I stepped out of the elevator and was startled to see someone sitting at Cassandra’s old desk. As I got closer, I realized it was Hebe. Oh, man. Mother was going to have a hissy fit when she found out, if she didn’t already know.
“Ares, it’s good to see you again,” Hebe said as I stopped by the desk.
“Hebe, it’s been a while. I hope you are well.”
“Oh yes, Herakles and I are just fine.”
I cringed at the mention of his name. Hebe got a big smile on her face, and I was pretty sure she had said his name on purpose. There was definitely no love lost between her husband and I. “I’m very happy for you. Is Dad in?”
“Yes, he is, but I’m not sure he’s available to see you right now.”
Bending over, I got right in her face. “I didn’t ask if he was available, Hebe. I just asked if he was in.”
“It’s my job to make sure that he isn’t disturbed,” she replied haughtily.
“The last person who had this job was much nicer than you,” I said, straightening up.
“Yes, and she’s dead now, isn’t she?” Hebe replied. “I believe you killed her.”
The door opened and Dad stepped out. “I heard all of that, Hebe, and that was totally uncalled for,” he said reproachfully. “Ares has been through enough without you acting like a bitch. Come on in, son. Hold my calls.”
“Do send my regards to that pseudo-god husband of yours,” I said to her as I walked into Dad’s office. I’m pretty sure I heard her snap a pencil as the door closed.
“That was also uncalled for,” Dad said as he walked around and sat down behind his desk.
I shrugged. “What can I do for you?”
Dad leaned back in his chair and propped his feet up on the edge of the desk. “I received a call from your brother while you were in Paris.”
“You’ll have to be more specific than that, Dad. I have several brothers,” I laughed.
“Get the hell out of here.”
“Please tell me he’s coming back.”
“He’s coming back, sort of.”
“Thank the Gods! I can finally get away from the forge!”
I looked at him. “What do you mean, no?”
“Hephaestus does not want to resume management of the forge.”
“You’re joking, right?”
Dad shook his head. “I wish I were.”
He explained my brother’s plans to me. I could only listen in amazement. “I had no idea that he was interested in that sort of thing.”
“Neither did I,” Dad replied. “But it does make sense, given his talents.”
“That is true.”
“So, what this means is that I’m going to need you to continue to run the forge until you can find a suitable replacement. So, instead of the God of War, you are now the God of Boiler Rooms and Elevator Shafts,” he chuckled.
“That is not even funny.”
“It is to me,” he snorted. Seeing the expression on my face, he stopped laughing. “I would appreciate it if you could continue to oversee operations there for now. I know that you’ve lost some men and you’re shorthanded. But we cannot afford to have the work at the forge stop. We have to keep moving forward with our plans.”
“Again with the plans!” I snapped. “I am so damn sick and tired of hearing about your bloody plans! All of us are!” I jumped to my feet. “You need to tell us what the hell is going on in that warped mind of yours, and I suggest you do it soon.”
I stormed toward the door.
“Or else what, Ares?”
I turned around. “I’m not afraid to take you on right now, old man,” I growled. “I have absolutely nothing to lose at this point.”
“Tread carefully,” he said. Thunder rolled through the room.
“Don’t threaten me.” I stared at him.
We stood there like that for a few minutes, neither one of us moving. Finally, the thunder stopped. “It is not yet time to reveal my plans,” Dad said. “But soon. Until then, I need your support. Will you please continue running the forge?”
“As long as I am allowed to continue to run my business. But once I find someone to take over the day-to-day operations of the forge, I am hands off. I will be the boss in name only.”
“Whatever you’ve got planned better be worth it, Pops,” I told him. “Because if you’re jerking all of us around, you are going to find yourself alone again. I can guarantee that.” I threw open the door, letting it slam against the wall as I left.
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