A long awaited conclusion to a classic love myth. What could go wrong? Two stubborn, clueless protagonists. Two Greek gods, a town full of meddlesome but loving neighbors . . . And a whole lot of misdirection and finagling. Will it be enough to enlighten and inspire them? Sonya is a smart woman on a mission to get her career started by moving to the Windy City and nothing is going to stop her! Well, that is nothing except a broken down car and a crusty, old mechanic with a soft heart. Thanos is just doing his civic duty when a damsel in distress shows up practically on his doorstep and he offers her a place to stay. Right? Sure, sure they’re sweet on each other, but will they get over their past mistakes and realize they’re meant to be together before it’s too late?
Guadalupe Mountain National Park
Salt Flat, Texas
Park Ranger Angelo Penghlis was making good time doing his daily rounds on this unseasonably crisp and windy summer day. It was fairly early in the morning and the sun was just a thin sliver on the horizon.
Angelo had been protecting this mountain for over three years and everyone knew he wasn’t one to mess with. Although most hunters had long stopped killing animals on his turf, occasionally he got to flex his muscles when poachers came through. He smiled at the fond recollection of one particular guy he’d gotten to ‘inform’ one day.
Some knuckleheads need hands-on experience.
For the most part, he enjoyed his work and often acknowledged it fit his needs completely. Mostly because it afforded him the anonymity he needed. He still felt stupid for thinking he could slip under the radar as a hypnotist on local cable access and ended up with the number one rated reality show on cable television. What a fiasco that had been! Using his godly powers on live television was perhaps the biggest mistake of his life and for someone who had lived through hundreds of centuries that was saying something!
Angelo made his way down an embankment to look at the area by the river when he felt a familiar tingle at his temple—one he hadn’t felt for a long while. His senses were heightened even more when he heard the soft strums of a violin on the wind. A shiver of unease coursed though his muscular frame…
What the hell?
In a clearing by the water a perfectly formed rainbow sparkled brilliantly through the air while birds fluttered about to and fro, flirting with each other and whistling a joyful tune. Angelo’s brows knitted together and his adrenalin began to pump as he walked closer. The scene was tranquil and beautiful. How well he knew that appearances can deceive.
Carefully scanning the area his eyes intuitively settled on a flat boulder at the water’s edge about forty feet away. Angelo trained his eyes on the boulder a second before a young, good-looking boy of approximately nineteen, appeared. His pose was relaxed and unafraid, almost bored.
Who in the hell does this joker think he is?
He wasn’t remotely startled or impressed by any of the things he had seen as these petty illusions used very little power and were simple to conjure. For a short time they stared at each other. Neither said a word or made a move.
If this boy’s looking to start trouble he’s going to be in for a seriously painful disappointment.
Angelo thought about asking the boy why he was here, but tapped briefly into his own bottomless well of power instead. Instantly he knew the boy was waiting. Waiting for what?
“What the hell are you doing here, Eros, and why the cheap parlor tricks? Don’t you have anything better to do than pester me?”
“Might I say you are just as charming as the last time we met, Hermes?”
“You know I haven’t gone by that name in over thirty years, Cupid!” Angelo used the Roman name of the other god to insult him.
“Please forgive me if I don’t care. Thirty years? You are, quite literally older than the hills, after all.”
“You’re only a thousand or so years younger than me. You’re hardly a spring chicken, Eros.” Angelo decided to cut to the chase, “If you came for a repeat performance, don’t think for two seconds that I’m going to let you cause any trouble for him again.”
“Please, you offend me Hermes. I told you I’m here for similar reasons as you. It’s a shame you only remember me for my transgressions. Haven’t you ever read any Shakespeare? A friend should bear a friends’ infirmities and all that.”
Eros disappeared from the boulder’s flat surface and reappeared standing closer to Angelo, “I’m sure it contradicts your thoughts, Hermes, but I’m not in favor of a fight nor am I here to cause him, as you put it, trouble! As a matter of fact, I’m going to turn the other cheek and forget you even said so.” Eros extended his hand, “Let’s start over! After all, it has been countless years since we last spoke. It’s nice to see you Hermes!! How is this whole pretending-to-be-a-mortal thing working for you?”
Angelo shook his hand, “Okay, sure, we can play nice before I kick your ass.” Angelo was finding it hard to keep himself from giving Eros the punishment he sorely deserved. “I can honestly say I’ve really enjoyed watching him grow up to be the great man he is today, but then I hadn’t expected anything less of him. He was a higher god and a son of Zeus.”
“You won’t hear me singing his praises Hermes; it’s more than I can bear. I can hardly believe you have been his best friend since practically the beginning of time! He’s certainly never been on my Favorite Top Ten Gods list, to say the least.” Eros took a deep breath, “But I digress. I’m here, because I think it may be time to bury the hatchet, as you lesser mortals say.”
Angelo rolled his eyes heavenward and asked the other gods for patience. He had always found Eros to be a witless fool and one to make jibes when his feathers were ruffled. Angelo had always wanted to pummel some sense into him, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not sure! Does one hundred or so lifetimes really seem like enough time?”
“You can cut the sarcasm, Hermes. I already told you I’m here to help.”
“You damn well better be! You’re the one to blame for how screwed up they are and if the choice had been mine, you would have spent an eternity suffering in Tartarus for your impudence. You had no right to interfere in the pursuits of a higher god.
“In my case, the term ‘lesser god’ shouldn’t be taken so literally. I have more power over mankind in my little finger than the two of you combined. If anyone should be a higher god, it’s me!”
“Listen to me, you pompous ass, I’m now fully aware why he teased you in the first place. I should—”
Eros interrupted, “The manner in which he teased me was totally uncalled for, inappropriate and unwarranted. I am innocent of any wrong-doing.”
Angelo was dangerously close to violence, “You know, Eros, if you really were as great as you say you are, you would’ve been able to take a little good natured teasing. And by the way, have you looked in the mirror in the last five thousand years? You couldn’t weigh much more than one hundred pounds dripping wet and you look barely older than a child. I’ll give you your fair beauty, but he is a full man of strapping and great magnificence who had just come off a huge victory when he saw you that day he teased you. No one could blame him for being a little arrogant. So what if he had a few cocky things to say, you’re supposed to be the god of love, for crissake!”
As Angelo spoke, Eros grew angry and when he responded, his voice sounded dark and menacing, “That may be true, but I’m also the god of hate,” an unearthly light shone from below; giving his lovely features a ghoulish, gaunt appearance, “and he had no right to ridicule me and my power.” The sunny spot he had created was now black as night. The wind howled as a shaft of lightening hit the water behind them, crackling with pure electricity.
Angelo wasn’t even slightly intimidated by his display of temper. “If you’re such a powerful god, Eros,” he said dryly, “then his playful taunts would have little hold over you after all this time. You can cut the crap.” Angelo looked around at the weather. If this was going to be a pissing contest, he would definitely win.
Eros can’t be foolish enough to fight with me.
Eros lifted his hand in a casual gesture and dispelled the gloomy darkness.
“Look, we don’t have to go over all this again. You’re right; it has been a long time and I am prepared to help. Since she never knew about my lead arrow her soul-memory is confused about her decision to—”
Predicting the direction of the sentence, Angelo broke him off, “That’s the understatement of three millennia and you’d better be willing to help since you’re the only one who can, and you know it! She can no longer determine what she really wants in life. It’s crazy! Making the decision to live without love for the rest of her life, putting all her passion into her work and relocate to one of the largest cities in the country; all counterproductive when her soul mate awaits and happens to live in the smallest town in America!”
“These facts pose no trouble for a god of my talents.” Eros puffed his scrawny chest for this boastful statement.
“Look, if I hear one more word about how great you are I’m going to break out in hives. Are you going to fix this or not?”
“I already said I was going to fix things and have spent time watching her since Daphne was reborn. When she was about thirteen, I tapped into her heart and saw that she does in fact choose the opposite of what she really wants. I think she’s afraid to make the same mistake from her previous lifetime. She doesn’t even know which mistake she’s afraid of, or that she was under my control.”
“You certainly made a colossal mess of things, Eros. She doesn’t trust herself well enough to know if she even likes her pickles sweetened or dilled,” he exaggerated, “and even though Apollo isn’t aware of it, he dates and dumps more women in a year than most men do in a lifetime because he’s looking for the essence of her.”
“Yes, well while you were busy playing in the kiddy pool with him, I took the liberty of telling her heart she wanted to be a Tallahassee housewife. She reacted predictably by dreaming with adolescent fervor about moving to a big city far away from home.”
“And tell me, genius, what good will it do our cause if she moves to a big city?”
Eros shook his head at Hermes. “If she had wanted to be a big city career woman then she would have done the opposite and stayed in town to marry the first chance she got.
“Okay, so she goes to the big city instead. Tell me how this is going to help the cause.”
“I’m beginning to marvel at your idiocy, Hermes. She wasn’t likely to meet him if she never left her home town. She needed to leave looking for something more and I needed a way to stage a meeting that made sense.”
“I’m with you so far, and now…?”
“Now you’re going to see how a real master works. Today is the first day of her road trip to Chicago where she plans to interview for her dream job. I have arranged a little . . . ‘disruption’ that will move things along. As a matter of fact, she’s going to be conveniently in The Rock at exactly four o’clock this afternoon and as you know he will be—”
Angelo finished, “. . . getting back to The Rock at around five this evening.”
“Precisely. I’ve arranged for their meeting so they can fall in love at first sight!”
Affectionately, Angelo thought of his friend. He was more a piss-her-off-at-first-sight kind of guy. “Something tells me your plan is a little off. He is still confident, self-assured and unquestionably knows his own mind, but he isn’t at all the brash, cocky young man you knew him to be. He’s even gotten into hot water a time or two for saying the wrong thing. That tantrum you pulled really changed him, Eros. There’s no predicting what will happen when they first meet.”
“I haven’t checked in on him since he was a teenager. Frankly, I haven’t had the stomach for it. He was always such a jerk, to put it humanly. But, if what you say is true, it may be worth the pain to take another look. I would love to see his silver tongue slip.”
“Hear me Eros, I will hunt you down and make you pay if you do anything else to hurt him. What you did was wrong. You need to make amends.”
“I can understand why you think I was wrong for doing what I did, but as I told you, I came here to help. I thought we could work together; your influence over him and others in that town, and me with my expertise in matters of the heart.”
“I hate to say it, but since it began with you I can’t change the fact that I’ll have to work with you on this.”
“Fine. When my plan falls into place, be sure to tell me how brilliant I am, would you?” Eros took the traditional pose of the wing-footed messenger, just to taunt Hermes. Then he disappeared into thin air.
Wannabe- you’d have to gain quite a few pounds to fill my shoes!
“I’ll have to keep tabs on him to make sure you don’t screw things up with your brilliance,” he spoke these words through gritted teeth as he made his way back up the embankment to finish the rest of his rounds.
* * *
When Angelo returned to the ranger station, he placed an important call. “Hank, hey this is Angelo. How’s my favorite cantankerous mechanic?”
“Finer’n wine. Been a long time since I heard from yuh. What yuh callin’ me fer?” As always, Hank’s deep southern accent was almost unintelligible.
“Well, actually, I have a hunch you should keep your eyes pealed at around four o’clock this afternoon. You’re going to get a new client who will need your fine services. I believe she will need a place to stay and um… just may be the person we have all been waiting for.”
There was a brief pause, “Boy, I ‘aint got one damn clue what yur talkin’ ‘bout, but if’n you want me to fix a machine I can do that wit both hands tied.”
“That’s all I ask, Hank, and don’t forget to mention the Radcliff Place.”
“’Aint got ‘nother place tuh stay in The Rock buhsides the Radcliff Place.”
“I know Hank. I just wanted to make sure nothing has changed in the last three years.”
“Why would we go an’ do a damn fool thang like that?”
Leaving the question unanswered he replied, “See you later Hank. Don’t be surprised if you hear from me again. I may need to contact you for help. Tell everyone I said ‘hi’ if you get a chance.”
Now onto the next call.
* * *
A woman was sitting at an office desk when the phone rang once. “Mayor’s office, this is Anna.”
“Is this the prettiest Mayor’s wife in The Rock?”
She giggled like a teenage schoolgirl. “Why, Angelo, how are you doing? Are you coming for a visit soon? I know at least ten ladies who would swoon,” patting her coif, “I mean who would soon like to see you.”
“Who am I to keep the ladies of The Rock Historical Society waiting? I really should schedule a trip to come home. Actually, that is in part why I was calling, Anna Marie. I need a favor.”
“Certainly, Angelo, you know you can ask us anything,” she gushed.
“That’s my girl. Here’s the deal, I’ve been told by a very good source that your days of matchmaking may be over; at least where Thanos is concerned.”
Usually unflappable, she stuttered, “H…how d…did you know…I…?”
“Never mind that for now. I just wanted you to be aware that all calls from Hank should be…oh, how shall I put this? Anna, I’m going to need you to ‘handle’ his calls with great care.”
Keeping her voice especially quiet, “You mean you want me to listen in on the Mayor’s calls?”
As if she doesn’t already do exactly that on a regular basis.
“I know it’s asking for a lot and I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it was a matter of the utmost importance.”
“Angelo, don’t say another word, honey. I trust you implicitly. Thank you for trusting me with this most delicate situation. I know you love Thanos, so I’m sure you know what you’re doing. I will admit, I don’t understand, but I’ll do as you ask.”
“That’s the spirit; always willing to help others in need. Please be sure to keep this conversation to yourself – and especially from the Mayor. I don’t think anyone else could properly handle the delicate information you’re going to be party to. Make sure you don’t tell anyone, not even the girls of the society.”
“I won’t let you down.” Anna hung up.
Some things remained constant and Angelo was sure she would take care of telling every female in The Rock.
Now I just need to hurry up and wait.