Hermes has been given one task by Aphrodite—keep an eye on Eris at her son’s wedding. The last time the beautiful goddess of discord attended a wedding, the Trojan War was the result. Hermes doesn’t think he has much to worry about until she takes offense at being watched and decides to teach him a lesson with a lust spell in the middle of the reception. Convinced she is not as cold and aloof as she pretends to be, he sets out to seduce her instead, starting them both on an erotic path of discovery that will teach them both lessons they won’t soon forget.
After taking a walk and a quick dip in the stream, Hermes decided to chance returning to the wedding reception. At least he could say good-bye to his fellow messenger.
Iris stood watching Eros wipe cake off his jacket. She smiled at Hermes as he approached.
“Having even the slightest bit of fun yet?” she asked playfully.
Since the couple seemed oblivious to the commotion, he decided not to say anything. “It’s been the most interesting day in a very long time, I can assure you.”
Iris narrowed her eyes, but before she could say anything, Hera came bounding up to them.
“You naughty boy!” She slapped Hermes on the ass.
He tried to maintain his composure, but didn’t pull it off. “You have something to say, my queen?”
Hera convulsed with laughter. “I knew you had it in you. Did the nuptial blessings bring it out or what?”
Eros and Iris stood looking back and forth between the two of them.
“Did you have sex at my reception? Seriously?” Eros asked, on the verge of joining in with Hera’s laughter. “Can’t say I object, but I thought you came out of social obligation, not to get laid.”
Hermes sighed. “Who told you and why?”
“Ares stormed off. He bumped into me and told me I better find a new messenger for Zeus because he was going to have your head on a pike.”
Iris’ eyes went wide. “You and Aphrodite? So that’s why she hasn’t been bothering us the last twenty minutes!”
Hermes looked at Hera. “This is serious. Eris put a spell on me.” He showed the three of them his arm.
They leaned forward and unison. Iris and Hera both said, “Oh.”
Eros groaned. “That conniving bitch!”
“So she turned you into a stud or what?” Hera looked him over. “You do look a bit spent.”
“This isn’t the best place to discuss this.”
Eros nodded. “You two go on. No one seems to be taking notice of us. I don’t think anyone else saw anything. Just go. You can tell us later.”
Hermes and Hera glanced around, and then began walking toward the woods.
“So, tell me what she said to you,” Hera said.
“She was offended because I was keeping an eye on her. Aphrodite didn’t dare not invite her, so she needed someone to watch her. Eris kept commenting on my lack of emotion and said she wanted to see me riled up. Then she touched me, and from that moment all I wanted to do was—”
“Shag her silly! Oh my gods! I’m sorry, but you have to admit it’s funny.”
Hermes sighed. “Nothing really happened, but it did disrupt the wedding. Aphrodite stormed off and left, and Ares is angry with both of us. It’s not a war, but it’s not something to be laughed at.”
She stopped laughing. “I’m sorry. You have to admit she’s right though. You don’t let anyone get close to you. Don’t you think you’ll tire of being alone someday?”
“I’m not alone.”
“You know what I mean, you stubborn mule. Maybe another romp with Aphrodite was what you needed. Something to loosen you up.”
“I don’t think that was her intention, though it certainly has her mark to it. I think she just wanted to get to me and see what happened.”
“Something definitely happened. How was it?”
“Come on! I know it was great. Aphrodite always gives marvelous details.”
“Yes, it was great, but it was very confusing. Are you going to take this seriously and help me or not? I’m sure Zeus is going to think it’s a riot too, but that can’t be helped.”
She patted his arm. “Once we recover ourselves, I promise we will take it seriously. Don’t worry. I suppose the concern now is keeping you away from her.”
“I can’t even get her out of my head.”
“Well, I’m also concerned about you two getting it on. We don’t need a little hell-raiser who can outrun us all.”
Hermes shook his head. That would be a nightmare.
Hera went on. “Aphrodite gave birth so quickly, and Eris might be the same. You never know.”
He stopped, wondering if his queen had just let a secret slip. “Hera, are you saying what I think you’re saying?”
“Hmmm? Oh goodness, no! Sorry. I meant because she wasn’t born. She and Eris were both created, called into being, whatever. They weren’t born to two parents.” She giggled. “None of you are going to catch me out that easily. Eros keeps trying though.”
“You love doing that, don’t you?”
“I didn’t do it on purpose. I was thinking out loud.”
Hermes never knew whether to believe her or not. Her ramblings often seemed a little too convenient. He’d suspected for some time that she wanted to push him and Aphrodite together, but he couldn’t be sure if she only wanted to make a match or if she didn’t want her son with the love goddess for some reason.
“If you say so.” Her thinking out loud made him wonder though. “Could Eris want something like that? To have a child? What if sleeping with her is the only way to break this spell?”
“She could enchant anyone she wanted. She’s slept with Zeus before.”
“But no child. The Fates hadn’t willed it. Could she be trying to get her way on her own?”
“Who’s to say? The Fates grow more cryptic with each passing year. How do we even know their powers still affect us?”
“I’m sure they do. All things have a reason.”
She smiled. “You’ve always believed that more than any of us. Why?”
He didn’t know how to answer her question. “I don’t know. Things make more sense that way.”
“So if the Fates determine everything, they made you walk away from Aphrodite. It was them, not you. They are the ones who decree you should be alone. It’s destiny, not choice.”
“I never said that. We all exercise free will. I do believe in that as well, though I still think the Fates make plans for us.”
“Then where do the Fates come in exactly? A plan here, a scheme there for the good of humanity?”
“We’re talking in circles. Can’t we have both? Destiny and choice?”
She nodded. “I think we do. I think we all need both. I was only trying to understand you. It’s hard at times.”
“Help me and maybe I’ll oblige you.”
She kissed him on the cheek. “You know we’ll help you, Hermes. How can you doubt it?”
“I’m only making sure you feel the urgency here.”
She smiled and ran her hand over his chest. “How urgent is it?”
He stepped away. “Don’t do that. I’m not sure what might get me in that state again.”
“Fine. Zeus wouldn’t like it anyway.”
“No, he would not. Crazed hormones or not, I still have that much sense.”
Hera walked a few feet away, watching the water flow past them. “I don’t think she means real harm, not like the kind she’s caused before, but I don’t want to take the chance. I’m going to go explain things to Zeus. The sooner I do, the sooner he’ll stop laughing.”
Hermes put his hand on her shoulder. “Thank you.”
She smiled. “Don’t mention it.” She snapped her fingers and disappeared.
Hermes walked down the stream, heading for home and hoping he could avoid running into anyone else.