Welcome to the Party

Today was the day. The day Mathieu and I had been working towards for months. Nymphaeum’s grand opening. And I was shaking like a leaf. All-day, I had been running around, worrying about every little detail, when really, I knew that it was perfect. The hall was decorated perfectly, evoking that sense of winter that most Californians, hell most Greek gods, didn’t understand. If Khione had been around, I’d have asked her for help, but she wasn’t, so Mathieu and I had to make due. He brought extensive knowledge about what a winter scene would look like because he came from Quebec City, where their Winter Carnival is world-renowned. I had made a point and written the dates in my calendar to go and visit. 

“Amph, if you don’t get your ass back in your room and finish getting ready, I’ll call the whole thing off!” Mathieu shouted at me as I stole another glance at the ballroom. I was immensely proud of the work achieved, and I couldn’t wait to show it off. “Plus, Lord Dionysos will be here soon, and do you really want him to see you in this state?”

I stared at Mathieu and then looked down at myself. Fleece pajamas, giant blue fluffy slippers, and a long housecoat. People had been trying to get my hair done when Mathieu came in to tell me that the trees were all fully decorated, and I ran out of my room to see. I glared at him and raced back up to my old penthouse suite. “Okay, as long as there are no more distractions, I’m all yours.” Since I wasn’t wearing a button-down top, the stylists had me remove it before starting my hair. 

I’m not going to lie. I am impossible when it comes to doing my own hair. When I lived in Atlantis, I kept it loose and flowing and very rarely put it up. And when I did, there was someone to do it for me. I had tried to do the high bun thing myself here, and when I showed Alessa, she cried herself to sleep laughing. So I found someone to do it for me. It was the better of the options presented to me. 

Hours later, when they were through, I turned and looked in the mirror and was astounded. I looked…well, I looked regal. The only thing missing was my old diadem, but I had left that in Atlantis, as was proper. I stood slowly and looked around. The stylists had gone, but Mathieu remained. “You’re beautiful, my lady,” he said softly. 

I blushed and smiled. “Thank you, now let me get changed. We’ll take one last look at the ballroom, and then I’ll message Dion.” I pulled out the soft velvet dress from my closet and ran my hands over it. You would never find fabric like this back home, and I loved it. The fashion, the style, the choices we had up here always surprised me. I slipped the dress on after Mathieu had left the room and looked back in the mirror. I loved it, and I hoped that Dion would too. I glanced out the door after grabbing a large cloak, and Mathieu was gone. I figured he had made his way downstairs, so I hurried to check on things. It was getting very close to 8, and I didn’t want to chance anyone seeing me too soon. 

I stuck my head in the ballroom and looked at the final touches. It was stunning in there. “Mathieu outdid himself here.” I snapped a few pictures with my phone, and Mathieu appeared behind me.

“Go finish getting ready, woman!” He hurried me back out the door, but I was dressed. I was ready. All I needed was Dion. I watched as Mathieu brought in a giant red ribbon. I ducked behind a bush as some reporters began filtering in. I did not want them to see me yet. I snuck away and back upstairs. Once safely in my room, I texted Dion. 

Amph: Are you about ready? I’m starting to get very nervous here.

Dion: I’m coming to you.

Amph: See you in a moment. Room 1203.

It was only a few moments after that I heard a knock on my door. I hung my cloak and checked myself out in the mirror one last time. I swear I wasn’t vain. I opened the door, smiling brightly. “Nisos.”

“Wow, Pheephee…blue looks good on you,” Dion said as he walked into the room. 

I bit my lower lip and blushed. “Thank you, and that suit…suits you perfectly.”

Dion just snorted. “This thing? I bet I look better without it.”

I couldn’t help but giggle. “I know you do.”

Dion offered his elbow to me with a wink. “Shall we, or do you want to fool around for a bit and be…fashionably late?”

I took his elbow and smiled again, nudging him. “If it wasn’t my party, and if Mathieu wouldn’t be up here hounding me, I’d say we have some fun. Let’s go before I change my mind.”

Dion just chuckled. “Mathieu for the save…”

“He’s very good at that,” I replied as we made our way out of the room and to the elevator. I wanted so much to push him up against the wall of the elevator the whole way down, but I didn’t. I restrained myself, and soon enough, we heard the ding of reaching the second floor, and we exited. Before we even reached the entrance, I could hear that some of the family had already made it. Eros was showing pictures of the twins off to…yep, that was Erebus’s voice. 

The clicking of cameras and the flashes brought me back to my senses. Dion, too, his hand was on mine, patting me gently, told me there was no other option but forward. We had already been seen. The media had turned to the entrance and began snapping photos, so Dion and I did the only thing we could. We entered the ballroom. It had been a long time, but I remembered diplomacy and formal events and plastered on a polite smile. I looked at Dion. He had the biggest, cheesiest, dorkiest smile ever, and I felt a thousand times better. I leaned closer to him and whispered, “People actually came.” I was seriously having my doubts when I hadn’t received too many RSVPs.

“And I didn’t have to pay them, either,” he mumbled back. I giggled a little but was then caught off guard by someone calling my name.

“Amph!” Adrestia’s voice rang out, and I turned to look at her as she tripped in her heels and dress. Damn, she cleaned up nicely. And I had to admit it was nice to see her out of armour, even though her dress looked like it was gilded for armour. I wished Aphrodite had been here to see it, but she’d been missing for a while, and I knew that she would have loved to see Adrestia dressed like a lady.

“You look wonderful, dear. I’m glad you came,” I said to her as I walked over. 

Dion reached out and steadied Adrestia, steadying her. “Thank you, Uncle Dion. You clean up nicely.”

“I dirty up even better,” he replied in typical Dion fashion. I blushed a little, thoughts of the last few weeks filtering through my mind. I kissed his cheek, patted his arm, and began wandering the room. 

I made my way to Eros and Erebus, stepping into the most awkward conversation. I didn’t really want to get into it. All I knew was that they seemed to be missing Clio and Atë, who were coming together. “Lovely party,” Eros chimed in as he kissed my cheek. There was a time, in every goddess’ life after Eros had grown out of all that cherubic baby fat, that we envisioned what he would be like. I am thrilled to admit, for me, that time was exceptionally brief. I could see why he was so alluring to the masses, especially the mortals, but that drive for me was channelled elsewhere. 

I looked back at Dion, who was chatting with Dres and smiled softly. “Thanks for the invite, nice place you have here.” Erebus’s voice brought me back.

“Thanks, I’ve put a lot of work into it. Eros!” He had said something lewd, which isn’t a shocker, and yet I was still trying to maintain some semblance of professionalism, even with my family here. Erebus smacked him in the chest, and I laughed. “Never mind, with you, I should always expect the conversation to turn dirty.” 

A few minutes passed of conversation, and then they walked in. Eris and Atë were half carrying a loaded Clio. That is one goddess who does not hold her liquor well. “Oh…there she is.” Eros’ head snapped up, and he began making his way over to his wife. I followed a little behind him and Erebus, mainly to greet the three newcomers. I had also seen Ares arrive a short while ago with a woman on his arm. I was glad that he seemed to have found some happiness, although I wish I had a chance to say hi. 

Eros and Erebus quickly fell in with their partners as we reached the trio, and I smiled over at Eris. “Eris, it’s nice to see you.” 

“We were playing a game where we take shots every time…I forget…I guess we just took a lot of shots,” Eris explained. Gods, this night was either going to be the highlight of my year, actually my last 2,000 years, or it was going to be a disaster. I was really banking on the highlight.

I watched as Atë pulled out a secret flask from her cleavage and smiled. “Atë, we have an open bar, so there’s no need for a secret flask.”

She looked at me. In her eyes, I saw all the ruins beneath the waves, both my creation and not. “This place is gorgeous,” she said as she hid the flask. I thanked her. The comment seemed sincere. Although with Atë, sometimes you couldn’t tell.

It seemed like we were all heading towards the bar, Dion and Adrestia joined us, and I thanked everyone for coming. “Erebus, look. Clio gave me a strapless push-up bra, and I have tits now…” Atë pushed them up and out towards Erebus. 

I had to chime in. She’d been using her body as a weapon for eons. “It’s not as if you didn’t have them before, Atë.”

“Well, they aren’t as big as yours, Amph,” she quipped back.

I blushed furiously. “Whoa, mine are…adequate.”

“More than adequate, Auntie,” Eris added, licking their lips. I thanked them. It was a compliment, even if it was flirting.

Eros wheeled Clio away to the dancefloor, and I called out, “Ribbon cutting soon, don’t dance the night away just yet!” I looked over at Adrestia, who seemed quite uncomfortable, and smiled. “Dres, will you accompany me to the bar?”

“Do they have mocktails?” she asked. 

I smiled and nodded. “Of course, they do. I know plenty of people, gods and mortals alike, who prefer not to drink.” I offered her my arm. “Shall we?”

“Lead the way.” As we made our way over to the bar, more conversation was going on around us, and I asked Dres what she’d like. “Umm….surprise me? I like spicy and sour things.”

I chuckled and whispered to the bartender for a Virgin Ursula. Okay, so not creative with the name, but it was tasty. A few minutes later, the bartender passed Adrestia a dark-blue concoction that tasted like blue-raspberry. 

“Thank you.” She took a sip and smiled. “That’s really good, actually.” She sounded surprised, but I had been spending a lot of time recently with a certain God of Inebriation that tended to get the creative juices flowing for mixing drinks.

I smiled. “Thank you. I’m sure that anything else you may need they can make, sans alcohol.” With all his French, Mathieu had me substituting common English words with French, and I wasn’t even thinking about it. I sighed and ordered a glass of white wine, Assyrtiko, the kind the barkeep knows I like. As he passed it to me, I smiled again and looked around the room, glad that people were here and that they were enjoying themselves. I pushed myself off the bar as Mathieu waved me over to the dais.

“It’s time. Are you ready?” Mathieu whispered. 

“Yes, yes,” I sighed. I was a queen, and I hated being the center of attention. But here I go. “Everyone, can I have your attention, please?” The room took a minute to quiet down, mortals and immortals mixed, but I could still hear the camera’s going off in the distance. Dion came and stood beside me, and I squeezed his hand for comfort. Mathieu prodded me, and I growled a little. Yes, I was dragging my feet.

“Thank you all for coming. I hope that you enjoy your time here this evening.” Eris said something about cutting, and I pulled out the giant scissors. “I came prepared too, Eris.” I took a deep breath and continued. “Now, I know most of you haven’t been here yet, and I hope you can stay. There have been rooms set aside for your use after the gala finishes if you choose. There will also be some tours offered after dinner if you would like to take a look around.” I held one side of the scissors while Mathieu took the other. “We now pronounce that Nymphaeum is officially, and forever, open for business!” Together, we cut the ribbon as hundreds of flashes went off. People cheered, congratulated me, Eros smashed a glass on the floor. Still, I just laughed. “Okay, the hard part is done. Go dance, mix, and mingle, and please enjoy yourselves!”

Published by Natalie Bartley

I am a 33-year-old Adult Fantasy author in Oshawa, Ontario. I hope one day to open her own Pagan store with her partner. I have been writing for most of my life but have only recently (in the last year) started putting those stories out to the world. My faith as a polytheistic witch leads me to many different storylines that involve the gods around her. My first book, Love and Pain in Zion, was a labour of love and heartbreak, and it took me many years to complete it. I live with my partner and step-son in Oshawa and is also completing my clergy status with the Correllian Nativist Tradition. My husband and I are planning on opening up a New Age/Metaphysical store, where I am running the storefront and he is running the services in the back. Since he is already a licensed interfaith minister and can perform weddings in Ontario, and a Reiki master, we can start offering services soon. I am enrolled in Witch School International as a seminary school of the Correllian Nativist Tradition. I have mostly completed my First Degree clergy status, and am almost finished my Second Degree. Brian and I run a local temple (Temple of the Night) which is a part of the Correllian Nativist Tradition. We are currently the only temple with full temple status in Canada. If you want to help fuel my writing, consider donating to my Ko-fi! https://ko-fi.com/nataliebartley

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