Saturday, October 25, 2008

Playing for Keeps by Michelle Houston

Aphrodite looked up from her guest list as Athena walked into her room, her warrior-like movements at sharp contrast to her feminine looks. Although she loved her sister Goddess, the two often butted heads and found it best to avoid each other. For Athena to seek her out, Aphrodite knew whatever it was about must be of some importance.

“Have you finished with your invitations yet?”

Bemused, Aphrodite shook her head, sending her golden curls into a riot of movement. Athena had never before taken an interest in her yearly parties, often disparaging her attempts to help the other deities with their dating experiences. It used to be so much easier for them. Zeus was the best example, his conquests among mortal women still legendary, but many of the Gods and Goddesses had frequently moved among the mortals, sharing their lives and their beds.

In the modern age, with mortals believing in them less and less, quite a few of the Olympians had withdrawn, ignoring the mortal realm completely. Some had found themselves fascinated with it, and chose to completely live among mortals—a few even finding love, which delighted Aphrodite to no end.

Athena was among the third category, living among the mortals with her immortal lover, but returning frequently to Olympus.

“May I ask why it matters? I believe you once called my parties a farce. You even went so far as to claim they only served the purpose of populating the world with demi-gods and goddesses, and providing some of the deities a buffet of willing flesh to chose from.”

Athena glowered at her snotty tone. Her gray eyes narrowed, but Aphrodite couldn’t help it. She had been hurt by the Goddess’ condescending words, and wasn’t willing to let go, no matter how serious Athena must be to seek her out.

“I know,” the other Goddess bit out from between clenched teeth, “but I find myself needing to add two mortals to your list of those invited.”

Aphrodite arched a perfectly styled golden eyebrow and waited, a smirk curling her lips. She couldn’t help it; it was delicious to rub Athena’s words in her face.

“One is a young woman who needs to be taught to trust herself, and her body’s desires, before she withers away.”

“And the other?” Aphrodite asked, sensing Athena was saving the best for last.

Her eyebrow arched higher as Athena appeared too grown uncomfortable. “Let’s just say the other is someone I wish Nike to meet.”

Watching as a flush crept up Athena’s neck, Aphrodite decided to let the other Goddess of the hook—there were other ways to find out what was so interesting about the mortal. With a swish of her delicate hand, Aphrodite held out her almost finished list, and allowed Athena to add two names to it. As the other Goddess stormed out of the room, Aphrodite turned her attention to finding out more about the names Athena had added, particularly the young woman—Alicia. She already had a good idea of two possible Gods to coax into meeting the mortal, but had to decide who would be the best match.

As for the young man, Chris, an inkling of Athena’s plans teased at the back of her thoughts, and Aphrodite smiled at the delicious images that sprang to her mind. Yes indeed, this year was going to be the best party yet. She had already planned everything down to the last detail, booking a private island and setting little touches of Olympus throughout, able to be activated by the whims of the other deities.