Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Daughter of Apollo - Chapter 14

The Daughter of Apollo

Chapter 14: Out With Your Secrets! Part I

Breakfast was uncomfortable, uneasy, awkward, plus any other synonyms a thesaurus can provide. The tension was high, and my body knew it because I could not steady my hand and every time I tried to take a sip of the orange juice, I managed to spill at ten percent of its contents all over the nightgown I was unfortunately wearing. Rachel, on the other hand, seemed to be faring much worse. She claimed to have been ravenous, but she barely touched her oatmeal and only nibbled on her French toast. Either she was too scared to eat, or Mrs. Cullen's oatmeal unpalatable.

I wouldn't know. I don't eat things that look like vomit, and oatmeal was what they used in movies to portray said bodily discharge. And really, it was disconcerting to shove gloopy white stuff into your mouth when six pairs of eyes in the form of Edward's family were 'discreetly' watching you.

The moment Rachel and I had declared that we were done eating, the ever hyperactive Alice grabbed both of our hands and led us to her room upstairs. When I asked her what she was planning on doing to us – after all, I was under the impression that we were supposed to discuss last night's events – she just assured me that the discussion will happen once we were decent.

"After all," she said, opening the door to which I presume was her bedroom, "we can't let you girls spill your deepest, darkest secrets wearing just nightgowns."

Rachel looked at me incredulously. "Is this chick for real?" she whispered to me.

"I think so, yeah…" I whispered back. I couldn't say anymore, seeing as Alice had pushed an extremely soft towel in my hands and ordered me to take a shower. Apparently, I smelled fruity. "Blame that on the OJ," I muttered, trudging towards Alice's personal bathroom. I stopped after a few steps though, to ask about underwear, but Alice seemed to anticipate my query and said that it was folded inside the towel.

I came out of the bathroom about half an hour later to a hilarious sight that threatened to replace Frank in a dress (don't ask).

"If you say anything, I swear on the River Styx that I will make your life miserable," threatened Rachel. She was wearing a silk green blouse tucked underneath a full skirt, and on her feet were long boots. Not only were they leather boots, but they were stiletto boots, too. The only consolation Rachel was that they weren't killer three inch heels. They were just killer two inch heels. Rachel looked like she belonged in an office as a secretary or something.

"I'm not gonna say anything," I said through stiff cheeks, a vain attempt to stifle my laughter. Never in my life have I seen Rachel wear a skirt, let alone anything as fine as silk. Yes, I was aware that her father was a rich businessman, but Rachel was not the type to flaunt her wealth.

"Yeah, right," she retorted. "I know you're thinking how ridiculous I look in this outfit. Just wait until Alice gets a hold of you. She's just out to give me some privacy when I was changing."

Oh, was Rachel wrong. When Alice came back into the room and saw me, there was no manic gleam in her eye. She just smiled at me in greeting and walked calmly towards the wardrobe on the right side of the room (for Alice had three, the third being an entrance to a walk-in closet). From there she took out a baggy pair of khaki trousers.

"Try this one for size," she said, tossing the pants to me.

I did not wait for her to change her mind. Throwing modesty and decorum out the window, I quickly discarded the towel that wrapped my body and inserted my two legs inside the khaki pants. It hung loosely on my hips, but I daren't tell Alice this in fear of her swapping it with a skirt or a dress.

"It looks good on you," commented the spiky-haired Cullen. "Here," she handed me a simple white shirt. "Wear that and then put your Nike shoes back on."

"What?" spluttered Rachel. "That's all she's wearing? No puffy skirt or glittery corset or stiletto heels? Damn, that is so unfair!"

"Oh, hush you," said Alice. "You look sophisticated. You'll thank me for that look later."

The three of us girls descended the stairs after a minute and a quick argument about apparel. Upon entering the living room, I felt all eyes on me – well, I was sure that some were looking at Alice and Rachel too, but Edward's gaze seemed to be from three people combined. He was staring unabashedly at the thin strip of midriff that was left bare by the shirt Alice gave me. Self-conscious, I tugged at the hem of my shirt. The action, along with the kick in the leg form Jasper, notified Edward that he was being rude.

Not that I minded, of course. For some reason, his undivided attention made me feel good. A girl needed assurance that her body was wanted every once in a while, after all.

"Good," said Rosalie once we were all seated. "Now we can start with the explanations. Care to enlighten us, Bella?"

I fidgeted with my fingers. "I don't know where to begin…"

"How about you start with the Minotaur?" Edward suggested. "Was that being we fought in the alleyway really the mythological creature? And how did you learn to fight like that?"

"Fight?" Jasper's eyes darted from Edward and me. "You didn't say anything about Bella fighting the creature, Edward."

"Of course I fought the Minotaur, Jasper!" I all but yelled, affronted that Jasper could say such a thing. Can't he imagine me holding up my own against a mighty Minotaur? Well, I'll show him… "Fighting monsters is what I do, Jasper. Ever since I was ten, my life revolved around monsters: they attack me, and in return, I fight them and I kill them."

"But how?" he asked. "You're just a fragile human!"

From beside me, Rachel whistled softly and muttered, "You should not have said that, pretty boy."

Fragile human, what's that supposed to mean? Jasper talks like he was not one. I had a feeling that Edward and his family were not mortal, but not human? That's a completely different thing entirely… Wait, did Rachel just say that Jasper was pretty? I understand where she was coming from, but really?
Shaking my head from my quickly drifting thoughts, I scowled at Jasper and assured him that "just because I come off as fragile, that does not mean I can't handle myself in a battle situation. I was trained by the best satyrs, centaurs and warriors from Camp Half-Blood! Just give me the right weapon and I can render you incapable of performing everyday routines." With a knowing smirk, I added, "I'm sure Alice would miss your company at night, so don't insult my capabilities again."

Alice's eyes widened at my insinuation. "How did you know?" she gasped.

I ignored her shock and focused on Emmett, who was on his side laughing at what I said. He was muttering over and over again about how Jasper got "owned by a human," once more solidifying my suspicions that the Cullens aren't what they seem.

"Okay, that's it!" Rosalie slammed her hands on the arms of the lounger she was sitting on and moved to stand up. Her tyrant self was resurfacing again. "I've had enough of this nonsense and – get your hands off me, Edward!"

"You're not hearing her out," said Edward, retrieving his hands from Rosalie's shoulder. "If you would just let her explain and you listen, then perhaps –"

"I'm not wasting my time on this drivel, Edward. What you saw last night must be wrong, there's no such thing as a Minotaur."

"Yes, there is, Rosalie!" Edward looked furious now. "I've seen one with my own eyes!"

"Oh, and I suppose you're willing to vouch for the satyrs and centaurs as well, are you? Half-human beings simply do not exist! Next thing you know, she'll be saying that mermaids and angels exist, too!"

"Actually," inserted Rachel unhelpfully, "Triton is a half-fish and half-man and he very much exist, so…"

"You're not helping, Rachel." I nudged her on the ribs. "Look, Rosalie, everyone, I don't know how to convince you all that beings such as satyrs and centaurs exist, but I promise you that what I'm saying is the truth. I've grew up with satyrs as my neighbors, and I've battled more than my fair share of that Minotaur." In an aside, I said to Rachel, "I swear, that thing keeps coming back to me like I'm its mother or something."

Rachel snorted. "You're not Pasiphaƫ, Bella, and Minos is not your husband."

I could not deliver my witty comeback of "that was just a joke," to Rachel because Rosalie called my name and asked that since I've claimed Greek mythological creatures exist, what about the Greek gods? Did they exist, too?

"Very much," I answered. "In fact, that camp I've mentioned? It's a camp fully devoted in training half-bloods, hence the name Camp Half-Blood. And half-bloods, before you ask, are basically just a term for demigods." At the stunned expression that everyone (apart from Rachel and me) was sporting, I added unnecessarily, "Yeah, by demigods, I mean the children of the gods."

"Children of the gods?" asked Esme in amazement. "Are you saying that…?"

"That the gods exist?" I elucidated for her. "Of course they do. They're not myths, you know. Far from it. As long as the Western civilization thrives, so will the gods. Western civilization is a living force, and the fire of that force is why they, the gods, are alive and messing with us poor mortals."

Loud thunder echoed in the skies, but I disregarded that warning and continued with my explanation.
"As you may know, Jasper," I said, glancing at him, "the fire of Western civilization began in Greece. The enduring influence of Ancient Greece shaped the modern world. When Greece fell, the fire simply moved to Rome."

"And the gods followed," said Jasper, his voice soft in awe. "When Rome fell, Western civilization moved on to," he looked at me, "Germany, I suppose. France, Spain and England, too. Whichever country was the most powerful in history, the flame followed; Western civilization followed."

"Not exactly," I disagreed. "Western civilization can span over more than one country. The country where the flame burns the brightest is the country where the gods reside. Now, for example, the gods are living here in America. We're Western civilization."

Edward leaned forward, placing his elbows on his knees. "So you're saying that the gods right now are in America."

I smiled smugly. "Got that hole in one."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the home of the gods Mount Olympus?"

If he thought that he could swipe my smug smile away with that question, boy was Edward wrong. "Yes, you're right. They do live in Mount Olympus. Not the mountain in Greece though. Like I said, they're living here in America now, so it's only common sense to think that Mount Olympus moved with them."

"But how is that possible?" asked Alice. "You can't move an entire mountain, ancient deity or not. And as far as I'm concerned, I haven't seen any mountains in the United States that resemble Mount Olympus at all, and I strongly doubt that the gods are residing in Mount McKinley."

"Obviously not," said Rachel. "Alaska's freaking cold. It's all ice and mountains and snow. The scenery might be nice, but I bet it's boring. No god or goddess would want to go there, let alone live there."
"So where are they, then?"

"New York, duh." Rachel rolled her eyes.

"That can't be right," exclaimed Alice. "There's no mountain in that area at all and it's a bustling city."

"Well, it's far from boring then, isn't it?" countered Rachel. "Besides, you're all thinking literally. The Mount Olympus we're talking about is not a mountain; it's the home of the gods. And since New York is pretty much the best ever city US ever had, the gods live there."

"And where could they be?" taunted Rosalie. "Like Alice said, it's a bustling city. I don't think ancient deities would live in a penthouse overlooking Central Park."

"That's because they have a better view than any well-placed penthouse," I said. "They live just above the Empire State building. 600th floor, to be exact. Before any of you say anything, let me remind you all that we're talking about the home of the gods. You can't be more powerful than that."

Laughter resounded in the room. Automatically, I glanced at Emmett, the last I've seen laughing, but he was not expressing his mirth. He was grinning, yes, but not laughing. Perplexed, I looked around the room. No one else was laughing.

"D'you guys hear that?" I asked, still looking around. Perhaps I missed someone out? Emmett, Rosalie, Jasper, Alice… They weren't laughing. Neither were Esme and Esme. Rachel for sure was not laughing, and I certainly was not either.

"I hear it, too," said Jasper, and I was glad because that mean I wasn't going crazy. "Hold on, what's that?"

I followed Jasper's gaze and saw, in the corner east side of the room, a gradual brightening of light was slowly taking form. It looked like a man's form, but I couldn't be sure because the light was just too bright. I averted my eyes (advising everyone to so as well, just in case the brightness was what I thought it was) and observed, quite astonishingly, the Cullens shimmering like they just bathed in body glitter.

"Styx," I gulped when I saw Edward. I was reminded again at just how he can give Adonis a run for his money. His face was scrunched up in a grimace (from the bright light, I suppose), but that did not take away the perfection of his features. My eyes drank in his forehead, his knitted brows, his aristocratic nose, his juicy lips and those cheekbones of his that many would kill for. It was to die for – Edward was so handsome that he was to die for.

Gasping out "Styx," seemed to be an appropriate enough response.

Desire welled up in me, and I had to tear my eyes away before I launch myself at Edward like some sort of crazy, hormonal teenager. Eyes alternating from the open-mouthed Rachel and the scintillating Cullens, I was relieved to when something else demanded for my attention. Regrettably, that something else turned out to be Apollo. How did I know it was him despite his clearly altered appearance since the last time I saw him? I don't know. I just knew that the man – the god – I was facing now was the god of music.

"Lord Apollo," I breathed, hastily getting up on my feet. Once standing, I sank as gracefully as I could on one knee and bowed my head in reverence.

"Get up, child," he said. His tone was much deeper and much more authoritative to belong to a guy who looked no older than an eighteen year old. For really, Apollo was in the form of a sporty eighteen year old… and quite handsome too, if I might add.

I quickly got to my feet and, daringly, met the god's eyes, my own travelling from his loafers up until I reached his bright ones. "My lord," I said haltingly, "may I ask why – why are you here?"

Apollo smirked. "Other than to admire the beautiful women, you mean?" he asked, purposely giving Alice a once over. Jasper emitted a growl and draped an arm over the petite girl's shoulder, a show of possessiveness. Apollo's smirk grew into a grin. "I'm here because of many things, one being proof to your friends." His voice became grim at the mention of the Cullens.

"Proof, my Lord?"

"They're a stubborn lot," was all he said on that topic. "Another reason why I'm here is to remind my Oracle that her time is nearly done and still she has not yet delivered her message." Chancing a look behind me, I observed that Rachel was blushing at the mild reprimand. "As for my last and, in my opinion, most important reason… I've come to claim my daughter."

My head snapped to Apollo. "Excuse me?"

"You heard right, child." Apollo walked towards me and took hold of my shoulders. "You, Isabella Marie Swan, are my daughter." He pressed a fatherly kiss on my forehead. "Consider this an act of claim."

For proof of his words, I hesitantly raised my eyes to look up over my head. Sure enough, there was a hologram of the sun floating above me. Tears prickled my eyes and I let out a deep, shuddering breath. This was happening to me, I was finally being claimed! Beaming, I did the only thing I could possibly think of to express my joy.

I hugged Apollo.

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