As expected on a Wednesday, Denny’s doesn’t exactly get hopping, but the handful of couples and three groups that show up soon after opening are loud and hungry, and the first couple hours fly by.
Phaedra is off today, and though Nancy is friendly, I don’t appreciate the longing glances she steals at Dionysos. She’s obviously interested. Is it reciprocated?
Facing the room as I am, I can’t watch the kitchen at all times, damn it. When he comes out, he hovers near me, but is that a guarantee nothing’s happening with Nancy? That nothing has happened? I only have his word that he doesn’t mess with his employees—God, I hate this phrasing—but Phaedra flirted with him too. I joked about it before, but maybe this is his modus operandi? He keeps a harem of girls, promising each of them she’s the only one?
“Hey. You asleep?” Nancy snaps her fingers in front of my face. “Number 13 is all up my ass about their drinks taking too long. Go go go.” Her expression is friendly, not one of reprimand. Sucks. It’d be easier to hate her as a potential rival if she was a bitch.
But why should I hate her if Dionysos is playing with us both? With all three of us?
“Sorry. I spaced out.” I pour four pints of lager, and since I’m closer to the pass, I also get her the two burgers with fries Dionysos just plated.
She winks, blue eyes sparkling. “Thanks, girly. And don’t worry. It happens to the best of us.” Lowering her voice, she adds, “He’s a dreamboat, isn’t he? Remember he’s off limits, though.”
She twirls away, blonde braid swishing from side to side, before I can pretend not to know whom she’s talking about.
Off limits. Because I work for him, or because he’s already sleeping with her?
I sense Dionysos approach, and turn as he comes up behind me.
“Everything okay?” he asks.
“Yup. Everything’s fine, boss.” Except I want to cup his ass. And kiss him. And taste him again, this time till he comes. Preferably sans the hallucinatory interlude.
“Good.” His knuckles brush my hip, and then he’s walking back to the kitchen his attention on the screen of his phone.
He’s been looking at that thing a lot today.
And there’s the green monster of jealousy, taking big great chomps off me again. Another woman? A relationship he hasn’t ended yet? Is that why he won’t have sex with me? Is he telling himself what we have done isn’t considered cheating?
No, he’s just in no rush for us to have sex. It’s gallant in this day and age, when everything happens fast and often without forethought. Dionysos wants to make sure—
Oh my God, is he married? The apartment upstairs could just be for his conquests. But then why take me to a hotel?
Ugh, I must stop thinking.
“You must be Moira.” The velvety male voice makes me look up from the glass I’m scrubbing furiously. The man watching me with a half-smirk on his face could be Dionysos’ twin, except his long curls are blond and his eyes a beautiful baby blue. “I’m Hermes.” He holds out his hand. “Your boss’s best looking brother.”
I can’t not smile, even as my mind tries to make sense of the similarities. How is this possible, when they’re not related by blood? I wipe my palm on the towel lying by the sink in front of me, and shake his proffered hand. “Nice to meet you. Yup, I’m Moira.” How does he know? Has Dionysos told him about me, or did Ares mention the drowned rat he hired on their bro’s behalf? Should I ask?
“My boy can’t shut up about you,” he says as if he read my mind.
Cheeks burning, I duck my head and take my time redoing my bun. What do I say to that?
I don’t need to come up with something after all, because Dionysos storms out of the kitchen, rounds the bar, and drags his brother by the arm to a corner table. I can’t tell what they’re saying, but Dionysos doesn’t seem happy about it. Hermes, on the other hand looks like the cat that swallowed the canary.
Nancy hops on the stool across the bar from me and heaves a sigh that threatens to pop the buttons of her shirt. “These boys are temptation on legs.” She seems to be talking to herself as much as to me, nostrils flaring and pupils wide. “Pity they won’t sleep with the staff, because they’ve sure as hell slept with everyone else. At least till Hermes took himself off the market.”
She slams her hand on the bench. “What are you doing tomorrow morning? Phaedra and I are going for brunch to Sunny Side Up—that place that opened in Glyfada a couple months ago? They have awesome Eggs Benedict. Wanna come?”
The change of subject doesn’t make my head spin as much as the tidbit of information she let slip before. How many women are everyone else? And was it only women? Should I even care about what Dionysos did before he met me?
Nancy looks at me expectantly. She asked me something. I replay her question in my head. “Sounds great,” I say. “I love Eggs Benedict.”
“Awesome. I’m sleeping with one of the waiters, so we’ll get pancakes for free.” Nancy beams while I open and close my mouth, trying to come up with a response. “Dionysos says I don’t have a brain-to-mouth filter. I tend to believe he’s right, but I don’t care.” She shrugs and pulls out her phone. Taps something and hands it to me. “I’ll call you when I wake up.”
New Contact is on the screen, and beneath it, Moira Whatshername. I laugh and add my number, but don’t correct the last name. “Filters are overrated.”
Business picks up around ten, with three more groups showing up. They’re all hungry, and Dionysos disappears in the kitchen. Hermes swings by the bar to wish me a good night and tell me it was nice to meet me, which is a little weird but makes me feel special.
It’s almost midnight, when Dionysos resurfaces. Phone to his ear, he undoes his apron one-handedly and tosses it on a bar stool. “I’ll be right there,” he says to whoever is on the other end of the line. He ends the call, slides the phone into his back pocket, and turns to me. “That was my grandpa. He wants me to swing by. I should be back before closing time, but if I’m not, can you lock up? Maybe bring me the keys upstairs?” He winks, and I go weak in the knees. “I’ll drive you to your hotel.”
Meh. That last part wasn’t the best thing he could have said, but we’re taking things slowly.
I want to kiss him goodbye, but from the corner of my eye, I see Nancy watching, a smirk playing on her lips. She’s not close enough to make out what Dionysos said, but she can’t miss my swooning.
I put some distance between me and him. “See you later, then,” I say.
Dionysos nods. As he turns to leave, he calls out, “Last round, people. The ladies need to go home at some point.”
The remaining five patrons grumble, but it sounds good natured. It’s not long before they pay and leave.
“So how do you wanna do this?” Nancy asks. “Kitchen or bathroom?”
When I just blink at her, no clue what she means, she elaborates. “One of us cleans the kitchen, bar, and dining area—since Dionysos usually leaves the kitchen in a good condition—and the other cleans the bathroom.” Her grimace at the last word clearly indicates her preference.
I shrug. “I’m okay with doing everything. I’m not that tired, and I need to wait for”—oops, almost said Dionysos—“a friend, to drive me home.” No need to mention where I’m staying.
Her face lights up, as if I gave her a very early Christmas gift. “If you’re sure,” she says, already disappearing into the employee bathroom. When she comes back out, she has her coat on and a bright-green bag slung across her body. “I’m out of here before you change your mind. Talk tomorrow.” She blows me a kiss and is out the door.
The bathroom is in better condition than I feared, and once that’s out of the way, I move to the kitchen. Dionysos has left it in perfect condition—all surfaces are spotless, and everything is where it should be.
Except for his car keys, that lie on the floor, beside the prep bench. I pick them up with a small groan when my back complains. I should call him. Let him know they’re here.
But if they’re here, how did he go meet his grandfather? Did the man drive all the way here? I assume he’s old, and if he did come by, why call and not show up?
They’re filthy rich. Maybe he sent a chauffeur to pick up Dionysos.
Or maybe Dionysos lied to me. What grandfather calls you at midnight? The young and female kind, I bet.
Ugh. I was worried he was sleeping with his employees, and all the while, he had another woman on the side. Nancy’s words mock me. They’ve sure as hell slept with everyone else. At least one of them is still sleeping with someone else. Bet he’s upstairs doing just that this very moment.
I should go catch him in the act.
Or not. It’s not like we have something. We just now started dating.
Specialist input is required. Sofia may be in bed already, but I need her point of view. Hope she forgives me for interrupting her beauty sleep.
I try to video call her, but a warning flashes across my screen. Low storage space. What does that have to do with the video call, if I’m not recording it? I could ignore the warning and go with a regular voice call, but my brain isn’t wired to ignore issues. Which is why I want to go upstairs and tell Dionysos that I’m not an idiot.
Instead, I open my Photos app, to get rid of a selfie or ten. Last thing stored here is a video, from two days ago. The still frame shows my face, eyes crinkled at the corners and mouth wide open. Must have hit Record without realizing it. I hover my thumb over the thumbnail, meaning to delete it, when it starts auto playing without sound. The camera switches from my face to the interior of Denny’s.
Seems I accidentally recorded my last chat with Sofia, when I was showing her my new place of employment.
A white shape flashes in a corner of the screen. What was that? I click on the video and drag my thumb slowly across the time line, until Hermes shows up on my screen, wrapped in a sheet. He vanishes as suddenly as he appeared.
Sofia said something about a hot naked guy while we were on the phone. Is this what she saw? Did Hermes really drop in and out of the bar in the blink of an eye? How?
And is he the only one who can do it?
Dionysos got to me impossibly fast when I almost dropped the glasses. And sometimes it feels like he can read my mind. And that dream…
No. This is crazy. Humans don’t have super-speed and mind-reading powers.
Hermes, Poseidon, Ares, Hades, Dionysos, and Hephaestus. The Olympios brothers’s names no longer seem like odd choices made by a quirky old man who loves mythology, and something tells me the biggest mystery surrounding Dionysos Olympios isn’t whether he’s fucking someone upstairs.
My better judgment screams at me to drop this, take a cab to the hotel, gather my things, and go back home to Halkida, never to cross paths with Dionysos and his freaky family again.
But my brain isn’t wired to ignore issues.