Goddess of Light
"So you're telling me that the whole thing was nothing more than a misdirected spell?"
Pamela was sitting in one of the chairs in the living room area of her suite. Artemis lounged across the couch, and Apollo, who couldn't seem to sit still, was currently pacing up and down in front of the picture window.
"It's technically not a spell. It's an invocation ritual. Very ancient and very powerful. As Apollo said, it shouldn't have been possible for all of the required elements to come together as they did - "
"Except that Bacchus obviously had his hand in it. He must have manipulated events," Apollo finished for his sister.
"Manipulated - that is an excellent way to describe it." Pamela's look clearly said that she wasn't thinking of the invocation.
"No! It's not like that. Our feelings weren't manipulated, only the events that brought us together were."
"You lied to me," Pamela said.
"I didn't. I am a healer and a musician."
"Actually, he is the healer and the musician of the ancient world," Artemis chimed in.
Pamela drew in a sharp breath. "My ankle! You did something to my ankle that night in the rain."
"It was broken. I simply healed it."
Pamela stared at him like he'd suddenly sprouted horns and a tail.
"And the slot machine jackpot?" she asked.
"Your desire for the purse was great; it pleased me to grant that desire."
She thought his smile made him look like a little boy whose hand had been caught fisted full of cookies and trapped inside the jar. She automatically wanted to smile back at him - he seemed so normal. Then she remembered how it had felt to have her flesh twist and melt into something not human, and her resolve hardened. Her next question erased the little-boy smile.
"And the sex? What kind of magic did you use to get me in bed with you?"
"None," he said sharply. "I did not woo you as the god Apollo. I wooed you and made love to you as Phoebus, a mortal man like any other."
It was Pamela's turn to snort. "Please! I was there. It was different with you than it had been with any other man. And it's so not like me to jump in bed with a weekend fling. You had to have done something to me."
Apollo stopped his pacing and walked over to her chair. "I used no immortal power to seduce you, and what we experienced was not a weekend fling."
Pamela's mouth felt dry and her stomach tightened at his closeness. "You're doing it again," she hissed. "I want you to stop."
Apollo's boyishly endearing smile came back in full force. "Sweet Pamela, that is an impossibility. As my sister has already discovered, when the portal closed, we were cut off from our immortal powers. Until Friday at dusk, I have no more power to touch your heart than any other mortal man."
"And if you want to be angry at someone for bespelling you, be angry at me," Artemis said, studying her fingernails. "I sprinkled some of my magic on you the night of my performance. I also filled last night's feast with the power of seduction."
"Why would you do that?" Pamela asked.
"We already explained to you about the invocation ritual. Until Apollo satisfied the desire of your heart, I was bound to you." The goddess brushed a golden curl from her face. "And I was supremely tired of being bound to you. You needed a little nudge to admit to yourself that Apollo was your heart's desire. So I nudged. Thank the Nine Muses it worked."
"You're not very nice, are you?" Pamela said to the goddess.
Artemis didn't appear in the least bit offended by the question. "Nice? Why would I need to be nice?"
The phone rang. Shaking her head at Artemis, Pamela answered it.
"Pamela, this is Mr. Faust's assistant, James," said a male voice.
"Oh, yes. Hello, James." Pamela's stomach sank. It was Monday morning. She was supposed to begin work today - this morning. She'd totally forgotten about E. D. Faust and the job she was there to complete.
"I wanted to remind you that Robert will be there with the car to pick you up at the entrance to Caesars Palace in exactly thirty minutes."
"Thank you for the call, James. Of course I'll be ready."
"Wonderful! Mr. Faust is looking forward to beginning the work on his villa."
Pamela responded woodenly with an appropriate reply and hung up the phone. She stared at Apollo and Artemis, who were watching her.
"I have to go to work," she said.
"Of course - the author's home. The one with the Roman bathhouse and the fountain," Apollo said.
"Yeah, he's sending his car for me." She glanced in the mirror and grimaced at how terrible she looked. "In exactly thirty minutes. I have to get ready to go." She started to hurry towards the bedroom. "Excellent!" Artemis said. "Where is it we're going?"
Pamela stopped short. "We're not going anywhere."
"Well I'm certainly not staying here in this little hovel. It's dreadfully boring."
"Well you certainly aren't coming with me," she mimicked the goddess' regal tone.
Artemis narrowed her eyes. "Do not forget to whom you speak, mortal."
Pamela planted her hands on her hips and raised her chin. "Look, goddess or not, you're going to have to learn to not be such a bitch. And you can threaten me all you want." She pointed at the gold coin that dangled from around her neck. "I have Apollo's oath that I am under his protection." She heard Apollo's chuckle, but she refused to look at him. "Just stay here and order room service, dial up a movie, learn about the Internet... or something. Oh, hell. I'll figure out what to do with you two when I get back."
Apollo's voice stopped her retreat into her room. She turned to face him.
"We could help you," he said.
"Help me what?"
"I could help you to persuade Faust to build the bathhouse. And," he added with a little smile, "Artemis could help you to persuade him to use her as the model for the statue in the center of the fountain."
Pamela sent a doubtful look Artemis' way.
"Throughout the ages men have worshiped images of my beauty," she said flippantly. "They are easily enamored with me."
"That may be true, but it's only because they're seeing your statues and your paintings; they don't have to actually be subjected to your hateful presence."
Artemis opened her mouth to snarl at Pamela, but Apollo cut her off.
"My sister will give her oath that she will be polite."
"I will not!"
"Faust is a modern bard, and he wants the statue in the center of his fountain to be dedicated to Bacchus. Think of the tales he will spin dedicated to the God of the Vine," Apollo told his sister.
"That fat toad should not be worshiped in the modern world!" Artemis said.
He shrugged. "It's up to you."
The goddess cleared her throat and reluctantly met Pamela's eyes. "I give you my oath that I will be polite. For today."
"I don't know..."
"Please, Pamela," Apollo said. "Let me show you I am no different today than I was yesterday.
The god Apollo and the mortal Phoebus are the same man."
She shouldn't. She knew she shouldn't. She didn't want to be loved by a god. She had liked things the way they were before he had suddenly become an all-powerful immortal. She wanted her Phoebus back...
"Fine," she said suddenly. "We'll have to buy you a shirt on the way out," she glanced at Artemis. "At least you're okay dressed like that. We'll just say you're in costume." She faltered, "Just... just stay there. I'll hurry."
She closed her bedroom door and rested her head against it. He was Apollo. Her insides shivered as the reality of it settled into her. Her lover was the Greek god, Apollo. He had lived for eons. Temples had been built to honor him. Songs had been sung of him. His hands, which had stroked every part of her body, were the same hands that had brought music to the ancient world. And he said he loved her. She pressed a trembling hand to her mouth, overwhelmed by a sudden surge of shock and disbelief and awe.
She should tell Faust she didn't want the job, get on a plane and fly directly back to Colorado. She should forget this weekend ever happened. That was the smart thing to do. But she already knew she wasn't going to do the smart thing.
The God of Light said he was in love with her.
"I'm probably making the most gihugic mistake of my life," she whispered.
They were standing outside the revolving doors that swished into Caesars Palace exactly twenty-five minutes later while Pamela's stomach churned like she was just getting ready to bungee jump.
"Remember, you're Phoebus Delos, a specialist in ancient Roman architecture. I called you in to help advise me on this project. And you're his sister, Diana. You - "
"Have the beauty of a goddess," she broke off Pamela's nervous repetition of instructions. "Yes, yes. We know our parts. We're immortals, not imbeciles."
"I was going to say that you are to remember to be nice," Pamela said.
"My words will be so sweet that they could make honey in my mouth like the brown bees of Greece," Artemis with an innocent bat of her long eyelashes.
"Okay, you're giving me a headache," Pamela told her. "Just be normal. Is that too much to ask?"
"She will keep her oath. You need not worry, sweet Pamela," Apollo said.
"Don't call me that. You're just supposed to be my employee," she said, and then hated the hurt that she saw flash across the god's handsome face. The god... How in the hell had she gotten herself into this situation? She was dating Apollo.
She was doomed.
She'd read the literature. Even though she didn't remember it too exactly or too well, she knew what happened to mortals who caught the attention of the gods - especially mortals were also happened to be females. Never a good ending, especially for the woman. Besides that, what was she going to do with him all week? She already knew the two of them had no money. She'd found that out when he'd reached into his pocket to pay the cashier for the shirt he'd worn out of the store and discovered that somehow (possibly during the hasty extraction of his clothes last night right before he screwed her against the marble column) he'd lost the four thousand dollars he'd filched from the slot machine. So he didn't have a dime. Neither did Artemis. And the portal wouldn't reopen for five really long days.
"Good morning, Miss Gray."
Pamela jumped. She hadn't even noticed that the silver vintage limo had pulled up in front of them.
"Oh, good morning Robert." He opened the door for her, and she paused, cleared her throat, and put on her best businesswoman's smile. "These two will be joining us today. They are my assistants."
Robert looked down his slender nose at the golden twins. He sniffed once.
"Very good, madam," he said, holding the door open and helping first Pamela and then the costumed woman to enter the limo. When the tall man hesitated, Robert gave him a very British look (cool and polite without being overly concerned). '"Is something amiss, sir?"
If Apollo still had his powers he would have used them at that moment to open the ground beneath him so that he could be swallowed out of sight. From the inside of the metal beast Pamela and Artemis were watching him with mirrored expressions of curiosity. Then his sister suddenly seemed to understand.
"It really is very nice in here," she called out to him. "It's nothing to be worried about." She patted the seat next to her.
"I am not worried," Apollo spoke with tight control. He took a deep breath and entered the maw of the thing.
"Please help yourselves to the mimosas. The trip to Mr. Faust's estate in Red Rock Canyon will take approximately thirty minutes." Robert closed the door.
To Apollo it seemed that he had only taken a couple of short breaths, and then they were moving forward, gliding like a smooth-limbed reptile out into the street. There was an awful rolling feeling in his stomach, and his ears were ringing. He couldn't stop staring at the world outside as it whizzed by at a dizzying pace.
"Are you okay? You look pale," Pamela said.
"She's right, you do," Artemis said. "Perhaps something to drink would help." She started to reach for the ice bucket, which held a bottle of champagne and a slender glass pitcher of orange juice.
"No! I don't want anything to drink." He had the oddest feeling inside of him, and he was afraid if he tried to drink something, it would come right back up.
"Carsick. I think you're carsick," Pamela said. "You might feel better if you sat up front with Robert. My friend V gets violently sick if she sits in the backseat of a car. Want me to have Robert stop so you can move?"
"I am a god," he said slowly from between clenched teeth. "I do not get sick."
"Suit yourself, but if you puke in Eddie's car, I can promise you as your employer I am going to be very pissed."
Apollo closed his eyes and tried to ignore the fact that they were hurtling across the earth inside a metal monster that could smash itself into something and disintegrate at any moment.
"What exactly is a mimosa?" Artemis asked.
"It's champagne and orange juice mixed together. It's pretty good, actually."
"Well," she glanced at her brother's strangely pale face and then shrugged her shapely shoulders, "I'm going to try one. Would you care to join me, Pamela?"
"No, thank you," Pamela said.
Artemis helped herself to one of the champagne flutes. "See how polite I'm being?"
"It's truly a miracle," Pamela muttered.
"Just wait. The best is yet to come." The goddess sipped her mimosa and gave Pamela a wicked little smile.
Pamela decided Apollo had the best idea. She closed her eyes and prayed the trip, the day - hell, the week - would be over soon. But not before she slipped her hand within his and squeezed.