Hither & Thither
Pulling her long black hair from her lips, Selene shivered and huddled herself tighter in her dark blue cardigan. It was freezing outside as her breath boiled up in steaming clouds in front of her face. She had taken a wrong turn somehow. The city was dark and crowded tonight, people bumping into her only made her check her pockets in paranoia; each time she was relieved her wallet and things were still in place. Looking at the buildings’ signs, her silver eyes squinted as she lipped the information. Selene found herself in a new area she never noticed before; even the smells in this area seemed to be void of the normal intrusions of trash and sewer. Instead, there were aromatic spices, interesting colognes and perfumes; all competing for attention on the chilling breeze even though visually everything looked to be in order.
The sun had set hours ago and though she felt more comfortable at night, she was confused at exactly where it was she went wrong on her way to her favorite club. She got off at the same train station, and after, did her usual turn down the main stretch, which led to her street and the nearby club. This time she turned down her street and found herself some place new. The river of people continued to flow around her like a boulder in white water rapids, as an occasional bump would push her further along turning her around, adding to the confusion. It was impossible to figure out which way to head back. Sighing, she caved to the fact she would never figure it out with this crowd on the sidewalk and began to search the signs. Bright neon caught her eye, its glow warming her face as the she read what the flamboyant lion head logo said next to it: The Lion’s Den.
A bell rung loud as she pushed through its doors, determined to get one drink out of this ordeal. It was a tavern style setup, a huge bar top greeting her as she released the door behind her. As she looked over the place taking several steps inward, the tavern had booths and tables in the far left side of the place, a single pool table interrupting the center of the rectangular room, and a line of stools at the bar, which chased the right wall. There, two bartenders furrowed their brows at her. As the door closed, the bell ceased its screaming alarm at her arrival. She came to an abrupt stop as all the men and women within the crowded establishment stared at her in sudden silence. Swallowing, some of those eyes seemed to glow in the poorly lit tavern and the jukebox was the only sound as it started to play My Demons by Starset. The aura in the place grew dark. Desperate, she turned to face the man and woman bartending as if a plea to help her move. Perhaps the tavern’s name was a warning and not some trendy reason to have a lion logo like she had assumed.
“You’re new.” The female bartender, a busty blonde, smirked at the other bartender. “What do you think, Tony?”
“Shush, Lisa. Hello miss, what has brought you to The Lion’s Den?” His green eyes cut through her, making her heart push hard against her chest as she watched him rub the side of his jaw looking her over. “Did you take a wrong turn? Are you possibly lost or were you meeting someone here?”
Selene’s voice wouldn’t come to her lips as the song echoed her thoughts, save me. Her bottom lip began to quiver as her eyes jolted back to a large man in the back corner with glowing amber eyes. She could feel the heat of his glare burning through her. He shifted and smirked as if he had smelt the smoke from the fire he started. She began to back up as her panic started to pull the strings on her body. Her hand fumbled behind her, desperate to catch the door handle to aid in a swift escape. Warm fingers wrapped around her hand as gentle as a lover’s touch while another hand pushed tenderly into the small of her back. The motion was soft yet sudden and it redirected her to move towards the bar top with ease. Her face flushed as she peered over her shoulder to see a tall man smiling at her. Despite her jaw slack, she was too lost and confused to scream or speak, as she found herself sitting on a stool next to him at the bar.
“Selene, I am so glad you made it!” The man had a strong Greek accent as he greeted her in his smooth tone. “Sorry to make you wait for me!”
She looked him over certain she had never seen him in her whole life. He smelt like a flowery meadow on a hot summer day, bringing back fond memories of her childhood when she used to frolic with the butterflies at her Grandparent’s farm. Unlike most city folk, he had tan skin and the color of his irises was a wonderful jade color unlike the emerald of the bartender’s eyes. His light brown hair was cut short; a slight fade on the sides complimented his goatee and moustache around his fleshy lips. The brown leather coat with wide folds adorning fur looked expensive despite partnered with baggy khaki cargo pants and black boots. Once more, he smiled at her, winking as he spoke again.
“You didn’t wait long for me, did you?” The tavern around them went back into motion, the clacking of pool balls breaking her tension. “Brenda said you quit the firm today.”
“Brenda from HR?” Apparently, rumors of the fit she threw at work had gotten out, but how had this man found her while she was completely lost was still rolling in her mind. “Who are you? How did you find me?”
“Huh?” His eyes widened, shocked by her questions. “You really don’t know, do you? Brenda warned me, but I didn’t believe her, you know how they can be.”
“The HR Department?” She questioned, “Or that I wouldn’t know who you were?”
“By the fairies… Tony, make me something strong, it’s going to be a long night.” Rubbing his forehead, he took a moment before daring to continue the conversation. “First, let me introduce myself. My name is Nomius Panes Silvan, but most still call me Pan. As I already said, Brenda had informed me of your situation, severely under paid and worse, ungodly hours. If you would allow me to, I would love to make you an offer for a job at my own establishment.”
“And what establishment would that be, Mr. Silvan?” It was unnerving her personal business spewed so freely from a stranger’s lips. “Exactly what else has Brenda been telling you?”
“You can say I run a recordkeeping company that also doubles as a law firm for special individuals.” He slid a card over to her and once more, she lipped what she was reading on the card. “White Ram Law Associates will pay for all your living costs as well as provide you with an annual salary of fifty-thousand dollars.”
“All living costs?” She snorted, “What if I live an expensive life style of fine dining, luxury apartments, and shop till I drop every day?”
“All paid for, plus fifty-thousand.” He gulped down the drink and looked her in the eyes as he spoke, “Is fifty-thousand not enough? I can go higher.”
“Is this some kind of joke?” Scowling at him, she flipped the card around, pointing at the address section, “Your address is listed as room one on Avalon?”
“Tony, I need another drink…” He shook the glass. “It’s no joke, Selene. I am desperate for someone who has Goddess status, but is fully capable of knowing the laws of men. On top of that, someone capable of helping me update records on locations as well as status of clients and even potential clients.”
Selene blinked a few times before bursting into laughter, “Goddess status, oh my God! Who put you up to this? I know I threw a tantrum, but you guys, you didn’t have to go this far to prank me. You got me!”
Tony returned with a refilled drink and he stopped to watch her outburst as Pan shrugged in confusion.
“No, Selene. This isn’t a joke!” Pan huffed, “I don’t know how else to explain this. Gaea is bringing the Gods and Goddesses back to life to restore the proper order, but, but, Tony?”
“Oh I don’t understand it either, Pan.” Tony threw up his hands, pleading to stay out of the mess. “Between Cedric, Romasanta, Lillith, and this bar, my hands are tied.”
The door chimed and a petite brunette came in the door, rushing them. “Selene! You made it! You heard his call!”
“Brenda!” Selene gave her an angry growl, “Who the hell is this guy?”
Brenda cancelled the hug she had aimed for, looking to the man next to her. “That’s Pan.”
“Are you in on this gag too?” Selene palmed her face a moment. Sighing, her laughter ended, “Well, it was nice being amused, but I really need to get home.”
Standing, she offered her stool to Brenda. “Here, you can have my seat.”
Brenda shook her head and motioned for Selene to sit back down. “No, you need to take his offer seriously, Selene. If you agree, I will quit the firm and join you as your assistant over at the White Ram on Avalon.”
Flustered, she glanced at Pan who gulped down another drink. “Tony~!”
Reluctant, she looked down at the card again, Nomius “Pan” Silvan, President. “One-hundred-fifty-thousand salary annually and no covering living costs.”
“Done, but we still need to pull that magic out.” He was downing another drink, as if he was working up the nerve for his next obstacle. “Tony, can’t you or your Grandfather do this next thing? Maybe Lillith? She’s always into that sort of thing, I dread doing this…”
Tony’s face turned red as the muscles in his jaw twitched, “No, and don’t ever call Cedric my grandfather. It’s awkward and complicated. You’re on your own.”
“Aren’t you older than Cedric, Pan?” Snorted the female bartender, “You were the first King of Arcadia, weren’t you?”
“Shush you vile vampress.” Pan returned his attention to Selene who had crossed her arms in annoyance. “So, why don’t you want me to cover your living costs as well?”
“I hate the paperwork involved, plus what I do is none of your business.” She retorted, “I have your card, Mr. Silvan. How about we continue this discussion when you haven’t downed so many drinks?”
“Oh, please call me tomorrow as well, Selene!” Brenda’s honey almond eyes glowed with excitement as she clapped her tiny hands. “I’ll take you over to the office personally.”
“Right, room one, on Avalon.” Grunted Selene, looking at the business card with disgust. “I’ll call everyone tomorrow…”
Sliding the card in her wallet, she placed it back in her sweater pocket and started for the door. She had lost her patience and the on-going prank had lost its fun. Glancing back across the tavern, she eyed its occupants as she paused a few steps shy of the door. Once more, the yellow-eyed man glanced her way, smiling, and flicking some fingers like a tiny signal of hello. At the pool table was a loud-mouthed woman whose black hair flickered colors like on the feathers of a grand raven. She was scarred, tan skinned, and muscular while her pool contender was a mousy pale looking man with a purple mohawk. Spinning about, the smells in the tavern were misplaced. Without the distraction of fear, she could make out exotic smells as if in a field of flowers from other countries. Confusion was pulling at her, Lisa the bartender was flirting with a muscular man at the bar, but she could see a hint of a fang on her blood red lips.
Brenda’s voice pulled her all the way back around, “Pan! Do something!”
“I swear, Mother Gaea has a sick sense of humor.” He mumbled, another drink meeting its death. “Fine.”
Selene looked at the drunken Pan, bewildered by his complaints as she questioned, “Who are these people?”
“Who?” He lifted his eyebrows, taking a glance about the room before meeting her eyes again, “You mean what? You’ve worked in a law firm, you should know how to ask the right questions.”
“Fine,” She huffed, “What are they?”
“Not human.” A childish grin crossed his face as he giggled, “It’s your job to take names and record what exactly they are and where they really come from.”
Once more, the bar’s occupants paused and stared in her direction. “What they are…”
“Ask another question!” He was feeling the liquor at this point. “This is fun!”
“Why me?” She whispered, “I’m just a human…”
“Ah, that’s where you are wrong!” He pointed at her, catching her full attention. “You are Selene! The Moon Goddess! Queen of the Heavens!”
Frowning, she countered, “That’s who I am named after.”
Without warning, his drunken lips pressed against hers. As her back smacked into the door, the bell rung loud in her ears from the impact. She could feel an intoxicating sensation flowing through her from the touch of his lips. As they began to kiss more deeply, the flavor of honey crisp apples, honey, and cinnamon exploded into her mouth as their tongues entangled. Regaining a clear moment, she pushed him away; the heat in her cheeks was a mix of anger and excitement.
“What is your problem?” Touching her lips, she blushed further, “And why did it taste and feel…”
“I am Pan, and a kiss from me is like kissing a hot summer’s day, Selene.” She was thrown by the grimace on his face as he continued, “Please know I did not kiss you because I liked you. It was far from that, in fact. A vulnerable moment of intimacy can reveal a lot, as you see.”
Pan motioned for her to turn around. Her brow knotted, her movement felt flawless as she did so. She caught her reflection on the dark glass door like a phantom from another time. Stumbling back, her purse bounced across the tavern’s floor as she gasped. There was a glowing all about her, skin pale and silvery, her lips a deep purple while her hair was so long it nearly touched the ground. As locks floated like feathers in a tiny breeze, her silver eyes held their own light while she observed the deep purple crescent and star symbols etched into her forehead. As her focus worked outward, she gasped again. Large green with silver and purple edged moth wings stretched out from behind her, fluttering as her panic sent her heart racing. She recognized them as the wings of the Lunar Moth, one of her favorites when she had snuck out into the fields at night. There under the light of the moon she had danced with them, jealous of them as they left her on the ground, unable to join them. Tonight that would all change…