"Welcome to the Love Bureau," Cupid tells me.
Outside it looked like some ancient temple but when I walk inside I realize this place is something completely different. Child cherubs with wings fly around busily to and from as though they are on Wall Street. I watch how loud it all is. The craziness seems to get to me at that moment.
"Welcome Lord Thaddeus," a caravan of people state.
They are men and women. They have to be some of the most beautiful people I've seen before and the fact is they were all...well...they were naked. They were naked as the day was long. I see how they look at me with all this excitement that I just can't really understand. Just at that moment, I am sprinkled with rose petals. I smile at the thought that they knew my name. It all makes me uncomfortable though. My father had kept my life so secret for so long that I was surprised when anyone said my name.
"These are your attendants," Cupid tells me, "You have the Charities here. You also have Harmonia, goddess of marital harmony. This is Peitho, your personal messenger and the god of sexual persuasion. This is Hermaphroditus, the god of transsexuals..."
Cupid goes down the list. I literally stop listening after Priapus, the god of genitals who literally had a dick that hit the fucking floor. I try to put on a smile. I try to make everyone feel so special. They were all so happy to see me and I was just feeling. I don't know...I was feeling overwhelmed. For that moment I imagine how it feels to be a new baby being passed around a party at a family reunion. Everyone is making this big deal about this baby and I'm literally just standing there feeling...scared.
Before I know it I just feel overwhelmed by it all. I just want to escape all over again. I'm rethinking the whole God of Love thing.
"We have to take him to see the screens and how we send the Erotes out to make the humans fall in love. We've updated the matchmaking process. Touchscreen displays!" one of the goddesses who follow me around making a big deal says.
I'm not sure who she is. It may be Hedylogos, the goddess of sweet talk or maybe it was Paregoros or some other fuckin weird ass Greek name that ended with OS that I couldn't think about at the moment.
I fake a quick yawn, "I'm feeling kind of tired."
The looks I get at that moment is complete confusion. Everyone gets really quiet. Really fuckin' quiet. I just feel like almost immediately I said something I shouldn't. You would think I was the one who was walking around with my dick swinging. All of a sudden I feel so awkward.
"Did I say something wrong?" I ask.
"No of course not, just that...Aphrodite never really got tired," Cupid explains, "I'll have one of your attendants show you to your quarters."
I am in my room. The Love Bureau. Who would have known I would have ended up in a place like this. My room is painted pink. The whole place reminds me of some sort of swanky upscale hotel that you would take a honeymoon on. The room features these sexy marble tiles on the floor with a separate shower and soaking tub. My balcony leads to a private plunge infinity pool, a landscaped garden with the most beautiful roses and an outdoor firepit. It seems to be perched right on the side of the great Mount Olympus and I can only see clouds below us.
It isn't until I take a warm bath that I realize why they call this place the Love Bureau. Someone could easily fall in love in a place like that. Even the god of love for that matter.
I come out of the bathtub and go to my room after almost an hour and start looking around to see if Cupid was able to have my bags delivered to my room. As I do so I see a shadow in the room.
"OH, MY GOD!"
I jump at that moment.
The shadow moves closer to me. I'm so sure it's Deandre somehow back to finish the job that he started. I'm wrong though. It's Deimos, of all people. He's standing there in the room at that moment and I wrap the towel tighter around me.
He seems amused by me adjusting myself.
"Relax, I'm not interested," he laughs.
I don't know what's more surprising. The fact that he showed up at my room and snuck in or the fact that he clearly wasn't interested. Not only does he say he isn't interested in what is under my towel but I watch how he sits on the chair, kicks up his legs and starts eating the romantic chocolates that were left at my bed as though that is where all his interests are.
"Why are you here?" I ask him.
"I don't get the love department crap. All this sappy crap. I know my mother is Aphrodite, but I'm more like my father. Give me a sword and shield instead of pink hearts any day."
"Why are you here?" I ask again.
He looks at me and forces a smile, "I need a place to hide out."
"Because you released the Titans?" I ask.
He gives me a look. I'm standing here in a towel talking to him and I have to admit the fact that he is so nonchalant is so attractive to me. I was used to having men wrapped around my fingers but he was unmoved by all of it. I didn't get it. I didn't understand how. He wasn't the first unexpected guest I'd had but usually, they were stalkers. This guy could care less about stalking me. He just literally was scared.
"Cupid works fast doesn't he?" he asks.
"He told me you were trouble..."
"Maybe I am. My brother and I are literally the gods of Fear and Terror. But my brother released the Titans. Not me," he responds, "You got to believe me."
"Why the hell would your brother do something like that?" I ask, "Don't they kill Gods?"
"That's the point," Deimos explains to me, "Phobos wanted our father gone, but he didn't want to be the one to do it. So he released the Titans. Now he's trying to kill me and the stupid ass goddesses that call themselves `the fates' can't tell us apart so they'll have us both arrested."
"Why should I care?"
"I'm desperate," he states, "You showed me a kindness back there in the train station and I followed you here hoping you'd do it again. Just let me stay and hide out. At least until morning. That's when you'll make your big debut and join the roundtable of the 12 Olympians."
"Cupid wouldn't like this."
"Cupid doesn't have to know..." he states and gives me this smirk, "Besides...aren't you the god of love? Show some love."
He's such a smart ass but at the same time, he's ridiculously attractive. And what if he was in trouble? Was I just going to turn my back on him?
"Fine. You sleep on the couch..."
"You're too kind..."
I lay in the bed. I try to go to sleep almost immediately. I don't know what it is. Maybe I just feel uncomfortable around him. He makes me nervous. For a while, he just leans in the chair in the darkness and he drinks straight from the decanter of wine on the table. His facial structure is so extreme and yet so handsome. It would only make sense that he was the son of the god of war and the god of love.
"You don't have to stare at me all night," he says in the darkness, "I'm not going to steal anything. I mean you're half-mortal for godsakes. Not like you have a treasure trove."
"It's not that."
"Then what is it?"
He's so fucking handsome. The tattoo on his forehead gives him this hard edge but he looks like a model in the face. Then there was that body. That effortless body. He still didn't seem to have found a shirt since earlier today and thank god for that. He's sitting there and without saying a word it's almost like he's rocking my world over and over again.
"There's a lot of room in the bed, actually," I state.
I move the sheets over at that moment and show him just how much room there is. I've removed the towel from underneath me. He takes a look at my naked body. He takes a look at everything there is to me. I lay slowly down on the pillow, with my ass up, exposed in the moonlight that is sprinkling through the terrace. We were high in the skies above the rest of the world and I wanted to be his angel of sex tonight.
He gets up slowly. His rippling abs are like a tsunami down his abdomen. His arms are huge and bulky. He squints at me in the darkness as though trying to figure me out.
Then he does the unthinkable.
Then he turns and goes out to the balcony.
For the first time in my life, I felt an insecurity of my looks and it's hitting me hard. It hits me harder than anything I could ever imagine. It hits me like a ton of bricks. I don't get it. Was I ugly? If not my face then was it my body? What was it that he wasn't attracted to?
"Nah? NAH!" I ask.
Before I know it I'm wrapping my bedsheets around and chasing him out on the balcony. I'm so angry that I trip and bust my face hard on the floor. I hit my nose hard as hell.
"Whoa you OK?" he asks me.
"GET AWAY FROM ME!" I scream out.
He looks around clearly trying to calm me down, "Look you need to chill. I'm just trying to help you up?"
"Why don't you find me attractive?"
"You keep turning me down."
There is a pause. There is a pause and then I hear the most humbling words I'd ever heard in my life.
"I'm just not that into you," he responds.
I feel like a child at that moment. That's the only way to describe it. There is this release. The roses in the gardens get uneasy at that moment. The lights begin to flicker.
"OH MY FUCKIN' GOD!" I scream.
"You need to chill," he keeps saying, "It's not that serious. Just chill..."
It's too late. I'm having a bit of outburst. I keep walking back and forth at that moment. I don't know what I want. I want him to take it back but he can't. He's already said it and it seems as though everything is out of whack and I think everyone can feel it because in the next few minutes my doors burst open and my attendants are running in at that moment.
I see Deimos looking highly annoyed by the entire situation, "Great..."
"What happened?" Cupid states, "What did he do to your face? You're bleeding..."
I'm too angry to address Cupid or anyone for that matter. I'm just crying hysterically. This seems to piss off the attendants even more when he says that. Deimos turns. He looks like he is about to try to make an escape but before he goes anywhere he is surrounded by half a dozen Erotes. The children act like some sort of soldiers. They surround him with sharp arrows which alarms even someone as mighty as Deimos.
"I didn't touch your god," Deimos defends himself.
Cupid isn't even hearing it, "Take him away."
Deimos gets detained and dragged away but I'm still here trying to pick up the pieces that he's left behind.
It takes Cupid forever to calm me down that night and even when he does he stations several of the Erotes outsides my door just in case some other unwelcomed minor god wanted to stop by. Truth is I can't go back to sleep anyway. Not with the way I was feeling. I hated this feeling.
It's morning before we know it. Cupid is still by my side babying me and the truth is I can't blame him. Almost instantly I regret having the fucking hissy fit that I did the morning after. Almost immediately I regret how I behaved.
"I can't believe last night," I state.
He brings me coffee, "We have to get over it. You are going to be presented to everyone today. You have to dry your tears and look your best."
"I'm not emotionally ready. You saw how I reacted yesterday."
"It's not your fault," Cupid states.
Cupid sits on my bed with me, "I guess you grew into your late 20s without ever experiencing rejection. You've always experienced the complete opposite. Men drowned themselves over you. So no, I don't think your emotional outburst yesterday was uncalled for. It made sense."
"Rejection sucks," I state.
Cupid laughs, "You're feeling the first time what I've watched gods and mortals alike feel for centuries. There is literally a sub-department for rejection in the Love Bureau. It's really a big deal. But that's all part of what you'll need to learn to become the god of love. It just sucks that an idiot like that had to bring it out of you."
"I feel bad. Deimos was just being honest."
"You're far too trusting," he states, "You'll quickly learn that everyone in Olympus has their motives. I just need to make sure I keep a closer eye on you."
"I'll be fine...but what about Deimos? What happened to him?"
They'd taken him away last night and I hadn't heard from him.
"He's where he belongs. Answering for his crimes in releasing the Titans."
"He said it wasn't him Cupid."
"Right now you don't need to worry about that. Right now you need to worry about the party for the 12 new Olympians. This is your introduction to being a god."
Great. That was now. I wasn't on my game. Everything that happened with Deimos the night before is still fresh in my head. Hell, I spent half the night crying and then the other half of the night trying to figure out what the hell made me so distraught. The whole concept of rejection was just something that was hitting me like a boulder. I probably took the news that I was a god and had to leave my dad better than I took rejection.
"That's now?" I ask.
My voice is weak. It's weaker than I want it to be. Cupid puts a hand on my shoulder. I can tell he's trying to make me strong.
"Yes. It's now. I need you to be ready. I need you to represent love. We're all depending on you..."
I remember those attendants. I remember how excited they were all to see me. It's now or never. Clearly, I was going to have to put up or shut up.
"I'm ready," I state in a little bit of a stronger tone.
"Good take your clothes off."
I can't breathe in the darkness. An hour passes. An hour of anxiousness. An hour of just feeling uneasy. I'm naked in here. Completely fucking naked.
My stomach was rattling. I felt more like the god of upset stomach. The only thing that soothes me a little is the sound of gentle music playing in the background.
I push up against the shell that has trapped me for the last 30 minutes.
I step out.
The large sea shell is big enough to hold me but here I am naked in front of strangers. Every eye in the room is on me as the gentle music plays in the background. The Erotes fly around me blowing in their trumpets. Naked women begin to throw rose petals at my feet. That's when I finally see Cupid heading my way. He has a sheer wrap around him. He throws the sheer wrap over me.
"Perfection," he whispers in my ear.
I don't understand what he means even when I step out. He helps me step out but then all of a sudden I watch him turn with the Erotes.
"You're leaving?" I ask.
"This room is for the 12...we cannot stay."
I watch Cupid and my other attendants leave me like a first grader being dropped off to school for the first time. When I turn I see the other people standing there. They are interested. I can say that much. They had all seen me naked before they knew my name.
I try to count how many are in the room but I'm unsure.
"This is going to be interesting," I hear a girl with black hair say as she walks past me in a long ball gown.
I realize just how naked I am with my sheer warp. There is a round table in the room but no one's sitting at it. People are mingling with one another. For a moment I just feel out of place. It's because I feel that I'm being watched. There is a girl across the room. A girl that has a mask on. She's just staring at me. The way she is staring at me freaks me out.
"That's Thalia," a voice whispers in my ear, "Might want to avoid her. She is the daughter of Hephaestus, god of fire and metalworking. Her father was married to your mother and let's just say your mother wasn't very faithful."
I turn at that moment and notice an intriguing half-man half-goat. He offers me his hand. He's actually the only one in the room who is being somewhat friendly.
I reach out and shake his hand, "I'm Thaddeus. You can call me Thad."
"Oh I know who you are," Pan states, "Most of us do."
I notice that the girl with the mask on is still looking at me. It's as though she feels because she has a mask on I can't see her eyes. The mask is an expressionless mask. It's so fucking creepy. It sends shivers down my spine. Other people are staring at everyone between conversations but she's just...fucking staring at me.
"Feel like I'm making enemies just by breathing," I whisper to Pan.
He laughs, "Everyone is sizing each other up. Wondering who is going to win the trial and become the King of the Gods."
"I don't want it."
"That's what everyone says," another voice states walking up, "Before they stab someone in the back."
The boy has long beautiful blonde hair. It goes down to his ass. He doesn't smile or try to shake my hand like Pan does but at least he's talking to me. I notice the girl Thalia is still staring. Her creepy stare is still sending shivers down my spine. It's nice to have people to talk to so that I don't feel like I'm getting darts from her.
Pan smiles, "This is Krill, Poseidon's grandson."
"King of Atlantis," Krill states at that moment with a half smile.
"You guys know each other?" I ask.
"Gave him a handjob halfway through the introduction speech and Demeter's daughter Persephone returning from the underworld to be her mother's heir bringing undead soldiers with her that smelled like ass."
I look over at Krill, "Wait what?"
"Don't worry," Krill says, "I'm in an open relationship."
Pan looks over at me, "I'm just drunk. And he was curious to see what a half goat's dick felt like so..."
"Ok guys," I interrupt, "I got the idea. TMI..."
We start having small talk between the three of us. It's clear no one else is really interested in opening up right now. There is a group of gods who are standing on the other side of the room that seems like they are above the rest of us. They are led by who Pan calls the "Bitch Queen of Spring" Persephone. She had a group of girls around her and they clearly seemed to think she was some sort of big deal. At first, the name doesn't mean a thing to me but then I remember a myth I heard a long time ago about how Spring came to be. Supposedly Demeter, the goddess of the Harvest had a daughter named Persephone and she was kidnapped from Olympus by Hades, god of the Underworld. To solve the conflict Zeus split the time that Persephone was on Earth. Whenever her daughter was away from her Demeter would cause the harvest to die. Supposedly that was how the seasons happened.
Now there was no Demeter though and I guess her daughter was here to take her place as the Goddess of the Harvest.
"Whose that?" Krill asks.
Krill clearly seemed to be sexually...fluid, to say the least. I swear I think his dick almost hardens when the door opens and this man walks into the room. All of a sudden the little bit of attention that Persephone was getting had gone out of the window.
"Heracles, son of Zeus," Pan states.
"Are we sure we aren't underwater because I'm wet," Krill whispers to me.
I have to admit Krill had a point. Heracles walks in and he is just...shockingly handsome. He just looks like a hero. There is no other way to describe it. I swear he has a light that is glowing off of his skin. Everything is just laid out in perfection. I watch a couple of the girls in the room giggle almost immediately as walks into the room.
"Welcome everyone, gather around, gather around..." he states, "Take your seats at the roundtable."
Do you meet someone who is too perfect? His teeth were too white. His body too clean. His whole energy just came off as polished, repolished and then reupholstered for good measure. This isn't stopping Krill and most every female goddess at the round table from fanning themselves.
"You're sitting at the head seat," I realize.
"Yes. This is where my father sat," he responds.
"I'm new here so correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that seat supposed to be for the King of the Gods?" I ask, "I heard something about trials or something? Those didn't happen already, right? Or..."
I don't know why I was offended by the fact that he was just sitting in the seat as though he had earned it already. He was just sitting there as though it was rightfully his.
He smiles at me.
"You must be Aphrodite's son. You're beautiful," he states, "Just like I thought you would be."
"Are you trying to mute my point by talking about how I look?"
"I'm also trying to make a point..."
He smiles. It's one of those patronizing smiles. With a smile, this man was telling me to `shut up and look cute'. I can read it all over him. Krill is sitting next to me and I swear he fans himself during my exchange with Heracles.
"Fine you're right, I'll have the cupbearer bring me out another chair if it makes the handsome young man feel more comfortable. Soon we'll have the trials and I'll claim my rightful seat. Does that please you, son of Aphrodite?"
"My name is Thad. And yes."
He has this cupbearer bring out a chair for him which he literally sits right next to the main chair at the roundtable. He's so fucking pompous.
"Good, I like pleasing you," he tells me.
He licks his lips as he speaks. He looks at me at that moment almost the way a very wealthy person would look at something in a store. He's slightly examining me but not too much because the truth is he feels like he has the money to buy it either way. I just ignore him at this point and turn away.
"There's an empty seat," Persephone states, "We're missing the heir of Ares, God of War."
"Oh yes," Heracles states, "Ganymede, please bring in the prisoners. As our first task as Olympians, the Fates would like us to judge which son of Ares will take his place. The other is to be tried for murder."
"Just like that?" the heir of Apollo asks.
Heracles nods, "We're gods aren't we?"
Pan shakes his head, "We need all the facts."
It's the girl with the mask on that speaks next. The creepy girl. She crosses her arms, "We are Olympians, not the supreme court. Our immortal blood will tell us if they are guilty or not."
When she says that I hear agreement around the table. I guess Heracles wasn't the only one with a big head at this table. I look at Pan. I wonder if he is as uncomfortable with this as I am. He doesn't say anything else though because we are clearly in the minority especially when Phobos and Deimos are marched out in front of everyone.
I look over at Deimos. The only thing that separates them is the symbol on their head.
"How do you both plead?" Heracles asks.
Both boys immediately start talking over each other. I can't even hear what either one of them has to say. It's so harsh.
Both of them are trying to plead their case immediately. I can see them both almost to the point of begging. Sweat is dripping down their forehead. It's clear they are upset. I look from Phobos to Deimos. Their facial expressions are almost for certain.
"Are we sure it's between these two?" someone asks.
"The Fates are sure," the cupbearer states, "They saw it in their eye. One of these two released the Titans."
More people are talking over each other. There is more chaos. Was this how this roundtable was going to be? Was this how chaotic it was going to be? My heart is dropping in my chest. Who gave us the right to decide the fate of these two brothers? Who gave us the right to decide anything? I try to shake it off and a part of me wants to walk off but then I look over at Deimos. He looks so upset. The sweat is dripping down his forehead making his symbol almost glisten.
Then it hits me.
The symbol. His symbol didn't mean anything much to me but when I saw his brother's symbol it all made sense.
Heracles cuts them off, "Enough. My divine blood is saying the one on the right...or...or..."
"I may have something to add," I interrupt.
"What is that?" someone asks.
"A clue," I point out.
The room turns to me.
Deimos is desperate at that moment, "I met you. You know it wasn't me. You know I had nothing to do with it."
Phobos doesn't skip a beat, "It wasn't me. Please. I'm begging you..."
The two boys were both seemingly shocked. It would have been hard to tell them apart. Both of them were shaking. Both of them seemed innocent. Both of them seemed like they had nothing to do with this. The Fates had called it though. Supposedly the Fates never got something wrong. They had seen one of the twins. Somehow they couldn't tell them apart but they definitely knew it was one of them. So one of them had the wrong plans.
"Both of you quiet," Heracles states with the authority of his father, "We have a lead. The only one that matters. I propose we let Thaddeus, son of Aphrodite decide. Does anyone have an issue with this?"
No one speaks up. No one seems that interested in challenging Heracles right now. It's clear he's the strongest one here. But looking at this room I can tell there is more to the story then what is clear. Something was so weird about this and the more I think about it, the more I think that this is all a mistake. Heracles was making a grand spectacle of this. I can see it in his eyes. The way he talks. Was he trying to impress me by putting this in my hands?
The room looks over at me. The girl with the mask is the one who speaks first, "I think that's a great idea. Thaddeus. If we are going to be Olympians then we must be decisive. The world is in our hands. We make all the decisions. Thad. Which brother is guilty."
There is so much pressure. I didn't want to decide this alone. That wasn't in the cards for me. I just wanted to give my two cents to all of this. The more I think about it the more I realize that people were looking at me in a way that I had never been looked at before. I wasn't just a beautiful guy anymore.
I was something more.
Is this what it meant to be the God of Love?
"When I was attacked the person had a knife. Cupid called it a Godkiller. That knife had a symbol on it. That symbol was the same symbol that Phobos has on his forehead," I remember before stopping, "Phobos...is...guilty."
It's so heavy. It's so heavy on my heart at that moment. Phobos gives me a look at that moment. It has to be the hardest look I had ever seen before. Out of nowhere, he tries to make an escape! I watch him push away and attempt to run.
He doesn't get far.
The girl with the mask stands and with a raise of her hand, his feet start to slow down. No one notices what is happening until we actually see it happen. His feet become blocked in stone. She has drafted marble around his feet.
"Get him out of here," Heracles states, "Deimos, you may take your place at the roundtable as the god of war."
Deimos nods. He looks at me and he whispers a quick, "thank you." I don't respond. This was all so sudden. It was all so fast. I just had to judge someone's life in a matter of minutes. I don't know how I feel about it. I don't know how I feel about any of it.
It's Krill who leans over and nods, "You did good, god of love. You did well."
Hearing someone call me that makes me so afraid. So fucking afraid of what happens next.
The room clears. Deimos feels the heaviness of almost having his life taken away from him. Zeus knows what was going to happen to his brother Phobos. He'd probably be taken down to Tartarus and tortured by Hades. Hades was the only God remaining and it was only because he wasn't an Olympian. The Underworld stayed separate from the rest of the world. He'd wondered how he felt knowing that his brother was going to go down there and be punished.
As they leave he watches particularly, Thaddeus. He's walking with the satyr Pan and the god of the sea's grandson. He doesn't know what to think of Thaddeus. Not even now that the boy spoke up and saved his life.
"You OK?" Thalia asks.
He turns and sees the daughter of Hephaestus. She wore a mask. A black mask. Some people say it was as black as her soul. Others said that when Hephaestus had his monster daughter out of wedlock, his wife Aphrodite was so disgusted by the child's appearance that she forced him to lock her away. She was only allowed on Olympus in a mask. He wondered what was under that mask. He always had.
"I've been better," he states, "My brother is doomed."
"But you are the God of War now," Thalia states, "Isn't this what you wanted?"
There is a pause.
Deimos can only feel guilt at that moment. He knows he needs to bury it. He's the god of War now. There was no time to be weak. There could only be one between him and Phobos. There could only be one God of War. It was understood his father would only give it to the brother who could survive. Today Deimos proved that he was that survivor.
"Sure it is," Thalia whispers to Deimos, "It was what you wanted when you asked me to create a Godkiller for you. It was what you wanted when you released the Titans."
To read the next chapter in advance go to www.crushedcrown.com