As I made my way back to the God Complex, happy with how my meeting with Alessa went, I ran into an older man who looked exactly as I remembered him. “Dionysos!” I exclaimed, pulling him into a hug.
I could feel a small amount of resistance from him before he realized who I was. “Well, well, if it ain’t the Queen of the Sea herself.” He spun me around and kissed my cheek softly. The amount of wine on his breath was staggering.
“You didn’t fade, did you? The mortals have always welcomed you into their homes. No wonder you didn’t need to take on a new body,” I chirped playfully, nudging him as we made our way through the complex.
Dionysos laughed heartily at me. “You’re not wrong, Amphy. Not wrong at all.” He looked me over and smiled. I knew I had an attractive body. I chose it for that reason. “So long as there is drunken revelry, I will always be around. And you? I’m not getting a wall of sea-salt vibe from you anymore.”
I slapped Dionysos’ arm and laughed. “I haven’t been salty in eons. I’d like to think I matured since Poseidon and I split.”
Dion smiled crookedly at me, and I could see some of that old mania in his eyes. “So what brings you to the God Complex? Are you staying here, too?”
I nodded and smiled softly. “Yes, Hebe gave me floor 27. I get the whole floor. What about you? You located near dear ol’ Daddio?”
Leaning on his thyrsos as if needing the support to think, he held his palm up, fingers splayed. “Yes! Floor five, all mine! I still have a lot of setting up to do, but it be mine.”
I laughed brightly and looked at him. “Floor five, do you have any ideas on what you want to do with it?” Looking around, I wondered aloud, “Is there somewhere to get a drink, or at least sit while we chat.”
Dion smiled and offered his elbow while talking rapidly, both to himself and me. “Yes, yes, lounge upstairs, lots to drink and lots to sit on, some comfy, some not. The set up will be set up as I set it up when the set up comes to me. Floor five set up, not lounge set up.”
I laughed again; I couldn’t help it. Dion’s ramblings always made me laugh, and I could feel the sea rolling with me. I took his proffered elbow and nodded. “To the lounge then. I had an interior designer drop by my floor yesterday. Would you like their contact information?”
Dion’s head lifted to the ceiling in thought, and he stopped mid-stride, almost toppling both of us over. I should have known better than to ask him something mid-walk. Then snapping back to reality a few seconds later, he finished his stride and nodded. “That would be very nice of you, dear. Very nice indeed!”
I smiled as we made our way to the lounge. It was classier than Poseidon’s bar, and I felt under-dressed here, my sundress and bare feet not seeming to cut it. But then again, Dionysos was in sweatpants and a flannel shirt, so I felt even worse for him. “Any drink you would recommend? I’ve recently taken a liking to white wine. From home, naturally.”
Dion smiled broadly, then looked down. “It’s all the same to me if it’s all the same to you. My taste has no taste, and that is the big punchline.” He raised a hand to get the waiter’s attention and yelled out loud before he even got there, “Tall glass of mineral water, flat for me, and whatever the pretty lady will have!”
I looked over at the waiter and said, “A glass of Assyrtiko, please?” The waiter nodded in confusion and hurried to the bar to put in the order.
“So, what designs have you designed in your mind for your floor, Amphy?” Dion asked while physically trying to swipe a thought away from in front of his mind.
I closed my eyes and reimagined the space. “I want to have an office, completely secure, in case something happens again like the Titan’s escape. I heard some of the stories from Poseidon, and I saw Olympus…” I shivered as the waiter brought the drinks over. I took a sip and sighed happily. “Other than that, I want it to feel more like a beach cabin, than under the sea. I have other ways of remembering home.”
“A beach cabin sounds positively sublime to me.” Dion rubbed his hands together in excitement and nodded before slapping his hands together. “What is this about Titans, though? There was an escape?”
I nodded and took a long draught, not generally how one drank wine. “Yes, I believe someone decided to use them as a weapon and let them out. Revenge against your father, for some ill-perceived slight millennia ago. Poseidon didn’t really want to get into it too much, but I could tell that the betrayal of one of our own cut deeply.”
Dion smiled an uneven smile, and his eyes welled up a bit as he finished his mineral water in one sitting. “Slights and betrayals. It all seems so…familial, doesn’t it? It often happens when ancients get bored. I hope things eventually work out for the best.”
I nodded and sighed. “Change seems to come slower to us, and growth is even more delayed. Because we’re ageless, we think we have all the time in the world to fix our issues. But we don’t, and if our fading didn’t teach us anything, it should have taught us that.” I shook my head and smiled at Dion. “But enough of the drab and dreary, what plans do you have now that you’ve returned?”
“Plans? No plans. Only one plan. The Plan. The Master Plan! A plan so masterfully masterful that it will blow all expectations out of the water.” With that, Dionysos leaned into me and nudged me with a wink. “No pun intended.”
I laughed again, deep and hearty. “Of course not… And let me guess, you’ve completely forgotten this Master Plan?”
Dion stammered a bit and slapped both knees with his hands. “I have only forgotten it because it’s safer to be forgotten at this time. Such is part of the master of such plans. I can’t go around telling everyone, now can I? Especially not me. You know what a tattle-tale I am!”
I finished my wine and nodded. “The problem with madness, I’ve found, is that you’re either completely withdrawn and closed off, and no one can get you to open up, or you’re loose-lipped and sinking ships because you have no control… Now, I am, of course, speaking from personal experience.”
I think Dionysos found the last line a bit too confusing because he stopped moving again for a few seconds, probably to analyze what I had said. What came next, though, made me stop short in my thoughts and take in my breath. With no warning, he leaned close, kissed me tenderly on my right cheek, and whispered, “That is why I have a special place in my heart for you. You know that.”
I blushed furiously. I’d like to blame the wine, but I’d finished the glass earlier. I looked over at Dionysos, I could see the old and young god within his face, the young never too young, and the old never decrepit. How he managed to keep a sane balance between the two amazed me. “Thank you, Dion, that means a lot. I…” I suddenly faltered, unsure of what to say next. It wasn’t often that someone, mortal or immortal, had me at a loss for words.
Watching my reaction to his gesture, Dion giggled like a little child and leaned into his thyrsos to stand. “So…lounge is here. I’m on floor five, you on floor twenty-seven, interior designer coming to you, and I need…I need to be at the airport soon. I have to pick someone up so they can pick me up so we can come back and…” With that, Dion got lost in his thought pattern one more time.
I stood slowly. I knew better than to try to decode his ramblings, but I was certainly intrigued by it. “Wait.” I pulled out Alessa’s business card and wrote my number on the back. I passed it to Dion. “The number for the interior designer. I’ve already entered all the information into my phone. Call them if you want.”
With a faint nod, he took the card and stuffed it in his shirt pocket. “And you? Do I call you if I want?”
I nodded again and raised a wall of water to take me home. “Anytime Dion. I have a hotel to get back to. The Nymphaeum, come by sometime and check it out. Maybe next time we can talk more about this master plan of yours.”
With a slight bow of his head, not in reverence but more in understanding, Dion smiled an easy smile at me and said, “Worry not, daughter of the seafoam. I will come to find you. Sooner or later.”
I turned and winked at him as I stepped through the wall. It instantly closed behind me, leaving Dionysos alone. Rhodes greeted me as I returned, and seeing my bright smile asked, “So, how did it go?” I laughed, remembering how I teased Dion moments before.
“It went, well, dear. Now, let’s get our work done, see the guests, and then I desire a swim.”I linked arms with my daughter, and we made our way around the hotel. The guests were taken care of, the staff knew what they were doing, and I wanted to lounge.
As I made my way out to the infinity pool, the view caught my eye. A memory rose from its burial spot, deep in my subconscious. Poseidon and I, standing on the deck of a ship in the arctic ocean. The memory faded as I shook my head and dove into the saltwater. Yes, all my pools were saltwater. What did you expect of me?
“Mother?” Rhodes came out as I surfaced on the far side. I nodded, letting her know I was paying attention. “Everything is taken care of, and I’m going home to Lesbos for a while, see the family again.”
I smiled and swam back, walking out of the pool. “Of course, Rhodes, bring them by sometime, I’d love to meet them.” I kissed her cheek softly and watched her vanish in a wisp of mist. Time to be alone for a bit, I guess, I thought with a sigh. I could always go over to the Mermaid’s Tale and see if Poseidon had returned, but did I want to bring that storm back into my life so soon? I knew he had things to attend to back home, and Kai would be a good confidante. Maybe down the road when we’d calmed down, but I feared it would always be so. I needed to stop thinking about running into his strong arms, feeling the salt on his skin, and tasting the wine on his breath. Wait, wine? When did I start thinking about Dionysos again?
Secretly, I had hoped that he’d follow me immediately, but I also know how the both young and old god was. He went down his path. The delicious madness in his mind sometimes matched my own maelstroms. Maybe that was why I felt this weird attraction to him. Like two magnets aligned just so and slowly pulling on one another. I knew that he would come soon. I just hoped sooner rather than later. I had to admit that his kiss, even if it was on the cheek, got me a little hot under the collar that I wasn’t wearing. I flung myself back into the pool and rested there, floating on the surface like foam on the sea. “I hope you find me again sometime soon, Dionysos,” I whispered as I watched the sunset.
~Written alongside Peter Farmer. Check out his work https://jhiieri.com/