The Final Trial

On Friday morning, Psyche was summoned to Aphrodite’s office as soon as she arrived.

The Head of PR was sitting at her desk, typing rapidly. She spoke without taking her eyes from the screen. “You seem to have had quite a lucky run with your little projects. I’m impressed.”

She typed for a while longer, then stopped and focused on Psyche. “Which is why I need you to do something very important today.”

She sighed and leaned back. “Between Zeus’s ridiculous meetings and having to nurse my poor son’s dreadful injuries, I’m growing positively haggard.”

Psyche spluttered something incoherent about that being impossible into the weighty pause that followed.

Aphrodite’s lips curved into a self-satisfied smile. “Nonetheless, word has it that Hades has a new girlfriend, once who has him completely entranced by her beauty. Of course, she must be enhancing her natural looks in some way, and I want to know what she’s using. Go and see her and bring me back samples of her creams and make-up. I want to look my best for this evening’s awards dinner.”

Psyche held down a groan and said. “Of course. Do you know where I might find her?”

“At Hades’ home of course, where else do you think the gold-digging little witch would be?”

Aphrodite turned back to her screen and started typing again, Psyche paused for a moment, then left the office.

Hermes was outside, chatting to Harmonia, and eavesdropping. He winked at Psyche and said. “I think you owe me, Miss Door-locking Intern. Since you apparently will be heading in Hades’ direction today, you can deliver these parcels to him.”

He handed her two packages, with an address she recognised as being a town a good hour out of London and left.

Harmonia frowned after him. “That was rude.”

Psyche studied the packages then said. “I’m not so sure it was. Would you be allowed to give me Hades’ home address if I asked you?”

Harmonia replied. “No, I’d need to send you to HR, and they’d need to make sure you had the proper approvals. Hermes is going to be in so much trouble.”

Psyche thought back to the wink. If he wasn’t worried, she wouldn’t be either. “I’d better get going.”

She walk-jogged out of the office before Harmonia’s conscience could call her back.

It only seemed fair to use the Z Corp charge card she’d been given for the Edinburgh trip to pay for the train out to the Chiltern Hills, then a taxi from the station. They wound out of the town and through a couple of villages, then over an arched stone bridge so narrow, the driver had to fold in her wing mirrors.

They drew up a minute or so later at a pair of imposing gates, set into an ancient wall higher than Psyche’s head, with the name of the properly – Elysian Fields – adorning the metalwork.

Psyche got out and pressed the call button on the security pad set into one gate post, then peered through the bars at the house looming before her.

The speaker crackled into life and a drab, colourless voice asked her business. Psyche held up the parcels to the security camera. “Hermes asked me to deliver these.”

There was a shriek on the speaker and a familiar, much missed voice called out. “Psyche, is that you? What are you doing here?”


She could hear the grin in her friend’s voice. “Yup, it’s me, now get in here and tell me what’s going on.”

The gates slid open, silent and smooth, Psyche paid the taxi driver, and walked through.

If the house she was approaching had been in a grey-flagged square in London, it would have been ominous and intimidating. Here, sitting amongst green lawns and colourful flowers, it looked comfortable and content.

The front door swung open and three huge mastiffs bounded out, barking wildly as they flew down the driveway towards her. A voice called from the doorway. “Seb, Reb, Gus, SIT.”

The dogs skidded to a halt and sat, tongues lolling as Persephone raced down the stairs and barrelled into Psyche. “It’s so good to see you! Now come in and fill me in on all the news, Hades is a darling but hopeless for gossip and having you appearing at our front door out of nowhere means I’m clearly missing some serious drama.”

Psyche gaped at her friend. “Are you Hades’ new girlfriend?”

Persephone tossed her head. “Not so new, but yes.”

It was too much, she started giggling. “Aphrodite sent me to find out your beauty secrets.”

Persephone stopped and stared up at her. “My what?”

The giggling wouldn’t stop. “That’s what she said, more or less, and you are beautiful of course, but I don’t think your style is quite what she has in mind.”

Persephone tugged on her arm. “Aphrodite couldn’t pull off my style if she tried. Come on, we need to get inside with tea, or coffee, or something a lot stronger, and you are going to start at the beginning.”

She looked over her shoulder at the dogs. “Come on, and be nice, Psyche is my friend.”

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