I walked into Aunt Demeter’s law office, and wasn’t surprised to find that her assistant was not at his desk. I knew when I brought him back from Paris that he would be doing a lot of “dictation”, if you get my meaning.
I toyed with the idea of just walking into her office without knocking, but there are some things that family just shouldn’t see. Being polite won out over being stuck with images that I would never get out of my head, and I knocked gently.
“Come in,” came the answer right away. When I walked in, I was surprised to find Aunt Demeter sitting at her desk, a pile of law books in a semi-circle on her desk as she scribbled furiously on a notepad. “I hope you remembered to get that double shot in my latte,” she said.
“Well, no, I didn’t,” I replied. “If I had known you needed some coffee, I would have stopped at Dark Sparks before coming here.”
“Ares!” She dropped her pen on the desk, got up and came around the desk. Wrapping her arms gently around me, she said, “I am so sorry about Cassie. I know how much you loved her. If it is any comfort, she talked about you constantly. That girl was head over heels in love with you.”
Swallowing hard, I returned her hug before pulling back. “Thank you. I appreciate you telling me that.”
She studied my face for a minute before returning to her seat. “You didn’t come in here to wallow in self-pity. What’s on your mind? Have you finally gotten into enough trouble that you need my legal services?” she teased me.
“I haven’t gotten into trouble, thank you very much for your faith in me. But I do have need of your legal services.”
“Really?” She flipped a page on her notepad and picked up her pen. “What’s going on?”
“The male gods have an image issue. As you know, historians were not kind to us, accusing of…” I paused to think of a diplomatic way of saying this “…of using our position of power to take what we wanted.”
“Ah,” she said knowingly, “I get it.”
“Granted, there are a few of us that rightly deserve to be raked over the coals for our past behavior. But those of us who are completely innocent have no recourse.”
“A prime example of that is Hades. He loves my daughter; he has acted like a perfect gentleman with her. Granted, he did kidnap her and take her to the Underworld, but he saw something in her that others, myself included, did not see. He brought out a side of her that makes her even more beautiful, inside and out. I think there is a problem with a word: in ancient times, the word ‘rape’ meant kidnapping, while ‘ravishing’ actually meant ‘rape’. But as the stories have come down through the centuries, the latter word took on its current meaning, which condemned the gods to be labeled…well, you know.”
“Yes, I know quite well,” I replied. “There was a group of us having dinner and talking the other night when my name was mentioned. I was accused of being a rapist and a pillager. I chose to leave instead of saying anything, although my first instinct was to hit something or someone.”
“I’m impressed by your restraint,” she laughed.
“Thank you. I never took advantage of any woman. I may be the god of war, but I am also a lover of women and respect them greatly. I won’t deny the pillaging; we all did it to fill the Pantheon coffers. To me, women and children should be protected from those who would harm them. My history will attest to this. But the mortals do not know this; they only know what is written by scribes who had issues with the gods. However, lately there has been talk that there might be an uprising against the male gods by those who believe they should rule instead of us.”
“I have heard whispers, but nothing concrete.”
“I want to do something to rectify this situation, Aunt Demeter. It’s important for all of the male gods that we be allowed to show the mortals that we are not the same deities we were thousands of years ago. We have matured and changed; look at Dad. He has settled down, spends more time with Mother, doesn’t look at other women. She is over the moon with all the attention he is lavishing on her. I’ve never seen her so content.”
“What about yourself?” she countered. “You turned Aphrodite away, and chose to love a mortal.”
“My point is,” I said, shutting out the flood of emotions that were threatening to overwhelm me again, “that we have changed. But until we are allowed to speak up for ourselves and prove this to the mortals, we are going to be condemned, regardless of the good we do in the world.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to sue the person who is leading the charge against us.”
“That’s a good start,” Aunt Demeter said, making some notes. “We should probably talk to Moxie. We need her to use her public relations skills to line up some interviews with the media.”
I groaned. “I was afraid you were going to say that.”
“What are you worried about? If you talk as eloquently and passionately during the interviews as you just did with me, you’ll be fine. As for the lawsuit, we can start with defamation of character and slander.”
“What about a court order to keep them from trashing us in public further until this goes before a judge?”
“A gag order? I could, but then that would also keep you from talking about it as well. There is going to be a lot of research involved in this, too.”
“I don’t think I should be the face of this, though. Hades would be much better at this than me. He has a way with words…”
“No,” she cut me off. “For starters, he won’t do it, not even if you paid him. He has said his piece about this, many centuries ago, and was ridiculed for it. He swore to never speak of it again or do anything to defend himself. I can see his reasoning; he and Persephone know the truth, and that is all that matters to him.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“You said you want to sue someone. Considering how many people are talking about this, how are you planning to narrow it down to one person?”
“Because there is one person whose voice is the loudest and is heard the most.”
“Really?” Aunt Demeter said, surprised. “Who?” I told her, and her eyes went wide. “Are you nuts?!”
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