I was sitting in my office, going over some papers, when there was a knock on the door. “Are you busy?” Artemis asked.
“Never for you,” I replied. “Come on in.”
She crossed the room and sat in a chair across from me. “Nobody has seen much of you since you got back from Paris,” she said.
“I’ve been busy. Running the forge and my business takes up a lot of my time.”
“More like you are burying yourself in work, like you usually do.”
“Aunt Demeter seems very happy with her new assistant,” she continued. “Did you have something to do with that?”
“She needed a new assistant, and I promised I would find her one while I was in Paris. His name is Jean-Pierre, but his nickname is Thor.”
Artemis laughed. “I can understand that after seeing him. The resemblance between Jean-Pierre and Chris Hemsworth is uncanny.”
“Rumor has it she has been locking up early every day in order to ‘dictate’ some letters.”
She laughed again. “Does he know how to take dictation?”
“I don’t think so,” I chuckled. “Why are you really here, Arty?”
“I need a favor.”
“All you have to do is ask. I certainly owe you one.”
“Glad to hear you say that.” She whistled, and I heard nails clacking on the hallway floor. Lowering my gaze, I spotted a medium-sized dog as it stuck its head around the corner. “It’s okay, Sera, come on in.”
The dog obediently walked in and sat down next to Arty. “Tell me this is not your favor.”
“It is.” When I started shaking my head no, she held up her hand. “Please, hear me out.”
“During the fight with Markos, he mentioned Prometheus.”
“Yes, I remember.”
“Ate released him from Tartarus, and he’s been on the loose ever since. Father sent me to find him, and I did. But Prometheus pleaded his case, and…I let him go.”
My eyebrows shot up. “Dad must have been pretty pissed.”
“I…I sort of lied to him about it. I told him that I hadn’t been able to find Prometheus.”
“Trust me, he knows you lied.”
“Probably,” she admitted, “but he told me it was okay that I hadn’t been able to find Prometheus. Ate set up a safe place for him to go before she killed her mortal. He’s been hiding out there.”
“Where does the dog fit in this story?”
Artemis stroked the dog’s head. “Ate left the dog there for him. He named it Sera.”
“Sera?” I said. “You realize that’s Ares spelled backwards.”
“I guess it is; I didn’t really think about it.”
“Why isn’t she with Prometheus?”
“Because he’s taken off again, and no one knows where he’s gone. I’ve searched everywhere for him, but I haven’t had any luck. It’s like he’s vanished into thin air.”
“And you want me to take the dog until he comes back,” I replied, suddenly realizing what it was she wanted from me.
“Please, Ares, I have no other place to take her. I can’t leave her with Dinlas; his she-wolves would rip her to shreds. Sayeh is a dragon, and hardly a suitable companion for a dog.”
“We can’t have Sayeh accidentally barbequing the poor thing,” I said.
“Besides, right now, I think the two of you need each other. She can help heal your heart.”
“My heart is just fine, thank you very much.”
“It’s a block of ice, with a wall built up around it,” Artemis said. “I’ve talked to some of the others; they’ve told me how you’ve been acting since your return. Sera will help you learn to care about someone else again.”
“Until she dies, too.”
“She won’t die,” Artemis assured me. “I have made sure of that. She did have some kind of infection, but I have nursed her back to health. She’s a quick learner, loves to take walks, and doesn’t mind a quiet night by a fire. She has love to give, and you need the love she has to offer.” She stood up. “Be kind to each other.” She walked toward the door.
“I didn’t say I would take her.”
“You would deny your sister a favor?”
She had me there, damn it. “No, of course not,” I sighed. “But it’s only temporary. I want you to keep searching for a home for her.”
“I’ll see what I can do…when I have the time. Thank you, Ares. Bye, Sera. Take good care of him.” She waved at me and left.
Sera barked, then turned her head and looked up at me.
“Don’t turn those puppy dog eyes on me,” I lectured her. “This is only temporary.”
Sera gave a quieter bark.
“And I don’t like your name, either.”
Sera gave a loud bark at that.
“You don’t either, huh?” I studied her for a few minutes. “How about Eirene?”
She stood up, barked and wagged her tail.
I got up, walked around the desk, and knelt in front of her. She licked my hand and leaned against me.
“Let’s hope you live up to your name and bring my troubled soul some peace,” I said quietly, stroking her head.
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