“So really, it’s my fault,” Heather said. “He was mad at me. He was trying to get back at me for not telling him where Mom was. Eros shot the man and he … killed Blane’s mother. And I …”
Delphie put her hand on Heather’s arm.
“I told her where the gun was,” Heather whispered. “She killed him and …”
“She died because of the beating he gave her,” Abi said. “But you’re say that Eros started this?”
Heather’s head went up and down in a nod.
“He would say that it’s his right as a God,” Heather said.
“You mean he’s done this before?” Abi asked.
“Why?” Heather asked.
“It’s enough to get him permanent retirement,” Abi said.
“That’s why Aphrodite’s been working so hard to clean up his mess,” Heather said.
“Aphrodite knows about this?” Abi asked.
“She says she’s feels guilty,” Heather said with a nod. “But if her precious son might lose his gifts and his place in court … That explains things.”
“You should think about whether you want his role for all eternity, Heather,” Abi said. “If you’re willing, I’ll tell Gilfand about Eros. You may need to show him, but Gilfand won’t put up with this kind of behavior. We are not to intervene!”
“Be the Goddess of Love forever?” Heather asked.
“You don’t have to decide today,” Abi said. “Just think about it.”
“When do we leave for Leadville?” Heather asked.
“Not today,” Delphie said. “Seems like we’ve all had a shock. Why don’t you head home to rest? We’ll go later.”
“You’re sure?” Heather asked.
“Of course,” Delphie said.
Nodding, Heather picked up Wyn and left without saying good-bye. She had closed the Castle side door when Delphie looked at Abi.
“What are you thinking?” Delphie asked.
“I’m not sure what to think,” Abi said.
“Do you believe her?” Delphie asked.
“Of course,” Abi said. “I’m surprised you’d even ask!”
“Oh, yes,” Delphie nodded. “I just … It’s almost too horrible to think.”
“That Eros did this to people?” Abi asked. “Or that he did it in response to being angry with her?”
“I’m not sure how she survived all of this,” Abi said.
“I’m glad she did,” Delphie said. “Heather is my friend. She’s done tremendous things for our family. And …”
“The entire thing is weird,” Abi said.
“Makes me want to look into what the hell was really going on with Eros and Psyche,” Delphie said.
“Aphrodite,” Abi said.
Delphie nodded. The women fell silent as they thought their own thoughts.
“Well,” Delphie said with a nod. “Tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow is our name ceremony,” Abi said.
“That’s what I meant,” Delphie said with a smile. “What do we need for tomorrow?”
Abi sent a worried look after Heather and turned her attention to Delphie and the party ahead of them.
“Good,” Heather said. “Did you notice a shift in the timeline?”
Delphie closed her eyes for a moment before shaking her head. She scowled.
“There’s a photo,” Delphie said. “But that hasn’t changed things, much.”
“Where?” Heather asked.
“At the adoption agency,” Delphie said. “They’ll give it to you when you ask.”
Heather felt a wave of relief.
“Thank you,” Heather said.
“I owe you …”
“Just remember me when you have Olympic honey and cheese,” Delphie said.
“Of course,” Heather said. “What did you decide to do about the Fires of Hell?”
“We thought we’d go up there,” Delphie said. “Would you like to go?”
“Sure,” Heather said. “I’d like to check in with Wyn first. Where is he?”
“Who?” Delphie asked. She gave Heather a confused blink.
Heather’s hand went to her heart. Her eyes welled with tears.
“My …” Heather started.
“You are so mean!” Abi said. “He’s right here.”
Abi gestured to where Wyn was sleeping with her baby. Heather let out a heavy breath. She fell forward and rested her hands on her knees.
“Are you okay?” Delphie asked.
“Just … a long day,” Heather said. “Eros was with me, you know, in the past.”
“That’s odd,” Delphie said.
“It was his present,” Heather said. “We crossed timelines. In fact, I think he did something to Blane’s father.”
“What do you mean?” Abi asked.
“Blane’s father seemed exhausted,” Heather said. “He wasn’t angry, at least he didn’t seem angry, until Eros shot him. Twice.”
“That’s odd,” Abi said.
“Do you know my father?” Heather asked.
Abi gave Heather a distracted nod.
“You’re saying that Blane’s father wasn’t enraged when he got to the apartment?” Delphie asked.
“He seemed tired,” Heather said. “Really tired. Like he hadn’t slept in days.”
“The neighbor said that he broke the screen door, started hitting her the moment he walked through the front door,” Delphie said.
“Eros shot him as he went up the steps,” Heather said. “He shot him once and nothing seemed to happen. Then Eros shot him again. It was like something out of a cartoon. Suddenly Blane’s father woke up and smoke was coming out of his ears. I mean, I think he was capable of what he did. I just don’t think he would have done it then.”
Delphie weaved. Heather got her into a chair before she fell.
“What is it?” Heather asked.
“I thought …” Delphie said. She looked at Heather and then Abi. “I thought it was my fault. I just saw the love and not his rage. I … thought I … may as well have killed her myself.”
“It was Eros,” Heather said. “He saw my interest in the man and shot him.”
In the silence of Blane’s father’s rage, his mother looked at her.
“Will you keep him safe?” his mother asked.
“I will do what I can,” Heather said. “He will suffer, but he will surely die today if he stays here.”
His mother jostled back and forth with the blows from his father. When she had a chance, his mother rolled away from Blane’s father. She set Blane in Heather’s arms. The baby was so scared that he was dead silent.
“The gun is under his pillow,” Heather said as she ran passed.
His father was so fixated at his mother that he didn’t see Heather or the baby in her arms. His father ran past Heather in hot pursuit of his mother. Heather had just reached the door to the apartment when his mother fired the shots which killed his father. Seeing a photo of Blane’s mother and father on the wall next to the door, Heather grabbed the frame and tucked it to her.
Heather calmly walked down the stairs. She instinctively checked to see if Eros was still there. He was gone.
At this moment, Blane’s mother was calling Delphie with her last breath. Heather went to Blane’s father’s car — a Ford Mustang from the 1960s. She set the baby in the passenger’s seat and drove to the hospital where Blane was born.
In the hospital’s parking lot, she broke the picture frame and tucked the image into the baby’s blankets. She set the baby on her lap. Baby Blane’s eyes opened and he seemed to take in her face.
“I would save you from the next eighteen years if I could,” Heather said. “I can’t do that. That’s your path. I can only tell you that you are loved.”
Heather touched his heart. Without being conscious of it, she marked his heart with her love. That baby smiled at the gift. She kissed his face and got out of the car. With great ease, she carried him into the hospital and left him on the receptionists lap. She waited long enough for the receptionist to discover him. She threw one last worried look at the baby that was Blane before leaving the hospital.
She drove the Mustang to the small house in the Mayfair where Sam, Celia, Valerie, and baby Jacob lived. She parked the car in the driveway and left the keys in the mailbox. She closed her eyes for a moment and said a prayer that she hadn’t changed things so much in this past that her world wasn’t changed.
She headed back to the Castle kitchen.
To her relief, Delphie and Abi were still standing in the kitchen. She glanced at the clock. She’d been gone three minutes.
“How did it go?” Delphie asked.
Heather opened her mouth to say something pithy, but realized that she needed to know that nothing had changed. Heather knew that Delphie watched timelines. It was one of her fascinations.
“Good,” Heather said. “Did you notice a shift in the timeline?”
The man started up the stairwell one lazy step at a time. Pull on the cigarette. Take a step. Exhale. Pull on the cigarette. Take another step. He certainly didn’t seem like an angry man in a rage.
“Pay attention to me!” Eros said. “I am your father! I deserve your respect.”
“Sorry, Dad,” Heather said. Her mind was a million miles away. She idly added, “I’ve heard it all before.”
“Well, hear this!” Eros said.
Before she could stop him, he pulled back his bow and shot Blane’s father with an arrow. The man’s face went completely blank. He stood with one foot on one step and another foot on the other step. His cigarette burned in his mouth.
“What are you doing?” Heather asked. She pushed her father. “You can be such a jerk!”
“I’m a jerk? I’m a jerk?” Eros asked.
It was never a good sign when Eros started repeating himself. He sneered at Heather and fired another arrow at the man.
The man took a gasping breath, and then another. He threw down his cigarette and stalked up the stairs to apartment 201.
“What did you do!?” Heather asked.
“You’ll see,” Eros said. He sneered at Heather one last time and disappeared.
Bam! Bam! Bam! The man banged on the flimsy screen door with his fist. Each time, the screen door bounced against the door frame and went out as far as the latch would let it. The man hit the screen so hard that it bounced far enough out for him to grab the edge of the screen’s wooden frame. He yanked on the frame and the screen broke.
“Hello?” a woman’s voice came from upstairs.
The man started to yell. She heard the man’s fist hit the woman’s face. A baby screamed at the top of his lungs.
Heather stood frozen under the stairs. She tried to move but was too flooded with feelings of remorse and guilt. All of this was her fault. If she hadn’t annoyed Eros so much, he would …
She shook herself.
One thing she knew for certain was that Eros did whatever Eros wanted to do. If he caused it, it was his will and, in his mind, his right as a God.
Her veins pulsed with the power of Olympia.
She took the stairs two at a time and walked into apartment 201. She knew that she couldn’t keep Blane’s father from beating his mother. Even if she wanted to, which she didn’t, she couldn’t stop Blane’s mother from killing his father. She couldn’t stop either of them from dying. That was what was in store for them on this day.
No God or Goddess could change that fact.
She walked across the apartment toward the fight. Blane’s father was so angry that he didn’t notice Heather reach in his pocket for his keys.
She was hit with a vague memory of running into her father just before her mother jumped them forward this last time, probably a year or so year from this time. He was furious with her for lying to him under the stairwell. He wanted her to apologize for what she made him do. She had no idea what he was talking about and told him so, which only added to his fury. She had no memory of standing under the stairwell because in her timeline, she’d never been here before. She groaned internally.
“Your mother,” Eros said. “Where is she?”
Heather squinted at him and said the one thing that usually made him leave her alone.
“Maybe you should have asked that very same question when she was being tortured by your mother,” Heather said. “If you had bothered to ask, maybe she wouldn’t have suffered so much.”
As predicted, Eros started ranting and raving.
Heather always found a unique kind of silence in his rage. He would never ask for anything while he was ranting. She could rest here in the silence of his verbal barrage. Her focus returned to the young man.
A medium sized man with dark hair and hazel eyes started across the cement backyard. The man looked a good deal Sam Lipson. He was thinner, more wiry, and in unguarded moments, his face was stony. He wore black jeans, black boots, and a jean jacket covering his Black Sabbath T-shirt. Overall, he seemed tired, almost exhausted. The man gave no indication that he saw Heather or heard Eros’s ranting like a four year old.
He stopped at the bottom of the stairs to light a cigarette from a book of matches. Heather could see into his eyes thought the open space between cement stairs. She instinctively shivered at the depth of his malice.
Her father touched her arm.
“Are you even listening to me?” Eros asked.
“Not really,” Heather said in a moment of rare honestly.
“How dare you!” Eros said. His voice rose a pitch.
The man took a drag on his cigarette. Rather than blow out the match, he tossed the matchbook onto the concrete.
Eros screamed about how she should be loyal to him! After all, it wasn’t his fault that his mother hated his beloved. He couldn’t be held responsible for her actions. How was it his fault that he was so loveable? What could you expect from his mother?
“She was protecting you,” Heather said her part in their little play. “She tortured my mother because you failed to tell her that you were in love with Psyche!”
Eros screamed in her face. He began to pace. As he paced, he threw his hands around in gestures that would be perfected by Tanesha only a few years from now.