I looked up at Alessa’s office, Divine Interiors, and smiled. I could tell that she and her brother were extremely proud of their accomplishments and their business. I made my way inside the gleaming building. The receptionist smiled and looked me up and down as I walked in the door.
“You must be Lady Amphitrite. Alessa told me to expect you, but I didn’t realize you’d be here so soon,” he said brightly.
I looked him over. He was attractive, but in a somewhat nondescript sort of way. I didn’t even catch his name before I heard Alessa’s voice coming from a hallway behind him.
“Amph! I’m so glad you’re here.” She beamed.
I smiled in return and held out my hand. “Well, when I woke up to those designs you sent me, I couldn’t wait.” Alessa shook my hand and led me to her office. I could see scale models of all the different interiors she’d designed, and I knew that Poseidon had given me the right contacts.
“So, as we walked through the space yesterday, I saw the cathedral ceilings, and wondered if a second floor would be possible, so I came up with a few different ideas. Obviously, there are some for a single floor, we could use those beautifully high ceilings to our advantage, or we could create an entirely new space. Move the bedroom up there, add a sitting room, and a balcony…” Her voice trailed off as she opened the large display TV to show me the designs. I was truly blown away. Alessa began going over all the different designs she’d come up with and didn’t stop talking. I could tell she was excited, and that fed my own excitement.
“Alessa,” I paused her for a moment, and she seemed relieved. “Let’s sit and have a drink. You’ve been talking nonstop for the last half hour.” Alessa breathed deeply and sat down. I began to hum softly, a calming sea-shanty, and I watched as she visibly relaxed.
“What?” she asked after a few minutes. “What was that?”
I finished the phrase and smiled softly. “Just my voice. It’s a gift of mine, Siren Song. I can use it for different effects, but normally I use it to help calm people. Am I…” I didn’t want to ask it, but eventually, curiosity won out. “Am I the first deity that you have designed for?”
I watched Alessa’s eyes widened, the chocolate brown sparkling. She nodded. “Yes, I guess…you make me nervous, Amph.”
My mouth hit the floor. I don’t think I’d ever made anyone nervous in my life. It was an entirely foreign concept to me. I began laughing, a little storm brewing in the sound. “I…make you…nervous? Oh, gods! Gaia preserve me.”
Alessa looked at me, horrified. “I didn’t think it would be quite that funny, Lady Amphitrite.” Her voice was gruff, professional, and almost angry. “If that’s all, I think I’d rather get down to business.” She stood up and walked back over to the display.
Standing quickly, I grabbed her hand and smiled. “No, Alessa.” I breathed slowly, calming the storm, the madness, and gently kissed the back of her fingers. “Don’t be angry. I’m sorry for my um…outburst. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been around normal people, mortal or immortal, and I’m still learning. I have never, that I know of, been known as intimidating. I apologize most profusely if I hurt your feelings.” I stood straight and pressed my forehead against hers. “I don’t want to lose my first friend, please.”
Alessa looked down at me, her couple of inches making a difference, and closed her eyes. “You seemed different for a little bit there, Amph.” Her voice was soft but still hesitant, and I pulled back, still holding her hand. “Like…a storm was brewing in your mind. Like a different person was ready to take over.”
I looked at her, and in the reflection of her eyes I watched my normal blue eyes glaze over dark grey, and I realized that she’d seen it. The part of myself that Poseidon and I had been hiding since the beginning. He wasn’t to blame for the majority of the storms the mortals attributed to him. I was. After living in Atlantis for a while, my bond with the sea deepened. I’m not sure if it was to balance Poseidon out, or if my own powers were growing, but I was more attuned to the tides than before. I would switch from bright and bubbly, to calm and docile, to violent and stormy. We called it Maelstrom, and the mortals took it as the name of a sea storm. Most of the gods I’d met didn’t know how that felt, to be containing such a force at all times. Feeling her build until she broke and took everything with her.
I lowered my eyes and sighed, calming my emotions before speaking again to Alessa. “I am the embodiment of the sea, I will always carry a storm with me, and for that, I can only caution you. I do not know when or if it will come out.” I slowly looked up at her, her eyes taking in my shifting expressions as I allowed the storm to pass over my face. “I would become a different person, I wouldn’t recognize you, and I could hurt you. I–” I stopped as Alessa wrapped me in her strong arms, and I looked at her. “What?”
“Amph, you are amazing,” Alessa said, holding my gaze intently.
I shook my head, trying to keep the tears back. How long had it been since a friend held me this way? How long had it been since I’d had a friend? Perhaps a couple of my cousins in our youth, but never just a friend.
“You have just returned to the surface world after what? 2,000 years away? And you’re trying to learn and catch up on history and find your way. Step out as your own person. It’s no surprise there’s a storm brewing within you. I’d say you could let it out with me, but…”
I shook my head violently, the tears streaming down now as I looked away.
Alessa tipped my chin up, forcing me to meet her eyes again. “I know you’d keep tighter control to protect me, and the mortals. I’ve read the stories, Amph, the few you’re mentioned in. You are a friend to humanity, as much as any goddess is. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to let your storm out once in a while. But I’d suggest not suppressing it if you can. Anger, which is something we humans know all too much about, bottles up the same way. It can eat us away from the inside out if we don’t address it periodically. Now, if you need someone to talk to, well, you have my number.”
I nodded and pulled back slowly, our eyes meeting again.
“I will be your friend when you need one, because, goddess,” she chuckled softly, “it looks like you need one.”
“Alessa, you are the first person I met here other than family. You will always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you.” She let me go and grabbed a tissue to wipe my face. “Now, let’s settle on some designs so that we can get to work putting it all in action.” She laughed and nodded in agreement.
Within the hour, we had honed it down to one design. It was sleek and sexy, definitely beachy, but inviting all the same. She had taken into account the panic room, as we were calling it. From there I could run Nymphaeum, using it as both an office and a safe space if anything happened and I couldn’t get out of the GC. There was a hardline phone with a direct line to a similar office at Nymphaeum, for management to use if I wasn’t in. Poseidon had suggested many of these ideas as we chatted. He didn’t want to see anything bad happen because of poor planning. As he’d been running a business, and a kingdom, for a while, I heeded his advice.
“So, the second floor will be entirely…” I started.
“The bedroom, yes,” Alessa finished my sentence with a smile. “We can set up an identity scanner if you want to keep unwanted people from heading up the stairs, or you can leave it open.”
I giggled softly, like a little girl, and suddenly I felt years younger. “I don’t expect to have many visitors who would need to see my bedroom anytime soon.”
We stood up as the documents were printed and walked over to Alessa’s desk. “You never know, you may find someone to your liking.” She grabbed the paperwork out of the tray. Technology was more amazing to me every day! She flipped through the printouts, marking what needed to be signed.
“Yes, you’re right. Perhaps I will. Or maybe an old flame will surprise me, who knows? I can’t tell the future, Alessa.” I began signing and smiled. “But for now, I just want to be me. Amph, wild, free, and untethered. For once in my life.”
Alessa smiled like she knew something I didn’t, and once the paperwork was taken care of, she laughed. “Alright, I’ll take your word for it, but don’t come to me once you meet someone, and you’re tempted to break that rule. I’ll be here to remind you of it. Now, we start work tomorrow, are you excited?”
I laughed along with her, took my copy of the contract, and we headed back towards the entrance. “Ecstatic. I’ll make sure the front desk knows that your crew will be arriving bright and early, and to give you access if I’m not there waiting. I want to see this place come into fruition.”
We made our way outside, and Alessa pulled me into a deep hug. “You’re strong, Amph. You can make it on your own. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a support system. I know that Lord Poseidon has your back, and so do I.” I nodded and smiled at her. This woman had become such an integral part of my life in a short time. I knew I could face any mortal challenge as long as I had her in my corner.
“Thank you, that means a lot. Now, I believe you have some calls to make.” Alessa laughed brightly. “And so do I.” We shook hands once more, and Alessa made her way back into the offices. I walked towards the GC, back to my new home, and made a call to let reception know to expect Alessa and her crew tomorrow morning.