Looking at him set my heart racing. He was perfect. His golden features shone like the sun. A rakish grin lit up his face, and his unbuttoned shirt billowed in the wind, revealing an impressive six-pack.
“Thank you, wind,” Melissa whispered beside me.
Bobbing my head up and down in agreement, I admired the model. Wow! Wait a minute, what in the hell was I doing gawking at a demigod like a deranged nymph? I snapped out of it and straightened up, tossed my hair behind my shoulder, and turned on my charm full blast before striding across the beach.
I felt the weight of everyone’s eyes on me and reveled in the reverence of their slack-jawed expressions. This was more like it.
“Come with me.” I didn’t wait for Adonis to acknowledge the order, but turned on my heel, confident he would follow.
I turned, pouring more charm into my gaze. “Come. With. Me.”
“Why?” he asked, completely unaffected by my charm.
“Because I said so,” I sputtered, bewildered by his indifference.
He raised an eyebrow. “You seem to have a rather high opinion of yourself, so I’ll try to break this to you gently.” Leaning toward me, he put a hand on my shoulder and stage whispered, “You aren’t as impressive as you think you are.”
Melissa giggled. Adonis looked up as if noticing her for the first time, easy grin faltering. “Can I give you some advice, or are you so brainwashed by this thing you can’t understand me?”
Melissa giggled again. “I’m not charmed, if that’s what you’re asking.” She blinked and looked around at the other models and photographers. They stared back at her, expressions blank.
“They won’t remember this conversation,” I assured her.
Adonis narrowed his eyes. “Stop charming them.”
“It’s for their own good,” Melissa murmured. “If they tell anyone about this or mention the gods—”
“They aren’t stupid!” Adonis snapped. “Unlike you, hanging around these creatures willingly. If you were smart you’d stay away because whatever they’ve promised you isn’t worth it.”
“Excuse me?” I demanded.
Melissa grinned at Adonis as if she’d discovered the one person in the whole of creation who felt the same way she did. “I don’t like them either, but you may want to listen to this one. She’s trying to save your life.”
“Come along, Melissa. He’s not worth the effort.”
“Save me from what?”
I smirked at Adonis and opened my mouth to tell him off, but Melissa spoke first.
“Zeus is killing off all his kids, including demigods.”
“What makes you so sure Zeus is my father?”
“You have charm,” I interrupted. “Not controlled of course, but charm only comes from Zeus.”
“Is that why he’s immune to you?” Melissa asked in an undertone.
I shook my head. “That happens every now and then, random fluke of the fates. The gods can’t touch him.”
Melissa’s eyebrows shot up. She started to say something, but I cut her off with a glare.
The look on Adonis’ face told me his parentage was news to him. That wasn’t uncommon. Most demigods knew they were demigods. It was obvious to anyone in the know thanks to their distinctive physical features, but few knew which god spawned them. Gods were fond of disguises.
“I thought Zeus was dead.”
“Not yet.” I gave him a dark smile. “But I’m sure he’ll be around to explain soon enough. Bye now.”
I flounced off, dragging Melissa behind me.
“Wait!” he called.
I turned, feigning indifference. “Yes?”
He hesitated and looked at Melissa. “Can I trust you?”
“Me?” She drew back in surprise.
He smiled at her. “Well, I know I can’t trust her.”
Okay, so remember in Iron Queen when I said Adonis was inbred to the extreme? There’s actually mythological basis for that. Adonis’ family tree is a bit messed up. His line starts with Galatia (as in Pygmalion’s statue) and continues to his mother Myrrha, who managed to piss Aphrodite off by not worshiping her enough. Aphrodite cursed Mryrrha by giving Myrrha the hots for her father. Myrrha tricked her father and seduced him with the help of her nanny (seriously, don’t ask for details).
Her dad freaked out, and tried to have her killed, but Myrrha fled and was turned into a Myrrh tree by some sympathetic gods. Why the gods were so convinced life as a tree was preferable to death is a mystery for another day. Anyway, nine months later, Adonis popped up beneath the tree either by way of an arrow, boars tusks, or tree labor with helpful nymphs. Aphrodite immediately fell for the infant, possibly thanks to Cupid. She handed Adonis off to Persephone for safe keeping, but Persephone ended up falling in love with him too. The women went to Zeus so he could settle the dispute, and Zeus declared that Adonis spend four months wherever he want, four months with Aphrodite, and four months with Persephone every year.
Most myths agree that Adonis spent eight months with Aphrodite, but some (mostly Shakespeare) contend that he was ambivalent to her attentions, preferring the joy of hunting and killing things to the company of the goddess who got his mother turned into a tree.
One day, while hunting, he was gutted by a wild boar that was possibly sent by Ares out of jealously, or by Artemis for revenge for Aphrodite getting one of her worshipers killed, or by Apollo for sheer randomness. Aphrodite cradled Adonis in her lap as he died and flowers (anemone to be precise) sprang up where his body rested. His blood is also believed to turn the Adonis river red every year.
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