“Caelia, Caelia, Caelia,” I muttered, running my fingers through the pages of the book. It was written in neat cursive script on good-quality lined paper. I didn’t want to know how Apollo had Boreas’s personal journal, and the journals of many other gods, goddesses, mortals, and demigods. He literally had a whole wing in his library filled with black notebooks.
“Found anything?” he asked, looking over my shoulder at the book while simultaneously placing a cup of tea in front of me.
“Thanks,” I smiled, turning around to face him. “And no, I didn’t find anything useful.”
“Well, you’re bound to find something soon. You’re a college student. This is literally what you pay the school to do,” he replied, and we laughed.
“Can I ask you a question?” I asked.
“You already did.”
“No, can I ask you one more?”
“You already did.”
“Ugh! Can I ask you a question after I receive the answer to this one?”
“Go ahead,” he smiled, sitting on the barstool next to mine.
“How the hell do you have so many diaries?”
He sighed. “That is a good question.” I opened my mouth to protest, but he put a finger on my lips. “Yes, I know. I promised I’d be honest.”
I placed a receipt lying nearby in the book and shut it, giving him my full, undivided attention. “Go on, then.”
“Well, I started a… business sort of thing?” he said, looking slightly ashamed. “I promised each Greek god and goddess and the mortals and demigods who came into our realm that I wouldn’t read their diaries and keep them if they wanted the diaries safe.”
“But… you lied,” I replied.
“I actually didn’t. I never read their diaries, just duplicated them and kept them in a secret wing in my library. If they bothered to read my mind, which, mind you, many of them did, they’d know I haven’t opened their diary at all.”
“Just a replica of it,” I breathed out. “I must say, that was smart of you.”
“It was Athena’s idea,” he admitted. “She wanted to expose me as a fraud later as a prank, but the thing became so successful that she couldn’t do it. Especially after I swore on Styx to allow only her and my soulmate—and hers—to read the diaries. And myself, obviously.”
“So… you, and I, and Athena, as of now, are the only people who can read this? And if someone else does, you’ll die?”
“That’s… nice.” I took a sip of the tea. “Lavender?”
“And Chamomile, yes,” he replied. “Are you cold?”
“Oddly, after Olympus, I don’t feel anything. Hungry, cold, sleepy.”
I continued to read the journal, skimming over the entries trying to look for the name Caelia. Instead, I stopped when I saw my own name.
“I needed to kill that pesky demigoddess daughter of Aphrodite, Morgana, but somehow, I couldn’t. I ended up killing her father instead.” My breath hitched and I closed the book. The only thought running through my head was—it should have been me. He didn’t do anything to deserve to die. And I? I merely existed. That’s enough for these bloody Greeks.
Apollo gently pried the book from my fingers and held my hand in his while he read the entry. I sipped the tea as the guilt washed over me. I was not over dad’s death yet. How could I be? I was nine, and my mother never mentioned him unless it was to guilt me into doing better on my tests. I had learned to block the memories out so I could function as normal.
And now? I can’t remember a thing. I don’t remember how he died. I remember the funeral, short bursts of it; I remember crying, a lot of that, but I can’t remember how he died.
What’s wrong with me?
“Hey, hey, hey,” Apollo said gently, taking the cup from my hand and putting it on the table. He took both my hands in his, entwining our fingers. “Look at me.”
I looked into his eyes and he wrapped me in a hug. “It’s going to be okay. Boreas wants you dead the same reason he wanted Hyacinthus dead. He’s jealous. But it’s okay because you’re strong. And you’re a goddess. And he can’t kill you because you’re immortal and are going to be a member of the twelve.” He murmured all of this in my ear as I marveled at him.
My mother always said: get yourself a man who tells you ‘you’re okay, I’m here.’ But this, this was different. And better. He was telling me I was okay because I was strong, that no matter whether he was there or not, I’d be okay. Just one of the many things my mum was wrong about.
“And it’s not your fault, okay?” I nodded, and he looked at me, holding me at arm’s length.
He jumped off the stool and helped me off mine, leaving the almost-cold cup of tea and Boreas’ journal on the table. We went to the sofa and he pulled me towards him, so I sat right next to him.
“I think I know who Caelia is. And I know others like her. I wasn’t able to connect the dots before because we’ve always called her Kay. I think—”
The buzz of a phone interrupted him. Talk about terrible timing. “Excuse me,” I said, taking my phone and standing up to walk near the window. It was night outside, and I could see the many, many skyscrapers that glittered with the moonlight. I answered my phone.
“Hello,” I said.
“Hi, darling,” my mother replied liltingly. “How has school been?”
“Oh, you know, the usual,” I said, rather coldly.
“What are you doing up at this hour? Shouldn’t you be asleep?”
“I don’t know, why did you call me?”
“Don’t sass me, Morgana Eliza Sallow.”
“It’s Narcissa,” I snapped.
“My name. Is Morgana Narcissa Sallow.”
She laughed. “If I had known you’d met those good-for-nothing gods at Alessia, I’d never had sent you there. You know, your father always said—”
Blood coursed through my veins and I clenched my fists. “They’re family, and you aren’t. And don’t talk about dad like that.”
“I’ll stop paying your tuition. Don’t you disrespect me, Morgana.”
“Stop it, mum. You can’t bully me anymore. I have a real mother now, and she’s the sweetest thing. I’ve even found a man who’s up to your standards.”
“You have, haven’t you?” she laughed again, and my blood curdled. I felt a light touch on my fingers, and Apollo took the phone from me.
“Hello, Mrs. Sallow,” he said. “My name is Phoebus Apollon.” He held my hand and rubbed circles on my knuckles with his thumb. “Apologies, Ms. Harper. Yes, I’m also the Professor for Language Arts.” He tugged on my hand and led me to the sofa, silently gesturing me to sit as my mum talked on. “Morgana is the smartest woman I’ve seen in my entire existence and I don’t say that lightly.”
“Ms. Harper, please do not contact Morgana ever again.” He paused. “Yes, send all her stuff to Alessia, we’ll cover the cost. And the Board of Directors is willing to cover the entire cost of her stay at Alessia, you don’t need to spend a penny more on her.” He sent me a small smile. “Good day. And please, learn some etiquette. You don’t call someone at four in the morning.”
He cut the call and handed me the phone. “Come ’ere. I needed to finish telling you about Kay.”
“Thank you,” I said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to cut it off with her and—”
“Hey, it’s okay,” he smiled. “I could tell you were getting uncomfortable. Now, I really need to tell you before I get side-tracked.”