For the Love of a God

By: Rosanna Leo
Chapter One

Mt. Olympus Present Day

"I wanna play with some mortals. Female mortals."

Eryx, son of Aphrodite, looked up from the neat stack of papers on his Chippendale desk. He frowned at the intruder, his cousin Dionysus. “Don't you ever knock?"

Dionysus, beautiful in his smugness, merely shrugged. “You're the only god I know who keeps an office. No one else has a door.” He plunked his big frame down in the Herman Miller chair in front of Eryx's desk. “I'm bored."

"You're always bored.” Eryx's blond brows met in a frown as he returned his gaze to his papers. “So why are you here?"

"Because I want you to come with me."

"No."

"Oh, come on, Eryx. I hear there's a new club open on the Vegas strip. Topless waitresses."

Eryx spared him a glance. “Seriously? You've seen and done it all before. You can't tell me you're intrigued by the idea of topless waitresses."

Dionysus squirmed a little under his cousin's harsh gaze. “I know. I'm predictable. But it's been ages since we've had any fun together."

"There's a reason for that.” Regret darkened Eryx's green eyes. “You and I and waitresses and wine ... we don't mix well.” He sighed and returned his attention to his papers.

The god of wine arched a perfect dark brow. “We mix very well. The difference between you and me is that I don't beat myself up with guilt every time I break some mortal's heart. There was a time when you didn't either."

Eryx jotted several names into a notebook, and then looked up, as stern as a Catholic school religious studies teacher. “Dionysus, don't you understand by now? I can't. Someone will get hurt."

"If you're worried about..."

"No. Don't even say her name out loud.” Eryx huffed. “I've been able to stay under her radar for the last few decades. I'd like to keep it that way."

"What are you worried about? She'd never do anything to hurt her beloved Eryx!"

"It's not me I worry about."

Dionysus crinkled his nose, so straight and perfect it should be on a statue. “You know, cousin, this goddamn noble routine is getting pretty tired."

"What about you?” Eryx rolled his bright eyes. “There has to be more to life, even this life, than carousing with loose women and getting drunk all the time. It's gotten old."

"So instead of bonding with your cousin, who happens to know where all the best orgies are, you prefer to sit here alone and shuffle papers."

"I'm not just shuffling papers."

"Oh, right.” Dionysus smirked. “I forgot. You shuffle people."

Eryx just stared at his cousin, knowing he was wasting his breath. How could he ever make the god of lusty alcoholism comprehend that his work fulfilled him? As much as anything could fulfill him.

In a quest to make a difference, as much as to keep busy, Eryx worked in antiquities. For hundreds of years, he had been descending to earth in the guise of various antiquities experts. Depending on his mood, he might be a famous archaeologist or a professor or a writer. His favorite venture was to take on the role of a museum curator or director. In this capacity, he could bring his firm hand to museums around the world, ensuring the mortals were doing justice to ancient Greece and its treasures. Nothing gave him more pleasure than to swoop down on an unsuspecting museum staff to see who was doing his job properly. Shake them up a little. Maybe even downsize the ones who were dead weight.

There was only one thing which gave him more pleasure, but he couldn't go there.

He put down his pen and sighed, trying to return to a less sexual train of thought. “Doesn't it bother you that the mortals have forgotten us? We used to be great. We used to be able to influence the outcome of wars. Now, we're just ... myth."

Dionysus picked at the lapel of his Armani suit and shrugged. “It's not so bad. They may not believe in us, but we still retain our powers."

"Parlor tricks, nothing more."

"Well, I like my parlor tricks.” Like a magician at a child's birthday party, he swirled his finger dramatically through the air and a tall glass of red wine materialized in his hand. He took a sip and smiled at Eryx, waving the glass under his nose. “Don't suppose you'd like some? After all, you're Aphrodite's son. You are the god of love. You're supposed to have some fun."

Eryx pushed the glass away. “You may not believe in what I do, but at least my work ensures the world of ancient Greece lives on. We ought to be remembered in some way."

"Whatever.” He narrowed his dark eyes at Eryx and took another large swig. “But don't flatter yourself I don't know the truth."

"What truth?"

"You work like a fiend so you won't be tempted by women. Tempted by lust. You're just on a misguided quest to save them all. But you won't. Eventually, you'll crack."

"I can't afford to crack."

Dionysus leaned forward in his chair, his gaze calculating. “How long has it been since you had a woman? How long, Eryx, since you spread a plump pair of legs and...?"

Eryx's green eyes flashed in warning. “Don't go there. You, of all people, should know better."

His cousin sighed and pushed himself away from the desk. “Fine, fine. And to think the god of love was forever changed because of a few lost souls. Well, I'll be on my way, then. No wingman for me tonight.” He stood, and then inclined his head toward Eryx's paperwork. “What is your current project anyway?"

Eryx peered back at him, gauging his level of interest. Should he even tell Dionysus? His cousin lived to get him into trouble. Still, each new project filled him with excitement, and he really had no one to share it with. The other gods couldn't care less. His mother, the goddess of love, was too busy being, well, herself, to get involved in her son's projects. As for his father... He was too busy playing soldier.

And it's wasn't as if he had friends the way mortals did.

Perhaps it wouldn't hurt to just give Dionysus a high-level overview. Of all his cousins, he was closest to Dionysus. Even if his influence could be described as debauched on the best of days.

Eryx concentrated on the papers on his desk. He then passed his hand over them. Immediately, a mist formed a few inches above the papers. Within seconds, the mist separated and a tiny 3-D image appeared from it. The image of a museum. “This is the Toronto Museum. They're in the midst of renovating. They have an extensive, important Greek collection. I thought they could use some help."

"Toronto, eh? Sounds cold.” An involuntary shiver passed through Dionysus.

"It's summer, dumbass."

"I'll still be warmer in the arms of my topless waitress. Or five.” Dionysus smiled his most beguiling smile, the one with which he had charmed the pants off mortal women for centuries. And then he disappeared.

Eryx had already forgotten his capricious cousin. He ran a hand through his wavy blond hair and gazed upon the little image of the museum in Toronto. His museum. He'd make it his. And by the time he was done, they'd be very thankful for his guidance.

He indulged himself in a tiny smile, his full lips tightening into the merest of tight grins, and went back to work.Chapter Two

Toronto, Present Day

Maia Douglas woke with a start. She looked around, disoriented. Then she remembered. She'd only put her head down on her desk for a minute. Her brown eyes bleary, she peered toward the clock on her office wall. Seven o'clock. “Dammit. Naps at work. Bad idea."

It may have been after hours and the last tourist may have already been long gone, but she knew she was playing a dangerous game. One of these nights, she'd sleep right through and wouldn't get her work done.

It was her fault for insisting on working late. She could work during the day like a normal person, but she loved the tranquility of the museum at night. Besides, she hadn't been sleeping well lately anyway. Might as well work through the night.

She rubbed her eyes and gathered her wits. She took a sip of her cold coffee and stared at the wet spot on her blotter where she'd dribbled a little. “Ugh. Real dainty, Douglas."

She pushed away from her desk. As foggy as she was, she knew it was the perfect time to do her preliminary inspection. She hated doing her work when people were milling about anyway. She gathered up her collapsible stool, a notebook, and her Holly Hobby satchel, the one containing her pencils and various tools of the trade. Thus armed, she stumbled out of her office.