e aso n, I c o uld n’t s e nse it. In fa ct . . . I c o uld n’t
se nse a ny p ow er c o m in g f r o m h im a t a ll. I c o uld s e nse h is b ase lin e l a st n ig ht, b ut n o w I w asn ’t g etti n g
anyth in g.
Sensin g a p ow er b ase lin e w as k in d o f lik e g augin g s o m eo ne’s m ood. T here a re a ll th ese v is u al
cues w hen s o m eo ne’s a ngry ; s e t s h o uld ers , c le nched ja w , n arro w ed e yes, w hate v er. B ut in ste ad o f
in d iv id ually n o ti c in g a ll th e te lls , th e b ra in in te rp re ts a
fe elin g
of a nger. T he b ra in ’s fu nny lik e th at
so m eti m es. B ut s e nsin g s o m eo ne
usin g
th eir p ow ers is a b out a s o bvio us a s h earin g a n a ngry p ers o n
sc re am in g.
So w hy h ad n’t I p ic ked u p a nyth in g? A nd w hy th e h ell c o uld n’t I b re ath e? W hat w as w ro ng w ith
me? M y h eart r a ced a nd m y h ead fe lt lig ht. T he s h ad ow s in th e r o om fe lt w eig hte d , a s if th ey w ere

pre ssin g i n a ro und m e, s q ueezin g.
“T his w as a s tu p id id ea.” I g asp ed s tr u gglin g to d ra w in a b re ath to c alm m y r a cin g h eart. “ I’ ll
watc h th e s h o ot fr o m o ver th ere .” I s ta rte d to m ove a w ay, b ut A donis c aught m y a rm , h is g rip m ore
su ggesti o n th an a ctu al p re ssu re .
“T his is m y jo b, A phro dite , I c an’t ju st— ” H e b ro ke o ff, s h akin g h is h ead . “ L ook, I k no w th ese
sh o ots a re o verw helm in g a t f ir s t. I g et i t. B ut I p ro m is e , I c an g et y o u th ro ugh to day a nd th en y o u c an
te ll N arc is su s y o u’re n o t s ig nin g o n. B ut i f y o u d on’t f in is h to day . . .”
I’ d b e s c re w in g h im o ver. “ W hat d o I d o?”
Relie f flo oded A donis ’s e yes. “ Y ou’re p ayin g w ay to o m uch a tte nti o n to e v ery th in g a ro und y o u.
You’re s u p pose d to b e l o okin g a t m e, r ig ht? S o f o cus o n m e. C an y o u d o th at? ”
I d re w i n a l o ng b re ath , f o rc in g m yse lf to c alm d ow n. “ Y eah.”
“O kay.” H e lo oked o ver m y h ead fo r a n in sta nt, b re akin g th e c harm h e h eld o ver th e o th ers . “ I
can c arry h er. K eep g o in g.” H e r e ached fo r m y h and s. W hen I d id n’t je rk a w ay o r o bje ct, h e tu gged
me to w ard h im , m oti o nin g f o r th e p ho to gra p her to c o nti n ue. “ M ay I ? ”
I s w allo w ed h ard a nd n o dded . A donis m oved m y a rm s to h is w ais t th en c up ped m y fa ce in h is
hand s. “ S ee, y o u’v e g o t th is .”

Chap te r X II
“ R IG HT T H IS W AY, p le ase .” A m an d re sse d in a c ris p s u it le d u s in to th e d in in g h all. T he lig hts in
t h e m assiv e r o om r e fle cte d b ack f r o m th e w in d ow s w ith a d azzlin g g la re .
“A re y o u s e rio usly s ti ll tr y in g to g o th ro ugh w ith th is ? ” A donis a sk ed u nd er h is b re ath a s th e
s e rv er u sh ere d u s to th e U -s h ap ed s e co nd f lo or.
We’d b are ly h ad e no ugh ti m e to r u sh b ack to th e s u ite a nd g et r e ad y a fte r th e s h o ot, m uch le ss
c o m e u p w ith a g am e p la n fo r th is m eeti n g. “ I d id n’t k no w th ere w ere s o m any p eo ple in v olv ed in a
p ho to s h o ot. If I c harm th em a ll in to ig no rin g I’ m th ere , I’ ll le av e a n o ti c eab le p ow er s ig natu re fo r
s u re . I d on’t w ant to m ake i t o bvio us th ere ’s s o m eo ne o n b oard w ith e no ugh c harm to r e m em ber i f y o u
g uys g o m is sin g.” M y th o ughts f lic kere d b ack to th e e nv elo pe f u ll o f s c hed ule s I ’ d s ta sh ed b ack i n o ur
r o om . S ched ule s I ’ d p ro m is e d to g iv e to P ose id on n ext ti m e I s a w h im . M y s to m ach tw is te d w ith th e
r e m in d er I’ d h av e to fa ce th e s e a g o d a gain . “ I th in k I’ m g o in g to h av e to s ti c k w ith th e m odelin g
t h in g.”
“B ut y o u
hate d
it,” A donis p ro te ste d , m is in te rp re ti n g th e fe ar o n m y fa ce. “ A nd y o u fr e aked o ut
b ack th ere .”
I th o ught b ack to m y s u d den i n ab ility to b re ath e. T he w ay m y h eart r a ced , th ud din g u nco m fo rta b ly
a gain st m y c o nstr ic te d c hest. “ Y eah . . . I d on’t k no w w hat th at w as.”
“A p anic a tta ck?” A donis s u ggeste d .
I s h o ok m y h ead . “ G ods d on’t g et p anic a tta cks.” I th o ught b ack to m y n ig htm are s. “ I m ean, w e
c an p anic , a nd th ere c an b e p hysic al s id e-e ffe cts , b ut n o th in g l ik e
th at.
” I s h ud dere d a t th e m em ory . “ I
d on’t k no w . I ’ ll f ig ure i t o ut. B ut f o r n o w , th ere a re o nly f o ur m ore s h o ots , r ig ht? ” T he n ext o ne w ould
h ap pen to m orro w m orn in g o n th e c ru is e l in e’s p riv ate i s la nd . “ N ow th at I k no w w hat to e xp ect” — and
I k new b ette r th an to l e t th em p ose m e— “I th in k I c an h and le i t.”
“Y eah, w ell, I h o pe y o u’re r ig ht.” A donis w av ed to N arc is su s a s w e a p pro ached th e ta b le . “ It’ s
m y c are er i f y o u’re w ro ng.”
Yet, i f I ’ d d ecid ed to tu rn d ow n th e m odelin g g ig s, h e’d g et a nno yed th at I ’ d r is k th e w ho le p la n
b y c o nfir m in g I w as s tr o ng e no ugh to c harm a r o om fu ll o f p eo ple . I
hate d
Adonis ’s a b ility to m ake
m e q uesti o n m yse lf. N o m atte r w hat I d ecid ed , h e’d in te rp re t m y c ho ic e a s s e lfis h . H e m ad e m e fe el
a s if th ere w as s o m eth in g w ro ng w ith m e, a nd a p art o f m e b ought h is v is io n. B ut th en h e tu rn ed
a ro und a nd a cte d a s i f h e c are d , th at I m atte re d , a nd h e’d d o s o m eth in g s o n ic e, I g o t w hip la sh .
Narc is su s s to od u nti l I w as s e ate d . “ I ta ke i t y o u’v e h ad ti m e to g o o ver th e c o ntr a ct? ”
I n o dded . “ W e h ad a f e w c o ncern s.”
Narc is su s m oti o ned to h is a ssis ta nt, w hat w as h er n am e? E ? W hat w as “ E ” s h o rt fo r, a nyw ay?
S he d re w o ut a ta b le t, p re p are d to m ake n o te s, a nd g av e u s a n e xp ecta nt l o ok.
“H av e y o u h ad a c hance to lo ok o ver th e m enu?” a s e rv er in a w hite s h ir t w ith a b la ck b ow ti e
a sk ed a s h e p asse d b y th e ta b le .

“ We
hav e,” N arc is su s c o nfir m ed . “ B ut d id y o u tw o n eed m ore ti m e?”
Adonis g la nced a t th e m enu. “ I k no w w hat I w ant, th anks.”
“A nd I ’ ll f ig ure i t o ut b efo re y o u g et to m e,” I p ro m is e d .
Once o ur o rd ers w ere ta ken a nd o ur g la sse s fille d , I le t A donis ta ke th e le ad . T his w as h is
care er, a fte r a ll. P oin t b y p oin t, A donis h am mere d th ro ugh th e l e gale se u nti l h e f e lt s a ti s fie d w ith th e
co ntr a ct. W hile th ey ta lk ed , I s tu d ie d th e d in in g r o om . T here w ere n o tr a ces o f p ow er c o m in g fr o m
any o f th e p asse ngers . N or w ere th ere a ny s h ie ld s o r g la m ours , a nd n o o ne e ls e h ere l o oked th e l e ast
bit d iv in e.
Belo w u s, n o t q uite a t th e c ente r o f th e r o om , b ut d ra w in g m y e ye n o neth ele ss, w ere T anta lu s a nd
Elis e . T hey w ere sitti n g w ith Ja ne a nd tw o o th er w om en I re co gniz e d fr o m th e sh o ot. F ro m th is
vanta ge p oin t, I c o uld s e e i f a nyo ne to ok a n u nusu al i n te re st i n th eir ta b le .
Head s tu rn ed to w ard th e d em ig o ds o n o ccasio n, b ut th at w as to b e e xp ecte d . D em ig o ds s to od
out. E very n o w a nd th en, th eir b outs o f la ughte r w ould ris e o ver th e d in o f c o nv ers a ti o n. T hey a ll
se em ed to b e te asin g e ach o th er, b ut b ase d o n th eir s m ile s, n o ne o f th em m in d ed .
The s e rv er to ok m y p la te o f s tu ffe d m ush ro om s a w ay a nd p ut a n ew p la te w ith a g rille d lo bste r
ta il a nd m ash ed p ota to es i n f r o nt o f m e.
“T hank yo u,” I m urm ure d , w hen A donis nud ged m e. I re tu rn ed m y gaze to th e ta b le fu ll o f
la ughte r b elo w .
“S o w e’re i n a gre em ent? ” N arc is su s s e t h is f o rk d ow n o n h is e m pty p la te .
Adonis g la nced a t m e.
“I h av e s o m e q uesti o ns. N ot a b out th e c o ntr a ct, b ut a b out a ll th is .” I r a is e d m y a rm s, in d ic ati n g
th e c ru is e s h ip . “ D o y o u m in d i f I ta ke u p a b it m ore o f y o ur ti m e?”
When N arc is su s h esita te d , I a p plie d a lig ht to uch o f c harm , to o sm all to sta nd o ut a b ove th e
dem ig o d’s p ow er s ig natu re s, b ut e xp ertl y a p plie d . A w av e o f p ain a cco m panie d th e p ow er.
That
w as
new . P ro xim ity ? I re sis te d th e urg e to lo ok aro und fo r P ose id on. E ven if he w as in th is ro om ,
pro xim ity w ould o nly m atte r i f I w as u sin g th e c harm a gain st—
I m et N arc is su s’s e yes. “ T ell m e y o u’re a d em ig o d.”
His b ro w f u rro w ed i n c o nfu sio n. “ I’ m a d em ig o d. I r a th er th o ught th at w as o bvio us.”
Not P ose id on i n a g la m our th en, b ecause th e s e a g o d c o uld n’t l ie . R ealm s ic kness, th en? W as th at
a th in g? T he k no w le d ge c lic ked in to p la ce in m y m in d , c o nfir m in g th at it w as in d eed a th in g. M ild
dis c o m fo rt c o uld b e e xp ecte d d urin g p ro lo nged v is its to o th er re alm s. I ig no re d A donis ’s q uiz zic al
lo ok, p ush ed p ast th e p ain , a nd p aste d a s m ile o n m y fa ce. “ M odel M ad ness.” D ra w in g a n o te b ook
fr o m m y b ag a nd a p en, I f o rc ed m yse lf to f o cus. “ H ow d id y o u c o m e u p w ith th at? ”
Narc is su s la ughed a nd r e la xed in to h is s e at lik e s ta yin g w as h is id ea. “ It is c le v er, is n ’t it? I’ d
lo ve to ta ke c re d it, b ut th is is a n a nnual e v ent. W e’re in o ur tw elfth y ear. E xcuse m e.” H e fla gged
dow n a w aite r. “ C ould I s e e th e d esse rt m enu a fte r a ll? ”
“C erta in ly , s ir.”
I ta p ped m y f o ot i m pati e ntl y w hile w e w ent a ro und th e ta b le o rd erin g d esse rts a nd c o ffe es. W hen
th e w aite r w and ere d o ff, I a sk ed , “ Is M odel M ad ness a lw ays o n a c ru is e s h ip ?”
He n o dded . “ A lw ays. I t’ s b een a h uge s u ccess.”
“D o y o u a lw ays c ho ose th is c ru is e l in e?” M y p en h o vere d o ver th e p ap er, r e ad y.
He s h o ok h is h ead . “ W hic h l in e w e g o w ith d ep end s o n w ho o ffe rs th e b est r a te s. T his y ear, th e
best p ric e h ap pened to b e F anta sy C ru is e s. I t’ s a lm ost a lw ays F anta sy o r F asc in ati o n.”

That . . . w asn ’t as pro m is in g as I’ d ho ped .
What did yo u exp ect? Som e su per obvio us,
malic io us m otiv e?
Well m ayb e n o t
obvio us,
but a h in t o f a d ir e cti o n to l o ok i n w ould h av e b een n ic e.
I s p ent th e n ext h alf h o ur q uesti o nin g N arc is su s b etw een b ite s o f c heese cake. M y n o te b ook f ille d
with th e n am es o f e v ery s in gle p ers o n h e’d i n te ra cte d w ith w hile b ookin g th e c ru is e . I ’ d h av e to l o ok
up th e p ast p ro m oti o ns fo r F asc in ati o n C ru is e L in es a nd m ake c erta in F anta sy h ad a ctu ally o ffe re d
Narc is su s th e b est r a te . A ll th e s a m e, p ric es w ould n’t b e d iffic ult to m anip ula te w ith e no ugh c harm .
While s o m eo ne o n th is l is t
mig ht
be b ehin d th e m is sin g d em ig o ds, I ’ d b e h ard -p re sse d to f in d o ut f o r
su re u nle ss th ey w ere o n th e b oat, to o.
“T hat w as . . . fu n?” A donis ’s v oic e s o und ed d ro ll a s w e e xite d th e d in in g ro om a fte r A donis
fin is h ed sig nin g th e c o ntr a ct. P eo ple g ath ere d in c lu m ps a ro und th e e le v ato rs , th eir c o nv ers a ti o ns
eb bin g a nd f lo w in g w ith th e c him es o f o penin g d oors .
I l a ughed . “ T hat w as te d io us a nd b orin g a s h ell. W here a re w e h ead ed n ext? ”
Adonis s h ru gged . “ T he r o om .” I m ust h av e lo oked d is a p poin te d , b ecause h e a d ded , “ E lis e a nd
Tanta lu s s a id s o m eth in g e arlie r a b out h ead in g to o ne o f th e c lu b s a fte r d in ner, b ut I d on’t k no w i f— ”
“P erfe ct.” I b eam ed . “ Y ou g o w ith th em , a nd I’ ll h ang b ack a nd k eep a n e ye o n y o u. I th in k I’ v e
been to o c lo se to y o u. M ayb e i f s o m eo ne h as th e o pportu nity to a p pro ach y o u . . .”
He g rim aced . “ S o I g et to b e b ait. F un.”
“A donis .” O n i m puls e , I g ra b bed h is a rm . H e tu rn ed , s u b tl y s h ifti n g u s o ut o f th e f lo w o f tr a ffic .
“L ook, I k no w y o u d on’t th in k th at h ig hly o f m e— ”
The d em ig o d r o lle d h is e yes. “ It’ s n o t— ”
I c ut o ff h is fa ls e p la ti tu d es. “ A nd I k no w w e d is a gre e o n”— I p ause d a s a g ro up o f te enagers
walk ed b y, c lo se e no ugh fo r o ne o f th em to b ru sh a gain st m y a rm o n th eir w ay to th e sta ir c ase
—“p re tty m uch e v ery th in g. B ut b ig p ic tu re ? T hat s tu ff d oesn ’t m atte r e no ugh to m e to ju st s ta nd id ly
by w hile y o u g et h urt
. I k no w y o u d on’t th in k o f u s a s fr ie nd s, b ut th at d oesn ’t m ean I w on’t d o
ev ery th in g I c an to k eep y o u s a fe .”
Adonis s u cked in a s u rp ris e d b re ath . “ A phro dite . . .” S om eth in g a kin to re gre t fla sh ed in h is
eyes. “ Y ou d on’t o w e m e
anyth in g.
” H e s lid h is h and th ro ugh h is h air, g la ncin g a ro und th e l o bby, th e n
lo w ere d h is v oic e. “ W e s h o uld — ”
“A donis !” E lis e sp otte d u s a s sh e e m erg ed fr o m th e d in in g ro om , h er fa ce b rig hte nin g. “ Y ou
co m in g to nig ht? ” S he h esita te d w hen h er e yes la nd ed o n m e, h urt fla sh in g a cro ss h er fe atu re s fo r a n
in sta nt b efo re s h e b urie d it. “ B rin g y o ur fr ie nd ?” T he u nsp oken “ if y o u m ust,” c o uld n’t h av e b een
easy f o r h er to l e av e o ff.
“W e’ll b e r ig ht th ere ,” A donis c alle d .
Afte r w e d ro pped m y b ag o ff i n th e r o om , I f o llo w ed th e g o ld en-h air e d d em i- d eiti e s to th e c lu b .
Music , d ancin g, m en. J u st th e d is tr a cti o n I n eed ed . T he c lu b s o n th e s h ip w ere s m all e no ugh to k eep
an e ye o n A donis a nd th e o th er d em ig o ds w ith o ut to o m uch e ffo rt, a nd I’ d
have
to h av e fu n to b le nd
in . I t w ould b e o bvio us I w as w atc hin g th e d em ig o ds, o th erw is e .
Loud , p uls in g m usic p ound ed th ro ugh m e a s w e w alk ed th ro ugh th e d oor. S tr o be lig hts flic kere d
in th e c eilin g f r o m f a ux d ia m ond s th e s iz e o f m y f is t. A donis a nd E lis e w and ere d o ff i n o ne d ir e cti o n,
and I l e t th e c ro w d p ull m e i n th e o th er. I m oved to th e m usic , l e tti n g th e p uls e o f th e b eat d is tr a ct m e,
but n o t s o m uch th at I lo st tr a ck o f A donis . H e lo oked lik e a r a y o f lig ht p ie rc in g th ro ugh th e c ro w d.
Norm al lig ht. N ot th e p in k, g re en, a nd b lu e s p otl ig hts s w eep in g th e flo or b etw een d ia m ond flic kers .
He f o und T anta lu s, a nd th e tw o s tr u ck u p a c o nv ers a ti o n w ith o ne o f J a ne’s f r ie nd s.

Elis e s h o ved T anta lu s a w ay f r o m h er w ith a f r ie nd ly s m ile . A donis m oved h is h and s a s h e ta lk ed ,
and I fe lt a p ang in m y c hest w hen I re aliz e d h o w re la xed h e lo oked ta lk in g to th em . H is e nti r e
dem eano r se em ed so d iffe re nt fr o m w hen h e ta lk ed to m e. W ell, e xcep t fo r la st n ig ht, w hen h e’d
go tte n d ru nk.
A s m ile p la yed o n m y lip s a nd I to sse d m y h air o ver m y s h o uld er. S itti n g a ro und a nd fe elin g
so rry fo r m yse lf w as
not
m y M .O . I ju st h ad , lik e, re alm s ic kness, o r s o m eth in g. B ut e no ugh w as
eno ugh. T im e to s to p m opin g a nd e njo y m yse lf.
Elis e g la nced o ver a t m e, a nd h er lip s ti g hte ned in a th in lin e. W hen s h e b ro ke a w ay fr o m th e
oth er d em ig o ds a nd h ead ed m y w ay, I o rd ere d a K is s o n th e L ip s a nd w is h ed f o r a m bro sia .
“C an I s it h ere ?” W hen I n o dded , E lis e fla sh ed m e a c auti o us g rin a nd s a t o n a s to ol, m oti o nin g
fo r th e b arte nd er. “ H ow w as y o ur s h o ot? ”
“B ru ta l.”
She la ughed . “ S orry , I c o uld n’t b elie v e N arc is su s th re w y o u in to a g ig lik e th at. E very o ne fe lt
re ally b ad a fte r y o ur f r e ak-o ut.”
My f r e a k-o ut? W ow .
“I d on’t th in k a ny o f th em r e aliz e d th at w hen N arc is su s h ad s a id h e’d d is c o vere d a f a b ulo us n ew
fa ce, th at h e m eant n ew -n ew , y o u k no w , n o t j u st n ew to th is c o n. A nyw ay, s o m e o f th e o th er g ir ls a nd I
wante d to i n v ite y o u to b re akfa st to m orro w , b efo re w e d ock, to k in d o f g iv e y o u a c ra sh c o urs e . A re
yo u i n te re ste d ?”
“U h, s u re .” I b lin ked a t h er i n c o nfu sio n. “ W hy a re y o u b ein g s o n ic e?”
“I w as r u d e y este rd ay.” S he d ucked h er h ead , to yin g w ith a n ap kin . “ M y is su es w ith A donis a re
with A donis . Y ou d on’t h av e a nyth in g to d o w ith th em , s o th ere ’s n o r e aso n I s h o uld ta ke th em o ut o n
yo u. I ’ m s o rry .”
I to ok a s ip o f m y d rin k, w hic h ta ste d d elic io us, b y th e w ay. W ho k new a d din g p each s c hnap ps
and g re nad in e to p ure ed m ango w ould p ack s u ch a f la v orfu l p unch? I p ut m y g la ss d ow n a nd l o oked a t
Elis e . “ I f ig ure d th e a tti tu d e h ad m ore to d o w ith w hat I a m r a th er th an w ho I ’ m w ith .”
“O h, th at w as a f a cto r.” S he f la sh ed m e a s id ew ays g rin . “ B ut h ati n g s o m eo ne o utr ig ht b ecause o f
what
th ey a re i s a s lip pery s lo pe, d on’t y o u th in k? I f I ’ m g o in g to h ate y o u, i t’ ll b e a fte r y o u’v e e arn ed
it.”
I r e tu rn ed h er s m ile . “ I c an r e sp ect th at.”
She tu cked a s tr a nd o f h air b ehin d h er e ar. “ T here a re . . . q uesti o ns I h av e to a sk y o u.” H er f lu sh
deep ened . “ I
have
to . I c o uld n’t l iv e w ith m yse lf i f I d id n’t.”
I s ig hed , tw is ti n g th e s te m o f m y g la ss b ack a nd fo rth b etw een m y fin gers . “ I’ m n o t c harm in g
Adonis .”
“O h, I k no w . W e’re b oth i m mune to c harm .”
I’ d su sp ecte d as m uch, but it w as sti ll su rp ris in g to hav e it co nfir m ed . “S o w hat’ s yo ur
questi o n?”
She to ok a d eep b re ath . “ A re y o u b la ckm ailin g h im ? H old in g h is f a m ily h o sta ge, c o erc in g h im i n
any w ay, f o rc in g— ”
“I w ould n’t d o th at.” I d ra in ed m y d rin k, r e sis ti n g th e u rg e to r o ll m y e yes.
She to ok a m om ent to p ro cess th at, p ro ppin g h er e lb ow s o n th e b ar a nd s ti r rin g h er h o t p in k d rin k
with o ne o f th o se i tty -b itty , u se le ss, r e d s tr a w s. “ S o y o u’re n o t th re ate nin g h im , h is f a m ily , o r a nyo ne
he c are s a b out? ”

“ No
.”
“S ay th e w ord s,” s h e in sis te d . W hen I d id , s h e fr o w ned . “ T hen w hat th e h ell is g o in g o n?” H er
voic e r o se in fr u str a ti o n a nd s h e to ok a b re ath , a s th o ugh fo rc in g h ers e lf to c alm d ow n. “ I’ m s o rry ,”
sh e s a id a fte r a m om ent, r a kin g h er g o ld h air b ack w ith w ell- m anic ure d n ails . “ I ju st— Why a re y o u
here ? A nd w hy a re y o u h ere w ith h im ?”
“M ayb e I j u st w ante d to g o o n a c ru is e ,” I s u ggeste d , f la ggin g d ow n th e b arte nd er w hen h e tu rn ed
our w ay. H is g aze flic ked o ver m e, th en h e ra is e d a n e xp ecta nt b ro w . “ Y eah, I’ ll h av e w hat s h e’s
hav in g,” I to ld h im .
“O n th e h o use ,” h e s a id , d eliv erin g th e d rin k a m om ent l a te r. H e m anaged to te ar h is e yes o ff m e
lo ng e no ugh to n o ti c e a no th er p atr o n, a nd m oved r e gre tf u lly a w ay.
I w aite d u nti l I w as s u re h e w as o ut o f h earin g r a nge b efo re tu rn in g b ack to E lis e . “ W e’re n o t a ll
monste rs , y o u k no w .”
“I d o k no w th at, a ctu ally , b ut h e d oesn ’t.” M ulti c o lo re d lig hts g litte re d in h er e yes, m akin g h er
lo ok c lo se to te ars . “ H e
hate s
go ds. H e l e ft m e b ecause h e d id n’t w ant a nyth in g to d o w ith th e d iv in e
gam e b oard , d id n’t w ant to b e s o m e g o d’s p aw n. A nd n o w I ’ m s u p pose d to b elie v e h e’s f o rg o tte n a ll
of th at a nd g o tte n c o zy w ith o ne o f th e p la yers ? ”
“It’ s n o t y o ur— ”
“B efo re y o u w rite m e o ff,” s h e in te rje cte d , lo ckin g h er g aze to m in e, “ b efo re y o u tr y a ny o f th at
co nd esc end in g, d iv in e d oub le sp eak, I w ant y o u to c o nsid er s o m eth in g.” S he w aite d u nti l s h e h ad m y
fu ll a tte nti o n b efo re c o nti n uin g. “ Y ou a re s h arin g a ro om w ith m y e x. Y ou w and er a ro und th e s h ip
jo in ed a t th e h ip . I s e e th e w ay y o u w atc h h im , h ear th e w ay y o ur v oic e d ip s w hen y o u s a y h is n am e. I
lik ed h im .” P ain f la sh ed i n h er e yes. “ D o y o u th in k i t’ s e asy f o r m e to a sk y o u a nyth in g? D o y o u th in k
I w ould b oth er i f I w asn ’t te rrifie d ?”
She h ad a p oin t. “ N o.”
“T hen, p le ase , d on’t h ed ge.” S he b ro ke o ff w hen th e b arte nd er p asse d b y a nd w aite d a b eat
befo re c o nti n uin g. “ Y ou’re n o t w ith h im .” S he e yed m e f o r a m om ent, a nd I r e aliz e d s h e w ante d m e to
co nfir m th at.
“N ot l ik e th at.”
Elis e le t o ut a r e lie v ed b re ath , h er e yes tr a in ed o n th e c ro w d. “ T hen w hy a re y o u o n th e s h ip a t
all? I s s o m eth in g d angero us g o in g o n, b ecause w hen y o ur k in d g et i n v olv ed , p eo ple d ie .”
I h esita te d , n o t s u re w hat to s h are . B ut j u st th en, T anta lu s h ead ed to o ur s e cti o n o f th e b ar, s p arin g
me f r o m m akin g a d ecis io n.
“W ell if it is n ’t th e tw o m ost b eauti fu l w om en in th e ro om .” T anta lu s p lo pped d ow n o n th e
bars to ol n ext to E lis e . “ A nd m e, r ig ht b etw een y o u.” H e f la sh ed u s a g rin . “ A g uy c o uld g et i d eas.”
“U gh, y o u’re i n co rrig ib le .” E lis e r o lle d h er e yes i n d is g ust a nd s lid o ff th e s to ol.
“A h, w ell.” T anta lu s p ro pped h is e lb ow s b ehin d h im o n th e b ar. “ T hat o ne,” h e p oin te d a t m e,
“o w es m e a d rin k a nyw ay, r ig ht, s w eeth eart? ”
I h ad q uesti o ns fo r T anta lu s a s w ell, s o I p aste d a s m ile o n m y fa ce. “ I s u p pose it’ s th e le ast I
co uld d o a fte r y o ur h elp l a st n ig ht.” I p atte d th e s e at b esid e m e.
“Y eah, g o od lu ck w ith th at.” E lis e m oved b ack. “ I’ ll c atc h u p w ith y o u to m orro w .” S he m et m y
eyes. “ I’ ll g iv e y o u s o m e ti p s. I n tr o duce y o u a ro und . I ’ m s u re A donis d id h is b est, b ut m en m is s s tu ff.
They d on’t a lw ays te ll y o u e v ery th in g y o u n eed to k no w .”
The q uesti o n in her v oic e so und ed su b tl e , b ut I re ad her w orry , lo ud and cle ar. S he knew

so m eth in g w as g o in g o n a nd d id n’t tr u st A donis to te ll h er. “ Y ou’re
abso lu te ly
rig ht. C an’t w ait to
chat a gain .”
She s w allo w ed h ard , f a ce p alin g. B ut s h e f o rc ed a s m ile o n h er f a ce, f lip ped h er h air, a nd w ith a
wav e, tu rn ed to f o rg e h er w ay th ro ugh th e c ro w d. I h ad a f e elin g A donis w ould h av e s o m e e xp la in in g
to d o w hen s h e c aught u p w ith h im .
My e yes flic ked o ver to T anta lu s b efo re I tu rn ed to th e b arte nd er. “ T w o s h o ts o f w hate v er’s in
th o se b lin ky g la sse s o ver th ere .” I m oti o ned d ow n th e b ar w here a s e t o f s h o t g la sse s f la sh ed i n ti m e
to th e s tr o be l ig hts .
“Y ou g o t i t.”
I d ow ned th e d rin k th en g ra b bed T anta lu s’s h and . “ D ance w ith m e?”
“H ell, y eah.” T anta lu s p ut h is e m pty g la ss d ow n a nd p ulle d m e to h im .
Mid -d ance, I h eard th at o h-s o -g ra ti n g th ro at- c le arin g b ehin d m e.
Oh, c ra p.
“C an I c ut in ?” P ose id on a sk ed in a d ry v oic e. H e, fo r o nce, w ore a s h ir t. T ho ugh th e g aris h
Haw aiia n p rin t k in d o f m ad e m e w is h h e h ad n’t b oth ere d .
Tanta lu s ro lle d h is e yes a nd lo oked o ver a s if h e w as a b out to m ake so m e so rt o f sa rc asti c
co m ment, th en b la nched w hen h e s a w P ose id on. “ Y ou’re a — ”
The s e a g o d n arro w ed h is e yes a nd th e w av es w ith in th em c hurn ed w ith a fr ig hte nin g in te nsity .
“G et l o st, d em ig o d.”
Tanta lu s to ok o ff.
“S hall w e?” P ose id on h eld o ut h is h and .

Chap te r X III
I S C O W LE D A T P ose id on, a llo w in g m y ir rita ti o n to o verp ow er m y fe ar. If I le t m yse lf th in k a b out
b ein g c o rn ere d b y h im o n th e b alc o ny l a st n ig ht, I w ould l o se i t. “ I’ m s e nsin g a p atte rn h ere . I t’ s k in d
o f p ath eti c .”
“Y ou w is h .” H e p ulle d m e c lo se , p assin g m e th ro ugh th e s h ie ld s u rro und in g h im . “ I’ m h ere f o r a
s ta tu s u p date . Y ou c an r e su m e”— he s n o rte d — “w hate v er
th at
was w hen I l e av e.”
I p ush ed a w ay f r o m h im . “
That
was d ancin g.”
“D ancin g?” P ose id on la ughed , th e s ic kenin g s w eet s c ent o f a m bro sia b ath in g m y fa ce. “ N o, th at
w as s e x w ith c lo th es o n.”
“D id y o u n o t k no w th at’ s a n o pti o n?” I te ase d , p ullin g a w ay f r o m h im . “ I g uess n o w I k no w w hy
s e ein g y o u f u lly d re sse d i s s o r a re .”
“W hy m ess w ith p erfe cti o n?” T he p uls in g lig hts d im med w ith in o ur s h ie ld to a s o ft, flic kerin g
g lo w . I c o uld s ti ll s e e th e r e st o f th e c lu b , b ut m y v ie w l o oked f ilte re d , a s i f I w as p eerin g th ro ugh a
f r o ste d w in d ow . E ven th e m usic fa d ed to a s o fte r v olu m e. D esp ite m yse lf, I fe lt im pre sse d . S hie ld s
u su ally f u ncti o ned a s a n a ll- o r-n o th in g d eal. T em perin g th e e ffe cti v eness o f a s h ie ld , s u ch a s b lo ckin g
o nly s o m e s ig ht, s o m e s o und , a nd s o o n, to ok a l e v el o f c o ntr o l th at to ok c entu rie s to m aste r.
“T o s e e h o w f a r i t c an f a ll, a p pare ntl y .” I w rin kle d m y n o se a nd p lu cked a t th e s le ev e o f h is s h ir t,
e yin g th e r e ti n a-b urn in g, o ra nge H aw aiia n p rin t w ith d is ta ste . “ T hey h av e s to re s a b oard th is s h ip , y o u
k no w . I’ m s u re w e c o uld fin d y o u s o m eth in g a littl e le ss . . .” I c o uld n’t e v en fin d a n a d je cti v e b ad
e no ugh to d esc rib e h is c urre nt w ard ro be. “ T ra gic .”
“A nd I ’ m s u p pose d to tr u st y o ur j u d gm ent? ” H e s m ir k ed . “ Y ou r e ally h av e a th in g f o r d em ig o ds,
h uh?” P ose id on p ulle d m e b ack to h im , m ovin g a gain st m e in rh yth m to th e m usic . “ I th o ught y o u
a gre ed to l o ok i n to th is to h elp p ro te ct u s, n o t f e ed y o ur h alf- b re ed f e ti s h .”
I w rin kle d m y n o se . “ If I g iv e y o u a s ta tu s u p date , w ill y o u l e av e?”
“M ayb e.” H e s u m moned a g la ss o f a m bro sia . “ W ant o ne?”
I s ta re d a t h im in d is b elie f. L ast n ig ht, I’ d b een to o s h aken to th in k a b out th e c o st o f s u m monin g
s o m eth in g f r o m n o th in g. H e’d j u st th ro w n a w ay a ll m y h ard w ork , ti p to ein g a ro und , u sin g o nly a l ig ht
l e v el o f c harm , tr y in g to a v oid n o ti c e. I f a nyth in g, P ose id on w as m akin g m e l o ok s tr o nger th an I w as,
s in ce
he
sta yed h id den b ehin d a s h ie ld th e w ho le ti m e h e w as o n b oard .
“N o, th ank y o u.” W ith e ffo rt, I k ep t m y a nger o ut o f m y v oic e. I d id n’t w ant to s e t h im o ff a gain .
I n ste ad , I tr ie d to ig no re th e w ay h e p re sse d a gain st m e, a nd fille d h im in o n w hat I’ d le arn ed la st
n ig ht, ab out th e ti m eta b le and th e sh ip ’s co ord in ate s w hen th e d em ig o ds w ould m ost lik ely go
m is sin g. “ T he n ext ti m e th e d em ig o ds w ill d efin ite ly a ll b e to geth er is fo r a m odelin g s h o ot o n th e
c ru is e lin e’s p riv ate is la nd to m orro w m orn in g. I’ v e g o t th e r o om n um bers a nd s c hed ule s y o u a sk ed
f o r. I l e ft th em u p sta ir s , a lo ng w ith m y n o te s, o n th e ta b le o n th e b alc o ny.”
Pose id on n o dded . “ I g o t th em . I w ent b y y o ur s u ite fir s t. Y ou w ere n’t a ro und , s o I tr a cked y o ur

gla m our. It w asn ’t e asy, g iv en h o w littl e p ow er y o u’re u sin g to . . . w hat? C hange th e c o lo r o f y o ur
dre ss? ”
“W rin kle s. M y c lo th es d id n’t d o w ell i n th e s u itc ase . I ’ m tr y in g to a v oid m uch n o ti c e.”
Pose id on’s l in gerin g o nce-o ver s e em ed to i n d ic ate I w as d oin g a p oor j o b. “ I’ m s u rp ris e d y o u’re
no t u sin g s o m eth in g a b it m ore e xte nsiv e. G oin g u nno ti c ed i s e asie r w hen y o u’re n o t s o n o ti c eab le .”
“S ays th e g uy w ho j u st a p peare d i n th e c ente r o f a c ro w ded r o om .” O cean-e yes a nd a ll. “ I c an’t
hid e th at I ’ m a g o d f r o m a nyth in g th at c an r e ad p ow er s ig natu re s, b ut I d on’t h av e to c o nfir m th at I ’ m
str o ng e no ugh to b oth er w ith .”
“I d oub t w hate v er is b ehin d th is is o n b oard y et. I h av en’t s e nse d a s in gle s ig natu re th at d id n’t
belo ng to y o u o r a d em ig o d.” P ose id on’s b re ath i n m y e ar g av e m e g o ose b um ps. “ G iv en a ny th o ught
to m y o ffe r? ”
“Y eah.” I f o ught b ack a w av e o f n ause a. “ I’ m n o t i n te re ste d .”
He b lin ked , s ta rtl e d . “ Y ou’d th ro w y o ur d em ig o d a w ay?”
Takin g a d vanta ge o f h is s u rp ris e , I p ulle d m yse lf fr e e fr o m h is g rip . “ If y o u th in k h e’s a th re at,
no th in g I d o w ill c o nv in ce y o u o th erw is e . T ho ugh g o od l u ck e xp la in in g w hy y o u f e lt th e n eed to s in k a
kno w n a lly o f th e
en tir e
p anth eo n to P ers e p ho ne a nd th e o th ers .” I s te p ped a w ay, o r tr ie d to . T he
sh ie ld d id n’t a llo w m e g o fa rth er th an a n a rm ’s le ngth fr o m th e s e a g o d. In ste ad o f a llo w in g fe ar to
bre ak m y c o m posu re , I s tu d ie d P ose id on fo r a lo ng m om ent, tr y in g to s e e p ast h o w a ngry a nd s c are d
he m ad e m e.
He s h ifte d u nd er th e i n te nsity o f m y g aze . “ W hat? ”
“W e’re n o t s o d iffe re nt, y o u a nd I .”
He s n o rte d . “ Y ou f la tte r y o urs e lf.”
“W e’v e b oth b een b ro ken,” I k ep t m y e yes l o cked o n h is , “ and p ie ced b ack to geth er. I k no w w hat
it i s to h urt, a nd — ”
“O h, th is i s r ic h.” P ose id on r o lle d h is e yes, b ut I d id n’t m is s th e f lic ker o f p ain i n th em . “ W ord s
of w is d om f r o m th e i n fa nt g o ddess.”
I to ok a te nta ti v e s te p f o rw ard . “ I k no w w hat i t’ s l ik e to f e el a s i f y o u’re s tu ck i n a r o le th at’ s n o t
worth fig hti n g a nym ore , b ut e v ery th in g is d iffe re nt n o w . Y ou c an c hange. I d id . It’ s a n ew p anth eo n,
and — ”
“Y ou th in k y o u c hanged ?” T he filte re d lig hts m ad e th e se a g o d lo ok a s if h e m oved in sto p-
moti o n. “ W hy? B ecause y o u r e b elle d a gain st Z eus? ”
“H e c re ate d m e to b e lo yal to h im .” W hen m y b ack h it th e s h ie ld , I g ritte d m y te eth a nd fo ught
back a w av e o f p anic . “ S o . . . y eah. I ’ d s a y I ’ v e g o t s o m e e xp erie nce w ith c hange.”
“N o, h e c re ate d y o u to b e
obed ie n t
to h im .” W hen I ti lte d m y h ead in c o nfu sio n, sm ugness
perm eate d th e se a g o d’s v oic e. “ Y ou n ev er w ond ere d w hy h e d id n’t b oth er to m ake y o u
want
to
obey?”
Where w as P ose id on g o in g w ith th is ? “ B ecause h e d id n’t
ca re
what I w ante d ? W hy b oth er w ith
th e e xtr a e ffo rt o f— ”
“W hat? Y ou th in k th at i t w ould b e
more
w ork to e nsu re y o u d id n’t s p end e v ery w akin g m om ent o f
yo ur life tr y in g to fin d a w ay a ro und h o w h e m ad e y o u?” H e s m ir k ed a nd s h o ok h is h ead a s th o ugh
asto und ed b y m y s tu p id ity . “ H e d id n’t h av e to b oth er w ith g iv in g y o u a p ers o nality , A phro dite . Y ou
were d is p osa b le ; h e c o uld h av e m ad e y o u a n e m pty s h ell. D o y o u a ctu ally th in k th e p ers o nality y o u
re ceiv ed w as a n a ccid ent? ”

“ Sto p
i t.”
“H e l ik ed a c halle nge.” T he c o lo re d s tr o be l ig hts g litte re d a gain st P ose id on’s te eth . “ E ven w hen
he h ad a s u re th in g. U nq uesti o nin g c o m plia nce w ould h av e b ore d Z eus, a nd y o u— ”
“S to p!”
Pose id on g rip ped m y a rm s o h ard I s a w s ta rs . “ Y ou’re n o th in g b ut Z eus’s p la yth in g. Y ou h av en’t
changed , A phro dite .” H e g av e m e a r o ugh s h ake a nd I c rie d o ut in p ain . “ Y ou d id e xactl y w hat y o u
were d esig ned to . H e j u st n ev er a nti c ip ate d l o sin g. A nd , d on’t f la tte r y o urs e lf— yo u h ad n o th in g to d o
with th at, e ith er. H e l o st b ecause h e d id n’t s e e D em ete r’s s a crific e c o m in g.”
“I s a id
sto p
.” I tr ie d to p ull m y a rm fr e e, m y s h rie k s u rp ris in g e v en m e. It w asn ’t u nti l c la rity
daw ned in P ose id on’s e xp re ssio n th at I re aliz e d h is s p eech h ad b een a lm ost im perc ep ti b ly s lu rre d .
He l e t m e g o s o f a st I s tu m ble d i n to th e s h ie ld s u rro und in g u s.
“W ait.” P ose id on r e ached f o r m e, h is h and s o ut i n a “ calm d ow n” g estu re , b efu d dle m ent w ritte n
acro ss h is f a ce.
“ Don’t .
” I b ackp ed ale d to th e s id e a nd a w ay fr o m h im in a fu ti le a tte m pt to fin d a w eak s p ot in
his s h ie ld . M y b re ath c am e i n s h arp g asp s. “ Y ou’re — ” I tr ie d to s a y “ w ro ng,” b ut th e w ord w ould n’t
fo rm . N o, n o ! I w ould n’t b elie v e h im . I tr ie d a gain . “ E very th in g y o u j u st s a id i s — You’re j u st— ”
Pose id on l o w ere d th e s h ie ld a nd I f e ll b ackw ard , c ra sh in g to th e f lo or.
“Y ou’re s c um !” I s c ra m ble d to m y fe et, c ra d lin g m y a rm . T he p eo ple n ear m e s to pped d ancin g.
“N oth in g b ut s lim e.” I tu rn ed a nd s tu m ble d o ut o f th e c lu b , s h o vin g p ast e v ery o ne u nti l I c o uld b re ak
in to a r u n. W hen I r e ached th e d oor to m y s u ite , I s to pped , r e aliz in g I d id n’t h av e a k ey.
“C om e o n!” I s la m med a gain st th e d oor o ver a nd o ver a gain . P ose id on w as w ro ng. H e’d n ev er
been in m y h ead . H e d id n’t k no w w hat fig hti n g e v ery in sti n ct Z eus g av e m e
fe lt
lik e, d ay in a nd d ay
out.
But w asn ’t I sti ll le tti n g Z eus d efin e m e? I le t th e th in gs h e’d d one c o ntr o l m y re acti o ns. H e
push ed l e ft, s o I m oved r ig ht. I n th e e nd , e v ery th in g I d id s ti ll l e d b ack to h im .
“N o!”
“A phro dite ?” A h and to uched m y s h o uld er.
I ju m ped w ith a sc re am , b ackin g in to th e d oor w ith e no ugh fo rc e to h urt. W hen I re gis te re d
Adonis s ta nd in g th ere , I w ent l im p a gain st th e w ood, h and to m y c hest, s tr u gglin g to d ra w b re ath i n to
my l u ngs. “ D on’t
do
th at.”
“A re y o u o kay?” A donis ’s g aze la tc hed o n to m y a rm , w hic h w as fa st tu rn in g in to a m ottl e d
purp le m ess, a nd h e d re w i n a s u rp ris e d b re ath b etw een h is te eth . “ D id P ose id on d o th at? W hy i s n ’t i t
healin g?”
“I c an’t— ” I g asp ed a gain . “ I c an’t b re ath e.”
“H ere .” A donis u nlo cked th e d oor a nd r e ached f o r m e, b ut I j e rk ed a w ay f r o m h im .
“D on’t.” I s tu m ble d in to th e r o om . “ O h, g o ds, h e’s r ig ht,” I a d m itte d , v oic e b re akin g. I s te p ped
out o f m y sh o es, m ovin g o n a uto pilo t in to th e d ark ro om , sto ppin g w hen I re ached th e h alf- w all
se p ara ti n g th e k itc hen a nd d in in g r o om . “ H e’s a b so lu te ly r ig ht. H e c o uld h av e
made
me l o ve h im .”
“W hat? A phro dite , w hat h ap pened b ack th ere ? W hat d id P ose id on d o?” A donis f lip ped a s w itc h
and l ig ht f lo oded th e s u ite . “ D id h e— ”
“Z eus c o uld h av e
made
m e lo ve h im .” T he fla t o f m y h and s p re sse d a gain st th e c o unte rto p. I
sto od h unched o ver, e lb ow s lo cked , h air fa llin g in m y fa ce a s I sta re d d ow n a t th e m atte , w hite
su rfa ce, b re ath in g h ard . “ H e c o uld h av e j u st m ad e m e.”

“T hat w ould h av e b een h o rrib le .” T he c o nfu sio n in A donis ’s v oic e w ould h av e b een c o m ic
und er d iffe re nt c ir c um sta nces. “ B ut I d on’t s e e w hat— ”
“I c o uld h av e b een
happy.”
A s o b w ork ed u p m y th ro at, b ut o f c o urs e , I c o uld n’t c ry . “ I w ould n’t
hav e k no w n a ny b ette r. D o y o u k no w h o w m uch e asie r th at w ould h av e— ” A donis p ut a h and o n m y
sh o uld er a nd s o m eth in g in m e s n ap ped . “ D on’t
to uch
me!

I p ush ed o ff th e c o unte r a s I s p un to fa ce
him .
Adonis b acked o ff, h and s i n th e a ir. “ O kay. I ’ m — ”
“D o y o u a ctu ally th in k y o u’re b ette r th an h e is ? T han a ny o f th em ?” A ll m y a nger a nd c o nfu sio n
and fe ar fo cuse d o n a s a fe ta rg et. I c o uld n’t h urt A donis , a nd h e c o uld n’t h urt m e. A nd w asn ’t th at
what I s a w in h im ? G ods, h o w p ath eti c . “ Y ou’re th e e xact s a m e. N one o f y o u th in k I’ m
re a l.
That I
can f e el. T hat I ’ m s o m e
one
n o t s o m e
th in g.
But y o u’re w ro ng. I ’ m r e al, a nd I — ”
“W ho a. I
never
s a id — ”
“Y ou w ere s u p pose d to b e d iffe re nt.” B re akin g o ff, I g asp ed fo r b re ath . “ B ut y o u’re n o t e v en
nic e.
” I s w allo w ed h ard . “ I w as
so
c lo se to g iv in g i n to Z eus. T o g iv in g u p . B ut th en, y o u . . . I th o ught
yo u b elie v ed i n m e, tr u ste d m e. A nd n o o ne h ad e v er— ” I to ok a d eep s h ud derin g b re ath . “ B ut i t w as
all lie s.” I le aned a gain st th e h alf- w all, h o pin g th e s te ad in ess w ould o ffs e t th e s p in nin g r o om . “ Y ou
don’t b elie v e i n m e, y o u d on’t e v en
kn ow
me.”
“A phro dite . . .” A donis m oved to w ard m e, b ut s to pped w hen I flin ched . H e h eld h is h and s u p ,
ta kin g a s te p b ack. “ Y ou n eed to — ”
I ta lk ed o ver h im b etw een g asp s o f b re ath . “ D o y o u w ant to k no w w hat P ose id on h as o ver m e?
What h e th o ught I m ig ht b e w illin g to — ” I f I c o uld j u st b re ath e, I m ig ht f in is h th is s e nte nce.
“W ill y o u j u st— ”
“Y ou!”
Adonis f r o ze . “ W hat? ”
I s lid d ow n th e w all u nti l I r e ached th e f lo or, a nd d re w m y k nees to m y c hest. “ H e th re ate ned to
kill y o u, u nle ss I — ”
“N o.” A donis s tu m ble d b ackw ard , h is h and s g o in g to h is h ead , a s i f h e w as r e ad y to p lu g h is e ars
if h e d id n’t l ik e w hat h e h eard . “ N o. N o! Y ou d id n’t.”
“O f
co urse
I d id n’t, y o u ja ckass.” I w as g o in g to p ass o ut, o r s u ffo cate , o r s o m eth in g if I d id n’t
catc h m y b re ath s o on. “ B ut I c o nsid ere d i t. A nd f o r w hat? Y ou d on’t s e e m e. N o o ne s e es m e; th ey j u st
se e th e
th in g
Z eus m ad e. B ut I’ m m ore th an th at. I’ v e
got
to b e m ore th an th at.” I d re w in o ne s h arp
bre ath a fte r th e o th er, i n r a p id s u ccessio n, tr y in g to g et m y l u ngs to f ill w ith a ir. “ I’ m r e al. I k no w th at
I’ m — ”
Adonis k nelt b esid e m e, p ush in g s o m eth in g i n to m y h and . “ B re ath e i n to th is .”
I s h o ved th e p la sti c b ag a w ay. “ N ev er tr y f ir s t a id a gain .”
“R ig ht. B ad id ea. It’ s s u p pose d to b e p ap er, is n ’t it? ” H e p ockete d th e b ag a nd ta p ped a t th e
sc re en o f h is p ho ne. “ O kay, s o th is s a ys y o u n eed to — ”
“A donis .”
He l o oked u p f r o m h is p ho ne, g o ld h air f a llin g i n to h is e yes. “ Y eah?”
“S to p . . . p re te nd in g to ”— I b ro ke o ff w ith a gasp — “care .” I lo oked up at him , m y v oic e
ple ad in g. “ Ju st— I n eed y o u to g o a w ay.”
“A phro dite , I c an’t le av e y o u a lo ne rig ht n o w .” H e w av ed h is p ho ne. “ I th in k y o u’re h av in g a
fu ll- fle d ged p anic a tta ck, a nd i f I l e av e y o u a lo ne— ”

“ Ple a se .”
The r a p id b eati n g o f m y h eart p ound ed a gain st m y c hest s o h ard I fe lt lik e if I lo oked
dow n, I’ d b e a b le to s e e th e o rg an tr y in g to b re ak fr e e fr o m m y fle sh . “ I— ju st— ple ase !” I r a ked m y
hair b ack, h and s tr e m blin g. “ I’ ll h eal. I n eed — I j u st n eed — ”
“A phro dite . . .” H e k nelt b esid e m e.
“Lea ve m e a lo ne!”
My h o ars e s h rie k h ad h im j u m pin g b ackw ard , s ta rtl e d . “ O kay, o kay.” A donis c lim bed to h is f e et.
“I’ ll be rig ht up sta ir s if yo u need m e.” H e pause d w hen he re ached th e sta ir c ase . “O h, and
Aphro dite ?” T he d em ig o d tu rn ed , h is g o ld e yes l o ckin g o n m in e. “ I’ m n o t p re te nd in g.”
I w aite d u nti l h e w alk ed a ll th e w ay u p th e s ta ir s b efo re I ti lte d m y h ead a gain st th e w all, a nd
clo se d m y e yes.
What’s w ro ng w ith m e?
Gods d id n’t g et p anic a tta cks, n o t lik e th is . I’ d w oken u p
fr o m n ig htm are s, s ic k a nd g asp in g w ith f e ar, b ut w ith in a f e w m om ents , m y h ealin g w ould k ic k i n a nd
th e w ors t o f i t w ould s to p, l e av in g m e u nse ttl e d , b ut
fu nctio nal.
T his w as d iffe re nt.
Rea lm s ic kn ess?
I w ond ere d a gain . S ure ly th is w ent b eyo nd m in o r d is c o m fo rt.
Worry a bout it
la te r; b re a th e n ow .
Rig ht.
All th e k no w le d ge m ankin d h ad a ccum ula te d o ver th e y ears fo r se lf- c o pin g w ith p anic
atta cks c lic ked i n to p la ce.
Deep b re a th s, A phro dite ,
I c o ached m yse lf.
In o ne, tw o. O ut o ne, tw o, th re e, fo ur.
I fo cuse d o n
bre ath in g f r o m m y a b dom en a nd e v entu ally c alm ed d ow n. W as a nyth in g I ’ d l e arn ed to nig ht a ny w ors e
th an w hat I ’ d a lr e ad y g o ne th ro ugh? P ose id on’s r e v ela ti o n p ut a d iffe re nt s p in o n m y e nti r e l ife , s u re ,
but Z eus’s m anip ula ti o ns w ere a ll i n th e p ast.
Of c o urs e Z eus s h ap ed w ho I w as. E ven if h e h ad n’t h and -s c ulp te d m y p ers o nality , h is a cti o ns,
th e th re at o f h im l in gerin g o ver m e, h ad s h ap ed m y e nti r e l ife . B ut Z eus c o uld n’t h urt m e n o w .
Yo u s to od u p t o Z eu s. Y o u c a n h andle a nyth in g.
Are s’s v oic e e cho ed i n m y m in d .
I o pened m y e yes. T he s im ila riti e s b etw een P ose id on a nd Z eus p ut m e o n e d ge. H e o utr a nked m e,
he r u le d th e r e alm I w as s tu ck i n f o r th e m om ent, a nd h e w as i n ti m id ati n g. B ut a t th e e nd o f th e d ay, h e
was no th in g co m pare d to his yo unger b ro th er. P ose id on w as p ow erfu l, su re , b ut Z eus had b een
pow erfu l to o, a nd i n th e e nd , I ’ d d one th e i m possib le .
I’ d f o ught b ack.
Even i n m y d ark est h o ur, I ’ d f o und th e s tr e ngth to r e sis t Z eus. I ’ d g iv en A donis th e c re d it f o r th at,
built h im u p a s a s y m bol, b ut
my
str e ngth b ought th e s e co nd th e d em ig o d n eed ed to k no ck m e o ut.
Sta nd in g, I w alk ed to th e k itc hen, a nd g ra b bed a w ate r f r o m th e f r id ge to a lle v ia te m y S ahara -d ry
th ro at. I d ra in ed th e b ottl e , th en gra b bed ano th er, and fo rc ed m yse lf to ta ke slo w sip s w hile I
pond ere d m y p re d ic am ent.
Afte r a m om ent’ s d elib era ti o n, I g ra b bed th e k ey c ard o ff th e c o unte rto p a nd s tr o de o ut th e d oor,
sh ie ld in g th e r o om b ehin d m e a s th e d oor c lo se d
.
I r e fu se d to b e a fr a id o f P ose id on. A nd I w as g o in g to m ake s u re h e k new i t b efo re th e n ig ht w as
up .

Chap te r X IV
I D ID N’T E X PE C T P ose id on to h ang a ro und o n b oard , b ut I’ d b e stu p id to tr y su m monin g h im
w ith o ut c heckin g to s e e i f h e w as s ti ll a t th e b ar f ir s t. U nfo rtu nate ly , s e arc hin g f o r h is p ow er s ig natu re
r e q uir e d a le v el o f c alm I d id n’t p osse ss in m y c urre nt s ta te . I fo rc ed m yse lf to ta ke a d eep b re ath ,
t r y in g to fe el at ease w ith in th e sa fe ty o f th e w rith in g cro w d. M usic th ud ded th ro ugh th e ro om ,
r e v erb era ti n g th ro ugh th e flo or. T he c ra m ped , c lo se q uarte rs o f th e c lu b a nd th e p re ss o f p eo ple
a gain st m e m ad e m y c hest ti g hte n. C lo sin g m y e yes, I to ok a no th er d eep b re ath a nd in hale d th e s c ent
o f a lc o ho l, f r u it j u ic e, s w eat, a nd th e e v er-p re se nt b rin y s m ell o f th e o cean th at s e ep ed i n to th e f a b ric s
o n th e s h ip a nd l a tc hed o nto h um an s k in . B rig ht, m ulti c o lo re d l ig hts d anced a cro ss m y c lo se d e yelid s.
“O kay,” I m urm ure d a s th e ti g htn ess in m y c hest e ase d . M y e yes flu tte re d o pen, a nd I lo oked
a ro und th e c lu b w ith a r e new ed s e nse o f p urp ose . H e w asn ’t i n th e c lu ste r o f ta b le s b y th e d oor. N or
d id I fin d h im o n th e d ance flo or. M y e yes tr a v ele d th e p olis h ed w ood o f th e b ar c urv in g a ro und th e
c lu b , s e arc hin g f o r i n exp lic ab le g ap s.
There
.
I z e ro ed i n o n a n u no ccup ie d l e ngth o f th e b ar, th e s h eer a m ount o f p eo ple -fr e e s p ace ti p pin g m e
o ff m ore to P ose id on’s lo cati o n th an his pow er sig natu re . W hen I ap pro ached him , th e sh ie ld
f lic kere d , a llo w in g m e to s te p a cro ss th e b arrie r.
“I’ m s o rry .” H e d id n’t l o ok u p a s th e s h ie ld r e -fo rm ed b ehin d m e, b rin gin g th e m usic o f th e c lu b
t o a q uie t m urm ur.
If sin gin g k itte ns h ad e ru p te d fr o m h is c ra niu m , I w ould n’t fe el m ore su rp ris e d . “ Y ou’re . . .
s o rry ?” T he w ord s w ere s o s im ple , c o nsid erin g w hat h e’d d one, th at I s o m eho w fe lt m ore in su lte d
t h an i f h e’d s a id n o th in g a t a ll. “ F or w hat, P ose id on? A ssa ulti n g m e l a st n ig ht? T hre ate nin g to k ill m y
f r ie nd i f I d id n’t s le ep w ith y o u? T he h o rrib le th in gs y o u s a id ?
This ?
” I h eld o ut m y a rm , s h o w in g o ff
t h e p urp le w elt h is h and prin t h ad le ft. “ I’ m a g o ddess, P ose id on. I h eal p re tty q uic kly . D o y o u k no w
h o w m uch p re ssu re y o u h av e to a p ply to e v en l e av e a m ark o n m e? M uch l e ss o ne th at ta kes
th is
m uch
t i m e to h eal? ” I f I ’ d b een h um an, m y a rm w ould h av e s h atte re d .
He c lo se d h is e yes, d efla ti n g in to a d efe ate d fig ure n urs in g a g la ss o f a m bro sia . “ Y eah, I d o. I
d on’t k no w w hat g o t i n to m e. I ’ m — ”
“Y ou d on’t
kn ow
w hat go t in to yo u?” M y v oic e ro se to a sh o ut. “L et m e giv e yo u a hin t.”
S natc hin g h is g la ss o ff th e b ar, I th re w th e a m bro sia d ow n. T he b lin kin g s h o t g la ss h it th e g ro und w ith
a s a ti s fy in g s m ack. “ Y ou a re to o p ow erfu l f o r th is c ra p .”
“— th e h ell? ” P ose id on s p ra ng to h is fe et, h is fe atu re s tw is ti n g in to a d is to rte d m ask o f ra ge. I
g ra b bed th e b ottl e n ext, b ut h e r e ached o ut a nd c aught m y a rm , s h ifti n g h is g rip a b ove th e b ru is e w hen
I w in ced . “ H av e y o u c o m ple te ly l o st y o ur m in d ?”
“Y ou d on’t g et to n o t k no w w hat y o u’re d oin g. Y ou r u n a r e alm , f o r c ry in g o ut l o ud !” W re nchin g
m y a rm fr e e, I s te p ped b ackw ard , s h akin g d ro ple ts o f a m bro sia o ff m y s h o es. “ I m eant w hat I s a id

befo re . T his i s a n ew p anth eo n. P ers e p ho ne— ”
“H as n o a uth o rity h ere .” P ose id on’s e yes g litte re d w ith c halle nge.
“W e’re
all
p la yin g b y n ew r u le s. T hat m eans y o u d on’t g et to th re ate n o r c o erc e o r
assa ult
m e
when th in gs d on’t g o y o ur w ay.”
“O r y o u’ll w hat? ” T he h ap py, m ulti c o lo re d , flic kerin g lig hts d ancin g o ver P ose id on m orp hed
in to m enacin g f la sh es. “ W hat e xactl y d o y o u th in k y o u c an d o to s to p m e?”
“N ot m e.” I sh o ok m y h ead fo r e m phasis . “ H er. Y ou g av e P ers e p ho ne a n atu ra l rig ht to y o ur
re alm w hen yo u re fu se d to ta k e back T rito n’s pow ers .” A th o ught gav e m e pause . “T hat w as
in te nti o nal, w asn ’t it? Y ou’re u sin g h er a s a s a fe ty n et. Y ou k no w th at if y o u s c re w u p b ad ly e no ugh,
sh e’ll s te p i n a nd m ake s u re y o ur r e alm i s s ti ll s a fe . Y ou c an’t
do
th at, P ose id on. Y ou d on’t g et to b e
dep re sse d .”
“I c an d o w hate v er th e h ell I w ant,” P ose id on g ro w le d , to w erin g o ver m e. “ T he o nly p eo ple
who se o pin io ns I v alu ed a re d ead . T hey’re a ll d ead . A mphitr ite , D em ete r, T ri— ” H e c le are d h is
th ro at. “ T rito n.” H is v oic e s o fte ned s o m uch I a lm ost d id n’t c atc h h is la st w ord s. “ H ow
am I
one o f
th e l a st o nes s ta nd in g?”
“W e a re g o ds. W e h av e re sp onsib iliti e s, o blig ati o ns.” I tr ie d to in je ct s o m e s y m path y in to m y
to ne b ut fa ile d . F orty -e ig ht ho urs ago , I co uld hav e co nju re d so m e, b ut I’ d le arn ed a lo t ab out
Pose id on i n th e p ast tw o d ays. H e d id n’t d ese rv e m y p ity . “ Y ou h av e a r e alm to r u n a nd e no ugh p ow er
to d o s o m e s e rio us d am age i f y o u g et m ore th an a l ittl e ti p sy.” I s la m med th e b ottl e o f a m bro sia d ow n
to th e g ro und . In ste ad o f b re akin g, it h it th e flo or w ith a h o llo w th unk b efo re r o llin g u nd er th e b ar. I
gla re d a t th e b ottl e , d is a p poin te d th e a m bro sia d id n’t l iv e u p to i ts d ra m ati c p ote nti a l, b efo re I tu rn ed
my a tte nti o n b ack to P ose id on. “ C rip plin g g rie f i s a m orta l l u xury . Y ou d on’t g et to w allo w .”
Pot, m eet k ettle .
Shut u p!
I a rg ued w ith th e sn ark y sid e o f m y b ra in .
The la st tw en ty -fo ur h ours w ere h ard ly
ty p ic a l a nd
I
don’t r u le a r e a lm .
Realm -ru le rs d id n’t g et to p la ce th eir fr ie nd s a nd fa m ily a b ove th e fa te o f e v ery o ne e ls e , n o
matte r h o w m uch m ore th ey m atte re d . H ad es h ad b een w illin g to b re ak th e w orld to f in d P ers e p ho ne.
That’ s w hy g o ds d id n’t d o th e w ho le fa m ily th in g. B ecause b ala nce is h ard a nd w e d id n’t tr u st
ours e lv es n o t to f a il.
Mayb e P ose id on’s g enera ti o n w as d efe cti v e. I c o nsid ere d a ll th e d ra m a, je alo usy, a nd a ngst
perm eati n g m yth o lo gy s in ce th ey h ad c o m e a lo ng. M ayb e th e T ita ns h ad a p oin t w hen th ey tr ie d to p ut
a s to p to h is g enera ti o n.
Pose id on g la re d a t m e w ith s o m uch v ehem ence th at, fo r a s e co nd , I w ond ere d if h e c o uld h ear
my th o ughts . “ I’ v e s e en y o u w ith th at d em ig o d. D on’t p re te nd n o t to c are . I w arn ed y o u h e m ig ht b e a
th re at— ”
I r o lle d m y e yes. “ If y o u h ad p ro of h e w as a ctu ally a th re at, I ’ d a ct o n i t.”
“H ow v ague.”
“A t l e ast I ’ m n o t s o w aste d , I d on’t k no w w hat I ’ m s a yin g. G ods! T hat i s s o d angero us.”
“Y eah, w ell, I ’ m n o t g o in g to l is te n to Z eus’s l a te st b lo w -u p d oll l e ctu re m e o n w hat i t m eans to
be a g o d. I h av e g iv en u p m ore th an y o u’ll e v er— ”
I ti lte d m y c hin u p . “ I n ev er m et T rito n, b ut I k no w fo r a fa ct D em ete r w ould h ate y o u fo r u sin g
her a s a n e xcuse f o r y o ur s tu p id ity .”
He s h o ok h is h ead a nd r e tu rn ed to h is s e at. “ T hey a lr e ad y h ate d m e. M y s o n d ie d . A nd i t to ok m e

weeks to re aliz e h e w as e v en m is sin g.” P ose id on c le are d h is th ro at a nd ra n h is fin gers a lo ng th e
wooden b ar. “ A nd D em ete r . . . I a lw ays th o ught w e w ould — That I w ould f in d a w ay to f ix th in gs, to
make th in gs r ig ht.”
“Y ou c an’t. A nd y o u w on’t e v er b e a b le to .” T he w ord s c am e o ut b lu nte r th an I’ d in te nd ed , b ut
no l e ss tr u e. P ers e p ho ne’s m oth er a nd P ose id on h ad b een a n i te m f o r c entu rie s u nti l s h e b ro ke th in gs
off. H e d id n’t ta ke it w ell. I d id n’t k no w a ll th e d eta ils — th e in te rp ers o nal d ra m a a m ongst th e g o ds
had n’t b een in clu d ed in m y k no w le d ge b ase — but I k new it w as b ad . D em ete r h ad le ft th e O ly m pia n
co uncil a nd d is a p peare d in to h er o w n re alm , re fu sin g to e v en sp eak to P ose id on a gain , u nti l h er
daughte r w ent m is sin g a nd s h e n eed ed h is h elp . A nd n o w P ers e p ho ne, th e n ic est g o d i n th e p anth eo n,
would b are ly lo ok a t th e s e a g o d u nle ss h e d em and ed h er a tte nti o n. A nd e v en th en, it w as w ith a
bla ta nt d is tr u st P ose id on s e em ed to ta ke a s a c halle nge. W atc hin g h im tr y to p ro ve h im se lf to h er w as
dis c o ncerti n g, a t th e le ast. “ B ut y o u c an d o e v ery th in g in y o ur p ow er n o t to sin k lo w er. A sm all
co nso la ti o n, m ayb e, b ut b ette r th an y o u d ese rv e.”
Pose id on b lin ked . “ Y ou h av e a w ay w ith w ord s.”
They w ork bette r th an a sle d geh am mer.
Word s w ere m y w eap on of cho ic e w hen charm
would n’t w ork . “ T hen m ayb e y o u s h o uld lis te n.” I s a t n ext to h im , h o ld in g h is g aze . “ A nd s e e th at I
am s e rio us. P ull. I t. T ogeth er. A nd i f y o u e v er s o m uch a s to uch m e, o r g o ds h elp m e, P ose id on, e v en
lo ok a t m e w ith i ll i n te nt a gain , I w ill
in ven t
n ew a nd e xciti n g w ays to h urt y o u.”
The lo ok o n m y fa ce m ust h av e c o nv in ced h im I w as s e rio us, b ecause I s a w s o m eth in g, n o t fe ar
pre cis e ly , b ut s o m eth in g l ik e c auti o n, f lic ker i n h is g aze .
I f la sh ed m y te eth i n a c o ld s m ile .
Pose id on’s e yes w id ened i n a la rm .
I . . . w asn ’t th at g o od. W hen I tu rn ed to s e e w hat c o uld p ossib ly a la rm th e s e a g o d, m y h eart
stu tte re d in m y c hest.
Im possib le .
F our p asse ngers s e p ara te d fr o m th e w rith in g m ass o f th e c ro w d,
th eir e yes w id e, p up ils f u lly d ila te d . C harm ed .
Lik e,
re a lly
charm ed . T he s h eer p ow er p ourin g th ro ugh th em m ad e m y h air s ta nd o n e nd .
My e yes d ro pped to th e lo ng, g litte rin g s ilv er s ta kes in th eir h and s. O ly m pia n S te ele : th e o nly
weap on i n e xis te nce c ap ab le o f k illin g g o ds.

Chap te r X V
A LL I T T A K ES I S a s c ra tc h .
I c o uld n’t b re ath e. F our h um ans a gain st tw o g o ds s h o uld b e a n o th in g-
b attl e . P ose id on c o uld p ro bab ly h and le th em a lo ne. W ith h is e yes c lo se d . I n s e co nd s. B ut i f O ly m pia n
S te ele , n am ed f o r th e s h ap e o f th e b la d e, n o t th e m eta l, b ro ke o ur s k in a t a ll, w e w ere d ead . N o.
I
was
d ead . A s s o on a s th ey b ro ke th e s h ie ld , P ose id on w ould te le p ort.
But w hy c o m e a fte r u s l ik e th is ? T hey c o uld h av e n ic ked m e a ny ti m e I ’ d b een o ff m y g uard i n a
c ro w d. P ose id on to o.
To s e n d a m essa ge m ayb e? T hat t h ey’re a rm ed , d angero us, a nd c a n c o m e a t u s f r o m a nyw here .
Mayb e. B ut to w hat e nd ?
Does i t m atte r? Y o u. A re . D ea d.
Sure ly o ne o f th em w ould a t
le a st
get a s c ra tc h i n .
Move!
I to ld
m yse lf. I n ste ad , I s a t a s th o ugh g lu ed to m y s to ol a s m ile f r o ze n o n m y f a ce. T o a n o uts id e o bse rv er, I
m ig ht e v en l o ok c alm , b ut o nly b ecause o f th e p ara ly zin g f e ar p um pin g th ro ugh m y v ein s. I w as d ead .
E ven i f I s o m eho w g o t a w ay r ig ht n o w , I w as d ead . I w as s tu ck o n a s h ip f u ll o f p asse ngers th at c o uld
b e c harm ed . W ho k new h o w m any o f th o se w eap ons w ere o ut th ere ?
They c o uld a ll h ave o ne.
My g aze s w ep t th e c ro w ded b ar.
Every s in gle o ne o f t h em c o uld h ave
o ne.
“O kay.” P ose id on sto od in a slo w , co ntr o lle d m ovem ent and ra is e d his hand s in su rre nd er.
“ M essa ge r e ceiv ed , l o ud a nd c le ar. Y ou’re o ff l im its .”
What?
Pose id on th o ught th ey w ere u nd er
my
co ntr o l? M y fe ar e ase d a s I s a w a n o pportu nity . A
v ery , v ery s lim o pportu nity , b ut a nyth in g w as b ette r th an c erta in d eath . R ig ht n o w , I h ad in fo rm ati o n
h e d id n’t h av e. T hese h um ans w ere n’t m in e. R ig ht n o w , th e th re at—
my
th re at, in h is m in d — sto od in
f r o nt o f h im . N ext ti m e, h e m ig ht n o t s e e th em c o m in g a nd th at w ould w orry h im . B ut w ould i t w orry
h im e no ugh? I h ad to tr y .
“P ro m is e m e n eith er y o u n o r y o ur a gents w ill e v er a ct w ith th e i n te nti o n o f h arm in g m e, A donis ,
o r a nyo ne e ls e I d ecla re o ff l im its .”
The p asse ngers r a is e d th eir a rm s in u nis o n a nd s la sh ed a t th e s h ie ld w ith a n e erie a ccura cy, th e
s tr o be l ig hts tu rn in g th e f lu id m oti o n j e rk y. H ow w ere th ey s e ein g u s i f w e w ere s h ie ld ed ?
The s a m e
w ay y o u fig ure d o ut w here h e w as, p ro bably . B ig e m pty s tr e tc h o f s p ace in a n o th erw is e c ro w ded
r o om . E ith er t h at o r t h ey n otic ed y o u w anderin g o ver h ere a nd v a nis h in g f r o m s ig ht.
Yeah, th at h ad n’t b een te rrib ly s u b tl e .
The s h ie ld s h ud dere d , b ut h eld . O ne o f th e h um ans, a b oy w ith s h aggy b ro w n h air, d id n’t l o ok o ld
e no ugh to g et i n th e c lu b . H e w ore j e ans, a b lu e c o tto n T -s h ir t, a nd s n eakers . N ext to h im s to od a m an
w ith a c o m b-o ver, g la sse s, a nd a ta cky b ro w n s u it. M y g aze s lid to th e n ext p asse nger, a b ru nette i n a
s tr ik in g h o t p in k d re ss, th en to th e m an w ith b la ck h air, th ic k, b la ck-rim med g la sse s, k hakis , a nd b lu e-
c o lla re d s h ir t.
Pose id on e d ged c lo se r to m e a nd a w ay fr o m th e p asse ngers . S w eat b ead ed a lo ng h is fo re head

fr o m th e e xerti o n o f h o ld in g th e s h ie ld . “ I p ro m is e n eith er I n o r m y a gents w ill e v er a ct w ith th e
in te nti o n o f h arm in g y o u, A donis , o r a ny o th er i n d iv id uals y o u d ecla re o ff l im its u nle ss y o u o r th ey tr y
to h arm m e.”
“P hysic ally .” I d id n’t w ant P ose id on to b e a b le to c o m e a fte r u s f o r h urti n g h is f e elin gs.
“U nle ss y o u o r th ey p hysic ally tr y to h arm m e,” h e a gre ed w ith a n o d.
The s h ie ld f lic kere d , a nd I s tr u ggle d to k eep m y f a ce c o m pose d . “ S w ear p ro te cti o n to o, a nd th at
yo u’ll s to p w ith th e s e lf- d estr u cti v e b ehav io r a nd s ta rt b ehav in g r e sp onsib ly .”
The p asse ngers b ore d ow n o n th e s h ie ld , u nre le nti n g. I g la nced a ro und th e b ar. N o o ne s e em ed
ala rm ed b y th e fo ur p eo ple s la sh in g a t th in a ir w ith s ilv er s ta kes. W ere th e re st o f th e p asse ngers
behin d a no th er s h ie ld , o r w ere th ey a ll c harm ed ? W hat th e h ell w ere w e d ealin g w ith ? A nd h o w
dru nk d id P ose id on h av e to b e to a ttr ib ute th is to
me?
He a lw ays t h ought i t w as m e.
The r e aliz a ti o n h it m e l ik e i c e w ate r. O f a ll th e k no w n g o ds, o nly I
had e no ugh c harm to p ull th is o ff.
I b et
th at’s w hy h e d id n’t w ant m e i n vestig atin g i n t h e f ir st p la ce.
Pers e p ho ne w ould n ev er b elie v e h is s u sp ic io ns, s o r a th er th an v oic e th em , h e’d c o m e u p w ith a w ay
fo r h er to fig ure it o ut fo r h ers e lf. N o w ond er I c o uld n’t a ccess a ll m y p ow ers h ere . H e’d p ro bab ly
cap ped th em o n p urp ose .
In a tw is te d w ay, h is th eo ry a lm ost m ad e s e nse . T he fir s t o f th e d em ig o ds w ent m is sin g s h o rtl y
afte r m y cre ati o n. I’ d b een w ork in g w ith Z eus at th e ti m e, again st m y w ill, yeah, b ut P ose id on
co uld n’t k no w w hat Z eus h ad o rd ere d m e to d o b efo re h e d ie d . P lu s, Z eus h ad o bvio usly f o und a w ay
to g et i n a nd o ut o f P ose id on’s r e alm u nno ti c ed . H ow e ls e c o uld h e h av e g o tte n T rito n?
Oh, g o ds. H e th o ught I h ad s o m eth in g to d o w ith k illin g h is s o n.
“I s w ear. N ow c all th em o ff!”
Every s e co nd th e s h ie ld h eld b ought m e a n o pportu nity to b eco m e a l ittl e l e ss h elp le ss. “ A nd a ny
unco nd iti o nal f a v ors I r e q uest i n th e f u tu re . A nyth in g I w ant th at y o u h av e th e p ow er to p ro vid e.”
Pose id on g av e a s tr a in ed l a ugh. “ Y ou w ant f e alty to o? Y ou c an f o rg et th at.”
“N ot f e alty .” S hare d p ow er w as w ay to o p ers o nal. E ven i f I w as th e o ne i n c harg e, th e th o ught o f
bein g b ound to P ose id on a t a ll g av e m e th e c re ep s. “ F av ors .”
Music s u rg ed a ro und u s a t fu ll fo rc e a nd th e p uls in g c ro w d s h arp ened in to fo cus.
Oh c ra p, o h
cra p, oh cra p.
My re so lv e w av ere d , but I to ok a deep bre ath and fo rc ed m yse lf to w ait fo r
Pose id on’s r e sp onse .
Say s o m eth in g,
I m enta lly b egged h im . E ven i f I n ev er a ctu ally u se d th e f a v ors ,
hav in g th em to h o ld o ver h im w ould g iv e m e a m easu re o f s e curity s o s tr o ng, th e b enefit o utw eig hed
th e r is k o f d eath . I ’ d b e s a fe . B etw een b ein g s w orn to P ers e p ho ne, a nd
ow nin g
Pose id on, n o o ne, g o d
or o th erw is e , w ould e v er b e a b le to th re ate n m e a gain .
Well, e xcep t th e f o ur l ittl e h um ans w ith th eir m agic d aggers .
They
would s ti ll b e a p ro ble m .
Pose id on h esita te d , p ro bab ly w ond erin g if h e sh o uld g iv e m e w hat I w ante d o r ju st te le p ort
aw ay. R ig ht n o w , th e th re at s to od in fr o nt o f h im . N ext ti m e, h e m ig ht n o t s e e th em c o m in g. “ T hre e
fa v ors . A nyth in g w ith in m y p ow er, s o lo ng a s y o ur r e q uest d oesn ’t h arm m e, m y r e alm , o r a ny o th er
go d, g ra nte d w ith o ut c o nd iti o n.”
Thre e fa v ors w ere tw o m ore th an I’ d h o ped fo r. “ D eal. A nd it d oesn ’t c o unt a s a fa v or u nle ss I
sa y th e p hra se ‘ P ose id on, I ’ m c allin g i n a f a v or.’ ”
He r e p eate d th e w ho le v ow , c av eats a nd a ll, a fte r m e. T hen th e s h ie ld b ro ke. “ C all th em o ff!”
“F ir s t te ll m e w hat y o u d id to m e.”
“W hat? ”

“Y ou d id s o m eth in g to m e. W hat? ” I d em and ed .
“I d on’t k no w w hat y o u’re ta lk in g a b out.”
“It h urts w hen I u se m y p ow ers a nd s o m eth in g’s o ff, I — ”
“C hao s’s B alls , y o u p ro bab ly j u st h av e r e alm s ic kness o r s o m eth in g. I ’ v e g o t n o th in g to d o w ith
it. C all th em o ff, A phro dite !”
Mom ent o f tr u th . I t w as ti m e to te st i f h is v ow s h eld . “ T hey a re n’t m in e.”
Pose id on tu rn ed to m e, h is j a w g ap in g i n d is b elie f. F or a p re cio us s e co nd , h e s to od th ere , s ta rin g
in s h o ck. “ A re y o u
kid din g
m e?”
“Y ou pro m is e d to pro te ct m e,” I re m in d ed him . In clin in g m y head to w ard th e charm ed
passe ngers , I a d ded , “ N ow w ould b e a g o od ti m e to s ta rt.”

Chap te r X VI
“ Y OUR K IN D IS N ’T w elc o m e h ere ,” th e d ark -h air e d m an g ro w le d , p ush in g h is th ic k g la sse s u p h is
n o se w ith his in d ex fin ger. T he kid w ith sh aggy hair and th e b ald in g m an ste p ped aro und him ,
O ly m pia n S te ele g rip ped ti g ht i n th eir h and s. I c o uld n’t ta ke m y e yes o ff th e g litte rin g s ta kes.
Pose id on le t o ut a s tr in g o f c urs e s th at w ould s h o ck a ny s a ilo r. “ G et b ehin d m e.” H e h eld o ut a
h and , r e ad y to p ush m e b ack i f I d id n’t c o m ply . H is tr id ent a p peare d i n h is o th er h and w ith a f la sh o f
g o ld s o b rig ht i n th e d ark ness, I f o und m yse lf b lin kin g a w ay s p ark lin g d ots . “ A nd g et r e ad y to r u n.”
“R un?” I d em and ed . “W hy can’t w e te le p ort? ” P ose id on co uld gra nt m e auth o riz a ti o n in a
s e co nd .
“A nd l e av e y o ur d em ig o d a s c o lla te ra l? M y v ow s p ro hib it th at, th anks to y o u.”
I l a ced m y v oic e w ith a s m uch s a rc asm a s I c o uld . “ W e c o uld a lw ays
go g et h im .

Pin k D re ss a tta cked f ir s t, w ith a ll th e g ra ce o f a z o m bie . S he l e ap t f o rw ard , h ackin g a nd s la sh in g
a t th e a ir w ith th e O ly m pia n S te ele b efo re s h e e v en g o t w ith in a f o ot o f P ose id on. S he w as
tr y in g
to
m is s. T he f la sh in g l ig hts i llu m in ate d a w ild s tr u ggle i n h er d ark e yes. S he w as r e sis ti n g th e c harm th e
b est s h e c o uld , b ut w hat h o pe c o uld a m ere m orta l h av e o ver a d iv in e f o rc e o f w ill?
“A nd r is k ’ p orti n g s tr a ig ht i n to a tr a p ?”
Pose id on h ad a p oin t. Y ou c o uld n’t s h ie ld y o urs e lf w hile te le p orti n g. W e m ig ht b e a b le to th ro w
u p a s h ie ld th e s e co nd w e a rriv ed , b ut w e’d b e v uln era b le f o r th at s e co nd .
“W e’re d ealin g w ith th is n o w ,” P ose id on d ecla re d .
I s u m moned m y c harm , g ritti n g m y te eth a gain st th e p ain r ip pin g th ro ugh m y s to m ach.
Gah!
What
w as
th is ? T he c harm s lid o ff th e p asse ngers lik e w ate r. S w allo w in g h ard , I s te p ped b ack, b um pin g
i n to a b ars to ol. R un? F ro m h um ans?
Pose id on d odged a n a tta ck f r o m B ald y, th en s e em ed to r e m em ber m e a nd th re w h im se lf b etw een
t h e tw o o f u s, tr id ent w hir lin g to b lo ck h is S te ele . “ W e’re g o in g to ta lk a b out th e b arg ain w e j u st m ad e
l a te r.”
“T alk a ll y o u w ant. Y our p ro m is e s a re s ti ll b in d in g.” I th re w u p a s h ie ld , p ow er fla rin g to life
w ith in m e. G ods, th at
hurt.
Gritti n g m y te eth , I ig no re d th e g ut- w re nchin g p ain a nd p ush ed th e s h ie ld
a t th e c harm ed p asse ngers j u st a s S haggy j o in ed th e f r a y, S te ele s h atte rin g m y s h ie ld i n a s e co nd .
I fr o ze . F ig hti n g w asn ’t in m y s k ill s e t. U nlik e P ers e p ho ne, I’ d n ev er s e en th e p oin t in s p end in g
m y s p are ti m e l e arn in g s e lf- d efe nse o r h o nin g m y p ow ers s o I ’ d b e r e ad y f o r a c o m bat s itu ati o n. M y
c harm c o uld q uell g o ds. W hy w ould I e v er n eed a nyth in g m ore th an th at?
Pose id on s h o ved m e to th e s id e, i n te rc ep ti n g th e S te ele w ith h is tr id ent. B ald y l e ap t to S haggy’s
a id , s la sh in g a t P ose id on, b ut P ose id on s e nt h im fly in g in to th e b ar, c ra sh in g in to a w all o f b ottl e s
w ith e no ugh f o rc e to s h atte r th em . B ald y h it th e g ro und w ith a th ud , a lc o ho l a nd g la ss r a in in g a ro und
h im . T he b arte nd er, u np ertu rb ed , k ep t p ourin g d rin ks. W hat th e h ell? E very o ne e ls e d anced o r s to od
a ro und i n u nco ncern ed c lu ste rs . W as th e w ho le c lu b c harm ed ? H oly H ad es, w hat k in d o f p ow er w ere

we d ealin g w ith ?
Don’t ju st s ta nd th ere .
Do
s o m eth in g.
T akin g a d eep b re ath , I tu ned o ut th e p uls in g m usic a nd
co ncentr a te d . W ith effo rt, I pic ked out se v era l m ore charm ed passe ngers as w ell as a sh ie ld
env elo pin g th e e nti r e b ar. “ P ose id on, b re ak th e s h ie ld !”
A w av e o f p ow er sw elle d fr o m P ose id on. T he sh ie ld sh atte re d . M y sto m ach w re nched a s I
bla nkete d th e ro om w ith c harm in a d esp era te b id to g ain c o ntr o l o f th e p asse ngers b efo re th ey
panic ked a nd f le d . T hey c o uld c o m e i n h and y.
Gods!
The e ffo rt o f c hannelin g m y p ow ers s e nt m e d oub lin g o ver i n a go ny.
Gritti n g m y te eth , I p ush ed p ast th e p ain , c o ncentr a ti o n b re akin g w hen a no th er p asse nger lu nged
at m e, k no ckin g m e to th e flo or. R ollin g o ut o f th e w ay, I s lid a cro ss s h atte re d g la ss. T he b ro ken
bottl e s s lic ed m y s k in . I l e ap t to m y f e et. T he u ncharm ed p asse ngers b ecam e a w are o f th e f ig ht i n th eir
mid st, a nd r u sh ed to w ard th e d oor s c re am in g. “ C ra p !” P ush in g p ast th e p ain , I r e fo cuse d m y p ow er o n
th e c ro w d a s th e m usic s h ut o ff a nd f lu o re sc ent l ig hts f lic kere d o n.
“A re y o u c ut? ” P ose id on s p are d m e a g la nce, th ro w in g u p a s h ie ld to g ain th e h alf- s e co nd to
dete rm in e w heth er o r n o t I w as a ll r ig ht.
“N ot b y S te ele .” T akin g a d eep b re ath , I fo rc ed m y c harm to ta ke h o ld o f th e o th er p asse ngers .
“H elp m e!”
The b ar c am e to life a s p asse ngers th re w th em se lv es in b etw een m e a nd th e S te ele -w ie ld in g
zo m bie s.
“G o,” P ose id on s h o ute d , tr id ent s w in gin g in a w ild a rc . P in k D re ss d ucked a ro und th e b lo w ,
sla sh in g a t P ose id on, b ut g o t i n te rc ep te d b y a c re w m em ber a cti n g u nd er th e i n flu ence o f m y c harm . I
ra n, P ose id on o n m y h eels . T he c ro w d s p lit in fr o nt o f m e, fo rm in g a n arro w h allw ay th at c lo se d in
behin d u s. A l iv in g s h ie ld .
Scatte re d w ith in th e cro w d, I co uld p ic k o ut th e p asse ngers w ho w ere n’t und er m y co ntr o l
waiti n g fo r us to get clo se eno ugh to str ik e. “R ed d re ss! G la sse s! W aitr e ss b ehin d th e ta b le !” I
sh o ute d w arn in gs to P ose id on a s s o on a s I p ic ked o ut th e p asse ngers w ho w ould a tta ck, g la ncin g b ack
to g auge h is s u ccess.
Pose id on’s tr id ent f la sh ed .
Now
I u nd ers to od w hy D em ete r a nd H ad es h ad b een s o d ete rm in ed to
get h im o n th eir s id e a gain st Z eus. P ose id on w asn ’t j u st p ow erfu l. H e f o ught i n a w ay m ost g o ds w ere
to o c o m pla cent to e v en c o nsid er. I c o uld n’t te ll w here h is p ow ers s to pped a nd h is p hysic al p ro w ess
began. G re en l ig htn in g e ru p te d f r o m th e tr id ent, f o llo w ed b y a p unch, a k ic k, a s h ie ld i n v erte d a ro und
a p asse nger to r e str a in th em . H e s e em ed to b e e v ery w here a t o nce u nti l th ey tr ie d to s tr ik e b ack, a nd
th en h e w as n o w here .
“Y ou’re i n cre d ib le !” I h ad n’t m eant to s p eak o ut l o ud , a nd , b y r ig hts , I s h o uld n’t b e a ud ib le o ver
th e f ig ht, b ut s o m eho w , P ose id on s ti ll h eard a nd s h o t m e a g rin .
“Y ou s o und s u rp ris e d . I th o ught th at w as c o m mon k no w le d ge.” H is g rin f a d ed . “ W atc h o ut! ”
I d ucked a s a no th er c harm ed p asse nger b ro ke th ro ugh th e c ro w d, s la sh in g a t th e p la ce w here I ’ d
been w ith th e s h im merin g s ta ke. P ose id on w as th ere in a fla sh . T he p asse nger w ent fly in g in to th e
wall a s l im p a s a r a g d oll.
We b ro ke fr e e o f th e b ar a nd d ash ed th ro ugh a h allw ay d eco ra te d to re se m ble th e n ig ht s k y. If
anyo ne th o ught i t o dd w e r a n l ik e o ur l iv es d ep end ed o n i t, I d id n’t n o ti c e. “ W here a re w e g o in g?” I
crie d .
“W ate r.”

Rig ht. I v eere d to w ard th e a tr iu m a s th e h all o pened u p i n to a l o bby f u ll o f g ift s h o ps, ta b le s, a nd
pho to gra p hers posin g ra nd om passe ngers in fr o nt of pre tty backd ro ps. T he charm ed passe ngers
fo llo w ed rig ht o n o ur heels . “T his w ay!” I ru sh ed acro ss th e atr iu m and up th e curv ed , go ld en
sta ir c ase .
I s c re am ed a s a h and c lo se d a ro und m y a nkle a nd y anked m e d ow n th e s te p s. F or a s e co nd , a ll I
co uld f o cus o n w as th e s ta ke c enti m ete rs f r o m m y f a ce. T he w eap on d id n’t m ove. M y g aze s h ifte d u p
th e a rm o f th e p asse nger c arry in g th e S te ele . H is f a ce c o nto rte d i n a g rim ace o f a go ny. W ith a v io le nt
je rk , h e w as f lu ng o ff o f m e, a nd s la m med i n to th e w all p ro pelle d b y a n i n v is ib le f o rc e.
“W hat? ” L eap in g to m y f e et, I f o und P ose id on. H e h ad o ne a rm u p a s h e c ast a nd r e cast a s h ie ld
to k eep th e p asse ngers a t b ay a lm ost a s f a st a s th ey s la sh ed th ro ugh i t, a nd th e o th er, s tr e tc hed to w ard
th e m an, tr id ent e xte nd ed . “ H ow d id y o u d o th at? ” T ele kin esis w as n o t i n o ur s k ill s e t.
“S alt w ate r.” P ose id on p ante d , th e str a in fr o m c asti n g a n ew sh ie ld e v ery ti m e S te ele b ro ke
th ro ugh e v id ent o n h is f a ce. “ R un!”
I s c ra m ble d u p th e s te p s, m y m in d re elin g. T here w ere w his p ers , ru m ors , th at th e o rig in al s ix
were c ap ab le o f m anip ula ti n g th e h um an b ody v ia b uilt- in fa il- s a fe s. A c o ntr o l fo r e ach g o d. W ate r
fo r P ose id on, tr a ce m in era ls fr o m th e e arth fo r D em ete r, a nd th e fo ur a sp ects o f th e s o ul fo r th e r e st.
But I’ d only heard ru m ors . P re cio us littl e in fo rm ati o n ab out hum an cre ati o n passe d dow n th e
blo odlin es.
And n o o ne c o uld s a y f o r c erta in w heth er th o se s a m e c o ntr o ls w ere b uilt i n to u s.
Forg et th at fo r
now . H ow h ave y o u n ot b een c u t?
I’ d b een k no cked o ver, p ush ed , a nd o utr ig ht m is se d a s ta ti s ti c ally
im pro bab le n um ber o f ti m es n o t to h av e s u sta in ed a s in gle i n ju ry f r o m th e O ly m pia n D aggers .
This fig ht d id n’t m ake
se n se .
I’ d b een o n th is s h ip s u rro und ed b y th ese p eo ple fo r th e la st d ay
and a h alf. W hy h ad n’t s o m eo ne ta ken m e o ut th en?
Mayb e I ’m n ot t h e t a rg et.
What i f I w as j u st i n th e w ay? H ad th ey a d dre sse d b oth o f u s, o r j u st P ose id on a t th e b egin nin g o f
th e fig ht? H e’d sta yed b ehin d a sh ie ld a lm ost th e e nti r e ti m e h e’d b een o n b oard . M ayb e th ey’d
atta cked l ik e th is b ecause ta kin g d ow n h is s h ie ld w ould b e n o ti c eab le n o m atte r w hat th ey d id . I f y o u
can’t g o f o r s u rp ris e , g o f o r s tr e ngth ?
I b urs t th ro ugh th e e xte rio r d oor a nd s la m med i n to th e r a ilin g, g asp in g f o r b re ath .
“S ta y a gain st th e r a il.” P ose id on s lid to h alt i n f r o nt o f m e.
“H ere ?” I to ok a n erv ous l o ok a ro und . T he b it o f d eck w e o ccup ie d r e m in d ed m e o f a s id ew alk .
The n arro w str ip o f w hite w ooden p la nks a nd p ain te d m eta l ra ils ra n p ara lle l to th e m ain lo bby,
se p ara te d b y w in d ow s a nd g la ss d oors . T he c harm ed p asse ngers s to od i n th e o pen d oorw ay, h ackin g
at P ose id on’s s h ie ld . S oft C arib bean m usic a nd l a ughte r c am e f r o m th e p ool f a rth er d ow n th e d eck. I
gla nced a t th e e xte rio r s te p s, w ond erin g i f w e s h o uld r u n u p o ne m ore d eck.
“H ere .” P ose id on’s s h ie ld b ro ke a nd I fe lt th e p ow er r ic o chet b ack to h im . “ C an y o u b re ak th e
charm ?”
I h esita te d . I ’ d n ev er s u cceed ed i n f r e ein g P ers e p ho ne f r o m Z eus’s c harm , n o m atte r h o w h ard I ’ d
tr ie d . A nd I ’ d tr ie d h ard . “ I h av e s o m e th eo rie s.”
Pose id on n o dded . “ T ry th en. I ’ d r a th er n o t h av e to k ill a nyo ne.”
“R eally ?” It w asn ’t a s if I th o ught P ose id on e njo yed d eath a nd v io le nce. M uch. B ut I d id n’t
exp ect h im to c are o ne w ay o r a no th er w heth er th e p eo ple a tta ckin g u s l iv ed o r d ie d .
Pose id on s h ru gged . “ I d on’t w ant to g iv e H ad es a ny e xcuse to c o m e to m y r e alm .”

Rig ht. G ods h ad to re sp ond to d iv in e c ause s o f d eath . It fig ure d th at’ s w hat P ose id on w ould
worry a b out r ig ht n o w . T he s e a g o d tu rn ed to th e d oor. “ I’ ll b uy y o u a s m uch ti m e a s I c an. Y ou m ay
want to d uck.”
I d ro pped to m y k nees, m y h an d s g o in g o ver m y h ead a s a w all o f w ate r ru sh ed a b ove m e,
whip pin g a ro und th e d eck a s th e c harm ed p asse ngers p oure d th ro ugh th e d oorw ay.
Go in sid e, n oth in g to se e h ere .
My sto m ach tw is te d a s I le t th e c o m mand b la nket th e sh ip ,
fu elin g th e o rd er w ith e v ery b it o f p ow er I c o uld m anage.
Get to y o ur ro om a nd s ta y th ere u ntil
morn in g.
The e ffo rt o f m ain ta in in g h o ld o f s o m any p asse ngers tw is te d m y s to m ach i n to p ain fu l k no ts .
Oh,
gods, th is h urts .
W ate r ro are d a ro und m e, d is ru p ti n g m y c o ncentr a ti o n. S queezin g m y e yes s h ut, I
waite d u nti l I s e nse d th e p asse ngers u nd er m y c o ntr o l b egin to re tr e at a cro ss th e s h ip . I im agin ed
doors c lo sin g, a nd g av e th em a fe w s e co nd s to g et s e ttl e d , m akin g s u re to im prin t a s tr o ng d esir e in
th eir m in d s to s ta y p ut u nti l s u nup b efo re r e le asin g th em f r o m m y c harm . E ven o ut o f m y c o ntr o l, th ey
would m ost l ik ely o bey th e s u b co nsc io us c o m mand .
I n arro w ed m y f o cus to th e p asse ngers u nd er f o re ig n c o ntr o l h ead in g to w ard th is d eck.
How m any w ere th ere in to ta l? I g av e u p c o unti n g a t th ir ty a nd s h ifte d m y a tte nti o n to th e e ig ht
fig hti n g P ose id on.
I c o uld se nse th e c harm h o ld in g th em , b ut so m eth in g a b out th e p ow er sig natu re se em ed o ff.
Charm w as lik e a th re ad o f p ow er e xte nd in g fr o m g o d to m an. A
th re a d
. B ut th e c harm h o ld in g th e
hum ans h o sta ge w asn ’t a s o lita ry th re ad b ut m any, w oven to geth er l ik e a r o pe.
“T here ’s m ore th an o ne c o ntr o lle r,” I b lu rte d , r e aliz a ti o n h itti n g m e l ik e a ti d al w av e.
“W hat? ” P ose id on s h o ute d .
My a nsw er g o t s w allo w ed in th e r o ar o f th e w ate r. B ald y lu nged a t P ose id on, b ut g o t w hip ped
aw ay b y th e c urre nt. T he w ate r a nim ate d a nd w hir le d a ro und P ose id on, s u sp end ed in th e a ir lik e th e
arm s o f a n o cto pus, la sh in g o ut e v ery ti m e o ne o f th e p asse ngers g o t to o c lo se . B ut h e w ould n’t b e
ab le to k eep u p th e f ig ht f o re v er. I g ritte d m y te eth a nd f o cuse d o n g ath erin g m ore p ow er.
We w ere n’t d ealin g w ith a no th er d eity l ik e m e o r a s u p er-c harg ed T ita n. T his w as s o m eth in g e ls e
enti r e ly . W hat d id Z eus s a y? “
Yo u th in k y o u s a ved th e w orld b y k illin g m e, b ut y o u’v e d oom ed it.
What’s c o m in g i s w orse . A nd H ades, t h ey’re a rm ed
.”
They’re
arm ed . P lu ra l. W e w ere d ealin g w ith a g ro up . A n a rm y, e v en.
I k ep t m y e yes c lo se d , tu nin g o ut th e s c re am s, g ru nts , a nd o ccasio nal f la sh es o f g re en l ig htn in g to
se p ara te e ach p ow er s ig natu re I fo und c o nnecte d to o ne o f th e c harm ed p asse ngers . T he th re ad s o f
pow er w ere b ra id ed to geth er i n a n i n tr ic ate c hain o f c harm .
But th e w om an in th e p in k d re ss
did
fig ht th e fo re ig n c o ntr o l. M ayb e s h e w asn ’t th e o nly o ne. I
opened m y e yes fo r a s e co nd . T he je rk y m ovem ents o f th e p asse ngers c o nfir m ed m y th eo ry . G ritti n g
my te eth a gain st th e g ut- w re nchin g p ain th at c am e w ith u sin g m y p ow ers so c lo se to P ose id on, I
fo cuse d o n a s in gle th re ad o f c harm , i g no rin g th e r e st o f th e r o pe f o r n o w .
The i n d iv id ual th re ad s w ere w eak.
“A phro dite ,” P ose id on s n ap ped . “ A ny ti m e n o w !”
More p asse ngers jo in ed th e b attl e . I h ad n’t o pened m y e yes to c heck, b ut I c o uld s e nse th em .
How m any? T en? T w elv e? “ I’ m tr y in g!” I f o cuse d o n c hannelin g m y p ow er th ro ugh th e g ap s b etw een
th re ad s o f c harm . S w eat b ath ed m y f a ce. U sin g m y p ow ers s h o uld n’t
hurt
th is m uch.
Alm ost
. I p ush ed a t th e g ap s, p ourin g m ore a nd m ore p ow er in to th e e ffo rt. T he c harm s n ap ped

and m y eyes fle w o pen. “G ot it! ” I calle d tr iu m phantl y . “I’ v e— ” I b ro ke o ff w ith a gasp . T he
passe ngers h ung s u sp end ed in a w all o f w ate r b efo re P ose id on. T heir m outh s o pen, fa ces fr o ze n in
co nto rte d e xp re ssio ns o f p ain a s th ey’d d esp era te ly tr ie d to d ra g a ir i n to th eir l u ngs b ut f a ile d , f in d in g
only w ate r. T heir d ead e yes b urn ed w ith a ccusa ti o n.
“N o.” P ose id on s te p ped b ackw ard a nd th e w ate r c ra sh ed to th e d eck, b rin gin g th e b odie s to th e
gro und w ith a s ic k s o und in g th unk, O ly m pia n S te ele s ti ll c lu tc hed ti g ht in th eir d ead fin gers . “ Y ou
did n’t.”

Chap te r X VII
“ Y OU D RO W NED T H EM ?” I s ta re d a t p ile o f b odie s in h o rro r. B etw een th e s h o ck o f s e ein g th e
n arro w d eck l itte re d w ith f o rm er p asse ngers a nd th e s u d den p ow er v acuum f r o m d ro ppin g m y c harm ,
m y se nse s w ent in to o verd riv e. T he g la rin g lig hts o f th e sh ip se t th e w ate r o n th e c o rp se s’ sk in
g lis te nin g, c re ati n g a j a rrin g i llu sio n o f m ovem ent a gain st th eir u nnatu ra l s ti lln ess. W ate r d rip ped o nto
t h e g le am in g w hite f lo or. C heerfu l m usic p la yed o ver P ose id on’s r a gged b re ath in g.
There w as to o m uch n o is e , to o m uch lig ht, a nd n o t e no ugh
sp ace
on th is n arro w s tr ip o f d eck.
G ood g o ds, th ey w ere a ll d ead . E arlie r to nig ht, th ey’d b een d ancin g a nd e njo yin g th eir v acati o n, a nd
n o w th ey w ere d ead . I d re w m y k nees to m y c hest a nd to ok i n a d eep b re ath .
“W hat th e h ell w as I s u p pose d to d o? Y ou s u re w ere n’t h elp in g.” P ose id on w ork ed a m usc le in
h is ja w . “ W e n eed to fin d o ut w hat ju st h ap pened . W hy w ere w e a tta cked ? W ho w as c o ntr o llin g
t h em ? A nd w hy d id y o u ju st
sit
th ere lik e s o m e u se le ss h um an?” H e s tr o de a cro ss th e d eck, h is e yes
f la sh in g w ith ir rita ti o n. “ Y ou le t m e th in k th ey w ere u nd er y o ur— ” H e p ause d . “ W hat’ s w ro ng w ith
y o u?”
Confu se d , I fo llo w ed h is g aze o ver m y sh o uld er. T he la cera ti o ns fr o m slid in g a cro ss b ro ken
g la ss c ris sc ro sse d m y b ack. T hey w ere n’t h ealin g.
“D id y o u g et c ut w ith — ?”
“N o.” I s ta re d a t m y s c ra tc hes, w illin g th em to h eal, b ut n o th in g h ap pened . “ U h . . . I h ad to u se a
l o t o f c harm to tr y to b re ak th e c o ntr o l. M ayb e . . .” I tr a ile d o ff, tr y in g to m ake m y th o ughts c o here nt.
“Y ou g etti n g e no ugh w ors h ip ?” P ose id on l o oked e m barra sse d to a sk s u ch a ta b oo q uesti o n. T hat
j u st w asn ’t th e s o rt o f th in g g o ds d is c usse d .
I w as th o ugh, w asn ’t I? “ H av e y o u
se en
me? I g et e no ugh w ors h ip w alk in g in to a c ro w ded
r o om .” I ra ked m y h air b ack w ith m y fin gers a nd to ok a d eep b re ath . “ M y p ow ers
are
hard er to
a ccess h ere , th o ugh.” I d id n’t e v en tr y to k eep th e a ccusa ti o n o ut o f m y v oic e. “ C are to f ix th at? ”
“H ard er to a ccess? ” P ose id on g ra b bed m y h and to p ull m e to m y fe et. “ Y ou h av e p erm is sio n to
b e h ere , th ey s h o uld n’t b e— ” H e s w ore w hen m y k nees b uckle d , c atc hin g m e b efo re I c o uld c ru m ple
b ack o n to th e d eck. “ L ook— ” H e p ro pped m e a gain st th e r a ilin g a nd w atc hed m e fo r a m om ent to
m ake su re I w asn ’t go in g to fa ll. “I hav e to get rid o f th e w eap ons. I’ m go in g to ta ke th em to
H ep haestu s a nd g ath er a s m any g o ds a s I c an. D o y o u th in k y o u c an— ?”
“W hat— ?” P ers e p ho ne’s v oic e to re P ose id on’s g aze b ack to th e c ente r o f th e d eck w here th e
b odie s l a y i n a d rip pin g h eap , “ hav e y o u d one?”
“W atc h o ut! ” P ose id on r e ached f o r h er, b ut H ad es i n te rc ep te d h im . “
Yo u
d on’t h av e p erm is sio n to
b e i n m y r e alm ,” P ose id on r e m in d ed H ad es.
Had es sh ru gged as he knelt to stu d y th e b odie s. “D iv in e cause s o f d eath re q uir e a d iv in e
r e sp onse . W hat h ap pened h ere ? W atc h o ut f o r w hat? ”
While P ose id on f ille d th em i n , I w aite d f o r th e d eck to s to p s p in nin g. O nce I f e lt s te ad ie r o n m y

fe et, I p ic ked m y w ay th ro ugh th e b odie s, g ath erin g u p th e S te ele . A s lo ng a s th e b la d es d id n’t b re ak
my s k in , I ’ d b e f in e. “ W hat s h o uld I d o w ith th ese ?”
“G iv e th em to m e,” P ose id on a nd H ad es d em and ed s im ulta neo usly .
I tu rn ed to H ad es.
“W ait, hang on.” Pose id on unb utto ned his garis h , H aw aiia n prin t sh ir t and passe d th e
ab om in ati o n to m e.
I h eld m y b re ath a s I w ra p ped th e S te ele i n h is s h ir t. O ne s lip -u p , a nd I ’ d b e d ead . “ O kay, h ere .”
I p asse d th e d angero us b und le to H ad es.
Pers e p ho ne k nelt n ext to e ach b ody, to uchin g e ach p asse nger a nd , I a ssu m ed , re le asin g th eir
so uls . W hen s h e f in is h ed , s h e s to od. “ S o, w hat’ s th e p la n?”
“T here w ere c harm ed p asse ngers w ho n ev er a tta cked .” I s w ep t m y h air o ff m y s h o uld ers . I t w as
so h o t o ut h ere . W as I th e o nly o ne w ho fe lt th is h o t? “ W e c an’t k no w if th ey w ere a rm ed o r n o t, b ut
we s h o uld p ro bab ly a ssu m e th at th ey w ere .”
Had es s h ifte d , a nglin g h im se lf to s e e th e d oor. “ W e n eed to m ake s u re th ere a re n’t a ny m ore
weap ons o n th e s h ip .”
Pose id on n o dded . “ A nd w e’ll n eed to q uesti o n e v ery o ne. If A phro dite ’s r ig ht a b out th is b ein g a
la rg e g ro up — ”
“I a m .” I w as e ith er g o in g to th ro w u p , o r p ass o ut. S pots fille d m y v is io n. I ste p ped b ack,
blin d ly g ro pin g f o r th e w hite r a ilin g. W hen m y h and c lo se d a ro und th e c o ol m eta l, I l e aned a gain st th e
bars .
Pers e p ho ne fr o w ned d ow n at th e b odie s. “T his is a huge sh ip . S earc hin g it and ta lk in g to
ev ery o ne i s g o in g to ta ke m ore ti m e th an w e h av e.”
“N ot if w e h av e e no ugh h elp ,” P ose id on sa id . “ I’ m g iv in g a te m pora ry b la nket te le p orta ti o n
auth o riz a ti o n fo r m y re alm . G ath er e v ery o ne y o u c an. If th ere a re m ore w eap ons, w e n eed to k eep
th em i s o la te d h ere .”
“I’ ll d ro p th e s o uls b y th e U nd erw orld a nd ta ke th ese to H ep haestu s.” H ad es s h ifte d th e b und le o f
dead ly w eap ons i n h is h and s. “ P ers e p ho ne— ”
“I’ ll g et e v ery o ne. P ose id on, l e t’ s m ake s u re n o o ne e ls e c an l e av e, th o ugh. W ould y o u m ain ta in a
sh ie ld a ro und th e s h ip ?”
“T hey c an b re ak s h ie ld s.” I s h o ok m y h ead , tr y in g to d is ru p t th e b uzzin g in m y e ars s o I c o uld
fo cus.
“B ut P ose id on w ill k no w if th ey d o. A phro dite , k eep e v ery o ne in th eir r o om s a s b est y o u c an.”
Pers e p ho ne d id n’t ta ke h er e yes o ff th e b odie s. “ It’ ll b e e asie r to s e arc h, a nd m ayb e w e c an k eep
more p eo ple o ut o f th e l in e o f f ir e i f a no th er f ig ht b re aks o ut.” S he l e t o ut a d eep b re ath . “ W hat d o w e
do w ith ”— sh e c le are d h er th ro at— “th e u h, th e b odie s? ”
“I’ ll h and le it.” P ose id on r e ached o ut, a s if h e w ante d to to uch h er, b ut s to pped w hen h er g re en
eyes n arro w ed a t h is o uts tr e tc hed h and . H e d ro pped h is a rm to h is s id e. “ W e’ll m eet in A phro dite ’s
ro om .”
There w ere m ore d eta ils e xchanged , r o om n um bers a nd s u ch, b ut I c o uld n’t f o cus.
“B e b ack s o on.” P ers e p ho ne s m ile d i n m y d ir e cti o n, a nd I d id m y b est to g rin b ack a t h er b efo re
sh e a nd H ad es v anis h ed .
“K eep a s h ie ld a ro und u s s o n o o ne s e es th is ,” P ose id on c o m mand ed .
No o ne s h o uld b e o ut a nd a b out, th anks to m y e arlie r c harm . B ut I to ok a d eep b re ath a nd c ast a

sh ie ld a nyw ay. M y s to m ach tw is te d , a nd m y a lr e ad y s w im min g v is io n w ent T echnic o lo r. I th o ught I
heard s o m eth in g s p la sh b ehin d m e, b ut c o uld n’t b e s u re o ver th e r o arin g i n m y e ars .
“O kay, y o u c an d ro p it.” P ose id o n’s v oic e c am e fr o m s o m ew here b ehin d m e, b ut I k ep t p ourin g
pow er in to th e s h ie ld . T here w as a la g b etw een th e w ord s I h eard a nd m y a b ility to re act to th em .
“A phro dite ?”
His h and to uched m y s h o uld er, a nd I j e rk ed i n s u rp ris e , d ro ppin g th e s h ie ld . M y k nees g av e w ay.
Pose id on s w ore , s w eep in g m e o ff m y f e et b efo re I c o uld c ra sh to th e f lo or. I f e lt m yse lf b ein g l ifte d ,
fe lt m y b ody b urs t a p art th en re -fo rm in a sic kenin g lu rc h. F or a se co nd , o r p ossib ly a c entu ry ,
ev ery th in g w ent b la ck.
“— no t b re ath in g!” A donis ’s fin gers p ro bed m y n eck fo r a p uls e .
Where d id h e
co m e fr o m ?
H e
so und ed w orrie d , a nd o ddly , th at m ad e m e f e el b ette r.
Worsh ip .
I r e aliz e d a s m y h ead c le are d .
Kin d o f.
“W hat d id y o u d o to h er? ” A donis ’s v oic e b rim med w ith r a ge. H is h and s l e ft m y s h o uld ers a nd I
se nse d him m ovin g aw ay fr o m m e. “W hat d id yo u d o?” T he sw is h o f fa b ric , and th e th ud th at
fo llo w ed , s e nt m e s c ra m blin g f o r c o nsc io usn ess.
Pose id on s o und ed i c e-c o ld . “ G et y o ur h and s o ff o f m e b efo re I r e m ove th em .”
No!
I tr ie d to o pen m y e yes, to b olt u p rig ht, b ut a w av e o f p ain , s o i n te nse I c rie d o ut, s h o ved m e
back u nd er.
“M ove!” C allo use d h and s a s o ld a s th e s e a g rip ped m y s h o uld ers , p ourin g p ow er in to m e. T he
energ y b urn ed th ro ugh m e lik e m olte n gla ss. C ry sta lliz e d . S hatte re d . P ain rip ped th ro ugh m e. I
dra gged a ir i n to m y l u ngs i n a s tr a ngle d g asp th at b ecam e a n a nguis h ed s c re am . M y b ack a rc hed a nd I
fo ught to f r e e m yse lf f r o m P ose id on’s g ra sp , to m ake th e p ain s to p. A nyth in g!
“S to p!” A donis ’s p anic ked s h o ut e cho ed m y th o ughts .
“S he’s b re ath in g again , is n ’t sh e?” T he p ain sto pped , th e p re ssu re o n m y sh o uld ers ease d .
Pose id on s a id m ore w ord s, b ut I c o uld n’t u nd ers ta nd th em .
“. . . w ro ng w ith h er? ” A donis a sk ed . H is h and s c up ped m y fa ce, ti lti n g m y h ead fr o m s id e to
sid e. “ C om e o n, A phro dite . W ake u p .” H e b ru sh ed m y h air f r o m m y f o re head .
“. . . m uch p ow er d urin g th e f ig ht.”
“F ig ht? ”
“B ut s u re ly s h e w ould n’t b urn th ro ugh h er w ho le r e se rv e i n o ne b attl e ?”
Adonis ’s v oic e r o se w ith f r u str a ti o n. “ W hat b attl e ? W hat h ap pens i f s h e r u ns o ut o f p ow er? ”
“. . . d ie s,” P ose id on re p lie d , a s if th e a nsw er s h o uld b e o bvio us. I w as a lm ost s u rp ris e d h e
did n’t f o llo w u p w ith a “ d uh.”
I w is h ed I c o uld g ig gle . D uh i s a s illy w ord .
“W hat? ” A donis ’s h o rrifie d v oic e p ulle d m y a tte nti o n b ack to th e c o nv ers a ti o n a t h and . “ N o. Y ou
guys l iv e o ff
worsh ip
.”
“W ors h ip fu els o ur p ow er. T he la ck o f w ors h ip w ould n’t k ill u s if . . .” P ose id on’s v oic e fa d ed
in to in d is ti n ct m urm urs a s I lo st th e a b ility to tr a ck th e c o nv ers a ti o n. I th o ught I h eard P ers e p ho ne’s
nam e, th en th e s la m min g o f a d oor, b ut I c o uld n’t b e s u re .
I h eard a sig h th en th e c o uch d ip ped w ith A donis ’s w eig ht. “ A phro dite . . .” H e so und ed so
worrie d th at I
tr ie d
to r e sp ond . “ C om e o n, A phro dite .
Ple a se .”
He g rip ped m y h and s in h is . “ C om e
on. W ake u p .
Ple a se
wake u p .” H e re p eate d th e w ord s lik e a m antr a , g rip pin g m y h and s s o ti g htl y ,
th ey h urt.

I’ m n o t s u re h o w l o ng w e s a t l ik e th at. B ut g ra d ually , m y r a gged b re ath in g e v ened .
“P le ase , p le ase , p le ase ,” A donis b re ath ed .
Openin g m y e yes, I s q uin te d a gain st th e l ig ht. A donis s a t h unched o ver m e, b ala ncin g o n th e e d ge
of th e w hite c o uch c ush io n, s q ueezin g m y h and s in h is fo r a ll h e w as w orth . A fe elin g I c o uld n’t
id enti fy flo oded m y c hest. S om eth in g s a fe a nd w arm a nd s o oth in g. L ik e I w as h o m e. A s if s o m eo ne
lik e m e c o uld e v en h av e o ne, c o uld b elo ng s o m ew here . I h ad n’t f e lt th at i n a l o ng ti m e. “ T hat h urts ,” I
cro aked .
Adonis ’s e yes fle w o pen. “ G ods!” H e y anked m e to h im in a c ru sh in g e m bra ce. “ Y ou’re o kay.”
His lip s b ru sh ed m y fo re head w hen h e s p oke. “ I th o ught— so rry .” H e le t m e g o a nd s c o ote d b ack a
bit. “ A re y o u o kay?”
“Y eah,” I g asp ed , d iz zy. “ A donis . . . .
Thank
yo u.”
“D on’t.” H e j e rk ed h is h ead . “ D on’t th ank m e. I — Gods, A phro dite — I— ”
The d oor o pened . “ I s a id to b olt th is ,” P ose id on g ru m ble d a s h e e nte re d th e r o om .
“W here ’s P ers e p ho ne?” A donis s to od. “ I th o ught y o u w ere g o in g to g et h er.”
Pose id on s h o ok h is h ead . “ N o n eed . I fig ure d if y o u to ok y o ur fo cus o ff m e, s o m eth in g lik e
th is
would h ap pen.”
“A nd i f y o u w ere w ro ng?” I s a t u p , r e achin g f o r a p illo w to p ro p b ehin d m e.
Pose id on g av e m e a lo ng lo ok, a nd I r e ad th e a nsw er o n h is fa ce. H e’d p ro m is e d to p ro te ct m e.
Not ru n fo r h elp . If I d ie d , th e v ow s h e’d s w orn d ie d w ith m e. P ose id on m oved o ne o f th e w hite -
up ho ls te re d c hair s c lo se r to th e c o uch a nd s a t d ow n. “ Y ou s a id s o m eth in g a b out y o ur p ow ers b ein g
hard er to a ccess h ere . Y ou th o ught I ’ d d one s o m eth in g to y o u? W hat d id y o u m ean?”
Adonis sa t o n th e ed ge o f th e co uch, sh ifti n g so I co uld sta y str e tc hed o ut. H e grip ped th e
cush io ns o n e ith er s id e o f h im in a w ay th at c o uld b e fo r b ala nce, b ut a ls o a cte d a s a k in d o f b arrie r
betw een m e a nd P ose id on.
Cle verly d one.
I w atc hed A donis fr o m th e c o rn er o f m y e ye. “ It ju st . . . h urts w hen I tr y to u se
my p ow ers h ere .” I sta re d a t h im , h eart p ound in g a s I re aliz e d w ith a b so lu te c erta in ty h e w asn ’t
behin d th is . “ I k no w s o m eti m es g o ds c an c ap — ”
“N ot lik e th at.” P ose id on s h o ok h is h ead . “ I g ra nte d y o u fu ll a ccess to m y re alm . Y ou c an d o
ev ery th in g b ut te le p ort a nd a tta ck m e d ir e ctl y .” H e r u b bed h is c hin . “ P ro xim ity ?”
I b ro ught m y k nees u p to m y c hest, g iv in g A donis a b it m ore r o om . “ T hat’ s w hat I f ig ure d a t f ir s t,
but th en i t s to pped m atte rin g i f y o u w ere n earb y o r n o t.”
Pose id on r a ked h is h air b ack. “ T his d oesn ’t m ake a ny s e nse .”
“H ow l o ng h as th is b een g o in g o n?” A donis ’s v oic e s o und ed s tr a in ed .
Pose id on c a n’t h urt y o u,
I w ante d to te ll h im . B ut I c o uld n’t b rin g m yse lf to s a y i t o ut l o ud . R ig ht
no w , A donis th o ught h e w as p ro te cti n g m e. P oin ti n g o ut th at it w as a ctu ally th e o th er w ay a ro und in
fr o nt o f P ose id on s e em ed r u d e. “ S in ce y este rd ay.”
“ When
yeste rd ay?” A donis lo oked lik e he w ante d to ask so m eth in g els e , b ut he gla nced at
Pose id on, h is e yes g iv in g a w ay h o w n erv ous h e f e lt.
Pose id on w asn ’t p ayin g atte nti o n to him . H e fr o w ned , d eep in th o ught. “D id Z eus ev er sa y
anyth in g to y o u a b out” — he h esita te d — “an e xp ir a ti o n d ate ?”
My b re ath c aught. “ H e n ev er s a id a nyth in g, b ut . . .” T hat d id n’t m ean I d id n’t h av e o ne. Z eus
had n’t p la nned o n k eep in g m e a ro und fo r lo ng. H e’d in te nd ed to fo rc e m e to s w ear fe alty a nd g iv e
him a ll m y p ow ers . T hen a gain , h e’d a ls o b een w ork in g w ith a p re tty s p ecific ti m eta b le . “ Is th at e v en

possib le ?”
Pose id on s h ru gged . “ H um ans h av e th em .”
Scie nti s ts h ad n ev er b een a b le to f ig ure o ut w hy s te m c ell f u ncti o n a nd f r e q uency d egra d ed w ith
age. T here w as n o
re a so n
fo r
th e h um an b ody to fu ncti o n p erfe ctl y o ne d ay a nd a littl e le ss p erfe ctl y
th e n ext. H um ans o nly d ie d b ecause th ey w ere d esig ned to .
A p ho ne b uzze d . P ose id on f is h ed P ers e p ho ne’s p in k p ho ne o ut o f h is p ocket.
“W e’re r e ad y.” P ers e p ho ne’s v oic e e ru p te d f r o m th e s p eakers . “ D ro p th e s h ie ld .”
Were m y p ow ers g etti n g h ard er to u se e ach d ay u nti l th ey fa ile d c o m ple te ly ? I lo oked o ver m y
sh o uld er, tr y in g to s e e th e s c ra tc hes. T hey’d h eale d a t s o m e p oin t. W ould h ealin g ta ke a b it lo nger
ev ery d ay, u nti l I s to pped b ein g a b le to h eal a ll to geth er?
Was I m orta l? N o. I’ d k no w , w ould n’t I? S ure ly I’ d b e a b le to s e nse m y b ody d yin g w ith e v ery
bre ath .
“D one,” P ose id on s a id i n to th e p ho ne, b efo re h angin g u p w ith o ut s o m uch a s a g o odbye.
“Y ou k no w i f s h e th in ks I ’ m i n tr o ub le , s h e’ll d o s o m eth in g s tu p id .” I w as l in ked to P ers e p ho ne.
She c o uld g iv e m e p ow ers , a s w ell a s ta ke th em a w ay. P ow er w as o ur l ife f o rc e. I w asn ’t g o in g to b e
re sp onsib le f o r P ers e p ho ne l o sin g a ny o f h ers .
Pose id on h esita te d . “ A re y o u a sk in g m e f o r a f a v or? ”
“N o.” I d id n’t u nd ers ta nd P ose id on’s o bse ssio n w ith P ers e p ho ne, b ut I k new h e w ould n’t s a y
anyth in g to h er, w heth er I a sk ed h im to o r n o t. E sp ecia lly i f s h e c o uld s a v e m e. T he s o oner I d ie d , th e
so oner h e’d b e o ut f r o m u nd er m y th um b.

Chap te r X VIII
T H E S O FT K NOCK o n th e d oor
se nt m e c o w erin g i n to th e b ath ro om . I c o uld n’t l e t
every o ne
se e m e
a ll w eak a nd tr e m blin g, m uch l e ss s w eaty a nd g ro ss.
Yo u’v e b een t h ro ugh a b attle ,
th e r a ti o nal s id e o f m y b ra in p oin te d o ut a s I s tu d ie d m yse lf i n th e
m ir ro r a nd g ro aned . T he c uts a nd b ru is e s m ig ht h av e h eale d , b ut th at h ad n’t d one a nyth in g to d is g uis e
t h e c ru sty b lo od c ris sc ro ssin g m y s k in o r th e d rie d s w eat p la ste rin g m y h air to m y fa ce. E ven m y
d re ss l o oked d ir ty
.
Scru b bin g m y f a ce i n a n a tte m pt to s a lv age m y a p peara nce, I w ond ere d , o n a s c ale o f o ne to te n,
h o w s tu p id c asti n g a g la m our w ould b e r ig ht n o w . V oic es f ille d th e s ta te ro om a nd I s w ore .
Sto p s ta llin g,
I c o m mand ed m yse lf a s I w ove m y h air i n to a c o m ple x b ra id . B ut I c o uld n’t s e em
t o k eep m yse lf fr o m lin gerin g. T he fa m ilia r m oti o ns o f p utti n g m yse lf b ack to geth er a gain g ro und ed
m e. I n eed ed th at a fte r w hat I ’ d j u st b een th ro ugh.
I g la nced b eneath th e c o unte r w here I ’ d s ta sh ed o ne o f m y b ags a nd s e arc hed f o r s o m eth in g th ic k
t o w ear th at w ould n’t e xp ose m uch s k in i n c ase w e e nco unte re d a ny m ore O ly m pia n S te ele . Y eah,
not
e xp osin g s k in w as r a re ly m y g o al w hen g etti n g d re sse d .
“Y ou’ll d o,” I m utte re d , s lip pin g th e th ig h-le ngth , fo rm -fitti n g s w eate r I’ d b ro ught in c ase I g o t
c o ld o ver m y h ead a nd p air in g th e g ra y w ool w ith s o m e l e ggin gs a nd k nee-h ig h l e ath er b oots . I ’ d b e
h o t, a nd n o t in th e s e nse I p re fe rre d , b ut I’ d b een lu cky e no ugh to nig ht. F ab ric w ould n’t p ro te ct m e
f r o m b ein g s ta b bed , b ut a t l e ast I ’ d h av e l e ss e xp ose d s k in to b e s c ra tc hed o r n ic ked .
“O kay,” I b re ath ed , e yin g m yse lf i n th e m ir ro r. S ati s fie d w ith w hat I s a w , I o pened th e b ath ro om
d oor.
Muse s, G ra ces, a nd e v ery l iv in g, f u ll- b lo oded d eity e xcep t H ep haestu s f ille d th e s u ite . H ow h ad
P ers e p ho ne m anaged to g ath er e v ery o ne th is q uic kly ? T hey c ro w ded a ro und th e c o ffe e ta b le , l is te nin g
a s P ose id on bro ught ev ery o ne up to sp eed . M y eyes la nd ed on A re s and I sw allo w ed hard ,
r e m em berin g th e w ay h e’d h eld m e th e l a st ti m e I ’ d s e en h im .
Fool m e o nce,
I th o ught w ry ly .
Dra w n b y th e p ow er o f m y g aze , A re s lo oked u p . “ H ey!” H e s e p ara te d fr o m th e g ro up o f g o ds
a nd r u sh ed to th e s te p s to m eet m e. “ H eard y o u s u rv iv ed b attl e . W ell d one.” T he c o ncern i n h is d ark
e yes b elie d th e j e st i n h is v oic e. “ Y ou m ake i t o ut u nsc ath ed ?”
I fo rc ed m yse lf to g rin . “ C an I c all m yse lf a w ar g o ddess n o w ? ’ C ause I c o uld r o ck th e w arrio r
p rin cess lo ok. T ra d e th is in ,” I p lu cked a t th e s id e o f m y le ggin gs, “ fo r o ne o f th o se s p ik y le ath er
s k ir ts . I t c o uld w ork .”
Are s l a ughed . “ I w ould n’t tr a d e y o ur h eels i n f o r c o m bat b oots j u st y et, b ut I c o uld g et b ehin d th e
l e ath er s k ir t i d ea.” H e to uched m y e lb ow a nd d re w m e to w ard th e r e st o f th e g o ds. “ S ad ly th o ugh, i f
t h e o ld m an o f th e s e a’s f a ce i s a ny i n d ic ati o n, w e’ll h av e to ta lk s h o p l a te r.”
“O h.” P ose id on m ocked . “ D on’t f la tte r y o urs e lf. W e w ould n’t w ait f o r y o ur i n p ut.”
“W ell, i n th at c ase . . .” A re s s h ru gged a nd tu rn ed h is a tte nti o n b ack to m e.

“Q uit f lir ti n g, A re s.” A th ena s h o ok h er h ead , f la sh in g m e a r u efu l s m ile .
“Je alo us? ” A re s te ase d .
Ath ena’s g re y e yes s w ep t o ver A re s i n a c o ol a p pra is a l th at e nd ed w ith a s n o rt o f l a ughte r.
“O uch.” I la ughed , le av in g A re s’s s id e in fa v or o f g iv in g A th ena a h ug. “ G ood to s e e y o u in th e
fle sh .”
“Y ou a ll r ig ht, h alf— Er, A donis ? ” A re s a sk ed , s to ppin g h im se lf b efo re c allin g th e d em ig o d h alf-
bre ed . “ Y ou’re l o okin g a l ittl e o ut o f s o rts .”
Adonis je rk ed h is g aze a w ay fr o m m e a s if s u rp ris e d it h ad la nd ed th ere . “ N o, a h, I’ m fin e. J u st
tr y in g to r e m em ber s o m eth in g. C an I s e e th at? ” A donis m oved b etw een P ose id on a nd th e c o ffe e ta b le
to s tu d y th e m ap , o bliv io us to P ose id on’s g la re . “ H ere ? Y ou’re s u re th is i s w here th e d is a p peara nces
hap pened ?”
I m oved b ehin d A donis a nd lo oked o ver h is s h o uld er. “ I m ean, I c an’t d ete rm in e th e
exa ct
sp ot
base d o n th e in fo rm ati o n I fo und . B ut so m ew here a ro und h ere .” I n o ti c ed A rte m is a nd sq ueale d ,
giv in g th e s h o rte r g o ddess a h ug. “ W here ’s y o ur o th er h alf? ”
“O h, R yan s ta yed h o m e. I w asn ’t s u re w hat I’ d b e ’ p orti n g in to .” S he to sse d h er d ark h air o ver
her s h o uld er a nd s h ru gged . “ T hanks f o r a sk in g. H e’ll b e h ap py to h ear th at y o u a sk ed a b out h im .”
Pers e p ho ne a nd I w ere lik ely th e o nly g o ds w ho d id n’t re fe r to th e h um an a s h er p et. I to ok a
mom ent to g re et th e M use s, th e G ra ces, a nd e v ery o th er g o d I r e co gniz e d fr o m D em ete r’s p la ce la st
year. I f e lt r id ic ulo usly h ap py to s e e th em a ll a liv e a nd w ho le a nd s m ilin g.
“T hat j u st f ig ure s,” A donis m utte re d .
“W hat f ig ure s? ” A re s a sk ed .
“M ay I? ” A donis g ra b bed a p encil o ff th e ta b le w ith o ut w aiti n g fo r p erm is sio n a nd d re w a lin e
fr o m M ia m i, F lo rid a to S an J u an, P uerto R ic o .
Pose id on g ro aned a nd s a t o n th e c o uch w ith a r o ll o f h is e yes.
Adonis a d ded a l in e f r o m S an J u an to B erm ud a, th en f r o m B erm ud a b ack to M ia m i. “ F ro m r ig ht
here ?” H e p oin te d to th e l o w er c ente r o f th e tr ia ngle .
I g av e h im a q uiz zic al l o ok. “ S om ew here a ro und th ere . H ang o n.” I s w ung b y th e k itc hen c o unte r
and rifle d th ro ugh th e g ia nt s ta c k o f p ap ers I’ d a ccum ula te d . “ O kay, s o th ese ”— I h and ed A donis a
hand fu l o f p ages— “are th e r o ute s o f a ll th e s h ip s th e d em ig o ds w ent m is sin g o n.”
“T his i s a ll o f th em ?” H e s e p ara te d th e p ages, g o ld e yes n arro w in g a s h e c o unte d th e s h eets .
“T here a re o nly so m any ro ute s, d im w it.” P ose id on sh o ok h is h ead . “ O r d id y o u th in k e v ery
in d iv id ual c ru is e s a ile d w illy -n illy th ro ugh th e o cean?”
Adonis ig no re d P ose id on a nd p ut th e p rin te d , b lu e m ap s o n th e ta b le , se p ara ti n g e ach sh eet.
“W hat’ s w ith th e l ittl e a rro w s? ”
“T ho se a re d ays a t s e a. T his ” — I p lu cked a no th er m ap f r o m th e s ta ck— “is w here I tr a ced a ll th e
ro ute s.” I se t th e p ap er d ow n o n to p o f P ose id on’s m ap . “A nd p ut an ‘X ’ o n th e la st p oin t th e
dem ig o ds’ c ard s w ere s c anned , a nd a no th er ‘ X ’ a t th e n ext p ort o f c all. T hey m ost l ik ely w ent m is sin g
so m ew here b etw een th e tw o, a nd a b so lu te ly w ent m is sin g b efo re th e c ru is e e nd ed , b ecause th ey
nev er s c anned o ut.”
“S o y o u c hanged th e c o lo r o f th e l in e w ith th at l a st s c an?” A donis a sk ed .
“Y eah.” I flu sh ed , c o nsc io us o f a ll th e g o ds p re ssin g a ro und m e to g et a b ette r lo ok a t m y m ap .
The r o om f e lt c ra m ped w ith th is m any p eo ple p re se nt. T oo w arm .
“N ic ely d one. S o th ey a ll i n te rs e ct . . . h ere .” H e c ir c le d th e s m all a re a o n th e m ap .

“W hic h i s a l o t o f g ro und — Er, w ate r.”
Adonis n o dded . “ B ut s ti ll,” h e s a id , p oin ti n g a t th e c ir c le f lo ati n g i n th e l o w er h alf o f th e tr ia ngle
he’d d ra w n. “ C om e o n, y o u h av e to s e e th is .”
“S hap es? ” I g la nced a t P ose id on. “ H um ans h av e k no w n a b out s h ap es fo r a w hile , r ig ht? O r d id
Zeus s c ra m ble th at b it o f h is to ry f o r m e?”
“Y eah, w e k no w
sh apes.”
A donis l a ughed . “ B ut y o u r e ally d on’t k no w w hat th is i s ? C om e o ne, I
th o ught y o u k new e v ery th in g e xcep t f o r l ik e, g o od m usic a nd s tu ff.”
“S he k no w s n early e v ery th in g
re a l,”
Pose id on in te rje cte d . “ T he m yth s s u rro und in g th e B erm ud a
Tria ngle a re n’t— ”
“A ny m ore o utr a geo us th an th e o nes a b out y o u,” A donis a d ded .
Pose id on r o lle d h is e yes a gain . “ T here ’s n o p yra m id a t th e b otto m o f th e tr ia ngle , n o m agic , n o
lo st c ity . S ta ti s ti c ally , th ere a re n o m ore v anis h ed p la nes o r s h ip s o r p eo ple th ere th an a ny o th er s p ot
in th e s e v en s e as, w hen y o u a cco unt fo r th e fa ct th at it’ s o ne o f th e m ost w ell- tr a v ele d r o ute s in th e
Atl a nti c .”
Adonis s h ru gged . “ E xcep t fo r th e h und re d o r s o d em ig o ds w ho v anis h ed in th e la st y ear, y o u
mean? T he o nes n o o ne r e m em bers g o in g m is sin g?”
Pose id on s c o w le d . “ C oin cid ence.”
“C oin cid ence?” A donis p ush ed h is g o ld en h air o ff h is fo re head , g iv in g P ose id on a sk ep ti c al
lo ok. “ If e v ery o ne’s b een c harm ed i n to f o rg etti n g th e d is a p peara nces, h o w d o y o u k no w th ere ’s n o t a n
ev en h ig her n um ber o f— ”
“E ith er w ay,” A th ena in te rru p te d , h er v oic e s te rn e no ugh to s h ut b oth th e b oys u p . “ W e n eed to
fig ure o ut w ho a nd w hat w e’re d ealin g w ith . W hat a re w e fa cin g h ere ? A g o d? A T ita n? S om eth in g
new ? C an th ey te le p ort? I f s o , w hat’ s k eep in g th em o n th e s h ip ?”
Pose id on s h o ok h is h ead . “ I p ut u p a s h ie ld b lo ckin g te le p orta ti o n a s s o on a s y o u a ll a rriv ed .”
“M y m oney’s o n a T ita n.” I s h ud dere d , r e m em berin g h o w m uch c harm I’ d h ad to u se to tr y a nd
sn ap th e p asse ngers o ut o f a tta ck m ode. “ I’ v e n ev er s e en a nyth in g l ik e th is , th e e nti r e b ar— ”
“W ho le c lu b ,” P ose id on c o rre cte d . “ N ot j u st th e p eo ple s itti n g n ear u s. N ot a s in gle h ead tu rn ed
when th o se b ottl e s b ro ke. B ut y o u s a id w e’re d ealin g w ith m ore th an o ne c o ntr o lle r u sin g a . . . c harm
chain ?”
I n o dded . “ C re ate d b y a g ro up o f p eo ple w ho c an u se c harm . M ore th an a re in th is r o om r ig ht
no w , a nd w e’re th e la st o f Z eus’s k no w n d iv in e o ffs p rin g. B ut T ita ns c an c re ate m ore g o ds, rig ht?
That c harm h as to b e c o m in g f r o m s o m ew here .”
“W e c an c re ate m ore g o ds, to o,” P ers e p ho ne a d ded .
“N one o f u s p ass o n c harm , th o ugh. It’ s o ur life lin e.” I h ad e no ugh to s p are s o m e fo r m yse lf if I
ev er w ante d to r e p ro duce, a ssu m in g I e v en c o uld , b ut I h ad m ore c harm th an m ost. T he o th ers
need ed
ev ery o unce o f
th eir charm to genera te eno ugh w ors h ip to su rv iv e. “A re s, any o f yo ur kid s get
charm ?”
“I’ v e n ev er p asse d o n c harm .”
We w ent a ro und th e r o om , c o nfir m in g w hat I a lr e ad y k new . “ S ee,” I s a id w hen th e q uesti o n c am e
ro und to m e. “ It c an’t b e f r o m u s.”
“W ait, le t’ s ju st get th is o ut o f th e w ay,” P ers e p ho ne su ggeste d . “
I
hav en’t charm ed anyo ne
ab oard th is s h ip . A re s? ”
“I h av en’t c harm ed a nyo ne a b oard th is s h ip .”

I w aite d u nti l th e s ta te m ent c ir c ula te d th e e nti r e r o om . “ O bvio usly , I h av e. B ut n o t to a tta ck u s.
Any T ita ns m is sin g f r o m l o ckup ?”
“N ot to m y k no w le d ge,” H ad es s a id
“Y ou s p ent th e la st fe w c entu rie s c o nv in ced Z eus w as in th e U nd erw orld ,” A re s r e m in d ed h im .
“Y ou m ay w ant to d oub le -c heck.”
Had es g rim aced . “ A phro dite , w ere n’t y o u w orrie d Z eus c re ate d m ore g o ds lik e y o u? It d oesn ’t
so und l ik ely , b ut— ”
I f r o w ned . “ H und re d s o f th em ?”
“T hey d on’t h av e to b e a s s tr o ng a s y o u i f th ey h av e n um bers o n th eir s id e,” A rte m is s a id .
“W e s h o uld l o ok i n to b oth p ossib iliti e s,” P ers e p ho ne s a id . “ A ny T ita n i n p arti c ula r w e s h o uld b e
lo okin g f o r? W ho g av e Z eus h is c harm ?”
Cric kets .
Okay, n o t a ctu al c ric kets . W e w ere i n th e m id dle o f th e o cean, a fte r a ll.
“R hea,” P ose id on s a id f in ally .
“T hat’ s ho w sh e w as ab le to co nv in ce C ro nus to eat a ro ck in ste ad o f Z eus,” P ers e p ho ne
excla im ed . “ T hat w ho le m yth m akes s o m uch m ore s e nse n o w . O kay, s o I ’ ll h ead to T arta ru s a nd — ”
“S he’s n o t in T arta ru s.” H ad es r a n h is fin gers th ro ugh h is h air. “ W e c o uld n’t— would n’t— She’s
no t th ere .”
“T hen w here i s s h e?” I a sk ed .
Pose id on a nd H ad es e xchanged a g la nce.
“I’ ll c heck in o n h er,” P ose id on p ro m is e d . “ S he c an’t te le p ort, s o if s h e is b ehin d th is , w hic h I
doub t, s h e’ll b e s h ip bound . P lu s, O ly m pia n S te ele i s a lm ost a s d ead ly to h er a s i t i s to u s.”
Alm ost? B efo re I c o uld a sk a b out th e q ualifie r, A th ena s p oke.
“W hile s p ecula ti n g h as s o m e u se s . . .” A th ena p ause d , w aiti n g u nti l a ll e yes w ere o n h er b efo re
sh e c o nti n ued . “ W e s h o uld u se o ur ti m e w is e ly .” S he p ulle d a g lo ssy m ap o f th e s h ip f r o m th e b otto m
of th e s ta ck o f p ap ers , a nd p la nte d th e th ic k s h eet o f p ap er o n th e ta b le . “ W e n eed to s e arc h e v ery i n ch
of th is sh ip a nd w e n eed to ta lk to e v ery o ne so w e c an g et so m e a ctu al a nsw ers in ste ad o f w ild
guesse s. N ow , A phro dite h as d one a w ond erfu l j o b o f k eep in g e v ery o ne i n th eir r o om s— ”
“ Thank
yo u.” I g rin ned a t h er, h ap py f o r th e a ckno w le d gem ent.
She n o dded w ith o ut m is sin g a b eat. “ B ut w e n eed to b e a b so lu te ly s u re w e d on’t m is s a nyo ne,
and w e c an’t r is k a nyth in g b ein g h id den in a re as w e’v e a lr e ad y s e arc hed . S o I s u ggest w e ta ke th is
deck b y d eck.” S he p oin te d to th e m id dle o f th e d eck w here a s m all s y m bol in d ic ate d th ere w ere
sta ir s a nd e le v ato rs . “ W e’ll n eed s o m eo ne to m ain ta in a s h ie ld h ere a nd a t th e o th er e xits .”
“T hey c an b re ak s h ie ld s,” I r e m in d ed h er. “ W ith th e S te ele .”
“T hen w e’ll k no w e xactl y w here th ey a re .” S he fla sh ed m e a s a v age g rin . “ H ad es, P ose id on,
sin ce y o u’re o ur s tr o ngest tw o w ith o ut c harm , y o u a re th e l o gic al c ho ic es f o r th at ta sk .”
“A nd th e r e st o f u s? ” A re s a sk ed .
“P air o ff.” A th ena d iv id ed u p th e d ecks b y s e cti o n, a ssig nin g s o m e o f u s to s h ie ld s a nd th e r e st to
th e se arc h p arty . W e’d se arc h o ne d eck a t a ti m e w ith in sh o uti n g d is ta nce o f o ne a no th er. “ W e’ll
charm th e p asse ngers i n to f o rg etti n g w e w ere e v er th ere , o nce w e f in is h th eir r o om s.”
“T hat w on’t w ork fo r E lis e ,” I s a id . “ S he’s im mune to c harm . I h av en’t b een a b le to c o nfir m
wheth er N arc is su s a nd T anta lu s a re i m mune o r n o t, b ut th ey c o uld b e.”
“W e’ll c o nfir m th at to nig ht,” A th ena s a id , u nb oth ere d . “ A nd i m pre ss u p on th em th e i m porta nce o f

th eir s ile nce s h o uld c harm f a il.”
Thre ate n th em , s h e m eant. I l o oked d ow n, p oin te d ly i g no rin g A donis ’s h eav y g aze .
“W hat i f w e d on’t f in d a nyth in g?” A rte m is a sk ed , h er d ark e yes g litte rin g.
“T hen w e c an h o pe w e’v e a lr e ad y g o t a ll th e w eap ons,” A th ena e xp la in ed . “ W e’ll f ig ure o ut s te p
tw o i n a b it. L et’ s s e e i f th ere ’s a nyth in g to b e f o und f ir s t.”
We se ttl e d o n th e q uesti o ns to ask and th e ap pro pria te fo llo w -u p s, w hat to d o if w e fo und
anyth in g, a nd a d oze n o th er p ra cti c aliti e s b efo re m ovin g to th e d oor.
“C om in g?” I a sk ed A donis .
He s h o ok h is h ead . “ I’ m s u rp ris e d y o u a re . S ho uld n’t y o u
not
be u sin g m uch p ow er r ig ht n o w ?”
“P ers e p ho ne i s g o in g to d o a ll th e h eav y l ifti n g. T he b est th in g I c an d o to r e charg e i s to b e s e en
by p eo ple .”
Adonis d id n’t l o ok c o nv in ced , b ut h e s h ru gged . “ S ee y o u l a te r.”

Chap te r I X X
P O SE ID ON S H IE LD ED th e ro om , lo ckin g A donis s a fe ly in sid e. T he fir s t th re e d ecks w ere c re w
o nly , s o w e fo und a c re w mem ber fo r P ers e p ho ne to c harm in o rd er to g et d ow n to th e s u b -le v els o f
t h e sh ip . A th ena a nd A re s sp lit o ff to se arc h th e p eo ple -fr e e zo nes, w hile th e re st o f u s sta rte d
s e arc hin g th e c re w ’s r o om s.
By th e ti m e w e r e ached th e f ir s t p asse nger l e v el, P ers e p ho ne a nd I f e ll i n to e no ugh o f a r o uti n e to
t a lk w hile w e w ork ed . W ell, ta lk a b out o th er s tu ff in ste ad o f, “ D o y o u th in k th is o pens? ” O r w ors e ,
P ers e p ho ne’s b rig ht v oic e w ond erin g, “ W hat’ s th is fo r? ” S he w as g etti n g q uite a n e d ucati o n to nig ht
g o in g th ro ugh p eo ple ’s p riv ate b elo ngin gs.
The in te rio r h allw ays o n th e lo w er d ecks tr ie d to b e w ell- lit, w ith r e cesse d lig hti n g in th e lo w
c eilin gs a nd tr a ck l ig hts a lo ng th e f lo ors , b ut n o a m ount o f a rti fic ia l l ig ht c o uld m ake u p f o r th e l a ck o f
w in d ow s. B lu e a nd ta n lin es o n th e c arp et m im ic ked th e e ffe ct o f lo okin g d ow n a t w ate r n ear s h o re .
S o l o ng a s I k ep t m y g aze l a tc hed o n to th e c arp et, I w asn ’t s o a w are o f th e w alls a nd c eilin g l e ss th an
a n a rm ’s l e ngth f r o m e ith er s id e o f m e.
“A re y o u o kay?” P ers e p ho ne a sk ed a s I m ark ed th e ro om w e’d ju st fin is h ed s e arc hin g o ff th e
m ap . S he k no cked o n th e d oor o f th e n ext s ta te ro om . “ It m ust h av e b een a w fu l w hen th o se p oor p eo ple
d ro w ned . A nd g o ds k no w h o w m any m ore w ere h urt i n th e f ig ht.” S he g av e a d ep re sse d s h ake o f h er
h ead .
I m ad e a n o is e s h e c o uld ta ke fo r a sse nt. In tr u th , I w asn ’t a ll th at u p se t a b out th e p asse ngers .
S ure it h ad b een s h o ckin g a nd te rrib le in th e m om ent, b ut p eo ple d ie d . It h ap pened . A nd m ore o fte n
t h an n o t, d eath w asn ’t rig ht o r fa ir. I w asn ’t g o in g to tw is t m yse lf in to k no ts o ver it. B ut if I to ld
P ers e p ho ne h o w I f e lt, s h e’d a ttr ib ute m y l a ck o f g rie f to d iv in e c allo usn ess.
But h ere w as th e th in g. H um ans w ere m odele d a fte r u s. H ow e ls e c o uld th ey w atc h th e n ew s— a
m onta ge o f w ar, d eath , a nd h um an s u ffe rin g— over c o ffe e, th en g o a b out th eir d ay a s if n o th in g w as
w ro ng? P eo ple n eed ed a c erta in l e v el o f c allo usn ess to g et b y w ith o ut d ro w nin g i n th e h o rro r s to ry o f
l ife .
“I’ ll m anage,” I a ssu re d h er a fte r s h e c harm ed a c o up le in to le tti n g u s s e arc h th eir ro om . T his
c ab in lo oked m uch s m alle r th an th e ro om A donis a nd I s h are d . T he b ath ro om to ok u p a littl e m ore
s p ace th an a c ub ic le . T he q ueen-s iz e d b ed l e ft o nly a w alk w ay o f s p ace a ro und i t, a nd th e r e st o f th e
f u rn itu re c lo gged th e e ntr y w ay. S earc hin g th e a ctu al r o om to ok le ss th an te n m in ute s. T heir lu ggage,
n o t m uch l o nger. N oth in g tu rn ed u p . “ S o, I ta ke i t y o u h av en’t h ad a c hance to c hat w ith a T ita n a b out
y o ur p ow ers m akin g ‘ s tu ff h ap pen’ l ik e y o u w ante d to ?”
“N o.” H er b itte r v oic e a nd th e l o ok o n h er f a ce to ld m e th is to pic w as c lo se d .
I f r o w ned , to rn b etw een c urio sity a nd h er o bvio us d esir e to d ro p th e to pic . “ H ow a re y o u d oin g,
a nyw ay?” I w atc hed P ers e p ho ne o ut o f th e c o rn er o f m y e ye a s w e w alk ed d ow n th e h all. “ S in ce
Z eus.”

She k no cked o n a d oor. “ B usy. A ll th e r e alm s, th e g o d s tu ff, i t c an b e p re tty o verw helm in g. T hat’ s
why— and I k no w y o u’re m ad a t h er f o r th is — but th at’ s w hy I ’ m s o g ra te fu l f o r M elis sa ’s ‘ n o d iv in ity
allo w ed ’ p olic y.” P ers e p ho ne s h o t m e a n a p olo geti c lo ok. “ S he g av e m e a p la ce to g o w here th e
enti r e p la net is n ’t m y re sp onsib ility . W hen I v is it h er, I c an p re te nd a ll th at s tu ff w ith Z eus n ev er
hap pened , a nd l ik e, v eg o ut, y o u k no w ? W atc h T V. E at j u nk f o od. G ossip .”
Be n orm al.
That l a st b it w asn ’t s p oken, b ut I k new P ers e p ho ne w ell e no ugh to k no w th at d esir e w as i n th ere
so m ew here . E sp ecia lly w hen it c am e to s p end in g ti m e w ith h er fa v orite h um an. I w aite d u nti l s h e
charm ed th e n ext r o om ’s r e sid ent b efo re s a yin g, “ I’ m n o t m ad a t M elis sa .” M ad w asn ’t th e r ig ht w ord
fo r s o m eo ne I’ d c o nsid ere d a fr ie nd o utl a w in g a ny re fe re nces to
th e
defin in g fe atu re o f m y life . “ I
ju st . . .” I s ig hed , s w eep in g m y h air b ehin d m y s h o uld ers . “ P ers e p ho ne, w e
are
go ds. T hat d oesn ’t
dis a p pear n o m atte r w ho w e h a ng o ut w ith . L ife d oesn ’t c o m partm enta liz e lik e th at. I k no w w e’re
both p re tty n ew a t th is , b ut— ”
Her g re en e yes g litte re d a nd s h e w hir le d o n m e, h er c hin h eld h ig h. “ I
kn ow
what I a m . A nd I ’ v e
co m e to te rm s w ith e v ery th in g th at m eans, g o od a nd b ad . I’ m n o t d uckin g m y re sp onsib iliti e s o r
wis h in g th em a w ay.”
“O kay.” I h eld u p m y h and s in m ock s u rre nd er a s w e m oved in to th e n ext r o om . “ B ut d oesn ’t it
both er y o u th at s h e d oesn ’t a ccep t th is
huge
asp ect o f w ho y o u a re ?”
Pers e p ho ne s h o ok h er h ead . “ S he a ccep te d th at I w as a g o ddess l o ng b efo re I d id . S he k no w s m e,
Aphro dite . A lm ost b ette r th an I d o.
I
need ed th at s p ace. I n eed a p la ce w here a ll o f th is ” — sh e w av ed
her a rm s— “is n ’t r e le v ant.” P ers e p ho ne fe ll s ile nt a s w e s e arc hed th e n ext r o om . T his o ne c o nta in ed
fiv e b ed s. S earc hin g th ro ugh th e l u ggage to ok n early h alf a n h o ur. W hen w e e m erg ed i n to th e h allw ay,
sh e g av e m e a th o ughtf u l lo ok. “ M elis sa ’s ta kin g th is p sy ch c la ss, a nd s h e s a ys e v ery o ne a ssu m es
diffe re nt id enti ti e s b ase d o n w ho th ey’re w ith . Y ou ta lk a b out w ork s tu ff a nd a ct p ro fe ssio nal a nd
diffe re nt a t w ork th an y o u d o a t s c ho ol, o r w ith a g ro up o f fr ie nd s v ers u s s tr a ngers , o r w ith y o ur
sig nific ant o th er. Y ou s p eak a d iffe re nt l a nguage, e v en. S he c alle d i t . . .” S he tr a ile d o ff, s tr u gglin g to
re m em ber.
“C ode s w itc hin g?” I k no cked o n th e n ext d oor.
“Y eah, th at’ s it.” T here w asn ’t a n a nsw er, s o P ers e p ho ne p ulle d o ut th e k ey w e’d g o tte n fr o m
Mig uel.
“R ig ht.” I w ent s tr a ig ht to th e w ard ro be, r iflin g th ro ugh th e l ife j a ckets . “ B ut i t’ s n o t a b out h av in g
diffe re nt i d enti ti e s, i t’ s u sin g d iffe re nt a sp ects o f th e s a m e i d enti ty . N oth in g a ctu ally g o es a w ay w hen
yo u’re n o t— ”
“I k no w .” P ers e p ho ne’s v oic e e cho ed f r o m th e b ath ro om . “ B ut I th in k th e i llu sio n k eep s m e s a ne.
I ta lk to M elis sa a b out n o th in g. S illy th in gs, u nim porta nt s tu ff. H um an s tu ff. I ta lk to C assa nd ra a nd
Hele n a b out th e s a m e ty p es o f th in gs, o nly th at’ s U nd erw orld s tu ff. A nd I ta lk to y o u a b out th e Z eus
stu ff, o r g o ddess s tu ff H ad es w ould n’t g et.”
“Y ou d on’t ta lk to a nyo ne e ls e a b out Z eus? E ven H ad es? ” I h ate d to a sk a b out H ad es. H e a nd
Pers e p ho ne h ad h it e q uilib riu m , s o e v ery th in g s h e k new , h e k new , a nd v ic e v ers a . H ad es c o uld b e
lis te nin g to th is e nti r e c o nv ers a ti o n th ro ugh P ers e p ho ne n o w . P ers e p ho ne s w ore n eith er o ne o f th em
eav esd ro pped m uch. N ot o nly w ould l is te nin g i n b e r u d e, b ut i t w as a ls o d iffic ult i f th ey w ere tr y in g
to f o cus o n s o m eth in g e ls e . B ut s ti ll.
“E sp ecia lly H ad es.” P ers e p ho ne b it her lip as w e m oved o n to th e next ro om . “H e’s b een
diffe re nt. I th in k . . .” S he lo oked d ow n, h er h and fr o ze n a b ove th e d oor. “ I th in k a fte r e v ery th in g

hap pened l a st y ear, i t, I d on’t k no w , g o t to h im .”
I k no cked fo r h er. “ W e’re g o in g to lo ok a ro und y o ur ro om ,” I to ld th e s ta rtl e d m an in a b la ck
bath ro be. “ If th ere a re a ny d iv in e w eap ons, lo ng s ilv er s ta ke-lik e th in gs, y o u’ll w ant to le t u s k no w
no w .”
He b lin ked . “ U m , o kay.”
We s e arc hed th e ro om . “ W hat h ap pened g o t to
him ?
” I d um ped th e m an’s s u itc ase o n h is b ed .
“ Yo u
were a b ducte d a nd to rtu re d . W hat th e h ell d oes h e h av e to w hin e a b out? ”
Pers e p ho ne c lo se d th e d re sse r d ra w ers . “ I k in d o f th in k th at’ s th e p ro ble m . L ik e, m ayb e h e
doesn ’t f e el l ik e h e h as a r ig ht to b e u p se t o r w hate v er b ecause w hat I w ent th ro ugh w as w ors e . O nly
it d oesn ’t w ork lik e th at. W e
all
w ent th ro ugh hell la st year. T he th in gs Z eus d id w ere fr ic kin ’
tr a um ati z in g. A nd n o t j u st f o r m e. B ut I
ca n’t
brin g m yse lf to ta lk a b out i t w ith h im . I n eed w hat H ad es
and I h av e to b e s e p ara te , u nto uched . H e’s m y s a nctu ary , y o u k no w ? I’ m s a fe th ere . M ayb e n o t th e
health ie st ap pro ach, b ut . . .” S he fe ll sile nt fo r a m om ent. “Y ou’re no t th e o nly o ne w ho has
nig htm are s.”
“M ayb e y o u s h o uld tr y
not
sle ep in g.” I w in ked a t h er a nd k no cked o n th e n ext d oor. “ P ut H ad es
to u se .”
Pers e p ho ne ig no re d th e d oub le e nte nd re . “ H e d efin ite ly h elp s. I c o uld n’t im agin e w akin g u p
alo ne a fte r— ” S he b ro ke o ff. “ I h o nestl y d on’t k no w h o w y o u h and le th is a ll o n y o ur o w n.”
“I j u st d on’t s le ep .”
Pers e p ho ne s h o ok h er h ead . “ W e p ro bab ly a ll n eed th era p y.”
I l a ughed . “ T hin k A th ena w ould c harg e u s? ”
Pers e p ho ne g ig gle d , a nd w e b oth tr ie d to ig no re th e fa ct th at it
wasn ’t
silly . W e w ere a ll so
sh atte re d a nd b ro ken, n o a m ount o f th era p y w ould e v er b e a b le to r e p air u s to th e p oin t th at th e c ra cks
did n’t s h o w .
“S he p ro bab ly w ould . S o . . .” S he le t th e w ord d ra g, h er v oic e te asin g a s s h e s h o ok a p illo w
fr e e f r o m i ts c ase . “ H ow ’s
not
s le ep in g g o in g, c o nsid erin g y o u’re s h arin g a r o om w ith A donis ? ”
I l a ughed , y ankin g o pen a s u itc ase . “ A donis a nd I a re n o t to geth er.”
“R eally ?” P ers e p ho ne p ulle d o pen th e c lo se t d oor. “ M elis sa th o ught y o u w ere h ead o ver h eels
fo r h im .”
I s c o w le d , d um pin g o ut a b each b ag a nd s h ifti n g th ro ugh th e c o nte nts . “ A nd s h e s ti ll d ate d h im ?
Nic e.”
“S he fe lt b ad a b out it.” P ers e p ho ne c hecked th e p ockets o f a lo ng ja cket. “ S o . . . w as s h e o nto
so m eth in g?”
“It’ s c o m plic ate d .”
Pers e p ho ne s to pped i n th e m id dle o f th e h all a nd s ta re d m e d ow n u nti l m y d efe nse s c ru m ble d .
“I th in k I f e ll i n l o ve w ith th e i d ea o f h im . T he r e ality ’s p re tty d is a p poin ti n g.”
“H ow d o y o u m ean?” s h e p ro bed , a s w e m oved o n to th e n ext r o om . A w om an h o ld in g a s le ep y-
lo okin g g ir l i n f o ots ie p aja m as o pened th e d oor w ith a s c o w l.
“D o y o u h av e
any
id ea w hat ti m e it is ? ” th e w om an sn arle d . T he c hild in h er a rm s sta rte d
wailin g.
“W e a re s o s o rry ,” P ers e p ho ne s a id , tu rn in g o n th e c harm . “ B ut w e n eed to s e arc h y o ur r o om .”
“I c an’t c harm h im .” I w aite d u nti l P ers e p ho ne fin is h ed q uesti o nin g th e m om b efo re c o nti n uin g.
“E ven a ccid enta lly . E very th in g h e s a ys a nd d oes i s r e al, y o u k no w ?”

“I d o, a ctu ally .” P ers e p ho ne s a id . “ A phro dite ,” s h e s c o ld ed w hen I to ok a s tu ffe d b ear fr o m th e
littl e g ir l.
“B ab y ja guar,” th e littl e g ir l m oaned . “
My
b ab y ja guar. G iv e h im — ” S he fe ll s ile nt u nd er th e
in flu ence o f P ers e p ho ne’s c harm .
“Y ou c an h id e th in gs in s tu ffe d a nim als ,” I e xp la in ed , g iv in g th e “ ja guar” a c auti o us s q ueeze .
“H e’s c le an. H ere y o u g o , k id do.”
The l ittl e g ir l s n atc hed h er to y f r o m m e, g iv in g m e a l o ok s o c utti n g, I s te p ped b ack.
“A nyw ay,” I s a id , o nce P ers e p ho ne c o nv in ced th e k id to g o b ack to s le ep . “ H e c an’t h urt m e.
He’s n o t s tr o ng e no ugh. S o w e b ala nce. A nd w hen th e w ho le th in g w ent d ow n w ith Z eus, h e s a v ed
me. H e tr u ste d m e, b elie v ed i n m e a t a ti m e w hen n o o ne e ls e c o uld .”
“B ut? ” P ers e p ho ne p ro m pte d a fte r a m om ent’ s s ile nce, c lo sin g th e d oor a s q uie tl y a s s h e c o uld
so w e d id n’t r e aw aken th e s le ep in g d ra go n.
“T hat’ s n o t a ctu ally h im . I p ut h im o n th is p ed esta l a nd m ad e h im i n to a s y m bol. B ut i t w asn ’t f a ir
to h im . H e c an’t l iv e u p to th at, y o u k no w ? A nd th e r e al A donis w ould n’t w ant to a nyw ay.”
Pers e p ho ne n o dded , k no ckin g o n th e n ext d oor. “ I g et th at.” A no th er v acant r o om . W hic h m eant
no l u ggage to s e arc h. S ti ll, w e w ent th ro ugh th e d ra w ers a nd f u rn itu re .
“U h-h uh.” I c o uld n’t i m agin e a no th er b ein g, l e ast o f a ll P ers e p ho ne, “ getti n g” s o m eth in g I b are ly
und ers to od a b out m yse lf.
Wait, a no th er v acant ro om ? I p ause d in w riti n g a g ia nt “ V ” o n th is s q uare o f th e s h ip ’s m ap ,
tr y in g to p ut m y fin ger o n w hy s o m any u nb ooked ro om s b oth ere d m e. P ers e p ho ne flip ped o n th e
lig hts , a nd th e th o ught f le d .
“N o, r e ally , I d o g et w hat y o u’re s a yin g.” S he r a ked h er h air b ack, h er h and s to ppin g a t th e to p o f
her s k ull. “ I u se d to g et a c ru sh o n lite ra lly e v ery g uy w ho w as e v er n ic e to m e a nd it w asn ’t
th em ,
yo u k no w ?” S he f lu sh ed . “ I a lw ays f e lt o ut o f p la ce, s o I ’ d g et r e ally g ra te fu l w hen I g o t a ny a tte nti o n
at a ll. B ut I w as to o s h y to a ct o n m y f e elin gs, th ank g o ds.”
And I w asn ’t. Y up . G ot
th at
su b te xt lo ud a nd c le ar. “ Y ou th in k I’ m in se cure a nd d esp era te fo r
affe cti o n?” I w asn ’t s u re h o w to ta ke th at.
She p re sse d h er lip s to geth er a nd g la nced d ow n a t th e c arp et. “ I th in k y o u’re lo nely . I’ m n o t
exp la in in g th is w ell.” S he s ig hed . “ I’ m s a yin g I g et i t. I k no w w hat i t’ s l ik e to f e el d iffe re nt a nd a lo ne,
and I k no w w hat it’ s lik e to s e iz e o nto th at o ne k in d g estu re a nd r e ad
so
m uch in to it th at e v ery th in g
th e p ers o n s a ys o r d oes b eco m es . . . m ore . A nd y o u’re r ig ht, p utti n g h im o n a p ed esta l is n ’t fa ir to
him . B ut it’ s a ls o n o t fa ir to y o u, b ecause y o u e nd u p p utti n g a ll th is s to ck in to s o m eo ne w ho m ayb e
doesn ’t d ese rv e i t.”
My th ro at w ent ti g ht. “ Y eah.”
“B esid es, th ere ’s a lw ays A re s,” s h e te ase d .
“H e’s n o t i n te re ste d .” I h eld m y h and s u p i n r e sp onse to th e “ o h p le ase ,” l o ok s h e g av e m e. “ N o,
tr u st m e, P ers e p ho ne. I ’ v e b een th ere . H e’s
not
in te re ste d . B ut e v en i f h e w as, i t m ay n o t b e e ith er/o r,
yo u k no w ? Y ou a nd H ad es a re j u st w eir d . T he d iv in e d efa ult i s n o t m ono gam y.”
She s h ru gged . “ Y our l o ve l ife , y o ur c ho ic es. D ate n o o ne. D ate o ne p ers o n. D ate th o usa nd s. D ate
who o r w hate v er y o u w ant, b ut— ” S he p ush ed h er h air o ut o f h er f a ce.
“B ut? ” I r e p eate d , u nsu re w hat s h e w as g etti n g a t.
“B e c are fu l.” H er v oic e r o se in q uesti o n to m ake it c le ar s h e w as m akin g a r e q uest a nd n o t a n
ord er th at I ’ d b e f o rc ed to f o llo w . “ T he p ed esta ls I p ut b oys o n w ere l o w , b ecause a ll th ey’d d one i s

act n ic e. B ut i t s ti ll
hurt
when th ey s a id o r d id s o m eth in g to b rin g th em tu m blin g d ow n. Y our s itu ati o n
so und s a b it m ore l o ad ed .”
I c ho se m y w ord s c are fu lly . “ I a p pre cia te y o ur c o ncern . . .”
“B ut m in d m y o w n b usin ess? ” P ers e p ho ne fla sh ed m e a n a p olo geti c s m ile a nd d ucked h er h ead .
“I’ m s o rry . I’ m p ro bab ly ju st p ro je cti n g m y o w n s tu ff o n to y o u a nyw ay.” S he k no cked o n th e n ext
door. “ O h, d id y o u h ear a b out w hat h ap pened w ith C erb eru s? ”
Tanta lu s o pened th e d oor a nd g rin ned w hen h e s a w P ers e p ho ne a nd m e s ta nd in g b efo re h im . “ I
hav e d re am s th at s ta rt l ik e th is .” H e o pened th e d oor a nd m oti o ned f o r u s to e nte r. “ C om e o n i n .”

Chap te r X X
I W ALK ED IN TO T anta lu s’s s u ite a nd fo und m yse lf in a m ir ro r im age o f th e ro om I s h are d w ith
A donis . A fte r a m om ent’ s h esita ti o n, P ers e p ho ne f o llo w ed m e i n sid e.
“Y ou’re s w eati n g,” I o bse rv ed , lo okin g T anta lu s o ver. H e w ore d ark fla nnel p ants a nd a w hite
s h ir t. H is g o ld en h air l o oked m essy, a nd s w eat g lis te ned o n h is n eck. “ S om eth in g w ro ng?”
“A m I? ” T anta lu s p ulle d a t th e n eck o f h is s h ir t. “ W ell . . . th is ro om d id ju st g et q uite a b it
h o tte r.” P ers e p ho ne m ad e a d is g uste d s o und , a nd h e tu rn ed h is a tte nti o n to h er. “ A nd w ho a re y o u?”
h e a sk ed . “ I k no w I h av en’t s e en y o u o n b oard .” H e c lo se d th e d oor, u sin g th e m ovem ent to p la nt a
h and n ext to h er. “ H ow a b out w e g et to k no w e ach o th er b ette r? ”
I g ra b bed h is a rm a nd d ra gged h im to w ard th e liv in g r o om , n o ti n g th at T anta lu s’s b alc o ny d oor
s to od w id e o pen. “ C an y o u s e arc h u p sta ir s ? ” I a sk ed P ers e p ho ne. “ I’ ll q uesti o n h im a nd g et s ta rte d
d ow n h ere .”
“D eal.” T he r e lie f w as e v id ent i n h er v oic e.
“Q uesti o n m e?” T anta lu s a sk ed . “ S earc h? W hat a re — ?”
I tu rn ed o n m y charm ; su re ly usin g m y p ow ers o nce w ould n’t hurt to o b ad ly . M y sto m ach
c le nched , b ut th e p ain f e lt m ore l ik e a d ull th ro b th an th e u su al k nife -to -th e-g ut v arie ty . “ Y eah, w e’re
s e arc hin g y o ur r o om , a nd y o u’re g o in g to tr u th fu lly a nsw er e v ery th in g I a sk , th en f o rg et w e w ere e v er
h ere . O h, a nd b y th e w ay,” I a d ded o nce P ers e p ho ne d is a p peare d u p th e s ta ir s . “ Y ou’re w elc o m e.”
“F or w hat? ”
I p ush ed h im to w ard th e c o uch a nd m oti o ned f o r h im to s it d ow n. “ I j u st s a v ed y o u f r o m a w orld
o f h urt. D on’t f lir t w ith h er. S he’s n o t i n te re ste d .”
He s a t d ow n, l o okin g to w ard th e s te p s, a s th o ugh h o pin g to c atc h a no th er g lim pse o f P ers e p ho ne.
“ W ho i s s h e?”
“N ot i n te re ste d . T hat’ s a ll y o u n eed to k no w .”
Tanta lu s r a is e d h is e yeb ro w s. “ If y o u’re g o in g to ‘ q uesti o n m e,’ ” h e e m phasiz e d th e p hra se a nd
g av e m e a w ry l o ok, “ I h av e a f e elin g I ’ m g o in g to n eed c affe in e. W ant a s o da?”
“S ure .” I f o llo w ed h im to th e k itc hen a nd to ok a s e at a t th e b ar w hile T anta lu s r u m maged th ro ugh
t h e f r id ge.
Sin ce T anta lu s w as in th e k no w , I d ev ia te d fr o m th e u su al q uesti o ns, ta kin g a m ore d ir e ct r o ute .
“ A re y o u tr y in g to k ill m e o r a ny o f th e o th er g o ds? ”
“N o.” T anta lu s g av e m e a n o dd l o ok a nd p oure d s o da i n to tw o g la sse s. “ R um ?”
I d eclin ed . H e s h ru gged a nd tu rn ed h is b ack to m e, p ourin g a s h o t i n to o ne o f th e c up s.
“D o y o u k no w o f a nyo ne w ho m ig ht w ant to ?”
“N ope.” H e p ut th e d rin ks o n th e b ar a nd s a t a cro ss f r o m m e.
I to ok a s ip . “ A re y o u i n p osse ssio n o f a ny w eap ons th at c o uld k ill a g o d?”
“N o!” T anta lu s d re w b ack i n s u rp ris e . “ Is th ere s u ch a th in g?”

“N ot th at y o u’re g o in g to r e m em ber.” I r a n h im th ro ugh th e r e st o f th e q uesti o ns a nd fin is h ed m y
drin k.
When I s ta rte d s e arc hin g th e k itc hen, T anta lu s s to od. “ C an I h elp ?”
“N ope.” S ta nd in g o n m y ti p to es, I s c anned th e to p o f th e c ab in ets . T he b oat l u rc hed a nd I l o st m y
bala nce, m akin g m e s tu m ble b ack i n to T anta lu s. “ S orry .” I tu rn ed to f a ce h im a s h e s te ad ie d m e.
“S ure th in g.” H is e yes m et m in e, th en w id ened in s u rp ris e . A b ro ad g rin b ro ke o ut a cro ss h is
fa ce, w eakenin g m y k nees.
Yeah, o kay. H e acte d arro gant and se lf- a b so rb ed , b ut he als o lo oked re ally ho t. W hat gir l
would n’t r e act to f in d in g h ers e lf i n h is a rm s?
Tanta lu s ti lte d m y c hin u p . “ If I k is s y o u, y o u’re n o t g o in g to tu rn m e i n to a p la nt o r a nyth in g, a re
yo u?”
I la ughed . “ W ell I w on’t p ro m is e a nyth in g, b ut . . .” I to uched m y lip s to h is , k eep in g th e m oti o n
lig ht a nd te asin g. “ D on’t y o u th in k I ’ m w orth th e r is k ?”
“H ell, y eah.” T anta lu s y anked m e to h im , h is m outh m eeti n g m in e w ith p ra cti c ed s k ill. H e w as
one
good
kis se r, a nd I’ d k no w . I c lo se d m y e yes a nd le t a ll m y fr u str a ti o n, a nger, a nd fe ar fr o m th e
la st tw o d ays fu el m y k is s. M y te eth g ra ze d h is b otto m lip a nd h e le t o ut a lo w g ro an, p re ssin g m e
again st th e c ab in ets a s h is h and s r o am ed b eneath m y s w eate r.
“H ey, A phro dite ?” P ers e p ho ne c alle d f r o m u p sta ir s .
What th e h ell w as I d oin g? B re akin g a w ay f r o m T anta lu s, I s tr u ggle d to c atc h m y b re ath . I s h o uld
be s e arc hin g th e s u ite , n o t m akin g o ut w ith th e i n cre d ib ly h o t . . .
My th o ughts tr a ile d o ff in to o bliv io n a s I s ta re d in to T anta lu s’s g o ld e yes. I y anked h im b ack to
me usin g th e d ra w str in g o n his p aja m a p ants . H is m outh cru sh ed again st m in e as he sw ep t th e
co unte rto p b ehin d m e c le ar. S om eth in g c la tte re d to th e g ro und a nd s h atte re d .
Sto p!
I j e rk ed m y h ead , b re akin g o ff e ye c o nta ct w ith h im . “ Y ou’re u sin g c harm ,” I a ccuse d , a s I
sc ra m ble d d ow n f r o m th e c o unte rto p.
“A lw ays.” T anta lu s s h ru gged . “ I c an’t e xactl y tu rn it o ff. I g o tta s a y”— he s lid a h and d ow n m y
arm , tr y in g to p ull m e b ack to h im — “it’ s n ic e k no w in g th at w as a ll y o u.” A t m y p uzzle d l o ok, h e ti lte d
his h ead , g o ld h air fa llin g in to h is e yes. “ W ell, y o u’re im mune, rig ht? I c o uld n’t p ossib ly c harm a
go d.”
Foots te p s th ud ded o ver m y h ead . “ A phro dite ?”
“R ain c heck?” T anta lu s s u ggeste d , r e le asin g h is h o ld o n m y a rm .
I sta re d a t h im , re elin g in sh o ck. H e h ad c harm ? S o, h e w as a so n o f Z eus. T hre e o f Z eus’s
dem ig o ds o n o ne s h ip ? W hat w ere th e o dds? H ow m any k id s d id Z eus h av e? A nd i f T anta lu s a lw ays
use d c harm , h o w c o m e I h ad n’t s e nse d h im u sin g a ny b efo re ?
How c o m e I c o uld n’t s e nse h im u sin g c harm n o w ?
And h o w c o uld h e h av e c harm ed
me
? N o o ne c o uld c harm m e, e xcep t m ayb e P ers e p ho ne. B ut i f
my p ow ers w ere f a d in g, m ayb e a ll th e r u le s w ere c hangin g. I n eed ed to te st m y i m munity , b ut i n o rd er
to d o s o , I n eed ed s o m eo ne w ho k new w hat th ey w ere d oin g.
“H ey.” P ers e p ho ne r o und ed th e c o rn er i n to th e k itc hen. “ Y ou o kay?”
“I’ m d one i n h ere .” I m oved a w ay f r o m T anta lu s. “ D id y o u n eed h elp w ith s o m eth in g?”

Chap te r X XI
T H E R EST O F T H E s e arc h w ent b y i n a b lu r. I c o uld n’t k eep m y m in d o n th e ta sk a t h and . N ot e v en
w hen w e s e arc hed th e s h o ps. I t w as p re tty b ad w hen e v en d esig ner c lo th es c o uld n’t h o ld m y a tte nti o n.
“S o n o w w hat? ” A re s a sk ed , w hen P ers e p ho ne a nd I j o in ed th e r e st o f th e g ro up h ud dle d o n th e
t o p d eck a t th e v ery f r o nt o f th e s h ip . F ro m h ere , w e’d b e a b le to s e e a nyo ne c o m in g, a nd th e c o nsta nt
w in d m ad e a s h ie ld u nnecessa ry fo r b lo ckin g s o und . T he o cean s ti ll lo oked b la ck a s p itc h, b ut th e
h o riz o n s h o w ed s ig ns o f d aw n a p pro achin g. W e’d a lr e ad y d is m is se d th e M use s, G ra ces, a nd m in o r
d eiti e s, i n str u cti n g th em to d on g la m ours a nd b le nd i n w ith th e p asse ngers , k eep in g th eir e yes o pen f o r
t r o ub le , s o o ur g ro up c o nsis te d o f ju st u s s e v en. A rte m is , P ers e p ho ne, a nd I c la im ed th e w in d ow
l e d ges w hile A re s, H ad es, P ose id on, a nd A th ena s to od.
“I c an’t b elie v e w e d id n’t fin d a nyth in g,” A rte m is g ru m ble d fr o m th e le d ge n ext to m in e. T he
t h re e w in d ow s w ere s e t s o d eep in to th e w all o verlo okin g th e m in ia tu re g o lf c o urs e th at th ey m ad e
p re tty g o od b enches, d esp ite th e i n w ard s la nt.
“T hat’ s g o od, r ig ht? ” P ers e p ho ne s a t tu cked i n to th e l e d ge o n m y o th er s id e. N ot th at I c o uld s e e
h er v ery w ell a ro und H ad es, w ho le aned o n th e w all b etw een u s. “ It m eans th ere w ere n o m ore
w eap ons.”
“M ayb e.” A th ena r a is e d h er v oic e to b e h eard o ver th e a ir r u sh in g a ro und u s. S he l e aned a gain st
t h e w hite r a ils o f th e s h ip , a n e nti r e p ers o n-le ngth a w ay f r o m P ose id on a nd A re s. “ B ut o n th is w ho le
s h ip , s o m eo ne s h o uld h av e k no w n s o m eth in g. W e d id n’t e v en p ic k u p a ny s tr a y p ow er s ig natu re s.
W ho ev er i s b ehin d th is m ig ht h av e f o und a w ay to c ir c um vent o ur s h ie ld s.”
“E ith er w ay, th ey k no w w e’re o n to th em .” P ose id on’s g aze f o cuse d o n th e s e a.
“P re tty su re th at cat w as o ut o f th e b ag
befo re
th ey atta cked us w ith O ly m pia n S te ele .” I
w ond ere d if I s h o uld b ro ach th e to pic o f m y m is sin g p ow ers a nd th e p ossib le lo ss o f m y im munity .
T hey c o uld n’t c o unt o n m e r ig ht n o w , a nd a llo w in g th em to th in k o th erw is e w ould b e a b ad i d ea. B ut
b efo re I c o uld s p eak u p , P ers e p ho ne l e aned a ro und H ad es, e xte nd in g a h and . “ W here to ?”
I b lin ked a t h er h and , u nsu re w hat s h e w ante d f r o m m e. “ W hat? ”
“Y ou’re d one h ere ,” P ose id on s a id b efo re P ers e p ho ne c o uld c la rify . “ Y ou c an g o h o m e. I d on’t
n eed y o u a nym ore . T hey k no w I ’ m o n to th em . I n o l o nger h av e r e aso n to b e s u b tl e .”
“Y ou w ere g o in g fo r s u b tl e a nd y o u s e nt
h er? ”
A re s s h o ok h is h ead a nd fla sh ed m e a g rin . “ N o
o ffe nse , A phro dite , b ut y o u s ta nd o ut.”
I a ccep te d th e c o m plim ent w ith a s h ru g, tu rn in g m y a tte nti o n b ack to P ers e p ho ne. “ I’ d lik e to
s ti c k a ro und .” I l e aned a gain st th e c o ol g la ss o f th e w in d ow . “ I’ v e a lr e ad y e sta b lis h ed a r a p port w ith
t h e d em ig o ds. I th in k th ey’ll te ll m e i f s o m eth in g— ”
“Y ou c harm ed a n e nti r e r o om fu ll o f p eo ple in to p ro te cti n g u s, n early b ro ke th e c harm a ffe cti n g
t h e a tta ckin g p asse ngers , th en c harm ed a s h ip ’s w orth o f p asse ngers i n to s ta yin g i n th eir r o om s w hile
w e s e arc hed ,” P ose id on s a id , s o und in g i m pre sse d d esp ite h im se lf. “ I th in k i t’ s s a fe to a ssu m e y o u’re

no l o nger u nd er c o ver. N o o ne i s g o in g to a ssu m e y o u c an b e c harm ed i n to f o rg etti n g a nyth in g.”
“W hic h m eans th ey’ll b e fo cuse d o n h er. T hat d oesn ’t h av e to b e a b ad th in g,” A rte m is s a id . “ I
co uld k eep a n e ye o ut, s e e i f a nyo ne i s w atc hin g h er to o c lo se ly .”
“Y ou g uys d o
se e
her, r ig ht? ” A re s w av ed a n a rm a t m e. “
Every o ne
is g o in g to w atc h to o c lo se ly .
Every h ead in e v ery r o om tu rn s w hen s h e w alk s b y. T hat’ s w hat Z eus w as g o in g fo r w hen h e m ad e
her.”
“T his i s b ig ger th an s o m e m is sin g d em ig o ds. Z eus s a id s o m eth in g w as c o m in g, s o m eth in g b ig ger
and
arm ed .
I , f o r o ne, d on’t w ant to b e c aught o ff g uard .” A rte m is l o oked a t m e. “ D o y o u m in d ? B ein g
our d iv ers io n?”
“U h . . .” I n eed ed to te ll th em . If I c o uld b e c harm ed , I w as c o m ple te ly v uln era b le . B ut c o uld I
ris k th em s e nd in g m e a w ay? A donis a nd th e o th er d em ig o ds w ere in d anger. H e w asn ’t w ro ng in h is
esti m ati o n o f th eir i m porta nce— or l a ck o f— to m ost g o ds. I g la nced a t P ose id on f o r g uid ance, b ut h e
poin te d ly i g no re d m e, s c o w lin g d ow n a t th e w av es.
“H ow m uch ti m e d o w e h av e?” A re s a sk ed , c ro ssin g h is a rm s.
“I’ m n o t s u re e xactl y .” I w ip ed a t th e s a lty b ead s o f w ate r c o ati n g m y fa ce fr o m th e d am p s e a
bre eze . “ If th e p atte rn s h o ld , th e d em ig o ds w ill g o m is sin g so m ew here b etw een m id nig ht a nd six
a.m .”
Are s g la nced d ow n a t h is w atc h. “ It’ s a lr e ad y s e v en.”
Arte m is s p utte re d w ith l a ughte r b ut I j u st s ta re d a t h im , w aiti n g f o r h im to c atc h o n.
He c lo se d h is e yes. “ Y ou m eant n ext m id nig ht . . . Y eah, I g o tc ha.”
“A nd th is is w hy w e d on’t b oth er w aiti n g o n y o ur in p ut,” P ose id on m utte re d , h is n av y e yes
churn in g i n ti m e to th e w av es. “ S o, w e n eed to — ”
“L et i t h ap pen,” A th ena s u ggeste d .
“W hat? ” H ad es j e rk ed f o rw ard i n s u rp ris e .
Ath ena’s g re y e yes w ent f la t, a nd h er f a ce to ok o n th at p assiv e p ati e nt l o ok I ’ d o nly e v er s e en i n
her e xp re ssio n w hen s h e g re w s u p er a nno yed a t h av in g h er a d vic e q uesti o ned . “ W e n eed to k no w
more a b out w hat is b ein g d one to th e d em ig o ds, w ho is u sin g th em , a nd w here th ese w eap ons a re
co m in g f r o m . T he s u re st w ay to d o th at i s — ”
“U se th em a s b ait? ” I d id n’t lik e th e s o und o f th at a ny m ore th an I lik ed th e id ea o f m e b ein g a
div ers io n. B ut I w asn ’t s u rp ris e d .
“N o.
Be
th e b ait,” A th ena e xp la in ed . “ T here a re fo ur d em ig o ds. L et’ s r e p la ce th em . W hen th ey
ta ke th em , th ey g et u s.”
Huh, w ho w ould h av e th o ught A donis a nd th e g o ddess o f w is d om w ould b e o n th e s a m e p age,
id ea-w is e ?
“W hat d o w e d o w ith th e r e al d em ig o ds? ” P ers e p ho ne a sk ed .
“H id e th em in th e U nd erw orld u nti l th is is o ver,” A th ena s u ggeste d . D em ig o ds w ere th e o nly
liv in g b ein gs w ho c o uld g o to a nd f r o m th e U nd erw orld u nin v ite d .
“A donis a nd E lis e c an’t b e c harm ed ,” I a d ded . “ T hey m ig ht n o t g o f o r i t.”
“I th in k w e c an l e av e A donis .” A th ena m use d . “ If w e d o a ll g et ta ken, i t m ig ht b e g o od to h av e a
re al d em ig o d o n h and w ho c an d o th e ta lk in g.”
“Y ou m ean th e l y in g.” I f P ers e p ho ne tr ie d to m ask th e d is a p pro val i n h er v oic e, s h e f a ile d .
“P re cis e ly .” A th ena to uched h er h air a s th o ugh c heckin g to m ake s u re th e w in d h ad n’t d am aged
her s e v ere s ty le . A s if a b un th at ti g ht c o uld b e d is lo dged b y a nyth in g le ss th an a to rn ad o. I m ad e a

menta l n o te to g iv e h er s o m e ti p s l a te r. P ra cti c al b eauty w as a th in g. “ A donis h as p ro ven h e c an h o ld
his o w n a nd i s tr u stw orth y. T ho se o f u s w ith c harm w ill n eed to r e p la ce th e d em ig o ds, a nd o ne o f u s
will h av e to re p la ce th is a ssis ta nt w om an. F ro m w hat I’ v e o bse rv ed , s h e’s c lo se e no ugh to n o ti c e
min o r c hanges i n N arc is su s’s b ehav io r. A s f o r th e r e st o f u s, w e c an u se g la m ours to b le nd i n w ith th e
passe ngers .”
I l o oked u p . T here w as n o w ay I c o uld k eep u p a g la m our. “ I— ”
“O h, n o t y o u,” A th ena c la rifie d , s m ooth in g h er ta up e p ow er s u it. “ Y ou’v e a lr e ad y b een s e en o n
th is sh ip . It w ould b e su sp ic io us if yo u v anis h ed . I th in k A rte m is has th e rig ht id ea. L et’ s le t
who ev er’s b ehin d th is w aste th eir ti m e w atc hin g y o u. W ith a ny l u ck, th ey’ll n ev er s e e u s c o m in g.”
“I c o uld r e p la ce E lis e .” A rte m is ’s d ark e yes w ere n arro w ed i n th o ught. “ T he h eig ht d iffe re nce i s
go in g to b e a p ain . W hat i s s h e, f iv e-s e v en, f iv e-e ig ht? ”
“W ait, w e c an g la m our h eig ht? ” P ers e p ho ne s o und ed s o e xcite d th at w e a ll p ause d to l o ok a t h er.
“T he fu rth er w e a re fr o m o ur o rig in al fo rm , th e m ore p ow er a g la m our ta kes to m ain ta in ,” I
exp la in ed . “ H eig ht is a b ig o ne, b ecause it im pacts y o ur e nti r e sk ele ta l str u ctu re . It w ould n’t b e
pra cti c al d ay to d ay.”
“O h.”
“I’ ll r e p la ce T anta lu s,” A re s s a id , g etti n g u s b ack o n tr a ck w ith a w ic ked g rin .
“T his i s n ’t a g o od i d ea,” P ose id on o bje cte d .
“D o y o u h av e a b ette r p la n?” P ers e p ho ne a sk ed h im .
“Y eah. S in k th e b oat. G et th e w eap ons s a fe ly o ut o f h um an h and s. I f w hate v er i s b ehin d a ll o f th is
su rv iv es d ro w nin g, th en w e’ll h av e l e arn ed m ore a b out th e n atu re o f i t. I f n o t, y o u a nd H ad es c an s o rt
it a ll o ut i n T arta ru s.”
Pers e p ho ne s ta re d a t h im f o r s o l o ng th at P ose id on s h ifte d , a nd r u b bed th e b ack o f h is n eck. S he
tu rn ed , n o t s a yin g a w ord to h im . “ A th ena, y o ur i d ea s o und s w ond erfu l. A re s, A rte m is , th ank y o u f o r
volu nte erin g.” S he l o oked to m e. “ I’ ll c heck i n a s m uch a s I c an, b ut f o r n o w — ” S he c ast P ose id on a
sto ny l o ok. “ If y o u
dare
—”
“Y ou’re n o t q ueen o f th is r e alm ,” P ose id on r e m in d ed h er. “ T his s h ip is s c hed ule d to r e ach y o ur
re alm i n tw o d ays— ”
“T om orro w ,” I c o rre cte d . “ W ell, l ik e i n a n h o ur.”
Pose id on s h o ok h is h ead . “ A t a p riv ate is la nd , s m all e no ugh to s h ie ld . B ut th is s h ip w ill m ake
port a t N assa u in tw o d ays a nd th at is a n is la nd to o la rg e to m onito r e v ery in ch o f. R ig ht n o w , w e
hav e w hate v er i s r e sp onsib le f o r th e m is sin g d em ig o ds a nd th ese w eap ons tr a p ped o n a b oat. I ’ m n o t
le tti n g it e sc ap e fr o m m y r e alm . T w o d ays, a nd th is s h ip s to ps m ovin g. In th e m eanti m e, I c an p la y
Narc is su s. I d on’t th in k h e’s o ne o f Z eus’s . H av e y o u e v er s e en h im u se c harm ?”
I s h o ok m y h ead . “ B ut e v ery o th er d em ig o d o n th e s h ip c an. A nd I’ v e h eard s o m e th in gs th at
in d ic ate th ere ’s a g o od c hance h e c an to o.”
“Ju st in c ase , I’ ll b e N arc is su s’s a ssis ta nt,” A th ena s a id , b rin gin g u s b ack to th e fo cus o f th e
co nv ers a ti o n. “ I c an c harm i f n ecessa ry . W e’ll m ake th e e xchange a fte r th e s h o ot to day. T hat g iv es u s
ti m e to o bse rv e th eir m anneris m s.”
“D oes e v ery o ne h av e a p ho ne?” P ers e p ho ne a sk ed . “ W e m ig ht n eed to r e ach e ach o th er w ith o ut
waiti n g a ro und f o r a d re am sc ap e.”
“I’ v e g o t o ne,” A re s s a id .
“M e to o,” A rte m is c him ed i n .

Ath ena, P ose id on, a nd I s a id n o th in g.
“B e b ack s o on.” P ers e p ho ne v anis h ed .
Afte r w e’d w ork ed o ut a fe w m ore o f th e lo gis ti c s, sh e re ap peare d w ith a h and fu l o f sm art
pho nes, s e cure i n th eir b oxes. “ T he g uy a t th e s to re s w ore th ey w ere f u lly c harg ed a nd r e ad y to g o .”
The s to re ? W hat ti m e z o ne d id s h e te le p ort to ?
“I p ro gra m med a ll o f o ur n um bers i n to th e p ho nes, s o a ll y o u’ll h av e to d o i s c harg e i t e v ery n o w
and th en a nd k eep i t o n. D on’t h esita te to te xt m e w ith a ny q uesti o ns. U h . . . d o y o u a ll k no w h o w to
te xt? ” S he h and ed a s ilv er p ho ne to A th ena, w ho s c o ffe d .
“W e m ig ht n o t b e a s y o ung a s y o u, d ear, b ut I c an a ssu re y o u, c ell p ho nes a re n o t b eyo nd o ur
co m pre hensio n.”
Pers e p ho ne lo oked d oub tf u l, b ut h and ed P ose id on a b la ck p ho ne w ith o ut a rg um ent, th en h and ed
me a g o ld o ne. “ I s h o uld h av e p ic ked u p s o m e c ase s,” s h e w orrie d .
“W e c an s h ie ld th em ,” I r e m in d ed h er. “ T hanks, th o ugh.” I p ockete d th e p ho ne.
Afte r n ailin g d ow n a fe w la st- m in ute d eta ils , e v ery o ne w as r e ad y to m ove o n to th eir a ssig ned
ta sk s.
“A re s,” I c alle d , ru nnin g a fte r h im b efo re h e c o uld g et to o fa r a w ay. “ C an I ta lk to y o u fo r a
se co nd ?”
“O f co urs e .” H e fo llo w ed m e acro ss th e d eck, o ut o f sig ht o f th e go lf co urs e . W e sto pped
walk in g w hen w e r e ached a g la ss w all lo okin g d ow n to th e n ext d eck. “ Is e v ery th in g w ith P ose id on
—?”
“H and le d . B ut n o w I n eed a f a v or.” W hen h is e xp re ssio n w ent g uard ed , I l a ughed . “ I j u st n eed to
te st s o m eth in g. C an y o u tu rn o n y o ur c harm ?”
I h ate d to a sk
him
, b ut P ers e p ho ne w as to o s tr o ng— her c harm m ig ht h av e w ork ed o n m e e v en i f
my p ow ers w ere n’t fa d in g. I d id n’t tr u st A th ena w ith m y w eakness, a nd I d id n’t k no w A rte m is th at
well.
“M ayb e. W hat d o I g et f o r th is f a v or? ” h e te ase d .
I g av e h im a p la yfu l s h o ve.
“O uch.” A re s la ughed . “ N ot th e p aym ent I w as h o pin g fo r. B ut y eah, s u re .” H e w aite d a b eat.
“H ap py?”
I f r o w ned . “ I c an’t f e el a nyth in g. C harm m e.”
“R eally ?” A re s g av e m e a m is c hie v ous g rin a nd m et m y e yes. “ Y eah, o kay. T ake o ff y o ur to p.”
Gods, th is sw eate r fe lt itc hy. I re ached fo r th e b otto m o f m y sw eate r a nd h is e yes w id ened ,
mis c hie f s h ifti n g to a la rm . “ S to p.” H e g ra b bed m y h and s. “ T hat w asn ’t s u p pose d to w ork .”
What w asn ’t s u p pose d to w ork ? I l o oked d ow n a t h is h and s w ra p ped a ro und m in e a t th e b otto m
of m y s w eate r. “ A re s, s e rio usly ?” I je rk ed m y h and s fr e e a nd s h o ved h im . “
That’s
w here y o ur m in d
go es? ”
“O f
co urse
th at’ s w here m y m in d w ent.”
I n arro w ed m y e yes a t h im .
“I s to pped y o u,” h e r e m in d ed m e. “ I w ould n’t— I d id n’t— ”
“A re y o u b lu sh in g?” T he ti p s o f h is e ars , ju st v is ib le th ro ugh h is m op o f c urly h air, w ere b rig ht
re d .
“T hat’ s no t a lin e I w ould — ” he co nti n ued b ab blin g. “N ot w ith yo u. N ot w ith anyo ne, b ut
defin ite ly n o t w ith — Are y o u— ” H e p ause d . “ A re y o u l a ughin g a t m e?”

I s to pped tr y in g to h o ld b ack a nd b urs t o ut la ughin g s o h ard I c o uld n’t b re ath e. I c lu tc hed m y
sto m ach, tr y in g to s u ck i n a ir b etw een g ig gle s. H e l a ughed f o r a m om ent, d esp ite h im se lf.
His l a ughte r tr a ile d o ff w hen h e r e aliz e d I w asn ’t s to ppin g.
“I’ m s o rry ,” I g asp ed , s ti ll g ig glin g, g rip ped b y th e s h eer a b su rd ity o f m y s itu ati o n. “ It’ s n o t th is
fu nny, I j u st— I j u st— ” I c o uld n’t s to p. I ’ d m ad e th e f r ic kin ’ g o d o f w ar, b attl e , a nd b lo odsh ed b lu sh .
I
co uld b e c harm ed . T here w as a d is ti n ct p ossib ility I w as d yin g. I’ d b een a tta cked a nd h ara sse d a nd
in su lte d a nd b eco m e a m odel, a nd —
I c o uld b e c harm ed .
And I w as p ro bab ly d yin g.
My l a ughte r w as n o l o nger a ud ib le , th o ugh m y s h o uld ers s h o ok w ith m y h yste ric al g asp s.
Are s h esita te d . “ A phro dite . . .” H e d ra p ed a n a rm a ro und m y s h o uld er a nd p ulle d m e c lo se to
him i n a n a w kw ard e m bra ce.
Desp ite m yse lf, I le aned in to h im , c lin gin g to h is c o ld ja cket. O nce m y la ughte r sto pped a nd
sh ifte d i n to d eep , s h ud derin g b re ath s, h e p ulle d a w ay. “ H ow c o m e I c an c harm y o u?”
I h esita te d fo r a ll o f a s e co nd . B ut I w as in w ay o ver m y h ead , a nd I n eed ed a n o pin io n o n th is
fr o m so m eo ne w ho w ould n’t b enefit fr o m m y d eath a s m uch a s P ose id on. S hiv erin g a t th e c o ld ,
morn in g w in d b iti n g th ro ugh m y sw eate r, I fille d h im in o n
every th in g
th at h ad h ap pened sin ce I
board ed th e s h ip , a nd P ose id on’s th eo ry . W hen I g o t to m y e nco unte r w ith T anta lu s, A re s c le nched h is
ja w , b ut d id n’t c o m ment. “ D o y o u th in k P ose id on’s rig ht a b out m e h av in g a n e xp ir a ti o n d ate ?” I
ask ed , a fte r I f in is h ed th e w ho le s to ry .
“I th in k it’ s p ossib le ,” A re s a d m itte d . “ T he w ay Z eus m ad e y o u . . . it’ s lik e n o th in g a ny o f u s
hav e e v er s e en b efo re . M ayb e y o u j u st w ere n’t b uilt to o pera te o uts id e o f y o ur r e alm . I m ean, th ere ’s
go t to b e s o m e r e aso n Z eus to sse d y o u i n to P ose id on’s r e alm r ig ht a fte r h e m ad e y o u. M ayb e h e w as
keep in g y o u w eak u nti l h e m oved e v ery o ne e ls e i n to p la ce.”
I n arro w ed m y e yes, th in kin g th at th ro ugh. Z eus w ould h av e k no w n p la cin g m e in P ose id on’s
re alm w ould b rin g m y e xis te nce to th e a tte nti o n o f o ne o f tw o g o ds. P ose id on, o f c o urs e , w ho a t th e
ti m e w ould h av e u se d a l a nd -b ase d d eity p oppin g u p i n h is r e alm a s a n e xcuse to ta lk to D em ete r, a nd
ev ery o ne k new it. B ut P ose id on w asn ’t th e o nly o ne w ho w ould h av e n o ti c ed . H ad es w ould h av e,
to o. A fte r a ll, h e h ad a ccess to a p ro phet. E ith er w ay, a ll r o ad s l e d to P ers e p ho ne, w ho a t th e ti m e h ad
no b uilt- in r e sis ta nce to m y c harm .
“H e d id n’t te ach y o u to c o ntr o l y o ur p ow ers ,” A re s re m in d ed m e. “ S o y o u w ere w eak in th e
ocean r e alm , b ut th e s e co nd y o ur f e et to uched l a nd — ”
“W ham .” M y p ow ers c am e b ack w ith o ut a ny th o ught o r d ir e cti o n. P ers e p ho ne h ad tr ie d to d ro w n
hers e lf to g et a w ay fr o m m e. H ad es h ad to tr a nsfe r m ore p ow er h er w ay, ju st to r e tu rn h er to s a nity .
“T hat m ig ht e xp la in w hy m y p ow ers a re h ard er to a ccess o n th e s h ip , b ut . . .” I fr o w ned . “ T his
doesn ’t
fe el
lik e I ’ m j u st d is c o nnecte d f r o m m y p ow ers . I h ad a f u ll- s c ale p anic a tta ck l a st n ig ht. I ’ v e
been g etti n g c la ustr o pho bic , a nd c ra zy e m oti o nal. S om eth in g’s
wro ng
with m e. I c an f e el i t.”
Are s d re w in a d eep b re ath and le aned again st th e gla ss w all. “I m ean . . . yo u’v e b een
tr a um ati z e d . W hat Z eus d id to y o u, th e w ay h e u se d y o u— ” H e w ork ed h is j a w , h is e yes d is ta nt a s i f
he w as s e arc hin g f o r w ord s. “ T hat d oesn ’t g o a w ay j u st b ecause y o u h eal. I t’ s a lw ays th ere , h ence th e
nig htm are s. W ith y o ur p ow ers in p la ce, y o u c o uld w ake u p fr o m th at a nd b e fin e in a m atte r o f
se co nd s. B ut w ith o ut th em . . .”
“I’ m g etti n g th e p hysic al s id e-e ffe cts .” I c o nsid ere d , r u b bin g m y a rm s f o r w arm th a gain st th e c o ld

win d . I w ante d to a rg ue, b ut if a ny g o d k new tr a um a, it w as W ar. “ T hat tr a cks. W ell, w ith a ny lu ck,
yo ur th eo ry is r ig ht a nd I’ ll b e g o od a s n ew o nce I g et to th e is la nd to day, a nd — ” I s to pped w hen I
sa w A re s s h akin g h is h ead . “ W hat? ”
“T his i s la nd ’s to o s m all to b e c o nsid ere d f u lly o uts id e o f P ose id on’s r e alm . Y ou m ay i m pro ve a
bit, b ut th e r e al te st w ill b e N assa u. I n th e m eanti m e— ” H e s h ru gged o ut o f h is j a cket a nd d ra p ed th e
garm ent a ro und m e. “ S ee i f th is h elp s.”
The g estu re f e lt o ddly i n ti m ate . A re s a nd I h ad p ro gre sse d
way
past h uggin g o n o ur r o ad tr ip l a st
year, b ut h av in g h is ja cket a ro und m y sh o uld ers fe lt
re a lly
g o od o n a d iffe re nt le v el. R eassu rin g,
so m eho w . T he i n sid e o f th e j a cket r e ta in ed A re s’s b ody h eat a nd s m elle d a b it l ik e b urn t c in nam on. I
fe lt g ro und ed
fo r th e fir s t ti m e s in ce I’ d s te p ped o nto th e s h ip . A lm ost lik e I w as b ack in m y r e alm .
“T his i s y o ur to ken,” I r e aliz e d .
Tokens w ere o bje cts fr o m a g o d’s h o m e re alm th at c o uld a ct a s a k in d o f c o nd uit. In ste ad o f
str u gglin g to d ra w p ow er w hile in a fo re ig n re alm , a g o d c o uld c hannel th eir p ow er th ro ugh th eir
to ken, neatl y av oid in g all th e yucky sid e-e ffe cts I’ d fe lt sin ce I se t fo ot on Pose id on’s tu rf.
Unfo rtu nate ly , Z eus h ad h eld b ack m y a b ility to c re ate o ne. I ’ d tr ie d .
“A re s, I c an’t— ”
When I s ta rte d to s lip m y a rm s o ut o f th e s le ev es, A re s tu gged m e to w ard h im u sin g th e e d ges o f
th e j a cket, a nd z ip ped i t, h is f in gers n ev er d ev ia ti n g f r o m th e ti n y p ie ce o f m eta l. W hen h e r e ached th e
ho llo w o f m y n eck, h e p ause d . I to re m y g aze f r o m h is h and a nd l o oked i n to h is e yes.
“I c an m ake a no th er o ne. Y ou, I c an’t r e p la ce. B e c are fu l? ”
My h eart s tu tte re d a t th e w ord s u nsp oken, th e s ile nt p ro m is e s i n h is e yes. I ’ d b een
so
mad a t h im ,
and it w as e asy to s ta y a ngry w hile h e w as g o ne b ecause h e w asn ’t a ro und to o bje ct. B ut I c o uld n’t
hang o n to m y r a ge a nym ore . “ G ods,” I m anaged to w his p er. “ Y ou m ake i t h ard to h ate y o u.”
“I tr y .” H is l ip s tw itc hed u p i n a s m ir k .
I l e aned i n to h im , te nsio n e asin g o ut o f m y s h o uld ers w hen h is a rm s w ra p ped a ro und m e. “ I m is s
th is ,” I a d m itte d , k eep in g m y g aze f a ste ned to h is s h o es. “ U s. C an w e j u st g o b ack?”
He s q ueeze d m y s h o uld ers . “ A phro dite . . .”
“I d on’t h av e e xp ecta ti o ns,” I s a id , h urrie d ly , u nab le to s to p ta lk in g n o w th at I ’ d a lr e ad y s to oped
to d esp era ti o n. I c o uld n’t s in k a ny l o w er, s o w hy n o t k eep d ro w nin g? “ I k no w I ’ m a m ess. S o i f i t w as
ju st a f lin g . . .” I w av ed m y h and s. “ S o w hat? I t w as a
gre a t
f lin g. Y ou d id n’t n eed to — ”
“It w asn ’t a f lin g. N ot to m e.”
“— le av e.” T he w ord w as o ut o f m y m outh b efo re I p ro cesse d w hat h e’d s a id , a nd s o m eho w ,
kno w in g I h ad n’t m is in te rp re te d o r o vers te p ped , m ad e m e fe el w ors e . I lo oked u p a t h im s o fa st I
alm ost c lip ped h is c hin . “ W hat? ”
“It w as m ore .” H e g la nced d ow n a t th e d eck, th en lo oked b ack u p to m e, a fir e b urn in g in h is
eyes. “
Yo u
were m ore .”
“S to p it.” I m oved a w ay fr o m h im , s h iv erin g w hen I s te p ped o ut o f h is a rm s. “ Y ou d on’t n eed
pre tty w ord s o r g ra nd g estu re s. I ’ m a s u re th in g, r e m em ber? I n ev er a sk ed f o r m ore , n ev er e xp ecte d i t
fr o m y o u. S o d on’t i n su lt m e b y tr y in g to p re te nd th at I a ctu ally m atte re d . I w as
fin e
w ith — ”
“Y ou d o m atte r.” H e s te p ped to w ard m e, th en s e em ed to th in k b ette r o f i t.
“I to ld y o u
every th in g
.” I c o uld n’t k eep th e r a w p ain o ut o f m y v oic e. “ A nd y o u
le ft
. F or o ver a
yea r
. J u st s lip ped a w ay in th e m id dle o f th e n ig ht lik e a c o w ard . Y ou d on’t d o th at to p eo ple w ho
matte r
.”

“Y ou’re r ig ht.” H e d ro pped h is h and . “ Y ou’re a b so lu te ly r ig ht. Y ou d id n’t d ese rv e th at.”
“I k no w ,” I s a id u nzip pin g th e c o at a nd h o ld in g i t o ut to h im . “ S o d on’t d o i t a gain .”

Chap te r X XII
I R ETU RN ED T O th e s u ite , fe elin g n um b w ith e xhausti o n a nd p ain . I’ d n ev er fe lt th is ti r e d b efo re ,
m enta lly , p hysic ally , o r e m oti o nally . G ods, if b ein g h um an fe lt lik e th is , m ayb e th o se s h o rt life s p ans
w ere a m erc y. W ith e ffo rt, I p ush ed A re s o ut o f m y m in d . I c o uld n’t m uste r u p th e e nerg y to b e a ngry
w ith h im a nym ore , a nd th e a lte rn ati v e h urt e v ery b it a s b ad ly . B est n o t to th in k a b out h im a t a ll.
To m y s u rp ris e , E lis e lo unged a t th e b ench n ear m y d oor. “ O h, g o ds.” H er e yes w id ened w hen
s h e s a w m e. “ Y ou l o ok l ik e c ra p .”
“W ell, i t w as a l o ng n ig ht.” I s lid m y k eycard i n to th e s lo t a nd tu rn ed th e k no b, p le ase d P ose id on
h ad a lr e ad y r e m oved th e s h ie ld a ro und th e r o om . “ C om e i n ?”
She f o llo w ed m e o ver th e th re sh o ld , c are fu l n o t to l e t th e d oor s la m , a nd r a is e d h er e yeb ro w s a s
s h e to ok in th e s u ite . T he w all o f w in d ow s a llo w ed b rig ht, m orn in g s u nb eam s to s tr e tc h a cro ss th e
c arp et. “ W ow . T his i s h uge.”
I s h ru gged , flo ppin g d ow n o n th e w hite c o uch a nd p utti n g m y fe et u p o n th e w ic ker ta b le , to o
e xhauste d to c are a b out m ain ta in in g a p peara nces. W here w as A donis ? T he s q ueal o f th e p ip es tu rn in g
o n a nd th e r u sh o f r u nnin g w ate r f r o m th e u p sta ir s s h o w er a nsw ere d m e b efo re I c o uld e v en v oic e th e
q uesti o n. A donis ’s s h o w ers c o uld ta ke y ears , s o i f I c o uld s e nd E lis e o n h er w ay, m ayb e I c o uld g et a
b it o f r e st i n b efo re w e h ead ed to s h o re . “ E lis e ?”
“U h . . .” E lis e je rk ed h er h ead a w ay fr o m th e p ain ti n gs o f s e a fo am a nd tu rn ed h er a tte nti o n to
m e. “ I re aliz e d I n ev er to ld y o u w here to m eet u s fo r b re akfa st. W e w ere a ll g o nna m eet u p in
a b out . . .” S he p ulle d o ut h er p ho ne a nd g la nced a t th e s c re en. “ T hir ty m in ute s? I c an te ll th e g ir ls to
p ush i t b ack i f y o u n eed m ore ti m e. W ith a ll th e e q uip m ent a nd s tu ff th at n eed s to b e s e t u p , i t’ ll b e a
b it b efo re w e’re n eed ed o n s h o re .”
Cra p , I ’ d f o rg o tte n a b out b re akfa st. “ Y eah, s u re .” A s m uch a s I w ante d to r e st, I c o uld n’t p ass u p
a n o pportu nity to fin d o ut m ore a b out E lis e , e v en if s h e w ould b e g o in g to th e U nd erw orld in a fe w
h o urs . P lu s . . . I k in d o f l ik ed h er. S he w as r a nd om ly f r ie nd ly , a nd I k new th at h ad n o th in g to d o w ith
m y c harm . “ Ju st g iv e m e a fe w m in ute s o nce h e g ets o ut o f th e s h o w er. I h av e to c hange a nd a t le ast
w ash m y f a ce.” A nd e ith er te xt P ose id on to r e ap ply th e s h ie ld , o r d ra g A donis to th e L id o d eck w ith
m e.
“O f c o urs e .” S he m oved in fr o nt o f m e, p ush in g b ack th e c o ffe e ta b le s o s h e c o uld p erc h o n th e
f r a gile -lo okin g w ic ker. “ S o . . . T anta lu s i n te rru p te d u s b efo re y o u c o uld a nsw er m e b ack a t th e c lu b .
A nd th en a b unch o f g o ds s e arc hed e v ery o ne’s ro om la st n ig ht a nd n o o ne re m em bers . I k no w y o u
g uys d on’t j u st g o a ro und d oin g th at u nle ss s o m eth in g
re a lly
bad i s g o in g o n, s o — ”
“H ow c o uld y o u k no w i f w e d o o r n o t? ” I l e aned f o rw ard . “ M ost p eo ple f o rg et w hen w e c harm
t h em to . T his c o uld b e a n ig htl y o ccurre nce a nd u nle ss s o m eo ne l ik e y o u h ap pens to b e th ere , p eo ple
w ould n ev er h ear a b out i t.”
She fr o w ned , g la ncin g u p th e s ta ir s w hen th e w ate r s h ut o ff. “ Y eah, o kay, m ayb e. B ut I’ v e g o ne

my w ho le life w ith o ut s e ein g a g o d, a nd n o w I’ m o n a s h ip fu ll o f th em . T hat m akes m e n erv ous.
Sho uld I b e?”
“N o, b ecause w e’re g etti n g y o u o ut o f h ere .” M ayb e I w as m akin g a m is ta ke in tr u sti n g h er, b ut
sh e d ese rv ed to k no w s h e w as i n d anger, a nd I f e lt to o ti r e d to c o m e u p w ith a p la usib le h alf- tr u th to
get h er o ff m y b ack. S o, i n ste ad , I b ro ught h er u p to s p eed .
“Y ou’re . . . h elp in g u s.” S he l e aned b ack, l o okin g d um bfo und ed . “ I d on’t k no w w hat to s a y.”
“T hank y o u?” I s u ggeste d w ith a y aw n b ig e no ugh to c ra ck m y j a w .
“Y eah.” S he h ad a n o dd e xp re ssio n o n h er f a ce. “ T hanks.”
“E lis e ?” A donis s to od a t th e to p o f th e s ta ir c ase , d re sse d in a p air o f s h o rts a nd a T -s h ir t. H is
hair l o oked s tr a nge w hen d am p. L ik e l iq uid m eta l. “ W hat a re y o u d oin g h ere ?”
She lo oked u p a t h im , a nd in th at m om ent, I r e co gniz e d h er fr o m th e m agazin es, b illb oard s, a nd
glo ssy p oste rs in th e m all. S he m odele d m akeup o r fa cia l w ash o r s o m eth in g. S tr a nge h o w I h ad n’t
re m em bere d b efo re .
“A donis .” H er v oic e w ent p erfe ctl y n eutr a l. P le asa nt, y et d is ta nt. “ W e n eed to ta lk .” S he tu rn ed
to m e, th e f a ke w arm th i n h er e yes c re ep in g m e o ut. “ C an w e h av e j u st a m in ute ? W e w on’t l e av e th e
ro om , I p ro m is e . Y ou c an e v en s h ie ld i t.”
“O f c o urs e ,” I a gre ed , o nly slig htl y su rp ris e d sh e k new a b out sh ie ld s. “ I’ ll g o ta ke a q uic k
sh o w er a nd th en w e c an g ra b b re akfa st.”
“U h— ” A donis p ro te ste d , b ut I d arte d up th e sta ir s and in to th e b ath ro om b efo re he co uld
arti c ula te h is o bje cti o n. S he c o uld n’t c harm h im , a nd sh e w ould n’t b e a b le to le av e if sh e tr ie d
anyth in g. P lu s, th ese r o om s w ere n’t s o und pro of. I f A donis n eed ed m e, I w asn ’t f a r.
Can y o u s h ie ld t h e r o om a gain f o r a f e w m in ute s?
I te xte d to P ose id on.
Som eth in g c a m e u p.
Done,
he r e p lie d .
The p asse n gers w ho w ere k ille d la st n ig ht h aven ’t b een n otic ed y et,
I te xte d b ack. N o w ay th e
boat w ould d ock, b usin ess a s u su al, a nd n o c hance e v ery s in gle o ne o f th o se p asse ngers w as tr a v elin g
alo ne. S om eo ne s h o uld h av e n o ti c ed b y n o w , a nd m y c harm to k eep e v ery o ne c alm a nd i n th eir r o om s
would h av e w orn o ff a t d aw n.
Is th at o ur d oin g, o r d oes th at m ea n s o m eth in g e ls e w ith c h arm is
alr e a dy o n b oard m akin g p eo ple f o rg et?
He d id n’t r e sp ond f o r a l o ng m om ent.
B e c a re fu l
.
I s w allo w ed h ard , s e t d ow n th e p ho ne, a nd tu rn ed o n th e w ate r. N ot u s, th en.
“. . . th in ks w e’re in
danger!
” E lis e ’s v oic e r o se o ver th e s p ra y o f th e w ate r I’ d ju st tu rn ed o n,
whip pin g to w ard m e l ik e d aggers .
“I
kn ow ,
o kay . . . s h o uld h av e to ld . . .“
“P eo ple d ie d ! T his i s n ’t th e ti m e f o r s e cre ts .”
I s te p ped in to th e s h o w er a nd th eir v oic es fa d ed to in d is ti n ct m urm urs . T he s c ald in g h o t w ate r
was j u st w hat I n eed ed to w ake u p a nd u nkno t th e te nse m usc le s i n m y b ack. G ods, th ese l a st f e w d ays
had b een b ru ta l. H um min g to m yse lf, I s c ru b bed m y s k in w ith e no ugh fe rv or to le av e it ra w . A s if
rid din g m yse lf o f th e s w eat a nd g ro ssn ess f r o m s e arc hin g a ll th o se s ta te ro om s l a st n ig ht w ould m ake
th e te nsio n a nd f e ar w ash a w ay w ith i t. S ati s fie d I w as s q ueaky c le an, I tu rn ed th e w ate r to c o ld . A ny
sle ep in ess I f e lt b efo re f le d u nd er th e f r e ezin g w ate r. I g asp ed , m y h eart p ound in g, a nd tu rn ed o ff th e
sh o w er, r e achin g f o r o ne o f th e w hite f lu ffy to w els .
“H ow c an y o u d o i t? ” E lis e d em and ed . “ P re te nd to c are a nd th en n o t w arn — ”
I s c o w le d , f in d in g th e to w el d am p, a nd s te p ped o ut o f th e s h o w er, d rip pin g a nd c o ld to s e arc h f o r

one A donis h ad n’t a lr e ad y u se d .
“H ere w e g o ,” I m urm ure d , g ra b bin g a s h o rte r to w el o ff th e r a ck b y th e to ile t. W hen I w ra p ped
th e te rry c lo th a ro und m e, it
alm ost
c lo se d . “ W hat is th is , a w ash clo th ?” W hat w as th e p oin t o f a
to w el th is s iz e ? S erio usly ? “ O h w ell.” I f lip ped m y h air a nd s ta rte d s c ru nchin g i t d ry .
“I
do
care .” A donis ’s v oic e e xp lo ded th ro ugh th e s u ite . “ D o y o u th in k it w as a n e asy d ecis io n?
That I w ant a nyo ne to g et h urt? It’ s a ll s c re w ed u p , a nd I’ m
so rry
, o kay? I s h o uld h av e to ld y o u. I
sh o uld n’t h av e— ” H e to ok a d eep b re ath b efo re c o nti n uin g a t a lo w er v olu m e. “ G iv en th e s ta kes, I
don’t k no w w hat e ls e I c o uld h av e d one.”
He h ad a p oin t. T he m ore p eo ple w ho k new th e situ ati o n, th e m ore lik ely m y p re se nce h ere
would b e n o te d a s a th re at. O f c o urs e , la st n ig ht b le w th o se c o ncern s o ut o f th e w ate r, b ut I h ad n’t
th o ught to g iv e A donis th e g o -a head to w arn h is f r ie nd s.
Dry e no ugh, I o pened m y s u itc ase , s e arc hin g f o r b eachw ear. I s lip ped i n to m y a q uam arin e b ik in i
and p ulle d a s h eer, w hite s w im su it c o ver o n o ver i t. T here w as n o p oin t i n d oin g a nyth in g to m y h air
beyo nd a q uic k c o m b-th ro ugh b ecause th e s ty lis ts w ould b e w ork in g o n it in w hat . . . ? O ne h o ur?
Tw o? I g la nced a t m y p ho ne. I’ d b een c lo se . A n h o ur a nd a h alf. S lid in g in to s a nd als , I in sp ecte d
myse lf i n th e m ir ro r.
“N ot b ad .” M y s k in s ti ll lo oked flu sh ed fr o m th e s h o w er, a nd m y d am p c urls h ung a ro und m y
fa ce. I te ase d m y h air a b it, tr y in g to a chie v e w hat M elis sa g ro use d w as m y “ anno yin gly p erfe ct,
care le ssly s e xy” ’ d o. N ot a s e asy w ith o ut a g la m our b ut—
“D on’t! ” E lis e s o und ed n ear te ars .
I s ig hed , s tu d yin g th e m ir ro r i n a n a tte m pt to f in d s o m eth in g, a nyth in g e ls e th at w ould m ake n o is e
and u se u p s o m e ti m e. I w as tr y in g to g iv e th em p riv acy. T he le ast th ey c o uld d o w as k eep th eir
voic es d ow n.
“I d on’t w ant to b e a p art o f th is ,” s h e c o nti n ued . “ Y ou s h o uld n’t b e e ith er. W hen w e l e av e, w hen
we’re s a fe , w e c an— ”
“O h, sc re w it,” I m utte re d , o penin g th e b ath ro om d oor. T hey’d h ad w ay m ore th an a m in ute
anyw ay. “ W e n eed s o m eo ne w ho c an lie ,” I e xp la in ed , ig no rin g th eir s u rp ris e d lo oks a s I d esc end ed
th e sta ir c ase . W hate v er. If th ey d id n’t w ant m e in v olv ed in th e co nv ers a ti o n, th ey sh o uld hav e
whis p ere d . “ S o i f h e w ants to s ta y— ” M y e yes m et A donis ’s . “ H e’s w elc o m e.”
“W ell.” E lis e c ro sse d h er a rm s w ith a h uff. “ H e c erta in ly c an l ie .”
“E lis e .” I f A donis w as tr y in g to k eep th e f r u str a ti o n f r o m h is to ne, h e f a ile d .
“ Adonis .”
By th e S ty x! W as th is w hat th eir r e la ti o nsh ip h ad b een lik e?
Elis e , A donis , E lis e , A donis .
T his
co nv ers a ti o n s o und ed l ik e s o m eth in g o ut o f o ne o f th e o verly e m oti o nal a nim es P ers e p ho ne w atc hed .
I c o nsid ere d th ro w in g m y n am e i n th ere f o r v arie ty , w hen A donis s e em ed to r e co ver h is v ocab ula ry .
“W e’re g o in g to f ix th is .”
Elis e ’s g la re c o uld h av e f r o ze n f la m es. “ Y ou’d b ette r.” S he l o oked a t m e, tu ckin g h er h air b ehin d
her e ars a gain . A n erv ous g estu re , I r e aliz e d , a s s h e s p oke. “ I h av e o ne s h o ot to day, b ut a fte r th at, I ’ ll
te ll e v ery o ne I ’ m n o t f e elin g w ell a nd h ead s tr a ig ht b ack o n b oard . I f y o u m eant w hat y o u s a id a b out
getti n g m e o ff th is sh ip a nd o ut o f th e m id dle o f a ll th is — ” S he w av ed h er h and s a ro und , e yes
glitte rin g w ith u nsh ed te ars . “ T hen th at’ ll b e a g o od o pportu nity .”
“I d o,” I a ssu re d h er.
She n o dded . “ T hen le t’ s n o t w aste a ny m ore ti m e. I’ ll c ancel b re akfa st. A donis , o rd er ro om

se rv ic e, y o u k no w w hat I lik e. M ake s u re to g et a n e nerg y d rin k fo r h er.” S he m oti o ned to m e. “ N o
offe nse , b ut y o u s ti ll l o ok l ik e y o u’re a b out to f a ll o ut. A nd y o u s h o uld p ro bab ly g et w ho ev er i s g o in g
to b e p la yin g m e h ere a s w ell. T here ’s s o m e s tu ff m y d oppelg änger i s g o in g to n eed to k no w i f s h e’s
go in g to h av e a p ra yer o f p ullin g th is o ff.”

Chap te r X XIII
A FT ER W HAT T U RN ED o ut to b e a te nse , yet in fo rm ati v e b re akfa st w ith E lis e , A rte m is , and
A donis , I c o uld n’t w ait to g et o ff th e b oat a nd e xp lo re th e c ru is e lin e’s p riv ate is la nd . In ste ad , I g o t
s w ep t a lo ng to a no th er p ho to s h o ot. A donis p ro m is e d it w ould o nly la st a fe w h o urs b efo re a no th er
b atc h o f m odels to ok o ur p la ce. T hat w as a f e w h o urs a go , s o w ith a ny l u ck, w e w ere a lm ost d one.
I w as ly in g o n th e b each, p ose d o n to p o f A donis , a nd fe elin g a b so lu te ly jitte ry w hile a m akeup
a rti s t a rra nged m y h air s o m y r e d c urls d id n’t b lo ck h is f a ce. T he s u n r e fle cti n g o ff th e b rillia nt w hite
s a nd h urt m y e yes. A t le ast, th at’ s h o w I ju sti fie d k eep in g m y g aze fo cuse d o n A donis ’s b are s k in .
D esp ite th e s u n b eati n g d ow n o n u s, th e c o ol b re eze c o m in g o ff th e o cean k ep t u s fr o m b re akin g o ut
i n to a s w eat. M ostl y .
What a b ea utifu l b ea ch
. If I c ra ned m y n eck, I c o uld s e e th e o cean, a b out h alf a fo otb all fie ld ’s
l e ngth a w ay, w ate r s p ark lin g lik e liq uid to urm alin e. V oic es c aught m y a tte nti o n fr o m m y o th er s id e,
a nd I g la nced o ver to s e e o ne o f th e a ssis ta nts fid dlin g w ith a lig ht b oard . A no th er n o is e c aught m y
e ar a nd I tu rn ed , e arn in g a s h arp tu g f r o m a s ty lis t n am ed T ris h a s s h e m esse d w ith m y h air.
“C ould y o u
ple a se
s ta y s ti ll? ” T ris h a sk ed .
“Y eah, f o r r e al,” A donis a d ded .
“S orry .” I f lu sh ed , r e aliz in g I w as a ll b ut b ouncin g w ith u nco nta in ed e nerg y. T he f a ct th at e nerg y
d rin ks c o uld i m pact m e a t a ll d id n’t s p eak w ell f o r a ny c hance o f i m pro vem ent o nce w e h it r e al l a nd ,
b ut ra th er th an fo cusin g o n th e n egati v e, I d ecid ed to e njo y th e n o velty o f th e e xp erie nce. If e nerg y
d rin ks c o uld i m pact m e n o w , c o uld I g et d ru nk? W hat e ls e h ad c hanged ? C ould I —
“S erio usly ,” A donis c o m pla in ed .
“ Sorry.”
I s a id a gain . G eez, w hat w as w ith h im ?
He’d g o tte n a ll c ra nky a nd in tr o sp ecti v e a fte r
h is a rg um ent w ith E lis e . In ste ad o f in d ulg in g h is a ngst, I tu rn ed m y a tte nti o n to T ris h . “ S o h o w d oes
t h is s e ll j e ans? ”
“T hey se ll yo ur sw im su it, to o.” T ris h sp ra yed m y hair w ith so m eth in g th at sm elle d lik e a
c hem ic al v ers io n o f a tr o pic al p ara d is e . “ N ot th at i t’ s l ik ely to b e i n th e s h o t.”
Adonis a nd I b oth w ore th e c o m pany’s s ig natu re je ans, b ut w here h e w as s h ir tl e ss, a s p er th e
n o rm , I w ore a str ip ed b ik in i to p th at a ctu ally lo oked p re tty c ute . If th ey d id n’t le t m e k eep th e
s w im su it, I ’ d h av e to p ic k o ne u p th e n ext ti m e I v is ite d th e m all.
Did th eir a d c o nv in ce m e to b uy th eir p ro duct w hile I w as i n th eir a d ? H ow m eta .
“O kay, w e’re a ll r e ad y.” T ris h s to od, i n sp ecti n g u s f r o m e v ery a ngle , th en m ad e a b eelin e to th e
c ab ana th e m odelin g a gency h ad r e nte d s o w e’d h av e a s tr e tc h o f p riv ate b each.
As s o on a s s h e w alk ed o ut o f e ars h o t, A donis r e tu rn ed to h is f a v orite to pic o f th e d ay. “ Y ou th in k
y o u’re d yin g.” H is d eep u nd erto ne b ro ught m e b ack to re ality w ith a c ra sh . “ S o w hy a re y o u s ti ll
h ere ? I f I w ere y o u, I ’ d w ant to h av e f u n, y o u k no w ? H ang o ut w ith p eo ple w ho . . . I d on’t k no w — ”
I f la sh ed h im a s a rc asti c g rin . “ D o m ore th an b are ly to le ra te m e?”

Adonis w in ced . “ Y eah.”
He h ad a p oin t, b ut I f e lt to o ti r e d to d w ell o n i t. W hile th e e nerg y d rin k c erta in ly e nerg iz e d m e,
my h ead w as s ti ll b uzzin g, a nd th o ugh th e c uts a nd s c ra tc hes h ad h eale d la st n ig ht, m y b ody s ti ll fe lt
slic ed a nd d ic ed . A s m arte r g o ddess w ould p ro bab ly ta ke th e h in t a nd le av e. G etti n g a tta cked w ent
way a b ove m y p ay g ra d e, e sp ecia lly i f m y ti m e a ctu ally w as l im ite d . B ut n o , I ’ d s ti c k a ro und . A ll f o r
one stu p id d em ig o d. S om eti m es I w ond ere d if Z eus’s p ro gra m min g w ent d eep er th an I th o ught.
Deep er th an e v en P ose id on i m plie d . Z eus h ad b re d l o yalty i n to m e. S ub se rv ie nce to o, th o ugh th at o ne
had a h ard er ti m e s ti c kin g.
“N ear d eath h as p re tty m uch b een m y s ta te o f b ein g s in ce m y c re ati o n.” I s h ifte d m y w eig ht to m y
hand s so th ere w asn ’t q uite so m uch sk in -to -s k in c o nta ct g o in g o n. D am ned d is tr a cti n g stu ff, b ut
so m eho w I c o uld n’t b rin g m yse lf to m in d . “ I c an’t ju st d ro p e v ery th in g b ecause o f so m e th eo ry .
Pose id on c o uld b e w ro ng.”
Adonis p ro pped h im se lf u p o n h is a rm s. “ Y our s h ie ld b ro ke w hen w e w ere o n th e b alc o ny.”
“S om eo ne d is tr a cte d m e,” I te ase d , p la nti n g a h and o n h is b are c hest a nd p ush in g h im d ow n o n
th e s a nd .
We b oth fe ll s ile nt fo r a s e rie s o f s h o ts w here o ur fa ces w ere v is ib le , b ut th e s e co nd w e w ere
angle d a w ay f r o m th e c am era , A donis p ic ked u p r ig ht w here h e’d l e ft o ff. “ Y ou w in ce e v ery ti m e y o u
charm s o m eo ne o r p ut u p a s h ie ld . Y ou d id n’t u se d to d o th at.”
“W atc hin g m e p re tty c lo se th ere , e h, A donis ? ” I w ig gle d m y to es in th e w arm s a nd . W ere th ey
alm ost fin is h ed se tti n g up ? I gla nced to w ard th e pho to gra p her, but he lo oked engro sse d in a
co nv ers a ti o n w ith o ne o f h is a ssis ta nts .
“Y ou h ad a p anic a tta ck l a st n ig ht.” A donis ’s s e rio us v oic e d re w m y a tte nti o n b ack to h im . “ I’ v e
nev er h eard o f a g o d g etti n g th o se .”
“M ayb e I w as p anic ked ,” I s n ap ped , l o sin g m y p ati e nce. W hat d id h e w ant m e to s a y? E very th in g
su cked , a nd a t th e r a te m y p ow ers s e em ed to b e a b and onin g m e, I’ d b e d ead b y d aw n? W hat g o od
would d w ellin g o n th e o bvio us d o? T his w ould e ith er p ass o r i t w ould n’t.
“A phro dite , I’ m w orrie d . Y ou sto pped healin g.” H is hand re ste d lig htl y o n m y b ack, and I
win ced , r e m em berin g th e p atc hw ork o f s c ra tc hes I’ d g o tte n fr o m s lid in g a cro ss th e b ro ken g la ss la st
nig ht.
I l e aned i n to h is to uch, a ccep ti n g th e a p olo gy i n h is v oic e. “ I h eale d e v entu ally .”
“Y ou s to pped b re ath in g. D o y o u h av e a ny i d ea h o w — ” H e l o oked a w ay. “ I d id n’t k no w w hat to
do. I th o ught— I th o ught y o u w ere — ” H e to ok a d eep b re ath , j o lti n g w hen I to uched h is a rm .
“I’ m b re ath in g n o w . Y ou a ctu ally k in d o f s a v ed m e, a gain .” I ti lte d m y h ead a nd fla sh ed h im m y
most d azzlin g s m ile . “ T hanks, b y th e w ay.”
“N o!” A donis to ok a d eep b re ath a nd e xhale d w ith a f o rc ed c alm b efo re a d din g i n a m uch q uie te r
voic e. “ N o, I d id n’t. S o d on’t th ank m e. A nd n ext ti m e y o u m ig ht n o t— ”
“W ho s a id th ere ’s g o in g to b e a n ext ti m e?”
The p ho to gra p her a m ble d o ver a nd re arra nged u s, m ovin g A donis , a nd ta lk in g m e th ro ugh th e
pose s. B y th e ti m e h e f in is h ed , A donis a nd I b oth f a ced a w ay f r o m th e c am era , m y h ead o n h is c hest,
his a rm s w ra p ped a ro und m e. I le t m yse lf re la x a gain st h im . W hen A re s to uched m e, I c o uld fe el
pow er p uls in g th ro ugh h im , l e av in g h im h o t to th e to uch. I n h is a rm s, I ’ d f e lt l ik e a m oth d ra w n to th e
fa ta l fla m e. I’ d n ev er w ante d s o b ad ly to b urn . A donis la cked th at h eat, b ut h is a rm s fe lt s te ad y a nd
fir m . T here w as a c o m fo rt h ere I d esp era te ly n eed ed r ig ht n o w .

When A donis s p oke, I c o uld f e el th e w ord s r e v erb era te th ro ugh h is c hest. “ Y ou s h o uld g et o ff th e
sh ip . A sk P ers e p ho ne to te le p ort y o u s o m ew here s a fe w hile w e’re i n th is r e alm . A nyw here b ut h ere .”
I d id n’t te ll h im I’ d tu rn ed d ow n th at e xact o ffe r la st n ig ht. T his w as th e th ir d ti m e in a s m any
days th at A donis h ad a sk ed m e to l e av e. I f h e a sk ed a gain , I m ig ht h av e to ta ke th e r e q uest p ers o nally .
“I’ m n o t l e av in g.”
“Y ou w ere a tta cked a nd c harm ed — ”
I g av e a n e xaggera te d g ro an, a nd s a t u p , s tr a d dlin g h im p er th e p ho to gra p her’s in str u cti o ns. “ I
to ld y o u, I m ig ht n o t h av e b een c harm ed w hen I m ad e o ut w ith T anta lu s.”
“Y es, y o u w ere .” A donis p ro pped h im se lf u p o n h is a rm s a nd l e aned to w ard m e i n a h alf- s itti n g
positi o n. “ Y ou w ould n’t h av e k is se d h im o th erw is e .”
That w as a p re tty b ig l e ap . “ W hat m akes y o u s o s u re ?”
“B ecause . . .” H e tr a ile d o ff, r u b bin g th e b ack o f h is n eck. “ Y ou’re n o t s u b tl e w hen y o u w ant to
kis s s o m eo ne. T he w ay y o u l o ok a t m e, th e w ay y o u l o oked a t A re s l a st n ig ht . . .” H e g la nced d ow n
at th e s a nd . “ A b lin d m an c o uld s e e i t. Y ou’re a l o t m ore tr a nsp are nt th an y o u th in k.”
I g av e h im a l e v el l o ok. “ T hen y o u k no w I ’ m n o t g o in g a nyw here .”
“D on’t s ta y h ere f o r m e. P le ase , A phro dite . N ot f o r m e.”
“Y ou’re
re a lly
w orrie d ,” I r e aliz e d , s h o cked a t th e l e v el o f c o ncern i n h is v oic e. I tr ie d to i n je ct
so m e l e v ity i n to th e c o nv ers a ti o n. “ A nd h ere I th o ught w e w ere n’t f r ie nd s.”
“I to ld y o u, I ’ m n o t p re te nd in g.” A donis f la sh ed m e a p la yfu l g rin f o r th e c am era a nd g rip ped m e
ti g hte r b efo re h e r o lle d o ver. I h alf- la ughed , h alf- s h rie ked w ith s u rp ris e a t f in d in g m yse lf l y in g o n th e
sa nd b eneath h im .
“I c are .” A donis w ork ed h is a rm s f r e e, p la nti n g o ne o n e ith er s id e o f m e to s u p port h is w eig ht. “ I
don’t k no w e xactl y w hen th at h ap pened o r to w hat d egre e. I ’ v e m ostl y tr ie d to i g no re i t. B ut th en . . .”
He b ro ke o ff w ith a s h arp s h ake o f h is h ead .
“B ut th en?” I e nco ura ged , b ru sh in g h is h air b ack f r o m h is f a ce.
“Y ou s to pped b re ath in g.” A donis ’s v oic e w av ere d . “ T he w ay I fe lt, in th at m om ent . . . I c an’t
ig no re th at a nym ore . If y o u s ta y fo r m e, a nd y o u g et h urt o r w ors e , I c o uld n’t liv e w ith m yse lf.” H is
go ld e yes b ore d i n to m in e, f u ll o f f e ar. “ P le ase , A phro dite .
Ple a se
g o .”
“A nd i f I l e ft a nd s o m eth in g h ap pened to y o u?” I w ould n’t i n su lt h im b y a sk in g h im to l e av e, e v en
th o ugh I k new P ers e p ho ne w ould h id e h im in th e U nd erw orld w ith th e o th ers if I a sk ed . A donis
would n’t h id e w hile d em ig o ds o n th e s u rfa ce w ent m is sin g. E very o ne in h is fa m ily w as a d em ig o d.
“W hat d o y o u th in k th at w ould d o to m e?”
“A phro dite . . .” H e h ung h is h ead a nd h is f o re head b ru sh ed a gain st m in e. “ I’ m n o t. . . . I ’ m n o t w
—”
“T hey s a id th at’ s a w ra p .
Hello ?

Elis e ’s v oic e s e nt A donis s c ra m blin g to h is f e et i n s h o ck. I g la nced a ro und , s u rp ris e d to f in d a ll
th e e q uip m ent b ein g b ro ken d ow n a nd n o o ne e xcep t E lis e a ctu ally f o cusin g o n u s.
Adonis ti lte d h is h ead . “ Y ou’re n o t— ”
“N o n eed to a nno unce i t to th e w orld .” H er f a ce m ig ht b elo ng to E lis e , b ut th e s m ile s u re d id n’t.
“Ju st w ante d to c heck i n w ith y o u g uys b efo re I h ead b ack to th e b oat.” S he tu rn ed a ro und , s lo w , w ith
her a rm s o ut. “ H ow d o I l o ok?”
“Ju st r ig ht.” I g rin ned a t A rte m is . “ B e c are fu l, w ill y o u?”
“Y ou, to o.”

“I w ill.” B ut s o m eho w , I d oub te d a ll th e c auti o n i n th e w orld w ould b e e no ugh.

Chap te r X XIV
O NCE E LIS E A ND A rte m is m ad e th e s w itc h, a ll A donis a nd I c o uld d o to h elp w as s ta y o ut o f th e
w ay a nd l o ok “ no rm al.”
“I th in k th ey s to ck th is w ate r w ith s a nd d olla rs .” A donis ’s h and s w ere f u ll o f th e s a nd y d is k s, a n
e xp re ssio n o f d elig ht l ig hti n g u p h is f a ce.
“P ro bab ly .” T he w ate r l o oked s o c le ar, I c o uld s e e r e fle cte d r ip ple s m akin g a p atc hw ork p atte rn
a lo ng th e s a nd y b otto m b elo w . If I s q uin te d , I c o uld m ake o ut n early a d oze n s a nd d olla rs w ith in
s p la sh in g d is ta nce. S unlig ht f r a ctu re d u p on h itti n g th e c ry sta l- c le ar w ate r, s e nd in g r a in b ow s s p ark lin g
i n th e r is e a nd f a ll o f th e g entl e w av es.
Grin nin g, I p lu cked th e l a rg est s a nd d olla r f r o m A donis ’s f in gers a nd s p ra ng a w ay f r o m h im .
“H ey!” H e s p la sh ed a fte r m e. “ T here a re l ik e, a h und re d o th er o nes y o u c o uld g et.” A donis th re w
a s h ard o f a s a nd d olla r a t m y h ead . “ G et y o ur o w n.”
The s a nd d olla r h it m y h ead w ith a th unk b efo re c ru m blin g a nd s p la sh in g i n to th e s e a. I k ic ked m y
f e et, s p la sh in g A donis . “ B ut I w ant th is o ne.”
“N ev er!” H e l a ughed , s e nd in g a s p ra y o f w ate r i n m y d ir e cti o n.
I h eld th e s a nd d olla r a t a rm ’s l e ngth a b ove m y h ead . “ I’ ll th ro w i t! ”
“D on’t y o u d are .” A donis lu nged to w ard m e a nd lo oped a n a rm a ro und m y to rs o to p ull m e to
h im a nd tr y to g ra b th e d is k fr o m m y fin gers . I p ush ed b ackw ard o ff th e s a nd b ar. W e w ent u nd er,
p ush in g a nd p ullin g a t o ne a no th er u nti l w e tu m ble d i n to th e s h allo w w ate r, s a nd s c ra p in g a t m y b ack.
He g ra b bed m y h and , l o okin g a t m e i n a sk ance w hen h e f o und m y c lu tc hed f in gers e m pty .
“I d ro pped i t,” I a d m itte d .
He b urs t o ut l a ughin g. “ B et I f in d i t f ir s t.”
“Y ou w is h .” I d ove i n to th e w ate r.
The h o urs s tr e tc hed in to e te rn ity . W e w ent s c ub a d iv in g, p la yed v olle yb all, a nd lo unged o n th e
b each. C lo ud s w is p ed in to th in lin es in th e b rig ht b lu e s k y. F ra gra nt p in k b lo sso m s b lo om ed b esid e
t i n y, s p ik y p alm tr e es a nd th ic k c ed ar p in es. A nd f o r a l ittl e w hile , I f e lt a s i f w e’d f r o ze n o ne p erfe ct
d ay i n p ara d is e .
Then th e su n sta rte d to sin k in to th e a q uam arin e w av es, a nd th e w arm , e up ho ric fe elin g I’ d
e njo yed a ll d ay fr o ze in m y c hest. W hate v er w as h ap penin g to th e d em ig o ds w ould h ap pen to nig ht,
a nd I m ig ht n o t b e a b le to s to p i t. I e yed A donis , s w allo w in g h ard a t th e s u d den p re ssu re o n m y c hest.
I t w asn ’t ju st h im w ho ’d b e in d anger to nig ht. A re s, A rte m is , A th ena, e v en P ose id on w ere m akin g
t h em se lv es ta rg ets a nd I w as p ow erle ss a gain st w hate v er w as c o m in g.
Sud denly , I w ante d n o th in g m ore th an to h ead b ack to th e r o om . I f e lt s ic k w ith f e ar a nd c o ld , to o.
I s h o ved m y w orrie s o ut o f m y h ead a nd fo cuse d o n th e p hysic al in ste ad . T he s u n d id a p re tty g o od
j o b o f d ry in g m y b ik in i, b ut m y h air s ti ll fe lt d am p. B etw een th e d yin g d aylig ht a nd th e c o nsta nt s e a
b re eze , m y s h eer s w im su it c o ver d id n’t s ta nd a c hance a gain st th e c hill.

I b ru sh ed sa nd o ff m y le gs a nd a rm s, to n o a v ail. T he b each lo oked b eauti fu l, b ut th e w hite
gra nule s g o t e v ery w here , a nd th e p ow dery s u b sta nce c lu ng to m y s k in lik e fo und ati o n. A flic ker o f
fla m e c aught m y a tte nti o n d ow n th e b each.
A g ro up o f m odels s a t a ro und a c am pfir e . S natc hes o f l a ughte r a nd c o nv ers a ti o n m ad e th eir w ay
to u s o n th e w in d , b ut w e w ere n’t c lo se e no ugh to m ake o ut w ord s.
“W hat a re th ey d oin g?” I n arro w ed m y e yes, tr y in g to s e e c le are r. J u d gin g b y th e la ughin g a nd
je erin g w hen s o m eo ne p oure d a s h o t, th ey s e em ed to b e p la yin g s o m e k in d o f a d rin kin g g am e.
“T hey’re p la yin g T ru th .” A donis y aw ned , s tr e tc hin g i n a w ay I f o und i n cre d ib ly d is tr a cti n g.
“W hat, l ik e T ru th o r D are ?” I f o rc ed m y g aze to h is f a ce.
“Ju st T ru th . W e a h . . . c ut th e d are s a fte r s o m e . . . in cid ents . It’ s a s tu p id g am e,” h e e xp la in ed .
“E very o ne th in ks th e w ho le th in g i s d um b, b ut, y o u k no w . . .” A donis s h ru gged . “ It’ s s o m eth in g to d o
to w in d d ow n a fte r a s h o ot w henev er w e’re s tu ck o n lo cati o n. T hey a sk q uesti o ns, a nd if y o u d on’t
answ er o r i f y o u l ie , y o u h av e to d rin k.”
“H ow w ould th ey k no w y o u’re l y in g?”
“T anta lu s c harm s th em in to b ein g h o nest, n o t th at th ey re aliz e it. N ot th e b est g am e to p la y if
yo u’re a n i m posto r w ho c an’t l ie , th o ugh.” A donis e yed T anta lu s, s q uin ti n g to s e e h im i n th e d is ta nce.
“S o I ’ m g uessin g A re s h asn ’t ta ken h is p la ce y et? ”
I te xte d A re s.
He’s a lw ays in a g ro up,
he r e p lie d .
If h e d oesn ’t g o s o m ew here a lo ne s o on, I ’ll h ave to w ait
until h e g ets b ack t o h is s u ite .
I f r o w ned a t m y p ho ne. “ It’ s s ti ll h im .”
“T anta lu s p ro bab ly h asn ’t b een a lo ne.” A donis s c o w le d a t th e f ir e a nd l e t o ut a d eep b re ath . “ H e
te nd s to s ta y i n a c ro w d. W hat i f h e s ta ys i n a g ro up th e w ho le n ig ht? H e m ig ht n o t e v en g o b ack to h is
ro om a lo ne.”
“H e d id n’t h av e a nyo ne w ith h im l a st n ig ht.”
“P ro bab ly s ti ll h o pin g f o r a s h o t w ith y o u.”
I c o uld u se th at. I te xte d A re s m y p la n, th en p ulle d o ff th e s w im su it c o ver, f o ld in g i t i n to m y b ag.
“S ta y h ere .”
“A phro dite , d on’t.” A donis fo llo w ed rig ht o n m y h eels a s I a p pro ached th e fir e , b la zin g g re en
and b lu e th anks to th e s e a s a lt.
“M in d i f I j o in y o u?” I f la sh ed T anta lu s a s m ile .
“P le ase .” T anta lu s s to od a nd re ached fo r m y h and , p ullin g m e to th e s p ot b esid e h im . “ W e’re
pla yin g a g am e. I ’ m w in nin g, b ut i t’ s n o t to o l a te to j o in i n .”
“If b y w in nin g, y o u m ean w ell o n y o ur w ay to p assin g o ut d ru nk.” T he b ru nette n ext to T anta lu s
gav e h im a p la yfu l s h o ve.
“W as th at n o t th e p oin t o f th is g am e?” H e g rin ned , th en tu rn ed h is a tte nti o n to A donis . “ Y ou c an
jo in to o, h av e a s e at. P la y a r o und . Y ou p ass, y o u d rin k. Y ou l ie , y o u d rin k.”
“Is n ’t th e s h ip l e av in g s o on?” A donis a sk ed . “ M ayb e w e s h o uld h ead b ack.”
“It’ s n o t g o in g to le av e w ith o ut u s,” T anta lu s s a id w ith s u ch c erta in ty th at I w ond ere d w ho h e’d
charm ed to m ake th at a rra ngem ent.
He m oti o ned fo r o ne o f th e c re w to g ra b u s s o m e s h o ts . “ P ass o n w hate v er q uesti o ns y o u lik e
excep t m in e. I
re a lly
w ant to h ear y o ur a nsw ers .”
When I h esita te d , h is e yes b ore d i n to m in e. “ C om e o n. I t’ ll b e f u n.”

The so oner th e g am e e nd ed , th e so oner I c o uld g et T anta lu s a lo ne a nd A re s c o uld m ake th e
sw itc h. I r e la xed , s itti n g o n th e lo g T anta lu s in d ic ate d , jo in in g th e c ir c le o f s e v en o th er m odels . T he
air s h im mere d w ith h eat f r o m th e b lu e a nd g re en f la m es r is in g f r o m th e s a lt- c o ate d d riftw ood a nd th e
sm oke b it at m y ta ste b ud s. T he m usk y cam pfir e sc ent alw ays re m in d ed m e o f th e fir e s A re s,
Hep haestu s, a nd I g rille d h o t d ogs o n d urin g o ur r o ad tr ip l a st y ear. U nlik e th e b ulk o f th at tr ip th o ugh,
no t a s in gle c lo ud m arre d th e s k y, a llo w in g th e c ris p m oonlig ht to b eam d ow n a nd r e fle ct o ff th e p ure
white s a nd .
“V io le t, I b elie v e i t’ s s ti ll y o ur tu rn .” T anta lu s m oti o ned f o r h er to a sk a q uesti o n.
Vio le t, a d ark -h air e d m odel, tu rn ed to m e. “ W e’ll s ta rt s m all. E ver k ill a nyo ne?”
The g ir l n ext to h er b urs t o ut la ughin g. I g av e h er a n ic y s m ile th en tu rn ed to V io le t, w aiti n g fo r
th e l a ughte r a ro und th e f ir e to d ie d ow n to a n erv ous s ile nce. “ P ass.” I to ok a s h o t.
Tanta lu s’s l a ugher s o und ed a b it f o rc ed . “ G ood o ne. A donis , w hat w as th e l a st l ie y o u to ld ?”
A l o ng l o ok— one I c o uld n’t d ecip her— passe d b etw een th e tw o o f th em . “ I a p olo giz e d to E lis e .”
That d re w a fe w h is se s a nd s n ic kers fr o m th e g ro up o f m odels . I lo oked a ro und a t th eir s m ilin g
fa ces a nd r e aliz e d E lis e w as n o t w ell- lik ed . H uh. I h ad n’t c are d f o r h er e ith er a t f ir s t, b ut s h e a ctu ally
se em ed p re tty n ic e. F rie nd ly , e v en.
Tanta lu s s ta re d a t A donis . “ Y ou g o nna m ake m e s a y i t? ”
Adonis c le nched h is j a w a nd to ok a s h o t.
“I th o ught s o .” T anta lu s tu rn ed to m e. “ W ho w as th e b lo nd e y o u w ere w ith l a st n ig ht? ”
“P ass.” I r e ached f o r a no th er s h o t, b ut T anta lu s g ra b bed m y h and , h ard e no ugh to h urt.
“W ho .” H e m et m y e yes. “ W as. S he?”
“P ers e p ho ne.” I fille d h im in o n a s m any d eta ils a b out h er I c o uld th in k o f, fo rg etti n g th e w ord s
ev en a s I s p oke th em .
Adonis g la nced f r o m m e to T anta lu s, h is f a ce d ark enin g. “ S to p c harm in g h er; l e t h er g o .”
“W hen I’ m d one w ith h er. O h, a nd d on’t w orry . N o o ne is g o in g to r e m em ber a nyth in g y o u o r I
sa y to o r r e gard in g h er, i s n ’t th at r ig ht, e v ery o ne?” H e m et e ach m odel’s e yes b efo re s e ttl in g o n m e.
“Y eah,” I s a id , c him in g i n w ith e v ery o ne e ls e . W ait . . . W hy d id I s a y th at?
“W e’re ju st hav in g fu n.” B lu e-g re en fir e lig ht flic kere d acro ss Tanta lu s’s go ld en fe atu re s.
“N oth in g u nusu al g o in g o n, r ig ht? ”
Every h ead a ro und th e c ir c le n o dded .
Adonis w ork ed h is j a w . “ T anta lu s . . .”
“C are fu l, A donis ,” T anta lu s c auti o ned . “ Y ou’re g etti n g a w fu lly c lo se to c ro ssin g th e lin e h ere .
Look,
yo u
d on’t h av e to p la y. G o b ack to th e b oat. I ’ ll g et h er b ack to y o u, e v entu ally .”
Adonis s a t n ext to m e, h is e xp re ssio n s to ny.
Tanta lu s le aned fo rw ard , g aze in te nse . “ W hy w ere y o u s e arc hin g th e s h ip ?” H is v oic e s o und ed
so l o w , I a lm ost c o uld n’t h ear h im o ver th e c ra ckle o f f la m e.
He s h o uld n’t h av e r e m em bere d th e s e arc h. E ith er h e w as i m mune, o r I ’ d b een s o c harm ed o ut o f
my m in d , I o nly th o ught I’ d m ad e h im fo rg et. G ood. I c o uld n’t im agin e w hy I’ d e v er w ant to c harm
him in to fo rg etti n g a nyth in g. “ W e w ere a tta cked b y c harm ed p asse ngers w ith O ly m pia n S te ele . W e
need ed to m ake s u re th ere w as n o m ore l e ft o n th e b oat.”
“W hy a re y o u o n th e b oat to b egin w ith ?”
My p ho ne b uzze d , v ib ra ti n g i n m y b ag, a nd s e tti n g m y b each to te g lo w in g w ith a c o ol b lu e l ig ht. I
blin ked , s ta rin g a t th e b ag. W hat d id I s a y? W hy—

“H ey!” T anta lu s’s s h arp v oic e b ro ught m y a tte nti o n b ack to h im . “ I a sk ed y o u a q uesti o n.”
Rig ht. I s c ra m ble d to r e m em ber. “ D em ig o ds a re g o in g m is sin g. W e’re tr y in g to fig ure o ut w here
th ey’re g o in g a nd w hy.”
Tanta lu s m ad e a s u rp ris e d s o und . “ A ny l e ad s? ”
“W e k no w th e d em ig o ds w ill g o m is sin g to nig ht, b ut th at’ s a b out a ll w e k no w .” M y fin gers d ug
in to th e s a nd , f e elin g th e p ow dery g ra nule s s lid e a gain st m y p alm .
“T ell m e e v ery th in g y o u’v e fo und , a nd e v ery th in g y o u’v e p la nned s o fa r. W ho is w ork in g w ith
yo u, a nd w hat c an th ey d o?”
“T anta lu s,” A donis o bje cte d . “ E no ugh.”
Word s s p ille d o ut o f m y m outh , i m pati e nt a nd e ager. W hen I f in is h ed , T anta lu s tu rn ed to th e n ext
gir l. “ W hat’ s y o ur f a v orite c o lo r, A nd re a?”
“B lu e.”
He m ad e h is w ay a ro und th e c ir c le , e ach q uesti o n m ore i n no cuo us th an th e l a st. I d ug m y to es i n
th e s a nd , f r o w nin g. D id h e a sk m e a q uesti o n? O r d id h e s k ip m e? N ot th at I m in d ed b ein g s k ip ped i n
th is g am e, b ut. . . . H e’d a sk ed m e s o m eth in g, h ad n’t h e?
I l o oked to A donis f o r c lu es, b ut h e w ould n’t m eet m y e yes.
“M y tu rn ,” th e b ru nette n ext to T anta lu s a nno unced . “ W hat th e h ell k in d o f a n am e is T anta lu s?
Lik e, s e rio usly , w hy d o y o u a ll h av e s u ch w eir d n am es? ”
Tanta lu s’s fa ce d ark ened . “ It’ s G re ek. A nd N ik ki w as a w eir d n am e o nce u p on a ti m e. N am in g
tr e nd s h av e to s ta rt s o m ew here .”
“N o o ffe nse , b ut I s o m eho w d oub t y o ur p are nts a re g o in g to b e tr e nd se tte rs in th e b ab y n am e
sp here .” S he l a ughed , g iv in g T anta lu s a g o od-n atu re d p ush , a nd c o nti n ued a ro und th e c ir c le . W hen s h e
go t to A donis , s h e a sk ed , “ A re y o u a nd T anta lu s r e la te d ?”
The tw o d em ig o ds e xchanged l o oks, b ut T anta lu s a nsw ere d . “ N ot to o ur k no w le d ge, w hy?”
Well, a ctu ally th ey w ere . B ut I g uesse d Z eus w ould b e r a th er h ard to e xp la in .
She f lu sh ed a t th e c halle nge i n h is v oic e. “ W ell . . . I m ean, y o u’re b oth A uru m s. I ’ v e h eard i t c an
be g eneti c .”
I r e sis te d th e u rg e to r o ll m y e yes a t th e h um an e xp la nati o n f o r d em ig o ds.
“I’ m s o rry ,” V io le t i n te rru p te d . “ A uru m s? ”
“Y ou k no w ,” th e b ru nette s a id . “ P eo ple w ho l o ok l ik e th em . A ll g o ld a nd s tu ff.”
“M ost of th e ti m e, it doesn ’t ru n in fa m ilie s.” Tanta lu s’s sm ir k lo oked le ss th an fr ie nd ly .
“A uru m nis m is a g eneti c a b no rm ality th at a b so lu te ly a nyo ne c an b e b orn w ith , n o m atte r w hat th eir
eth nic ity o r f a m ily h is to ry .”
“W e p re fe r p eo ple w ith A uru m nis m ,” A donis a d ded .
What, w ere th ey r e ad in g f r o m th e s a m e p am phle t? B oth th eir a nsw ers s o und ed s u p er r e hears e d .
“W hat’ s th e d iffe re nce?” V io le t a sk ed .
Adonis g la nced d ow n a t th e s a nd , h is f a ce f lu sh ed w ith e m barra ssm ent. “ P ers o n-fir s t l a nguage i s
a b it l e ss d ehum aniz in g.”
“D ehum aniz in g?” O ne o f th e o th er m odels la ughed . “ Y ou g uys, lik e, r u le th e w orld . H ow m any
fa m ous p eo ple h av e i t? L ik e o ne i n te n?”
“A t l e ast,” A nd re a c him ed i n . “ S eem s l ik e e v ery o th er m ovie s ta r, m odel, o r s in ger h as i t.”
“M y h is to ry p ro f to ld m e th at y o u g uys w ere h eld u p a s g o ds i n m ost a ncie nt s o cie ti e s.”
“W e als o m ad e hand y sa crific es. A nd to day, w e go m is sin g and d ie a lo t th anks to hum an

tr a ffic kin g a nd c ra zy p eo ple w ho th in k w e’re s o m e k in d o f u nnatu ra l a b om in ati o n.” T anta lu s’s v oic e
so und ed d ry . “ L et’ s m ove o n.” H e g av e th e b ru nette a p oin te d l o ok.
“Y eah, o kay.” N ik ki tu rn ed to m e. “ W hat’ s y o ur n um ber? ”
“U h.” I f r o w ned , tr y in g to r e m em ber th e n um ber to th e p ho ne P ers e p ho ne g av e m e. “ S ev en o -s ix
—”
She l a ughed . “ N o, n o . I m ean y o ur
num ber.
H ow m any p eo ple h av e y o u s le p t w ith ?”
“P eo ple ?” I m use d , le anin g b ack, e njo yin g th e w ay th e w ord s m ad e m y lip s ti n gle .
Afte r o ne
sh ot?
Even i f m y d iv in e to le ra nce d ecre ase d to h um an l e v els , I s h o uld n’t b e f e elin g ti p sy y et. R ig ht?
What w as i n th ese th in gs? N o m ore p assin g f o r m e. “ H mm . . . I d on’t k no w th at I ’ v e— ”
“B ein gs,” T anta lu s c o rre cte d s o I c o uld n’t e q uiv ocate . W hen N ik ki s h o t h im a p uzzle d lo ok, h e
tu rn ed o n th e c harm . “ D on’t a sk .”
I fe lt u ltr a -a w are o f A donis sitti n g n ext to m e. A nd I w asn ’t su re I w ante d h im to k no w m y
num ber. A gain st m y b ette r j u d gm ent, I d ow ned a s h o t.
“A w , c o m e o n.” S he p oute d fo r a m om ent, th en s to pped w hen T anta lu s w his p ere d s o m eth in g in
her e ar. “ O kay. A donis . . . “ S he l a ced h er f in gers to geth er o ver h er k nee, a nd f lu tte re d h er l a sh es w ith
a c o m e-h ith er l o ok s o i m pre ssiv e, I f o und m yse lf ta kin g n o te s. “ W hat i s y o ur r o om n um ber? ”
Adonis g av e h er a s id ew ays g rin a t th e o bvio us in v ita ti o n in h er v oic e, to ok a n in w ard h is s o f
bre ath , a nd to ok a s h o t.
“O uch,” c rie d a no th er m odel. T here w ere sn ic kers a nd je ers a ro und th e c am pfir e a nd N ik ki
tu rn ed b rig ht r e d .
“It’ s o ccup ie d ,” A donis o ffe re d b y w ay o f a p olo gy. S he f o llo w ed h is g aze to m e a nd s h ru gged .
“Y our lo ss,” s h e re p lie d w ith a s m uch d ig nity a s s h e c o uld m uste r, a nd m oved o n to th e n ext
questi o n.
“P ass,” th e n ext m odel r e p lie d .
“T hir d p ass,” T anta lu s c rie d . “ L ig htn in g r o und , w ho a re th e u nlu cky v ic ti m s? ” H e s p un a n e m pty
beer b ottl e in th e s a nd a nd g rin ned w hen th e m outh c am e to a s to p p oin ti n g a t A donis . “ H ead s o r
ta ils ? ” H e f lip ped a c o in i n th e a ir.
“H ead s,” A donis s a id .
The q uarte r l a nd ed i n th e s a nd w ith a th unk. T ails .
“T w o m in ute s, d oub le s h o ts s o p ass o r lie a t y o ur p eril.” T anta lu s fille d a fe w e xtr a -ta ll s h o t
gla sse s a nd p la ced th em in fr o nt o f A donis . “ W hat’ s th e m ost h o rrib le th in g y o u’v e e v er d one to
ano th er b ein g?”
Adonis to ok a s h o t.
Tanta lu s g rin ned . “ B ig gest r e gre t? ”
“M eeti n g y o u.”
I fr o w ned a nd lo oked b etw een th e tw o o f th em . W hat w as
th is
ab out? E ach q uesti o n w as m ore
ho sti le th an th e la st. T he a ir fe lt th ic ker w ith te nsio n th an s m oke, a nd n o o ne lo oked a s if th ey w ere
hav in g f u n a nym ore .
Tanta lu s l e aned f o rw ard . “ H ow ’s y o ur l ittl e s is te r? ”
Adonis g ro und h is te eth a nd to ok a no th er s h o t.
“S he s ti ll a ud iti o nin g f o r a r o le o n
Teen M om
?”
I ra is e d m y e yeb ro w s. A c o up le o f th e m odels c le are d th eir th ro ats a nd lo oked a w ay. I h ad a
fe elin g th ere w as a w ell- k no w n s to ry h ere , a nd n o o ne lo oked to o th rille d w ith T anta lu s b rin gin g u p

th e s u b je ct.
“S hut u p .”
“O h . . . th at’ s a y es, I ta ke i t. I ’ m n o t s u rp ris e d . S he w as a g re at l a y.”
“I s a id , s h ut u p !” A donis s p ra ng to h is fe et, s a nd fly in g e v ery w here . I s to od, r e ad y to in te rv ene,
th en r e co nsid ere d . T anta lu s e arn ed w hate v er A donis c ho se to th ro w a t h im .
“W ho a, o kay. M in ute ’s u p ,” V io le t d ecla re d . “ Y our tu rn .” S he m oti o ned to th e b lo nd e w ho se p ass
had tr ig gere d th e l ig htn in g r o und .
“Y eah, o kay.” S he tu rn ed to T anta lu s. “ W hat th e h ell w as th at? B uzz k ill m uch?”
Tanta lu s g rin ned , a nd e v en th o ugh I c o uld n’t s e nse p ow er c o m in g fr o m h im , I c o uld te ll h e u se d
charm , b ecause e v ery o ne r e la xed v is ib ly .
Adonis s h o ok h is h ead . “ I’ m o ut o f h ere . A phro dite , c o m e o n.” H e tu rn ed to m e, th en p ause d ,
su ckin g i n a d eep b re ath a nd s a nk b ack to th e s a nd . “ O r . . .” H e h eld u p a f in ger. “ I’ ll w ait. W hat’ s i n
th o se s h o ts ? ”
Tanta lu s’s s m ile l o oked p re d ato ry i n th e f lic kerin g f ir e lig ht. “ S om eth in g s p ecia l.”
“L et m e g et y o u s o m e w ate r,” A nd re a m urm ure d , r e achin g in to th e c o ole r. S he p asse d th e w ate r
bottl e to A donis , b ut h e d id n’t se em to n o ti c e b ecause h e w as sta rin g a t T anta lu s w ith a sta rtl in g
in te nsity .
“M ost s k in s h o w n f o r a p ho to s h o ot? ” th e b lo nd e a sk ed m e.
I b lin ked , b rin gin g m y a tte nti o n b ack to th e g am e. “ L ess th an A donis .” T hat g o t a fe w la ughs.
Leanin g b ack, I d esc rib ed th e o utf it I ’ d w orn to day.
“A b ik in i to p a nd je ans? ” T he b lo nd e la ughed . “ A w , y o u a re n ew . W here d id y o u c o m e fr o m
anyw ay? I ’ v e n ev er s e en y o u b efo re .”
“T hat’ s m ore th an o ne q uesti o n,” T anta lu s i n te rje cte d . “ M ovin g o n.”
When m y tu rn c am e a ro und a gain , o ne o f th e m ale m odels a sk ed , “ H ow o ld a re y o u?”
I s m ile d a t h im a nd r a is e d m y g la ss, b ut A donis g ra b bed m y a rm . “ D on’t.”
My s m ile f a lte re d a nd I l o oked a t h im , b ut h e w as s ti ll s ta rin g a t T anta lu s. “ Y eah,” h e s a id a fte r a
mom ent i n a s lu rre d v oic e. “ N obody’s g o in g to r e m em ber th is c o nv ers a ti o n.”
My m in d w ent b la nk. B lin kin g ra p id ly , I tr ie d to cle ar m y fo gged th o ughts . S om eth in g w as
hap penin g h ere . S om eth in g i m porta nt. I n eed ed m y w its a b out m e. B ut I c o uld n’t. . . . W ait. W hat d id I
ju st th in k? S om eth in g w as w ro ng?
Adonis s tr u ggle d to h is f e et. “ H ow m uch . . . ? ” H e to ok a d eep b re ath a nd c le nched h is f is ts , a s
if h e w as tr y in g to k eep f r o m s w ayin g. “ H ow m uch d id y o u g iv e h er? ”
“W hat d o y o u c are ?” T anta lu s r o se to h is f e et i n a s m ooth , u nin hib ite d m oti o n, a nd m oved to w ard
Adonis . “ Y ou k no w w hat s h e i s . Y ou h ate h er k in d m ore th an m ost.”
“S he’s n o t lik e th em .” E ven I w in ced a t th e w is tf u ln ess in h is to ne. A donis d id n’t b elie v e I
wasn ’t “ lik e th e o th er g o ds,” a ny m ore th an I d id . I w as a g o ddess, n o m atte r h o w m uch h e w is h ed
oth erw is e . I w asn ’t g o in g to c hange.
And I s h ould n’t .
I d id n’t s e e m y d iv in ity a s s o m eth in g I s h o uld b e a sh am ed o f. If h e c o uld n’t
— Aphro dite !
Som e c le ar a nd fu ncti o nin g p art o f m y m in d tr ie d in v ain to k eep m e in c heck.
On a
sc a le o f o ne t o i m porta nt,
th at
doesn ’t e ven r a nk. B re a k t h e c h arm . N ow !
“D on’t k id y o urs e lf, D onnie .” T anta lu s p ush ed A donis . T here c o uld n’t b e m uch fo rc e b ehin d th e
sh o ve, b ut A donis w ent s p ra w lin g. “ S he’s e xactl y lik e th em .” H e tu rn ed a nd m et th e e yes o f e ach
pers o n a ro und th e c ir c le . “ K eep h im o ut o f m y w ay.” H is e yes f o und m in e a nd m y m in d c le are d . W hat

was th ere to b e c o nfu se d a b out? I’ d ju st d o w hate v er h e s a id . “ H ow a b out y o u a nd I g o s o m ep la ce
more p riv ate ?”
Adonis g ra b bed m y h and . “ A phro dite , s to p!”
Had h e f o rg o tte n th e p la n? I n eed ed to g et T anta lu s a lo ne. I s lip ped f r e e o f A donis ’s g rip , s to od,
and f o llo w ed T anta lu s i n to th e n ig ht.

Chap te r X XV
C O M E O N, A P H RO DIT E ! Yo u’re th e fr ic kin ’ g oddess o f c h arm . B re a k th is .
Desp ite m y m enta l
s tr u ggle , I s ti ll h ad n’t b ro ken f r e e w hen T anta lu s l e d m e i n to o ne o f th e s m all, th re e-s id ed b each h uts .
“S ta nd h ere .” H e p ush ed m e a gain st th e w all i n th e b ack c o rn er, m y f e et s c uffin g o ver th e w ooden
s la ts o f th e f lo or.
Tho ugh I s to od s ti ll, m y m in d fe lt lik e a b attl e gro und . I s tr u ggle d a gain st th e c harm , p ain fla rin g
t h ro ugh m e e v ery ti m e I ta p ped in to m y p ow ers . P anic flo oded m y s y ste m . M y b re ath in g q uic kened ,
a nd I fe lt lik e th e d in gy, w ooden w alls o f th e h ut w ere c lo sin g in o n m e. T hro ugh th e o pen w all, I
c o uld s e e th e m oon g litte rin g o ver th e o cean. D esp ite th e s m all h ut b ein g m ayb e th e s iz e o f a p ark in g
s p ace, f r e ed om f e lt s o f a r a w ay.
Com e o n!
This w as ju st c harm . I’ d o verc o m e w ors e . M y h ead sp un, sto m ach tw is ti n g a s m y
v is io n b lu rre d . S ti ll, I c alle d u p on m ore a nd m ore p ow er.
Fin ally ,
th e c harm s n ap ped a nd m y a b iliti e s
f la re d to l ife w ith in m e. I g ritte d m y te eth a gain st th e p ain a nd c hannele d a s m uch c harm i n to m y g aze
a s I c o uld . “ S to p— ”
“A h, a h, a h.” H e c la m ped a h and o ver m y m outh . “ N o f ig hti n g b ack.”
The s h eer p ow er b ehin d h is c o m mand s la m med in to m y m in d lik e a s le d geham mer. W as h e
th at
s tr o ng, o r h ad I j u st b eco m e th at w eak?
Did i t m atte r? I w as s c re w ed e ith er w ay.
He s ta re d a t m e fo r a no th er m om ent, p ush in g m ore e nerg y in to h is c o m mand , a nd g ra d ually , m y
m in d e ase d . F ig ht b ack? T o w hat e nd ? I s ta re d a t T anta lu s in m ute a d ora ti o n, u nsu re w hy I’ d e v er
w ante d to f ig ht a gain st w hat
he
wante d .
Tanta lu s m oved h is h and a w ay fr o m m y m outh a nd I m ourn ed th e lo ss. D id I d o s o m eth in g to
u p se t h im ? H ow c o uld I fix th is ? T ears b rim med in m y e yes, a nd I c o uld n’t s e em to c atc h m y b re ath .
W hy d id I a lw ays s c re w e v ery th in g u p ?
“I n eed a f a v or.” H e s tu d ie d m e f o r a l o ng m om ent, h is e xp re ssio n u ncerta in .
Oh, th ank g ods!
I le ap t a t th e c hance to re d eem m yse lf, d esp air d ro ppin g o ff m e lik e a le ad
w eig ht. B eam in g, a nd th rille d b eyo nd w ord s th at h e’d d eig ned to s p eak to m e, I to ok a d eep b re ath .
“ I’ ll d o a ny— ”
A s h ie ld s h o t u p a ro und m e, s la m min g m e in to p la ce a nd c utti n g o ff m y w ord s. T anta lu s m ad e a
s tr a ngle d g asp in g so und . B la ck v ein s c ris sc ro sse d o ver h is fa ce, b lo od v esse ls b urs ti n g. H e fle w
a w ay fr o m m e a nd h it th e o pposite w all w ith a th ud . I s tr u ggle d a gain st th e s h ie ld , o r tr ie d to , b ut a
w av e o f d iz zin ess p ush ed m e b ack i n to p la ce. T anta lu s s p ra ng to h is f e et a nd s m acked i n to a f iv e-fo ot
t a ll b it o f b lo nd flu ff w ith g litte rin g g re en e yes. V in es s p ra ng fr o m th e g ro und , b re akin g th ro ugh th e
w ooden s la ts in th e flo or a nd w ove a ro und T anta lu s. H e b lin ked o ut o f v ie w a s a no th er la yer o f th e
s h ie ld s u rro und in g m e c lic ked i n to p la ce.
“N o!” I s tr u ggle d a gain st P ers e p ho ne’s s h ie ld . “ P ers e p ho ne, s to p!”

“A phro dite ?” A re s m oved in fr o nt o f m e, a nd th e s h ie ld P ers e p ho ne c ast to h o ld m e in to p la ce
sh atte re d .
“D id h e h urt h er? ” P ers e p ho ne d id n’t ta ke h er e yes o ff T anta lu s. “
Are s.
Is s h e o kay?

Of
co urse
I w asn ’t o kay. T anta lu s w as a b out to g et to rn a p art b y th e w orld ’s s h o rte st g o ddess,
and n o th in g I c o uld d o w ould sto p h er. “ P le ase , P ers e p ho ne. D on’t h urt h im !” I lu rc hed fo rw ard ,
tr y in g to s to p h er.
Are s h eld m e b ack. “ A phro dite , I ’ m s o rry a b out th is .”
Why d id h e k eep s a yin g m y n am e l ik e th at? H e s o und ed s o f r ic kin ’ c o ntr ite , th at I a ctu ally w ante d
to k ill h im . “ L et. M e. G o,” I g ro w le d , lo okin g h im fu ll in th e e ye. B ut o f c o urs e , m y c harm d id n’t
work .
Bla ck e nerg y s p ark ed b etw een P ers e p ho ne’s fin gerti p s a s s h e s ta re d d ow n T anta lu s. S o m uch
pow er c harg ed th e a ir th at h er h air s e em ed to f lo at, a s i f g ra v ity w ork ed d iffe re ntl y a ro und h er. “ Y ou
can s p eak n o w . D ro p th e c harm , a nd m ayb e y o u’ll b e a b le to m ove to o.”
“F ir s t, te ll m e w hy h e’s b een w atc hin g m e a ll d ay.” T he d em ig o d je rk ed a fin ger to w ard A re s.
Tanta lu s d id n’t lo ok n early fr ig hte ned e no ugh. M ayb e h e d id n’t th in k th e ti n y b lo nd s ta nd in g b efo re
him w as re ally a th re at. D em ig o ds d id n’t s e nse p ow ers th e s a m e w ay fu ll- b lo oded d eiti e s d id . O r
no rm ally d id . W hile I c o uld a lm ost s e e a n a ura o f p ow er c ra cklin g a ro und P ers e p ho ne, I c o uld n’t f e el
th e e nerg y.
“A phro dite , lo ok a t m e.” A re s w in ced a s m y fis t fo und h is fa ce w ith a s a ti s fy in g s m ack. “ T his
is n ’t y o u. Y ou c an b re ak th is ; y o u j u st h av e to r e m em ber to tr y . T alk to
me.”
“Shut u p!”
I k ic ked A re s a s h ard a s I c o uld .
“I s h ie ld ed h er f o r a r e aso n,” P ers e p ho ne c alle d o ver h er s h o uld er. “ W hy’d y o u b re ak i t? ”
Are s ti g hte ned h is fin gers a nd r a is e d h is v oic e s o P ers e p ho ne c o uld h ear h im o ver m y e nra ged
curs in g. “ B ecause y o u s h o uld n ev er s h ie ld a nyo ne w ho ’s b een c harm ed lik e th is . I’ v e s e en p eo ple
bre ak b ones o r w ors e tr y in g to g et f r e e.”
“G ood to k no w .” P ers e p ho ne fla sh ed T anta lu s a g rin s o c o ld , s h e m ust h av e p ic ked it u p fr o m
Had es. “ Y eah, y o u’re n o t in a p ositi o n to n ego ti a te h ere . D ro p y o ur c harm , o r I w ill e nd y o ur a b ility
to u se i t.”
She w as g o in g to k ill h im . “ P ers e p ho ne,” I s c re am ed , tr y in g to tw is t f r e e o f A re s. “
Ple a se .
Sto p!
Don’t! ”
“W hy d id y o u s e arc h m y ro om la st n ig ht? ” T anta lu s d id n’t s e em th e le ast b it d is tu rb ed b y m y
outb urs t. “ W hat d o y o u w ant f r o m u s? I k no w d em ig o ds a re g o in g m is sin g, a nd n o w th ere ’s s o m eth in g
wro ng w ith E lis e a nd A donis . N eith er o ne o f th em w ould s p end a m in ute w ith a g o d if th ey h ad a
cho ic e i n th e m atte r.”
“L et h im g o !” I k ic ked , h it, a nd c la w ed a t A re s, to n o a v ail. “ D on’t h urt h im !” G ods, I fe lt
use le ss. W hat g o od w as b ein g a g o ddess i f I c o uld n’t k eep e v en o ne p ers o n s a fe ?
“A nsw er m e,” T anta lu s d em and ed . “ O r I s w ear b y th e S ty x, I ’ ll te ll h er to d ro p d ead .”
Tanta lu s a nd P ers e p ho ne b lin ked o ut o f s ig ht a s a n ew s h ie ld s la m med in to p la ce b etw een u s. I
co uld n’t e v en h ear th em a nym ore . “ N o! P ers e p ho ne,” I s c re am ed , tr y in g to p ush p ast A re s, b ut h e
did n’t b ud ge. “ P le ase , A re s! P le ase ! L et m e g o to h im .
Ple a se ,
Are s. L et m e g o . I f y o u l e t m e g o , I ’ ll
do a nyth in g y o u w ant, A re s, p le ase . I ’ ll d o a nyth in g!”
Are s c la m ped a h and o ver m y m outh .
I k need h im i n th e g ro in a nd s la m med m y e lb ow i n to h is s to m ach. “ L et m e
go,”
I s h rie ked w hen

Are s’s g rip lo ose ned . T w is ti n g fr e e, I lu rc hed fo rw ard , a nd th en fr o ze a s th e c harm b ro ke a nd s a nity
th ru st b ack in to m y b ra in . “ O h, g o ds.” M y k nees b uckle d a nd I c ru m ple d to th e flo or. “ O h,
gods,
” I
sa id a gain a s A re s k nelt b esid e m e.
“Y ou’re b ack n o w .”
Are s w ra p ped h is a rm s a ro und m e. “ It’ s o ver.”
My v is io n b lu rre d , a nd I c o uld n’t s to p s h akin g. N ev er a gain . I’ d n ev er w ante d to fe el th at w ay
again , a nd n o w — “T here w as n o th in g l e ft o f m e; th ere w as n o th in g l e ft.”
I w as g o in g to b e s ic k. “ P ers e p ho ne, w here ’s P er— ?” I tr ie d to s ta nd , b ut a s s o on a s A re s’s a rm s
slid o ff m e, th e w eig ht o f m y p ro m is e to A re s h it m e l ik e a b ag o f b ric ks. A nyth in g. I ’ d p ro m is e d h im
anyth in g.
“S he to ok T anta lu s to th e U nd erw orld to s n ap h is c harm o ver y o u.” A re s g la nced a t w here th ey’d
been. “ S he’ll b e b ack.”
Anyth in g. A nyth in g. A nyth in g.
T he w ord e cho ed th ro ugh m y m in d . A n u nco nd iti o nal p ro m is e . N o
lim its , n o e xp ir a ti o n d ate . I s a nk b ack to th e g ro und a s th e f u ll h o rro r o f w hat I ’ d d one p ie rc ed th ro ugh
me. T he r o ugh f lo or b it a t m y k nees, th en a rm s, a s I s lid f o rw ard , h ead i n m y h and s. “ O h, m y g o ds.”
“H ey, h ey.” A re s s c ra m ble d f o rw ard , d uckin g h is h ead a lm ost to th e f lo or to b e l e v el w ith m e. “ I
would
never
call y o u o n th at. W hen I a sk s o m eth in g o f y o u, r e act e xactl y a s y o u w ould w ith o ut y o ur
pro m is e i n p la ce. G ot i t? I t w eig hs
noth in g.
I w ould n ev er d o th at to y o u.”
I w ould n’t h esita te to u se a n u nco nd iti o nal p ro m is e , n o m atte r w hat th e c ir c um sta nces w ere w hen
it’ d b een g iv en. I’ d b ound P ose id on in w hat, tw o se co nd s in to h is m is u nd ers ta nd in g? N o w ond er
Are s h ad l e ft th at n ig ht. I w as e v ery b it th e m onste r Z eus w as.
“T hin k yo u can sta nd up ?” A re s lo oked m e o ver. “Y ou’v e go t to fe el fr e ezin g in th at.” H e
sn ap ped h is f in gers , a nd h is j a cket a p peare d . H e d ra p ed i t a ro und m e.
I sig hed a s th e w arm th e nv elo ped m e. “ T hank y o u.” I to ok h is h and a nd str u ggle d to sta nd ,
sw allo w in g h ard . “ I f e el w eir d , A re s.”
“A dre nalin e, p ro bab ly . I’ v e g o t y o u.” H e su p porte d m y w eig ht a s I sa gged a gain st h im , th en
fr o w ned , p re ssin g a h and to m y f o re head . “ Y ou’re w arm .”
I d id n’t fe el w arm . A re s’s ja cket k ep t m ost o f th e s h akin g a t b ay, b ut I s ti ll fe lt a s if I’ d b een
carv ed o f i c e.
“I th in k— ” I s w allo w ed h ard , d iz zin ess o verw helm in g m e. “ I th in k s o m eth in g’s w ro ng w ith m e.”
Worry flic kere d a cro ss h is fa ce. “ W ell, le t’ s fix th at.” P ow er s u rg ed fr o m h is fin gerti p s to m y
sk in .
Pain . B lis te rin g, w hite -h o t a go ny. M y s c re am s e cho ed o ff th e r a fte rs .
“A phro dite !” A donis ’s v oic e so und ed fa in t o ver m y sc re am s. I had so m e aw are ness o f him
ru sh in g i n to th e h ut, b ut m ost o f m y f o cus w ent to th e to rre nt o f a go ny c ra sh in g th o ugh m e.
“I w as tr y in g to h eal h er,” A re s p ro te ste d . “ W hat h ap pened ?”
“I d on’t k no w ,” A donis s a id , s q ueezin g m y h and . “ F or s o m e r e aso n, th at m akes i t w ors e .”
I s q ueeze d h is h and b ack, a nd A re s’s a rm s ti g hte ned a ro und m e, b ut I c o uld n’t m anage w ord s. A
sh ud der w ra cked th ro ugh m e, c hase d b y a no th er w av e o f p ain s o i n te nse , I c rie d o ut.
Are s g ath ere d m e i n to h is a rm s a nd l ifte d m e, d am se l i n d is tr e ss s ty le , a s h e h ead ed b ack to w ard
th e b oat.
“T anta lu s d ose d h er w ith s o m eth in g,” A donis e xp la in ed , f o llo w in g r ig ht o n A re s’s h eels .
“W hat, i n c ase c harm w asn ’t e no ugh?” A re s s o und ed d is g uste d . “ F in d o ut w hat w as i n h er d rin k.
I’ m g etti n g h er b ack to — Get o ut o f m y w ay.”

“W here w ere yo u?” A donis d em and ed . “Y ou w ere su p pose d to b e w atc hin g us. Y ou w ere
su p pose d to g ra b h im th e
min ute
he g o t a w ay f r o m th e c ro w d— ”
“S om eth in g c am e u p o n b oard . T he o th ers n eed ed m y h elp . I te xte d h alf a d oze n ti m es fo r y o u
guys to h o ld o ff.” A re s tr ie d to m ove a ro und A donis , b ut A donis b lo cked h im .
“G iv e h er to m e. Y ou c an g o g et th e d rin k.”
“S erio usly ?” A re s d em and ed . “ L ook, w e d on’t h av e ti m e f o r— ”
“T hen d on’t w aste a ny. G iv e h er to m e.”
“C an w e n o t d o th is ? ” A re s g ro aned . “ T his i s n ’t a l o ve tr ia ngle . I h av e to o m uch s e lf- re sp ect f o r
th at c ra p , a nd I
kn ow
sh e d oes. Y ou s h o uld , to o. B ut e ith er w ay, r ig ht n o w is
re a lly
no t th e ti m e to
asse rt w hate v er— ”
“Y ou a ctu ally th in k— ?”
“I d on’t k no w w hat to th in k,” A re s s n ap ped . “ I d on’t k no w w hat’ s w ro ng w ith h er. S he s h o uld n’t
get c harm ed , o r d ru gged . A nd s h e s h o uld n’t s to p b re ath in g. I h av e w atc hed g o ds
die
, a nd I’ v e
never
se en a nyth in g l ik e th is . W e h av e to h elp h er, b ut y o u k eep s ta nd in g i n m y w ay.”
I w ante d to s a y s o m eth in g to s to p th e a rg uin g, b ut w ord s w ere b eyo nd m y c ap ab iliti e s a t th e
mom ent. T he p ain w as s u b sid in g, s lo w ly , b ut in its w ake, I c o uld fe el m y b ody s h utti n g d ow n in a
desp era te e ffo rt to r e co ver.
“Ju st b ecause I’ m n o t ju m pin g to fo llo w y o ur o rd ers d oesn ’t m ean th at I’ m n o t w orrie d o r th at
I’ m j e alo us, o r a ny o th er e xp la nati o n y o u w ant to c o m e u p w ith to a ssu age y o ur d iv in e e go .” A donis ’s
voic e d rip ped w ith a nger. “ T hin k w hate v er y o u w ant, I ’ m n o t l e av in g h er w ith o ne o f y o u.”
“S he
is
o ne o f u s.” A re s d re w b ack. “ A nd i t w as o ne o f
yo ur
kin d w ho m ix ed d ru gs a nd a lc o ho l
and c harm — ”
“O h y eah, b ecause g o ds n ev er d o a nyth in g l ik e th at. I t’ s n o t l ik e m y e nti r e
sp ecie s
exis ts b ecause
of g o ds tr ic kin g, c harm in g, o r s tr a ig ht- u p f o rc in g— ”
“A re y o u d efe nd in g
Tanta lu s? ”
“N o, I ’ m p oin ti n g o ut th at T anta lu s i s h alf
god.
H e g ets i t f r o m s o m ew here .”
“O h, s o l o gic ally y o u a ssu m e h is d iv in e s id e— ”
“Z eus u se d m in d c o ntr o l to m ake h er d o w hate v er h e w ante d . H ad es w as w illin g to s a crific e a
pla net
to g et h is g ir lfr ie nd b ack, a nd P ose id on th re ate ned to k ill m e if s h e d id n’t s le ep w ith h im . S o
yeah, I ’ m p re tty s u re T anta lu s g ets ‘ e v il d ouche b ag s y nd ro m e’ f r o m y o ur s id e o f th e f a m ily .”
“P ose id on d id w hat? ” A ll th e g o od n atu re a nd c heer I’ d g ro w n u se d to h earin g in A re s’s v oic e
ev ap ora te d .
I co uld n’t sto p A donis fr o m te llin g him . B y th e ti m e he fin is h ed , w e w ere b ack o nb oard ,
su rro und ed b y P ers e p ho ne, P ose id on, a nd e v ery o ne e ls e . E xcep t H ad es. W here w as H ad es? H ad I
bla cked o ut? H ow d id w e g et h ere ? A re s c o uld n’t te le p ort o nto th e s h ip . W hen d id e v ery o ne e ls e g et
here ?
Conv ers a ti o n flo w ed a ro und m e, b rim min g w ith u rg ency, b ut I c o uld n’t k eep u p . T he w ord s
whir le d a b out i n a v orte x o f c o nfu sio n.
“W hat d o y o u m ean, g o ne?” A re s d em and ed .
“— lo oked e v ery w here .”
“— co m bin g th e i s la nd a nd th e s h ip , b ut w e n eed — ”
Looked e v ery w here ? L ooked e v ery w here fo r w ho ? “ A donis .” I tr ie d to sit u p , b ut d iz zin ess
push ed m e b ack d ow n. “ W here ’s — ?”

“I’ m r ig ht h ere .” H e g rip ped m y s h o uld er a nd I l e aned i n to h is to uch, r e lie v ed h e w asn ’t m is sin g.
“I’ ll s h ie ld th e r o om .” P ose id on’s v oic e b ro ke th ro ugh th e h aze o f m y p anic ked th o ughts . “ Y ou’ll
be s tu ck i n sid e u nti l w e f in d — ”
“. . . u nd ers ta nd ,” A donis s a id .
My p anic e ase d . P ose id on w ould k eep u s s a fe . W e’d b e o kay. N ow i f o nly I c o uld j u st . . .
Befo re I c o uld c o m ple te th e th o ught, d ark ness s w allo w ed m e w ho le .

Chap te r X XVI
I C O ULD N’T B REAT H E. T ea rs s w elle d m y th ro at, a nd th e p re ssu re o f h avin g h im o n to p o f m e,
c ru sh ed a gain st m y l u ng, m ade i t i m possib le t o t a ke a s in gle b re a th .
“O h, s w eeth ea rt,’ ” Z eu s m urm ure d . “ D on’t c ry. N ever c ry. In fa ct . . .
” H e s a t u p, a nd th e
p re ssu re o n m y c h est e a se d . S om eth in g d ark g lin te d i n h is u nea rth ly b lu e e yes. A c ru el g rin s p re a d
a cro ss h is f a ce. “ D on’t j u st l ie t h ere . E njo y y o urse lf.”
I h ad n o c h oic e b ut t o c o m ply .
I b olte d u p in th e b ed , A re s’s ja cket slid in g o ff m e a nd o nto th e flo or. I c o uld n’t b re ath e. I
c o uld n’t b re ath e!
“A phro dite ?” A donis r e ached f o r m e, a nd I b atte d h is h and s a w ay, s ti ll d esp era te to d ra w i n a ir.
“D on’t
to uch
m e,” I g asp ed , r ip pin g th e c o vers o ff a nd s tu m blin g o ut o f b ed . W hen h e r e ached
o ut to s te ad y m e, I s h o ute d , “
Sto p!”
I tr ie d to th ro w u p a s h ie ld b etw een th e tw o o f u s, b ut fa ile d to
s u m mon e no ugh p ow er. R ig ht. M y p ow ers w ere n’t w ork in g, a nd I c o uld b e c harm ed , a nd I c o uld n’t
h eal.
Help le ss.
I fe lt c o m ple te ly h elp le ss a nd I c o uld n’t
be
help le ss, n o t a gain , n o t e v er a gain . M y
h eart s la m med a gain st m y c hest, b eati n g s o h ard a nd s o f a st, m y s to m ach tw is te d w ith th e w ro ngness
o f th e se nsa ti o n. D iz zin ess o verw helm ed m e, and m y head fe lt as if I’ d b ounced to o hig h o n a
t r a m polin e. W in d r u sh ed p ast m y f a ce a s I f e ll b ackw ard th ro ugh th e s k y, o nly I w asn ’t l a nd in g. J itte rs
b uzze d th ro ugh m e, m akin g m y e xtr e m iti e s fe el th e w ay s ta ti c lo oked . W hy c o uld n’t I p ull e no ugh
o xygen i n to m y l u ngs?
Yo u’re fin e. Yo u’re g oin g to b e fin e. Yo u ju st h ad a b ad d re a m . Z eu s is d ea d
. I w as. . . . I
w as. . . . I w as g o in g to b e s ic k!
I d ash ed to th e b ath ro om , sla m min g th e d oor b ehin d m e a nd th ro w in g th e lo ck. M y sto m ach
h eav ed , a nd w hat f e lt l ik e e v ery th in g I ’ d e ate n i n th e l a st y ear s p la sh ed i n to th e to ile t. T re m blin g, I s a t
b ack.
Adonis p ound ed o n th e d oor. “ A re y o u o kay? H ey, a nsw er m e.”
I flu sh ed th e to ile t and clim bed to m y fe et. M outh w ash w ould help . A fte r a lo ng m in ute o f
g arg lin g, I s p at in to th e s in k, th en s w is h ed s o m e w ate r to g et r id o f th e b urn in g, m in t s e nsa ti o n. A s I
r a is e d m y h ead , I c aught s ig ht o f m yse lf in th e m ir ro r. O h, th is w ould n’t d o a t a ll. Ig no rin g A donis ’s
p ers is te nt p ound in g, I g ra b bed th e w ash clo th a nd r a n th e w hite s q uare u nd er th e w ate r. I w ip ed m y
f a ce, th en m y h and s, th en m y a rm s, b ut th e s k in w here Z eus h ad to uched m e s ti ll b urn ed , a s i f h e’d l e ft
s o m e k in d o f a b ra nd o n m e, a nd n o a m ount o f s c ru b bin g h elp ed .
I c o uld s ti ll fe el h im , h is b re ath h o t a gain st m e, h is s w eat s ti n gin g m y s k in , h is w eig ht p re ssin g
a gain st m y c hest. G ods, I c o uld n’t b re ath e. Y
es, y o u c a n,
th e r a ti o nal s id e o f m y b ra in p oin te d o ut.
If
y o u c o uld n’t b re a th e, y o u’d b e u nco nsc io us b y n ow . S to p o verc o m pen sa tin g; y o u’re g oin g t o m ake
y o urse lf s ic k. C ontr o l t h is . B re a th e i n , o ne, t w o. O ut, o ne—
No! T hat’s n ot e n ough.
My b ody w as l o ng p ast r a ti o nal r e aso nin g. I tr ie d i n v ain to d ra g m ore a ir

in to m y l u ngs a s d ark ness th re ate ned to o verta ke m y v is io n.
“A phro dite !” T he d oor s h ud dere d u nd er A donis ’s b lo w s.
I h ad to g et th e m em ory o f Z eus o ff m e. M y h and s s h o ok a s I e d ged p ast th e J a cuzzi tu b a nd to th e
sh o w er s ta ll. I tu rn ed o n th e s h o w er a s h o t a s I c o uld s ta nd , th en c lim bed i n to th e s ta ll, b ik in i a nd a ll.
Gra b bin g th e l o ofa h o n a s ti c k, I s te p ped u nd er th e s c ald in g s p ra y, s c ru b bin g m y s k in r a w .
All th e s c ru b bin g i n th e w orld w asn ’t e no ugh. N oth in g w ould e v er b e e no ugh. S in kin g to th e f lo or
of th e s h o w er, I d re w m y k nees to m y c hest, d uckin g m y h ead s o th e s c ald in g w ate r d id n’t h it m e in
th e fa ce. T ears p ric ked m y e yes b ut n ev er s p ille d o ver. I fe lt b ro ken, h o llo w , a s if a ll m y te ars h ad
been s to le n f r o m m e, l e av in g m e e m pty a nd s o ulle ss.
Ste am fille d th e b ath ro om , th ic kenin g th e a ir a nd o bsc urin g th e g le am in g w hite ti le s. T he w ate r
dulle d th e so und of A donis pound in g on th e door again . B uzzin g w ith over-o xygenati o n, I fe lt
deta ched , n um b. M y s h o uld ers s lu m ped , m usc le s r e la xin g a gain st th e s h o w er w all. I d id n’t f e el r e al.
I h eard a c ra ck, a nd th en a s p lin te rin g b oom a s th e d oor b urs t o pen. A donis re ached in to th e
sh o w er a nd s h ut th e w ate r o ff, s u ckin g i n a p ain ed b re ath w hen th e h o t w ate r d rip ped o n h is a rm . H e
yanked a to w el o ff th e r a ck a nd p ulle d m e u p a nd o ut o f th e s h o w er.
“B y th e S ty x.” A donis w ra p ped th e to w el a ro und m e. “ Y ou re ally g o t b urn ed . H ang o n.” H e
moved to w ard th e c o unte r, s te am s w ir lin g a ro und h im . “ I th in k th ere ’s s o m e a lo e i n h ere s o m ew here .
What h ap pened ?”
“B ad d re am ,” I m anaged to g asp .
“M ust h av e b een o ne h ell o f a d re am .” T he s te am c le are d a b it, e sc ap in g th ro ugh th e o pen d oor,
and I c o uld j u st m ake o ut A donis r u m magin g th ro ugh th e c ab in et, a w arp ed r e fle cti o n o f th e d em ig o d
lo om in g o ver h im se lf i n th e f o ggy m ir ro r. A donis h eld o ut a g re en b ottl e o f g o op. “ T his w ill h elp .”
I to ok th e b ottl e o f a lo e v era g el fr o m h im , tw is ti n g th e to p. “ P ers e p ho ne, A re s, th e o th ers ,” I
re m em bere d , h eart s la m min g i n m y c hest. “ S om eth in g’s w ro ng.” T he b ottl e b it i n to m y h and a s th e l id
clic ked u se le ssly w ith o ut o penin g. “ W hat h ap pened ?” I y anked o n th e lid . “ W here is e v ery o ne?” I
gav e u p o n th e s tu p id l id . “ A nd w hy c an’t I o pen th is ? ”
“A phro dite , b re ath e.”
“I’ m tr y in g.” I g asp ed . M y h eart b eat a gain st m y c hest in je rk y flu tte rs , a nd I fe lt a ll k eyed u p . I
wante d to ru n fo r m y life , o nly th ere w as n o w here to g o , a nd , e v en if I g o t th ere , I’ d b e s c re w ed
anyw ay. “W hy?” M y v oic e cra cked . “W hy is th is hap penin g to m e? W hat’ s w ro ng w ith m e? I
can’t . . . I c an’t d o th is , b e l ik e th is . I ’ m a g o ddess, I ’ m s u p pose d to b e a
goddess.”
“L ook a t m e.” H e to ok th e a lo e a nd s e t th e b ottl e o n th e c o unte rto p b ehin d h im . “ T ake a m in ute ;
calm d ow n.” A donis g rip ped m y s h o uld ers , c are fu l to a v oid th e w ors t o f th e b urn s.
I s h o ok m y h ead . C ould n’t h e s e e th at I w as
tr y in g?
C alm w as e o ns a w ay. I ’ d b e c alm w hen m y
world m ad e s e nse a gain , w hen th e r u le s o f m y r e ality s to pped g etti n g r e w ritte n.
“S to p.” A donis ’s g o ld en e yes b ore d i n to m in e. H e m oved m y h and to h is c hest. “ B re ath e w hen I
do.” C harm . I d id n’t h av e to b e a b le to s e nse p ow er to r e co gniz e th e e ffe ct. I to ok a d eep b re ath a nd
exhale d w hen h e d id . “ O kay.” A donis tu cked m y h air b ehin d m y e ars . “ It’ s o kay. Y ou’re o kay. C alm
—”
I c la p ped m y fr e e h and o ver h is m outh . “ D . . . d on’t d o th at. D on’t te ll m e h o w to fe el. P le ase .
You d on’t k no w w hat th at’ s lik e, lo sin g th at lin e b etw een w hat y o u th in k a nd fe el a nd , a nd w hat
so m eo ne e ls e te lls y o u to .”
“I w on’t, I w on’t,” h e a ssu re d m e, g uilt, p ity , a nd h o rro r fla sh in g th ro ugh h is e yes in q uic k

su ccessio n. “ I’ m s o rry . I d id n’t m ean— Ju st b re ath e w ith m e, o kay?”
That, I c o uld d o. T he g le am in g w hite ti le s o f th e b ath ro om s e em ed to f a d e a w ay a s I l o oked i n to
his e yes.
But h e’s c h arm in g y o u,
th e p anic ked p art o f m y m in d o bje cte d , b ut A donis ’s p ow er w as to o
str o ng f o r p anic to h o ld m uch s w ay. B esid es, I c o uld tr u st A donis . B etw een th e m in d -n um bin g c harm
and h is a rm s a ro und m e, I fe lt s a fe .
This is n ’t re a l. E ven tu ally , h e’s g oin g to re m em ber h e c a n’t
sta nd y o u, a nd h e’s g oin g t o l o ok a w ay. A nd t h en w here w ill y o u b e?
“It’ s g o in g to b e o kay,” h e w his p ere d , a nd I a ched to b elie v e h im .
Extr e m e ste am a nd h yp erv enti la ti o n d on’t p la y w ell to geth er. M y k nees c o uld n’t su p port m y
weig ht. W e s a nk to th e flo or, le anin g a gain st th e d am p w all, h ud dle d a nd w et a nd c lin gin g to o ne
ano th er. I d on’t k no w h o w lo ng it w ent o n, b ut fo r a fe w m in ute s, a ll th at s e em ed to e xis t w ere h is
eyes l o cked o nto m in e, h is h eart b eati n g b eneath m y h and , h is a rm s w ra p ped a ro und m e.
“B ette r? ” h e a sk ed , o nce m y b re ath in g e v ened o ut. W hen I n o dded , h e s a id , “ E very th in g’s fin e.”
His v oic e s o und ed s o oth in g, a nd h is e yes n ev er l e ft m in e. H e to ok a no th er d eep b re ath , w aiti n g u nti l I
fo llo w ed s u it. “ P ers e p ho ne a nd th e o th ers a re f in e. L ast I h eard , th ey w ere l o okin g f o r H ad es.”
My b ack sti ffe ned .
Lookin g
fo r H ad es? P ers e p ho ne and H ad es w ere co nnecte d . T hey co uld
se nse o ne a no th er. S he s h o uld n ev er h av e to
lo ok
fo r H ad es.
“T ake a b re ath , r e la x.” A donis r e m in d ed m e. W hen I c o m plie d , h e c o nti n ued . “ N arc is su s a nd h is
assis ta nt w ent m is sin g b efo re H ad es a nd A th ena c o uld m ake th e s w itc h. P ose id on s h ie ld ed o ur r o om
and e v ery o ne i s s e arc hin g th e s h ip . B ut w ith o ut A rte m is a nd A re s to h elp — ”
“W h— what h ap pened to th em ?” I a sk ed , p anic b re akin g b ack th ro ugh. “ W hy c an’t th ey h elp ?”
“It . . . w ould b lo w th eir c o ver.” W orry f lic kere d i n A donis ’s e yes. “ R em em ber? ”
Oh y eah. T hey w ere d is g uis e d a s T anta lu s a nd E lis e . R ig ht.
“It’ s g o in g to ta ke a w hile to s e arc h th e s h ip ,” A donis c o nti n ued . “ P ers e p ho ne s a id s h e’d s w in g
back b y i n th e m orn in g, w henev er th ey f in is h . S ti ll o kay?”
I n o dded .
“G ood. I t w as a b out te n, l a st I l o oked , s o w e h av e a l o ng w ait u nti l m orn in g. H ow a b out w e f in d
yo u s o m e d ry c lo th es? ” H e tr ie d to m ove a w ay f r o m m e, b ut I h eld o n to h im .
“P le ase ,” I w his p ere d , n o t e v en s u re w hat I w as a sk in g f o r. A donis m atte re d to m e. I c o uld tr u st
him . I n eed ed s o m eth in g r e al.
Som eo ne
re al.
“A phro dite . . .” P ity f lic kere d i n h is e yes.
“ Ple a se
, A donis .”
“O kay. J u st . . .” H e l e aned b ack, s h ifti n g p ositi o ns. “ M y f o ot’ s a sle ep .”
Once h e g o t c o m fo rta b le , h e p ulle d m e b ack to h im . I le aned m y h ead a gain st h is c hest, s o oth ed
by th e s o und o f h is s te ad y h eartb eat.
His h and s tr o ked m y h air. “ Y ou’re o kay,” h e s a id a gain . “ E very th in g i s g o in g to b e o kay.”
I c lo se d m y e yes a nd l e t m yse lf b elie v e th e l ie .

Chap te r X XVII
H OURS L A TER , A b la st o f th und er s o s tr o ng th e e nti r e b oat s h o ok s e nt th e lig hts in th e b ath ro om
f lic kerin g in o ne b rig ht fla sh b efo re th ey d ie d . I lifte d m y head and lo oked aro und , b lin kin g in
c o nfu sio n a s m y e yes tr ie d to a d ju st to th e d ark ness. “ A donis ? ”
“H mm?” h e a sk ed , h and s ti ll r h yth m ic ally s tr o kin g m y h air.
He f e ll a sle ep ,
I r e aliz e d , d uckin g u nd er h is a rm a nd s ta nd in g. “ A re th e l ig hts o n a ti m er? ” S tu p id
q uesti o n. I ’ d h eard th e p op o f th e b ulb s b efo re th e p ow er f a ile d . M y f in gers c ra w le d o ver th e b um py
w allp ap er u nti l th ey r e ached th e l ig ht s w itc h.
“D unno ,” h e s a id w ith a j a w -p oppin g y aw n. “ W hy?”
I s w allo w ed h ard a s th e b oat l u rc hed b ack a nd f o rth w ith a n ause ati n g f r e q uency a nd f lip ped th e
s w itc h a c o up le o f ti m es, b ut n o th in g h ap pened . “ T he l ig hts w ent o ut.”
“It’ s n ig ht ti m e.”
Sound l o gic , th at. “ M ayb e i t’ s j u st th ese b ulb s.” I g ro ped f o r th e d oork no b, a nd e nd ed u p b angin g
m y k nuckle s. I c o uld n’t a d ju st to th is le v el o f d ark ness. E ven m y e yes c o uld n’t w ork in th e to ta l
a b se nce o f l ig ht. I tr ie d to o pen th e d oor, b ut A donis ’s w eig ht h eld i t c lo se d . “ C an y o u m ove?”
“W ait, w hat’ s g o in g o n?” A donis s tr e tc hed a nd c lim bed to h is fe et. “ G ods,” h e m utte re d a s th e
b oat w as h it b y a str o ng w av e. I h eard a h o llo w
th unk
, in d ic ati n g h e’d b um ped in to th e h o t tu b ,
f o llo w ed b y s o m e c urs in g. H e j e rk ed i n s u rp ris e w hen h is h and b ru sh ed m in e a nd s o m eth in g c la tte re d
o ff th e c o unte rto p to th e flo or.
Alo e,
I re aliz e d a s th e b ottl e b um ped a gain st m y fo ot. I k ic ked th e
p la sti c c o nta in er o ut o f th e w ay s o n eith er o ne o f u s w ould tr ip o ver th e b ottl e o f g re en g o op.
Adonis f o und th e l ig ht s w itc h a nd f lip ped i t u p a nd d ow n. “ W hat h ap pened to th e l ig hts ? ”
“I d on’t k no w .” I g o t th e d oor o pen a nd b re ath ed a b it e asie r. T here w asn ’t m uch lig ht fr o m th e
w in d ow s, b ut th e s ta rlig ht d id p ro vid e e no ugh to m ake th e c o m ple te b la ckness fa d e in to m ore o f a
f u zzy, n av y b lu e. T he f u rn itu re e v en g ain ed o utl in es. M ajo r i m pro vem ent.
Lig htn in g fla sh ed , illu m in ati n g th e s u ite in w hite -h o t lig ht fo r a s p an o f th re e e ye-b lin ks. “ R ain
d ance?” A donis j o ked .
“M ayb e la te r.” I la ughed . T he ra in h it th e w in d ow w ith so m uch fo rc e, e ach in d iv id ual d ro p
s o und ed l ik e i t w eig hed a to n.
Makin g m y w ay a lo ng th e w all u nti l I r e ached th e n ig hts ta nd , I g ro ped b lin d ly fo r th e la m p. T he
c lic kin g s o und o f m e tw is ti n g th e k no b f ille d th e a ir, b ut n o l ig ht. “ P ow er’s o ut.”
“C an’t b e,” A donis o bje cte d . “ W e’re o n a s h ip .”
“L is te n.” I to ok m y o w n a d vic e. N ot a s in gle s o und r o se o ver th e r a in a nd w in d . “ N o A /C , n o
f a ns, n o b ackgro und n o is e . E very th in g i s d ow n.”
“N o, i t’ s a c ru is e s h ip .” A donis s ti ll s o und ed b efu d dle d . “ T hey h av e g enera to rs a nd s tu ff to k eep
t h is f r o m h ap penin g. W e c an’t l o se p ow er.”
“A fr a id o f th e d ark ?” I te ase d .

“N o. Y ou d on’t g et it.” A donis ’s v oic e to ok o n a p anic ked e d ge. “
Every th in g
ru ns o ff p ow er o n
sh ip s lik e th is . W e’re lu cky e no ugh to h av e w in d ow s so th e d ark ness is n ’t to ta l. W hat a b out th e
in te rio r ro om s? O r th e e le v ato rs , o r— ” H e b ro ke o ff, p ro bab ly re m em berin g w e’d sp ent th e la st
co up le o f h o urs c urle d u p o n th e b ath ro om flo or, th anks to m y
un
div in e p anic a tta ck. “ It’ s p ro bab ly
no th in g,” h e c o rre cte d , c le arin g h is th ro at. “ E very th in g w ill b e fin e. I b et th ey’ll h av e it fix ed in n o
ti m e.”
If e v en a f r a cti o n o f th e p eo ple o n b oard th o ught a lo ng th e s a m e l in es a s A donis , th ere w ould b e
mass p anic . A nd P ers e p ho ne a nd th e o th ers w ere o ut th ere , w and erin g a ro und a d ark s h ip p acked f u ll
of s c are d p eo ple w ho c o uld b e a rm ed w ith O ly m pia n S te ele . I d ro pped to th e g ro und , g ro pin g b lin d ly
unti l I fo und A re s’s ja cket, s lip ped it o n, th en s to od a nd p ic ked m y w ay a cro ss th e r o om to w ard th e
sta ir s .
“A phro dite .” A donis c aught m y h and a s I w alk ed b y, b ut I tu gged f r e e. “ W here — ?”
“F in d y o ur p ho ne.” I c lu ng to th e b anis te r, m y to es p oin te d i n s e arc h o f th e n ext s te p . “ W e c an u se
it f o r l ig ht.”
“Y eah, o kay. M ayb e th ere a re s o m e c and le s o r s o m eth in g i n th e k itc hen.”
“O h, th ere ’s a n id ea, a d d
fir e
to th e e q uati o n.” G ods, I h o ped n o o ne h ad b ro ught c and le s o n
board . T he l a st th in g w e n eed ed w as to b e o n a b oat, w ith o ut p ow er, i n th e m id dle o f th e o cean— on
fir e . I s tu m ble d o ver th e l a st s te p b ut c aught m y b ala nce a nd h ead ed f o r th e d oor.
“R ig ht. H ang o n, d on’t th e l ife v ests h av e s o m e k in d o f f la sh lig ht o n th em ?” A donis ’s p ho ne l it u p
in h is h and a nd h e m oved to th e c ab in et th at h eld a ll th e l ife p re se rv ers a nd p oin te d th e p ho ne d ow n a t
th e f lo or. “ D o y o u s e e th is ? ”
I d id n’t h av e to g la nce a t th e f lo or a nglin g b eneath u s to f e el th e b oat w as ti lti n g.
Adonis s w ore , d ro ppin g to a c ro uch a s th e f lo or r o se to m eet h im .
“M ove,” I s h o ute d , j e rk in g h im a w ay f r o m th e c lo se t a s th e l ife v ests a nd s h o es tu m ble d o ut. W e
sc ra m ble d u p th e in clin e. I th re w o pen th e d oor a nd sm acked in to P ose id on’s sh ie ld w ith e no ugh
fo rc e to p ush m e b ack i n to A donis ’s a rm s. T he s h ie ld ! I ’ d f o rg o tte n a b out th e s h ie ld .
“N o!” S la m min g m y h and s a gain st th e b arrie r d id n o th in g to c o m bat th e o verw helm in g w eig ht o f
th e d ark ness a nd o cean s u rro und in g m e. T he b oat c o nti n ued to ti lt. I f w e c ap siz e d , w e w ere s c re w ed .
“P ose id on,” I g asp ed . P ose id on h ad to d ro p th e s h ie ld . I s c ra m ble d f o r A donis ’s p ho ne, s n atc hin g th e
slim d ev ic e o ut o f h is h and .
“W hat d o w e d o?” A donis d em and ed . “ W e c an’t g et o ut! W hat d o w e d o?”
I d ia le d P ose id on’s n um ber. N o s ig nal. “ C ra p .” I p asse d A donis th e p ho ne, th in kin g fa st. T he
cra sh in g s o und o f d is h es th ud din g a gain st th e in sid e o f th e k itc hen c ab in ets g av e m e a n id ea. “ K eep
tr y in g to c all h im .”
I d ash ed to th e s m all b ath ro om u nd er th e s ta ir s , s tr u gglin g to k eep m y fe et u nd er m e a s th e b oat
co nti n ued to r is e . B la sts o f l ig htn in g i llu m in ate d m y p ath . R eachin g th e b ath ro om , I p aw ed th ro ugh th e
dark ness u nti l I fo und w here th e s m all w ate r g la ss h ad la nd ed , u nfo rtu nate ly s ti ll w ho le , b eneath th e
sin k. S la m min g th e tu m ble r i n to th e ti le u nti l th e g la ss b ro ke, I g ra b bed a s h ard a nd d ash ed o ff to w ard
th e b alc o ny.
“W hat a re y o u d oin g?” A donis y elle d a s I s tr u ggle d to p ull th e b alc o ny d oor o pen.
“G etti n g help !” I ra n o nto th e b alc o ny, p ausin g as th e fu ll fo rc e o f th e w in d hit m e. C old
ra in d ro ps h it m y s k in lik e d oze ns o f ti n y, s ti n gin g n eed le s. I to ok a d eep b re ath a nd m ad e m y w ay to
th e e d ge o f th e b alc o ny, s lic in g m y p alm a gain st th e g la ss a s I w alk ed .

My hand sh o ok as I held m y p alm o ver th e ra il, le tti n g m y b lo od, glitte rin g m aro on in th e
dark ness, d rip d ow n to th e s e a, a nd h o pin g a gain st h o pe s o m e a ctu ally la nd ed in th e w ate r.
It’s n ot
en ough.
A d ro p o r tw o hitti n g th e o cean
would
b e eno ugh, b ut th e w in d w hip ped to w ard m e,
nullify in g th e o dds o f th e ti n y d ro ple ts o f b lo od r e achin g th e s e a. G ritti n g m y te eth , I e d ged d ow n to
th e c o rn er o f th e b alc o ny w here th e b oat d ip ped c lo se st to w av es a nd d ug m y n ails i n to th e c ut.
“P ose id on,” I y elle d , p ourin g a s m uch p ow er i n to th e i n v ocati o n a s I c o uld .
The w ake m y p ow ers le ft h urt so b ad ly , m y in sid es se em ed to sh atte r in to sh ra p nel, te arin g
th ro ugh m y b ody i n s e arc h o f e sc ap e.
“I’ v e g o t y o u.” A donis ’s a rm s w ra p ped a ro und m e, p ullin g m e to h im a s m y k nees g av e o ut.
“W atc h o ut! ” T he b oat c o nti n ued to ti lt a nd th e d eck fu rn itu re p itc hed to w ard u s. A donis y anked m e
dow n, c o verin g m y b ody w ith h is a s th e w ic ker f u rn itu re tu m ble d o ff th e d eck. H e g ru nte d a s a ta b le
le g s la m med i n to h is s id e b efo re c la tte rin g o ver th e b ars a nd c ra sh in g i n to th e s h ie ld .
The b oat s to pped . H overe d . M y b re ath c am e in p ants a s I s ta re d a t th e s lo ped d eck flo or. A fte r
what f e lt l ik e a n e te rn ity , th e d eck l e v ele d o ut.
“O h th ank g o ds,” I g asp ed , s ti ll c lin gin g to A donis . H e h eld m e j u st a s ti g ht, h is f in gers b iti n g i n to
my s id es.
“Y ou’re b le ed in g,” h e s a id .
“It’ ll h eal . . . e v entu ally .” T he w av es b atte d th e s h ip b ack a nd f o rth l ik e a v olle yb all. “ A re y o u
okay?”
“Y eah.” A donis h elp ed m e u p , a nd w e m ad e o ur w ay b ack i n to th e s u ite to s e e i f w e c o uld g et o ut
th e d oor.
It w as sti ll sh ie ld ed . “ I h ate th is ,” I w his p ere d , p re ssin g m y fo re head a nd h and s a gain st th e
sh ie ld , m y s h o uld ers s lu m ped . “ I fe el s o u se le ss. W hat if th e o th ers n eed h elp ? H ow c an y o u s ta nd
fe elin g l ik e th is a ll th e ti m e? B ein g s o h elp le ss.” M y v oic e c aught o n th e l a st w ord .
“W e’re n o t h elp le ss, a nd I ’ m s u re th e o th ers a re f in e. J u st . . . b usy. T his m ig ht e v en b e g o od.” H e
did n’t s o und c o nv in ced . “ Y eah, w e c an’t g et o ut, b ut n o o ne c an g et in , e ith er. S o lo ng a s th e b oat
doesn ’t s in k, w e’ll b e f in e.”
The fa ct th at P ose id on h ad n’t s h o w n u p o r b ro ken h is s h ie ld d id n’t b ode w ell fo r h is c o ntr o l o n
th e s itu ati o n. S om eth in g b ig w as h ap penin g. “ O ly m pia n S te ele c an b re ak s h ie ld s.”
“I d oub t a nyo ne w ill b re ak in to th is ro om w hen ‘E lis e ’ a nd ‘T anta lu s’ a re m akin g th em se lv es
easy to g et to , a nd a b unch o f g o ds a re w and erin g a ro und o n b oard ,” A donis s a id . “ B ut e v en if th ey
did , P ose id on w ould k no w , a nd h e’d te le p ort h ere , a nd — ” H e b ro ke o ff. “ I d on’t w ant to re ly o n
Pose id on.”
I l a ughed . “ Y ou a nd m e b oth .”
“S o le t’ s n o t.” A donis to ok a d eep b re ath . “ L ook, w e k no w w hat w e c an’t d o. Y ou c an’t c harm ,
but e v en w ith c harm , y o u c o uld n’t b re ak th e h o ld o n th e p asse ngers l a st ti m e, r ig ht? ”
He h ad a p oin t. E ven if m y p ow ers w ere w ork in g, I’ d n ev er fig ure d o ut h o w to c harm s o m eo ne
alr e ad y u nd er a no th er g o d’s i n flu ence. “ I c an’t h eal y o u o r m e i f a nyth in g— ”
“Y ou w ould n’t b e a b le to h eal fr o m O ly m pia n S te ele , a nyw ay.” A donis s h ru gged . “ N o b ig lo ss.
What is O ly m pia n S te ele , a nyw ay? I m ean, I g et it’ s a ty p e o f m eta l, b ut b eyo nd th at? I d on’t k no w
much.” H e k ep t m ovin g a s h e s p oke, s h ifti n g a ro und , b ala ncin g o n h is h eels , a nd ru nnin g h is h and
acro ss th e s h ie ld , a s if th e b arrie r m ig ht v anis h a t a ny ti m e a nd h e w ante d to b e r e ad y to r u sh to th e
life b oats . H is g estu re s w ere n erv ous, k eyed -u p . B ut h e w as tr y in g to h id e h is f e ar.

For m e
, I r e aliz e d . H e f e lt te rrifie d . W ho w ould n’t? B ut h e w as tr y in g to s ta y c alm f o r m y s a ke.
“T hey’re u m , th ey’re m ad e o f a d am anti n e, w hic h a lm ost e v ery th in g d iv in e a nd m eta llic i s . G ate s,
th ro nes, P ose id on’s tr id ent, y o u n am e it.” I d ove h ead -fir s t in to th e d is tr a cti o n o f e xp la in in g o bsc ure
fa cts a s m uch f o r m yse lf a s f o r h im . O nce I b egan to ta lk , th e w ord s k ep t c o m in g, f lu ng f r e e f r o m m y
to ngue b y n erv ous e nerg y. “ S te ele re fe rs to th e ty p e o f a w eap on. It’ s , y o u k no w — ” I o utl in ed th e
sta ke-lik e s h ap e in m y h and s th en r e m em bere d h e c o uld n’t s e e m e. “ L ik e a ty p e o f d agger. O r p ic k.
Hep haestu s c am e u p w ith a p re tty n o -fr ills d esig n b ecause th ey w ere ju st p ro to ty p es. B ut h e h ad a
who le lin e p la nned . C hth o nic S te ele , P rim ord ia l S te ele , E le m enta l S te ele . ’ C ours e , h e n ev er g o t th at
fa r, o nce h e r e aliz e d w hat h e’d c re ate d .”
Adonis le aned a gain st th e s h ie ld , h is s h ir t b ru sh in g a gain st m y s id e. “ S o, if th e m ate ria ls d on’t
make i t d ead ly , w hat d oes? ”
“T hey d on’t c hannel p ow er lik e m ost d iv in e w eap ons. T hey h av e th eir o w n, a nd it k ills u s.”
Feelin g m y w ay to th e c o uch, I to ok a d vanta ge o f th e d ark ness to a d ju st m y b ik in i. I m oved fo rw ard ,
fe elin g a lo ng th e flo or fo r m y lu ggage a nd fo und m y b ag c aught a gain st th e c o uch. “ G ods h av e o ne
weakness. O ur o w n p ow ers . W e c an’t tu rn th em a gain st o urs e lv es, in sti n ct s h uts th at d ow n, b ut w e
can’t h eal fr o m th em e ith er. W hen w e p ass o n o ur p ow ers , w e p ass o n o ur w eaknesse s. T hat’ s w hy
our k id s c an k ill u s.”
Adonis n o dded . “ H ence e v ery m yth e v er.”
I s n o rte d . “ P re tty m uch. S om eth in g i n th at m eta l r e so nate d w ith th e p ow er i t w as i n fu se d w ith a nd
th at c o nfu se s o ur a b ility to h eal. It’ s a s if w e’v e b een s tr u ck b y o urs e lv es, n o m atte r w ho m ad e th e
weap on. O nly i t s p re ad s l ik e— lik e v eno m . S pecific d eta ils a b out h o w H ep haestu s c re ate d th e S te ele
did n’t p ass d ow n th e b lo odlin es, f o r o bvio us r e aso ns. A ll I k no w i s , th e w ay h e f o rg ed th e p ow er i n to
th e m eta l cir c um vente d th e w ho le im morta lity th in g. H e to ok th e pow er back in to him se lf and
destr o yed th em a ll to p ro te ct u s.” I s h ud dere d , r e m em berin g th e w rith in g m ass o f H ep haestu s’s fa ce.
“R eally m esse d h im u p , to o.”
“B ut i f h e d estr o yed th em a ll, w here . . . ? ” A donis tr a ile d o ff, w aiti n g f o r e xp la nati o n.
“A nd th at is th e m illio n-d olla r q uesti o n.” I sm ile d a t h im . “ T o sa y w e w ere su rp ris e d w hen
Ste ele p opped b ack u p i s a n u nd ers ta te m ent. O ur b est g uess i s th at Z eus f ig ure d o ut h o w to m ake i t.”
Adonis ta p ped o n th e sh ie ld , fillin g th e a ir w ith h o llo w -s o und in g th unks. “ O kay, b ack to th e
pro ble m a t h and . B ein g p ow erle ss d oesn ’t m ake u s h elp le ss. P eo ple g et b y w ith o ut p ow ers e v ery
day.”
“A gain st o th er
peo ple
. T he sc ale s a re k in d o f ti p ped h ere .” I fe lt h is g aze o n m e, h eav y a nd
exp ecta nt, a nd I tu rn ed a w ay, d ig gin g th ro ugh m y b ag. “ I’ m n o t e v en s tr o ng e no ugh to l e av e th e r o om .”
“Y ou’re s m art. Y ou’d h av e to b e to h av e s u rv iv ed Z eus. A nd w hat d id y o u d o to P ose id on? H e’s
afr a id to l o ok a t y o u n o w . Y our p ow ers d id n’t h elp w ith th at, s o w hat d id ?”
“I don’t kno w . A w illin gness to do th in gs th at w ould nev er occur to anyo ne w ith any
co m pre hensio n o f r ig ht a nd w ro ng.” I s a t o n th e c o uch, d ra w in g m y k nees to m y c hest a nd to ld h im a ll
ab out th e f o rc ed p ro m is e s. “ I’ v e h urt p eo ple , A donis . I ’ v e d one te rrib le , te rrib le th in gs. B ut b efo re , I
co uld a lw ays s a y I w as u nd er Z eus’s c o ntr o l. W hat I d id to P ose id on w as lik e Z eus-c alib er b ad . . .
only , th at w as a ll m e.”
“T o hell w ith P ose id on. If th ere ’s any ju sti c e in th e univ ers e , bad th in gs w ill nev er sto p
hap penin g to th at d ic kw ad .”
He d id n’t g et it. “ B ut
I sti ll d id it. A nd I’ d d o it a gain . B ecause th at’ s h o w I su rv iv e. I h urt

peo ple , a nd I g et h urt, a nd I r u n a w ay f r o m f ig hts I c an’t w in .”
“S om eti m es, b ein g n ic e a nd d oin g th e r ig ht th in g is a lu xury .” T he c o uch d ip ped a s A donis s a t
besid e m e. “ S om eti m es, y o u h av e to u se w hate v er a d vanta ge y o u’v e g o t.”
“F unny, th at s o und s k in d o f l ik e th e e xact o pposite o f e v ery th in g y o u’v e e v er s a id a b out m e u sin g
my p ow ers b efo re n o w .”
“A gain st
peo ple ,”
Adonis c la rifie d . “ P eo ple y o u a lr e ad y h av e th e a d vanta ge o ver. I ’ m n o t s a yin g
yo u s h o uld s ta rv e o r e nd u p o n th e s tr e ets in ste ad o f u sin g y o ur c harm . I g et th at y o u ju st k in d o f
popped u p i n th e w orld w ith n o th in g. Y ou h av e to g et b y u nti l y o u h av e s o m eth in g b ehin d y o u. I t’ s th e
fr iv olo us s tu ff y o u d o th at I c an’t s ta nd . W hat y o u d id to P ose id on is n ’t lik e th at. Y ou d id n’t h av e a
cho ic e.”
I s h o ok m y h ead . “ P ers e p ho ne w ould n’t h av e d one it, e v en b efo re s h e c am e in to h er p ow ers .
Are s d id n’t d o i t w hen h e h ad th e c hance. A s f a r a s I c an te ll, i t d id n’t e v en c ro ss h is m in d .”
“P ers e p ho ne h ad tw o o f th e m ost p ow erfu l g o ds i n c re ati o n p ro te cti n g h er u nti l s h e c am e i n to h er
pow ers , a nd h as th e e nti r e p anth eo n b ackin g h er n o w . A re s h as h ad c entu rie s to b uild u p p ow er,
wealth , a nd a nyth in g e ls e h e’ll e v er n eed . D on’t le t th em se t y o ur m ora l c o m pass. T hey h av e th e
ad vanta ge. O f c o urs e , th ey d on’t w ant y o u to f e el g o od a b out ta kin g th at f r o m th em .”
I f r o w ned . “ T hey’re n o t— ”
“T hey’re usin g yo u, A phro dite . Pose id on tr e ate d yo u lik e a th in g, so m eth in g dis p osa b le ,
so m eth in g h e c o uld u se u nti l y o u f o rc ed h im to s e e y o u o th erw is e . J u st l ik e Z eus, j u st l ik e th e o th ers .
They’re a ll s ti ll u sin g y o u. W hy e ls e w ould th ey s e nd th e n ew est g o d w ith th e m ost l im ite d p ow ers to
in v esti g ate , w hen th ey d id n’t e v en k no w w hat th ey w ere u p a gain st? ”
“I v olu nte ere d ,” I r e m in d ed h im . “ C harm is k in d o f m y th in g, s o it m ad e s e nse . T he s e co nd th is
go t b ig ger th an I c o uld h and le , th e r e st o f th em s te p ped i n . T hey’re a ll o ut th ere , A donis .” I m oti o ned
to w ard th e d oor. “ T ry in g to g et to th e b otto m o f th is w hile w e’re s h ie ld ed a nd s a fe .”
Adonis d re w in a d eep b re ath . “ I’ m ju st s a yin g, y o u s h o uld n’t fe el b ad a b out w hat y o u d id to
Pose id on. L ook, if y o u w ere e v en h alf a s s e lfis h a s y o u th in k y o u a re , w ould y o u s ti ll b e h ere ? Y ou
co uld h av e l e ft th e s e co nd P ers e p ho ne g o t h ere . W hy d id n’t y o u?”
Beca use I c a n’t le a ve y o u.
I c ho se a no th er tr u th in ste ad . “ B ecause o f a ll th e te rrib le th in gs I’ v e
done. I c an’t— If I d on’t d o s o m eth in g to b ala nce i t— I— ” I s tr u ggle d f o r w ord s. “ I w ant to b e a b le to
lo ok a t m yse lf in th e m ir ro r a nd n o t fe el g uilty fo r e v ery h o rrib le th in g I’ v e e v er d one. I w ant to b e
ab le to sle ep w ith o ut . . .” I w av ed m y h and in th e g enera l d ir e cti o n o f th e b ed ro om , th o ugh h e
pro bab ly c o uld n’t se e th e g estu re . “ I w ant to d o m ore th an su rv iv e, e v en if it k ills m e. I w asn ’t
su p pose d to h av e m uch o f a life , A donis , s o I w ant to b e a b le to fe el g o od a b out w hat I d o w ith
min e.”
Adonis to uched m y h and , th en f e lt h is w ay u p to m y s h o uld er to g iv e m e a c o m fo rti n g s q ueeze .
I l e aned i n to h is to uch. “ I n eed y o u to p ro m is e m e s o m eth in g.”
“M y p ro m is e s d on’t h o ld a s m uch w eig ht a s y o urs .”
“T hen i t m eans m ore w hen y o u k eep th em .”
He h esita te d f o r a s e co nd . “ W hat d o y o u n eed ?”
“If s o m eth in g g ets i n h ere , s o m eth in g th at c an c harm , I n eed y o u to k no ck m e o ut a gain .”
Adonis s h o ok h is h ead . “ I c an’t d o th at.”
“A donis , I ’ m n o t s tr o ng e no ugh to r e sis t c harm r ig ht n o w . I d on’t w ant to b e u se d to h urt a nyo ne.”
“Y ou a ls o c an’t h eal,” h e a rg ued . “ I k no w y o ur p ers p ecti v e o n th is m ay b e s k ew ed , b ut b ein g h it

hard e no ugh to l o se c o nsc io usn ess i s a ctu ally k in d o f a b ig d eal.”
“I d on’t c are ! I’ d r a th er d ie th an fe el lik e th at a gain . Y ou d on’t u nd ers ta nd . Y ou’v e n ev er b een
charm ed , b ut i t’ s — ”
“I a m n o t g o in g to h urt y o u.” H e g ra b bed m y h and s a nd m et m y e yes, s ta rlig ht g litte rin g i n h is . “ I
can’t. D on’t a sk m e to , p le ase . B ut m ayb e th ere ’s a no th er w ay. C harm ta kes e ye c o nta ct, rig ht? ”
Adonis s p re ad h is h and s to i n d ic ate th e d ark ness. “ Y ou d on’t h av e to m ake th at e asy.”
Som eth in g i n h is v oic e m ad e m e ti lt m y h ead to s tu d y h is s ilh o uette . “ W hat a re y o u th in kin g?”
He g rin ned , h is te eth g litte rin g i n p in p ric ks o f l ig ht. “ P ra cti c e n o t g etti n g c harm ed ? W e c o uld p la y
a g am e to p ass th e ti m e u nti l th e o th ers g et b ack. I f I c an c harm y o u, m y p oin t. I f y o u b lo ck i t, y o urs .”
He s h ru gged . “ F ir s t to s e v en p oin ts w in s th e g am e?”
If o nly i t w ere th at e asy. U nlik e d em ig o ds, f u ll- b lo oded d eiti e s c o uld b la nket a n a re a w ith p ow er.
Eye c o nta ct ju st m ad e c harm e asie r a nd s tr e ngth ened c o ntr o l. S ti ll . . . I n eed ed to d o
so m eth in g,
ho w ev er u se le ss. M y h eart s ti ll p ound ed in m y c hest fr o m m y a d ventu re o n th e b alc o ny, a nd e v ery
ti m e a str o ng w av e h it th e b oat, I fr o ze in fe ar u nti l I fe lt su re th e b oat w ould n’t ti lt a gain . If I
co nti n ued to j u st s it h ere , I ’ d g o c ra zy. A nd g iv en h o w te nse A donis s o und ed , h e n eed ed to th in k a b out
so m eth in g e ls e , to o. T he g uy d id n’t e v en l ik e b ein g c o nfin ed i n a n e le v ato r. “ W hat w ould I w in ?”
Adonis g rin ned . “ G etti n g a b it a head o f y o urs e lf, a re n’t y o u. V ic to r’s c ho ic e?”
I c o uld f in d w ays to m ake th at f u n. I p ush ed o ff th e c o uch a nd m oved a w ay f r o m h im . “ R ead y . . .
se t . . .”
“G o!” A donis l o oked to w ard m e. “ C la p th re e ti m es.”
When I d id n’t c la p , h e s w ore . “ T oo d ark .” H e s tu m ble d o ver th e e d ge o f th e c o uch, c lo sin g th e
gap b etw een u s. “ C la p th re e ti m es.”
I s q ueeze d m y e yes s h ut. “ T w o-n o th in g.” I s q uin te d , tr y in g to m ake o ut A donis , b ut I c o uld n’t s e e
his s ilh o uette . W here d id h e—
“B oo,” A donis w his p ere d in m y e ar, a nd I y elp ed in s u rp ris e , s p in nin g to fa ce h im . “ C la p th re e
ti m es.”
I c la p ped .
“O ne-tw o.” H is te eth f la sh ed i n a tr iu m phant g rin . “ C la p th re e— ”
I to ok o ff, tr ip pin g a nd s c ra m blin g o ver th e fu rn itu re to g et d eep er in to th e s u ite . H e’d h av e to
fin d m e to c harm m e. H e m anaged to g ra b th e c o lla r o f A re s’s j a cket, b ut I s lip ped m y a rm s f r e e a nd
kep t o n.
“T hre e-o ne.” P ic kin g m y w ay th ro ugh th e ro om in co m ple te d ark ness w as a challe nge, b ut
ju d gin g b y th e c ra sh in g a nd th ud s b ehin d m e, I w as n av ig ati n g th e o bsta cle s b ette r th an A donis .
There
. I d ucked i n to a n o ok u nd er th e s ta ir c ase a nd tr ie d to s ta y s ti ll a nd q uie t.
He s tu m ble d a ro und f o r a f e w s e co nd s, th en a p ie rc in g l ig ht s w ep t th e r o om . H is p ho ne b la ze d i n
his h and . C heate r. I c lo se d m y e yes w hen th e l ig ht c am e c lo se .
White , m olte n l ig ht s h o ne th ro ugh m y e yelid s. “ C la p th re e ti m es.”
I s m ile d . “ F our to o ne.”
He w asn ’t to uchin g m e, b ut h e s to od s o c lo se , I c o uld a lm ost f e el h im . M y b ack b ru sh ed a gain st
th e w all. “ C orn ere d . I th in k y o u j u st l o st.”
I o pened m y e yes. F akin g r ig ht, I s p ra ng l e ft a nd s te p ped r ig ht i n to th e s u itc ase I ’ d s ta sh ed u nd er
th e s ta ir s . “ C ra p !” T he b ag s lid o ut fr o m u nd er m e a nd I s la m med s id ew ays in to A donis , k no ckin g
him o ff b ala nce a nd s e nd in g u s b oth c ra sh in g o n to th e c arp et w ith a
th unk
.

“O uch,” h e g ro aned , r u b bin g h is h ead . “ A re y o u o kay?”
“F iv e-o ne.”
His e yes g litte re d i n c halle nge. “ C la p — ”
I s tr a d dle d h im , c o verin g h is e yes w ith m y h and s. “ S ix .”
He w ra p ped h is h and s a ro und m y u p per a rm s a nd y anked m e o ff b ala nce. I y elp ed , f in d in g m yse lf
no se to n o se w ith h im , m y h and s s lid in g o n th e c arp et b ehin d h is h ead to s ta b iliz e m yse lf. “ C la p — ”
I to uched m y m outh to h is , th e m oti o n fe ath erlig ht. W ith a flic k o f m y to ngue, I o pened h is lip s
und er m in e. A donis fr o ze , h esita ti n g fo r h alf a s e co nd , th en k is se d m e b ack w ith a rd or. H is h and s
fla tte ned o n m y b ack, p re ssin g m e a gain st h im . “ N ot f a ir,” h e g ro aned .
“S ev en.” I la ughed , re v elin g in th e k no w le d ge I’ d p ut h eat in h is v oic e. M y re ality m ig ht b e
bre akin g d ow n, m y p ow ers f a d in g, m y c harm g o ne, b ut th is ? T his , I c o uld s ti ll c o ntr o l. A nd I n eed ed
co ntr o l r ig ht n o w . I p ro pped m yse lf u p o n h is c hest, g rin nin g a t h im . “ F ace i t, y o u’v e l o st.”
“F unny, i t d oesn ’t f e el l ik e i t.” H e l e aned u p , h is m outh c ap tu rin g m in e. H is f in gers k no tte d i n m y
hair, a nd h e e ase d b ack d ow n to th e g ro und , ta kin g m e w ith h im .
We b re ath ed e ach o th er i n a s th e k is s d eep ened . H is m outh m oved a gain st m in e. W hen h is h and s
slid d ow n m y w ais t, m y h eart p ound ed in m y c hest. H is lip s o n m in e fe lt lik e a p ro m is e I w ante d to
keep w ith a te rrify in g i n te nsity . W ith o ut b re akin g th e k is s, I u nb utto ned h is s h ir t a nd a llo w ed h im to s it
up e no ugh fo r m e to w ork it d ow n h is a rm s b efo re p la nti n g a h and to h is b are c hest a nd p ush in g h im
back d ow n.
In th e d ark ness, w e w ere l ittl e m ore th an s h ad ow s, b ut o ur h and s e xp lo re d w hat w e c o uld n’t s e e.
I g asp ed w hen h is h and s s lip ped b eneath m y b ik in i to p. “ G ods,” I g ro aned , b ury in g m y h ead in h is
sh o uld er.
“W ait, w ait, w ait.” A donis p ulle d a w ay, a nd p ro pped h im se lf u p o n o ne a rm . “ Ju st . . .” H e
gra b bed h is p ho ne, a nd lig ht fla sh ed in m y e yes, s e arin g m y v is io n. I je rk ed a w ay, h o ld in g u p m y
hand s to w ard o ff th e g lo w . “ S orry .” H e g ra b bed m y h and , p ullin g m e b ack d ow n to h im . “ I’ m s o rry , I
ju st, I h ad to m ake s u re y o u w ere n’t c harm ed . I h ad to — ”
He s to pped w hen m y m outh c o vere d h is , h is h and s r is in g to c up m y fa ce w ith a te nd ern ess th at
mad e m y h ead s p in i n a w hir lw in d o f e m oti o ns. T his w as m ore , s o m uch m ore th an f e ar, o r r e gre t, o r
pain . M ore th an a p le asa nt p hysic al d is tr a cti o n, m ore th an a w ay to f o rg et.
“A phro dite . . . w ait,” A donis ’s v oic e s o und ed h o ars e , b ut h e ig no re d h is o w n a d vic e, ta nglin g
our le gs a s h is lip s fo und m in e a gain a nd a gain a nd a gain . E ach k is s fe lt d eep er, h ard er, a nd m ore
desp era te . H is f in ger d eftl y u nti e d th e k no ts h o ld in g m y b ik in i to geth er. “ I s h o uld — ”
He s u cked in a b re ath w hen I s lid m y h and d ow n th e w ais tb and o f h is je ans. If h e to ld m e h e
did n’t w ant m e b ecause I w as a g o d o r a ny o th er r e aso n, I’ d b re ak. I’ d d o a nyth in g, b e a nyth in g o r
anyo ne h e w ante d i f i t m eant I w ould n’t l o se th e w ay I f e lt r ig ht n o w . “ P le ase ,” I w his p ere d .
He p ut h is h and s o n m y h ip s a nd y anked m e to h im w ith a g ro an. I p oure d a ll m y f e elin gs i n to th e
kis s. W e w ere p re sse d to geth er s o ti g ht, I a lm ost c o uld n’t te ll w here I s to pped a nd h e b egan, b ut th at
wasn ’t c lo se e no ugh. F ab ric g av e w ay to f ir m f le sh a nd h eav y b re ath in g. A nd th is ti m e, th ere w ere n o
in te rru p ti o ns.

Chap te r X XVIII
A T S O M E P O IN T in th e n ig ht, w e m ad e it u p sta ir s to th e a ctu al b ed . A nd s o m eti m e e v en la te r, I le t
A donis f a ll a sle ep . S le ep h ad to b e th e w ors t w eakness w e’d g iv en m orta ls . T heir l iv es w ere s o s h o rt
a lr e ad y— it s e em ed a tr a ged y to w aste a th ir d o f i t s lu m berin g.
I s n uck d ow nsta ir s , d ra in ed a b ottl e o f w ate r, a nd s lid b ack in to th e b ed w ith o ut d is tu rb in g h im .
H e s h ifte d , w ra p pin g h is a rm a ro und m e. W e l a y w ith o ur l e gs ta ngle d to geth er, b odie s p re sse d c lo se
i n a w ay th at s h o uld n’t h av e fe lt c o m fo rta b le , b ut s o m eho w d id . S ta rin g u p a t th e c eilin g, I s m ile d ,
s u rp ris e d b y h o w h ap py I f e lt. L yin g i n h is a rm s, w ith n o th in g to d is tr a ct m e f r o m th e r is e a nd f a ll o f
h is c hest, th e r h yth m ic s o und o f h is h eartb eat, a nd th e w ay h is b ody f e lt w arm a gain st m in e, w as n ic e.
As th e m in ute s tu rn ed to h o urs , e up ho ria fa d ed in fa v or o f m ore p re ssin g n eed s. T he s y m pto m s
s ta rte d s m all; m in o r a ches a nd p ain s, a s m all b out o f d iz zin ess, s o m e c o ld s w eats , a nd a th ir s t th at
s e em ed u nq uenchab le . B ut b y th e ti m e I m ad e m y th ir d tr ip d ow nsta ir s b y th e s h aky l ig ht o f A donis ’s
c ell p ho ne f o r y et a no th er b ottl e o f w ate r, m y e nti r e b ody s h o ok w ith f a ti g ue.
I c o uld n’t d o it. I c o uld n’t m ake m yse lf c lim b th o se s ta ir s . T re m blin g, I o pened th e w ate r b ottl e
a nd to ok a s ip , d ete rm in ed to r e lie v e m y S ahara -d ry th ro at.
That’s a b it b ette r.
My s to m ach tw is te d , a nd a w av e o f d iz zin ess s la m med in to m e. I s tu m ble d , le anin g a gain st th e
w all a nd g asp in g a s I w aite d f o r th e a w fu l f e elin g to p ass.
Are s’s j a cket,
I r e m em bere d . I w asn ’t s u re
i f a to ken f r o m m y h o m e r e alm w ould h elp , b ut a t th is p oin t, I ’ d tr y a nyth in g.
What w as w ro ng w ith m e? L ast n ig ht, m y s y m pto m s h ad f e lt d ull. N oti c eab le , b ut n o t d eb ilita ti n g.
D efin ite ly n ot d eb ilita tin g,
I th o ught, r e m em berin g a ll m y f u n w ith A donis . N o, th is l e v el o f p ain f e lt
n ew . W hate v er w as w ro ng w ith m e w as g etti n g w ors e .
I s h uffle d th ro ugh th e d ark r o om a t a s lo w , y et p ain fu l p ace. M y l ip s p re sse d to geth er a s a m oan
e sc ap ed m y th ro at. E very m usc le , e v ery j o in t, e v ery f ib er o f m y b ein g c rie d o ut i n a go ny. S om ew here
a b ove m e, A donis s le p t o n, u naw are , a nd th at p is se d m e o ff to n o e nd . I w asn ’t s u re w hy I f e lt a ngry ,
m uch le ss w hy I did n’t call out fo r him . I guess lo gic and unend ura b le ago ny w ere n’t gre at
b ed fe llo w s.
“G ods,” I g asp ed , le anin g a gain st th e w all, fu m blin g w ith th e k in d o f lim p h eav in ess a sso cia te d
w ith th e v ery ill, th e d ru nk, o r th e u nd ead . I s a nk to th e flo or a nd c ra w le d in ste ad . M y to o-h o t s k in
c ra cked w ith e ach s tr e tc h a nd b end , a s i f e ach l a yer w as b ein g ta nned , s h ru nk, th en s tr e tc hed o ver m y
b ones. C ool l e ath er b ru sh ed a gain st m y f in gerti p s a nd I f e lt a n i o ta o f r e lie f. I p ulle d th e j a cket to m e,
n o t e v en b oth erin g to c ra w l th e tw o e xtr a f e et to th e c o uch.
I s p ent th e n ig ht a lte rn ati n g b etw een f r e ezin g a nd b urn in g a s I s h o ok b eneath A re s’s j a cket, ta kin g
s m all s ip s f r o m m y b ottl e o f w ate r. W hen I r a n o ut, I d id n’t h av e th e e nerg y to g et a n ew o ne. M y h ead
f e lt f u ll o f m olte n l a v a, a nd m y v ein s s e em ed a s i f th ey w ere f ille d w ith g ra nule s o f s h arp ened g la ss.
E ach h eartb eat s e em ed to s lic e th ro ugh m y b ody w ith a w av e o f p ain .
Delir iu m . F ra gm ente d th o ughts a nd m em orie s p la yed th ro ugh m y m in d a s th e s u n lig hte ned th e

ho riz o n.
“It’ s s o c o ld ,” I m oaned to A donis , th o ugh th e r a ti o nal b it o f m y b ra in
kn ew
he w as u p sta ir s a nd I
was n o t. W hat th e h ell, a t l e ast n o w I h ad s o m eo ne to ta lk to . “ H ow a re y o u n o t c o ld ?”
Adonis ’s g o ld e yes p opped o pen. “ Y ou d on’t fe el c o ld a t a ll, y o u’re — Gods!” H e s a t u p in th e
bed , h is h and b ru sh in g m y h air f r o m m y f o re head . “ A phro dite , y o u’re b urn in g u p .”
I c o uld n’t s to p s h akin g. “ F eels l ik e f r e ezin g.”
“W ell, h ere .” H e p ulle d th e fe ath er d uv et b ack o nto th e b ed a nd d ra p ed th e c o ol fa b ric a ro und
me. “ B ette r? ”
Now I fe lt to o h o t, b ut I d id n’t h av e th e h eart to te ll h im , s o I p ulle d h im to m e a nd k is se d h im
in ste ad . “ T hat’ s b ette r.”
“M mm,” h e a gre ed . H is h and s c up ped m y f a ce, h is th um b s tr o kin g m y c heek a s th e k is s d eep ened .
For a f e w m in ute s, I d id f e el b ette r.
Then I s h ifte d p ositi o ns a nd th e fr ic ti o n o f th e c arp et b eneath m e b ro ught m e je rk in g u p rig ht in
co nfu sio n. I w asn ’t o n th e b ed . I w as d ow nsta ir s . “ I s h o uld fix th at,” I m urm ure d . M y lip s c ra cked
when I s p oke. I c lim bed to m y f e et, A re s’s j a cket s lid in g to th e f lo or.
Clo th in g w ould b e g o od. P ers e p ho ne a nd th e o th ers w ould b e c heckin g in o n u s s o on. I g ra b bed
th e j a cket a nd m anaged to m ake m y w ay to th e s u itc ase b eneath th e s ta ir s .
I b lin ked a t th e c lo th in g s c atte re d a cro ss th e f lo or i n c o nfu sio n f o r a f e w m om ents b efo re I u rg ed
my h eav y lim bs to c o opera te w ith m y e ffo rts to g et d re sse d . O nce I p ulle d o n a g re en d re ss, I r a is e d
th e w ate r b ottl e to m y lip s. E m pty . W ith a sig h, I lu rc hed to m y fe et, d onned A re s’s ja cket, a nd
sh uffle d to w ard th e k itc hen. N ow th at th e s u n w as u p , I c o uld s e e th e s u ite w as a m ess. W hen th e b oat
ti lte d l a st n ig ht, e v ery th in g f e ll. I n clu d in g m y m assiv e s ta ck o f p ap ers o n th e k itc hen c o unte r. A m anila
env elo pe w ith A donis ’s n am e a nd o ld r o om n um ber c aught m y e ye f r o m b eneath th e f r id ge.
Room s, ro om n um bers , e m pty ro om s. F ev eris h ly , I c o m bed th ro ugh th e d ra w ers , s e arc hin g fo r
Oly m pia n S te ele . W ait, n o . I c lo se d th e d ra w er, tr y in g to g et m y b earin gs. I w asn ’t s e arc hin g th e s h ip .
I w as i n m y r o om . T here w as n o th in g to f in d h ere .
Doze ns o f e m pty r o om s. N o l u gg age, n o p eo ple . S om eth in g a b out th e e m pty r o om s s tu ck w ith m e,
so I p ause d to s c ra w l m yse lf a n o te o n th e m anila e nv elo pe b elo w A donis ’s n am e.
There a re n o o th er r o om s,
Adonis ’s v oic e s n ap ped . M ig uel h ad tr ie d to e sc o rt h im o ff th e s h ip
because th ey w ere a t c ap acity .
“A ugh!” I c la m ped a h and to m y fo re head , ta kin g m easu re d b re ath s. I c o uld n’t . . . th in k. G ods,
my h ead fe lt r e ad y to e xp lo de. I c o uld h ear m y p uls e p ound in g in m y e ars , a nd th e th o ught o f b lo od
pum pin g th ro ugh m y v ein s w as a lm ost to o m uch f o r m y n ause ate d s to m ach to b ear. A w him per c aught
in m y th ro at. I f e lt w ors e , s o m uch w ors e . W hy d id e v ery th in g h urt s o b ad ly ?
What w as I d oin g? W hy w ere a ll th ese p ap ers o n th e flo or? I s p otte d o ur r o om k ey a nd k nelt to
gra b th e pla sti c card . I co uld n’t lo se m in e because A donis had borro w ed m y sp are . U psta ir s ,
Pers e p ho ne m oved a ro und . I c o uld h ear h er f e et tr e ad in g o n th e c arp et a b ove.
Wait. N o. P ers e p ho ne w asn ’t h ere . T hat w as A donis m ovin g a ro und u p sta ir s . M y m outh fe lt a s
dry a s d ust. R ig ht, w ate r.
The f r id ge d id n’t f e el c o ld a nym ore a nd th e l ig ht d id n’t f lip o n.
Pow er’s o ut,
I r e m em bere d , m ovin g to tw is t th e c ap th e r e st th e w ay o ff th e l a st w ate r b ottl e .
I p ause d , h and p ois e d a nd r e ad y to o pen th e b ottl e . D id I b re ak th e s e al o r w as i t a lr e ad y b ro ken?
I g la nced a t th e e m pty w ate r b ottl e s l itte rin g th e r o om , s tr u gglin g to r e m em ber.
No, th at w as ju st s o m eth in g A donis a lw ays d id fo r m e. S om eth in g n ic e a nd g entl e m anly . G ood

th in g, s in ce th ese s tu p id p la sti c r id ges h urt m y p alm .
“W ate r? ”
Adonis h ad a sk ed , h old in g o ut a b ottle .
Over and o ver and o ver again . A lw ays
offe rin g m e d rin ks.
“O kay,” I w his p ere d , b rin gin g th e b ottl e to m y l ip s.
Cla rity b urs t th ro ugh m y fe v eris h d elir iu m b efo re th e co ol liq uid co uld re lie v e m y p arc hed
th ro at. I b acked u p in to th e c o unte rto p s ta rin g a t th e w ate r b ottl e in d is b elie f. O h, g o ds! S om eth in g
was in th e w ate r. M y p ow ers h ad n’t fa ile d u nti l m y fir s t n ig ht o n th e b oat.
Afte r
I d ra nk th e w ate r.
Then, e v ery ti m e I d ra nk a no th er b ottl e , th ey g o t w ors e . H ow m any b ottl e s h ad I d ru nk? M y m in d
flip ped th ro ugh e v ery s in gle ti m e A donis p asse d m e a w ate r b ottl e , e v ery s in gle ti m e I’ d r a id ed th e
fr id ge. T he b ottl e s h o ok i n m y tr e m blin g h and a s I s tu d ie d th e w ate r, s e arc hin g f o r s o m e tr a ce o f. . . .
What? W hat c o uld h urt a g o d, b ut l e av e a d em ig o d u nharm ed ?
A v io le nt sh ud der w re nched th ro ugh m e, se tti n g m y e nti r e b ody a b la ze w ith p ain . I g asp ed ,
moppin g th e s w eat o ff m y f o re head w ith m y f r e e h and . M y b ody s a gged a gain st th e c o unte r b ecause I
co uld n’t su p port m y ow n w eig ht anym ore . I grim aced , clu tc hin g m y sto m ach. I w as m is sin g
so m eth in g, a p ie ce o f th is p uzzle th at w ould m ake e v ery th in g e ls e f a ll i n to p la ce. B ut I c o uld n’t
th in k
cle arly e no ugh to —
There !
T in y, a lm ost m ic ro sc o pic , fla kes o f s ilv ery s p ecks in sid e th e b ottl e c aught th e s u nlig ht.
What th e h ell w as th at? S te ele ? Im possib le . A s in gle s c ra tc h c o uld k ill m e in a m atte r o f h eartb eats .
Wate r m ad e i t to th e h um an b lo od s tr e am w ith in f iv e m in ute s o f c o nsu m pti o n. I ’ d h av e b een d ead d ays
ago .
“A phro dite . . .” A donis s to od a t th e e ntr y o f th e k itc hen. I l o oked u p a t h im , d re ad f illin g th e p it
of m y s to m ach w hen I s a w th e g uilt w ritte n a cro ss h is f a ce. “ D on’t d rin k th at.”

Chap te r X XIX
I D RO PPE D T H E w ate r b ottl e . T he w eak p la sti c d ente d u p on h itti n g th e f lo or a nd w ate r s lu ic ed f r e e
f r o m th e u nse ale d to p. “ W hat h av e y o u d one?” M y v oic e s o und ed w eak a nd b rittl e , a nd m y m in d
s c re am ed f o r m e n o t to a sk . B ecause w hate v er h e s a id n ext w ould b e b ad . S o b ad th ere w ould b e n o
g o in g b ack. T hat m uch s e em ed o bvio us b y th e l o ok o n h is f a ce a nd th e tw is t i n m y g ut. “
Adonis
, w hat
h av e y o u d one?”
He c lo se d h is e yes. “ T hey to ld m e i t w ould n’t h urt y o u.”
Oh, g o ds. M y b re ath in g q uic kened a s m y f e v eris h m in d p ut th e p ie ces to geth er f o r th e th o usa nd th
t i m e i n a s m any m in ute s. O nly , th is ti m e, I c o uld n’t b re eze p ast th e o bvio us. C ould n’t b la m e s o m eo ne
e ls e . C ould n’t d eny th e o ne th in g th at w ould m ake th is e nti r e s itu ati o n w ors e . H e
kn ew .
“ Y ou . . .
p ois o ned m e? W hy?”
“A phro dite .” A donis m oved to w ard m e, p ap ers c rin klin g b eneath h is fe et a s h e c ro sse d th e
t h re sh o ld i n to th e k itc hen. “ T ake a d eep b re ath .”
“D on’t! ” I je rk ed a w ay fr o m h im , b ut d id n’t h av e fa r to g o w ith m y b ack a gain st th e w hite
c ab in ets . “ D on’t to uch m e. D on’t c o m e a nyw here n ear m e. D on’t y o u d are .” T he r o om s p un a ro und
m e. G rip pin g th e e d ge o f th e c o unte rto p, I f o ught to k eep m yse lf o n m y f e et.
Adonis b acked o ff. “ A phro dite , I ’ ll e xp la in e v ery th in g, I s w ear. B ut y o u’v e g o t w ay to o m uch o f
t h at s tu ff i n y o ur s y ste m . I h av e to g et y o u to J a so n s o h e c an— ”
Ja so n.
I file d th e n am e a w ay to e xp lo re la te r. “ I d on’t k no w h o w y o u m is se d th is ,” I s n ap ped
t h ro ugh g ritte d te eth , “ b ut w e c an’t
go
anyw here . A nd e v en i f w e c o uld , I w ould n’t g o w ith y o u. Y ou
d ru gged m e! I ’ m — I c o uld b e
dyin g.”
“T hey m ig ht hav e an anti d ote , or so m eth in g.” S unlig ht filte re d in fr o m th e flo or-to -c eilin g
w in d ow s. T he p ale b eam s le aked a cro ss th e w hite c arp et, in v ad in g th e w id e, o pen r o om to o utl in e
A donis ’s f r a m e, l ig hti n g u p h is g o ld en f e atu re s i n a w ay th at, to m y f e v eris h s ta te , s e em ed m enacin g,
u nnatu ra l. H e g lo w ed w ith m alic e. “ I c an g et u s to J a so n, y o u j u st h av e to tr u st m e.”
“T ru st y o u?” W as h e s e rio us?
“A phro dite , it w asn ’t s u p pose d to h urt y o u, y o u h av e to b elie v e m e.” A donis ’s g o ld e yes m et
m in e, p le ad in g.
“O h, g o ds, th is w asn ’t e v en y o ur r o om , w as i t? ” M ore p ie ces I ’ d r e fu se d to p ut to geth er f e ll i n to
p la ce, m y m in d s u d denly c le are r th an it’ d b een a ll n ig ht.
I h aven ’t h ad a ny w ate r fo r h ours. M ayb e
I ’m h ea lin g a l ittle ?
More l ik ely , s h o ck h ad s n ap ped m e b ack to m y s e nse s. I ’ d b e a w re ck w hen th e
a d re nalin e w ore o ff. B ut f o r n o w . . . . T he r o om n um ber, th e e m pty r o om s, A donis ’s “ lo st” k ey. “ Y ou
l ie d to k eep u s in th e s a m e r o om , a nd th en y o u w ere a c o m ple te je rk a b out m e b ein g h ere . A nd th en
y o u
pois o ned
me. W hy?”
“It w asn ’t s u p pose d to — ”
“T hen w hat w as i t s u p pose d to d o?” M y h eart s la m med i n m y c hest a s a d re nalin e p uls e d th ro ugh

my v ein s, m akin g m e d iz zy a nd n um b, y et h yp era w are a ll a t o nce.
Adonis ru b bed th e b ack o f his neck, lo okin g so co ntr ite , so fr ic kin ’ re m ors e fu l, I fe lt lik e
th ro w in g s o m eth in g a t h im . “ T ake a w ay y o ur p ow ers .”
His w ord s h it m e l ik e a p unch i n th e s to m ach. I f e lt a s i f I ’ d b een th ro w n o ff a c liff a nd c o uld f e el
th e g ro und r u sh in g to w ard m e a t a m illio n m ile s a n h o ur. “ T hat w ill k ill m e.”
“I d id n’t
kn ow
th at.” A donis h eld h is h and s o ut. “ I fig ure d w ith o ut y o ur p ow ers , y o u w ould
ju st . . . b e h um an. A liv e, b ut o n a l e v ele d p la yin g f ie ld . I t w asn ’t s u p pose d to b e d angero us.”
“ Yo u
hav e p ow ers . It’ s n o t a le v el p la yin g fie ld if y o u’re u p hill! A nd y o u c an’t ju st” — I w av ed
my h and s fo r a s e co nd , s e arc hin g fo r w ord s— “tu rn m e h um an. It d oesn ’t w ork th at w ay. A nd g o ds
with o ut pow ers are n’t hum an. T hey’re dead ! P ow er is n ’t all th at se p ara te s us fr o m hum anity .
We’re . . . w e’re a d iffe re nt s p ecie s. W e’re w ir e d d iffe re ntl y . Y ou c an’t j u st . . . y o u c an’t— ”
“P la y g o d?” A donis ti lte d h is h ead a nd g av e m e a p oin te d l o ok.
My m outh d ro pped o pen. “ A re y o u s e rio usly m akin g p uns r ig ht n o w ? Is th is . . . is th is
fu nny
to
yo u?”
“N o!” A donis ’s eyes w id ened . “O f co urs e no t. I’ m te llin g yo u exactl y w hat th ey’re d oin g.
They’re p la yin g a t b ein g g o ds. A nd u nfo rtu nate ly ”— Adonis l o oked u p a t th e c eilin g a nd l e t o ut a d eep
bre ath — “th ey a re n’t m uch b ette r a t i t th an y o u g uys. I n no cent p eo ple g o t h urt, a nd th ey p ro m is e d th at
would n’t h ap pen.”
“Y ou g uys? In no cent p eo ple ? N ot m uch b ette r? I w as
atta cked
, a ssa ulte d w ith d ead ly w eap ons,
bra in w ash ed ,
pois o ned
, lie d to , tr ic ked , a nd b etr a yed . T hey’re
not m uch b ette r
th an w e a re ?
We
a re
not
a c o lle cti v e. N eith er a re y o u, A donis . Y ou d on’t g et to h id e b ehin d th is g ro up , w ho ev er th e h ell
‘th ey’ a re .
Yo u
dru gged m e.”
“I d id n’t h av e a c ho ic e!”
I g ritte d m y te eth a gain st th e p ain a nd b ro ught m yse lf to m y fu ll h eig ht, c hannelin g e v ery b it o f
rig hte o us in d ig nati o n I c o uld m uste r. “ Y ou’re g o in g to te ll m e w ho ‘ th ey’ a re , o r s o h elp m e, A donis
—”
“T here ’s n o n eed to th re ate n m e.” A donis ’s f o ot c ro sse d f r o m c arp et to ti le a s h e s te p ped i n to th e
kitc hen, h is h and s in th e a ir in a g estu re o f s u rre nd er. “ I
want
to te ll y o u e v ery th in g. I’ v e s ta rte d to a
th o usa nd ti m es. L ast n ig ht b efo re w e. . . . O n th e b each, b efo re y o u w ent o ff w ith T anta lu s, a fte r
Pose id on w ent o ff o n y o u i n th e c lu b . I ’ v e
tr ie d ,
Aphro dite .”
Not h ard e no ugh. W e w ere ro om in g to geth er, a nd h ad b een w ith e ach o th er n early tw enty -fo ur
ho urs a d ay. H e’d h ad d oze ns o f o pportu niti e s. H e’d j u st c ho se n n o t to u se th em .
Obliv io us to m y th o ughts , A donis c o nti n ued . “ A nd e v en b efo re th at, I tr ie d a s h ard a s I c o uld to
get y o u to l e av e th e s h ip . I s to pped g iv in g y o u th e w ate r th e n ig ht y o u s to pped b re ath in g, th e m in ute I
re aliz e d s tr ip pin g y o u o f y o ur p ow ers w ould a ctu ally h urt y o u. I p oure d a ll th e w ate r b ottl e s o ut a nd
ev ery th in g. I d id n’t e v en k no w th ey r e p la ced th em . A nd A phro dite . . .” H e to ok a d eep b re ath . “ T hey
knew , th ey k new I w asn ’t g iv in g it to y o u. T hat’ s w hy T anta lu s g av e y o u s o m uch la st n ig ht. I k no w
yo u’re m ad rig ht n o w , a nd y o u h av e e v ery rig ht to b e, b ut I w asn ’t tr y in g to h urt y o u. I s w ear, if I
had n’t d one w hat I d id , th ey w ould h av e k ille d y o u.”
My h ead s p un, a nd I to uched m y h and to m y f o re head , tr y in g to s o rt th ro ugh e v ery th in g h e’d s a id .
Scre am in g a t h im fe lt s o m uch e asie r th an tr y in g to p uzzle th is o ut, b ut I w asn ’t th e o nly o ne a t s ta ke
here . T his in fo rm ati o n m atte re d . “ T anta lu s? ” W hat d id h e h av e to d o w ith th is ? “ A donis , w ho a re
‘th ey’? ” I e d ged a w ay f r o m h im w hen h e p ulle d th e f r id ge o pen.

“T he d em ig o ds. W e’re n o t m is sin g.” H e l o oked a t th e e m pty f r id ge, h is f a ce p alin g. “ H ow m any
did y o u d rin k? H ow m any w ere th ere ?” A donis l o oked m e u p a nd d ow n, h is e yes w id e w ith a la rm a s
he s e em ed to ta ke i n m y s w eaty s k in a nd tr e m blin g l im bs f o r th e f ir s t ti m e. “ A phro dite — ”
“Y eah, I’ m p ro bab ly a s g o od a s d ead ,” I sn ap ped . “ D o y o u th in k y o u c o uld g et a s sk ille d a t
answ erin g q uesti o ns as yo u are at m urd er? ’C ause I ask ed yo u a fe w . W hat d o yo u m ean, th e
dem ig o ds a re n’t m is sin g?”
He s w allo w ed h ard a nd b ent to p ic k u p th e w ate r b ottl e o n th e g ro und . I r e sis te d th e u rg e to k ic k
him in th e g ut, b ut o nly b ecause I w asn ’t s u re I c o uld r e m ain s ta nd in g. “ W e’re b ein g r e cru ite d . T he
dem ig o ds y o u’re l o okin g f o r l e ft o f th eir o w n v oliti o n.”
“W hat? ”
“W hen T anta lu s a nd th e o th ers s a w y o u c harm in g y o ur w ay o n b oard , th ey g o t s p ooked , a nd . . .”
He w alk ed a ro und th e s u ite , p ic kin g u p e m pty w ate r b ottl e s a s h e w ent. I c o uld s e e th e a la rm g ro w in g
in h is f e atu re s a s h e ta llie d th e b ottl e s. “ I k new th ey h ad th e w eap ons, o kay. I d id n’t w ant th em u sin g
th em o n y o u, s o I p ro m is e d y o u w ere n’t a th re at, a nd s w ore to k eep a n e ye o n y o u. T hey a gre ed to
le av e y o u a lo ne, s o l o ng a s I g av e y o u th is s tu ff th at w ould s tr ip y o u o f y o ur p ow ers f o r a w hile . T hey
did n’t w ant y o u c harm in g th em b ecause th ey a re n’t a ll im mune.” A donis p ush ed th e e m pty w ate r
bottl e s i n to th e tr a sh .
The r o om s p un a ro und m e, a nd I c o uld n’t p ull e no ugh a ir in to m y lu ngs. T he d em ig o ds? R eally ?
We w ere n’t lo okin g fo r a g o d o r a T ita n o r a p rim ord ia l o r a nyth in g w e’d e v er c o nsid ere d to b e
co nse q uenti a l i n te rm s o f p ow er? I th o ught o f th e c harm , w oven to geth er f r o m h und re d s,
hundre d s
o f
diffe re nt p ow er s o urc es, f o rg in g a n u nb re akab le l in k to th e p asse ngers .
Alo ne, th e d em ig o ds w ere n o th in g, b ut to geth er . . .
Esp ecia lly w hen th ere w ere d em ig o ds l ik e A donis .
He c erta in ly c a n lie .
E lis e ’s v oic e e cho ed in m y th o ughts . H ow d id w e m is s th is ? H ow d id
I
mis s th is ? G ods, th e O ly m pia n S te ele . I k new e xactl y w here th e r e st o f th e w eap ons w ere . T he o nly
ro om I ’ d n ev er f in is h ed s e arc hin g. T anta lu s’s .
Assu m in g t h ey a re n ’t i n A donis ’s l u ggage.
I’ d n ev er th o ught to s e arc h th ere , e ith er.
I r e m em bere d th e lo ok o f h o rro r o n E lis e ’s fa ce a fte r A donis e xp la in ed w e w ere tr y in g to h elp
fin d th e m is sin g d em ig o ds.
I’m n ot a p art o f t h is , a nd y o u s h ould n’t b e e ith er.
“T hey call th em se lv es th e D AM NED . D em ig o ds A gain st M ajo r N ym phs, E le m enta ls , and
Deiti e s.”
“N ym phs? ” N ym phs w ere a ll b ut e xti n ct, a nd th ey’d n ev er b een p ow erfu l.
Adonis s h ru gged . “ T hey w ere m ostl y f is h in g f o r s o m eth in g to c o m ple te th e a cro nym . ’ C ause th ey
mig ht c hange th in gs o n th e s u rfa ce, b ut th ey k no w o nce th ey d ie . . . . W ell, y o u k no w . H ad es.”
Yeah, th ey’d b e d am ned a ll rig h t. T he L ord o f th e U nd erw orld w ould n’t lo ok to o k in d ly u p on
mem bers o f a g ro up th at s o ught. . . . W hat e xactl y ? O ur e xti n cti o n?
“W here is H ad es? ” I ask ed , re m em berin g A donis ’s o ffh and co m ment la st nig ht. P ers e p ho ne
co uld
alw ays
fin d H ad es u nle ss th ey g o t s e p ara te d b y e xtr e m e c ir c um sta nces, lik e Z eus’s lig htn in g
and a n e nti r e re alm o f d is ta nce.
Or a b unch o f b lo odth ir sty d em ig ods a rm ed w ith S te ele ?
No, if
Had es d ie d , P ers e p ho ne w ould k no w i n sta ntl y . T here w ould n’t b e a r e aso n to s e arc h.
Adonis s h ru gged . “ P ro bab ly w ith th e o th ers b y n o w . I to ld y o u; la st I h eard , th ey w ere lo okin g
fo r E cho a nd N arc is su s. I ’ m s u re th ey’ll a ll b e b ack s o on.” H e p ale d . “ I’ ll te ll th em e v ery th in g.”
Ech o?
Did h e m ean E ? “ P ose id on w as r ig ht.” I q uelle d th e h yste ric al l a ughte r b ub blin g u p w ith in

me. T he d em ig o ds w ere a th re at. T hey w ere w ork in g to geth er, a nd th ey w ere a rm ed ; th ey’d tr ic ked u s.
All b ecause w e w ere to o p ro ud to c o nsid er th at w e m ig ht b e d ealin g w ith le sse r b ein gs. “ I s h o uld
hav e l e t h im s in k th e b oat.”
Did n’t t h at j u st f ig ure
?
Adonis d id n’t s e em to h av e h eard m e, b ecause h e c o nti n ued tr y in g to e xp la in , h is v oic e g ro w in g
desp era te . “ T hey s w ore i t w ould n’t h urt y o u. I ’ m s o rry , I ’ m s o s o rry , b ut I d id n’t h av e a c ho ic e.”
Gods, P ose id on w as rig ht a b out A donis to o— he w as a p ro fe ssio nal v ic ti m . “ Y ou c o uld h av e
to ld m e
.” M y e nra ged s h rie k e cho ed a cro ss th e r o om .
“A nd th en w hat? ” A donis d em and ed , fr u str a ti o n g iv in g w ay to a nger. “ Y ou w ould h av e to ld
Pose id on, a nd h e w ould h av e k ille d u s a ll th e m in ute h e r e aliz e d w e w ere a rm ed .”
We?
Only a m om ent a go , h e’d s a id
th ey.
H ow d eep i n to th is w as h e?
Adonis b acked a w ay, m ovin g a cro ss th e ti le lin e d iv id in g th e k itc hen fr o m th e liv in g s p ace. “ I
co uld n’t b e r e sp onsib le f o r a nyo ne d yin g. T hey’re g o od p eo ple , j u st s c are d a nd a ngry , a nd th ey h av e a
rig ht
to b e. I . . . I d id n’t w ant a nyo ne to d ie , y o u i n clu d ed .”
“T hey a tta cked
me
.” O r d id h e f o rg et a b out th e p asse ngers w ie ld in g O ly m pia n S te ele ?
“T hat w as a n a ccid ent. Y ou’d a lr e ad y l e ft th e c lu b a nd th ey d id n’t k no w y o u w ere c o m in g b ack.
Once I r e aliz e d y o u’d l e ft th e r o om , I tr ie d to w arn y o u. I tr ie d , b ut y o u d id n’t h ear m e. T hey w ere n’t
tr y in g to g et y o u, y o u w ere j u st i n th e w ay. T hey w ere tr y in g to g et to P ose id on.”
“P eo ple
die d .

Adonis w in ced . “ D o y o u th in k I’ m n o t a w are o f th at? I’ m n o t o n th eir s id e a nym ore , A phro dite .
No o ne w as s u p pose d to d ie .”
“E xcep t P ose id on, o bvio usly .” I s ta re d a t A donis i n d is b elie f. “ L ik e th at’ s s o m eho w b ette r? ”
“P ose id on d ese rv es i t.”
I s h o ok m y h ead . “ W e’re a n e nd angere d s p ecie s, A donis . I f
any
of u s d ie , i t h urts u s a ll.”
“I th o ught y o u w ere n’t a c o lle cti v e.”
“T hat’ s n o t w hat I— ” W hy e xp la in a nyth in g to h im ? “ G ods, y o u r e ally h ate u s.” I’ d k no w n th at
fr o m th e g et- g o , b ut I ’ d h ad n o i d ea h o w d eep h is h atr e d w ent.
“I d on’t h ate
yo u
.”
“O nly because yo u th o ught yo u co uld m ake m e so m eth in g diffe re nt.” I le aned again st th e
co unte rto p f o r s u p port. “ S om eth in g y o u c an s ta nd .”
“N o! T hat’ s n o t— ”
“T hre e d ays a go , y o u c o uld b are ly to le ra te m e. N ow a ll o f a s u d den— ”
“T hre e d ays a go , I d id n’t k no w y o u. N ot re ally .” T he w ord s se em ed to e xp lo de fr o m w ith in
Adonis , l ik e i f h e p ut e no ugh p ow er b ehin d th em , th e v olu m e w ould f o rc e m e to s e e r e aso n. A s i f h e
co uld d ro w n o ut th e h o rrifie d v oic e in m y h ead c ry in g th at h e’d p ois o ned m e, b etr a yed m e, h urt m e.
But th e tr u th c o uld n’t b e s ile nced . “ A ll I k new w as th at y o u w ere n’t p sy cho ti c lik e m ost o f th e g o ds,
and y o u d id n’t d ese rv e to b e k ille d o ff a s a p re cauti o n.”
“ Most
o f th e g o ds? Y ou’v e m et a lm ost a ll o f th em , A donis . D oes P ers e p ho ne s e em p sy cho ti c to
yo u? O r A rte m is ? O r A re s? O r H ep haestu s? A re y o u s a yin g a ny o f th em d ese rv e to b e k ille d o ff a s a
pre ca utio n
?” I s p at o ut th e w ord . “ T his i s a n ew p anth eo n. E very th in g i s d iffe re nt— ”
“It’ s to o littl e , to o la te . T he g o ds h av e s c re w ed a ro und w ith u s, o ur fa m ilie s, s o m e o f u s fo r
genera ti o ns. T anta lu s’s e nti r e fa m ily is lite ra lly c urs e d . It p asse s d ow n h is b lo odlin e b ecause o f
so m eth in g th at hap pened
cen tu rie s
ago . T here ’s no p oin t in te llin g th em th e go ds hav e changed

because th at’ s c o ld c o m fo rt to a nyo ne w ho ’s a lr e ad y b een h urt. T hey w ere g o in g to k ill y o u.”
His w ord s e cho ed a ro und th e r o om a s w e s ta re d e ach o th er d ow n, b re ath in g h ard . “ W hat d o y o u
want m e to s a y, A donis ? T hat w hat y o u d id w as u nd ers ta nd ab le ? T hat i t’ s o kay? B ecause i t’ s n o t.”
“I k no w . I j u st w ant y o u to u nd ers ta nd I d id n’t h av e a c ho ic e.”
“B ut y o u
did
. A nd y o u c ho se to d ru g m e. Y ou c ho se to
lie
to m e. Y ou c o uld h av e tr u ste d m e
in ste ad o f s ta b bin g m e i n th e b ack a nd — ”
“I’ m s o rry !”
“— tr y in g to r e m ake m e i n to s o m eth in g m ore to y o ur l ik in g. S om eth in g y o u c an c o ntr o l. G ods, a ll
th at s tu ff y o u s a id la st n ig ht a b out ta kin g a n a d vanta ge if y o u w ere n’t g iv en o ne. Y ou w ere tr y in g to
ju sti fy w hat y o u d id .”
“N o!”
“Y ou s le p t w ith m e,” I c rie d . “ W as a ny o f th at m e? O r d id y o u c harm m e i n to — ”
“ No!”
Adonis lo oked h o rrifie d a t th e th o ught. “ I e v en c hecked . Y ou w ere n’t c harm ed . I w ould
nev er— ”
“B ut i f I ’ m d ru gged , i t’ s o kay?”
“ No!”
“H ow a m I s u p pose d to b elie v e y o u? Y ou c an l ie !”
“B ecause I c o uld c harm y o u r ig ht n o w i n to b elie v in g w hate v er I s a y, a nd I ’ m n o t. I w asn ’t l y in g
la st n ig ht. Y ou m ean s o m eth in g to m e. I th in k . . . I th in k I m ig ht e v en l o — ”
“D on’t.” M y v oic e b ro ke a s th e fe elin g I’ d fo und la st n ig ht sh atte re d w ith in m e, th e sh ard s
rip pin g m y h eart, s o ul, a nd v ery b ein g to s h re d s. F or a ll th e h ell I’ d liv ed th ro ugh b efo re , I’ d n ev er
fe lt a s e m pty a nd b ro ken a s I d id r ig ht n o w . A nd I
hate d
myse lf fo r g iv in g h im s o m uch p ow er o ver
me. B ut I w ould n’t m ake th at m is ta ke a gain . “ D on’t y o u d are p la y th at c ard . N ot a fte r w hat y o u d id .”
“I l o ve y o u.”
He p ro bab ly e v en b elie v ed it. B ut th is w asn ’t lo ve. I k new lo ve. I’ d s e en it in P ers e p ho ne’s
str e ngth w hen s h e s h o uld h av e b een b ro ken b eyo nd r e p air, i n D em ete r’s s a crific e, i n th e w ay H ad es’s
voic e gentl e d ev ery ti m e he sa id P ers e p ho ne’s nam e and P ose id on’s b ro ke ev ery ti m e he sa id
Trito n’s . L ove c o uld b e p ain a nd f e ar a nd s tr e ngth a nd w ond er a nd e v ery th in g i n -b etw een. B ut i t w as
never
pois o n.
No. A donis fe lt w hat h ap pened w hen y o u to sse d tw o p eo ple in a r o om , p ile d o n e m oti o nal a nd
physic al d is a ste rs , d anger, a nd m ayhem , a nd th re w i n s o m e g uilt f o r g o od m easu re . H e f e lt
so m eth in g
to w ard m e, m ayb e e v en s o m eth in g s tr o ng, b ut i t w asn ’t l o ve. N ot i f h e c o uld d o w hat h e’d d one.
But i t s ti ll h urt.
“I n ev er m eant fo r a ny o f th is to h ap pen.” A donis m oved to w ard m e a nd s o m eth in g in sid e m e
sn ap ped . H e d id n’t g et to l o ok u p se t, a nd h e d id n’t g et to a ct h eartb ro ken. N o. I w as m ost l ik ely d yin g,
and n o t o nly h ad h e c ause d i t, b ut h e’d w atc hed w hile m y p ow ers d ete rio ra te d , s e nd in g m e th ro ugh a
world o f p ain . A nd h e’d s a id
noth in g.
H e’d lie d to m e a nd tr ic ked m e a nd b etr a yed m e a nd tr ie d to
change m e, a ll w hile p re te nd in g to c are a b out m e, a nd n o w h e d are d to s a y h e lo ved m e? S narlin g, I
gra b bed th e f ir s t th in g I c o uld r e ach o n th e c o unte r a nd th re w a h eav y, c era m ic c up a t h im .
“G et
aw ay
fr o m m e.” T he m ug hit th e cab in et b ehin d him and b ro ke in to p ie ces. “Y ou are
every th in g
th at y o u h ate . In fa ct, y o u’re w ors e !” A fte r a ll h is ta lk a b out h o w th e g o ds w ere
so
bad ,
tr y in g to m ake m e f e el a sh am ed o f w hat I w as. . . . A nd a ll th at ti m e, h e’d b een m anip ula ti n g m e?
“A phro dite — ”

“Y ou’re a
monste r,”
I y elle d s o l o ud m y v oic e w ent h o ars e .
A kno ck at th e d oor d re w m e up sh o rt. M ig uel’s v oic e filte re d th ro ugh th e th ic k m eta l. “Is
ev ery th in g a ll r ig ht i n th ere ?”
Mig uel co uld kno ck on th e door. W hic h m eant th e sh ie ld w as dow n. A nd th at m eant th at
so m eth in g h ad h ap pened to th e b arrie r— or to th e g o d w ho s e t i t.
Pers e p ho ne! S he’d le ft w ith T anta lu s. A nd A re s a nd th e o th ers . I n eed ed to w arn th em . T hey
th o ught th ey w ere h elp in g th e d em ig o ds, b ut th e d em ig o ds w ere b ehin d th is w ho le th in g a nd th ey w ere
arm ed . A ll b ecause I w as to o b lin d a nd s tu p id to s e e th e d anger r ig ht in fr o nt o f m e. I n eed ed to fix
th is . T o h elp th em .
Gods, I w as p ro bab ly to o l a te .
I c o uld n’t fa ll a p art r ig ht n o w . T here w as to o m uch a t s ta ke. W ith e ffo rt, I s h o ved a sid e m y h urt
and a nger s o I c o uld m ove o n to m ore im porta nt m atte rs . “ T hey w ould h av e k ille d m e?” M y v oic e
so und ed n um b, d eta ched .
“ Ye s.
” A donis l o oked a t m e, e yes f u ll o f h o pe.
I’ d hav e ra th er d ie d o utr ig ht. A t le ast th en, th e o th ers w ould n’t b e in d anger. “H ow m any
dem ig o ds a re o n th is s h ip , r e ally ?”
“D oze ns. T hey . . . s o m e o f th em c an u se g la m ours .”
That s h o uld n’t h av e b een p ossib le . D em ig o ds c o uld n’t g la m our, b ut e v en i f th ey c o uld , i t s h o uld
hav e le ft a p ow er s ig natu re . M y a b ility to p ic k u p o n s ig natu re s h ad v anis h ed a lm ost in sta ntl y , b ut
Pose id on h ad tr a cked m e u sin g m y g la m our. H e w ould h av e n o ti c ed d oze ns o f g la m oure d d em ig o ds.
Pose id on’s v oic e e cho ed in m y m in d .
If th ey’re im mune to c h arm , n o te llin g w hat o th er o dditie s
th ey h ave a bout t h em o r w hat t h ey m ay p ass o n. T hey’re t o o d angero us.
I c lo se d m y e yes. H e w as rig ht. G ods h elp m e, P ose id on w as rig ht. “ W ill th ey k ill th e o th er
go ds? W ill th ey d ru g th em ?”
“I d on’t . . .” A donis r u b bed th e b ack o f h is n eck, lo okin g s ic k w ith g uilt. “ I d on’t k no w . T hey
don’t tr u st m e a nym ore , s o th ey h av en’t b een ta lk in g to m e. It’ s n o t lik e th eir a im w as e v er to a tta ck
yo u g uys. T hey j u st w ante d to b e l e ft a lo ne.”
With a n a cro nym lik e D AM NED , I s o m eho w d oub te d th at. B ut A donis h ad b elie v ed w hat h e
wante d to b elie v e, a nd n o w I w as d yin g f o r i t. B ut I w asn ’t g o in g to l e t th at h ap pen to th e o th ers .
“A phro dite , d on’t g o o ut th ere !”
Oh, a s i f I w ould e v er l is te n to a no th er w ord h e s a id a gain . I b olte d o ut th e d oor.

Chap te r X XX
T H E D OOR S LA M MED b ehin d m e, p ush in g m e i n to a s ta rtl e d M ig uel. “ I’ m s o rry ,” I g asp ed , l e anin g
a gain st th e d oor.
Mig uel s te ad ie d m e, s tu d yin g m y f a ce. “ A re y o u a ll r ig ht, m is s? ”
The d oork no b ra ttl e d , a nd I c lu tc hed th e c o ol silv er k no b. M ig uel to ok o ne lo ok a t m e a nd
g ra b bed th e k no b, h o ld in g i t c lo se d .
“A phro dite !” A donis ’s m uffle d s h o ut e cho ed th ro ugh th e h all a nd h e p ound ed o n th e d oor. “ I c an
h elp , j u st o pen th e d oor.”
“U m . . . m is s? ” M ig uel e yed th e s h ud derin g d oor a s A donis ’s p ound in g p ers is te d .
“I m ig ht p ass o ut,” I w arn ed M ig uel, a d ju sti n g A re s’s ja cket. “ If th at h ap pens, p ro m is e n o t to
l e av e m e w ith h im .”
“I’ m s o rry , w hat? ”
My h ead s p un a nd I d ecid ed to w ork o n m akin g s e nse l a te r. R ig ht n o w , I n eed ed to k eep A donis
c o nta in ed . I c lo se d m y e yes a nd p oure d e v ery th in g I h ad , w hic h w asn ’t m uch, i n to s h ie ld in g th e r o om .
M y s to m ach w re nched . B lo od d rip ped fr o m m y n o se a nd s p ots fille d m y v is io n, b ut th e s h ie ld h eld
u p .
“ Mis s
,” M ig uel c rie d o ut i n a la rm a s m y k nees b uckle d , b ut h e h eld o n to th e d oor. S m art m an.
“S ’s ’ k ay,” I m urm ure d , l e anin g a gain st th e w all. T ilti n g m y h ead , I p in ched th e b rid ge o f m y n o se
t o sta nch th e flo w o f b lo od. S unlig ht str e am ed th ro ugh th e g la ss sk ylig ht a nd th e e nd le ss h alls o f
w in d ow s. T he ti g htn ess i n m y c hest e ase d . I ’ d b een a fr a id th e e nti r e b oat w ould b e p itc h b la ck.
I d re w i n a b re ath . “ I n eed to — I j u st— ” P ose id on. I ’ d te ll P ose id on. H e c o uld l o cate a ny d eity i n
h is r e alm a nd te le p ort u s a ll to o ne p la ce. I o nly w ante d to te ll th is s to ry o nce. T akin g a d eep b re ath , I
w aite d f o r th e w ors t o f th e d iz zin ess to p ass. O nce I f e lt c erta in I w ould n’t c o lla p se , I a nno unced , “ I
h av e to g et o uts id e.”
“G et to m ed ic al, it’ s . . .” M ig uel e yed m e, a s if e v alu ati n g m y a b ility to m ake it d ow n to th e
b otto m o f th e b oat. “ T here i s a d oor, s tr a ig ht d ow n th is h all th at l e ad s o uts id e. W ait th ere , I w ill s e nd
s o m eo ne to e sc o rt y o u th e r e st o f th e w ay.” H e r e ached fo r a r a d io s tr a p ped to h is b elt a s th e d oor
s h ud dere d . “ G o.”
Thankfu lly , m y ro om w asn ’t fa r fr o m a n e xte rio r h all. T he a d re nalin e k eep in g m e o n m y fe et
w ould n’t l a st l o ng, b ut I h ad to k no w . “ W hat h ap pened ? W hy i s th e p ow er o ff? ”
I c o uld s e e i n th e s tr u ggle o n h is f a ce th at h e w ante d to a sk w hat h ad b een g o in g o n b etw een m e
a nd A donis , b ut w asn ’t a h und re d p erc ent s u re h e w ante d to k no w . “ U h . . . th ere w as a m alfu ncti o n.
T he p ow er s h o uld r e tu rn s h o rtl y , a nd o nce i t d oes, w e’ll b e m ovin g a gain .”
“T hank y o u.” I p ush ed o ff th e w all a nd h ead ed fo r th e e xte rio r d oor a t th e e nd o f th e h all. A s I
s ta ggere d d ow n th e c o rrid or, I h eard M ig uel s p eakin g r a p id S panis h i n to h is r a d io , a nd a no th er c re w
m em ber’s v oic e s p eakin g to a g ro up o f p asse ngers .

“T ry n o t to c lo se y o ur c ab in d oor c o m ple te ly , b ecause y o u m ay n o t b e a b le to u nlo ck y o ur d oor
again . L oote rs w ill b e p ro se cute d to th e fu ll e xte nt o f th e la w . A h, a nd if y o ur fa ciliti e s a re n o t
fu ncti o nin g, p le ase u rin ate d ow n th e s h o w er d ra in . B ags w ill b e p ro vid ed f o r f e cal m atte r.”
I p ush ed o pen th e d oor to o uts id e a nd s u cked in a d eep b re ath o f th e s a lt- ti n ged a ir. T he w hite
walls o f th e s h ip s e em ed to fa d e a w ay a s I g aze d o ut a t th e n ev er-e nd in g s tr e tc h o f n av y b lu e. T here
were n o w av es. N o w in d . T he o cean l o oked f la t a s g la ss, th e l a ck o f m ovem ent s o p ro fo und ly
wro ng
th at I s te p ped a w ay f r o m th e b ars . “ W hat? ” I g la nced u p a nd s p otte d a f e w c lo ud s l in gerin g i n th e s k y,
but e v en th o se r e m ain ed p erfe ctl y s ti ll. A s i f th e w orld h eld i ts b re ath , f r o ze n i n ti m e. I k new e xactl y
whic h c o ord in ate s th e b oat h ad r e ached . I n eed ed to fin d th e o th ers . N ow . B ut th e s e co nd M ig uel’s
backup a rriv ed a nd h e o pened th e d oor to o ur s u ite , A donis w ould c harm M ig uel in to te llin g h im
exactl y w here I w ent. I c o uld n’t b e h ere .
Tre m blin g w ith fa ti g ue, I m ad e m y w ay to th e s ta ir w ell a nd h ead ed d ow n, c lin gin g to th e w hite
ra ilin g. I ’ d g o ne tw o f lig hts w hen m y s h akin g l e gs c alle d i t q uits .
“O kay, th en.” I le aned a gain st th e ra il a nd lo oked a ro und . I c o uld h ear p eo ple m urm urin g o n
deck, b ut n o o ne o ccup ie d th is s tr ip o f w alk w ay. “ L et’ s tr y th is a gain .” S w allo w in g h ard , I d ug m y
nails i n to th e s c ab bed -o ver s lic e o n m y p alm a nd d ug d eep u nti l b rig ht r e d b lo od w elle d u p f r o m th e
in d enta ti o n. I h eld m y s lic ed p alm o ver th e r a il a nd w atc hed a s m y b lo od d rip ped i n to th e o cean. T he
wate r l o oked s o s ti ll, I s a w e ach r e d d ro p h it th e w ate r a s h ip ’s l e ngth b elo w .
Pose id on,
I f o cuse d m y
th o ughts .
It’s a n e m erg en cy.
Noth in g h ap pened . M in ute s ti c ked b y, a nd m y c o ncern g re w in to a la rm .
I’m re a dy to c a ll in a
fa vo r,
I a d ded i n d esp era ti o n.
Sti ll n o th in g. I r e p eate d th e r itu al o ut l o ud w ith n o b ette r l u ck.
Perse p hone?
I s e nt a p ra yer h er w ay.
It’s i m porta nt.
Noth in g. “ O kay, th in k, A phro dite .”
Som eth in g
h ad o bvio usly h ap pened l a st n ig ht. “ T hey c an’t b e
dead .” I’ d fe el m y b ond o f fe alty s n ap if s o m eth in g h ad h ap pened to P ers e p ho ne. A s fo r P ose id on, a
re alm ru le r’s d eath w as n o t a s u b tl e e v ent— th ere w ould b e e cho es o f th eir d eath a nd re alm -w id e
chao s.
My m in d fla sh ed to th e ti lti n g o f th e b oat a nd th e w ild sto rm la st n ig ht, b ut I d is m is se d th e
th o ught. S to rm s w ere c o m mon. T errify in g, i f y o u h ap pened to b e o ut o n a b oat a nd l o cked i n a r o om ,
but th e c hao s th at r e ig ned w hen a r e alm r u le r d ie d w as th e s tu ff o f l e gend , n o t s im ple n ig htm are s.
I’ d
kn ow
i f P ose id on h ad d ie d . U nle ss, o f c o urs e , P ose id on h ad p ulle d a D em ete r a nd w ille d a ll
of h is p ow er to s o m eo ne e ls e . B ut th e o nly p ers o n h e w ould tr u st e no ugh to g iv e a ll h is p ow er to
would b e P ers e p ho ne, a nd s h e w asn ’t a nsw erin g e ith er.
Are s! H ades! A rte m is ! A th en a!
I w ent th ro ugh th e lis t o f e v ery liv in g d eity I c o uld th in k o f.
Noth in g.
“O kay. . . . N ow w hat? ” I c hew ed m y lip , d ru m min g m y fin gers a gain st th e m eta l b ars . M ayb e
Arte m is a nd A re s h ad k ep t th eir h ead s d ow n l a st n ig ht to k eep th eir c o ver i n ta ct. I f I —
“A phro dite ?” A donis ’s v oic e filte re d d ow n fr o m so m ew here a b ove m e. I fr o ze , h o ld in g m y
bre ath . H e k new m e, k new th at, g iv en a c ho ic e, I ’ d v entu re o uts id e r a th er th an s ta y i n th e s ti flin g b oat.
Movin g as q uie tl y as I co uld , I o pened th e d oor and slip ped in sid e, stu m blin g to w ard th e d ark
sta ir c ase l e ad in g to th e l o w er d ecks.
Sobbin g fille d th e s ta ir w ell. S natc hes o f a ngry , fr u str a te d , a nd fr ig hte ned c o nv ers a ti o ns flo w ed
past m e a s I d esc end ed th e ste p s. T he lo w er I w ent, th e d ark er th e b oat b ecam e. I c o uld n’t se e

anyth in g. T he d is e m bodie d v oic es s e nt s h iv ers u p m y s p in e. O r m ayb e th at w as th e f e v er.
I g ro ped m y w ay a lo ng th e s ta ir w ell, m y h and s o n th e w all a s I s h uffle d fo rw ard u nti l m y to es
to uched th e e d ge o f th e n ext s te p . T here w as s o m eth in g c re ep y a b out w and erin g a ro und th e c ru is e s h ip
in th e d ark . J u st k no w in g h o w m any p eo ple w ere o n b oard w ith m e, m any o f th em d em ig o ds i n te nt o n
my d estr u cti o n, h o w s m all th is b oat w as c o m pare d to th e o cean, a nd h o w
dark
th is s ta ir w ell lo oked
—it a ll p re sse d a gain st m e. T angib le fe ar. I’ d n ev er fe lt c la ustr o pho bic o r su ffe re d p anic a tta cks
befo re A donis d ru gged m e. B ut no w , I fe lt lik e I w as su ffo cati n g. C ho kin g o n air sm ellin g o f
chem ic als a nd m ild ew , s w eat, a nd s a lt.
Som eho w , I m ad e it to E lis e ’s ro om , h o pin g a gain st h o pe A rte m is w ould b e th ere . If a nyo ne
need ed to k no w th e d em ig o ds w ere b ehin d a ll th e tr o ub le , i t w as th e d eiti e s i m pers o nati n g d em ig o ds.
I p ush ed u p th e s le ev es o n A re s’s j a cket a nd p ound ed o n th e d oor f o r a s o lid m in ute , e ach k no ck
lo ud er a nd m ore d esp era te th an th e la st. “ C om e o n, c o m e o n. O pen th e d oor!” A ll th e p hysic al a nd
em oti o nal e xerti o n w as c atc hin g u p to m e, a nd m y a d re nalin e h ig h w as w earin g o ff. M y h ead s p un a s I
sla m med m y f is t a gain st th e d oor o ne l a st ti m e. “ C om e o n!”
The d oor n ext to h ers o pened . S unlig ht s p ille d i n to th e d ark h all, r e v ealin g a n a nno yed o ld m an i n
a b ath ro be w ith th re e l o ng w hite h air s a to p h is h ead . “ W ould y o u c ut th at o ut,” h e s n ap ped , g lo w erin g
at m e th ro ugh w rin kle d f le sh . “ O bvio usly , th ere ’s n o o ne. . . . H oney, a re y o u a ll r ig ht? ” H e s e em ed to
actu ally s e e m e f o r th e f ir s t ti m e.
Gods, h o w b ad d id I l o ok i f
th at
was th e r e acti o n I k ep t g etti n g?
“S -s o rry ,” I s ta m mere d , b ackin g a w ay.
“W ait,” h e c alle d a fte r m e a s I m ad e m y w ay d ow n th e h all, b ut I i g no re d h im . I w as f a r b eyo nd
th e h elp o f m orta ls .
I fo und T anta lu s’s ro om a nd k no cked . W arm a nd w elc o m in g s u nsh in e s p ille d in to th e h allw ay,
bath in g m e in lig ht w hen th e d oor s w ung o pen. “ H ey th ere .” A re s h ad r e ally d one h is h o m ew ork in
mim ic kin g T anta lu s’s f a cia l e xp re ssio ns. T hat f a m ilia r s id ew ays g rin l it u p h is g o ld en f a ce.
“A re s!” I th re w m y a rm s a ro und h im , s o re lie v ed to fin d h im s a fe th at fo r a s e co nd , m y fe v er
did n’t m atte r. “ O h, g o ds. I w as g etti n g s o s c are d . I c an’t f in d P ose id on, o r P ers e p ho ne, o r A rte m is , o r
anyo ne
e ls e . W hat h ap pened ?” I d re w b ack a n a rm ’s le ngth . “ A ctu ally , n ev er m in d , w e h av e to g et
ev ery o ne to geth er
now .

“W ho a, w ho a.” H e l e aned b ack, r e ad y to p ull f r e e o f m y e m bra ce u nti l h e n o ti c ed to w hat e xte nt I
clu ng to h im to s ta y o n m y f e et. “ A re y o u o kay?”
I s h o ok m y h ead . “ T he d em ig o ds a re n’t m is sin g, A re s, th ey’re c o nsp ir in g a gain st u s. T hey’v e g o t
weap ons a nd p ois o n, a nd A donis — ” M y th ro at c o nstr ic te d w hen I th o ught o f A donis . “ H e
kn ew .
He
knew th e w ho le ti m e. I le ft h im s h ie ld ed in th e ro om . O nce w e g et th e o th ers , h e c an te ll y o u th e
who le s to ry .”
“H e k new w hat? ” A re s s h ifte d h is g rip o n m e a s h e lo cked th e d oor. “ H ang o n, w hat a b out th e
dem ig o ds? D oes th is h av e a nyth in g to d o w ith th e p ow er g o in g o ut? ”
“I d on’t k no w .” I s h ru gged , w ond erin g w hy h e’d b oth ere d to l o ck th e d oor i n ste ad o f p utti n g u p a
sh ie ld . ’
Cause T a nta lu s w ould n’t b e a ble to ?
“ Y ou c an d ro p th e c o ver, A re s, th ere ’s n o p oin t. W hat
happen ed
la st n ig ht? W here a re th e o th ers ? ”
“T hey’re j u st th ro ugh h ere .” H e m oti o ned p ast th e e ntr y w ay.
Thro ugh h ere ? W hy w ould th ey b e h angin g o ut
here ?
I p ulle d fr e e o f A re s a nd ro und ed th e
co rn er. “ A re s, y o u h av e n o i d ea w ha— ” T he r o om w as e m pty .

He’d l ie d .
Not p ossib le . G ods c an’t l ie .
Dem ig ods c a n.
Tanta lu s? B ut I s a w P ers e p ho ne ’ p ort T anta lu s a w ay. I s a w i t. H e w as i n th e U nd erw orld . E ven i f
he’d s o m eho w m anaged to g et th ro ugh T arta ru s a nd e sc ap e, h o w c o uld h e p ossib ly h av e fo und h is
way b ack o nto a m ovin g s h ip ?
I f e lt h im a p pro ach b ehin d m e. “ Y ou’re g o in g to — ”
I c lo se d m y e yes, m y s to m ach tw is ti n g a s I th o ught o f A donis ’s c harm a v oid ance g am e f r o m l a st
nig ht.
Cla p t h re e t im es.
I p ush ed p ast th e p ain a nd f a ti g ue to e xp lo de i n to a cti o n.
Gods, h ow m any w arn in gs h ad I m is se d ?
I s n atc hed o ne o f th e b lu e s e a fo am p ain ti n gs o ff th e
wall, r e ad y to s la m th e h eav y f r a m e i n to h is s k ull.
He d odged , n o t s u rp ris in g g iv en I w as fig hti n g b lin d . T he p ain ti n g c ra sh ed to th e flo or, g la ss
fr a m e s h atte rin g u p on i m pact. “ F in e,” T anta lu s g ro use d . “ W e’ll d o th is th e h ard w ay.” P ain e xp lo ded
acro ss m y f a ce. H e s tr u ck m e h ard e no ugh to m ake m e s e e s ta rs , a nd I c rie d o ut i n s h o ck a s I s tu m ble d
backw ard . B ut I d id n’t o pen m y e yes.
His h and s c lo se d o n m y sh o uld ers a nd h e sla m med m e a gain st th e w all. I k need h im in th e
sto m ach a nd s lip ped fr e e o f h is g ra sp , s c ra m blin g to g et to th e d oor. H e k no cked m e to th e flo or.
“L ook a t m e,” h e s h o ute d , h is w eig ht c ru sh in g m e a gain st th e c arp et.
“N o!” M y f in gers c lo se d o ver a p ie ce o f th e s h atte re d g la ss. I j a b bed T anta lu s s o m ew here i n th e
to rs o , s lic in g o pen m y o w n h and a s I d id s o , a nd h e g ru nte d a nd l o ose ned h is g rip . I p ush ed m yse lf to
th e s id e, ta kin g h im w ith m e a s I ro lle d o ff th e c arp et a nd in to th e e ntr y w ay. G rip pin g h is h air, I
sla m med h is h ead a gain st th e m arb le flo or, o ver a nd o ver a gain , u nti l h is b ody w ent lim p b eneath
min e.
Oh, go ds. I to ok a d eep b re ath and o pened m y eyes to th e ro om sw ir lin g aro und m e.
Sta y
co nsc io us,
I o rd ere d m yse lf. I t w as e asie r s a id th an d one. I ’ d b een i n b ad s h ap e b efo re I c ast a s h ie ld ,
ra n a ll a ro und th e s h ip , a nd f o ught o ff a d em ig o d.
I n eed ed to w arn th e o th ers w hile I s ti ll c o uld .
One d iv in e c a use o f d ea th c o m in g u p
. I g ra b bed a
sh ard o f g la ss a nd p re sse d i t a gain st T anta lu s’s th ro at. H is e yes f le w o pen.
“S to p,” h e o rd ere d .
I d ro pped th e g la ss a nd s c ra m ble d o ff h im . “ I’ m s o rry , I ’ m s o rry , I ’ m s o s o rry .” W hat h ad I b een
th in kin g? W hy w ould I h urt h im ?
He w in ced a s h e p ush ed to h is f e et. I m oved f o rw ard to h elp h im a nd h e g ra b bed m e b y th e c o lla r
of A re s’s j a cket a nd s la m med m e i n to th e w all. “ L ook a t m e, y o u s tu p id s lu t! ”
Look a t h im , s u ch a s im ple re q uest. I’ d n ev er lo ok a w ay u nle ss h e a sk ed m e to . W hy w ould I
want to ?
“T anta lu s!” A donis p ound ed o n th e d oor.
“W hen I ’ m d one,” T anta lu s g ro w le d .
His fis t s la m med in to m y fa ce, th en in to m y g ut. H e p unched m e o ver a nd o ver a gain , h is e yes
wild w ith a nger. D im ly , I w as a w are o f A donis s c re am in g a t a c re w m em ber to h urry u p a nd o pen th e
door. T he keycard b eep ed , th e d oor fle w o pen, and sti ll I lo oked at T anta lu s, d esp era te to d o
whate v er h e a sk ed .
“S to p!” A donis ’s v oic e s o und ed h o ars e f r o m s c re am in g. H e p ulle d T anta lu s a w ay f r o m m e, a nd I
dro pped to th e g ro und , m y e yes s ti ll d esp era te ly s e arc hin g f o r h im .

“O h, g o ds, o h, g o ds.” A donis b ru sh ed h air fr o m m y fa ce, h is v oic e h itc hin g in p anic . “ W hat d id
yo u d o?”
“S he le git ju st tr ie d to s lit m y th ro at,” T anta lu s y elle d . “ Y ou h ad o ne jo b, D onnie . J u st o ne jo b.
Keep h er” — he j a b bed a f in ger to w ard m e— “o ut o f th e w ay, a nd w e’d l e av e h er o ut o f i t.”
“L ook a t th is ,” T anta lu s c o nti n ued , lifti n g h is s h ir t to in sp ect th e d am age. “ S he s ta b bed m e. A nd
pro bab ly g av e m e a c o ncussio n. C om e o n. G iv e m e a h and . W e c an l o ck h er u p w ith th e o th er o nes.”
Adonis ti lte d m y c hin u p , h is f in gers p ro bin g m y th ro bbin g f a ce. I tr ie d d esp era te ly to s e e a ro und
him to T anta lu s. “ H e— Gods, w hat d id y o u d o to h er? T he g o ds a re g o in g to k ill u s a ll fo r th is .
They’re n ev er g o in g to s to p.”
“S ta y s ti ll,” T anta lu s c o m mand ed m e w hen I flin ched a w ay fr o m A donis . “ T here ’s n o n eed to
worry a b out th e o th er g o ds. B y th e ti m e w e’re f in is h ed w ith th em , th ey’ll b e a s h elp le ss a s s h e i s .” H e
moti o ned to m e, a nd I c o ncentr a te d o n s ta yin g v ery , v ery s ti ll. B ut it w as g etti n g h ard to h o ld m y
bre ath . M y lu ngs fe lt lik e th ey w ere a b out to b urs t. “ H ey D onnie , w anna s e e s o m eth in g c o ol? ” H e
waite d u nti l h e h ad A donis ’s a tte nti o n, a nd th en l o oked to m e. “ D ro p d ead .”
“N o!” A donis ’s fa ce c o nto rte d w ith fe ar. H is fin gers b it in to m y s h o uld ers , y ankin g m e in to h is
arm s. T hen e v ery th in g w ent b la ck.

Chap te r X XXI
“ C O M E O N!” A fa m ilia r v oic e c rie d , h and s p ush in g d ow n o n m y s te rn um w ith b ru is in g fo rc e. H is
m outh c o vere d m in e, a nd h e e xhale d . M y h and s tw itc hed in a p ath eti c a tte m pt to g ra b h is s h o uld ers
a nd p ush h im a w ay. T here w as s o m eth in g a b out th at v oic e, s o m eth in g i m porta nt.
“L ook, s h e m oved !” A no th er v oic e c am e f r o m m y r ig ht s id e.
Elis e ?
“C an y o u h ear u s, A phro dite ?”
I m anaged to p ry m y e yes o pen, s q uin ti n g a gain st th e h ars h flu o re sc ent lig ht. E lis e ’s g o ld e yes
f lic ked o ver m e, s o f u ll o f c o ncern , I o pened m y m outh to r e assu re h er. B ut o penin g m y m outh b ro ught
o n a w ho le n ew w orld o f p ain . O h, g o ds, e v ery b it o f m e h urt.
Ano th er f a ce e nte re d m y f ie ld o f v is io n.
Tanta lu s! I cla m ped m y eyes sh ut and tr ie d to sc ra m ble b ack b ut o nly m anaged so m e w eak
t w itc hin g.
“Is s h e s e iz in g?” E lis e d em and ed .
“A phro dite ?” T anta lu s d em and ed . “ A phro dite ? L ook a t m e.”
“N -n o ,” I w him pere d , p anic flo odin g m y c hest a s h is h and s c lo se d o n m y s h o uld ers . “ N o!” I
b atte d w eakly a t h is a rm s. H e w ould c o ntr o l m e, r e m ake m e, h o llo w o ut m y i n sid es a nd tu rn m e to a
l iv in g d oll. T here ’d b e n o th in g le ft o f m e, n o th in g le ft. “ P le ase , n o !” A h yste ric al s o b c aught in m y
t h ro at. I w ould n’t g o th ro ugh th at a gain .
Elis e s o und ed tr u ly p anic ked n o w . “ Is s h e— ?”
“N o, s h e h as” — he s o und ed d is tr a cte d a s h e g ath ere d m e to h im — “nig htm are s, s o m eti m es. I t c an
t a ke h er a m in ute to c o m e o ut o f it.” H e m ad e s o oth in g n o is e s a nd s tr o ked m y h air, w arm th r a d ia ti n g
f r o m h is f in gers . “ I’ v e g o t y o u, l o ve.”
“A re s? ” I w his p ere d , n o t d arin g to o pen m y e yes.
His a rm s ti g hte ned a ro und m e. “ I’ v e g o t y o u.”
“O h, g o ds,” I g asp ed , c lin gin g to h im f o r a ll I w as w orth .
He h eld m e j u st a s ti g ht. “ I th o ught y o u w ere d ead . I th o ught— ”
“Y ou
were
d ead .” T he v oic e b elo nged to E lis e , b ut th e to ne w as a ll A rte m is . “ I’ v e n ev er s e en
a nyth in g lik e it. Y ou h ad a lm ost n o p ow er b ase lin e, w ith o ut C PR , y o u w ould n’t h eal. E very ti m e w e
s to pped — ”
“Y our h eart s to pped .”
“H ow l o ng?” I m anaged to a sk .
Are s s h o ok h is h ead , b ut c o uld n’t s e em to m anage a r e sp onse .
“H ours ,” A rte m is re p lie d . “ G la d y o u p ulle d th ro ugh.” S he g av e m y s h o uld er a g entl e s q ueeze
b efo re s h e s to od. I f e lt h er m ove a w ay f r o m u s, b ut c o uld n’t m anage to tu rn m y h ead to s e e w here s h e
w ent.

Hours . T hey’d k ep t m e a liv e f o r h o urs . I d re w i n a d eep s h ud derin g b re ath . “ T hank y o u.”
Are s g rin ned . “ A nyti m e.”
With e ffo rt, I r a is e d m y h ead f r o m h is s h o uld er, ta kin g i n th e m eta l w alls a nd th e b arre d d oors o f
what a p peare d to b e a p ris o n c ell. T he e nti r e c ell lo oked m ayb e a s lo ng a s tw o q ueen-s iz e d b ed s
fr o m b ase to h ead board , a nd w asn ’t m uch w id er. T hre e o f th e w alls w ere s o lid m eta l, a nd th e f o urth
was m ad e u p o f a ctu al p ris o n b ars . T hro ugh th e b ars w as a s m all h allw ay, e m pty e xcep t f o r a w ooden
desk s h o ved u p a gain st a c ell i d enti c al to o urs o n th e o th er s id e.
“I c an’t h eal h im .” A rte m is ’s w his p er d re w m y a tte nti o n to th e c o rn er o pposite m in e w here s h e
knelt o ver a b lo od-s o aked A donis . “ A re w e s h ie ld ed ? I ’ m n o t s e nsin g a nyth in g.”
Adonis . B lo od m atte d h is g o ld h air to h is h ead . T he s k in s p litti n g a lo ng h is c heek, te m ple , a nd
ja w s e em ed m ore th e r e su lt o f th e s w olle n ti s su e b urs ti n g fr e e th an b lo w s. I r e m em bere d th e lo ok o f
ho rro r o n A donis ’s fa ce w hen T anta lu s to ld m e to d ro p d ead . B ase d o n h is in ju rie s, I c o uld g uess
what h ap pened n ext.
The p re ssu re o f A re s’s a rm s a ro und m e e ase d a s h e p ush ed to h is fe et. “ I d on’t s e nse a nyth in g
eith er.” H e k nelt d ow n a nd p la ced h is h and o n A donis ’s f o re head , th en f r o w ned . “ T hat’ s w eir d .”
I sta yed c em ente d to m y c o rn er, u nab le to te ar m y e yes o ff th e d em ig o d. H e’d d ru gged m e,
betr a yed m y tr u st, l ie d to m e, a nd g o ds k new w hat e ls e . B ut th is ? I n ev er w ante d th is .
I m ust h av e m ad e a s o und , b ecause A re s g la nced o ver a nd fla sh ed m e a re assu rin g g rin . “ H e
lo oks w ors e o ff th an h e is . D em ig o ds h eal, to o. It ju st ta kes lo nger. W e c an s p eed th at u p — ” H e
gla nced a ro und th e c ell f u rti v ely . “ H e’s n o t a s b ad o ff a s y o u w ere . O nce w e g et o ut o f h ere , h e’ll b e
go od a s n ew .”
Arte m is p aced th e c ell, ru nnin g h er h and a lo ng th e m eta l w all. “ L ast th in g I re m em ber b efo re
wakin g u p h ere , w as s e ttl in g in to th e ro om . S om eo ne m ust h av e ’p orte d in b ehin d m e, b ut— ” S he
pitc hed h er v oic e so lo w , I a lm ost c o uld n’t m ake o ut w hat sh e sa id . “ I th o ught th e ro om s w ere
sh ie ld ed a gain st te le p orta ti o n.”
“T hey w ere ,” A re s c o nfir m ed , d ro ppin g d ow n to s it b esid e m e. “ S am e th in g h ap pened to m e.
Whate v er th is i s , s h ie ld s d on’t s to p th em .”
“W ell, it d efin ite ly g o t a lo t m ore u p c lo se a nd p ers o nal w ith y o u tw o.” A rte m is lo oked a t m e,
her e yeb ro w s a rc hed i n q uesti o n. “ Y ou g uys m ust h av e p ut u p o ne h ell o f a f ig ht.”
They d id n’t k no w . P anic flo oded m y c hest a s I re aliz e d w hy th ey w ere s ti ll in th eir g la m ours ,
why th ey w ere w his p erin g. T hey th o ught th e p la n h ad w ork ed . T hey’d im pers o nate d th eir d em ig o ds
and b een c ap tu re d . N ow th ey w ere w aiti n g to s e e w hat i n fo rm ati o n th ey c o uld g le an b efo re c allin g i n
th e c av alr y o r ’ p orti n g o ut. T hey d id n’t r e aliz e th ey w ere tr a p ped .
Adonis gro aned , and I ju m ped . A re s fo llo w ed m y gaze to A donis and his eyes narro w ed .
“A phro dite ?” A re s ti lte d m y chin up , w in cin g at th e blo od and bru is in g on m y fa ce. “W hat
hap pened ?”
“H e— ” I s tr u ggle d to f o rm w ord s to e xp la in th at A donis h ad b etr a yed m e. B ut h e’d tr ie d to s a v e
me, to o. T here w ere tw o c o nflic ti n g i m ages o f h im i n m y m in d — one r e achin g o ut a n a rm to e m bra ce
me, th e o th er o ffe rin g m e p ois o n— and I c o uld n’t r e co ncile th at th ey w ere b oth tr u e.
Takin g a d eep s h ud derin g b re ath , I a d ju ste d A re s’s j a cket a nd r e co unte d e v ery th in g th at h ap pened
sin ce I g o t o n th e b oat.
Every th in g.
T he c lu es a nd w arn in gs s e em ed g la rin gly o bvio us to m e n o w , b ut
I’ d m is se d th em b efo re , s o I d id n’t d are l e av e a nyth in g o ut.
“W ell, c ra p .” A rte m is r o cked to h er fe et. “
That
changes th in gs. D ro p y o ur g la m our, A re s. If w e

don’t m ake i t o ut o f th is , w e d on’t n eed th em u sin g o ur b odie s to j u sti fy th eir w ar.”
Are s d ro pped h is g la m our, b ut d id n’t s a y a nyth in g. H e h ad n’t s a id a w ord th ro ugh m y e nti r e s to ry ,
th o ugh h is a rm a ro und m e w ent r ig id a b out m id w ay th ro ugh.
“T his i s s ti ll P ose id on’s r e alm ,” s h e c o nti n ued , c ir c uiti n g th e c ell, s e arc hin g f o r a ny w eakness i n
th e s tr u ctu re . “ S o w e c an’t te le p ort o ut. I f P ose id on c o uld tr a ce u s, h e’d b e h ere b y n o w .”
Realm ru le rs c o uld ty p ic ally se nse a n u nauth o riz e d d eity in th eir re alm . G iv en h o w sp ars e ly
popula te d P ose id on’s r e alm w as, a nd o ur g enera l n eed to b re ath e, f in d in g u s s h o uld n’t b e h ard .
“T hey’re no t re sp ond in g to casu al su m mons, so eith er th e o th ers are p re o ccup ie d ,” A rte m is
co nti n ued , “ o r w e’re o ff th e m ap . I g uess th e o nly w ay to c all i n th e c av alr y ”— sh e s to pped i n f r o nt o f
Adonis a nd k nelt d ow n— “is to u se a s u m mons th ey c an’t i g no re .”
A d iv in e c ause o f d eath . “ D on’t,” I p ro te ste d .
Arte m is lo oked u p in su rp ris e . “ A re y o u k id din g? H e c o m ple te ly to ok a d vanta ge o f y o u. H e
dru gged
yo u. H e l ie d a nd — ”
“I k no w ,” I m anaged to w his p er. G ods, m ovin g h urt s o b ad . “ B ut . . . lo ok w hat th ey d id to h im .
They a re n’t tr e ati n g h im l ik e a n a lly . I f h e’s r e ally a gain st th em , w e n eed to k no w w hat h e d oes.”
“F or a ll w e k no w , th ey c an h eal,” A rte m is a rg ued . “ I k no w it lo oks lik e h e tr ie d to h elp y o u in
th e e nd , A phro dite . I g et th at. B ut h e d id n’t te ll y o u a b out th e p ois o n u nti l a fte r y o u f o und i t. H e d id n’t
make i t to T anta lu s’s r o om u nti l
afte r
yo u w ere u nd er h is c o ntr o l. T hey. C an. L ie .” S he m et m y e yes.
“I k no w y o u w ant to b elie v e i n h im , b ut w e c an’t r is k i t.”
“L et h im l iv e.” T here w as n o i n fle cti o n i n A re s’s v oic e. N o e m oti o n a t a ll.
“B ut— ”
“H e c o uld b e a tr a p e ith er w ay, A rte m is . W e c an’t s u m mon P ers e p ho ne in to th is u nti l w e k no w
what w e’re d ealin g w ith .”
“S he c an te le p ort r ig ht b ack o ut,” A rte m is p ro te ste d . “
With
us.”
“N ot w ith a ll o f u s.”
With a tw is t o f m y s to m ach, I r e aliz e d h e w as r ig ht. T he la st ti m e P ose id on h ad te le p orte d w ith
me, I’ d s to pped b re ath in g. A nd a t th at p oin t, I h ad n’t c o nsu m ed a fr a cti o n o f th e p ois o n I h ad in m y
sy ste m n o w . E very ti m e I u se d m y p ow ers , I g o t w ors e , a nd a nyti m e a nyo ne e ls e u se d th eir p ow ers o n
me, w ors e d id n’t e v en b egin to d esc rib e i t.
But P ers e p ho ne w ould n ev er l e av e w ith o ut m e.
Arte m is n arro w ed h er e yes a s s h e th o ught o ver e v ery th in g I ’ d j u st to ld h er, l e tti n g o ut a s tr in g o f
curs e s w hen s h e r e aliz e d A re s w as r ig ht. “ O kay, n ew p la n. I ’ m g o in g to tr y to d re am w alk , s e e i f I c an
re ach a nyo ne. I f a nyth in g h ere c hanges . . .”
“I’ ll w ake y o u,” A re s p ro m is e d .

Chap te r X XXII
A RES F LE X ED H IS a rm b ehin d m y b ack, g ro anin g a s h e s tr e tc hed . W e s a t in th e c o rn er, a ngle d s o
w e c o uld s e e th e w ho le c ell a nd th e h all o uts id e. A f e w f e et to o ur r ig ht, A rte m is s lu m bere d , tr y in g to
d re am w alk .
I w in ced , s c o oti n g fo rw ard s o A re s c o uld s h ift p ositi o ns, b ut h e s to pped m e, h is h and fa llin g
b ack o ver m y s h o uld er. “ Y ou d on’t h av e to k eep — ” I p ause d , tr y in g to fin d a w ay to s a y th e rig ht
w ord s w ith o ut i m ply in g I d id n’t w ant h im to uchin g m e. “ I m ean— ”
“S orry .” A re s d ro pped h is h and f r o m m y s h o uld er. “ It’ s j u st . . . m y to ken.”
“ Oh.
” I s lip ped m y a rm s fr e e o f th e ja cket w ith a p ain ed h is s, b ut A re s’s h and s s h o t o ut to s to p
m e.
“N o.” A th in ly v eile d u nd erc urre nt o f p anic la ced h is to ne. A re s tu gged th e ja cket b ack o ver m y
a rm s. “ F or a ll w e k no w , i t’ s th e o nly th in g— ” H e s ta rte d to m ove a w ay f r o m m e, b ut I s to pped h im .
“D on’t. P le ase ? I d id n’t— I d id n’t m in d . I ju st th o ught . . .” B ra cin g m yse lf a gain st th e p ain , I
t u rn ed m y b ack to h im , a nglin g m yse lf i n to th e c o rn er s o th e e nti r e l e ngth o f th e j a cket p re sse d a gain st
h im , th en w ra p ped h is a rm s a ro und m e. “ Is th at c o m fo rta b le ?”
I f e lt th e s m ile i n A re s’s v oic e. “ Y eah. I t i s . T hank y o u.”
I c lo se d m y e yes. H e w as th ankin g m e f o r s h arin g h is to ken w ith h im . “ T his i s a ll m y f a ult.”
“H ey. N o, it’ s n o t.” A re s m oved in fr o nt o f m e so h e c o uld se e m y fa ce. “ I’ m g o in g to d o
e v ery th in g I c an to g et u s o ut o f th is , o kay?”
“I k eep
hurtin g
peo ple . G ods, n o w ond er— ” I s w allo w ed h ard .
“N o w ond er w hat? ”
I c o uld n’t s to p s h akin g m y h ead . E very w ord I s a id to h im to re o ut o f m e f r o m s o m e d eep , p ain fu l
p la ce I d id n’t w ant to a ckno w le d ge. I d id n’t w ant to c are th is m uch. I d id n’t w ant to
be
th is n eed y. B ut
I c o uld n’t s e em to p ull m yse lf to geth er.
“N o w ond er w hat, A phro dite ?”
“Y ou l e ft,” I w his p ere d , h ati n g h o w b ro ken a nd p ath eti c m y v oic e s o und ed . “ W hat I a m — What I
d id — I to ld y o u e v ery th in g, A re s.
Every th in g
Zeus d id to m e. E very th in g h e m ad e m e d o a nd — ”
“ No.”
A re s s h o ok h is h ead . “ Y ou w ere a to ol, A phro dite . Y ou h ad a b out a s m uch a gency a s a
l o ad ed g un i n th e h and s o f a k ille r.
Noth in g
he m ad e y o u d o w as y o ur f a ult. I d on’t b la m e y o u.”
“— and y o u l e ft.”
“It w asn ’t y o u.” T he h eat o f h is h and s b urn ed th ro ugh th e j a cket. “ I p ro m is e , i t w asn ’t y o u.”
“I k no w . It w as h im . B ut it’ s lik e y o u s a id , I c an’t— It’ s n o t s o m eth in g I c an fix . A nd it h asn ’t
s to pped w ith h is d eath . I k eep — Peo ple k eep u sin g m e to h urt m y fr ie nd s. Y ou’re s tu ck h ere b ecause
o f m e
. I f I ’ d f ig ure d th is o ut f a ste r, i f I ’ d l e t P ose id on— ”
“N one o f u s sa w th e d em ig o ds c o m in g. H ey, h ey. L ook a t m e.” H e w aite d u nti l I m ad e e ye
c o nta ct b efo re c o nti n uin g. “ W hat A donis d id to y o u, w hat T anta lu s d id . . .” A m usc le tw itc hed i n h is

ja w . “ T hat’ s o n u s. Y ou to ok a r is k , a nd w alk ed in to a s itu ati o n n o ne o f u s u nd ers to od, to p ro te ct
us.
You c o uld h av e l e ft w hen th in gs g o t s c ary , b ut y o u d id n’t. F or
us.
Y ou’v e d one y o ur p art. N ow i t’ s o ur
tu rn . A nd i f w e f a il, i f th is e nd s b ad ly , th at’ s o n u s.”
He to uched m y c hin to s to p m e f r o m s h akin g m y h ead , c are fu l to a v oid th e w ors t o f th e b ru is in g.
“Y ou g o t to th e b otto m o f th is , s o m eth in g n o ne o f th e r e st o f u s m anaged , a t
gre a t
pers o nal c o st. A nd
as f o r Z eus . . . y o u k eep f o cusin g o n w hat h e m ad e y o u d o, n o t w hat y o u
ch ose
to . Y ou tu rn ed o n h im ,
kno w in g h e c o uld k ill y o u w ith a w ord . Y ou r e sis te d h im , k no w in g h e w ould r e ta lia te .” A re s’s th ro at
bobbed w hen h e s w allo w ed . “ Y ou a re b old , a nd b eauti fu l, a nd
bra ve.
And l e av in g y o u th at n ig ht w as
th e s tu p id est th in g I ’ v e e v er d one. B ut i t w asn ’t b ecause o f y o u.”
“T hen w hy?” M y v oic e s o und ed h o ars e .
“I le ft b ecause — ” H e b ro ke o ff, h is h and s fa llin g a w ay fr o m m e, a nd w hen h e s p oke a gain , I
heard c entu rie s’ w orth o f p ain a nd b aggage w eig hin g d ow n h is v oic e. “ Z eus d estr o yed u s, A phro dite .
The w ay h e u se d u s, th e th in gs h e m ad e u s d o. T hey w ere n’t o ur f a ult. B ut i f y o u l e t th em h aunt y o u, i f
yo u can’t m ake th em sto p, th en ev entu ally , th ey change yo u. M ake yo u so m eo ne yo u’d nev er
re co gniz e . B ut y o u’re n ew .” H e p ulle d a w ay fr o m m e. “ Y ou h ad a c hance, A phro dite . T o h eal. Y ou
were j u st s ta rti n g to p ie ce y o urs e lf b ack to geth er a gain .”
“A re s . . . ,” I b re ath ed .
“I c o uld n’t d o th at to y o u. I c o uld n’t h urt y o u. B ecause , w hen I lo ok a t y o u, I s e e e v ery th in g h e
did to m e. A nd I c an’t m ake th at w ors e f o r y o u. I t f e els l ik e I — ” H e d re w i n a d eep b re ath . “ I b re ak
ev ery th in g I to uch. I c o uld n’t— I d id n’t w ant to h urt y o u.”
I c lo se d m y e yes, re m em berin g a ll th e m yth s th at sa id h o w d is g uste d Z eus w as w ith A re s. I
re m em bere d a ll th e h o rrib le v is io ns I’ d se en w hen A re s fir s t in tr o duced h im se lf. T he b attl e s, th e
blo odsh ed , th e s c re am in g p eo ple w ith m elti n g f a ces. Z eus m ad e h im W ar. H e to ok h is k in d est, g entl e st
so n, a nd h e m ad e h im W ar. “ G ods,” I w his p ere d , h o rrifie d .
Pers e p ho ne a nd I h ad b een a t Z eus’s m erc y f o r w hat? A y ear? T w o, b etw een th e b oth o f u s? A re s
and th e o th ers h ad s u ffe re d a t h is h and s f o r m ille nnia ; th o ught Z eus w as d ead f o r c entu rie s. T hen, a ll
of a s u d den, h e c am e b ack a gain to te rro riz e th e g o ds. K illin g h is c hild re n le ft a nd r ig ht, a nd fo rc in g
th em to b ow d ow n to h im . I ’ d b een s o f o cuse d o n w hat P ers e p ho ne a nd I h ad g o ne th ro ugh, s o f o cuse d
on w hat w e’d s u rv iv ed , I ’ d n ev er c o nsid ere d w hat a n ig htm are Z eus’s r e tu rn w as f o r th e o th ers . W hat
his d eath b ro ught b ack to th e s u rfa ce.
I th in k,
Pers e p ho ne’s v oic e e cho ed th ro ugh m y m in d ,
mayb e h e d oesn ’t fe el lik e h e h as a r ig ht
to b e . . . u pse t, o r w hate ver, b eca use w hat I w en t th ro ugh w as w orse . O nly it d oesn ’t w ork lik e
th at.
Gods, I w as s u ch a n id io t. S uch a s e lfis h id io t. I le aned in to A re s, tu ckin g m y a rm s a ro und h im ,
and ti lte d m y c hin u p s o I c o uld w his p er in h is e ar. “ Y ou c o uld n ev er b re ak m e.” I w as d one g iv in g
anyo ne th at k in d o f p ow er. “ B ut i t’ s o kay i f y o u’re n o t r e ad y f o r th is . F or u s.” I k is se d h is c heek.
He tu rn ed h is fa ce to w ard m e, h is lip s b ru sh in g a gain st m in e. H e k is se d m e g entl y , h is m oti o ns
fe ath erlig ht to l e t m e k no w I c o uld d ra w b ack a t a ny ti m e. A nd I d id w hat h e’d d one s o m any ti m es f o r
me— held h im u nti l h e c o uld p ull h im se lf to geth er e no ugh to s ta nd o n h is o w n f e et.

Chap te r X XXIII
S O M ETIM E L A TER , A rte m is o pened h er e yes. “ I f o und th em ,” s h e a nno unced . “ T hey’re l o okin g f o r
u s. B ut P ose id on th in ks w e m ust b e s h ie ld ed , b ecause h e c an’t s e nse u s.”
“W e n eed to g et o ut o f h ere . S ig nal th em s o m eho w .” I s to od, th en r e aliz e d w hat a
bad
id ea th at
w as.
Are s j u m ped to h is f e et, r e achin g o ut s ta b iliz e m e. “ E asy.”
Arte m is g av e m e a l e v el l o ok. “ I m ean, w e h av en’t
not
tr ie d th at i n th e h o urs w e’v e b een h ere .”
“F air e no ugh.” I w in ced a s A re s l o w ere d m e to th e g ro und .
“H ow a re w e g o in g to d o th is ? ” A rte m is a sk ed i n a n u nd erto ne.
Are s sh ush ed h er, b ut n o t b efo re I fig ure d o ut w hat sh e m eant. E ven if th ey d id e sc ap e, th ey
c o uld n’t g et f a r w ith m e. I d re w m y k nees to m y c hest, w in cin g a t th e p ain , a nd d id m y b est to n o t p ass
o ut o r th ro w u p a ll o ver th e c ell.
Adonis g ro aned , d ra w in g a ll o f o ur a tte nti o n l ik e a m agnet.
“T old y o u h e’d h eal,” A re s m urm ure d , s h ifti n g i n f r o nt o f m e.
“W hat h ap pened ?” A donis ’s v oic e s o und ed th ic k. “ A phro dite — Is s h e— ”
“D ead ?” A rte m is c ro sse d h er a rm s. “ S he w as, te chnic ally .”
Are s’s f is t c le nched a nd u ncle nched . “ N ear a s I c an f ig ure , w hen T anta lu s to ld h er to d ro p d ead ,
s h e w asn ’t str o ng e no ugh to sw ear o ver h er p ow ers , so sh e w ent fo r th e m ore m und ane d eath o f
s to ppin g h er h eart. L ucky fo r y o u, h e n ev er s a id h o w lo ng s h e h ad to s ta y d ead a nd s h e h ad e no ugh
p ow er l e ft to h eal th e d am age o nce w e b ro ught h er b ack.”
Why w ould th at b e l u cky f o r A donis ? I g la nced u p a nd c aught th e m urd ero us g la re i n A re s’s e yes.
O h.
Adonis c o ughed , a w et h ackin g s o und th at le ft m e w ond erin g if T anta lu s h ad d one m ore d am age
t h an I ’ d th o ught. H e l o oked o ver a t m e, w aiti n g u nti l I m et h is e yes. “ G la d y o u’re o kay.”
“Y ou d on’t g et to l o ok a t h er,” A rte m is e xp la in ed , k neelin g i n f r o nt o f th e d em ig o d. “ L ook a t m e.
A nd i f y o u tr y to c harm m e, A re s w ill s n ap y o ur n eck. W e c le ar? ”
“C le ar,” A donis a gre ed .
“A phro dite s a id y o u w ere g o in g to te ll u s e v ery th in g? N ow w ould b e a g o od ti m e.”
Adonis s w allo w ed h ard a nd r e co unte d h is s id e o f e v ents . “ N o o ne w as s u p pose d to g et h urt,” h e
s a id , w ra p pin g u p . H e p ush ed u p in to a s itti n g p ositi o n. “ B ut T anta lu s h as c o m ple te ly lo st it. It’ s th e
c urs e . H e’s b een b ab blin g a b out f u rie s a nd — ”
“W ait, th e C urs e d H ouse o f A tr e us? ” I i n te rru p te d . “ I th o ught th at w as a ncie nt h is to ry .”
“It i s . T hat s to ry
e n ded
w ith O re ste s,” A rte m is s a id , r e fe rrin g to th e l a st c urs e d d esc end ent i n th e
H ouse o f A tr e us, a nd T anta lu s’ d is ta nt d esc end ent.
“It d id ,” A donis a gre ed . “ F or T anta lu s’ d esc end ants .”
Are s f r o ze . “ W ait, a re y o u s a yin g h e’s
th e
Tanta lu s? ”

Adonis n o dded . “ A nd h ere I th o ught y o u g uys k new e v ery th in g?”
“T here are lim its ,” A rte m is sa id d is tr a cte d ly . “If ano th er go d w ith ho ld s th e in fo rm ati o n, it
doesn ’t tr a v el d ow n th e b lo odlin es. A nd w e’re n o t o m nis c ie nt. I c an’t te ll y o u w hat y o u h ad fo r
bre akfa st y este rd ay, w hat y o u’re th in kin g, o r w heth er y o u’ll b e a liv e in a n h o ur. B ut if y o u in v ente d
so m eth in g, I ’ d k no w h o w to u se i t.”
Adonis c o nsid ere d th at f o r a m om ent, th en c o nti n ued . “ T anta lu s w as c urs e d w ith i m morta lity w ith
a s a d is ti c tw is t. D rin kin g m akes h im th ir s ti e r, e ati n g m akes h im h ungrie r. A nd e v ery n o w a nd th en, i t
all k in d o f d riv es h im i n sa ne. H is m in d h eals e v entu ally . F or a w hile , a t l e ast.”
I k new th at c urs e . It w as o ne o f D em ete r’s fa v orite sta nd bys. “ H e d oesn ’t lo ok p arti c ula rly
sta rv ed .”
“Z eus c o unte re d th e c urs e ,” A donis e xp la in ed . “ It d oesn ’t c hange th e w ay T anta lu s f e els , b ut h is
body c an p ro cess f o od a nd d rin ks.”
“W hy w ould Z eus c o unte r th e c urs e ?” A rte m is a sk ed .
“In e xchange f o r h is d aughte r.”
“H is d aughte r? ” I i n te rru p te d .
“N io be. S he a nd Z eus h ad f o urte en c hild re n. S ev en s o ns, a nd s e v en d aughte rs . A nd e ach o f th o se
daughte rs — ”
“H ad m ore d aughte rs w ith Z eus,” I s a id , r e aliz in g w here th is w as g o in g.
Adonis n o dded . “ F or g enera ti o ns. B ut th en a c o up le o f y ears a go , Z eus d ecid ed w e w ere s tr o ng
eno ugh to ste al our pow ers back th ro ugh fe alty . H e sta rte d m urd erin g us. Tanta lu s, Ja so n, and
Narc is su s b and ed to geth er a nd s ta rte d D AM NED to f in d th e d esc end ants , a nd p ro te ct a s m any o f th em
as th ey c o uld f in d .”
“W here a re th ey b ase d ?” A re s d em and ed . “ W hat— ”
“T his tr ip w as a ll a b out r e cru iti n g m e a nd E lis e ,” A donis in te rru p te d . “ I g o t th e s a le s p itc h, b ut
no t m uch e ls e in th e w ay o f d eta ils . E sp ecia lly s in ce I m ad e it p re tty c le ar I w asn ’t in te re ste d in
jo in in g a ny g ro up T anta lu s w as a p art o f. I m et h im a c o up le o f y ears a go w hen h e ju st g o t in to
modelin g. I d id n’t g et th e w ho le b acksto ry th en. W e d id n’t e xactl y d id n’t g et a lo ng.”
My m in d fla sh ed to Tanta lu s’s co m ment ab out A donis ’s littl e sis te r bein g a gre at la y and
aud iti o nin g f o r a r o le o n
Teen M om
. N ot g etti n g a lo ng s e em ed l ik e a p re tty m assiv e u nd ers ta te m ent.
“Ja so n a sk ed m e to h ear th em o ut, a nd in te rm s o f g ig s, th e c ru is e d id n’t s u ck. I d id n’t a ctu ally
pla n o n j o in in g th em . T he o nly r e aso n I e v en k new a b out th e w eap ons i s b ecause s h e s h o w ed u p .” H e
moti o ned to m e.
“B ack u p .” I r u b bed m y f o re head , tr y in g to k eep a ll th e n am es s tr a ig ht. “ Y ou’v e m enti o ned J a so n
a f e w ti m es n o w . W ho i s h e?”
“H e’s — ”
Dow n th e h all, a d oor sla m med . A rte m is ste p ped b etw een m e a nd th e b ars , A donis p ush ed
him se lf to h is fe et a nd m ore o r le ss s h am ble d to th e fr o nt o f th e c ell, a nd A re s p ulle d m e o ff th e
gro und a nd p la ced m e i n f r o nt o f h im s o I f a ced a w ay f r o m th e b ars .
I c o lla p se d a gain st h im . “ If th ey d ose d y o u, y o u m ig ht n o t b e i m mune to h is c harm , e ith er o f y o u.”
I lifte d m y h ead , in te nd in g to lo ok to A rte m is to m ake s u re s h e h eard m y w arn in g, b ut A re s s to pped
me.
“W e k no w .” H e ti lte d m y c hin u p a nd m et m y g aze .
“N ow th at y o u’re a ll u p .”

I g la nced o ver m y s h o uld er a s T anta lu s c am e i n to v ie w , c arry in g a n a ncie nt- lo okin g s p ear i n o ne
hand .
Are s j e rk ed m y c hin b ack to h im .
“W e c an g et s ta rte d .”
All u p ? H ow w ould h e k no w ?
Are s re ad th e c o nfu sio n in m y fa ce a nd g la nced u p , c asti n g a s ig nific ant lo ok a t a s m all b la ck
dom e h angin g fr o m th e c eilin g. I’ d m is to ok th e c am era fo r a b urn t- o ut lig ht. H e’d b een w atc hin g u s.
Did h e h av e a ud io , to o?
“R eco gniz e th is , A re s? ” T anta lu s a sk ed . “ A gam em no n rip ped it fr o m y o ur h and s a t th e fa ll o f
Tro y. H e w as s tr o ng, s o s tr o ng. B ut i t w asn ’t e no ugh to s a v e h im .”
“Y ou,” A re s s a id to T anta lu s, k eep in g h is e yes lo cked o n m in e, “ are e ith er th e b ra v est, o r th e
stu p id est d em ig o d I ’ v e y et to e nco unte r.”
“A nd th at’ s s a yin g a l o t,” A rte m is a d ded . “ W e k new H erc ule s.”
Tanta lu s ig no re d th em . “ A donis . Y ou’re lo okin g b ette r. S o e ith er th e c o m pound d oesn ’t w ork o n
dem ig o ds, o r w e n eed to u p y o ur d osa ge. I n te re sti n g i m plic ati o ns, e ith er w ay.”
“W hat d osa ge?” A donis ’s v oic e b ecam e w ary .
“Y ou b etr a yed o ur c ause . S o w e’re u sin g y o u to te st th e c hem ic al c o m pound ’s e ffe cti v eness o n
dem ig o ds w ho p ro ve u nw orth y o f th eir p ow ers .”
“Y ou’re d oin g
what?
” A donis d em and ed .
I re sis te d th e u rg e to c o m ment o n A donis ’s a p pare nt s h o ck a nd h o rro r a t th e p ro sp ect o f b ein g
dru gged .
“C om pound ?” A re s’s d ark e yes flic kere d , a nd I y anked o n th e n eck o f h is s h ir t to k eep h is g aze
dow n. “ W hat s o rt o f c o m pound ?”
“O h, it’ s q uite r e m ark ab le .” A s T anta lu s s p oke, I w in ced a t th e d is ti n ct s o und o f m eta l s c ra p in g
again st th e flo or. “ O ur s c ie nti s t b ro ke d ow n s o m e o f th e m ore u nusu al p ro perti e s o f a d am anti n e. It
ta kes p ow er to i n v oke, b ut w e h av e th at, s o i t w as j u st a m atte r o f i s o la ti n g th e i s o to pes th at a cte d a s a
cata ly st f o r th e s e v ere r e acti o n y o ur k in d e xp erie nces u p on c o nta ct.” H e s o und ed s o s m ug, I i tc hed to
punch h im . “ I’ m s u re y o u’v e a ll n o ti c ed th e e ffe cts b y n o w . W e d ev elo ped a h ig hly e ffe cti v e lip id
so lu b le s o lu ti o n f o r th e p erfe ct d esir e d o utc o m e.”
I sn o rte d in d is g ust. “ D o y o u a ctu ally u nd ers ta nd a ny o f th at, o r a re y o u ju st p arro ti n g w hat
yo u’v e b een to ld ?”
“W as m y exp la nati o n to o co m ple x?” T anta lu s ask ed , his to ne sn ark y. “S orry , I fo rg o t I w as
ta lk in g to G oddess B arb ie .”
“D esir e d o utc o m e?” A re s in te rje cte d b efo re I c o uld c o m e u p w ith a w itty re sp onse . “ W hic h
was . . . ? ”
“T o l e av e y o u p ow erle ss, o f c o urs e .” T anta lu s s e em ed s u rp ris e d w e h ad n’t p ut th at to geth er, a s i f
th e a nsw er s h o uld b e o bvio us. “ T here a re s o m e i n o ur n um ber w ho d on’t w ant to r e so rt to a nyth in g a s
dra sti c a s m urd er, b ut y o u’v e p ro ven y o u c an’t b e tr u ste d w ith y o ur p ow ers .”
“N ot th e r e cru itm ent p itc h,” A re s s n ap ped . “ Y ou h av e to k no w w e d ie w ith o ut p ow ers ; y o u’v e
been a ro und to o l o ng n o t to h av e p ic ked u p o n th at. B ut y o u’v e g o t S te ele , w hic h i s a m uch e asie r w ay
to k ill u s. S o, w hy a ll th e r ig m aro le ?”
“O h, w e co uld n’t actu ally re m ove yo ur p ow ers ,” T anta lu s exp la in ed . “W e d iv ert th em . T he
co m pound w ork s to b re ak y o u d ow n fr o m th e in sid e o ut, a nd y o ur p ow ers w ork to h eal y o u. O ur

sc ie nti s ts d is c o vere d y o ur p ow ers
alw ays
p rio riti z e k eep in g y o u a liv e, w heth er y o u w is h to u se th em
fo r s o m eth in g e ls e o r n o t.”
And h o w d id th eir s c ie nti s ts d o th at? M ayb e Z eus w asn ’t th e s o le r e aso n s o m any g o ds h ad g o ne
mis sin g l a st y ear.
Obliv io us to m y th o ughts , T anta lu s c o nti n ued . “ It’ s in v olu nta ry , lik e a h eartb eat. T he p ro cess is
certa in ly n o t p ain le ss, b ut i t i s te m pora ry .”
Not e nti r e ly . L ip id s o lu b le m eant th e d ru gs d is so lv ed in fa t, s o w hile th e b ru nt o f th e im pact
would b e f e lt r ig ht a w ay, th e c o m pound c o uld ta ke m onth s, p ossib ly e v en y ears , to g et c o m ple te ly o ut
of o ur s y ste m s. B ut n o ne o f th at c hanged th e fa ct th at if th e c o m pound w as b ase d in S te ele , I s h o uld
hav e b een d ead te n ti m es o ver.
Unle ss t h e S te ele t h ey m ake i s n ’t d ea dly .
When a
god
im bued S te ele
with p ow ers , a ll h ell b ro ke l o ose . B ut d em ig o ds h ad n ev er m ad e th e w eap ons b efo re .
When A re s te nse d , I r e aliz e d th at f o cusin g o n h o w th ey c o uld o r c o uld n’t k ill u s w as th in kin g to o
sm all.
Why
both er w ith te m pora ry m easu re s w hen th eir c o ncern s e em ed to b e th at w e c o uld n’t h and le
pow er a t a ll? T he d em ig o ds d id n’t w ant u s d ead , a nd th ey d id n’t w ant u s p ow erle ss. T hey w ante d u s
co ntr o lle d . W e c o uld b e c harm ed i f w e w ere p ow erle ss, a nd f o rc ed to m ake p ro m is e s w e’d b e b ound
to k eep w hen o ur p ow ers r e tu rn ed .
“W ell . . .” T anta lu s d ra gged th e w ord o ut a s if a th o ught h ad ju st o ccurre d to h im . M ayb e h e
wasn ’t fa m ilia r w ith th e s e nsa ti o n. “ T here is a c av eat. W e h av e to b e v ery c are fu l h o w m uch o f th e
co m pound w e a d m in is te r. O th erw is e , y o u m ig ht n o t h av e e no ugh p ow er to h eal. B ut o ver th e l a st f e w
days, w e’v e g o tte n a m uch b ette r id ea h o w m uch y o u g uys c an ta ke. T hanks fo r n early o verd osin g,
Aphro dite . Y ou p ro vid ed s o m e v ery v alu ab le d ata . O r s h o uld I b e th ankin g y o u f o r th at, A donis ? ”
“G o to h ell,” A donis b ark ed .
“B een th ere , d id n’t ta ke. J a so n w ill b e a lo ng s o on w ith s o m e o f o ur s c ie nti s ts to ta ke y o u a ll to
ano th er fa cility . In th e m eanti m e, th ere is o ne m ore te st I’ d lik e to ru n. Y ou se e, I p ro m is e d th e
sc ie nti s ts a c ad av er, a nd y o u w ent a nd b ro ught i t b ack to l ife . B ut I ’ m n o t p ic ky.”
A lo ud p oppin g s o und fille d th e c ell, p air e d w ith a w hite -h o t fla sh o f lig hts a nd th e s c ent o f
su lfu r. A re s’s g aze j e rk ed to w ard th e s o urc e o f th e c o m moti o n.
“D on’t lo ok,” I y elle d , g ra b bin g h is c hin a nd tr y in g to g et h is g aze b ack o n m e. B ut T anta lu s’s
dis tr a cti o n h ad a lr e ad y d one i ts j o b.
Tanta lu s la ughed a s A re s w ent s ti ll, h is p up ils w id enin g. “ K ill w hic hev er o ne o f th em y o u w ant
to l iv e th e m ost.” H e p asse d th e s p ear th ro ugh th e b ars .

Chap te r X XXIV
“ A PH RO DIT E, R UN !” A rte m is y anked m e a w ay fr o m A re s s o fa st, I lo st m y b ala nce a nd fe ll to th e
g ro und , la nd in g e ye le v el w ith th e s p ent fir e cra ckers n ear T anta lu s’s fe et.
So th at’s w hat th at n ois e
w as.
The s h o rt g o ddess s h o ved h er w ay b etw een A re s a nd th e b ars in a d esp era te a tte m pt to b re ak
T anta lu s’s e ye c o nta ct b efo re th e c harm to ok h o ld .
Run? R un w here ? I tr ie d to g et u p . O h, g o ds, I c o uld n’t— I c o uld n’t d o th is . M y e nti r e b ody s a ng
w ith p ain . I s lo uched a gain st th e w all, b re ath in g i n g asp s a s m y v is io n c lo ud ed o ver.
Are s sto od sto ck sti ll, te eth cle nched to geth er, hand w ra p ped aro und th e sp ear so ti g ht his
k nuckle s tu rn ed w hite . E very m usc le in h is b ody lo oked te nse a s h e fo ught T anta lu s’s in flu ence. H is
e yes d arte d to m e, f ille d w ith p anic .
I c o uld n’t d efe nd m yse lf u nd er n o rm al c ir c um sta nces, m uch le ss w hen I w as h alf- d ead fr o m
f e v er, b eate n to a p ulp , s o re fr o m C PR , a nd lo cked in a c age w ith n o w here to g o . B ut th en, I w as a
g o ddess. E ven p ois o ned , w e w ere a g o od b it m ore r e silie nt th an th e a v era ge p ers o n. M ayb e I c o uld —
The a vera ge p erso n w ould b e d ea d fiv e tim es o ver b y n ow ,
th e a nno yin g sid e o f m y b ra in
p oin te d o ut. I i g no re d m y i r rita ti n g l o gic . A ckno w le d gin g I w asn ’t j u st s c re w ed , I w as
su per s c re w ed
w ould n’t h elp a nyth in g r ig ht n o w .
Nev er h ad I fe lt s o k eenly a w are o f th e la ck o f s p ace b etw een fo ur w alls . I s a w n o th in g to h id e
b ehin d . N oth in g to slo w A re s d ow n. Ju st a sm all str e tc h o f e m pty sp ace, illu m in ate d b y a h ars h ,
f lic kerin g f lu o re sc ent l ig ht.
“T anta lu s, w hy a re y o u d oin g th is ? ” A donis ’s b ru is e d a nd s w olle n f a ce c o nto rte d i n c o nfu sio n a s
h e g la re d T anta lu s d ow n. H is m ig ht h av e b een i n ti m id ati n g, i f i t h ad n’t b een s o o bvio us th at h is d eath
g rip o n th e c ell b ars w as a ll th at k ep t h im o n h is f e et.
“I to ld y o u, I n eed ed a c ad av er. B ut I’ m p le ase d it w ork ed o ut th is w ay. Y our g ir lfr ie nd n early
b ro ke th e c harm o n th e p asse ngers w e a rm ed ,” T anta lu s e xp la in ed , p assin g s o m eth in g s h in y a nd s ta ke-
l ik e fr o m o ne h and to th e o th er. O ly m pia n S te ele . G re at. If A re s fa ile d to k ill m e, T anta lu s w ould .
“ W e n eed to s e e i f b re akin g c harm i s p ossib le w ith th e r ig ht m oti v ati o n. A ls o , w e n eed a d iv in e c ause
o f d eath .”
“A re s!” A rte m is p oked th e w ar g o d i n h is e yes. “ S nap o ut o f i t.”
He w in ced , je rk in g b ackw ard a nd o ut o f h er re ach, b ut th e o rd er h ad a lr e ad y b een g iv en, th e
c harm a lr e ad y ta ken. A re s g ra b bed A rte m is b y th e s h o uld ers a nd m oved h er o ut o f th e w ay w ith a
r o ugh s h o ve. H is s h akin g h and s f ille d m e w ith h o pe.
“Y ou d on’t w ant to h urt m e.” C onv ic ti o n fille d m y v oic e. “ I
kn ow
yo u d on’t w ant to h urt m e.
F ig ht i t, A re s. I k no w y o u c an.”
“R un,” h e m anaged to s a y b etw een g ritte d te eth b efo re h e th re w m e a cro ss th e c ell. I s la m med
i n to th e w all o pposite A re s a nd s lid to th e f lo or, s ta rs e xp lo din g a cro ss m y v is io n.

Oh, g o ds. I p ush ed m yse lf u p o n m y a rm s, th en c o lla p se d . T here w as n o w here to g o .
“H ey!” A rte m is s n ap ped h er fin gers in fr o nt o f A re s’s fa ce. “ Y ou k no w w ho y o u s h o uld w ant to
liv e th e m ost? ” S he w aite d a b eat. “ Y ou.”
“A rte m is !” I m anaged to r is e to a c ro uch. “ N o!”
She ig no re d m e. “ Y ou a re th e m ost e go ti s ti c al d eity I’ v e e v er m et, a nd th at’ s s a yin g s o m eth in g.
Adm it it, A re s. Y ou th in k y o u’re o ur o nly h o pe o f g etti n g o ut o f th is . Y ou c an’t b e th e h ero if y o u’re
dead . I f y o u d ie , y o u c an’t s a v e u s.”
“S to p i t! ” M y p uls e p ound ed i n m y th ro at. I f A rte m is c o nv in ced A re s
he
wante d to l iv e th e m ost,
Are s w ould k ill h im se lf. A re s c o uld n’t d ie . N one o f u s c o uld d ie . W e’d l iv ed th ro ugh Z eus. I w asn ’t
go in g to s it h ere a nd l e t u s g et k ille d b y s o m e p sy cho ti c d em ig o d.
Are s l u nged f o rw ard , p ush in g A rte m is o ut o f th e w ay w ith e no ugh f o rc e to s e nd h er s p ra w lin g to
th e f lo or. I n a m atte r o f s e co nd s, h e c o rn ere d m e.
“Y eah, k in d o f f ig ure d th at w as a l o ng s h o t,” A rte m is m utte re d , b ru sh in g h ers e lf o ff.
“S to p th is ,” A donis d em and ed , tu rn in g to T anta lu s in a p peal. “ If h e c o uld b re ak th e c harm , h e
would h av e. E xp erim ent o ver, o kay?”
“N ot n ecessa rily .” B ead s o f s w eat s h im mere d o n T anta lu s’s fo re head w ith th e s tr a in o f h o ld in g
th e c harm , a nd I r e aliz e d s o m eth in g.
He w asn ’t l ik e A donis . Z eus’s “ sp ecia l” d em ig o ds g re w s tr o nger w ith e v ery g enera ti o n. T anta lu s
pre d ate d th e w ho le e xp erim ent. H e m ig ht h av e liv ed lo ng e no ugh to le arn to c o ntr o l a nd p erfe ct h is
charm , b ut h e c o uld n’t b e s tr o ng e no ugh to h o ld i t f o r l o ng.
“H e co uld be fa kin g.” Tanta lu s co nti n ued . “T he only w ay to kno w fo r su re is if he does
so m eth in g th at c an’t b e r e v ers e d . I f h e k ills h er, th en— ”
“D o y o u h ear y o urs e lf? ” A donis y elle d . “ T his is in sa ne! D ru ggin g p eo ple , k no ckin g th em o ut,
th ro w in g th em i n c ages,
murd er?
Y ou c an’t— ”
“T hey a re n o t
peo ple
.” T anta lu s’s e yes f la re d w ith i n d ig nati o n. “ T hey a re g o ds.
They
are w ro ng.
Their v ery e xis te nce. T he th in gs th ey’v e d one.
Every th in g
ab out th em is w ro ng. H ow c an y o u s id e
with th em ?”
Are s c am e a t m e, h is h and g rip ped ti g ht o n h is s p ear. W hen A rte m is th re w h ers e lf a t h im , h e
sla m med h er i n to th e w all w ith s o m uch f o rc e, I k new h e’d c o m ple te ly l o st a gain st th e c harm .
“S to p,” I b egged . “ A re s,
ple a se
.” I tw is te d o ut o f th e w ay w ith a s c re am a nd th e s p ear s tr u ck th e
wall, j a b bin g d eep w ith in th e m eta l a nd s ti c kin g th ere .
Adonis m et m y e yes.
Do s o m eth in g,
he s e em ed to s a y. H e s to od w heezin g a s h e h ud dle d a gain st
th e b ars , m ere f e et f r o m m e. B ut h e m ig ht a s w ell h av e b een i n a no th er r e alm f o r a ll th e h elp h e w as. I
sa w n o h o pe i n h is e xp re ssio n, n o s tr e ngth . H e j u st l o oked f r ig hte ned a nd h urt. T earin g m y g aze a w ay
fr o m h im , I l o oked a cro ss th e c ell to A rte m is . S he l a y i n a n u nco nsc io us h eap a gain st th e c ell w all.
No h elp th ere . O nly m e.
My m in d r a ced i n a d esp era te a tte m pt to f in d s o m e w ay o ut o f th is .
Thin k, A phro dite .
I w atc hed
Are s s tr u ggle to p ull th e s p ear f r e e f r o m th e m eta l w all. T he s p ear c o uld c ut th ro ugh m eta l? W ell . . .
th at o pened u p m y o pti o ns a b it. T urn in g s o th e b ars w ere a t m y b ack, I w atc hed a s A re s r ip ped th e
sp ear f r e e a nd r a n to w ard m e.
I w aite d u nti l th e la st p ossib le s e co nd th en p ush ed m yse lf o ut o f th e w ay. T he ti p o f th e s p ear
sla sh ed th e i r o n o f th e b ars l ik e th ey w ere n’t e v en th ere , c re ati n g a g ash i n th e m eta l. N ot a p ro m is in g
esc ap e r o ute . B ut i f I c o uld g et h im to h it th e b ars e no ugh ti m es . . .

Then th e p ain fr o m r o llin g o ut o f th e w ay h it. T anta lu s h ad d one q uite a n um ber o n m e. W hen I
moved , I f e lt th in gs s h ift i n sid e o f m e th at s h o uld n’t b e a b le to s h ift. S lu m pin g a gain st th e b ars o f th e
cell, I to ok d eep b re ath s i n a d esp era te b id to s to p th e r o om f r o m s p in nin g. I c o uld n’t m ove a nym ore .
“A re s, p le ase . T his i s n ’t y o u.”
To m y le ft, A rte m is g ro aned a nd sa t u p , c ra d lin g h er h ead in h er h and s. T hen sh e se em ed to
re m em ber w here s h e w as a nd j e rk ed to w ard A re s.
He h eld u p th e s p ear. T he m eta l g litte re d i n th e f lu o re sc ent l ig hts a s th e w eap on th ru st th ro ugh th e
air. I c lo se d m y e yes.
“A phro dite !” A donis th re w h im se lf b etw een A re s a nd m e.
My e yes f le w o pen i n ti m e to s e e th e s p ear d riv e th ro ugh A donis ’s m id dle a nd i n to m y s id e.
A s c re am b ub ble d u p w ith in m e, b ut I c o uld n’t s e em to u nlo ck m y lip s to le t th e s o und o ut. I
gasp ed a s A re s w re nched th e s p ear fr e e. T he p ain fe lt s o in te nse , I c o uld s e e
re d b urs ts o f a nguis h
behin d m y e yelid s. I s a nk to th e f lo or, b ut s o m eho w A donis m anaged to s ta y o n h is f e et.
“S to p.” A donis m et A re s’s gaze . “D on’t— ” H e fa lte re d , knees fo ld in g beneath him as he
co lla p se d i n a h eap o n th e f lo or b efo re m e.
The c harm s n ap ped . A re s tw is te d , th ro w in g th e s p ear th ro ugh th e b ars a nd in to T anta lu s’s c hest
with e erie p re cis io n. T anta lu s c o ughed , th en f e ll f o rw ard .
“A rte m is ? ” A re s c alle d , r u sh in g f o rw ard . H e r e ached th ro ugh th e b ars o f th e c ell a nd g ra b bed th e
sp ear.
“G ot i t.” A rte m is g ra b bed th e s p ear f r o m h im . “ H elp th em !”
She d id n’t h av e to te ll A re s tw ic e. H e r u sh ed b ack to m y s id e, d ro ppin g to h is k nees. “ A phro dite !
I— I— ” H e l o oked m ore d is tr a ught th an I ’ d e v er s e en h im . H e p ulle d h is s h ir t o ff a nd m oved to p re ss
it to m y s id e, b ut I b lo cked h is h and .
“D iv in e d eath ,” I m anaged to s a y, c lu tc hin g A donis c lo se r to m e. “ P ers e p ho ne.” If A donis d ie d ,
sh e’d p ort in . J u st b ecause T anta lu s w as d ow n fo r th e m om ent, th at d id n’t m ean th is p la ce w as s a fe .
Are s a nd A rte m is n eed ed to w ip e o ut a ny c hance o f a th re at b efo re s h e c am e h ere . “ H av oc,” I c rie d .

Chap te r X XXV
A RES N ODDED IN u nd ers ta nd in g, a g rim e xp re ssio n o n h is fa ce. “ P re ssu re ,” h e re m in d ed m e,
p re ssin g th e s h ir t to m y s id e a n d p utti n g m y h and o ver it. H is v oic e s o und ed h o llo w a s h is w ord s
e cho ed th ro ugh th e m eta l c ell, a nd m y h eart w re nched f o r h im . F or th e g uilt w ritte n a cro ss h is f a ce.
I b re a k e very th in g I t o uch ,
his v oic e w his p ere d i n m y m em ory .
That’s n ot fa ir,
I w ante d to te ll h im .
This w asn ’t y o ur fa ult.
But I k new b ette r th an m ost h o w
e m pty th o se w ord s r a ng.
He g la nced a t A donis o ne m ore ti m e, th en s e em ed to r e aliz e th ere w as n o th in g h e c o uld d o fo r
h im . H e j o in ed A rte m is a t th e b ars o f th e c ell, to ok th e s p ear, th en
th re w h im se lf a t th e b ars , s lid in g h is s p ear a gain st th em . A rte m is k ic ked th e O ly m pia n S te ele
f r o m T anta lu s’s h and a nd w ork ed o n k eep in g h im d ow n w hile A re s b ro ke d ow n th e d oor. T he s o und
o f m eta l s la m min g i n to m eta l f ille d th e c ell, a nd m y c hance to r e assu re h im w as l o st.
My th o ughts s lo w ed a nd I k new I w as in s h o ck. E very th in g a ro und m e o ccurre d in s to p m oti o n,
l ik e g ru eso m e s n ap sh o ts th at c am e c o m ple te w ith s c ent a nd s o und .
Warm l iq uid p um pin g f r o m m y s id e.
Are s b re akin g th ro ugh th e b ars , b lin d w ith r a ge.
Adonis ’s b lo od s o akin g th ro ugh m y d re ss, p la ste rin g th e fa b ric a gain st m e a nd th e c o ld m eta l
f lo or.
The c o pper s c ent o verw helm in g i n th is s m all s p ace.
“D on’t.” A donis l ifte d h is h and to to uch m y c heek, a nd h is f in gers c am e a w ay w et w ith m y te ars .
I h ad n’t r e aliz e d I w as c ry in g. H ad n’t r e aliz e d th e l o w , k eenin g w ail p erm eati n g th ro ugh th e r o om
c am e fr o m m e. H ad n’t re aliz e d I w as c ap ab le . N o, I c o uld n’t tr u st h im , a nd y es, I s ti ll fe lt fu rio us
w ith h im , b ut n o t a s in gle b it o f th at r a ge f e lt s tr o ng e no ugh f o r m e to w ant h im d ead . T here ’s a l e ague
o f d iffe re nce b etw een b ein g a ngry a t s o m eo ne a nd h ati n g s o m eo ne e no ugh to d o n o th in g w hile th ey
b le d o ut. A nd th at d iffe re nce h ad n o th in g to d o w ith th e o th er p ers o n. “ I s h o uld b e a b le to h eal y o u,” I
s o bbed , c lu tc hin g h im ti g hte r.
Adonis s h ru gged , th e m ovem ent c o sti n g h im . “ K in d o f fitti n g.” H e c o ughed , b lo od s o b rig ht it
d id n’t lo ok r e al b ub blin g fr o m h is lip s. “ A fte r w hat I— ” H is e yes c lo se d a s h e lo st th e b attl e w ith
c o nsc io usn ess.
“Y ou d on’t g et to d o th is ,” I s a id , h ati n g h o w m y v oic e w arb le d . “ D o y o u h ear m e? Y ou d on’t g et
t o
do
th is .” I ’ d s p ent a th ir d o f m y l ife f e elin g i n d eb te d to h im f o r s a v in g m e, a nd l e ss th an tw enty -fo ur
h o urs h ati n g h im fo r p ois o nin g m e. I w asn ’t d one b ein g a ngry y et. I c o uld n’t a d d g uilt in to th e m ix .
N ot o n th is l e v el. I w ould n’t b e a b le to s u rv iv e i t.
He c o uld n’t d ie . N ot f o r m e. H e c o uld n’t d ie .
A c ell d oor s la m med a nd I g la nced u p , s u rp ris e d to f in d T anta lu s s lu m ped o ver i n th e c age a cro ss
t h e h all. G iv en th e la ck o f d eath d eiti e s o r R eap ers , T anta lu s w asn ’t d ead y et. “ W hat a re y o u d oin g?

Why h av en’t y o u— ?”
Are s s la m med th e d oor o f th e o th er c ell a nd p ockete d th e k ey. “ H e’s i m morta l,” h e r e m in d ed m e.
“A nd w e c an’t b re ak th e i m morta lity c urs e o n T anta lu s w hile th e d ru gs a re i n o ur s y ste m . P ers e p ho ne
or o ne o f th e o th ers w ill h av e to l ift th e c urs e . I n eed to m ake s u re n o o ne e ls e i s h ere . T he d em ig o ds
are a rm ed , r e m em ber? ”
He h ad a p oin t. I f th ey s n uck u p o n u s, i t c o uld b e f a ta l.
“A rte m is , g o l e ft? ” A re s c alle d .
“Y ell i f y o u n eed u s,” A rte m is c alle d o ver h er s h o uld er, d ash in g d ow n th e h all.
“I’ ll b e r ig ht b ack. K eep p re ssu re o n th at,” A re s m oti o ned to m y s id e a s h e h ead ed d ow n th e h all
in th e o pposite d ir e cti o n a s A rte m is .
The p ain i n m y s id e w hen I d id j u st th at i n te nsifie d b eyo nd b elie f. I s ta re d d ow n a t th e s tr e am s o f
blo od m in gle d to geth er. T he stu tte rin g flu o re sc ent lig ht illu m in ate d a w arp ed re fle cti o n of th e
macab re s c ene i n th e g ro w in g p ool o f v is c o us f lu id .
Blo od.
I w as a g o ddess. A d ru g
co uld n’t
c hange th at. A nd n o w , th anks to T anta lu s’s b ra ggin g, I k new
ho w th e c o m pound w ork ed .
My p ow ers w ere n’t g o ne, ju st d iv erte d , a n in v olu nta ry r e fle x lin ked to h ealin g. B ut g o ds d id n’t
hav e tr u ly in v olu nta ry re fle xes. P ow ers w ere n’t th e only diffe re nce betw een go d and m an. W e
diffe re d o n a p hysio lo gic al l e v el. W e w ere f u nd am enta lly d iffe re nt b ein gs.
And s o w ere d em ig o ds.
My b re ath c aught a s I re aliz e d w hat I c o uld d o. A poth eo sis h ad o nly b een a cco m plis h ed o nce
befo re , a nd a t g re at c o st. B ut th e p ro cess w as p ossib le . E ven w ith o ut m y p ow ers , b ecause I d id n’t
hav e m orta l b lo od f lo w in g th ro ugh m y v ein s. I h ad i c ho r.
And s o d id h e. I ju st n eed ed to a cti v ate th e ic ho r in h is b lo od a nd im bue it w ith d iv in ity . H e’d
heal o n h is o w n b ecause i c ho r w as th e f r ic kin ’ b lo od o f th e g o ds.
Adonis s h ud dere d i n m y a rm s, r e m in d in g m e I d id n’t h av e m uch ti m e.
Takin g a d eep b re ath , I c alle d m y p ow ers u p f r o m d eep w ith in m yse lf. W ith a g rim ace a gain st th e
pain , I d iv erte d m y p ow er a w ay fr o m k eep in g m e h eale d . I d ip ped m y fin gers in m y b lo od, th en
flic ked dro ple ts in to his w ound . M y blo od flo w ed in to his , in d is ti n guis h ab le desp ite all our
diffe re nces.
Now c am e th e h ard p art. F ocusin g, I c o nnecte d th e ic ho r in o ur b lo od b ack to th e B efo re . T o a
ti m e o f d ark ness a nd c hao s a nd p ow er. T hat v oid , th at i n sa nity , w as m y b ir th rig ht b ecause I w as m ore
th an a d aughte r o f Z eus. T he b lo od o f C hao s r a n th ro ugh m y v ein s. T he r a w p ow er o f th e p rim ord ia l
deiti e s. A nd n o o ne c o uld ta ke th at f r o m m e.
Adonis ’s b lo od g litte re d , re d flic kerin g to m olte n g o ld . B rig ht lig ht b la ze d fr o m h is w ound ,
env elo pin g b oth o f u s. M y h air flo ate d in th e lig ht, a nd , fo r a m om ent, ti m e s e em ed to s u sp end . T hen
th e g o ld lig ht s u cked in to h is w ound . T he p ig m ent le ached fr o m h is s k in , d ra w n in w ard to h eal th e
dam age w ith in h im , c o m ple ti n g th e tr a nsfo rm ati o n. I w atc hed w ith a s tu nned fa sc in ati o n a s h is to rn
musc le ti s su e r e co nnecte d to h is b one, a nd a s lic ed a rte ry z ip ped c lo se d w ith a g o ld en s h im mer. T he
lig ht m oved o utw ard , h ealin g e v ery th in g in its w ake u nti l fin ally h is s k in k nit to geth er. H is s k in a nd
hair tu rn ed s h eet w hite . W hen h is e yes f lu tte re d o pen, th ey w ere p ale s ilv er.
“W hat? ” h e g asp ed , s itti n g u p . “ H ow ?”
“Y ou’re a g o d,” I m anaged to s a y, m y v is io n w av erin g a s I s lu m ped o ver h im , c o nsc io usn ess

fle ein g m y b ody y et a gain . “ I s a v ed y o u.” N ow w e w ere e v en.

Chap te r X XXVI
I S H OULD N’T B E a b le to s e e m y b ody, s a ggin g a gain st th e w all o r th e b lo od, re d a nd g le am in g
a gain st th e silv er flo or. A s a ru le , u nco nsc io us p eo ple d on’t se e m uch, a nd I’ d k no w , g iv en th e
i n o rd in ate a m ount o f ti m e I ’ d s p ent u nco nsc io us l a te ly .
But I s a w i t a ll th ro ugh p ale , s ilv er e yes.
Aphro dite ? A donis th o ught, p anic s a tu ra ti n g h is th o ughts . H e r e ached o ut, p ale h and s tr e m blin g
a s h e s h o ok m y s h o uld er, a s i f h e c o uld j u st s h ake m e b ack i n to m y o w n h ead .
It’ s te m pora ry , I a ssu re d h im , c urio usly d ev oid o f fe elin g. I fe lt r e la xed . U nte th ere d . T he “ b ein g
i n e ach o th er’s h ead s” p art o nly la sts a fe w m in ute s. O r a t le ast, it h ad w ith H erc ule s. T hen th e
c o nnecti o n w ill b e re d uced to p ow ers flo w in g b ack a nd fo rth , a nd a fte r th at? I g av e th e m enta l
i m pre ssio n o f a s h ru g. Y ou’ll h av e y o urs a nd I ’ ll h av e m in e.
You m ad e m e a g o d. H is m in d f la sh ed b ack to o ur c o nv ers a ti o n a b out a p oth eo sis . Y ou s a v ed m e.
W hy? I m ean, I ’ m n o t c o m pla in in g, b ut a fte r w hat I d id to y o u . . .
I c o uld fe el th e e xp la nati o n h e h o ped fo r. T he id ea th at s a v in g h im h ad b een p art o f s o m e g ra nd
r o m anti c g estu re , fille d w ith fo rg iv eness, lo ve, tr u st, re d em pti o n, g ra ti tu d e, a nd a th o usa nd o th er
m eanin gs to o l o ad ed f o r o ne a cti o n to c o nta in , g lim mere d i n th e c o rn er o f h is m in d . I c o uld l o ve y o u.
H is m in d s e em ed to b le ed th e th o ught.
But th en he unta ngle d m y th o ughts fr o m his o w n and sa w th e tr u th . T here w as a d iffe re nce
b etw een b ein g a ngry w ith s o m eo ne a nd b ein g s p ite fu l e no ugh to le t th em d ie . A nd th e d iffe re nce h ad
n o th in g to d o w ith w hat h e’d d one a nd e v ery th in g to d o w ith w hat I c o uld l iv e w ith .
I c o uld fe el th e re gre t a nd p ain s w ir lin g th ro ugh h is m in d . T he tr u th b ehin d h is in te nti o ns. H is
d esp era te n eed to m ake th is r ig ht. I’ d b een th ere , a nd k new th e fe elin g a ll to o w ell. M ayb e I c o uld
f o rg iv e h im , b ut I c o uld n’t tr u st h im . A nd th at m eant I ’ d n ev er b e a b le to l o ve h im .
I h ad n o c ho ic e, th e th o ught l o oped th ro ugh h is m in d , a lo ng w ith a m illio n o th er j u sti fic ati o ns.
So I o pened m y m in d a nd f o r o ne s e co nd l e t h im f e el e xactl y w hat i t w as l ik e to h av e n o c ho ic e.
T here w as a w orld o f d iffe re nce b etw een b ein g c o nflic te d a nd f o rc ed .
He p ush ed to h is fe et, s ta ggerin g b ack fr o m m e, a s th o ugh p utti n g p hysic al d is ta nce b etw een u s
w ould s o m eho w l e sse n th e i m pact.
Don’t ta lk to m e a b out c ho ic es. I s la m med a m enta l d oor o n th e m em ory .
Foots te p s ro und ed th e c o rn er. A re s c am e ru nnin g in , c arry in g a fir s t- a id k it. H e c am e to a fu ll
s to p, s ta rin g a t A donis f o r a s o lid m in ute .
Arte m is , c o m in g f r o m th e o pposite s id e, s k id ded to a h alt b esid e h im .
“D id s h e— ?” s h e a sk ed .
Adonis h eld u p h is h and s. “ I d id n’t— ”
“B rillia nt,” A re s s a id , s o und in g a s th o ugh h e m eant it. H e r u sh ed in to th e c ell, k nelt b esid e m y
b ody, d ro pped th e s p ear o n th e g ro und , a nd p ulle d b and ages a nd g auze o ut o f th e f ir s t- a id k it.

Adonis s lu m ped to th e f lo or, r e lie f f lo odin g h is m in d .
What d id y o u th in k w as g o in g to h ap pen w hen th ey s a w y o u? I a sk ed .
More lik e w hen th ey s a w y o u, h e e xp la in ed . S ud den d eath ? I’ m n o t a n id io t, A phro dite . If y o u
die , s o m eho w I d oub t I ’ ll b e f a r b ehin d y o u.
Arte m is re gard ed h im c are fu lly fo r a m om ent, th en s e em ed to d ecid e h e w as s u rp ris e d b ut n o t
oth erw is e i n ju re d , a nd m oved to A re s’s s id e. “ B rillia nt? Y ou’re g o in g to h av e to w alk m e th ro ugh th at
one.”
Are s to re a b and age. “ T he s tu ff h e g av e h er— ”
“T hat w e r e ally n eed a n am e fo r,” A rte m is a d ded , ta kin g th e b and age fr o m A re s a nd p assin g it
beneath m e to h and b ack to h im .
“T hat w e re ally n eed a n am e fo r,” A re s a gre ed , u nro llin g m ore g auze fr o m th e fir s t- a id k it.
“A tta cks h er p ow ers . I f h ers a re i n h im . . .”
“T hey’v e g o t n o th in g to a tta ck,” A rte m is fin is h ed , m ovin g o n to m y fa ce w ith a n a sso rtm ent o f
alc o ho l s w ab s a nd b and ages.
“S o l o ng a s h e s ta ys a liv e, a nyw ay.”
Adonis to ok a m om ent to d ig est th at.
Can y o u l o ok a nyw here e ls e ? W atc hin g th em m op a w ay m y b lo od w as a b it m uch.
Gla d ly . H e g la nced u p a t th e c eilin g, h is g aze s n aggin g o n th e c am era . W e’re g o in g to h av e to d o
so m eth in g a b out th at.
“O h m y g o ds!” P ers e p ho ne’s v oic e e cho ed th ro ugh th e c ell.
Adonis j e rk ed i n s u rp ris e to f in d h er s ta nd in g a t th e e ntr a nce w ith P ose id on.
Where ’s H ad es? I a sk ed .
I d on’t s e e h im .
Kin d o f m y p oin t.
“S hip a p pro achin g,” P ose id on r e m in d ed P ers e p ho ne.
That s n ap ped h er o ut o f h er s h o ck. P ers e p ho ne r u sh ed to m y s id e. “ L et m e— ”
“D on’t,” A rte m is a nd A re s e xcla im ed a t th e s a m e ti m e.
“Y ou c an’t h eal h er,” A re s c o nti n ued . H e c aught h er u p , h is e yes n ev er o nce l e av in g m e.
“O kay.” P ers e p ho ne s to od, c hin ti lte d u p w ith d ete rm in ati o n. “ S o w e c an’t h eal h er, a nd w e c an’t
te le p ort. W e’re g o in g to n eed a no th er w ay o ut o f h ere .”
“T here ’s a sh ip a p pro achin g,” P ose id on re m in d ed h er. “ F or a ll w e k no w , it’ s fu ll o f a rm ed
dem ig o ds im mune to e v ery th in g w e c an th ro w a t th em . T hey”— his o uts w ep t h and to ok in A donis ,
Arte m is , a nd A re s— “are n’t i n a ny s h ap e to m ake a s ta nd . W e h av e to g et th em o ut o f h ere .”
“S o I s h o uld j u st l e av e h er? ” P ers e p ho ne’s g re en e yes n arro w ed . “ Y eah, th at’ s n o t g o nna— ”
“Y es.” A re s g la nced u p . “ Y ou’re g o in g to l e av e b oth o f u s.”
“W hat? ” T he w ord b urs t f r o m A donis , b ut I c o uld n’t te ll w hic h o ne o f u s h ad s p oken.
“S he n eed s h elp . I f th ey c an g et h er to a h o sp ita l, th en— ”
“W hy w ould th ey ta ke h er to a h o sp ita l? ” P ers e p ho ne d em and ed .
“T hey w ould n’t. B ut E lis e i s a d iffe re nt s to ry .” A s A re s s p oke, h is f e atu re s s h ifte d , h is d ark h air
lig hte nin g to g o ld . W ith in s e co nd s, h e lo oked ju st lik e A donis , p re -a p oth eo sis . “ I c an’t k eep th is u p
fo r l o ng.” H e l o cked g aze s w ith P ers e p ho ne. “ S o I ’ m g o in g to n eed y o ur h elp . C an y o u m ake h er l o ok
lik e E lis e ?”
No, I th o ught, r e aliz in g w here A re s w as g o in g w ith th is . A donis d id n’t s e em to h ear m e. A donis ,

don’t l e t th em —
My— no , h is — vis io n b lu rre d f o r a m om ent, th en w ent b la ck.
“I th o ught u sin g p ow ers w ould h urt h er,” P ers e p ho ne’s v oic e o bje cte d . “ I th o ught— ”
My h earin g c ut o ut, b ut th en a ll m y s e nse s k ic ked b ack i n , l ik e a te le v is io n c lic kin g b ack o n a fte r
a p ow er fa ilu re . G iv en A donis ’s la ck o f co ncern , I re aliz e d th is w asn ’t hap penin g to him . T he
co nnecti o n, th is p hase o f i t a nyw ay, w as f a d in g.
“In te rn ally ,” A re s e xp la in ed . “ E xte rn al s tu ff l ik e s h ie ld s a nd g la m ours s h o uld n’t a ffe ct h er a t a ll.
Arte m is , c an y o u d eal w ith th e c am era ?”
“O n i t. C om e w ith m e.” A rte m is r u sh ed o ut o f th e r o om , p ullin g P ose id on w ith h er. “ Ju st i n c ase
Are s m is se d s o m eo ne.”
Pers e p ho ne k nelt to th e g ro und b esid e m e.
“P erc ep ti o n o nly ,” A re s c auti o ned . “ N ot a f u ll g la m our. S he’s th e r ig ht h eig ht a nd c lo se e no ugh i n
build . G iv en w hat sh e’s b een th ro ugh, n o o ne w ill e xp ect h er to c arry h ers e lf th e sa m e w ay.” A
th o ught o ccurre d to h im a nd h e tu rn ed to A donis . “ C an a ny o f th e d em ig o ds s e e th ro ugh g la m ours ? ”
“N o.” A donis s tr u ggle d f o r w ord s to e xp la in . “ Y our p ow ers d on’t w ork o n u s, e rm , th em . W e c an
walk th ro ugh a s h ie ld u nharm ed a nd a ny p ow er y o u th ro w a t u s d on’t a ffe ct u s, b ut w e s ti ll d on’t s e e
anyth in g th ro ugh s h ie ld s o r g la m our u nti l w e p ass th ro ugh, o r h ear, o r w hate v er. P erc ep ti o n-w is e , w e
don’t d iffe r.”
When P ers e p ho ne to uched m e, I f e lt th e g la m our s e ttl e o ver m e th ro ugh a f o g o f u nco nsc io usn ess.
No, I w ante d to o bje ct, b ut th e w ord w ould n’t f o rm .
“I’ ll m ake s u re s h e g ets h elp ,” A re s p ro m is e d P ers e p ho ne. “ A nd I ’ ll c o lle ct a s m uch i n fo rm ati o n
as I s a fe ly c an. B ut y o u h av e to k eep u p th e g la m ours f o r b oth o f u s. C an y o u d o th at? ”
“Y es. I m ean— ” P ers e p ho ne h esita te d . “ F or h er, y es. S he’s sti ll c o nnecte d to m e th ro ugh th e
bond , b ut y o u . . . d is ta nce i s g o in g to — ”
Are s d id n’t h esita te . “ I s w ear f e alty to y o u.”
“T hey’re c o m in g.” P ose id on’s v oic e r a ng th ro ugh th e r o om , a nd I c o uld h ear A rte m is j u st b ehin d
him . “ W e n eed to g o .”
“Y ou u p to te le p orti n g?” A re s a sk ed A rte m is .
“It’ ll h urt l ik e h ell, b ut I ’ m p re tty s u re I ’ ll s u rv iv e i t.”
“T ake h er s o m e p la ce s a fe , o ne tr ip o nly . O h, a nd P ose id on— ” I fe lt A re s p ic k u p th e s p ear
besid e m e. “ I’ m g o nna n eed y o u to s ta b m e.”
The E nd
It’s n ot e a sy b ein g a g oddess
. . .
a nd A phro dite h as i t r o ugher t h an m ost.
Don’t m is s h er u pco m in g a dven tu re s, a m oro us a nd o th erw is e .
Ava ila ble i n t h e f a ll o f 2 016, o nly f r o m I m aJin n B ooks.
(P le a se c o ntin ue r e a din g f o r m ore in fo rm atio n)

Ple a se v is it t h ese w eb sit e s f o r m ore i n fo rm atio n
ab ou t
Kait lin B ev is
Auth o r’s W eb page
Auth o r’s B lo g
Faceb ook
Exp erie nce K atl in ’s o th er ti tl e s f r o m I m aJin n B ooks
Perse p h on e
Book 1 o f T he D au gh te rs o f Z eu s
Kin d le
Dau gh te r O f E arth A nd S ky
Book 2 o f T he D au gh te rs o f Z eu s
Kin d le
The I ro n Q ueen
Book 3 o f T he D au gh te rs o f Z eu s
Kin d le
Sig n u p
f o r e m ail u p date s a b out
Auth o r
(P le a se c o ntin ue r e a din g f o r m ore in fo rm atio n a bout th e a uth or)

Ack n ow le d gem en ts
F ir s t, a s a lw ays, th ank y o u to m y f a m ily — my d aughte r f o r th e l o ng h o urs p la yin g q uie tl y i n h er r o om
p re te nd in g to tr a in d ra go ns, m y h usb and f o r s te p pin g i n w hen th at g o t b orin g, m y m oth er f o r c heerin g
m e o n a nd p ro vid in g p iz za w hen I fo rg o t to c o ok d in ner, m y b ro th er fo r ta kin g th e ti m e to e d it th e
a ud io b ook. I t c anno t b e e asy to l is te n to y o ur l ittl e s is te r r e ad r o m ance. T hank y o u. S erio usly .
T hank y o u to e v ery m em ber o f th e R obot U nic o rn C ult (lo ng s to ry ). Y ou g uys a re th e b est w rite rs ’
g ro up . T hank y o u n ew est m em bers fo r r e ad in g th e e nti r e ty o f m y la st d ra ft a nd p ro vid in g fe ed back:
K ath ry n P agan, fo r w ors h ip pin g at th e alta r of H ad es and pro vid in g all th e perti n ent m ed ic al
i n fo rm ati o n, A le xa R oney, fo r y o ur a m azin g re se arc h, A nd ers o n P ope, fo r y o ur in sa ne a tte nti o n to
d eta il, a nd J a ra L ane, f o r a sk in g th e q uesti o ns th at m atte r.
T hank y o u o ld er m em bers a nd m em bers w ho h av e s in ce m oved f a r a nd w id e w ho s a w th is s to ry ta ke
s h ap e in fiv e th o usa nd w ord in cre m ents : D alla s B ono , fo r s h o uti n g F IX IT ! A ngela P ow ell, fo r y o ur
i n sig ht, M ic hael R up ure d fo r te achin g m e th at “it is a m is se d o pportu nity ”, M is ty H aw kin s fo r
b rin gin g in r e am s o f in fo rm ati o n w hen I m ost n eed ed it, A my A dam s fo r y o ur a m azin g c o py e d iti n g,
a nd S te p han M org an f o r h elp in g m e i n l ite ra lly e v ery w ay a nd f o r h elp in g m e m ake th e m ost a w eso m e
q uery l e tte r e v er. T here w ere m any m ore R obot U nic o rn C ulti s ts w ho p asse d th ro ugh o ur l ittl e g ro up .
Y ou a ll h elp ed th is s to ry c o m e to b e. T hank y o u.
S usa n S ip al a nd C ore en M onta gna, th ank y o u fo r ta kin g a la st lo ok a t m y c o nte nt a nd c o py b efo re I
t o ok th e p lu nge a nd s e nt it to B elle B ooks. K elly J o hnso n th ank y o u fo r y o ur b eauti fu l illu str a ti o ns.
A mber F lo yd a nd J e ssic a J o nes, th ank y o u fo r b eta r e ad in g a nd p ro vid in g a w eso m e fe ed back a b out
A donis .
T o th e a m azin g s ta ff a t B ell B rid ge, th ank y o u f o r g iv in g m y b ooks a n ew h o m e w hen M usa c lo se d i ts
d oors . T hank y o u e v en m ore fo r ta kin g a r is k o n th is e xp ansio n o f th e u niv ers e . D eb ra D ix o n, th ank
y o u fo r A re s a nd fo r m akin g m y b egin nin g a nd m y p lo t a th o usa nd ti m es s tr o nger. D eb ora h S m ith ,
t h ank y o u fo r m akin g A phro dite m ore lik eab le . B re nd a C hin , th ank y o u fo r y o ur p ati e nce w ith m y
e nd le ss q uesti o ns a nd m y i n fa tu ati o n w ith th e w ord l ik e a nd m y m any o th er f la w s. P am M cC utc heo n,
t h ank y o u fo r b ein g s o a m azin gly th o ro ugh a nd fo r b ein g s o p ati e nt e xp la in in g a ll th o se littl e th in gs I
g o t h ung u p o n.
T hank y o u D anie lle C hild ers fo r th e a m azin g s o cia l m ed ia a rt, J e nny M cK natt, N ik ki F lo w ers , a nd
J e anna P ad en f o r ta kin g th e ti m e to a nsw er e v ery m ark eti n g q uesti o n I e v er s e nt.
T hank y o u, th ank y o u, th ank y o u. A phro dite w ould n’t b e th e a m azin g b ook i t i s w ith o ut y o ur h elp .

Abou t t h e A uth or
K aitl in B ev is s p ent h er c hild ho od c urle d u p w ith a b ook a nd a p en. If th e e nd in g d id n’t a gre e w ith
h er, s h e r e w ro te it. B ecause s h e’s a lw ays w ante d to b e a w rite r, s h e s p ent h ig h s c ho ol a nd c o lle ge
l e arn in g e v ery th in g s h e c o uld to a chie v e th at g o al. A fte r g ra d uati n g c o lle ge w ith M aste rs in E nglis h ,
K aitl in w ent o n to w rite T he D aughte rs o f Z eus s e rie s. k aitl in b ev is .c o m

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