Aphrodite the Beauty

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Aphrodite the Beauty
Suza n ne W illia m s
Jo an H olu b
To E m ily L aw re nce , e dit o ria l g o ddess
--J . H . a nd S . W .
CONTENTS
1 B O Y T R O UBLE
2 T H E M AKEO VER
3 P A R TY T IM E
4 H IP PO M EN ES
5 G ONE S H O PPIN G
6 G OSSIP
7 T H E O LIV E G RO VE
8 A N A R G UM EN T
9 T H E R AC E
10 P ER FE C T M AT C HES
viii
1 1 R ED R O SES
1
1 BoT rouble
APH RO DIT E S LID IN TO H ER S EAT IN M R. C yclo ps's H ero -o lo gy
cla ss ju st a s th e ly re bell s o un ded, s ig n alin g th e s ta rt o f a noth er d ay
at M ount O ly m pus A ca dem y. A s s h e tu cke d h er lo n g g old e n h air ,

whic h w as th re aded w it h p in k r ib b ons, b ehin d h er d elic a te e ars , s h e
w as a w are th at e ve ry g odboy in c la ss w as w atc h in g h er. S he h oped
th at in h er r u sh to g et r e ady
2
th at m orn in g s h e h adn't s m eare d lip stic k o n h er te eth . L if tin g h er
ch in , s h e s m ile d a t o ne o f th e g odboys. B eca use h e w as a c e nta ur,
a nd th ere fo re p art h ors e , h e s to od a t th e b ack o f th e r o om . W it h fo ur
le gs, it w as to o d if f ic u lt to s it in a c h air . D azzle d b y A ph ro dit e 's
a tte ntio n a nd s p ark lin g b lu e e ye s, h e b lu sh ed a nd g la n ce d a w ay.
A fe w o f th e b old er g odboys c o ntin u ed to g aze a t h er, h ow eve r.
T heir a dora tio n w as p la in to s e e. Ig norin g th em , A ph ro dit e r e ach ed
in to h er b ag a nd to ok o ut h er H ero -o lo g y te xts cro ll. A s th e
goddessg ir l o f lo ve a nd b eauty , s h e'd g ro w n u se d to s u ch
a dm ir a tio n. T o ok it fo r g ra nte d in fa ct. A ll h er lif e , g odboys h ad fo und
her e nch antin gly b eautif u l. It s e em ed th ey h ad o nly to lo o k a t h er to
f a ll h opele ssly in lo ve . T hat w asn 't h er fa ult , o f c o urs e . It w as ju st th e
w ay th in gs w ere .
3
A phro dit e g la nce d a cro ss th e a is le a t A th ena, tr y in g to g et h er
atte ntio n. A ll w eek, th e c la ss d is cu ssio n s h ad c e nte re d a ro und
m orta l m aid ens a nd y o uth s. S he w an te d to a sk if A th ena h ad h eard
th e in tr ig uin g r u m ors a bout a m aid e n o n E arth w ho c o uld r u n a s s w if t
a s th e w in d, fa ste r th an a ny y o uth --o r e ve n b east. B ut a s u su al, h er
fr ie nd's n ose w as b urie d in a t e xts cro ll. B efo re A ph ro dit e c o uld c a ll

out to h er, M edusa , w ho s a t d ir e ctly b ehin d A th ena, le a ned a cro ss
th e a is le .
H er h ead w rit h ed w it h h is sin g g re en s n ake s in ste ad o f h air . T heir
t o ngues flic ke d in a nd o ut a s s h e p oke d A ph ro dit e w it h o ne o f h er
lo ng g re en fin gern ails . " Y ou w ere a lm ost la te ," s h e s n eere d.
"T ro uble s, B ubble s? " M edusa a nd h er h orrib le s is te rs , S th eno a nd
E ury a le , n eve r m is se d a n o pportu nit y to u se th e a w fu l n ic k n am e to
m ake fu n o f A phro dit e 's s e a fo a m o rig in s.
4
"N ot r e ally ," A phro dit e m utte re d. S he w asn 't a bout to a dm it s h e'd
o ve rs le pt. It w ould o nly g iv e M edusa a noth er r e aso n to p oke fu n a t
her. P ro bably w it h jo ke s a bout h er n eedin g lo ts o f b eauty s le ep.
F ortu nate ly , b efo re h er s n aky g re en n em esis c o uld s a y a nyth in g
m ore , M r. C yclo ps fin is h ed w it h a s tu dent h e'd b een s p eakin g to a nd
sto od u p. A s h is h um ongous s in g le e ye s w ep t th e r o om , e ve ry o ne
fe ll s ile nt.
A phro dit e w ondere d w hat th ey'd b e d is cu ssin g to day. Y este rd ay
th eir te ach er h ad a ske d h ow m uch a nd w ha t k in d o f h elp th ey
th ought g ods s h ould g iv e to m orta ls th ey fa vo re d. A ph ro dit e , w ho
enjo ye d h elp in g m orta ls in lo ve , h ad h oped to ta lk a bout th at, b ut th e
godboys in c la ss h ad im media te ly s te ere d th e d is cu ssio n to w ard
w eapons a nd w ar--to pic s th at c o uld n eve r h old h er in te re st fo r lo ng.
5
R each in g in to h er b ag a gain , s h e p ulle d o ut h er p in k p apyru s
note pad a nd b egan to d oodle lit tle h earts a ll o ve r th e fr o nt w it h h er

fa vo rit e r e d fe ath er p en. M r. C yclo p s c le a re d h is th ro at. " T o day I'd
l ik e y o u to c o nsid er th e fo llo w in g q uestio n ," h e s a id . " N ee d m orta l
m aid ens a lw ays m arry ? "
D ro ppin g h er r e d fe ath er p en in s u rp ris e , A ph ro dit e s a t u p
str a ig hte r. N ow th is w as a n e nga gin g q uestio n ! S he 'd lik e to s e e th e
godboys tr y to m ake th is in to a d is cu ssio n a bout w eapo ns a nd w ar,
s h e th ought a s s h e r a is e d h e r h and h ig h .
"Y es, A phro dit e ?" a ske d M r. C yclo p s.
"I w ould n't w ant to s e e a ny y o u ng m aid e n g o u nw ed ," s h e s a id .
"E ve ry o ne s h ould h ave a c h ance to fa ll in lo ve ."
" B ut w hat if th e m aid en w ould r a th er b e a lo n e?"
6
A th ena a ske d. " W hat if s h e h a s o th er in te re sts , lik e tr a ve lin g th e
w orld , o r b eco m in g a fir s t- c la ss s ch ola r, o r . . . o r in ve ntin g th in gs? "
A phro dit e s m ile d a t h er. P oor A th ena. S he 'd n eve r r e ally h ad a
b oyfr ie nd. J u st w ait u ntil s h e e xp erie n ce d h er fir s t c ru sh . S he'd th in k
dif f e re ntly th en. " If th e m aid en fe els th at w ay, th en p erh aps it 's o nly
b eca use s h e h asn 't y e t fo und th e r ig h t y o uth ," A ph ro dit e s a id k in dly .
"B ut n ot a ll y o uth s m arry ," A th e na p oin te d o ut. " S o w hy s h ould a ll
m aid ens? "
P ose id on th ru st h is tr id ent in to th e a ir . A s a lw ays, w ate r d rip ped
fr o m it a nd h im to p uddle b enea th h is c h air . " T hat's b eca use m any
yo uth s p re fe r th e lif e o f a s o ld ie r," h e d ecla re d.
"T hat's r ig ht!" e xcla im ed a noth er g odboy. " W ar tr u m ps m arria ge
any d ay."

7
Aphro dit e r o lle d h er e ye s. " O h, r e ally ? A nd w hic h d o y o u th in k
co ntr ib ute s m ore to th e s u rv iv a l o f th e h um an r a ce ?"
M r. C yclo ps b eam ed a t h er. " G ood p oin t."
J u st th en th e s ch ool in te rc o m c ra ckle d to lif e . " A tte ntio n , g odboys
a nd g oddessg ir ls !" th undere d P rin cip a l Z eus in a d eafe nin g ly lo ud
vo ic e . E ve ry o ne, in clu din g M r. C yclo ps, a uto m atic a lly r e ach ed u p to
c o ve r th eir e ars . " A s p ecia l a sse m bly o n c h ario t s a fe ty s ta rts in te n
m in ute s. P le ase m ake y o ur w ay to th e a udit o riu m ."
L ookin g s o m ew hat a nnoye d, M r. C yclo ps m utte re d s o m eth in g
about u nw arra nte d in te rru ptio n s to c la ss tim e. B ut th en, w it h a s ig h,
he s a id , " A ll r ig ht, e ve ry o ne. P le a se lin e u p a t th e d oor."
N orm ally , A phro dit e w ould h ave w elc o m ed a c h ance to g et o ut o f
cla ss, b ut n ot to day. N ot w hen
8
th e to pic o f d is cu ssio n w as s u ch a n in te re stin g o ne. B esid e s, th e
ch ario t s a fe ty a sse m bly w as r e peate d e ve ry y e ar, a nd it w as d eadly
d ull. W ho a m ong th em d id n't k n ow th at r a cin g in to a tu rn c o uld c a use
a c h ario t to tip o ve r? D uh. O r th at y o u s h ould n 't e ve r fly d ir e ctly in to
t h e s u n?
A fte r th e a sse m bly , w hic h Z eus h ad liv e ned u p w it h a r e al
dem onstr a tio n o f r a cin g c h ario ts fo r a c h ange, it w as tim e fo r lu nch .
A phro dit e w as s ta rv e d. A s s h e s to od in th e c a fe te ria lin e w it h A th ena
and th eir o th er tw o b est fr ie nds, d ark -h air e d A rte m is a nd p ale -

skin ned P ers e phone, h er s to m ach b egan to r u m ble lik e a v o lc a no
about to e ru pt.
H er fr ie nds la ughed. " S om ebody's h ungry ," s a id A rte m is .
A phro dit e b lu sh ed. " Y es, v e ry ." S he d id n 't s a y it
9
lo udly , b ut c o nsid erin g th e r e sp onse , s h e m ig ht ju st a s w ell h ave
sh oute d it . A d oze n g odboys in lin e a head o f h er w hip p ed a ro und a t
th e s o und o f h er v o ic e , e ager to g et h er a tte ntio n .
"Y ou c a n h ave m y s p ot, A phro d it e !" y e lle d P ose id o n fr o m te n
sp ace s u p th e lin e.
H e to ok a s te p to w ard h er, d rip p in g w ate r o nto a noth er g odboy's
s a ndal- c la d fe et. A re s, w ho w as th e c u te st g odboy in s ch ool in
A phro dit e 's o pin io n, g lo w ere d a t h im . " W atc h w he re y o u'r e d rip pin g,
F is h fa ce !" D ro ple ts o f w ate r fle w a s h e s h ook o ne fo ot a nd th en th e
oth er. P ose id on g lo w ere d b ack, h is m ou th o penin g a nd c lo sin g lik e a
f is h 's .
Ig norin g h im , A re s tu rn ed to w ard A ph ro dit e . " T a ke m y p la ce ," h e
sa id w it h a c h arm in g s m ile . " I in sis t."
A phro dit e h esit a te d. A re s c o uld b e a b it o f a b ully
1 0
at tim es, b ut s h e h ad to a dm it th ere w as s o m eth in g a bout h im s h e
fo und ... w ell, ir re sis tib le . H e w as ju st s o m uscu la r, s o b lo n d, a nd s o
b lu e e ye d. S m ilin g u nce rta in ly , s h e to ok a s te p in h is d ir e ctio n.
A th ena g ra bbed A phro dit e 's e lb o w . " S ure ly y o u'r e n ot g oin g to
t a ke h im u p o n th at," s h e s a id in a lo w v o ic e th at A re s c o uld n't h ear.

"It w ould n't b e fa ir to th e o th er g oddessg ir ls in lin e a head o f u s."
" O h. I g uess y o u'r e r ig ht," s a id A ph ro dit e . S he 'd ju st s te pped b ack
in lin e w hen a g odboy n am ed A tla s c a lle d o ut. " H ey, A ph ro dit e !
C om e s ta nd b y m e!" F le xin g h is b ulg in g b ic e p s, h e p ic ke d u p th e
scra w ny g odboy n ext to h im a nd h eld h im o ve r h is h ead. " Y ou c a n
have H ephaestu s's p la ce ."
S quir m in g th is w ay a nd th at, H ep haestu s p ro te ste d. " P ut m e
dow n, y o u b ig o x."
1 1
A phro dit e s ig hed. " F or th e lo ve o f Z eus! L eave h im a lo n e, A tla s."
A tla s s h ru gged. " If y o u s a y s o ." H e s e t H ep haestu s d ow n, b ut n ot
befo re a fig ht b ro ke o ut b etw ee n P ose id o n a nd A re s.
"G odness!" e xcla im ed P ers e ph one, a nxio u sly tw is tin g a r e d c u rl
a ro und h er in dex fin ger. " S om eo ne's g oin g to g et h urt!"
F ro w nin g, A phro dit e to ok a s te p to w ard th e b oys. " P ers e phone's
r ig ht. S to p it ! W hat a re y o u--in k in d erg arte n?"
S heepis h ly , th e tw o g odboys s e para te d. In a v o ic e a s lo ve ly a s
sh e w as, b ut w hic h p erm it te d n o a rg um en t, s h e s a id , " I a ppre cia te
t h e o ff e rs , b ut I'l l w ait m y tu rn lik e e ve ry o ne e ls e ."
T e n m in ute s la te r, w hen s h e w as s e ate d a t la st w it h
1 2
her th re e g oddessg ir l fr ie nds a t th eir fa vo rit e ta ble in th e
lu nch ro om , A phro dit e d ip ped h e r s p oon in to th e d elic io u s y a m bro sia .
A fte r s h e'd ta ke n o nly a b it e o r tw o, h ow eve r, s h e s h ove d th e b ow l
aw ay, to o a nnoye d to fin is h in s p it e o f h er h unger.

"F ull a lr e ady? " a ske d A rte m is , a s s h e d ug w it h g usto in to h er o w n
bow l. H er th re e d ogs, a b lo odh ound, a g re yh ound, a nd a b eagle , la y
at h er fe et. T hey a cco m panie d h er e ve ry w he re .
"N o, ju st fe d u p w it h g odboys," A ph ro dit e d ecla re d. " T hey'r e s o
o bse sse d w it h w eapons a nd w ar. T hey e ve n b attle fo r m y a tte ntio n!"
" P oor y o u," P ers e phone te ase d b etw ee n s ip s o f n ecta r. " A lo t o f
goddessg ir ls w ould d ie to h ave g odboys n otic e th em ." A s a n
afte rth ought, s h e a dded, " B ut o f c o urs e th ey c a n't , s in ce th ey'r e a ll
i m morta l. "
1 3
A th ena s e t d ow n th e s h im mery b lu e B ea uty -o lo g y te xts cro ll s h e'd
b een s ca nnin g a s s h e a te . W it h a p uzzle d lo o k s h e s a id to
A phro dit e , " B ut I th ought y o u lik e d th e a tte ntio n ."
A phro dit e s h ru gged. " N ot r e ally . If a noth er g odboy o ff e rs to c a rry
m y s cro lls o r to h elp m e w it h m y h om ew ork ju st o ne m ore tim e to day,
I s w ear I'l l s cre am !"
" R eally ? " A th ena le aned fo rw ard , h er b ro w s k n it . " B ut in H ero -
olo gy c la ss y o u s a id th at e ve ry o n e s h ould h ave th e c h ance to fa ll in
lo ve ."
" I w as ta lk in g a bout m orta ls ," s a id A ph ro dit e . " A nd a nyw ay, ju st
b eca use a g odboy fu sse s o ve r y o u, it d oesn 't m ea n h e's in lo ve w it h
y o u." In deed, s h e c o uld n't h elp w on derin g if th e h andso m e y o ung
godboys w ho flu tte re d a ro und h er lik e m oth s to a fla m e m ig ht
dis a ppear in a fla sh if s h e w ere n't b eautif u l. T here w as n o w ay to
k n ow

14
beca use s h e'd a lw ays b een . . . w ell . . . n atu ra lly p re tty .
"B ut m ost g ir ls lik e it w hen b oys fu ss o ve r th em ," A th ena
pers is te d. S he s e em ed o ddly in te re ste d in th e to pic g iv e n h er p ro te st
th at " s o m e m aid ens" w ould r a th er b e le ft a lo n e to s tu dy.
A phro dit e r a is e d o ne o f h er p e rfe ctly s h aped e ye bro w s. " If I d id n't
k n ow a ny b ette r, I'd th in k m ayb e yo u w ante d to b e fu sse d o ve r."
" W ho m e? H a!" s a id A th ena. " T hat's th e la st th in g o n m y m in d,"
s h e m urm ure d a s s h e b urie d h er n ose in h er B ea uty -o lo g y s cro ll
a gain .
A phro dit e tr a ded a m use d g la n ce s w it h P ers e phone a nd A rte m is ,
w ho th en q uic kly m ove d o n to ta lk a bout o th er th in g s. B ut A phro dit e
o nly h alf lis te ned a s s h e s ta re d a t A th ena's b ent h ead. A s tr a ig ht- A
s tu dent, A th ena w as e asily th e b rig h te st o f th e fo ur fr ie n ds. S he
15
w as a ls o th e y o ungest, th ough th ey w ere a ll in th e s a m e g ra de.
U ntil th is m om ent, A th ena h ad n eve r s h ow n a ny c u rio sit y a bout
godboys, a nd th ey in tu rn , p ro ba bly s e nsin g h er in d if f e re nce ,
ove rlo oke d h er.
A th ena g la nce d u p fr o m h er te xts cro ll. " W hat? " s h e a ske d. " W hy
are y o u s ta rin g a t m e lik e th a t? "
"N o r e aso n," A phro dit e s a id lig h tly . B ut a s A th ena r e tu rn ed to h er
te xts cro ll, th e w heels in A phro dit e 's b ra in b egan to s p in fa ste r th an
th e r a cin g c h ario t Z eus h ad d riv e n in a sse m bly th at m orn in g . W it h in
m om ents s h e c o nclu ded th at A th ena h ad in fa ct b een h in tin g th at

sh e'd w elc o m e th e a tte ntio n o f g odboys. A nd w hile A ph ro dit e m ig ht
be fe d u p w it h g odboys' a nnoyin g a ntic s, s h e lo ve d s tir rin g u p
ro m ance fo r o th ers ! T ru e, th in g s h adn't w ork e d o ut s o w ell b etw een
P aris a nd H ele n--th at p esky T ro ja n W ar a nd a ll- -b ut a t le a st
1 6
sh e'd tr ie d to s e t th em u p.
T hat's it ! s h e th ought e xcit e dly . If s h e c o uld h elp m orta ls fin d lo ve ,
th en w hy n ot a g oddessg ir l, to o? S he c o uld u se h er ta le n ts to h elp
A th ena fin d h er fir s t c ru sh ! B ut s h e w ou ld n eed a g am e p la n .
A phro dit e d ru m med h er w ell- m anic u re d, p ow de r-p in k-p olis h ed
fin gern ails o n th e ta ble to p, s n eakin g g la n ce s a t A th ena's lo n g,
unsty le d, b ro w n h air . A t h er fa ce fr e e o f m ake up. A t h er fr u m py, p la in
w hit e c h it o n. S uddenly a n id ea c a m e to h er. A m ake ove r! T hat w as
exa ctly w hat h er fr ie nd n eeded to m ake M OA's g odboys s it u p a nd
ta ke n otic e .
N ow th at s h e'd c o m e u p w it h a p la n , A ph ro dit e c o uld n 't w ait to g et
sta rte d!
17
2 The Makeover
W HEN S C HO OL L E T O UT, A PH RO DIT E A N D h er fr ie n ds w alk e d
up th e m arb le s ta ir c a se to th e g oddessg ir ls ' d orm o n th e fo urth flo or.
H alf w ay u p, A phro dit e a nnou nce d, " I th in k w e s h ould g iv e A th ena a
m ake ove r."

"A w -w hat? " a ske d A th ena, a lm ost d ro ppin g th e b ag o f s cro ll s s h e
w as c a rry in g.
18
"A m ake ove r," A phro dit e r e peate d. " H air , n ails , m ake up, c lo th es--
th e w ork s! W hat d o y o u s a y? W e'l l c re ate a w ho le n ew y o u!"
" W hat a g re at id ea!" s a id P ers e phone, p attin g h er o w n r e ddis h
cu rls .
"B ette r h er th an m e," s a id A rte m is , a dju stin g th e q uiv e r o f a rro w s
and a rc h ery b ow s h e a lw ays c a rrie d o ve r o ne s h ould e r. H er th re e
hounds le aped u p th e s ta ir s a t h er h eels , d ro oly to ngues h angin g
out. A phro dit e k e pt a s fa r a w ay fr o m th em a s p ossib le .
A th ena fr o w ned. " W hat's w ro ng w it h th e o ld m e? "
"N oth in g," A phro dit e s a id q uic kly , " b ut d on't y o u th in k it w ou ld b e
fu n to tr y a n ew lo ok? "
A th ena h esit a te d, s h if tin g h er lo a d o f s cro lls fr o m o ne a rm to th e
oth er. G la ncin g d ow n a t h er B eauty -o lo g y s cro ll, s h e r u bbed h er
th um b o ve r it s b lu e r ib bon.
19
"W ell, m ayb e," s h e s a id a t la st. " I m ea n I w ould lik e to le arn m ore
a bout th e in s a nd o uts o f b eau ty ."
" G re at. W hat b ette r tim e th an n ow ?" a ske d A ph ro dit e .
W hen th ey r e ach ed h er d oor, A rte m is s a id , " I'l l le a ve th e d ogs in
m y r o om . U nle ss o f c o urs e . . ." S he g la n ce d a t A ph ro dit e .
"G ood id ea," A phro dit e s a id q u ic kly , g uessin g A rte m is w as a bout
to a sk if h er d ogs c o uld w atc h th e m ake ove r to o. M ost s tu dents

sh are d a r o om , a nd s h e a nd A rte m is w ere s u ppose d to h ave b een
ro om mate s, b ut A phro dit e h ad n't w an te d to s h are s p ace w it h th re e
sm elly , m essy d ogs. S o A rte m is h ad ta ke n th e fr e e r o om n ext d oor.
A fte r A rte m is d ro pped o ff h er d ogs, th e fo ur g oddessg ir ls w ent in to
A phro dit e 's r o om . A ll th e d orm r o om s
20
on th e fo urth a nd fif th flo ors w ere id e ntic a l, w it h tw o b eds, tw o
clo se ts , a nd tw o b uilt - in d esks. T o d eco ra te , A ph ro dit e h ad d ra ped
sp ark ly r e d fa bric o ve r h er b e d a nd p ain te d p in k a nd r e d h earts a ll
o ve r th e w alls .
"I d on't k n ow h ow y o u k e ep y o ur r o om s o n eat," A rte m is to ld h er.
" M in e's a lw ays a m ess."
" W e k n ow ," te ase d A phro dit e . " W e'v e s e en it ." U nlik e m ost o th er
goddessg ir ls , A phro dit e a lw ays p ut h er b elo n gin g s a w ay a nd s w ept
her flo or a nd d uste d o nce a w eek. S he e ve n m ad e h er b ed e ach
m orn in g, a rra ngin g th e s ix p u ff y , h eart- s h aped p illo w s o n it ju st s o . In
t r u th , s h e w as a b it o f a p erfe ctio n is t w he n it c a m e to h er r o om a nd
her lo oks.
"M ust b e n ic e to liv e in a d orm ," P ers e phone c o m mente d. S he
liv e d a t h om e w it h h er m oth er, D em ete r. F lo p pin g o nto o ne o f
A phro dit e 's b eds, s h e s a nk
21
tw o in ch es in to th e p lu sh r e d v e lv e t c o m fo rte r s tit c h ed w it h a
p atte rn o f lit tle w hit e h earts . " M mm, c o m fy ," s h e s a id .

Aphro dit e h anded P ers e phone a nd A rte m is a fe w is su e s o f T e en
S cro lla zin e fr o m th e s h elf a bove h er d esk. " S ee if y o u c a n fin d a ny
hair s ty le s th at y o u th in k w ould lo o k g ood o n A th ena."
" A ye -a ye , C apta in M ake ove r, " A rte m is s a id w it h a g rin . S he s a t
besid e P ers e phone, a nd th ey b egan flip pin g th ro ugh th e p ages,
d is cu ssin g th e p ro s a nd c o ns o f v a rio u s h air s ty le s.
A phro dit e w ent to h er s p are d esk, w hic h s h e'd c o nve rte d to a
m ake up ta ble y e ars a go. N ea tly a rra nged o n a s ilv e r tr a y a to p a
le ngth o f ta sse le d p in k s a tin , w ere r o w s a nd r o w s o f n ail p oli s h a nd
lip stic ks in e ve ry c o nce iv a ble c o lo r a nd d oze ns o f lit tle p ots o f
22
eye s h adow , r o uge, a nd lo tio n.
"Y ou c a n s it h ere ," s h e to ld A th ena, p ullin g o ut th e s to ol fr o m th e
desk a nd p attin g it s s e at.
A th ena s a nk o nto th e c u sh io ne d s to ol a nd s ta re d a t a ll th e
co sm etic s. " Y e g ods! Y ou'v e g ot e nough s tu ff to o pen y o ur o w n
m ake up s h op." S he p ic ke d u p a r o und, s ilv e r b ox th at s a t to o ne s id e
of th e tr a y. " W hat's in h ere ?"
A s s o on a s s h e s p oke th e w ord s, th e b ox's lid p opped o ff a nd a
s ilv e r-h andle d m ake up b ru sh fle w o ut. H ove rin g a fe w in ch es a bove
th e p ots o f r o uge, it r e gard ed A th ena c rit ic a lly . T hen, s e em in g to
m ake a d ecis io n, it d ip ped in to a n o ra ngey-p in k o ne a nd s w ir le d
aro und. T hen it z o om ed c lo se r to w his k it s p ow de r h ig h a lo n g
A th ena's c h eekb one. " H ey, s to p!" s h e c rie d r a is in g b oth h ands a nd
duckin g a w ay.

23
T he m ake up b ru sh fr o ze in m id a ir , it s b ris tle s b ent in th e s h ape o f
a q uestio n m ark .
A phro dit e la ughed. " W e'r e n ot q uit e r e ady y e t," s h e to ld it . " A fte r
w e d o h er h air ."
W it h a q uic k n od, th e b ru sh d ucke d b ack in to it s b ox a nd th e lid
s n apped s h ut.
A phro dit e fin gere d a lo ck o f A th ena's lo n g b ro w n h air a nd
fr o w ned. " Y ou s h ould ta ke b e tte r c a re o f it ," s h e s a id . " It's d ry ."
" R eally ? " A th ena c o m bed h er fin g ers th ro ugh h er h air , te stin g it
h ers e lf . " I n eve r n otic e d."
" T hat's b eca use y o ur n ose is a lw ays s tu ck in a te xts cro ll, " s a id
A phro dit e . " D o y o u e ve r e ve n lo o k in a m ir ro r? "
"N ot v e ry o fte n," A th ena a dm it te d. C ockin g h er h ead, s h e a ske d,
"H ow o fte n w ould y o u s a y yo u lo ok
24
in to o ne?"
"M e?" A phro dit e a ske d, r e aliz in g w it h a s ta rt th at s h e'd b een
ch eckin g h er lu str o us w ave s in th e m ir ro r a bove h er m ake up ta ble a t
th at v e ry m om ent. It w as lik e a n a uto m atic r e fle x! S he lo o ke d a w ay
fr o m h er r e fle ctio n, a lit tle e m ba rra sse d. " I d on't k n ow ."
A phro dit e s p ra ye d s o m e c o ndit io n er in to A th ena's h air . " M mm ,
th at s m ells g ood," s a id A th ena . " W hat is it ? "
"E sse nce o f H ya cin th ," A phro dit e r e plie d, c o m bin g it th ro ugh. " It's
t h e b est c o ndit io ner I'v e fo und. N ot o nly d oes it s m ell g ood, b ut it

als o le ave s y o ur h air r e ally s o ft a nd m an ageable ."
" E sse nce o f H ya cin th ," A th en a r e peate d. " C ou ld y o u w rit e th at
dow n fo r m e?"
D elig hte d a t h er in te re st, A phro dit e to ok a s h eet o f s p ark ly p in k
papyru s fr o m a d ra w er in h er d e sk a nd
25
jo tte d d ow n th e n am e o f th e c o ndit io n er w it h h er r e d fe ath er p en.
"H ere ," s h e s a id , h andin g th e p apyru s a nd h er p en to A th ena. " In
c a se y o u w ant to m ake m ore n ote s a s w e g o a lo n g."
" T hanks," s a id A th ena, s e ttin g th em o n h er la p . " I ju st m ig ht."
" W e'v e c h ose n s ix p ossib le h a ir s ty le s," P ers e phone a nnounce d,
brin gin g o ve r s e ve ra l o f th e s cro lla zin e s.
A fte r a q uic k lo ok a t th em , A th e na p oin te d to a p ain tin g o f a
g oddess w it h h er h air p in ned h ig h o n to p o f h er h ead. " I th in k I'd li k e
to tr y th is s ty le ."
" O ka y." A phro dit e g ra bbed h er S pe ll- o lo g y te xts cro ll fr o m th e to p
of h er d esk a nd u nfu rle d it . " U se th is o ne," s h e s a id , p oin tin g to a
s p ell. T hen s h e h anded h er fr ie n d a s ilv e r-b acke d h and m ir ro r.
L ookin g in to th e m ir ro r A th en a r e ad th e c h ant a lo u d: " M ag ic m ir ro r,
le t m e s e e .
2 6
. . h ow th is s ty le w ould lo ok o n m e."
A s h er w ord s d ie d a w ay, A phro dit e to uch ed th e p ain tin g to th e
ce nte r o f th e m ir ro r. W hen s h e lif te d it a gain , s h e s a id , " T a ke a lo ok."

Ath ena p eere d a t h er r e fle ctio n. L aughin g , s h e r e ach ed u p to
t o uch h er m agic a lly r e sty le d h air . " N o g ood. I lo o k lik e s o m eone's
m oth er."
" Y ou'r e r ig ht," a gre ed P ers e pho ne. " In fa ct, y o u c o uld b e m y
moth er."
" L ooks lik e y o u'r e w earin g a b eehiv e o n y o ur h ead," a dded
A rte m is .
"Y e g ods!" s a id A th ena, g ig glin g.
"L et's s e e th e o th ers ," s u ggeste d A ph ro dit e . A fte r tr y in g a fe w
m ore h air s ty le s, th ey fin ally fo u nd th e p erfe ct o ne.
"F abulo us!" s a id A phro dit e . " I lik e h ow th e la ye rs
2 7
fr a m e y o ur fa ce ."
" Y es," s a id P ers e phone. " A nd lo n g b angs a re s o g la m oro us."
" Y ou lo ok lik e a d if f e re nt p ers o n," s a id A rte m is . " In a g ood w ay."
A th ena s m ile d a t h ers e lf in th e m ir ro r. " T hanks." S he s m oo th ed a
h and o ve r h er fe ath ery n ew h a ir d o. T hen s h e r e ach ed fo r th e p in k
papyru s a nd A phro dit e 's p en, q uic kly m akin g n ote s. " W hat's n ext? "
sh e a ske d, o bvio usly g ettin g in to th e s p ir it o f th in g s.
A s if it h ad b een w ait in g fo r th e se v e ry w ord s, th e m ake up b ru sh
sp ra ng o ut o f it s b ox a gain . It w en t to w ork , d ustin g A th ena's c h eeks
w it h a m ediu m s h ade o f r o uge , th en b ru sh in g h er e ye lid s w it h a
s p ark ly g ra y e ye s h adow th at w as s lig htly d ark e r th an h er e ye s. A s
A th ena s crib ble d m ore n ote s, P ers e phone g ave h er a
2 8

th um bs-u p. " L ookin g g re at!"
G la ncin g a t th e b ru sh , A phro d it e n odded h er a ppro va l a s w ell .
" G ood jo b." Its b ris tle s c u rv e d in to a s m ile b efo re it h opped b ack in to
it s b ox.
N ext P ers e phone b egan to w ork o n A th ena's n ails , filin g a nd
pain tin g th em . In th e m eantim e, A ph ro dit e flu n g o pen b oth o f h er
clo se ts a nd p ulle d o ut o ne c h it o n a fte r a noth er fo r A th ena to tr y o n.
A rte m is , h ow eve r, s e em ed to h ave lo st in te re st in th e m ake ove r.
A fte r p okin g th ro ugh a ll th e s tu ff o n to p o f A ph ro dit e 's m ake up ta ble ,
sh e g ra bbed a s m all g la ze d p ot a nd r e tir e d w it h it to th e s p are b ed.
W hen h er n ails w ere d ry , A th en a s te pped b ehin d a fo ld in g s cre en
pain te d w it h d elic a te p in k r o se buds to tr y o n th e v a rio u s o utfit s
A phro dit e h ad s e le cte d fo r h er. " H ow a bout th is o ne?" s h e a ske d,
m odelin g a c h it o n th e
29
co lo r o f d aff o dils .
A phro dit e s h ook h er h ead. " Y ello w 's g ood o n P ers e phone, b ut it
d oesn 't s u it y o u. W here 's th at tu rq uois e o ne?" s h e m um ble d ,
se arc h in g th ro ugh h er c lo se ts a gain .
"P ro bably in y o ur r e m ote c lo se t," s a id A rte m is . S he w as s it tin g
cro ss-le gged o n A phro dit e 's s p a re b ed, w axin g th e s tr in g o f h er b ow .
"T hat b ette r n ot b e m y le g w ax," s a id A ph ro dit e , p ullin g h er h ead
out o f th e c lo se t.
" O ops, s o rry ," A rte m is s a id m eekly . S he s e t a sid e th e lit tle p ot
sh e'd ta ke n fr o m th e d esk e arlie r.

"R em ote c lo se t? " P ers e phone b ela te dly e ch oed.
"I le t A phro dit e u se m y e xtr a c lo se t fo r h er o ve rflo w s in ce I d on't
n eed it ," A rte m is e xp la in ed. W it h th at, s h e d ash ed o ff to h er r o om ,
re appearin g m om ents la te r w it h
3 0
th e tu rq uois e c h it o n.
A th ena's e ye s lit u p w hen s h e s a w it . S he tr ie d it o n b ehin d th e
scre en a nd c a m e o ut tw ir lin g.
"P erfe ct," s a id A phro dit e . " T urq uois e lo o ks g re at o n y o u!" D ig gin g
th ro ugh a d ra w er, s h e fo und s o m e s ilv e r c o m bs fo r A th ena's h air a nd
als o a s ilv e r b elt w it h h am mere d lin ks in th e s h ape o f le a ve s.
"Y ou lo ok fa nta stic !" P ers e phone s a id w he n A th ena's m ake ove r
w as c o m ple te .
B usily filin g a n a rro w tip w it h o n e o f A ph ro dit e 's n ail file s, A rte m is
b are ly g la nce d u p, b ut e ve n s h e s e em ed im pre sse d b y th e
tr a nsfo rm atio n. " Y eah, y o u d o lo o k n ic e , A th ena."
G azin g in to th e la rg e m ir ro r a bove th e m ake up ta ble , A th ena
tu rn ed th is w ay a nd th at, s tu d yin g h er r e fle ctio n . " W ow ," s h e s a id . " I
lo ok ... s o phis tic a te d ."
3 1
T he o th ers la ughed. " J u st w ait till e ve ry o ne e ls e s e es y o u!" s a id
A phro dit e .
P ers e phone s n apped h er fin ge rs . " T hat r e m in ds m e. T o nig h t's
F rid ay, r ig ht? H ades to ld m e th e re 's a p arty in th e g odboys' d orm o n
th e fif th flo or. W e c o uld g o a n d s h ow o ff A th ena."

"G re at id ea!" A phro dit e e xcla im ed. " H ow a bout it , A th ena?"
A th ena h esit a te d, a s if a lit tle u nsu re . " I g uess s o ."
" A ll r ig ht!" s a id A phro dit e . S he c o uld h ard ly w ait fo r e ve ry o ne to
a dm ir e th e w ork s h e'd d one o n h er fr ie n d. A g odboy o r tw o w as s u re
to n otic e th e tr a nsfo rm atio n. W it h a ny lu ck, th is c o uld tu rn o ut to b e
th e n ig ht o f A th ena's fir s t c ru sh . A nd it w ou ld a ll b e th anks to
A phro dit e !
32
3 PartT ime
WHEN T H E G ODDESSG IR LS M ET U P A FT E R d in n er, A th ena's
r o om mate , P andora ( o ne o f th e fe w m orta ls a t M OA) c a m e to o.
"H ow d id y o u m ake A th ena lo o k s o fa bulo u s? " s h e a ske d A phro dit e
a s th e g ir ls c lim bed th e s ta ir s to th e fif th flo o r. B efo re A ph ro dit e c o uld
r e ply , P andora p lo w ed a head . " T his p arty s h ould b e a lo t o f fu n, d on't
y o u th in k? W on't it b e g re at if
3 3
th ere 's a b and p la yin g? H ey, c o uld y o u d o m y h air a nd m ake up
so m etim e?"
"U h, s u re ," s a id A phro dit e . H er r e ply w ou ld 'v e w ork e d fo r a ny o f
th e q uestio ns. W it h P andora it d id n 't r e ally m atte r a nyw ay. S he w as
alw ays s o b usy a skin g q uestio n s th at s h e n eve r p aid m uch a tte ntio n
to th e a nsw ers s h e r e ce iv e d. A s if a s ig n o f h er c u rio sit y , h er b angs,
str e ake d b lu e a nd g old lik e th e r e st o f h er h air , w ere p la ste re d
again st h er fo re head in th e s h ap e o f a q uestio n m ark .

The p arty w as in th e c o m mon a re a a t th e e nd o f th e b oys' h all .
L oud v o ic e s a nd la ughte r g re ete d th eir e ars a s th e g oddessg ir ls
a ppro ach ed. B ut a s A phro dit e le d h er fr ie n ds in to th e r o om , a
h ush ed s ile nce fe ll o ve r th e g od boys a nd g oddessg ir ls m illin g a ro und
th e s n ack ta ble a nd p erc h ed o n c o uch es. A ph ro dit e w as u se d to
c a usin g
34
a s tir w here ve r s h e w ent- -e sp ecia lly if g odboys w ere p re se nt- -b ut
th is tim e e ve ry o ne s e em ed to b e lo o kin g a t A th ena.
S ta rin g a t A th ena in o pen-m ou th ed s u rp ris e , P ose id o n d id a
d ouble ta ke a nd d ro pped h is t r id e nt. It c la tte re d to th e flo o r, b are ly
m is sin g th e liz a rd lik e ta il o f a no th er g odboy, w ho flic ke d h is fo rk e d
to ngue in a nnoya nce a t h im a n d th en s cu ttle d a w ay. " W ow , A th ena,"
P ose id on s a id a t la st. " Y ou lo ok r e ally . . . d if f e re nt!"
" Is th at a c o m plim ent o r a n in su lt ? " A th ena te ase d, b ut A ph ro dit e
n otic e d s h e w as b lu sh in g.
"A c o m plim ent," P ose id on s a id q uic kly . " L et m e g et y o u s o m e
necta r a nd s o m e c h ip s," h e s a id a s s e ve ra l o th er g odboys g ath ere d
aro und to fa w n o ve r A th ena.
"H ow a bout s o m e g ra pes? " o ff e re d D io nysu s, a
3 5
godboy w it h c u rly b la ck h air a nd s m all h orn s.
"W ant to s it b y m e?" a ske d A tla s.
L if tin g o ne o f th e c o uch es, h e tip p ed it fo rw ard s o th at th e g odboy
and g oddessg ir l w ho h ad b een s it tin g o n it to geth er s lid o ff . " H ey!"

th ey c rie d a s th ey la nded o n th e flo o r.
I g norin g th em , A tla s lo w ere d t h e c o uch . " S ee , p le n ty o f s p ace ."
A phro dit e c o uld n't h elp g rin nin g in d elig ht. It s e em ed s h e'd
s u cce eded in m akin g A th ena ir re sis tib le . A nd s h e w asn 't e ve n
w earin g a ny o f A phro dit e 's L ucky-in -L ove lip b alm !
Unuse d to th e in cre ase d a tte ntio n , A th ena s e em ed a b it flu ste re d.
W hen A rte m is 's tw in b ro th er, A po llo , o ff e re d h er a s e at n ext to h im ,
sh e r e plie d, " N o th anks. I p re fe r to s ta nd."
3 6 P oor g ir l , th ought A phro dit e . A th ena c o uld r e ally u se s o m e
poin te rs o n h ow to flir t! S he g la n ce d a ro und th e r o om . T here w ere
o nly a fe w g odboys w ho s e em ed o bliv io u s to A th ena's c h arm s. O ne
of th em w as H ades. D ark a nd b ro odin g , h e'd b een c ru sh in g o n
P ers e phone fo r w eeks n ow . T he tw o o f th em w ere h uddle d to geth er
near th e p unch b ow l, d eep in c o nve rs a tio n . K ne elin g n earb y, A rte m is
w as fe edin g c h ip s to h er d ogs.
"H ey e ve ry b ody!"
A phro dit e 's e ye s s p ark le d a s A re s e nte re d th e r o om . H e r e ally
w as th e c u te st g odboy in a ll o f M OA. A b eefy g odboy n am ed
K yd oim os a nd a s q uin ty -e ye d o ne n am ed M akh ai fo llo w ed in h is
w ake . " H i, A re s!" s h e c a lle d o ut, w avin g to h im .
To h er e m barra ssm ent, h e d id n't s e em to n otic e h er. H is g org eous
blu e e ye s s e ttle d o n A th ena a nd s ta ye d
37
th ere . " W ell, w ell! " h e s a id s p eakin g lo u d e nough fo r e ve ry o ne to
h ear. " W ho's th e n ew g ir l? "

Kyd oim os a nd M akh ai la ughed . B ut A ph ro dit e w asn 't s o s u re A re s
w as jo kin g. H e'd n eve r p aid a ny a tte ntio n to A th ena b efo re . It
w ould n't s u rp ris e h er if h e r e ally d id n 't r e co gniz e h er. A s s h e
w atc h ed h im s a unte r o ve r to A th ena, A ph ro dit e g ot a tig h t fe eli n g in
h er c h est. S ure ly s h e c o uld n't b e ... je alo us o f o ne o f h er b est
fr ie nds? O ve r a g odboy?
"U m , h ello , A phro dit e ," s o m eon e s a id fr o m b esid e h er.
S he tu rn ed to lo ok. It w as H ep haestu s, th e s kin n y g odboy A tla s
had h efte d o ve r h is h ead in th e lu n ch lin e a s if h e w eig h ed le ss th an
a fe ath er p illo w . W hic h , fr o m th e lo o k o f h im , h e p ro bably d id . " O h,
hi, " s a id A phro dit e . H earin g th e d is a p poin tm en t in h er o w n
38
vo ic e , s h e s m ile d, h opin g to c o ve r it u p. " N ic e p arty , h uh?" s h e
sa id b rig htly . B ut h er e ye s k e p t flic kin g b ack to A re s a nd A th ena.
W hat w ere th ey s a yin g to e ach o th er?
H ephaestu s n odded. " E sp ecia lly n ow th at y o u'r e h ere ," h e s a id .
T hen h e b lu sh ed.
"U h-h uh, th anks," s a id A phro d it e . N orm ally , s cra w ny lit tle g odboys
lik e H ephaestu s d id n't s p eak to h er. It w as a s if th ey g uesse d--rig htly ,
s h e h ad to a dm it - -th at th ey d id n't s ta nd a c h ance w it h h er. N ot w hen
all s h e h ad to d o to m ake e ve n th e h andso m est o f g odboys fa ll fo r
her w as lo ok in h is d ir e ctio n a n d s m ile . D id th at m ake h er s h all o w ?
sh e w ondere d. O nce A rte m is h ad a ccu se d h er o f b ein g o ve rly
c o nce rn ed w it h o utw ard a ppeara nce s. U nco m fo rta bly , s h e

re m em bere d A th ena's q uestio n a bout h ow o fte n s h e lo o ke d a t
hers e lf in a m ir ro r.
3 9
S till, w hy s h ould n't s h e c h oose th e h andso m est b oys w he n s h e
co uld p ic k w hom eve r s h e lik e d?
"W ant s o m eth in g to e at? " H eph aestu s a ske d. " S om e c h ip s a nd
am bro sia d ip ?"
"S ure , w hy n ot," s a id A phro dit e . S he s tu die d h im c u rio u sly a s h e
m ove d to w ard th e ta ble , lim pin g s lig htly . H e w as la m e in b oth le gs. If
s h e w ere b ein g h onest, h e w as a ls o n ot v e ry g ood-lo o kin g . H is
f o re head w as to o h ig h, h is c h in to o w ea k, a nd h is e ye s to o c lo se
to geth er. S till, n one o f th e o th e r g odboys w ere p ayin g a ny a tte ntio n
to h er r ig ht n ow . T o nig ht th eir e ye s w ere o nly fo r A th ena.
"H a!" A re s v o ic e b oom ed o ut. " G oo d o ne, T heeny!" T heeny?
P rin cip al Z eus w as th e o nly o ne w ho c a lle d A th ena th at. A nd he w as
her fa th er. W hat d id it m ean th at A re s w as u sin g th e n ic kn a m e?
G la ncin g to w ard th e
40
co uch w here A th ena n ow s a t s u rro unded b y a h alf - d oze n
godboys, A phro dit e w atc h ed A re s le a n in a nd r e st h is h and o n
A th ena's s h ould er. A phro dit e g rit te d h er te eth . A th ena c o uld h ave
a ny c ru sh s h e w ante d, b ut n ot A re s.
A s A th ena s m ile d u p a t h im , A phro dit e 's s to m ach s o m ers a ult e d.
S uddenly , s h e c o uld n't s ta nd b e in g a t th e p arty a m om en t lo nger.
S he h eaded fo r th e d oor, c o m ple te ly fo rg ettin g H ep haestu s a nd n ot

notic in g th at s h e'd le ft h im s ta ndin g in th e m id dle o f th e r o om ,
bala ncin g tw o p la te s o f s n acks.
W hen P andora s a w h er le avin g , s h e le a ped u p fr o m h er c h air .
" H ey, w here a re y o u g oin g? D on't y o u lik e th e p arty ? A re n't y o u
havin g fu n?"
E ve ry o ne h eard h er, o f c o urs e . T hey a ll s to pped ta lk in g a nd
lo oke d in A phro dit e 's d ir e ctio n . " I'm ju st a lit tle tir e d, o ka y? " s a id
A phro dit e , tr y in g to s h ush h er. " I'm
4 1
goin g to m y r o om ."
P ers e phone a nd A rte m is s ta re d a t h er in s u rp ris e , b ut A th ena
ca lle d o ut, " W ait u p. I'l l g o w it h y o u!" S he r o se fr o m th e c o uch , b ut
im media te ly a th ro ng o f g odbo ys b egan b eggin g h er to s ta y.
"P le ase d on't g o," s a id P ose id on. " Y ou h ave n't to ld u s a bout y o ur
new est in ve ntio ns y e t."
" A nd I w ant to h ear m ore a bo ut th at to w n th e G re ek m orta ls
n am ed a fte r y o u," A re s s a id , h is v o ic e o ozin g w it h a dm ir a tio n.
"A th ens? O h, a ll r ig ht, I g uess I c a n s ta y a fe w m ore m in ute s."
S oundin g o nly a lit tle r e lu cta nt, s h e s e ttle d o nto th e c o uch a gain .
A phro dit e h esit a te d, w ait in g fo r th e g odboys--e sp ecia lly o ne
partic u la r g odboy w it h b lo nd h air a nd b lu e e ye s--to b eg h er to s ta y
to o. B ut n one o f th em d id .
42
F eelin g h um ilia te d, s h e r u sh e d th e r e st o f th e w ay to th e o pen
door. U nfo rtu nate ly , M edusa c h ose ju st th at m om en t to a rriv e w it h

Sth eno a nd E ury a le . T he tr ip le ts a ll h ad s kin th e c o lo r o f s p rin g
le ave s, b ut o nly M edusa h ad s n ake s fo r h air . R attlin g a nd h is sin g,
th ey c o ile d a nd u nco ile d a ro und h er h ead fo rm in g d if f e re nt h air s ty le s
at w him .
W it h a lit tle y e lp , P andora d ucke d h er h ead a nd r a n to th e b ack o f
th e r o om . T he s n ake s g ave M edusa th e p ow er to tu rn m orta ls to
s to ne if th ey h appened to lo ok in to h er e ye s. B eca use th ey w ere
m orta l, A rte m is 's d ogs w ere s u sce ptib le to o. " D ro p a nd c o ve r, b oys,"
A rte m is c o m manded. Im media te ly , a ll th re e h ounds la y d ow n o n th e
flo or a nd c o ve re d th eir e ye s w it h th eir p aw s.
S till s ta ndin g in th e d oorw ay, th e tr ip le ts b lo cke d
43
A phro dit e 's e sca pe. " L eavin g a lr e ady, B ub ble s? " M ed usa a ske d
w it h a s m ir k . O ne o f h er s n ake s lu n ged to w ard A ph ro dit e , flic kin g it s
t o ngue a t h er.
E ye in g it w arily , th ough it c o uld d o h er n o h arm , A ph ro dit e g rit te d
her te eth . " T hat's r ig ht. P le ase m ove s o I c a n g et b y."
M edusa s w ept h er g aze o ve r th e c ro w d, o bvio u sly r e lis h in g a n
audie nce . " C erta in ly . F ar b e it fr o m m e to a dd to y o ur tr o uble s,
B ubble s." S th eno a nd E ury a le c a ckle d a s if s h e'd ju st c ra cke d th e
fu nnie st jo ke e ve r.
" K now s o m eth in g?" A phro dit e r e to rte d, th in kin g a bout th e tim e,
se ve ra l w eeks a go, w hen M edu sa h ad g otte n h er ju st d esse rts , " I
th in k I lik e d y o u b ette r a s a s ta tu e!" S qu eezin g p ast th e tr ip le ts , s h e

fle d th e r o om . T e ars b rim med in h er e ye s. S he 'd w an te d g odboys to
n otic e A th ena, b ut s h e h adn't fig u re d o n th em ig n orin g
4 4
her ! E sp ecia lly A re s. T his w asn 't a t a ll w ha t s h e'd im agin e d
happenin g w hen s h e d ecid ed to h elp A th ena o ut. H ow c o uld th in gs
have g one s o w ro ng?
W hen s h e r e ach ed h er r o om , A ph ro dit e c o lla pse d o nto h er b ed.
B ut b efo re s h e c o uld g iv e v e nt to h er te ars , h er w in dow b egan to
r a ttle v io le ntly . S ta rtle d, s h e r o lle d o ff th e b ed a nd le a ped to h er fe et.
S uddenly , th e w in dow b le w o p en a nd a s tr a nge, g lit te ry b re eze
w hoosh ed in , b rin gin g w it h it a r o lle d-u p p ie ce o f p apyru s. " A rt th ou
A phro dit e , g oddessg ir l o f lo ve ? " th e w in d h ow le d.
To o s tu nned to r e ply , A phro dit e m ere ly n odded. A bru ptly , th e
bre eze s tille d. " T he m orta l H ip po m en es p etit io n s th ee fo r h elp ," it
s a id . T hen it d ro pped th e p apyru s a nd w ho osh ed b ack o ut th e
w in dow a s fa st a s it
4 5
had e nte re d.
A phro dit e c a ught th e s cro ll a s it flo a te d to w ard th e flo o r. U nro ll in g
it q uic kly , s h e b egan to r e ad:
46
A phro dit e s ig hed. H ow r o m antic . A re s c o uld c e rta in ly le arn a fe w
le sso ns fr o m th is m orta l! S udd enly it s tr u ck h er th at th is A ta la nta w as
lik e ly th e m aid en o f th e r u m ors --th e o ne w ho r a n a s s w if t a s th e
w in d. In te re stin g! G ra bbin g h er b ag, s h e fis h e d a ro und in it fo r h er

re d fe ath er p en. T hen s h e d ash ed o ff a r e ply o n a s h eet o f p in k
papyru s:
4 7
A fte r r e re adin g h er n ote , s h e w orrie d th at h er to ne w as to o
in fo rm al a nd n ot c o m mandin g e nough. M orta ls a lw ays s e em ed to
e xp ect g ods a nd g oddesse s t o is su e o rd ers . W ell, s h e c o uld fix th at.
S he a dded a p osts crip t:
T hat s h ould d o it , s h e th ought. S he r o lle d u p th e s h eet o f p apyru s,
tie d it w it h a r e d r ib bon, a nd t h en s te pped to 48 th e o pen w in dow w it h
it . H old in g it lo ose ly , s h e c h ante d th e S en d s p ell: " B lo w w in d, b lo w .
O ff y o u g o. D eliv e r th is m essa g e, a nd d on't b e s lo w ."
Im media te ly a b re eze w his ke d th e p apyru s s cro ll fr o m h er
outs tr e tc h ed h and a nd c a rrie d it a w ay.
4 9
4 Hippomenes
A PH RO DIT E W OKE E AR LY T H E N EXT M ORNIN G .
Rem em berin g h er p ro m is e to m ee t H ip pom en es, s h e c lim be d o ut o f
bed a nd d re sse d q uic kly w it h b are ly a g la n ce a t th e m ir ro r a bove h er
m ake up ta ble . A rte m is 's d ogs w ere w hin in g n ext d oor. U su a ll y
A rte m is w as u p a t th e c ra ck o f d aw n to ta ke th em fo r th eir m orn in g
w alk , b ut s h e'd p ro bably c o m e h om e la te fr o m th e p arty a nd
50
w as s till a sle ep. M ayb e s h e c o uld q uie t th em b efo re th ey w oke
a nyo ne e ls e , th ought A phro dit e .

Goin g n ext d oor, s h e k n ocke d lig htly a nd th en o pened A rte m is 's
d oor a c ra ck. B efo re s h e c o uld s to p th em , th e b ois te ro us d ogs
push ed it w id er a nd r u sh ed in to th e h all, y a ppin g a nd b ouncin g
aro und in h ig h s p ir it s . L yin g ta ng le d in h er b edco ve rs , A rte m is ju st
sn uff le d a nd r o lle d o ve r in h er s le e p.
"S hh!" A phro dit e tr ie d to c o rra l th e th re e h ounds, b ut it w as
im possib le to c a tc h th em . S eem in g to th in k it w as a ll a g am e, th ey
to re o ff th ro ugh th e h all a nd d o w n fo ur flig hts o f s ta ir s . " S to p!" s h e
ca lle d, k e epin g h er v o ic e lo w s o a s n ot to w ake th e e ntir e d orm a s
sh e c h ase d a fte r th em .
The d ogs c o m ple te ly ig nore d h er. W hen s h e fin a lly c a ught u p to
t h em b y th e m ain h all e ntr a nce , s h e c o uld n 't
5 1
get th em to g o b ack u psta ir s , n o m atte r h ow m uch s h e tu gged a t
th eir c o lla rs . A nd fr o m th e w ay th ey w ere s cra tc h in g a t th e d oor a nd
w hin in g, it w as o bvio us th ey h a d to g o to th e b ath ro om .
"O ka y, o ka y," s h e s a id . " B ut ju st fo r a m in ute . T hen y o u h ave to
c o m e r ig ht b ack in . P ro m is e ?" If th ey w ere q uic k a bout th eir
b usin ess, s h e'd s till h ave p le nty o f tim e to m ee t H ip pom en es a t
eig ht.
T he h ounds w agged th eir ta il s a s if in a gre em en t. H ow eve r, th e
se co nd s h e o pened th e a ca de m y's b ro nze d oors , a ll th re e o f th em
dash ed o uts id e in d if f e re nt d ir e ctio n s.
"C om e b ack! B ad d ogs!" T a ils b etw ee n th eir le g s, th e g re yh ound
and th e b eagle p ause d a t th e b otto m o f th e g ra nit e s te ps to w ait fo r

her, b ut S uez, th e b lo odhound, w as in p artic u la rly h ig h s p ir it s a nd
to ok o ff
5 2
acro ss th e c o urty a rd . A phro dit e h ad n o c h oic e b ut to c h ase a fte r
him . T he o th er tw o d ogs fo llo w ed , s to ppin g h ere a nd th ere to s n if f
t h in gs a lo ng th e w ay.
A tr a il lin ed w it h tr e es a nd b ush es s ta rte d a t th e fa r s id e o f th e
co urty a rd a nd w ound d ow n M ount O ly m pu s. A ph ro dit e g lim pse d
S uez's b acksid e a s h e v a nis h e d d ow n th e tr a il. T he r a sca l's ta il w as
w aggin g--p ro bably p ro ud o f h im se lf fo r m akin g s u ch a g ra nd e sca pe!
"If I'm la te m eetin g H ip pom ene s it w ill b e a ll y o ur fa ult !" s h e c a lle d
afte r h im . B ut h er w ord s h ad n o e ff e ct. E ve n tu ally , s h e c a ught u p to
h im w hen h e s to pped b y a b ush to lif t h is le g . F old in g h er a rm s, s h e
sco ld ed h im . " S o y o u ju st h ad to c o m e a ll th e w ay o ut h ere to th is
p artic u la r b ush to d o y o ur b usin e ss, h uh? Y ou c o uld n 't p ossib ly u se
o ne o f th e b ush es r ig ht b y th e s ch ool? "
5 3
S he h ad p la nned to ta ke th e d o gs b ack in sid e b efo re m ee tin g u p
w it h H ip pom enes, b ut s h e w as a lr e ady h alf w ay to E arth . If s h e w ent
back to th e d orm n ow , s h e'd b e la te fo r s u re . " A ll r ig h t," s h e s a id , " I
g uess y o u'l l b e c o m in g w it h m e." S he h oped A rte m is w ou ld n 't w ake
b efo re th ey r e tu rn ed a nd w ond er w he re h er h ounds h ad g otte n to .
T he d ogs w agged th eir ta ils , o bvio u sly h appy to p ro lo n g th eir
a dve ntu re . E ve n S uez s e em ed c o nte nt to tr o t a lo n g b esid e h er n ow
as th ey c o ntin ued d ow n th e tr a il.

It w as ju st p ast e ig ht w hen th e y r e ach ed K in g S ch o eneus's
p ala ce . A t th e e dge o f th e s a nd y r a ce co urs e o n th e fa r s id e o f th e
pala ce a y o ung m an s a t w ait in g. A ph ro dit e w as p le a se d to s e e th at
H ip pom enes w as o n tim e. H e w as a h andso m e y o uth w it h c h is e le d
fe atu re s a nd lig ht b ro w n h air . G la ncin g a t th e d ogs w it h a
5 4
puzzle d lo ok, h e le aped u p to m ee t h er. " Y ou m ust b e A rte m is !"
H is e ye s s h one w it h w onder. " F org iv e m e fo r s ta rin g ," h e s a id . " I'v e
n eve r m et a g oddess b efo re . A nd I w as e xp ectin g A ph ro dit e !"
" T hat's m e," s a id A phro dit e . " B ut th e d ogs d o b elo n g to A rte m is .
D ow n, A m by!" s h e s a id a s th e b eagle s to od u p o n h is h in d fe et a nd
pre sse d h is fo re paw s a gain st H ip pom en es's k n ees. A m by li k e d
atte ntio n a lm ost a s m uch a s h e d id fo od.
"It's a lr ig ht," s a id H ip pom enes, la u ghin g . H e g ently p ush ed A m by
off , th en k n elt b esid e h im . T he d og im med ia te ly flo p ped d ow n in th e
sa nd a nd r o lle d o nto h is b ack s o th at th e y o uth c o uld r u b h is b elly .
"It's w onderfu l o f y o u to c o m e," H ip pom en es s a id to A ph ro dit e a s h e
good-n atu re dly o blig ed th e d o g. " I c a n't th ank y o u e nough."
5 5
"Y ou'r e w elc o m e," s h e r e plie d. S he lik e d th is y o ung m an 's g ood
m anners a nd h is e asy la ugh. S he w as in clin ed to g ra nt h is r e quest
fo r h elp r ig ht a w ay, b ut th ere w as s o m eth in g s h e n eeded to k n ow
fir s t. " T he y o ung m aid en y o u'r e in lo ve w it h , th is A ta la n ta ," s h e s a id .
"D oes s h e r e tu rn y o ur lo ve ?"

Hip pom enes d ucke d h is h ead. " I . . . I'm n ot s u re ," h e s a id . " S he
ple aded w it h m e n ot to e nte r th e r a ce . S he s a id s h e w as n ot w orth y
of th e p ric e ."
" I s e e," s a id A phro dit e . S he w atc h ed id ly a s S ue z a nd N ecta r, th e
gre yh ound, tr o tte d o ve r to a n ea rb y s tr e am a nd b egan to la p u p
w ate r. A m by, h ow eve r, w as c o nte nt to c o ntin u e w it h h is b ell y r u b. It
s e em ed to A phro dit e th at A ta la n ta w ou ld n ot h ave s a id w ha t s h e h ad
unle ss s h e c a re d a bout w hat h a ppened to H ip pom en es.
A phro dit e fin gere d th e d ouble - G g oddessg ir l
5 6
ch arm th at h ung fr o m th e d elic a te g old e n c h ain s h e w ore a ro und
her n eck. " A nd is s h e h onest, y o ur A ta la n ta ?" s h e a ske d th oughtfu ll y .
H ip pom enes's e ye s s h one w it h lo ve . " A s h onest a s a m ir ro r."
A ctu ally , th at w as to o b ad, th ou ght A ph ro dit e . If A ta la n ta w as th at
honest s h e'd b e u nlik e ly to s lo w h er p ace to d elib era te ly le t
H ip pom enes w in . " A re y o u fa st e nough to b eat h er? " s h e a ske d.
T he y o uth h esit a te d. A m by lo oke d u p a t h im a nd lic ke d h is h and.
T hen th e b eagle s to od a nd s tr e tc h ed. " I a m fa st," H ip pom en es s a id ,
ris in g to h is fe et a s A m by w and ere d o ff to jo in th e o th er tw o h ounds.
"B ut A ta la nta , I fe ar, is fa ste r. S till, I w ill g iv e it m y a ll a nd d ie tr y in g if
I m ust."
A phro dit e s h ook h er h ead. " T hat w on 't b e n ece ssa ry , I
5 7
hope. W hen w ill th e r a ce ta ke p la ce ?"

"J u st a fte r d aw n in th re e d ays," s a id H ip pom en es. " D oe s th is
m ean y o u'l l h elp m e, O G ra cio us G od dess? "
W it h m ore c o nfid ence th an s h e fe lt - -a fte r a ll, s h e h ad n o p la n a s
of y e t- -A phro dit e n odded. " I s h a ll r e tu rn b efo re th e s ta rt o f th e r a ce ."
H ip pom enes fe ll to h is k n ees. " T hank y o u, o h th ank y o u."
H is g ra tit u de a nd r e sp ect s p eak w ell o f h im , th ought A phro dit e a s
sh e tu rn ed to g o. S uch q ualit ie s w ou ld m ake h im a g ood h usb and,
as A ta la nta m ust s u re ly k n ow . A s A ph ro dit e p asse d b eneath o ne o f
th e p ala ce w in dow s a m in ute la te r, s h e h eard s o m eo ne s o bbin g
pit e ously . G la ncin g u p, s h e s a w a b eautif u l y o ung w om an , w it h h air
a s lo ng a nd g old en a s h er o w n, g azin g w is tfu lly d ow n a t
H ip pom enes a s h e b egan 58 to s tr e tc h h is le gs b esid e th e tr a ck,
p re parin g fo r a p ra ctic e r u n.
T he y o ung w om an m ust b e A ta la n ta , o f c o urs e . A nd h er te ars p ut
to r e st th e q uestio n o f h er fe elin g s to w ard H ip pom en es. L eavin g th e
pala ce g ro unds, A phro dit e b eg an to jo g b ack u p th e tr a il. S uez,
N ecta r, a nd A m by tr o tte d a lo n g b ehin d h er, th eir to ngues h angin g
out. T hey w ere a lm ost to th e t o p o f M ou nt O ly m pu s w he n
H ephaestu s c a m e lim pin g to w ard th em o n a s ilv e r c a ne. W it h out
th in kin g, A phro dit e s a id th e fir s t th in g th at p opped in to h er h ead.
"O ut fo r a r u n?"
Im media te ly , s h e r e gre tte d h er m is ta ke . S he c la p ped b oth h ands
ove r h er m outh a s if to r e ca ll t h e w ord s. H ep haestu s, h ow eve r, o nly
l a ughed a nd b lit h ely w ave d h is c a ne in th e a ir . " A ctu ally ," h e s a id ,
"I'm o ut fo r a hobble . W ant to jo in m e?"

59
A phro dit e h esit a te d. " I r e ally s h ould g et th e d ogs b ack u p to
A rte m is ." H e lo oke d s o d is a pp oin te d th at s h e q uic kly a dded, " B ut
yo u c o uld w alk m e to th e d orm if y o u'd lik e ."
H ephaestu s's th in fa ce lit u p. " I'd lo ve to ." T he d ogs b ounce d o n
ahead o f th em a s th ey h eaded b ack to th e a ca dem y. A ph ro dit e
w alk e d s lo w ly to m ake it e asy fo r H ep haestu s to k e ep u p w it h h er.
H e s e em ed a lit tle to ngue-tie d , s o to p ut h im a t e ase , s h e b egan
te llin g h im a bout H ip pom enes a nd h is r e quest fo r h elp . " T he th in g
is ," s h e s a id w hen s h e fin is h ed h er s to ry , " I w an t to h elp h im , b ut I'm
n ot r e ally s u re h ow to ."
H ephaestu s lo oke d a t h er w it h s h y a dm ir a tio n . " Y ou 'l l th in k o f
so m eth in g. Y ou'r e v e ry c le ve r."
" W hy, th anks," s a id A phro dit e , th ough s h e w asn 't q uit e s u re w hat
sh e'd d one to m ake h im th in k s o h ig h ly
6 0
of h er. S till, s h e c o uld n't h elp f e elin g p le a se d. S he w as u se d to
c o m plim ents o n h er b eauty , b u t n o g odboy h ad e ve r to ld h er s h e
w as c le ve r b efo re .
"A nd if th ere 's a nyth in g I c a n d o to h elp y o u w it h th is ," H ep haestu s
co ntin ued, " y o u h ave o nly to a sk."
" T hat's n ic e o f y o u," s a id A phro dit e , " I'l l k e ep y o ur o ff e r in m in d."
T ru th fu lly th ough, s h e d oubte d s h e'd h ave a ny r e aso n to ta ke h im u p
on it .

Until th is m om ent, h er d ealin gs w it h H ip pom en es h ad p ush ed a ll
t h oughts o f th e p arty fr o m h er m in d. B ut n ow th ey s u ddenly flo oded
back. S he c rin ged to th in k h ow u pse t s h e'd b een ju st b eca use A re s
had flir te d w it h A th ena. S o w ha t? S he k n ew b ette r th an a nyo ne th at
flir tin g d id n't m ean a th in g. " A nyth in g in te re stin g h appen a fte r I le ft
t h e p arty la st n ig ht? " s h e h ea rd h ers e lf a sk.
H ephaestu s lo oke d d ow n a t h is h ands. " I d on't k n ow .
61
I le ft n ot lo ng a fte r y o u d id ."
A n a w kw ard s ile nce fe ll b etw ee n th em . T o fill it , a nd ta ke h er m in d
off h er o w n p ro ble m s, s h e s a id , " T hat's a b eautif u l c a ne." E tc h ed in to
t h e s ilv e r in in tr ic a te d eta il, le a ve s a nd flo w erin g v in e s w ou nd th e
sh aft fr o m to p to b otto m .
"T hanks," h e s a id . " M ade it m yse lf ."
" I s h ould 'v e g uesse d," s a id A phro dit e , r e m em be rin g th at h e w as
th e g od o f b la cksm it h s a nd m eta lw ork in g .
"I lo ve fo rg in g th in gs fr o m m eta l, " s a id H ep haestu s. " It's s o
sa tis fy in g to tr a nsfo rm a b orin g lu m p o f g old o r s ilv e r in to s o m eth in g
beautif u l. "
A phro dit e n odded. S he c o uld u nders ta nd th at fe elin g. A fte r a ll,
h adn't s h e g otte n a lo t o f p le asu re fr o m tr a nsfo rm in g A th ena la st
n ig ht? S he a nd H ephaestu s ju st w ork e d w it h d if f e re nt m ate ria ls - -h e
w it h m eta ls ,
6 2
sh e w it h m ake up.

"H eadin g u p?" s h e a ske d a s th ey r e ach ed th e g ra nit e s te ps
le adin g to th e a ca dem y's b ro nze d oors .
H e s h ook h is h ead. " L ate r. I'm g oin g to k e ep w alk in g. It's g ood fo r
m y le gs."
" W ell, I'm g la d I r a n in to y o u," s h e to ld h im . A nd it w as tr u e. It w as
nic e to ta lk to a g odboy s h e d id n 't fe el s h e h ad to flir t w it h , s o m eone
w ho th ought s h e w as cle ve r . It m ade fo r a p le asa nt c h ange.
"M e to o." H e s m ile d, w ait in g u n til s h e g ot in sid e b efo re tu rn in g to
c o ntin ue h is w alk .
6 3
5 Gone Shopping
IT W AS P A ST T E N W HEN A PH RO DIT E G OT B AC K u psta ir s , b ut
A rte m is w as ju st w akin g u p. W aggin g th eir ta ils , th e d ogs le aped
onto h er b ed a nd b egan lic kin g h er fa ce . H ug gin g th em , A rte m is
lo oke d a t A phro dit e in s u rp ris e . " Y ou to ok th em o ut? "
A phro dit e n odded. B ut b efo re s h e c o uld te ll A rte m is a ll th at h ad
happened th at m orn in g, h er fr ie n d ju m pe d o ut o f
64
bed. " Y ou w on't b elie ve w hat h a ppened la st n ig h t a fte r y o u le ft th e
party ," s h e s a id , a s s h e y a nke d o pen h er c lo se t. A s m all h eap o f
cle an b ut w rin kle d c h it o ns la y a t th e b otto m . S he g ra bbed th e fir s t
o ne s h e to uch ed a nd s lip ped it o n.
A phro dit e 's m uscle s te nse d. W hat if it w as s o m eth in g c o nce rn in g
A re s a nd A th ena? " W hat h app ened?" s h e a ske d, a s A rte m is 's h ead

popped o ut o f th e c h it o n's n ecklin e.
A rte m is g rin ned. " P ose id on a nd D io nysu s d ecid e d to g o
sw im min g in o ne o f th e fo unta in s. It w as h ila rio u s. I th in k th ey w ere
s h ow in g o ff fo r A th ena's b ene fit ."
F eelin g s o m ew hat r e lie ve d, A phro dit e c ro sse d to th e o pen c lo se t
and a uto m atic a lly b egan p ic kin g u p th e c h it o ns. O ne b y o ne, s h e
sh ook o ut th eir w rin kle s, th en h ung th em u p. " I b et s h e w asn 't
i m pre sse d."
6 5
"Y ou g ot th at r ig ht." A rte m is p oure d w ate r in to a tr o ugh fo r h er
dogs, th en s co oped d ry d og fo o d in to a la rg e c e ra m ic b ow l. T he
hounds im media te ly r a n o ve r to s lu rp th e w ate r a nd g obble th eir
f o od. A s if to m ake u p fo r h is s m alle r s iz e , A m by a te tw ic e a s fa st a s
th e o th er tw o. A rte m is tu rn ed b ack to w ard A ph ro dit e . " S he s a id it
w as o bvio us th ey'd m is se d g e ttin g b ra in s th e d ay th ey w ere h anded
out, p ro bably b eca use th ey w ere o nly b ein g g iv e n to g odboys w ho'd
u se th em ."
A phro dit e la ughed. S he r e sis te d th e u rg e to c le a n u p th e b it s o f
so ggy fo od th at th e d ogs, e sp ecia lly A m by, w ere s ca tte rin g a ro und
th e b ow l. " D id A re s g o s w im min g w it h th em ?" s h e a ske d c a su ally .
"A re s? " A rte m is r e peate d a bse ntly a s s h e r e ach ed u nder h er d esk
fo r h er q uiv e r o f a rro w s. " N o, f o r o nce h e h ad m ore s e nse th an th e
oth er g odboys. M edusa g ot
66

dre nch ed th ough. S he k e pt flir tin g w it h P ose id o n, a nd I th in k h e
got tir e d o f it . A nyw ay, h e a nd D io nysu s fin a lly ju st p ic ke d h er u p a nd
to sse d h er in ."
A phro dit e s m ile d. S he w ould 'v e lik e d to h ave s e en th at. A rte m is
g la nce d o ut th e w in dow a t th e g ia n t s u ndia l b elo w . " W ow , I r e all y
s le pt in , d id n't I? " s h e s a id . " I w as s u ppose d to m ee t A po llo fo r
arc h ery p ra ctic e te n m in ute s a go." S he p ic ke d u p h er b ow . " I'd b ette r
go."
" M e to o," s a id A phro dit e . A s A rte m is le ft, s h e r e tu rn ed to h er o w n
ro om n ext d oor a nd s e ttle d o n to h er p illo w -s tr e w n b ed to m ull o ve r
th e p ossib ilit ie s fo r h elp in g H ip p om en es. A fte r r e ach in g in to h er b ag
fo r h er n ote pad a nd fe ath er p en, s h e b egan a lis t o f id e as. B efo re
s h e c o uld g et v e ry fa r, h ow eve r, th ere w as a k n ock o n h er d oor.
I t w as A th ena. S he h ad d re sse d a gain in th e tu rq uois e
6 7
ch it o n A phro dit e h ad lo aned h er la st n ig h t. " I'm g oin g to th e
Im morta l M ark e tp la ce fo r n ew k n it tin g s u pplie s," A th ena s a id . " W ant
to c o m e?"
"S ure ," s a id A phro dit e , s e ttin g h er p en a sid e . " W hy n ot? " A s th ey
le ft h er r o om , s h e c o uld n't h elp a skin g , " S o d id y o u h ave fu n la st
n ig ht? "
A th ena r o lle d h er e ye s. " Y ou w ere lu cky y o u le ft e arly . T hose
g odboys w ould n't le ave m e a lo n e. It w as s o a nnoyin g ! A nd a ll
b eca use I'd h ad a m ake ove r."

"D id n't I te ll y o u?" A phro dit e c o uld n 't h elp g rin n in g . N ow th at
A th ena k n ew w hat it w as lik e , s h e'd p ro bably w an t to g o b ack to
b ein g h er u su al s e lf . A nd m ayb e th at w ou ld n 't b e s u ch a b ad th in g.
H er fir s t c ru sh w ould ju st h ave to w ait .
B efo re le avin g th e d orm , th e g ir ls g ra bbed w in ged s a ndals fr o m
th e c o m munal b aske t a t th e e nd o f th e h all
6 8
and s lip ped th em o nto th eir fe et. Im media te ly th e s a ndals ' s tr a ps
tw in ed a ro und th eir a nkle s, a nd th e s ilv e r w in gs a t th eir h eels b egan
to fla p. In a b lu r o f s p eed, th ey r a ce d d ow n th e m arb le s ta ir c a se to
t h e m ain flo or o f th e A ca dem y. A nd th en w it h th eir fe et b are ly
t o uch in g th e g ro und, th ey z ip pe d o ut th e h eavy b ro nze d oors a nd
sp ed a cro ss th e c o urty a rd . T he w in d w his tle d in th eir e ars a s th ey
w hip ped p ast b ould ers a nd tr e es to d esce nd M ou nt O ly m pu s.
T he Im morta l M ark e tp la ce s to o d h alf w ay b etw ee n th e h eave ns
and E arth , d ow n b elo w th e c lo u dlin e. T he tw o g ir ls r e ach ed it w it h in
m in ute s, s kid din g to a s to p a t th e e ntr a nce . L oose nin g th e s tr a ps
aro und th eir a nkle s, th ey lo ope d th em o ve r th e s ilv e r w in gs to h old
t h em in p la ce s o th ey c o uld w alk a t n orm al s p eed.
T he m ark e t w as e norm ous, w it h a h ig h -c e ilin g ed
69
cry sta l r o of. R ow s a nd r o w s o f c o lu m ns s e para te d th e v a rio us
sh ops, w hic h s o ld e ve ry th in g fr o m th e n ew est G re ek fa sh io n s to
t r id ents a nd o rg anic n ecta r.

"In h ere ," s a id A th ena. A phro d it e fo llo w ed h er in to A ra ch ne's
S ew in g S upplie s. W hile A th ena p ic ke d o ut s e ve ra l s ke in s o f y a rn
a nd a n ew p air o f k n it tin g n ee dle s, A ph ro dit e s tr o ke d h er p alm o ve r a
le ngth o f g lo ssy b la ck-a nd-re d-flo w ere d fa bric th at w ou ld lo o k
fa bulo us o n A rte m is w it h h er s h in y b la ck h air . S he k n ew b ette r th an
to b uy th e c lo th , h ow eve r. A rte m is w ou ld s a y it w as to o fla sh y.
"L et's s to p a t C le o's C osm etic s," A ph ro dit e s a id a s th ey le ft
A ra ch ne's . " I'm a lm ost o ut o f e ye lin er."
" O ka y," s a id A th ena. S he h esit a te d a m om en t, th en a dded s h yly ,
"M ayb e I'l l g et a c o uple o f th in g s to o."
A phro dit e a rc h ed a n e ye bro w in s u rp ris e .
7 0
"N oth in g fa ncy," A th ena s a id q uic kly . " M ayb e ju st a lip stic k a nd
so m e o f th at s ilv e r e ye p ow der y o u u se d o n m e la st n ig h t."
" W ell, w hat d o y o u k n ow ?" A ph ro dit e s a id , s m ilin g a t h er in
a m use m ent. B ut th en a d ark th ought c ro sse d h er m in d a nd s h e
te nse d u p. W hy w as A th ena s u ddenly in te re ste d in h ow s h e lo oke d?
"Y ou'r e c ru sh in g o n s o m eone, a re n't y o u?" A ph ro dit e e xclia m ed.
"W ho is it ? "
A th ena b lu sh ed. " N o o ne, h one st. It's ju st th at, th anks to y o ur
m ake ove r la st n ig ht, I a ctu ally fe lt - -w ell, b eautif u l ." S he g la nce d
dow n a t h er s a ndals , lo okin g e m ba rra sse d. " I'v e n eve r fe lt th at w ay
befo re , a nd ... I k in d o f lik e d it ."
A phro dit e 's h eart s o fte ned a nd s h e h ugged h er fr ie n d. " Y ou 'v e
a lw ays b een b eautif u l, " s h e s a id . " Y ou

71
w ere ju st to o b usy in ve ntin g th in g s a nd b ein g b rillia nt in s ch ool to
n otic e b efo re n ow ."
" T hanks," s a id A th ena. " B ut th e g odboys d id n 't s e em to n otic e
b efo re la st n ig ht e it h er."
" O nly b eca use th ey w ere n't lo okin g ," s a id A phro dit e .
W hen th ey r e ach ed C le o's , A phro dit e fo und th e e ye lin er s h e
needed. T hen s h e s e arc h ed fo r s ilv e r e ye s h adow . " H ere ," s h e s a id ,
handin g A th ena a lit tle p ot o f t h e s tu ff . " T his is th e o ne y o u w ant."
N oddin g, A th ena to ok it a nd th en h eld u p a c o uple o f lip stic ks in
t w o s lig htly d if f e re nt s h ades o f p in kis h r e d, o ne in e ach h and. " W hic h
o ne d o y o u th in k w ould lo ok b e st o n m e? "
"N eit h er," A phro dit e s a id d ecis iv e ly . H er e xp ert e ye s ca nned th e
lip stic ks o n d is p la y. S natc h in g u p a n
72
ora ngey-re d o ne, s h e s a id , " T his o ne w ill g o b est w it h y o ur s kin
t o ne."
" Y ou'r e th e b oss," s a id A th ena, g iv in g h er a te asin g s m ile .
"W ell, B eauty -o lo gy is m y b est s u bje ct," A phro dit e a gre ed. " H ey,
is n 't th at a n ew c le rk ? "
B oth g oddessg ir ls s ta re d a t th e la d y b ehin d th e c o unte r. H er
purp le h air w as p ile d h ig h o n to p o f h er h ead a nd h er th re e e ye s--
tw o in th e u su al p la ce s a nd o ne in th e m id dle o f h er fo re head--w ere
b eautif u lly m ade u p. S he s m il e d w arm ly a t th e g ir ls a s th ey b ro ught
up th eir p urc h ase s. " D id y o u f in d e ve ry th in g y o u n eed?" s h e a ske d,

slip pin g th e it e m s in to a s m all p apyru s b ag, th en h andin g it to
A th ena.
"Y es, th ank y o u," s a id A th ena.
73
A phro dit e n odded. T hen o n a n im puls e s h e a ske d th e c le rk , " A re
y o u m arrie d?"
T he e ye in th e m id dle o f th e w om an 's fo re head b lin ke d. " W ell , n o,"
s h e s a id . " W hy d o y o u a sk? "
"T here 's th is te ach er a t M OA, M r. C yclo ps. H e's n ot m arrie d e it h er,
a nd I b et y o u'd b e p erfe ct fo r-- "
T he c le rk ju st lo oke d a t h er, b lin k, b lin k, b lin kin g .
"N eve r m in d h er," in te rru pte d A th ena. " S he 's a lw ays tr y in g to
m atc h p eople u p. S in ce s h e's th e g oddessg ir l o f lo ve , s h e c a n't r e all y
h elp it ." G ra bbin g A phro dit e 's a rm , s h e tu gged h er o ut o f th e s h op.
"P le ase te ll m e y o u d id n't th in k th at c le rk w ou ld b e p erfe ct fo r M r.
C yclo ps ju st b eca use s h e h as th re e e ye s a nd M r. C yclo ps h as o nly
o ne," A th ena s a id a fte r th ey w ere s a fe ly o ut o f th e s h op.
74
A phro dit e g rin ned s h eepis h ly . " W ell, I a dm it it w as th e fir s t th in g I
t h ought o f. A ls o , s h e h as lo ts o f h air a nd M r. C yclo ps is b ald ."
" S o?" s a id A th ena.
"S o o pposit e s a ttr a ct," s a id A ph ro dit e . T hat w asn 't s tr ic tly tr u e, o f
co urs e . A t le ast n ot a lw ays. S till, s h e'd h ave to r e m em be r to m entio n
th e c le rk to M r. C yclo ps.

Ath ena r o lle d h er e ye s, b ut A phro dit e ig n ore d h er a nd c h anged
th e s u bje ct. " Y ou'l l n eve r g uess w ha t h appened a fte r I g ot b ack to m y
ro om la st n ig ht." S he h adn't h ad tim e to te ll A rte m is th e s to ry , a nd
now s h e w as it c h in g s h are it w it h a g ir lf r ie n d.
"T e ll m e," s a id A th ena.
B ut ju st th en A phro dit e s p otte d A re s a nd P ose id o n c o m in g o ut o f
A rts o f W arfa re , a s to re th at s p ecia liz e d in s p ears , tr id e nts , a nd
th underb olt s . C asu ally , s h e s te e re d
75
A th ena to w ard th e b oys, w hile a t th e s a m e tim e p re te ndin g n ot to
n otic e th em . " W ell, th is m orta l n am ed H ip pom en es s e nt m e a
m essa ge, a nd--"
" H ey, o ve r h ere !" A re s c a lle d o ut w he n h e s a w th em .
Both g ir ls lo oke d h is w ay, a nd a lit tle th rill z ip p ed th ro ugh
A phro dit e a s A re s d re w n ear. B ut to p ay h im b ack fo r la st n ig ht's
t r e ach ery , s h e d ecid ed to ig no re h im . " H i th ere , P ose id o n," s h e s a id .
S m ilin g d is a rm in gly a t h im , s h e s a id th e fir s t th in g th at p opped in to
h er h ead. " I'v e b een m eanin g to a sk--c o uld y o u te ll m e m ore a bout
th e w ate rw ork s p ark y o u d esig ned fo r o ur la st b ig p ro je ct in H ero -
olo gy? "
"S ure ," s a id P ose id on, lo okin g p le a se d. B ut a s h e la u nch ed in to a
d escrip tio n o f a ll it s fa bulo us f e atu re s, A ph ro dit e o nly h alf li s te ned.
To h er d is tr e ss, A re s d id n't e ve n s e em to c a re th at h e w as b ein g
ig nore d.
76

In ste ad, h e s tr u ck u p a c o nve rs a tio n w it h A th ena.
"I lik e y o ur c h it o n," A phro dit e h eard h im s a y. " Is it n ew ?" H ow lik e
h im n ot to r e m em ber it w as th e s a m e o ne A th ena h ad w orn la st
n ig ht.
" T hanks," A th ena r e plie d. S he d id n 't m en tio n th at h e'd a lr e ady
se en it o n h er. " It's A phro dit e 's . S he 's le ttin g m e b orro w it ."
" W ell, d on't te ll h er I s a id s o ," s a id A re s, in a v o ic e p le n ty lo u d
enough fo r A phro dit e to h ear, " b ut I b et it lo o ks b ette r o n y o u th an o n
her."
" N o it d oesn 't !" A th ena g la nce d h astily to w ard A ph ro dit e .
It w as n ic e o f h er fr ie nd to s tic k u p fo r h er, b ut th at d id n 't s to p a
lu m p fr o m r is in g in A phro dit e 's th ro at. H ow c o uld A re s s a y s u ch a
h urtfu l th in g? P re te ndin g s h e h adn't o ve rh eard , s h e k e pt ta lk in g to
P ose id on. B ut a fte r
77
a m in ute s h e tu rn ed to A th ena a nd s a id , " Y ou k n ow ? I th in k I'm a ll
s h opped o ut. M in d if w e h ead h om e? "
"N ot a t a ll, " s a id A th ena. S he s e em ed to s e nse A ph ro dit e 's
d is tr e ss.
T hey b id th e b oys a h asty g oo d-b ye . G ra bbin g A th ena's h and,
A phro dit e p ulle d h er a w ay.
"S ee y a , T heeny," A re s c a lle d a fte r th em .
"A re s is a c re ep," A th ena a nno unce d, a s th ey e xit e d th e
M ark e tp la ce . B ut A phro dit e s a id n oth in g a s th ey b ent to lo o se n th e

tie s o n th eir s a ndals to fr e e th eir s ilv e r w in gs. A th ena g la n ce d a t h er.
" I k n ow y o u h eard w hat h e s a id , b ut it 's n ot tr u e."
A phro dit e m anaged a s m all s h ru g. " It d oesn 't m atte r," s h e lie d.
S he w as o n th e v e rg e o f te ars a nd ju st w an te d to g et h om e to h er
ro om s o s h e c o uld h ave a g oo d c ry . T he tie s tw in ed a ro und th eir
a nkle s a gain
7 8
and th e w in gs a t th eir h eels b e gan to fla p . T hey w ere q uie t a s
th eir s a ndals w his ke d th em to th e to p o f M ou nt O ly m pu s.
"I'v e b een th in kin g," s a id A th e na w he n th ey s kid d ed to a s to p
befo re th e b ro nze d oors o f th e A ca d em y. " A re s w as p ro bably ju st
tr y in g to m ake y o u je alo us. Y ou k n ow h ow m uch h e lik e s to s tir u p
tr o uble ."
O f c o urs e ! th ought A phro dit e in r e lie f. S he s h ould h ave th ought o f
th at to o. " M ayb e y o u'r e r ig ht." It w ou ld b e ju st lik e A re s to tr y a nd
beat h er a t h er o w n g am e. H e'd ig n ore d h er a nd p re te nded to b e
in te re ste d in A th ena, ju st a s s h e'd ig n ore d h im a nd s p oke n to
P ose id on in ste ad.
S lip pin g o ff th eir s a ndals , th e g ir ls w alk e d a cro ss th e m ain h all
a nd u p th e m arb le s ta ir s to th e fo urth flo o r. T he m arb le fe lt c o ol a nd
sm ooth a gain st A phro dit e 's
7 9
bare fe et. A s th e g ir ls d ro pped th eir s a ndals in th e fo urth -flo or
baske t, A th ena p oin te d d ow n th e h all to a h uge b ouquet o f p in k

ro se s s it tin g r ig ht o uts id e o ne o f th e d oors . " L ook! A re n't th ose in
f r o nt o f y o ur r o om ?"
"Y eah!" s a id A phro dit e , fe elin g a s u rg e o f e xcit e m en t. H ad A re s
se nt h er flo w ers ? M ayb e h e'd o rd ere d th em a s a n a polo g y e arlie r
th is m orn in g, o r ju st n ow a s s o on a s th e g ir ls h ad le ft th e m all .
T hey r a ce d to A phro dit e 's d oo r. T he b eautif u l r o se s w ere a rra nged
in a p otte ry v a se p ain te d w it h a b la ck s ilh ouette o f a m an in a w in ged
ch ario t, th e s ym bol fo r H erm es's F lo ra l D eliv e ry . E ag erly , A phro dit e
u nro lle d th e s m all p ie ce o f p apyru s a tta ch ed b y a r ib b on to o ne o f
th e b lo om s.
"W ho'r e th ey fr o m ?" A th ena a ske d , s o undin g e xcit e d fo r h er.
8 0
A phro dit e 's s m ile fa ded. " H eph aestu s," s h e s a id , u nable to k e ep
th e d is a ppoin tm ent fr o m h er v o ic e . S he 'd s o h oped th ey w ere fr o m
A re s.
"O h," s a id A th ena. S he h esit a te d. " T hat's n ic e ."
A phro dit e n odded, b ut w it h out e nth usia sm .
"H ey, d o y o u w ant to fin is h te llin g m e a bout th at m essa ge y o u g ot
fr o m a m orta l la st n ig ht? " A th e na a ske d. " W hat w as th at a ll a bout? "
"L ate r," A phro dit e s a id , h er s h ou ld e rs s lu m pin g .
"O h, o ka y," s a id A th ena, fin ally s e em in g to s e nse h er n eed to b e
alo ne. " G uess I'l l g o s tu dy th en. S ee y o u la te r."
" O ka y." A phro dit e c a rrie d th e r o se s in to h er r o om a nd s e t th em o n
her d esk. S he h ad to a dm it th e y w ere b eautif u l a nd s m elle d s w eet.

There w as n o r e al r e aso n n ot to e njo y th em , r e gard le ss o f w ho h ad
se nt th em . O nly
8 1
now s h e'd h ave to fig ure o ut h o w to d eal w it h H ep haestu s. S he
did n't w ant to b e h is c ru sh ! H e w as a n ic e g odboy, ju st n ot h er ty p e.
S he h oped s h e c o uld le t h im d ow n g ently .
A re s w as a noth er m atte r.
8 2
6 Gossip
A PH RO DIT E H O LE D U P IN H ER R O OM A LL d ay S un day. B y
sta yin g in sid e, s h e a vo id ed s e e in g H ep haestu s a nd A re s a nd s o
a vo id ed h avin g to d o a nyth in g a bout th em . In ste ad, s h e s a t a t h er
desk w it h h er r e d fe ath er p en a nd a s ta ck o f p in k p apyru s a nd
bra in sto rm ed w ays to h elp H ip pom en es. T he r a ce w as th e d ay a fte r
to m orro w !
83
S he c o uld s lip h im a p air o f w in ged s a ndals , s h e th ought, jo ttin g
dow n th e id ea. N o m atte r h ow fa st A ta la n ta w as, th ere w as n o w ay
sh e c o uld w in a gain st a n o pp onent w ea rin g th ose . B ut th e s a ndals '
w in gs w ould b e o bvio us to e ve ry o ne. B esid e s, h e'd h ave to b e
hold in g a n im morta l's h and to m ake th em w ork p ro perly . S he
doubte d th e k in g w ould a llo w a nyo ne to r a ce w it h s u ch a n
adva nta ge.

Sig hin g, A phro dit e c ro sse d o u t th e s a ndal id e a. M ayb e
H ip pom enes s h ould fo rg et a b out th e r a ce a nd ju st e lo pe w it h
A ta la nta , s h e th ought. If s h e lik e d h im a s m uch a s A ph ro dit e
s u sp ecte d s h e d id , s h e m ig ht a gre e. T hey c o uld le a ve a t n ig ht a nd
be fa r a w ay fr o m th e p ala ce b e fo re th e k in g e ve n n otic e d th ey w ere
m is sin g.
B ut th en A phro dit e r e m em bere d h ow s h e'd s u ggeste d
84
th e s a m e s tr a te gy to P aris a nd H ele n a nd c a use d a w ar! S he
cro sse d o ut th at id ea, to o. S he w ork e d fo r s e ve ra l h ours , b ut e ve ry
id ea s h e c a m e u p w it h s e em ed fa ta lly fla w ed . In th e e nd, a ll s h e h ad
to s h ow fo r h er e ff o rts w as a s ta ck o f p aper w it h c ro sse d-o ut
se nte nce s.
A s A phro dit e e nte re d H ero -o lo g y c la ss th e n ext m orn in g s tu dents
w ere b uzzin g a bout s o m eth in g . T hey s to pped ta lk in g a s s h e to ok h er
se at th ough, e ye in g h er c u rio usly . W eir d . S he w as u se d to th e s ta re s
of g odboys, b ut to day th e g odde ssg ir ls w ere s tu dyin g h er to o. T here
w as s o m eth in g in th eir lo oks s h e c o uld n 't q uit e in te rp re t, a nd it m ade
her a lit tle n erv o us.
S he g la nce d a cro ss th e a is le a t A th ena, b ut a s u su al h er n ose
w as b urie d in a te xts cro ll. A ph ro dit e h ad k n ocke d o n h er d oor
ye ste rd ay e ve nin g, in te ndin g t o te ll
8 5
her a bout H ip pom enes a nd to a sk fo r h elp w it h id e as, b ut A th ena
had b een o ut. A rte m is to o, p ro bably w alk in g h er d ogs.

Phem e c o ughed, a s if tr y in g to g et s o m eo ne's a tte ntio n . W hen
A phro dit e tu rn ed to lo ok a t h er, s h e d ucke d h er s p ik y o ra nge h ead.
H ad s h e b een s p re adin g g ossip a gain ? It w as to b e e xp ecte d, o f
co urs e . S he w as th e g oddess o f g ossip a nd r u m or a fte r a ll.
H m m , th ought A phro dit e , m ayb e P hem e a nd th e h era ld w ou ld b e
a g ood m atc h . A lt h ough it w as tr u e th at o pp osit e s o fte n d id a ttr a ct, it
w as g ood to h ave so m e s im ila r in te re sts . A nd w ere n't P he m e a nd
th e h era ld b oth in th e b usin ess o f a nnouncin g th in g s? S he to ok o ut
her r e d fe ath er p en to m ake a n ote o f th e id e a, b ut th en p ause d w it h
h er p en in m id air . W hat h ad P hem e b een a nnouncin g , s h e s u ddenly
w ondere d? 86 C ould it b e th at th e g ossip h ad b een a bout h er ?
A phro dit e 's th ro at tig hte ned.
M edusa 's s n aky h ead w rit h ed a nd h is se d a s s h e le a ned a cro ss
th e a is le . " In te re stin g w eeke n d, B ub ble s? " s h e a ske d w it h a s m ir k .
F akin g a c a lm s h e d id n't fe el, b ut w hic h h ad n oth in g to d o w it h th e
sn ake s, A phro dit e s a id , " Y es, I h eard y o u g ot a b it w et."
" A nd I h eard y o u g ot a n ew b oyfr ie n d," M ed usa s h ot b ack.
A phro dit e 's e ye s w id ened. " W hat a re y o u ta lk in g a bout? "
M edusa s m ir k e d a gain a s s e ve ra l s n ake s tw in ed lo o se ly a ro und
her n eck to fo rm a th ic k, liv e g re en n eckla ce . " P in k r o se s? "
A phro dit e fe lt h er c h eeks g ro w w arm .
87
O n th e o th er s id e o f M edusa , P he m e g ig g le d n erv o usly . S o th at's
w hat s h e'd b een g ossip in g a bo ut. H ad sh e to ld M edusa a bout th e
flo w ers ? B ut h ow c o uld P hem e h ave k n ow n a bout th em u nle ss ...

Aphro dit e g la nce d a t A th ena, w ho w as s ta rin g a t P he m e w it h a fr o w n
on h er fa ce .
N o, A th ena w ould n eve r te ll. S he w as n o g ossip ! " S ure , I g ot
so m e r o se s. F ro m a fr ie nd. W hat o f it ? " A ph ro dit e to ld M ed usa in
w hat s h e d esp era te ly h oped w as a c a su al to ne.
M edusa r a is e d a d ark g re en e ye bro w . " B oys d on't u su ally g iv e
ro se s to g ir ls w ho a re ju st fr ie n ds."
" Is th at r ig ht? " A phro dit e e ye d h er c o olly . " A nd h ow w ou ld y o u
kn ow ?"
F lic kin g th eir to ngues, th e s n a ke s d arte d to w ard h er a s M ed usa
sh ot h er a lo ok. G ood th in g s h e w asn 't m orta l.
8 8
S he w ould 'v e tu rn ed to s to ne a t o nce . F ortu nate ly , M r. C yc lo ps
ch ose th at m om ent to b egin c la ss.
W hen c la ss w as fin ally o ve r, A th ena d is a p peare d d ow n th e h all
b efo re A phro dit e c o uld q uestio n h er. B ut th at w asn 't u nusu al. S he
w as a lw ays in a h urry to g et to h er c la sse s e arly . T here w as n oth in g
sh e lik e d m ore th an le arn in g.
W hile p ie cin g to geth er a m osa ic o f th e M in ota ur d urin g h er n ext
cla ss, C ra ft- o lo gy, A phro dit e 's s to m ach c h urn ed a s s h e p ondere d
w hat M edusa h ad s a id . H ad A th ena g ossip e d? O f c o urs e , A phro dit e
h adn't a ske d h er to k e ep th e r o se s a s e cre t. B ut a tr u e fr ie n d
w ould n't n eed to b e to ld ! D is tr a cte d, A ph ro dit e g lu e d s e ve ra l c e ra m ic
t ile s in th e w ro ng p la ce s, s o th a t th e M in ota ur w ou nd u p w it h a h orn
in th e m id dle o f

89
his c h est.
W hen s h e n otic e d th e e rro r, s h e g ru m pily p rie d u p th e tile s a nd
sta rte d o ve r. S he c o uld n't k e e p h er m in d fr o m w an derin g , h ow eve r.
T he id ea o f h avin g h er n am e r o m an tic a lly lin ke d to a nyo ne--
e sp ecia lly H ephaestu s--w as ju st s o e m ba rra ssin g . H ow d are h e g iv e
h er flo w ers , s h e th ought, s la pp in g a n ew tile in to p la ce . H e s h ould 'v e
kn ow n th e r u m ors th ey'd c a use ! A nd h ow c o uld A th ena b etr a y h er
co nfid ence w hen s h e'd d one s o m uch to h elp h er?
A s th e m orn in g w ore o n, A ph ro dit e g re w m ore a nd m ore a nnoye d.
P ara noid , to o. W heneve r s h e h eard s o m eo ne w his p e rin g , s h e
w orrie d it m ig ht b e a bout h er a nd H ep haestu s. A t lu n ch tim e s h e
gro w le d a t th e fir s t g odboy w ho o ff e re d h er a p la ce in lin e in th e
ca fe te ria .
90
B y th e tim e s h e fin ally s a t a cro ss fr o m P ers e phone a nd A rte m is ,
sh e w as s te am in g. S he s la m med h er b ow l o f U nd erw orld s te w d ow n
so h ard th at g ra vy s lo sh ed o nto th e ta ble .
T he tw o g oddessg ir ls g la nce d u p in s u rp ris e . " G ot it !" A rte m is
y e lle d. S he g ra bbed th re e p ie ce s o f b re ad to s o ak u p th e g ra vy, th en
fe d th em to h er d ogs b elo w th e ta ble . T hey g ulp e d d ow n th e s o ppy
tr e ats w it h out e ve n c h ew in g.
"B ad d ay? " P ers e phone a ske d s ym pa th etic a lly .
A phro dit e n odded. " H orrib le ."

Mom ents la te r, A th ena d ro ppe d a b ag o f s cro lls a nd a b ow l o f
pom egra nola o nto th e ta ble a n d s a t n ext to A ph ro dit e . S he s e em ed
to n otic e im media te ly th at s o m eth in g w as w ro ng. " W hat's u p?" s h e
aske d.
A phro dit e ju st s ta re d in to h er s te w , fu m in g.
91
A th ena lo oke d a t A rte m is a nd P ers e phone, w ho b oth s h ru gged a s
if to s a y th ey d id n't k n ow w hat w as w ro ng w it h h er e it h er.
F in ally A phro dit e s a id , " D id n't y o u h ear M ed usa in c la ss? "
"O h, th at." A th ena d ip ped a s p oon in to h er b ow l. " I'd ig n ore h er if I
w ere y o u."
" E asy fo r y o u to s a y." A phro d it e g lo w ere d a t h er. " Y ou 'r e n ot th e
one P hem e's s p re adin g s to rie s a bout."
A th ena's e ye bro w s r o se a s s h e la y d ow n h er s p oon. " Y ou c a n't
t h in k th at's m y fa ult ."
" W ell, is n 't it ? "
"H old o n," in te rru pte d P ers e pho ne. " W hat's th is a ll a bout? "
A th ena s ig hed. " P hem e to ld e ve ry o ne in o ur fir s t- p erio d c la ss th at
so m eone s e nt A phro dit e p in k
92
ro se s."
" A nd y o u m ust'v e to ld her !" A phro dit e e xcla im ed. " H ow e ls e c o uld
s h e h ave k n ow n?"
A th ena s tif f e ned. " I d id n't te ll. T he flo w ers w ere s it tin g o uts id e y o ur
door, r e m em ber? A nyo ne c o u ld 'v e s e en th em th ere ."

"Y eah, I h eard a bout th ose r o se s fr o m s o m eo ne in a rc h ery c la ss,"
A rte m is s a id . " S o w hic h o ne o f y o ur m an y a dm ir e rs s e nt th em ?"
A b lu sh c re pt u p A phro dit e 's n eck to h er c h eeks. " H ep haestu s,"
s h e s a id in a lo w v o ic e .
"W asn 't h e ta lk in g to y o u a t th e p arty F rid a y n ig h t? " P ers e phone
aske d.
B efo re A phro dit e c o uld r e ply , A rte m is s a id , " D id M ed usa k n ow th e
flo w ers w ere fr o m h im ?"
"E ve n if s h e d id , a nyo ne c o uld 'v e u nro lle d th e n ote
9 3
atta ch ed to th e flo w ers ," A th en a p oin te d o ut. " P he m e's s o n osy, I
w ould n't p ut it p ast h er to s n o op. A nd s h e d oes liv e a t th e e nd o f o ur
hall. "
A th ena w as r ig ht, o f c o urs e , th ought A ph ro dit e . S he tr ie d to
r e m em ber if M edusa h ad m entio n ed H ep haestu s's n am e. M ayb e
sh e did n't k n ow . S he w as ju st a bout to a polo g iz e to A th ena w he n
A re s c a m e u p to th eir ta ble .
F org ettin g h er p la n to ig nore h im , A ph ro dit e s m ile d r ig h t a t h im . It
w as th e k in d o f s m ile th at h ad n eve r fa ile d to d azzle h im --o r a ny
oth er g odboy s h e'd s h one it o n --in th e p ast. O nly th is tim e A re s
se em ed im mune to h er c h arm s. " H ey, T heeny," h e s a id , h eftin g
A th ena's b ag fr o m th e ta ble . " C an I h elp y o u c a rry th is to y o ur n ext
cla ss? "
A th ena tu gged th e b ag a w ay fr o m h im a nd s e t it o n
94

th e o th er s id e o f h er tr a y, o ut o f h is r e ach . " N o th anks. I c a n
m anage."
G la ncin g a t P ers e phone a nd A rte m is , A ph ro dit e c rin g ed a t th e
lo oks o f p it y o n th eir fa ce s. S he w as s u re th ey k n ew th at s h e li k e d
A re s a lo t m ore th an s h e le t o n . H ow d are th ey fe el s o rry fo r h er!
S tr a ig hte nin g h er s p in e, A phro dit e s a id , " D on 't b e s illy , A th ena. L et
him c a rry y o ur s cro lls . H e's a s s tr o ng a s a n o x--"
" T hanks," in te rru pte d A re s. G rin n in g , h e b ent o ne a rm , fle xin g a
m uscle .
"A nd tw ic e a s d um b a s o ne," A ph ro dit e fin is h e d s co rn fu lly .
A re s w in ce d a s if s h e'd s tr u ck h im a cro ss th e fa ce . S he c o uld fe el
her fr ie nds g la ncin g a t h er in s u rp ris e . S he k n ew s h e w as b ein g
unfo rg iv a bly r u de, b ut it w as to o la te . T he w ord s c o uld n 't b e ta ke n
back.
9 5
"H eard a bout y o ur p in k r o se s, A ph ro dit e ," h e s a id lo u d e nough fo r
half th e c a fe te ria to h ear. " Y ou m ay b e th e g oddessg ir l o f lo ve , b ut
eve ry o ne k n ow s y o u h ave n o h eart. I p it y th e g odboy w ho s e nt
th em ."
If e ve ry o ne th ought th at, th ey w ere w ro ng, th ought A ph ro dit e ,
blin kin g b ack s u dden te ars . S he d id h ave a h eart, a nd it fe lt lik e h e'd
j u st s to m ped o n it !
" Y ou'd n eve r c a tc h m e s e ndin g flo w ers ," A re s c o ntin u ed. " It's s u ch
a gir ly th in g to d o."
" S hut u p, A re s," s a id A rte m is .

"M ayb e y o u s h ould ju st g o," P ers e phone s u ggeste d to h im .
"N ow 's a b ad tim e."
A bru ptly , A th ena s to od. " N o. I'm g oin g ," s h e s a id . S he r e ach ed fo r
her b ag, b ut A re s tu gged it a w ay fr o m h er.
" I'l l c a rry it ," h e s a id . " P le ase ? I w an t to ta lk to y o u
96
about s o m eth in g."
A fte r a m om ent o f h esit a tio n A th ena g ave in a nd th e tw o o f th em
le ft to geth er.
A phro dit e s to od to o. G la ncin g a t P ers e phone's a nd A rte m is 's
f a ce s, s h e m utte re d, " S to p lo okin g a t m e lik e th at. I d on't c a re if h e
lik e s h er. In fa ct, h e c a n m arry h er fo r a ll I c a re !" T hen, ju st li k e a t th e
party , s h e fle d th e r o om , h er c h eeks b urn in g a nd h er h eart b ro ke n.
97
7 The Olive Grove
S O M EH O W A PH RO DIT E G OT T H RO UG H T H E r e st o f th e d ay.
S he w as g la d n one o f h er fr ie n ds w ere in h er a fte rn oon c la sse s. S he
kn ew s h e'd b ehave d b adly a t lu n ch a nd d id n 't w an t to fa ce th em
quit e y e t. In ste ad o f r e tu rn in g to h er r o om a fte r s ch ool, s h e s to w ed
her te xts cro lls in h er lo cke r a nd h eaded o uts id e .
"A phro dit e , w ait u p!"
9 8 H ephaestu s! H ad h e b een h angin g a ro und w ait in g fo r h er? S he
w as in n o m ood to ta lk to h im --o r a ny g odboy r ig h t n ow . S he

pre te nded n ot to h ear h im a nd r a ce d a cro ss th e c o urty a rd , th in kin g
sh e c o uld e asily o utd is ta nce h im .
But H ephaestu s ju st k e pt c a ll in g . A ph ro dit e c o uld h ear h is c a ne
th um pin g a lo ng b ehin d h er m ore q uic kly th an s h e w ou ld h ave
th ought p ossib le . S he d id n't w an t to b e m ea n, b ut c o uld n 't h e ta ke a
h in t? S he w ante d to b e a lo ne! A fr a id s o m eo ne w ou ld h ear h im
c a llin g to h er--s o m eone lik e P he m e o r M ed usa --s h e fin a lly lo oke d
aro und fo r a p riv a te p la ce to t a lk to h im , s o m ep la ce w he re n o o ne
w ould s e e th em to geth er.
T o o ne s id e o f th e c o urty a rd th ere w as a g ro ve o f o liv e tr e es th at
w ould o ff e r s o m e s h elt e r fr o m p ry in g e ye s. W avin g to H ep haestu s to
f o llo w , A phro dit e
9 9
headed to w ard it . T he p ark o f s ilv e r-g re en tr e es h ad o nly s p ru ng
up r e ce ntly --a r e su lt o f A th ena's in ve ntio n o f th e o liv e .
"W hoa. Y ou s u re w alk fa st," s a id H ep haestu s a s h e fin a lly c a ught
up to h er. B re ath in g h ard , h e le aned a gain st th e tr u nk o f a tr e e
ca usin g s o m e o f it s s ilv e r-g re e n le a ve s to flu tte r to th e g ro und. " D id
y o u g et th e r o se s I s e nt? "
"Y es, th ank y o u," s a id A phro dit e , s it tin g c ro ss-le g ged o n th e s to ne
bench u nder a noth er tr e e. N ow th at th ey w ere fa ce to fa ce , s h e
re aliz e d it w asn 't g oin g to b e e asy to te ll h im s h e d id n 't lik e h im --n ot
as a b oyfr ie nd, th at is . S he to ok a d eep b re ath . " B ut y o u r e ally
s h ould n't h ave --"

"S ent th em ?" in te rru pte d H epha estu s. H e p ush ed o ff th e tr u nk o f
th e tr e e a nd c a m e to s it b esid e h er.
1 00
"I h ope th ey d id n't g iv e y o u th e w ro ng id e a."
" W ell . . . ," A phro dit e b egan u n ce rta in ly .
B efo re s h e c o uld s a y a noth er w ord , H ep haestu s fo rc e d a c h uckle .
"T here 's a r u m or g oin g a ro und th at y o u'v e g ot a n ew b oyfr ie nd. It
w ould b e d um b if e ve ry o ne th ou ght it w as m e, h uh? I m ea n, is th ere
a la w th at s a ys y o u c a n't g iv e flo w ers to a fr ie n d?"
H is fa ce w as s o e arn est, th at s h e h eard h ers e lf s a y, " N o la w th at I
k n ow o f."
H ephaestu s h esit a te d a nd s h e fe lt h im g la n ce a t h er, th en a w ay.
"S o, d id y o u lik e th e . . . ," h e c le a re d h is th ro at. " . . . T he r o se s? "
"T hey'r e v e ry p re tty ." S he p ause d. " A nd th ey s m ell g re at. S w eet.
J u st lik e th e g odboy w ho g ave th em to m e, b ut . . ."
H ephaestu s c u t h er o ff , s p eakin g e nth usia stic a lly .
1 01
"W as I r ig ht to g uess th at p in k is y o ur fa vo rit e c o lo r? Y ou w ear it a
lo t."
" I lo ve p in k," s a id A phro dit e . S he s m ile d fo ndly a t h im .
"W hat? " h e a ske d, r e adin g s o m eth in g in h er e xp re ssio n .
S he s h ru gged. " I w as ju st th in kin g th at y o u'r e s o d if f e re nt fr o m th e
oth er g odboys."
H e s tr a ig hte ned, lo okin g in su lt e d.

"T hat's a c o m plim ent," s h e s a id q uic kly . " I m ea n, I c a n't th in k o f
eve n o ne o th er g odboy p erc e ptiv e e nough to n otic e h ow m uch p in k I
w ear a nd to r e aliz e it 's m y fa vo rit e c o lo r." C erta in ly A re s w ould n't .
G iv e n th e w ay h e'd b een tr e atin g h er r e ce ntly , it w as a m yste ry th at
sh e s till lik e d th e g uy. B ut th en th e w ork in g s o f th e h eart w ere
m yste rio us.
1 02
H ephaestu s s m ile d s h yly a nd th en p ulle d s o m eth in g fr o m h is
p ocke t. " I h ave a noth er g if t fo r y o u."
" O h, H ephaestu s, n o," A phro d it e b egan, h old in g u p b oth p alm s to
s to p h im . B ut ig norin g h er p ro te st, h e s lip ped a w id e g old b ra ce le t o n
her w ris t. " O oh, it 's g org eous!" s h e e xcla im ed, tw is tin g th e b ra ce le t
back a nd fo rth o n h er w ris t s o it g lin te d in th e s u n th at filt e re d
th ro ugh th e tr e es. T he b ra ce le t h ad b een h am mere d th in , th en
etc h ed w it h a d elic a te -lo okin g le a f p atte rn . In b etw ee n th e le ave s
w ere tin y r o se s o f a p in k-tin te d p re cio u s m eta l k n ow n a s r o se g old .
"T hanks," s a id H ephaestu s, h is d elig ht o bvio u s.
"W here d id y o u g et it ? T he je w elr y s to re in th e Im morta ls M ark e t? "
It w as s o lo ve ly , s h e c o uld n't ta ke h er e ye s fr o m it . B ut o f c o urs e , s h e
had to g iv e it b ack. D id n't s h e?
103
"I m ade it ," H ephaestu s s a id , s m ilin g p ro udly . " F or y o u."
" O h, H ephaestu s, y o u'r e r e ally ta le n te d. B ut I'm n ot s u re . . ."
A phro dit e h esit a te d, to yin g w it h th e b ra ce le t s o m e m ore . S he r e all y

wante d to k e ep it , b ut s h e d id n't w an t to g iv e h im th e w ro ng id ea. If
s h e a cce pte d it , w ould n't h e th in k s h e w an te d to b e h is g ir lf r ie nd?
Ju st th en a tw ig s n apped n earb y, s ta rtlin g th em b oth . S om eone
els e h ad e nte re d th e g ro ve . " Q uic k--h id e !" A ph ro dit e w his p e re d. " W e
ca n't le t a nyo ne s e e u s to geth er!"
A lo ok o f h urt c ro sse d H epha estu s's fa ce , b ut th en h is e xp re ssio n
tu rn ed w ooden a nd h e n odded . " S ure I u nders ta nd. I'l l g o." R is in g to
h is fe et w it h th e h elp o f h is s il v e r c a ne, h e to ok a s te p a w ay. T hen h e
pause d a nd
104
tu rn ed b ack. F or ju st a s e co n d, h e lo o ke d a t h er w it h out s a yin g
anyth in g. A phro dit e r e aliz e d h e w as p ro bably w ait in g fo r h er to
c h ange h er m in d, to s a y, W ho c a re s w hat p eople th in k? L et th em
se e u s to geth er. A t th e s w eet h ope in h is e ye s, s h e a lm ost d id
c h ange h er m in d. B ut th en th e tr e es s h if te d ju st a b it a nd s h e s a w
w ho h ad e nte re d th e g ro ve .
A re s ! A gain st h er w ill, h er h eart b eg an to b eat fa st. " S ee y o u la te r,
H ephaestu s!" s h e s a id h urrie dly , w avin g h im o n h is w ay.
W it h h is s h ould ers s lu m ped, h e le ft.
A phro dit e s h ove d a sid e h er g uilt y fe elin gs fo r th e w ay s h e'd
t r e ate d h im a nd s p re ad th e s kir t o f h er c h it o n o n th e b ench s e at s o it
d ra ped g ra ce fu lly o n e it h er s id e o f h er. W hen A re s n otic e d h er, s h e'd
a ct
1 05

su rp ris e d, a s if s h e h adn't h eard h im a ppro ach in g . H e w as
p ro bably c o m in g to s a y h e w as s o rry fo r ig n orin g h er th ese p ast fe w
days a nd fo r s a yin g s h e h ad n o h eart. If h e a polo g iz e d n ic e ly , s h e
m ig ht ju st fin d it in h er h eart- -th e h eart h e w as s u re d id n 't e xis t- -to
a polo giz e fo r c o m parin g h is in te llig e nce to th at o f a n o x.
"Y uck! It ta ste s te rrib le !" A re s s p at s o m eth in g o ut. " H ow c a n
m orta ls lik e th ese th in gs? "
S ta rtle d, A phro dit e s tif f e ned. A re s w asn 't a lo n e! W ho w as h e
sp eakin g to ?
S he a lm ost fe ll o ff th e b ench w he n s h e h eard a fa m ilia r v o ic e
re ply , " Y ou c a n't e at o liv e s r ig ht o ff th e tr e e. T hey h ave to c u re fir s t."
A th ena? J e alo usy s u rg ed th ro ugh A phro dit e lik e a 106 ru sh in g
riv e r. W hat w as s h e u p to , c o m in g h ere w it h A re s? S he d id n 't e ve n
lik e h im ! O r d id s h e?
Q uic kly , A phro dit e tu rn ed h ers e lf in to a lo ve bir d a nd fle w h ig h in to
t h e b ra nch es o f th e c lo se st o li v e tr e e, p la n nin g to s p y a nd fin d o ut
once a nd fo r a ll. H er h eart th um pe d fa st in sid e h er fe ath ere d b re ast
w hen A re s a nd A th ena c a m e in to v ie w .
"T hat e xp la in s it ," s a id A re s, h old in g b ack a b ra nch s o A th ena
co uld p ass. " I k n ew y o u c o uld n 't h ave in ve nte d s o m eth in g th at ta ste s
so b it te r."
A phro dit e 's b eady e ye s b lin ke d in s u rp ris e . It w as th e k in d o f
flir ta tio us lin e A re s h ad o nce u se d o n her .
"T he G re eks h ave fo und a ll k in d s o f u se s fo r m y o liv e ," s a id
A th ena, p rid e in h er v o ic e . " T hey'r e n ot ju st e atin g th em . T hey'r e a ls o

sq ueezin g o il fr o m th em
107
to b urn in th eir la m ps a nd to h ea t th eir h om es. T hey'r e e ve n
m akin g p erfu m e a nd m edic in e fr o m th em ."
" K eep it u p," A phro dit e th ough t je a lo u sly . If s h e k n ew A re s li k e s h e
th ought s h e d id , h e'd s o on g ro w b ore d. A g odboy o f a ctio n , h e'd
a lw ays h ad lit tle p atie nce fo r w hat h e c a lle d " g oddessg ir l p ra ttle ."
B ut A re s s h ocke d h er b y s a yin g, " Y ou k n ow , I'v e n eve r m et a g ir l
a s s m art a s y o u, A th ena. It's s o r e fr e sh in g ."
R efr e sh in g ? W hat w as th at s u ppose d to m ea n? T he r e m ark r e ally
r u ff le d A phro dit e 's fe ath ers . W as A re s im ply in g th at s h e w as d um b?
B eautif u l, b ut d um b? S he fe lt a nnoye d e nough to p eck o ut h is e ye s!
S oundin g flu ste re d, A th ena s q u eake d, " R ea lly ? "
"H onest," s a id A re s. H e p ic ke d s e ve ra l o liv e s a nd b egan ju g glin g
th em . " Y ou'd have to b e s m art to h ave
1 08
a to w n n am ed a fte r y o u. It's c a lle d A th ens, r ig h t? W ho w ou ld 'v e
th ought y o ur in ve ntio n o f th e o liv e w ou ld w in y o u s u ch a n a m azin g
honor? "
A th ena s h ru gged m odestly . " Y ea h, w ell, it w as a s u rp ris e to m e,
to o."
" R eally im pre ssiv e ," A re s m urm ure d a s if h e h adn't h eard h er. " I
s u re w ould n't m in d h avin g a c it y n am ed a fte r m e ."
N o s u rp ris e th ere , th ought A ph ro dit e . A re s's e go w as b ig g er th an
C olo ssu s. W hy d id s h e w aste h er tim e o n h im ? A s th e g oddessg ir l o f

lo ve , y o u'd th in k th at m atte rs o f th e h eart w ou ld b e tr a nsp are nt to
h er. B ut w hen it c a m e to h er o w n lo ve lif e , s h e w as a s c lu e le ss a s
anyo ne e ls e --m orta l o r im morta l. A re s w as a w fu lly h andso m e
th ough, a nd h e c o uld b e c h arm in g. W hen h e'd d ance d h er a ro und
th e g ym a t th e H arv e st H op a fe w w ee ks a go,
109
he'd h ad e ye s o nly fo r h er a s h e tw ir le d h er e xp ertly a cro ss th e
flo or. L ost in m em ory , s h e m is se d th e n ext fe w th in g s A th ena a nd
A re s s a id to e ach o th er.
S he w as je rk e d b ack to th e p re se nt w he n A th ena s u ddenly s to od
up. " G et lo st!"
" A w w, T heeny," A re s p le aded , r is in g to o. " D on 't b e m ad . Y ou k n ow
I d id n't m ean it lik e th at."
A phro dit e s co ld ed h ers e lf fo r n ot p ayin g b ette r a tte ntio n . W hat h ad
sh e m is se d?
A th ena's b ack s tif f e ned. " A nd d on't c a ll m e T heeny! O nly m y d ad
ca lls m e th at."
T hro w in g h is h ands u p, A re s m utte re d, " S orry !"
" J u st g o." A th ena tu rn ed h er b a ck o n h im .
Are s s ig hed. " A ll r ig ht, b ut th in k a bout w ha t I a ske d, o ka y? " H e
le aned c lo se r to A th ena, b ut s h e d ucke d a w ay. F ro w nin g , h e s a id ,
"F in e. B ut d on't th in k
11 0
I'm g iv in g u p."

Afte r A re s le ft, A th ena s u nk to th e g ro und a nd b egan to s o b.
A phro dit e w as s h ocke d. S he'd n eve r s e en h er fr ie n d c ry b efo re .
In sta ntly , h er je alo usy v a nis h ed , w ash ed a w ay in th e flo o d o f
A th ena's te ars . F lu tte rin g d ow n fr o m h er tr e e, s h e c h anged b ack in to
a g oddess.
"W here d id y o u c o m e fr o m ?" A th ena a ske d, ju m pin g to h er fe et.
S he s w ip ed a t h er w et e ye s w it h th e b ack o f h er h and. A ph ro dit e
p oin te d to th e tr e e b ehin d h er. A th ena's c h eeks r e ddened. " Y ou w ere
s p yin g?"
"N o, it w asn 't lik e th at, I- -" B ut b efo re A ph ro dit e c o uld e xp la in ,
A th ena g ave a s tr a ngle d c ry .
"Y ou p la nned th is w it h A re s a s s o m e s o rt o f te st, d id n 't y o u? I
t h ought y o u w ere m y fr ie nd, b u t . . ." S ha kin g h er h ead, A th ena
backe d a w ay. T hen s h e tu rn e d a nd r a n fr o m th e g ro ve .
111
A phro dit e s ta re d a fte r h er, u p se t a nd to ta lly c o nfu se d. P la nned
w hat? W hat te st? S he h ad n o id ea w hat A th ena c o uld p ossib ly h ave
m eant b y th at.
1 1 2
8 An Argument
A PH RO DIT E H URRIE D A C R O SS T H E C O URT-y a rd to g o a fte r
A th ena. S he w as h alf w ay th ere w he n s h e s p ie d P he m e's s p ik y
o ra nge h ead a m id a g ro up o f g odboys a nd g oddessg ir ls . A phro dit e
c ro uch ed lo w , h opin g to s n eak b y h er.

Unfo rtu nate ly , P hem e h ad a lr e ady s p otte d h er, a nd s h e r u sh ed
ove r. " I ju st s a w A th ena," s h e s a id , h er w ord s
11 3
puff in g fr o m h er lip s lik e m in ia tu re s m oke w rit in g . " S he s e em ed
aw fu lly u pse t a bout s o m eth in g . A ny id e a w ha t? "
"N ot a c lu e," lie d A phro dit e . S he w asn 't a bout to g iv e P he m e a ny
new g ossip to r e peat. " S ee y o u la te r. I'v e g ot h om ew ork ." W it h a
w ave o f h er h and, s h e p lu nged o n a head.
"W ait !" P hem e c a ught u p to h er a t th e b otto m o f th e s ch ool's
g ra nit e s te ps a nd c lu tc h ed h er w ris t. H ep haestu s's g if t s p ark le d in
t h e s u nlig ht. " W here d id y o u g e t th is b eautif u l b ra ce le t? "
A phro dit e je rk e d h er a rm a w ay a nd h id it b ehin d h er b ack. " It w as
a g if t," s h e m um ble d. " F ro m a fr ie n d."
P hem e lic ke d h er o ra nge-g lo sse d lip s e agerly . " M ore lik e fr o m a n
adm ir e r , I'm g uessin g. W ant to te ll m e h is n am e? "
11 4
"N ot a c h ance ," A phro dit e s a id s tif f ly .
P hem e c o cke d h er h ead. " T hen I g uess I'l l h ave to d ra w m y o w n
co nclu sio ns."
" Y ou a lw ays d o," A phro dit e m utte re d. T urn in g , s h e r a ce d u p th e
ste ps to th e s ch ool. B ut o nce s h e r e ach ed A th ena's d oor, s h e
hesit a te d. M ayb e s h e s h ould g iv e h er fr ie n d a fe w m in ute s to c o ol
off ? E nte rin g h er o w n r o om , s h e s a w th e tu rq uois e c h it o n s h e'd le t
A th ena b orro w b alle d u p o n h e r b ed. S he m ust'v e r e tu rn ed it a s s o on
as s h e g ot b ack to h er r o om .

Ir rit a tio n w elle d u p in A phro dit e a s s h e s h ook o ut th e c h it o n a nd
sa w h ow w rin kle d it w as. A s s h e w as s m oo th in g it , s h e w as a nnoye d
to n otic e a tin y r ip u nder it s a rm a nd a fa in t s ta in n ear th e h em . T he
le ast A th ena c o uld h ave d one w as w ash it b efo re r e tu rn in g it .
S uddenly , A phro dit e d id n't fe el s o rry fo r h er
11 5
anym ore . G ra bbin g th e c h it o n, s h e m arc h ed u p th e h all w it h it a nd
kn ocke d s h arp ly o n A th ena's d oor. T hen, w it h out w ait in g fo r h er to
a nsw er, s h e th ru st it o pen.
A th ena w as a lo ne, s it tin g a t h er d esk, h er b lu e B ea uty -o lo g y
te xts cro ll o pen b efo re h er. " W ell, ju st c o m e o n in ," s h e g ru m ped.
"L ook!" A phro dit e s h ook o ut th e c h it o n a nd ja b bed a fin g er a t th e
sta in n ear th e h em . " Y ou r u in e d it !"
A th ena r o lle d h er e ye s. " It'l l w ash o ut."
" O h y e ah?" A phro dit e fr o w ned . A th ena o bvio u sly d id n 't th in k h ow
sh e tr e ate d o th er p eople 's th in gs w as im porta nt. " W ell, th is w on't
w ash o ut!" S he p oin te d to th e r ip u nder th e a rm .
Ath ena s q uin te d a t th e h ole . " I'm s o rry , b ut r e ally , th at h ole is s o
tin y I d id n't e ve n n otic e it . N o o n e e ls e w ill e it h er."
1 1 6
"B ut I'l l k n ow it 's th ere !" A phro dit e e xc la im ed. S he w ou ld n 't b e
able to w ear th e c h it o n a gain w it h out w orry in g th at s o m eo ne w ould
s e e th e r ip .
"I s a id I w as s o rry ," A th ena s a id w it h a fr o w n. " M ayb e y o u
sh ould n't h ave lo aned m e y o ur c h it o n if y o u w ere s o a fr a id I'd r u in it .

It w asn 't m y id ea to g et d re sse d u p a nd g o to th at p arty !"
" O h, r e ally ? " A phro dit e h uff e d. " W ell, y o u c e rta in ly s e em ed to
e njo y y o urs e lf o nce y o u w ere th ere , w it h a ll th ose g odboys h angin g
on y o ur e ve ry w ord ."
A th ena b lin ke d, lo okin g s h ocke d. " Y ou 'r e je a lo u s? O f m e? I
t h ought y o u h ate d a ll th e a tte ntio n y o u g et fr o m th ose g odboys."
" T hat's n ot th e p oin t!" A phro dit e s n apped in c o nfu sio n .
A th ena r o cke d b ack in h er c h air . " T hen w ha t is ? "
11 7
"I- -I d on't k n ow !" A phro dit e e xcla im ed. S ud denly , a ll th e fig h t
dra in ed o ut o f h er. S he s a gged a gain st th e e dge o f A th ena's d esk.
S he d id n't r e ally c a re a bout th e c h it o n--s h e h ad doze ns o f th em .
Ath ena w as r ig ht, s h e w as je alo us, a nd it w as tim e to s e t th in g s
str a ig ht.
" L is te n." A phro dit e to ok a d ee p b re ath . " B ack in th e o liv e g ro ve ? I
w as te llin g th e tr u th . I r e ally d id n't fo llo w y o u. I w as th ere b efo re y o u-
-w it h s o m eone."
" O h," s a id A th ena, h er e ye s r o und w it h s u rp ris e . " H ep haestu s? "
sh e g uesse d.
A phro dit e n odded. " W hen w e h eard s o m eo ne c o m in g, I m ade h im
le ave . I w ante d to b e w it h A re s. B ut w he n I s a w y o u'd c o m e w it h h im ,
I h id . I d id n't m ean to s p y. It ju st h appened."
" A re s d oesn 't lik e m e, y o u k n ow ," A th ena s a id q uie tly . " H e n eve r
re ally d id . It's lik e y o u s a id : J u st
11 8

beca use a b oy fu sse s o ve r y o u, it d oesn 't m ea n h e's in lo ve w it h
y o u."
A phro dit e b lin ke d. S he h ad s a id th at, h adn't s h e? B ut it w asn 't
a lw ays tr u e. " W hat d o y o u m ea n? H e's b een ig n orin g m e s in ce th e
party . H e o nly w ants to ta lk to y o u!"
A th ena s h ook h er h ead. " H e w as n eve r in te re ste d in m e. H e ju st
h eard a bout A th ens a nd e ve ry th in g , a nd h e w an te d m e to a sk m y
dad to n am e a c it y o n E arth a fte r h im . " S he p ause d. " I h onestly
t h ought y o u k n ew . I th ought m ayb e A re s h ad ta lk e d to y o u, a nd
to geth er y o u'd c o m e u p w it h a p la n fo r h ow h e c o uld g et m e to d o
w hat h e w ante d."
A phro dit e d re w in h er b re ath . " I'd n eve r d o th at to y o u," s h e s a id .
"B ut th at s o unds lik e A re s, a ll r ig h t!"
1 1 9
N ow th at s h e th ought a bout it , s h e r e m em be re d h im te llin g A th ena
th at h e w ould n't m in d h avin g a c it y n am ed a fte r h im . H um pf . A re s
hadn't b een v e ry n ic e to A th en a. O r to her , fo r th at m atte r. B ut h ad
sh e tr e ate d H ephaestu s a ny b ette r? s h e w on dere d g uilt ily . In th eir
o w n w ays, s h e a nd A re s h ad b o th b ehave d b adly . W hy d id
r e la tio nsh ip s b etw een g odboys a nd g oddessg ir ls h ave to b e s o
co m plic a te d?
"Y ou k n ow ," A th ena s a id th oug htfu lly , " I w as p erfe ctly h appy
befo re th e m ake ove r. A nd I'm n ot r e ally in te re ste d in h avin g a
b oyfr ie nd--a t le ast n ot r ig ht n ow . I a gre ed to th e m ake ove r o nly
b eca use I th ought I c o uld le arn s o m eth in g fr o m it th at w ou ld h elp m e

out in B eauty -o lo gy." S he lo oke d d ow n a t h er la p . " I'm n ot d oin g s o
w ell in th at c la ss."
1 20
"R eally ? " A phro dit e p ut a h and o n A th ena's s h ould e r to c o m fo rt
h er. S he a lm ost s o unded a s if s h e w ere g oin g to c ry a gain .
"I g ot a B -p lu s o n m y p ro je ct in B ea uty -o lo g y!" A th ena b lu rte d.
"Is th at b ad?" A phro dit e a ske d u nce rta in ly .
"A re y o u k id din g? It's m y fir s t B -p lu s e ve r!" A th ena s o unded
deva sta te d. " I'v e n eve r e ve n m ad e a s lo w a s a n A -m in us b efo re !"
" O h," A phro dit e s a id , s u rp ris e d. T hen s h e r e m em be re d a ll th e
tim es s h e'd s e en A th ena s tu dyin g th e b lu e B ea uty -o lo g y s cro ll la te ly ,
a nd th e q uestio ns s h e'd a ske d a bout d if f e re nt c o sm etic s, c lo th in g,
and h air s ty le s. B eauty -o lo gy w as s e co nd n atu re to A ph ro dit e . S he'd
a ce d it e ve ry s e m este r s in ce fir s t g ra de. S he 'd n eve r
121
co nsid ere d th at th e c la ss m ig h t b e d if f ic u lt fo r s o m eo ne w ho
w asn 't a s w ell v e rs e d in th e s u bje ct a s s h e w as.
"D o y o u n eed s o m e h elp w it h y o ur h om ew ork ? " A ph ro dit e o ff e re d.
A th ena lo oke d h opefu l. " R eally ? "
"S ure , w hat a re fr ie nds fo r? "
A th ena s m ile d a t h er. " T hanks. A nd I'm s o rry a bout y o ur c h it o n. I'l l
b uy y o u a n ew o ne."
" Y ou k e ep it ." A phro dit e w ave d h er h and d is m is siv e ly . " I'v e g ot
m ore c h it o ns th an I c a n e ve r w ea r. B esid e s, A re s w as r ig h t a bout
one th in g. It d oes lo ok b ette r o n y o u th an o n m e."

Catc h in g s ig ht o f th e b ra ce le t o n A ph ro dit e 's w ris t, A th ena
excla im ed. " O oh! T hat's g org e ous! W here d id y o u g et it ? "
122
A phro dit e r u bbed a fin ger o ve r th e e ngra ve d r o se buds.
"H ephaestu s g ave it to m e," s h e c o nfe sse d. " I s h ould n 't h ave
a cce pte d it th ough. I'm g oin g to g iv e it b ack."
" B ut it 's s o b eautif u l, " A th ena p ro te ste d.
"Y es," s a id A phro dit e , " b ut it w ou ld b e w ro ng to k e ep it . I'm p re tty
s u re h e g ave it to m e b eca use h e's h opin g I'l l b e h is g ir lf r ie n d."
A th ena fr o w ned in g enuin e c o nfu sio n . " S o a g ir l h as to lik e a b oy
as m ore th an a fr ie nd, ju st b eca use h e g iv e s h er a g if t? "
"N ot a lw ays," s a id A phro dit e , a m use d. B oy-g ir l r e la tio n sh ip s m ig ht
baff le h er s o m etim es, b ut it w as o bvio u s th at A th ena k n ew fa r le ss
th an sh e d id ! " It k in d o f d epends o n th e b oy a nd th e g if t."
A th ena e ye d th e b ra ce le t lo ngin gly . " W ell, I 'd b e
123
te m pte d to k e ep it . A ny g ir l w ou ld --m orta l o r im morta l. "
A t h er w ord s, s o m eth in g c lic ke d in A ph ro dit e 's b ra in . " T hat's it !"
s h e e xcla im ed. " I k n ow h ow t o h elp H ip pom en es w in h is r a ce !"
1 24
9 The Race
A TA LA N TA --I'V E H EAR D A BO UT T H AT M AID EN ," A th ena s a id
w hen A phro dit e fin is h ed te llin g h er a ll a bout H ip pom en es a nd
A ta la nta a nd th e p la n s h e'd ju st c o m e u p w it h to h elp th em . " H er

fa m e a s a r u nner is a ll o ve r th e s ch ool. " S he p ause d. " A re y o u s u re
s h e w ants to m arry y o ur H ip po m en es? "
125
"D efin it e ly ," s a id A phro dit e , r e m em be rin g A ta la n ta 's te ars .
"B ut w here a re y o u g oin g to f in d a pple s m ad e o f g old b y
to m orro w ?" a ske d A th ena. " I'v e n eve r s e en a ny a ro und h ere ."
A phro dit e g rin ned. " I'm g oin g to a sk H ep haestu s fo r h elp ."
N ot lo ng a fte rw ard , s h e tr a cke d h im d ow n a s h e w as le a vin g th e
ca fe te ria . " H ephaestu s. W ait u p!" s h e c a lle d to h im . E ve n th ough
sh e'd b een r u de in th e g ro ve , h e s till s m ile d b ro adly w he n h e s a w
her a nd w ait e d n ear th e d oor. W hen s h e c a ught u p w it h h im , s h e
slip ped th e g old b ra ce le t o ff h er w ris t. " I d ecid e d I c a n't k e ep it a fte r
all, " s h e s a id a polo getic a lly . " B ut th anks fo r le ttin g m e b orro w it ."
1 26
H is fa ce fe ll a s h e to ok th e b ra ce le t fr o m h er. S he c o uld te ll h e
w as tr y in g h ard to h id e h is h urt fe elin gs. " N o p ro ble m ."
A phro dit e fe lt te rrib le . B ut it w asn 't h er fa ult th at h er h eart d id n't
b eat fo r H ephaestu s. S he s m ile d b rig h tly , h opin g to c h eer h im u p.
"It's s o b eautif u l I d id n't w ant to g iv e it u p. B ut y o u s h ould k e ep it .
S om eday y o u m ig ht w ant to g iv e it to y o ur fu tu re w if e ." S he s a t d ow n
on a b ench in th e h allw ay o uts id e th e c a fe te ria a nd m otio n ed fo r h im
t o s it b esid e h er.
" B ut I w as h opin g a g ir lf r ie nd m ig h t w an t to w ea r it in th e
m eantim e," h e s a id s o ftly .

Aphro dit e g ulp ed. P oor H ephae stu s. H e w as p ro bably th e n ic e st
g odboy s h e k n ew . In a n e ff o rt to c o m fo rt h im , s h e s a id , " D on 't w orry .
I'm s u re th e r ig ht g oddessg ir l w ill c o m e a lo n g s o on." S he c o uld o nly
h ope s h e s p oke
1 27
th e tr u th . T hen it d aw ned o n h e r. S he c o uld h elp h im fin d ju st th e
rig ht g ir l. B ut fir s t th in gs fir s t. C hangin g th e s u bje ct, s h e s a id ,
"H ip pom enes's r a ce is to m orro w . Y ou s a id I s h ould a sk if th ere w as
anyth in g y o u c o uld d o to h elp ." S he p ause d. " Is y o ur o ff e r s till
o pen?"
"O f c o urs e ," H ephaestu s s a id r e adily .
S he to ld h im h er p la n.
"T hat's b rillia nt," h e s a id . " H ow m an y a pple s d o y o u w an t m e to
m ake ?"
"T hre e s h ould d o th e tr ic k," s a id A ph ro dit e . " I h ope s o a nyw ay."
H ephaestu s n odded, th en r o se fr o m th e b ench . " I'l l g et s ta rte d
now . T hat w ay th ey'l l b e r e ady fo r y o u fir s t th in g to m orro w m orn in g."
" T hanks." S he s to od a nd g ave h im a h ug. " Y ou 'r e a tr u e fr ie nd."
1 28
H e s m ile d a t h er, tu rn in g a lit tle p in k. " I g uess I c a n s e ttle fo r th at."
A phro dit e r e tu rn ed h is s m ile . S he h oped s h e c o uld fin d a
g oddessg ir l w orth y o f h im !
Late r th at e ve nin g A phro dit e r e tu rn ed to A th ena's r o om to h elp h er
w it h a B eauty -o lo gy p ro je ct. U sin g g ro und a lm onds, o ats , y o gurt,
a nd c ru sh ed, d ry la ve nder, th ey c o nco cte d a r e fr e sh in g fa cia l s cru b.

The tw o g ir ls h ad ju st a pplie d th e r e su lt in g p aste to th eir fa ce s a nd
th ro ats w hen A rte m is a nd P ers e phone c a m e b y.
"G odness!" P ers e phone s h rie ke d, h er p ale fa ce tu rn in g e ve n p ale r
th an u su al w hen A th ena o pen ed h er d oor. " W hat's h appened to
y o u?"
W hen A phro dit e a ppeare d in t h e d oorw ay to o, A rte m is la u ghed.
"M ayb e I s h ould g et a d octo r.
1 29
W hate ve r A th ena's g ot, it s e em s to b e c o nta gio u s."
" It's a fa cia l m ask. W ant to tr y it ? " A th ena a ske d. " It fe els g re at."
S oon a ll fo ur g ir ls h ad g oop o n th eir fa ce s. " G oo d th in g m y d ogs
are in m y r o om ," s a id A rte m is . " T his s tu ff s m ells s o g ood, th ey'd g o
cra zy tr y in g to lic k if o ff ." A fte r r u bbin g th e p aste in w it h s o ft c lo th s,
th ey w ait e d tw enty m in ute s, t h en tr o oped d ow n to th e h all b ath ro om
to r in se o ff .
W hen th ey r e tu rn ed to A th ena's r o om , A ph ro dit e to ld P ers e phone
and A rte m is a bout H ip pom ene s to o. " It w ou ld b e g re at if y o u'd a ll
c o m e w it h m e to th e r a ce to m orro w ," s h e s a id . " It's e arly e nough th at
w e s h ould h ave tim e to g et b a ck b efo re o ur c la sse s s ta rt."
A th ena lo oke d u p fr o m h er d esk, w he re s h e'd b een s crib b li n g
dow n th e fa cia l s cru b r e cip e w hile A ph ro dit e
1 30
re co unte d h er s to ry a gain . " I'l l c o m e," s h e s a id .
"M e to o," e ch oed P ers e phone.

"W ould n't m is s it fo r th e w orld ," s a id A rte m is . " I'l l b rin g m y d ogs
to o."
H ip pom enes's e ye s w id ened w hen h e s a w a ll fo ur g oddesse s
appro ach in g th e d ese rte d s a nd y r a ce co urs e a t d aw n th e n ext
m orn in g. A phro dit e in tr o duce d h im to h er fr ie n ds. " D ow n, b oys!"
s h oute d A rte m is w hen h er h o unds le a ped u p o n h im .
"T hat's o ka y," s a id H ip pom enes, r u bbin g A m by u nder th e c h in .
"W e'v e m et o nce b efo re , s o th at m ake s u s o ld fr ie n ds."
F ro m th e b ag s h e'd b ro ught, A ph ro dit e p ulle d o ut th e th re e g old en
apple s H ephaestu s h ad m ade. S he 'd a ske d h im to c o m e to o, b ut
he'd s ta ye d u p la te to m ake
1 31
th e a pple s a nd h ad a p aper h e n eeded to fin is h b efo re h is fir s t-
p erio d c la ss.
T he a pple s w ere p erfe ctly r o un d a nd p olis h ed to a h ig h g old en
sh in e. H ephaestu s h ad u se d a ll h is s kills a s a m eta ls m it h to c ra ft
t h em . J u st lik e th e b ra ce le t, th ey w ere s o ir re sis tib le th at A phro dit e
w is h ed s h e c o uld k e ep th em h ers e lf . B ut a fte r a m om en t's h esit a tio n,
sh e d ro pped th e a pple s in to H ip pom en es's c u pped h ands.
"W hat d o I d o w it h th ese ?" h e a ske d.
"K eep th em w it h y o u d urin g th e r a ce ," s h e to ld h im . " Y ou 'l l fig ure
o ut h ow to u se th em w hen th e tim e is r ig h t." M ore th an th at s h e
w ould n ot te ll h im . H e n eeded to b e w is e e nough to p uzzle s o m e
th in gs o ut fo r h im se lf .

"T hank y o u, O W onderfu l a nd B ea utif u l G od dess," s a id
H ip pom enes, b ow in g. " I h ope to p ro ve w orth y o f y o ur h elp ."
1 32
A s a th ro ng o f p eople b egan g ath erin g to w atc h th e r a ce ,
A phro dit e a nd h er fr ie nds m elt e d in to th e c ro w d. M in ute s la te r,
g old en-h air e d A ta la nta a ppeare d, a cco m pa nie d b y h er fa th er, K in g
S ch oeneus.
A fte r a fe w m om ents s h e le ft t h e k in g a nd jo in e d H ip pom en es a t
th e s ta rtin g lin e. G la ncin g a t h im w it h te nder e ye s fille d w it h s a dness,
A ta la nta c ro uch ed b esid e h im , w ait in g fo r th e s ig n al to b egin th e
ra ce . S eco nds la te r, th e tr u m pets s o unded, a nd th ey w ere o ff .
" G o, H ip pom enes!" s h oute d th e fo ur g oddessg ir ls .
A t fir s t h e h eld h is o w n, m anag in g to r a ce s id e b y s id e w it h
A ta la nta , b ut a fte r a w hile s h e b egan p ullin g a head. S w if t a s a
c h ario t, s h e s p ed fa rth er a nd fa rth er a w ay.
"F aste r, H ip pom enes!" y e lle d th e g oddessg ir ls . T heir v o ic e s
b le nded to geth er w it h th ose o f th e c ro w d, w hic h
1 33
w as a ls o u rg in g th e y o uth o n. S qu eezin g h er h ands to geth er
A phro dit e w ille d h im to th in k o f th e a pple s. A t th at m om en t A ta la nta
g la nce d o ve r h er s h ould er to c h e ck o n H ip pom en es's s p eed. T he
actio n c a use d h er to s lo w a li t tle , a nd in th at in sta nt H ip pom enes's
f a ce lit u p a s if a n id ea h ad s tr u ck h im . D ra w in g th e fir s t a pple fr o m
his s a sh , h e to sse d it in to th e a ir s o th at it r o lle d o nto th e tr a ck ju st
a head o f A ta la nta .

Tra nsfix e d b y it s s h in y g old ness, th e g ir l h esit a te d, th en b ent to
s co op it u p. A s s h e d id s o , H ip p om en es d ash ed p ast h er.
T he c ro w d c h eere d, a nd th e g oddessg ir ls p um pe d th eir fis ts in th e
air . " W ay to g o, H ip pom enes!" s h oute d A ph ro dit e . P ocke tin g th e fir s t
a pple , A ta la nta s o on c a ught u p a nd p asse d h im a gain . R ea ch in g in to
h is s a sh , H ip pom enes d re w o u t th e s e co nd a pple a nd
134
flu ng it w it h a ll h is m ig ht. It g li n te d in th e m orn in g s u n a s it r o lle d in
f r o nt o f A ta la nta a nd c a m e to r e st a t th e e dge o f th e tr a ck. A s s h e
darte d o ve r to p ic k it u p, H ip po m en es p asse d h er o nce m ore .
B y n ow th e g oal m ark s w ere in s ig h t. B ut a s b efo re , A ta la n ta
q uic kly d re w e ve n w it h H ip pom en es a nd p ulle d a head in a fr e sh
b urs t o f s p eed. " O h n o!" c rie d A ph ro dit e . P oo r H ip pom en es w as
bre ath in g h eavily , h is s id es h ea vin g . B ut w it h h is la st b it o f s tr e ngth ,
he h urle d th e fin al g old en a pple . It s tr u ck th e c o urs e a t A ta la nta 's
f e et a nd b ounce d w id e. U nable to r e sis t, s h e s w erv e d to fo llo w . A s
sh e s to oped to c a ptu re it , H ip p om en es s tu m ble d a cro ss th e fin is h
lin e.
A s h out w ent u p fr o m th e c ro w d, a nd ju st lik e th e m orta ls a ro und
th em , th e g oddessg ir ls ju m ped fo r jo y a nd h ugged o ne a noth er.
H ip pom enes s e nt A phro dit e a
1 35
w ave o f th anks a s h e tr o tte d t o a s m all s ta ge th at h ad b een s e t u p
near th e tr a ck. S he s m ile d, w avin g b ack.

A p ala ce a tte ndant p la ce d a w re ath o n H ip pom en es's h ead, a nd
A ta la nta c a m e to s ta nd b esid e h im . S m ilin g b ro adly , s h e h eld u p th e
gold en a pple s fo r a ll to s e e. " H ip pom en es h as w on ," s h e p ro cla im ed
lo udly . " I a m g la d to g iv e u p th e r a ce , a nd th at it is h e w ho h as w on
th is v ic to ry fr o m m e."
" I w ill o nly c o unt m yse lf th e tr u e w in ner," s a id H ip pom en es, g azin g
at h er lo vin gly , " if y o u s a y I'v e w on y o ur h eart."
A ta la nta b lu sh ed. " A nd s o y o u h ave ."
T he g oddessg ir ls s ig hed.
"H ow r o m antic ." A phro dit e 's e ye s s h one b rig h t a s th e g old e n
apple s a s A ta la nta to ok H ip po m en es's h and a nd le a d h im to th e
kin g, w ho w ould s o on b e b le ssin g
136
th eir m arria ge. It fe lt g ood to h ave p la ye d a p art in b rin g in g th e tw o
yo ung m orta ls to geth er.
" Y e g ods!" A th ena e xcla im ed. " If w e d on't h urry b ack, w e'l l b e la te
t o c la ss!" L uckily , th e g ir ls h ad w orn th eir w in ged s a ndals . N ow th ey
lo ose ned th e tie s to fr e e th e s ilv e r w in gs a t th eir h eels . A s th e tie s
tw in ed a ro und th eir a nkle s, th e w in gs b egan to fla p . A rte m is 's d ogs
ra ce d a lo ng b ehin d a s, w it h in m in ute s, th e s a ndals w his ke d a ll fo ur
gir ls u p th e m ounta in sid e a nd th ro ugh th e c lo u ds to th e to p o f M ount
O ly m pus.
1 37
10 Perfect Matches

TH AT A FTE R NO ON, A T A PH RO DIT E 'S IN VIT A -tio n , H ep haestu s
jo in ed th e g oddessg ir ls in th e c a fe te ria fo r a s n ack. W hile s ip pin g
am bro sia s h ake s, th e g ir ls to ok tu rn s te llin g h im a bout th e r a ce .
A s P ers e phone d escrib ed th e s p ellb ound lo o k o n A ta la n ta 's fa ce
w hen s h e g lim pse d th e fir s t g old e n a pple , A ph ro dit e n otic e d a
g oddessg ir l w it h c u rly
1 38
bro w n h air w atc h in g th em fr o m s e ve ra l ta ble s a w ay. T here w as a
d re am y e xp re ssio n o n h er fa ce a s h er p re tty b ro w n e ye s s e ttle d o n
H ephaestu s--th e k in d o f e xp re ssio n A ph ro dit e o fte n s a w o n h er o w n
adm ir e rs ' fa ce s. T he g ir l lo oke d a w ay w he n s h e s a w s h e'd b een
notic e d g apin g a t h im . " D o y o u k n ow th at g oddessg ir l? " A ph ro dit e
in te rru pte d, lo okin g a t H ephaestu s a nd n oddin g h er h ead in th e g ir l's
d ir e ctio n.
H e g la nce d to w ard th e b ro w n-h air e d g ir l. " S ure . S he 's n ew h ere a t
M OA. H er n am e's A gla ia . S he's in m y B ea st- o lo g y c la ss."
" In te re stin g," s a id A phro dit e . " S he w as lo o kin g a t y o u ju st n ow ."
H e s h ru gged a nd tu rn ed b ack to w ard P ers e phone. " S o th en w hat
did H ip pom enes d o?"
139 H onestly , th ought A phro dit e , s o m etim es g odboys w ere s o
d ense . " E xcu se m e," s h e s a id , in te rr u ptin g a gain . " B ut th at g ir l w asn 't
j u st lo okin g a t y o u. S he w as lo o kin g a t y o u lik e s h e lik e s yo u."
A rte m is , P ers e phone, a nd A th ena g ig g le d . B lu sh in g , H ep haestu s
gla nce d a t A gla ia a gain , th is t im e w it h a lit tle m ore in te re st. A cro ss

th e r o om , th e n ew g ir l c a ught h is e ye . H er c h eeks tu rn ed p in k a s s h e
sm ile d s h yly a t h im .
Aphro dit e n udged h im w it h h er e lb o w . " M ayb e y o u s h ould g o ta lk
t o h er. O r if y o u'd lik e , w e c o u ld in vit e h er o ve r h ere . I b et s h e'd e njo y
hearin g a ll a bout h ow y o ur g old e n a pple s s a ve d th e d ay to o."
H ephaestu s's e ye s tw in kle d. " A re y o u tr y in g to fix m e u p?" H e
m ig ht n ot b e h andso m e to h e r, A ph ro dit e
1 40
th ought, b ut th ere w as s o m eth in g a bout th e s p ark le in h is e ye s
th at m ade h im a ttr a ctiv e n oneth ele ss. I n ner b eauty , s h e r e aliz e d.
T hat's w hat th e s p ark le w as.
"O f c o urs e I'm tr y in g to fix y o u u p," s h e s a id w it h a g rin . " I'm th e
goddessg ir l o f lo ve , a fte r a ll. T hat's w ha t I d o."
" F air e nough," H ephaestu s s a id . T he fo ur g oddessg ir ls lo o ke d a t
him e xp ecta ntly . " A ll r ig ht," h e s a id a t la st. " I'l l g o ta lk to h er." H e to ok
a d eep b re ath , th en s to od u p f r o m th e ta ble . S hif tin g h is w eig ht, h e
le aned fo rw ard o n h is s ilv e r c a ne. " W ell, h ere I g o."
" W ait ." O n a n im puls e , A phro d it e h opped u p a nd g ave h im a q uic k
p eck o n th e c h eek.
H e c o ve re d h is c h eek w it h h is p alm , lo o kin g p le a se d a nd
su rp ris e d. " W hat w as th at fo r? "
"F or y o u--fo r b ein g b eautif u l in sid e a nd o ut. O ka y,
1 41
now y o u c a n g o." S he m ade li t tle s h ooin g m otio n s w it h h er h ands
as h er fr ie nds g ig gle d a gain .

Wit h a lo ok o f g re ate r c o nfid en ce , H ep haestu s h eaded to w ard
A gla ia 's ta ble . H avin g w it n esse d th e k is s, s h e w as fr o w nin g s lig htly
n ow . N eve r m in d, th ought A phro dit e . H er r e puta tio n a s M OA's m ost
b eautif u l a nd s o ught- a fte r g odd essg ir l p ro bably w ou ld n 't d o
H ephaestu s a ny h arm .
Seco nds la te r, a g ro up o f g od boys e nte re d th e c a fe te ria . A re s w as
w it h th em . S eein g h im th is tim e, A ph ro dit e 's h eart d id n 't flu tte r lik e it
u su ally d id . H e m ig ht b e h andso m e, s h e th ought, b ut h e s e em ed to
la ck o th er m ore im porta nt q ualit ie s--lik e k in d ness a nd lo ya lt y a nd
genero sit y th at H ephaestu s a nd H ip pom en es h ad s h ow n.
G lim psin g th e g ir ls , A re s le ft h is fr ie n ds a nd
142
sw aggere d o ve r to th eir ta ble . " H ey, T heeny," h e s a id , ig n orin g th e
oth ers . " H ave y o u g iv e n a ny m ore th ought to th at th in g w e ta lk e d
about? "
"N ot a t a ll, " A th ena s a id c o olly . " A nd I'm n ot g oin g to c h ange m y
m in d."
" A w , T heeny," p le aded A re s. " D on 't b e th at w ay."
" Y ou s h ould lis te n b ette r," s a id A ph ro dit e . " A s s h e to ld y o u b efo re ,
her n am e's A th ena, n ot T hee ny."
A re s's h ead s w ung to w ard h er. H e s m ile d u nkin d ly . " W hat's th at,
B ubble s? "
"D on't c a ll h er th at!" g ro w le d A rte m is . A nd fr o m u nder th e ta ble
h er d ogs g ro w le d to o.
P ers e phone fr o w ned a t h im . " I th in k y o u'd b ette r le a ve ."

"It's a ll r ig ht," s a id A phro dit e . " H e p ro bably s a id th at w it h out
th in kin g--"
1 43
A re s in te rru pte d. " N ot r e ally , I- -"
" T he w ay h e d oes m ost th in g s," s h e fin is h e d.
H er fr ie nds b urs t in to la ughte r.
W it h a s n arl, A re s tu rn ed o n h is h eel a nd s ta lk e d a w ay.
A th ena s co w le d a t h is b ack. " H e a nd M ed usa a re tw o o f a k in d."
" T hat's fo r s u re ," s a id P ers e p hone. " T hey'r e b oth bullie s. "
"T a lk a bout a p erfe ct m atc h ," s a id A rte m is . " T hose tw o w ere m ade
fo r e ach o th er."
" Y ou a re s o r ig ht!" A phro dit e e xcla im ed. H er e ye s s p ark le d a s s h e
sa id , " T here 'v e b een a lo t o f r u m ors g oin g a ro und th is w ee k. H ow
about if w e s ta rt o ne o f o ur o w n?"
* * *
1 44
It w asn 't lo ng b efo re th e g oddessg ir ls r e asse m ble d in A ph ro dit e 's
r o om . S he h anded A th ena h er r e d fe ath er p en a nd a s h eet o f p in k
papyru s.
"W hat c o lo r s h ould th e r o se s b e?" A th ena a ske d.
"R ed," s a id P ers e phone.
A phro dit e n odded. " M ost d efin it e ly r e d."
" T he flo w ers o f lo ooove ," A rte m is s a id te asin g ly .
A th ena q uic kly w ro te d ow n th e o rd er, a ddre ssin g it to H erm es's
F lo ra l D eliv e ry . T hen s h e r o lle d u p th e p apyru s s h eet a nd tie d a

pie ce o f r ib bon a ro und it . A s s h e c h ante d th e S en d s p ell, th e lit tle
s cro ll r o se fr o m A phro dit e 's d e sk a nd z o om ed to w ard h er w in dow .
"W ait !" A phro dit e c rie d. B ut it w as to o la te . T he p apyru s c ra sh ed
again st th e w in dow pane, c ru m plin g, th en s p ir a lin g d iz zily to th e flo or.
1 45
"S orry , I fo rg ot," A phro dit e s a id . A s th e s cro ll s lo w ly r a is e d it s e lf
u p, s h e o pened th e w in dow . W it h w ha t s e em ed lik e a s h ow o f
dig nit y , th e p apyru s u ncru m ple d it s e lf , th en h opped o nto th e
w in dow sill. F ro m th ere , it d ove in to th e w in d a nd w as s w if tly s w ept
aw ay.
1 46
1 1 Red Roses
WHEN S C HO OL L E T O UT T H E F O LL O W IN G a fte rn oon,
A phro dit e a nd h er fr ie nds lin ge re d in th e m ain h all n ear th e m arb le
s ta ir c a se th at le d u p to th e d orm s u ntil A re s a ppeare d. A s u su al,
b eefy K yd oim os a nd s q uin ty -e ye d M akh ai s tu ck to h im lik e
b odyg uard s. A re s g lo w ere d a t th e g oddessg ir ls a s h e c a m e n ear, b ut
A phro dit e s m ile d a t h im s w eetly . " H i, A re s." S he tu rn ed to w ard
A th ena.
147
"A sk h im a bout th ose flo w ers y o u g ot," s h e s a id . " T hose r e d r o se s
he s e nt."
K yd oim os s ta re d a t A re s w it h a lo o k o f s u rp ris e , a nd M akh ai
ra is e d a s co rn fu l e ye bro w . " W hat r o se s? " A re s s p lu tte re d,

em barra sse d. " I n eve r s e nt a nyo n e r o se s."
" R eally ? T hey w ere g org eous!" P ers e phone e xcla im ed. " A nd th ey
sm elle d a s s w eet a s a m bro sia ."
A ro und th em , c u rio us s tu dents p ause d to lis te n to th is in te re stin g
co nve rs a tio n. A s m ore a nd m ore g ath ere d a t th e fo ot o f th e s ta ir s ,
A phro dit e w as p le ase d to g lim pse M ed usa a nd P he m e a m ong th em .
They m ust h ave o ve rh eard b eca u se th eir h eads w ere to geth er a nd
P hem e w as w his p erin g e xcit e d ly . It d id n 't s e em to b oth er h er w hen
M edusa 's s n ake s s lit h ere d a nd w ou nd th ro ugh h er s p ik y h air . O r
m ayb e s h e w as ju st to o b usy g ossip in g to n otic e .
1 48
A phro dit e g aze d s o ulf u lly a t A re s. " A g odboy c o uld w in a ny g ir l's
h eart w it h flo w ers lik e th at. R ig ht, A th ena?"
B attin g h er e ye la sh es, A th ena s ig h ed th eatr ic a lly . " S o tr u e."
" W ell ... ," h e s a id s lo w ly . H is e ye s s h if te d b etw ee n th e tw o g ir ls ,
a nd A phro dit e c o uld te ll h e w as tr y in g to fig u re o ut h ow to tu rn th in gs
to h is a dva nta ge. H e w as s o ca lc u la tin g . W hy h adn't s h e s e en th at
befo re ? " I g uess m ayb e I d id s e nd th ose flo w ers ," h e s a id fin a lly .
"G la d y o u lik e d th em ." H e g ave th em h is m ost c h arm in g s m ile , a nd
sh e fe lt c e rta in h e w as b ettin g th at a n A th ena in lo ve w ou ld c h ange
her m in d a bout s p eakin g to h er d ear o ld d ad o n h is b ehalf .
" O h, I d id ," A th ena a ssu re d h im . " B ut o f c o urs e I c a n't k e ep th em ."
" H uh?" s a id A re s.
1 49

Medusa in ch ed c lo se r a nd th e fe w m orta ls in th e c ro w d s h ra nk
aw ay o r c o ve re d th eir e ye s s o a s n ot to a ccid e nta lly lo o k a t h er.
C uppin g a h and a ro und h er e a r, P he m e le a ned fo rw ard to o, li k e s h e
did n't w ant to m is s a s in gle w ord .
"Y eah. T o o b ad th ey w ere d eliv e re d to y o u b y m is ta ke , r ig h t
A th ena?" A rte m is s a id .
"H uh?" A re s s a id a gain , lo okin g to ta lly c o nfu se d.
"I fin ally c h ecke d th e n ote y o u s e nt w it h th em ," A th ena e xp la in ed.
T hen s h e lo oke d s tr a ig ht a t M edusa . " Y ou 'r e o ne lu cky g ir l! "
M edusa 's e ye s w id ened in s u rp ris e , b ut th en a s m ile s p re ad o ve r
her g lo ssy g re en lip s, a nd s h e g ave A re s a d re am y lo o k. " T hey w ere
fo r m e ?"
"W hat? " R ed r o se s b lo om ed in A re s' c h eeks a nd h e b acke d u p a
s te p. " W ait a s e co nd, I n eve r- -"
1 50
"I'm s u re y o u'l l e njo y th em ," A ph ro dit e in te rru pte d, s m ilin g a t
M edusa . " W hat g ir l w ould n't !"
F or a s e co nd M edusa 's s m ile w ave re d. S he g la n ce d s u sp ic io usly
a t th e fo ur g oddessg ir ls . S o d id h er s n ake s. F ro w nin g , s h e r e ach ed
up to s tr o ke o ne o f th em a nd it w ou nd a ro und h er w ris t, h is sin g
aff e ctio nate ly . " Y ou'r e n ot p utt in g u s o n, a re y o u?" s h e a ske d.
U s? W as M edusa r e fe rrin g to h ers e lf a nd P he m e ... o r to h ers e lf
a nd th e sn ake s ? M ayb e b oth , th ought A phro dit e . " W hy w ou ld w e d o
th at? " s h e a ske d in noce ntly .

Arte m is s h ru gged. " If y o u d on 't w an t th e flo w ers , I'm s u re A th ena
w ould b e h appy to k e ep th em ."
A th ena n odded v ig oro usly , b ut M ed usa s till lo o ke d u nce rta in .
"W e s e t th e v a se o uts id e y o ur r o om ," P ers e phone s a id .
1 51
"G o ta ke a lo ok if y o u d on't b elie ve u s," a dded A th ena.
B efo re M edusa c o uld r e sp ond, P he m e p ush ed th ro ugh th e c ro w d
and s ta rte d u psta ir s . A phro dit e c o uld b et s h e w as m akin g a b eeli n e
fo r M edusa 's r o om . H urry in g a fte r h er, M ed usa c a lle d o ut, " H ey, w ait
f o r m e. T he flo w ers a re m in e!"
T he g oddessg ir ls g rin ned a t o n e a noth er. O nce P he m e s a w th e
ro se s a nd th e c a rd th ey'd a ske d H erm es F lo ra l D eliv e ry to s e nd o n
A re s's b ehalf , it w ould n't b e lo ng b efo re A re s a nd M ed usa 's n am es
w ould b e p air e d to geth er o n e ve ry o ne's lip s. A re s m ust h ave r e aliz e d
th at to o, b eca use h e r a ce d u psta ir s a fte r M ed usa , a w orrie d lo ok o n
his fa ce .
S om e o f th e s tu dents in th e c ro w d d ash ed a fte r th em , w an tin g to
s e e w hat e ls e w ould h appen. T he r e st le ft
1 52
in g ro ups, b usily d is cu ssin g th e m erit s a nd d ra w ba cks o f th is
s u rp ris in g n ew r o m ance . A phro dit e s ig h ed w it h p le a su re . " I d on't
t h in k I'v e e ve r m ade a m ore d ese rv in g m atc h ." F eelin g m ore
lig hth earte d th an s h e h ad in d ays, s h e b ent to p et A rte m is 's d ogs
and d id n't e ve n m in d w hen S uez s lo b bere d o n h er h and.

Late r, th e fo ur fr ie nds w alk e d p ast th e s p orts fie ld s a t th e e dge o f
ca m pus, d ow n to th e S upern atu ra l M ark e t, w he re th ey b ought s o m e
sn acks to s h are . O n th e w ay b ack th ey w ove s illy s p ells to geth er a nd
m ade c a ndie s a nd c h ip s d ance in th e a ir . T he h ounds w ere
d elig hte d, e sp ecia lly A m by. E ars fla p pin g , h e le a ped to s n atc h th e
tr e ats a nd q uic kly g obble d th e m d ow n.
"A nyo ne w ant to r a ce ?" A rte m is a ske d a s th ey c a m e e ve n w it h th e
tr a ck fie ld .
153
P ers e phone g ig gle d. " N ot w it h out m y w in ged s a ndals ."
" H ave y o u e ve r s e en a nyo ne w ho c o uld r u n a s fa st a s A ta la nta ?"
A th ena a ske d.
"W ell, A re s is p re tty fa st," s a id A ph ro dit e .
T he o th er g ir ls lo oke d a t h er, a s if s u rp ris e d s h e c o uld s till s a y
so m eth in g n ic e a bout h im . S he s h ru gged. " It d oesn 't m ea n I'm s till
c ru sh in g o n h im . B ut y o u k n ow h e's w on th e fo otr a ce s in e ve ry
O ly m pic g am es s in ce fir s t g ra de ."
A rte m is n odded. " T ru e. B ut d o y o u th in k h e c o uld b eat A ta la nta ?"
"M ayb e," A phro dit e s a id . T hen s h e g rin n ed. " E sp e cia lly if M edusa
w as c h asin g h im ."
L aughin g, th e g oddessg ir ls r e a ch ed th e c o urty a rd . A s
154
th ey p asse d a g ro up o f g odbo ys a t th e b ase o f th e g ra nit e s ta ir s ,
a ll h eads tu rn ed to lo ok a t A ph ro dit e . " H ey!" y e lle d th e c e nta ur fr o m

Mr. C yclo ps's c la ss, th e g odbo y s h e'd m ad e b lu sh o nly a fe w d ays
a go. " W ill y o u d ance w it h m e a t th e s ch ool p arty th is w ee ke nd?"
"H old o n! I w as g oin g to a sk h e r!" P ose id o n c h im ed in . " M e to o,"
s a id a noth er g odboy.
A rte m is r o lle d h er e ye s. " L ooks lik e th in g s a re p re tty m uch b ack to
n orm al, " s h e w his p ere d.
"O ne o f th ese d ays y o u'l l fin d o ut w ha t it 's lik e to c ru sh o n
so m eone," P ers e phone te ase d .
A th ena n odded, g rin nin g. " I'd lik e to s e e th at!"
" H ey!" s a id A rte m is , lo okin g a lit tle w orrie d . " A ph ro dit e d oesn 't
n eed any m ore m atc h m akin g id eas."
A phro dit e c o cke d h er h ead. " S ure I d o." T hen s h e s m ile d o ve r a t
th e h opefu l c e nta ur. Y es, b oys c o uld b e
155
annoyin g, b ut s o m e o f th em w ere a ls o s w ee t. " I'l l d ance w it h y o u,"
s h e s a id . " A re y o u a ny g ood?"
T he g odboy g rin ned. " I th in k s o ." H e s ta m pe d h is h oove s.
"D on't b elie ve h im !" P ose id on y e lle d. " C an 't y o u s e e h e's g ot tw o
le ft fe et? " T he b oys s ta rte d la ug hin g a nd b egan g ood-n atu re dly
t u sslin g o n th e g ro und.
A th ena s h ook h er h ead a t th e ir s illin ess. " G od boys w ill b e
godboys," s h e s a id d ry ly .
"Y ou c a n s a y th at a gain ," A rte m is a gre ed.
P ers e phone g rin ned. " Y ou c a n 't ta ke th e b oy o ut o f th e g odboy
th at's fo r s u re ."

"A nd w ould w e r e ally w ant to if w e c o uld ? " a ske d A ph ro dit e . T hen
sh e c a lle d o ut, " S ee y o u a t th e d ance , g uys!" H er s m ile d azzle d th e
entir e g ro up, le avin g th em a ll r o ote d to th e s p ot w it h th eir m outh s
hangin g o pen.
156
"L ik e I s a id , lo oks lik e th in gs a re b ack to n orm al, " A rte m is te ase d.
P ers e phone a nd A th ena g rin n ed.
A phro dit e la ughed. " A nd I w ould n 't h ave it a ny o th er w ay." L in kin g
arm s w it h h er fr ie nds, th e fo ur o f th em c lim be d th e s te ps to th e
aca dem y's fr o nt d oors .
1 57
158
159
O N S IL V ER -W IN G ED M AG IC S AN DALS , A R TE M IS z o om ed
th ro ugh th e F ore st o f th e B ea sts , h er fe et g lid in g ju st in ch es a bove
th e m ossy fo re st flo or. " C om e o ut, c o m e o ut, w he re ve r y o u a re ," s h e
sin gso nged u nder h er b re ath .
D odgin g tr e e tr u nks a nd d uckin g u nder lo w -h angin g v in e s, s h e
lis te ned c a re fu lly fo r a ny u nusu al s o unds. H er k e en d ark e ye s
se arc h ed th e d ense w oods. H er fa vo rit e b ow --it s lim bs m ad e o f
cu rv e d, p olis h ed o liv e w ood--w as a t th e r e ady. A to ole d le a th er
quiv e r o f a rro w s w as
160
slu ng a cro ss h er b ack. S he c o uld p ull o ne o ut a nd h ave it n ocke d
and a im ed in a s p lit s e co nd, a s s o on a s it w as n eeded. B eh in d h er,

Arte m is h eard A th ena w hiz zin g a lo n g in w in ged s a ndals a s w ell . A nd
fo llo w in g h er w ere A phro dit e a n d P ers e phone. A ll fo ur g oddessg ir ls
w ore a nkle -le ngth flo w in g g ow ns c a lle d c h it o ns, a nd th eir s kir ts
w hip ped in th e b re eze a s th ey z ip p ed th ro ugh th e fo re st o f o li v e , fig ,
and p om egra nate tr e es, th eir fe et n eve r q uit e to uch in g th e e arth .
T hey h ad c o m e h ere th is a fte rn oon fo r o ne p urp ose : to d uel w it h
s o m e o f th e s lim ie st, s m ellie st b easts e ve r to r o am th e E arth . A rm ed
w it h m agic -tip ped a rro w s, th e g oddessg ir ls h ad a lr e ady d efe ate d a
s h e-d ra gon c a lle d E ch id na a nd b este d a g oat- h eaded C him era . N ow
th ey h ad o nly te n m in ute s le ft to fin d th e th ir d b east th ey w ere
tr a ckin g.
161
W in nin g th is o ne fin al b attle o f g ood v e rs u s e vil w as c rit ic a l.
S om eth in g v e ry im porta nt h ung in th e b ala n ce .
T heir g ra des.
T he fir s t F rid ay o f e ve ry m onth , a ll th e g oddessg ir ls a nd g odboys
in th eir B east- o lo gy c la ss le ft M ou nt O ly m pu s A ca d em y a nd c a m e
dow n to E arth . H ere in th is fo re st, fo r a n e ntir e h our, th ey p la ye d
gam es o f s kill th at P ro fe sso r L adon h ad c re ate d to te st th em . H ow
lu cky th at s h e a nd h er b est fr ie nds w ere in th e s a m e c la ss a nd th at
th ey'd a ll b een a ssig ned to th is s e ctio n o f th e w oo ds!
D efe atin g th re e b easts to day w ou ld m ea n a n A fo r e ach o f th e
fo ur g ir ls . G ettin g o nly tw o w as a B , o ne a C , a nd c o m in g u p e m pty
m eant h avin g to r e peat th e te st u ntil th ey g ot it r ig h t. A rte m is h ad

neve r e ve r g otte n le ss th an a n A in th e B ea st- o lo g y g am es, a nd s h e
did n't w ant th is to b e a n e xce p tio n . T o day w as h er b ir th day, a fte r a ll.
1 62
A noth er A w ould b e th e p erfe ct g if t to h ers e lf .
A s s h e e nte re d th e c le arin g, A rte m is h eard a s n uff lin g s o und. T he
gra y-g re en le ave s o f a n earb y g ro ve o f o liv e tr e es r u stle d , d is tu rb in g
fin ch es a nd w arb le rs , w hic h fle w a w ay in a g re at flu tte r o f w in gs. S he
slo w ed, m otio nin g s ile ntly to h e r fr ie n ds to a le rt th em th at s o m eth in g
w as u p.
"It's lu rk in g. O ve r th ere !" A rte m is c a lle d s o ftly a s th e o th ers d re w
up b esid e h er. J u st th en th e w in d c h anged d ir e ctio n , a nd s h e g ot a
w hif f o f th e c re atu re . U gh. It s m elle d lik e s w am p g as, w et d og, a nd
co w p attie s a ll r o lle d in to o ne.
P ers e phone g ro aned a nd fa nne d h er h and in fr o nt o f h er n atu ra ll y
p ale fa ce , c a usin g th e b angs o f h er c u rly r e d h air to flu tte r. " D oesn 't
e xa ctly s m ell lik e flo w ers , d oe s it ? " A s kille d g ard ener, s h e c o uld
m ake a nyth in g
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blo om a t th e to uch o f a fin ger.
A th ena w rin kle d h er n ose . " M ayb e lik e s ku nkw ee d."
" I h ope it d oesn 't tu rn o ut to b e s o m eth in g th at s lin gs s lim e th is
t im e," w his p ere d A phro dit e . F lip pin g h er lo n g, s h in y b lo n d h air o ve r
one s h ould er, s h e to uch ed th e g old b ra id e dgin g th e n eckli n e o f h er
ch it o n. " T his o utfit is n ew a nd I d on't w an t it r u in e d." T he g oddessg ir l
o f b eauty , s h e h ad a n o utfit fo r e ve ry o cca sio n . T his o ne w as a b rig ht

ro bin 's e gg b lu e th at m atc h ed h er e ye s. C ir c lin g h er s le n der w ais t
w as a b elt m ade o f w ove n g ra p evin e s. S in ce A ph ro dit e s e t m ost
fa sh io n tr e nds a t M ount O ly m pus A ca d em y, e ve ry g oddessg ir l a t
sch ool w ould p ro bably b e w ea rin g a b elt ju st lik e it b efo re th e w eek
w as o ut.
S to m p. S to m p. S to m p. T he g ro und s h ook a s th e b ea st lu m be re d
clo se r. G oose b um ps r o se o n A rte m is 's a rm s. 1 64 S he'd r a th er e at a
s ca ra b b eetle th an a dm it it a lo ud , b ut s h e w as s ca re d. B eca use s h e
w as g oddess o f th e h unt a nd w as s kille d a t a rc h ery , e ve ry o ne a t
sch ool a ssu m ed s h e w as b ra ve . H er fr ie n ds d epended o n h er to le ad
th em in th ese h unts . E ve n n ow th e o th ers w ere w ait in g fo r h er to te ll
t h em w hat k in d o f b east th ey'd fo und. A nd s h e h ad a h unch s h e
kn ew w hat it w as!
R ais in g h er le ft h and o ve rh ead , s h e h eld u p o ne fin g er. T hen, a fte r
a m om ent's p ause , tw o fin gers . A no th er p ause . T hre e fin g ers . A nd
fin ally , fo ur. T hen, h old in g u p h er o th er h and s h e s h ow ed tw o m ore
fin gers to m ake s ix in a ll. T his s ig n ale d to th e o th ers th at th ey'd
p ro bably fo und a o ne-h eaded, tw o-a rm ed , th re e-b odie d , fo ur-
w in ged, s ix -le gged b east. J u st in c a se th ey h adn't g otte n th e
m essa ge, s h e s ile ntly m outh ed th e b east's n am e: G ery o n.
165
A t th e n ew s, A th ena g ot th e d e te rm in ed lo o k o n h er fa ce th at s h e
alw ays g ot ju st b efo re ta kin g a te st s h e w an te d to a ce . P ers e phone
pin ch ed h er n ose c lo se d, a s if p re parin g fo r th e w ors t s m ell e ve r to
g et e ve n w ors e a s th eir o ppo nent c a m e c lo se r. A nd A ph ro dit e

gla nce d d ow n a t h er s ty lis h b lu e c h it o n, lo o kin g m ore th an a tr if le
c o nce rn ed.
S eco nds la te r a g ia nt c re atu re ju m pe d o ut o f th e w oo ds in to th e
cle arin g. A t th e s ig ht o f it , g oose b um ps r o se o n to p o f th e g oose
b um ps A rte m is a lr e ady h ad. T he G ery o n w as b ig . It w as b ad. It w as
beastly . It lo oke d ju st lik e th e o ne in h er B ea st- o lo g y te xts cro ll th at
th e G re ek h ero H era cle s h ad fo ught in a fa m ou s b attle k n ow n a s th e
Te nth L abor.
A lt h ough s h e lo ve d to h unt, s h e w is h ed th ey'd s h oot a t r e gula r
ta rg ets . S om etim es th e b easts P ro fe sso r L adon
166
desig ned fo r th ese te sts s e em ed s o ... s o re al . S he h ad a h ard
tim e r e m em berin g th ey w ere f a ke .
"Y ou c a lle d th is o ne r ig ht a s u su al, " c o nfir m ed A th ena fr o m b ehin d
her. " W atc h o ut, th e c la ss te xts cro ll s a ys th ey h ave p artic u la rly
v ic io us ta lo ns a nd w ily w ays."
" A nd b ad b re ath ," a dded A phro dit e , h old in g h er n ose n ow a lo ng
w it h P ers e phone.
T he G ery o n lic ke d it s g re en lip s, e ye in g th em e ach in tu rn . T hen it
t u rn ed a nd w aggle d it s th re e r e ar e nds s o it s tr io o f lo n g ta il s s w ept
back a nd fo rth in th e le ave s. " N ah n ah n uh nah n ah," it ta unte d
so ftly . A ll th e w hile , it s b la zin g r e d e ye s w atc h ed th em o ve r it s
s h ould er to s e e if th ey'd ta ke th e b ait a nd m ove c lo se r. W hen th ey
did n't , it h eld a h and to w ard th em . It p oke d o ne fo re cla w o ut a nd

cu rle d it o ve r a nd o ve r, b ecko n in g th em to fo llo w it in to th e in tr ic a te
m aze o f b ush es b eyo nd it k n ow n a s th e la b yrin th .
167
T here w as r u m ore d to b e s o m e s o rt o f fa nta stic a l b east- m akin g
m ach in e in th e c e nte r, w hic h P ro fe sso r L adon h ad s p ecia lly
d esig ned to s p aw n th eir o ppon ents fo r th ese g am es.
"Y e g ods," A th ena w his p ere d . " D oe s it r e ally th in k w e'l l fa ll fo r
th at? "
"N o w ay w e'r e fo llo w in g it in to th at m aze ," A rte m is a gre ed, h er
vo ic e s h akin g. T hen, w orrie d th at h er w ord s m ig ht h ave s o unded
co w ard ly , s h e a dded in a c o nfid e nt v o ic e , " L et's tr y to lu re it c lo se r.
I 'd lik e to g et a g ood s h ot a t th at b ig g re en p ato ot."
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