Prologue: Forever's Broken
Olympus – 1995-7-29
Third Person Perspective
"What?" Hera screeched at the top of her lungs and the occupants of Mount Olympus startled at the pitch of her, usually sweet and sensitive, voice. "There will be another Queen of Olympus – replacing me?"
"Dear Hera," The Fates soothed in sync, giving her their trademark smile of insincerity. "We can only tell what our visions have portrayed and now we know who has left you betrayed. The birth of a baby girl, beauty beyond compare, has come into the mortal world and threatened to be your heir. We know not where she lies, only that she slumbers and awaits in a room for the day to go by."
The rhymes the trio of Fates threw at Goddess Hera were not riddling, yet they distressed and bewildered her all the same. Hera's fairylike fingers flew up to her laurel wreath, assembled with Gaia's ancient leaves and woven with thread of gold. "But...but that's impossible!" Hera exclaimed desperately. "I am the Queen of Olympus. The only way I could be degraded were if my husband was to fall from his kingship and that is impossible."
Clotho–the Fate of birth–sighed sympathetically and shook her head. "It is not anymore, Highness. Mother Gaia birthed a baby boy five months ago and now he lives as the son of Persephone. Gaia sent Persephone up to Earth with him from the Underworld. The future Queen shall meet Mother Gaia's son and marry on Earth."
"Mother Gaia bore a son?" Hera murmured in astonishment. "It...it cannot be! I-I must find Persephone; command her to abandon the child at once. A child from such an ancient deity will have mighty powers. Who knows what elements he may be able to wield?"
"A call of caution, Queen Hera," The Fates reminded her in unison, beginning to fade away in a breeze of bronze dust. When they spoke again, all that was left were their fortune-telling eyes piercing Hera's. "The future Olympian is not of immortal blood and has yet to blossom. Her sixteenth birthday will give her the hands of fate; she will acquire the power of the Gods, so beware of placing hate."
Chapter One: Sewing Class
Canada – Toronto, London
Asteria Wyatt's POV: 2012-2-29
"Wind in my hair, you were there, you remember it all.
Down the stairs, you were there, you remember it all.
It was rare, I was there, and I remember it all too well."
"Ugh, this stupid machine!" I cried out in frustration, annoyance forcing my hands to slap across the old, rickety sewing appliance. My teeth gritted when I heard the noise of this dim-witted device stalling and the pricey material–the very fabric I saved up for three weeks to buy–gathered up, making the stitches I was careful to guide uneven and ragged.
"Ria, is something the matter, dear?" My sewing instructor, Mrs. Jennings, asked gently and rose from her armchair in the corner of this stuffy room, hobbling towards me in her typical, elderly pace. Peering over me through her thick glasses with their silver chain, she smiled warmly and placed a bony hand on my tense shoulder.
"Mrs. Jennings," I sighed, trying to take hold of my impatience. "I...I don't think I'm fit for this class. Sewing just isn't my thing. Can I...maybe, switch classes for the last period of school?"
Mrs. Jennings' eyes flashed of disappointment – the one emotion I feared the most. Disappointment was my Achilles' heel and I hated when people looked at me like I'd committed some sort of sin because I was desperate to give up. The fear arose when my mother scolded me for not trying so hard in sports as much. To be honest, I hated anything to do with confliction or competition.
Phoebe Wyatt, my mother–a single, hard-working, sporty self-defence instructor–would always remind me to try my best...but I just couldn't stand them! So, instead of joining some kind of cheerleading squad as my extra curricula activity for the last period of high school, I'd wheedle my way into modestly unpopular leisure pursuits, which didn't require being a cutthroat team-player.
"Oh, Ria," Mrs. Jennings sighed. "I do wish you'd stay a little longer. You're doing so well, sweetheart."
"But look," I pleaded exasperatedly, gesturing to the spoiled cloth which had been destroyed as account to my clumsy handwork. "I'm such a klutz when it comes to these sorts of things. Mrs. Jennings, I just can't continue with this. I'm really sorry...but I cannot sew, no matter how good an instructor you are."
Mrs. Jennings smiled warmly, patting me on the shoulder and replying, "I understand what you mean, sweetheart. If you don't want to continue with sewing, Ria, that is totally up to you. But I do enjoy your company and it gets lonesome sometimes – all by myself, sewing and mending students' uniforms. You're only one of fourteen students I have and the others rarely attend their lessons."
I nodded with a sympathetic smile and bit my lip before proposing, "Well...would you like me to still stay around with you in the afternoons? I could help you with cutting fabrics, gathering specific threads and setting up the machine for you. I'd be like your assistant...except I wouldn't do any of the actual sewing myself."
Mrs. Jennings pursed her lips in contemplation. "I wouldn't want to take you away from things you could be truly learning rather than being merely my sewing assistant. It would be nice to have some aid, though. So many students tend to tear their uniforms nowadays...and my fingers aren't as stable with a pair of scissors anymore."
"I would love to be your assistant," I gave her my brightest smile, something that tended to sway people to my side on a hard decision. "And there's really nothing more to learn. Afternoons are just extra curricula activities and there's nothing better to do. Please, Mrs Jennings?"
Mrs Jennings returned my smile and nodded certainly. "If you put it that way, Ria, I guess there's no way to refuse. You're a lovely girl and I'd really appreciate your help. Thank-you, my dear."
I grinned and the feeling of excitement rose to my cheeks. Rather than trying to defeat others in some battle of running and whacking and jumping, I was actually doing something helpful with myself. That was something my high expectations mother never seemed to accept.
Alas, my buzz was cut short when a familiar voice pierced the seamstress's quarters' atmosphere. "What's up, Mrs J?" Its familiarity made me rotate towards the owner and I found myself grimacing in response, as well as wishing I'd never turned around. Xavier Blake's green eyes swept pass me dismissively and I returned the indignant expression.
Ugh. There he stood: the high and mighty prince of high school. And that tall, muscled, dark-skinned student with those thunderstorm grey eyes–who constantly followed Xavier around like a mysterious shadow–keeping surveillance, as always. I was constantly forgetting that guy's name, though I remembered it started with a Z.
Xavier was like a celebrity at my school. An arrogant, handsome and infuriating jerk.
"Oh, Xavier," Mrs. Jennings smiled brightly and approached the tall, muscled jock who leaned against the doorframe with a cool, half-smile expression. "I'm glad you're here. Have you come for your lesson?"
A laugh escaped my lips as I followed Mrs. Jennings' steps across the classroom. I gave Xavier a malice look whilst sarcasm dripped from my lips, "Sewing lessons, seriously? Wow, you've outdone yourself this year. What about almighty football?"
Xavier shot me a hateful look, his eyes bright with spite. "Shut-up, Dork Brain. Who gave you permission to speak?"
"It's a free country," I snapped with gritted teeth.
"Now, now, dears," Mrs. Jennings raised her hands in a mediating manner. "There's no need to quarrel. So, Xavier, what is it that you needed, sweetheart?"
Xavier looked upon Mrs. Jennings with the most heavenly expression. He seemed godlike with that breathtaking smile and glistening, green eyes. He was beautiful in a way you'd never imagine a jock to be. He looked like someone you'd see in an ancient painting – a heroic knight with a shield and sword. Instead, his shield was replaced with sport gear and his sword was a mere football.
I noticed the brawny, black guy behind Xavier roll his eyes. He must've known exactly how perfectly manipulating Xavier was. I smirked at his exasperated, yet silent, expression and decided I most definitely preferred the nameless bodyguard to Xavier Blake.
Grinning, Xavier spoke in a soft and velvety voice that entranced our teacher, "Mrs. Jennings, I just came to inform you that I need to drop out of sewing. I've officially made it into football this year, so there's no need for a backup class. I'm the youngest in the senior team, but I've made it anyway. So...I'm sorry, but I think it'll just be you and Dork Brain from now on."
Mrs. Jennings looked saddened for a moment, but quickly recovered with another grandmotherly smile. "Oh, its fine, Xavier. I'm sure you'll do as well in sport as you have for the past two years, my dear. I guess it doesn't really matter that much anyway. And Ria will be a greatly appreciated assistant to me."
Xavier shot me a wicked smirk and the expression of holiness blanked. That smooth, innocently guilty routine returned just as quickly as it had vanished and I was left with plain, smartass eyes staring at me. Those brilliant emeralds crumbled away, revealing nothing but putrid green. "I'm sure Dork Brain will have a lot of fun sitting around and doing chores," He smiled coldly.
I continued to glare like a threatened dog.
"Xavier, when was the last time you even spoke Ria's name?" Mrs. Jennings tsked sadly.
"I don't think I've ever mentioned her alias," Xavier chuckled.
"I remember," I cut in sharply, my eyes narrowing into slits. "Sixth grade, last day of school."
"You remember?" Xavier looked upon me like I was an adorable, helpless animal. "How cute."
I rolled my eyes and snarled, "Ugh, it's like I'm talking to a wall! Why don't you just go back to your mentally challenged friends, Xavier, and stop haunting Mrs. J with your pathetic presence?" I swiftly grabbed my tattered tote-bag and bid a baffled Mrs. Jennings farewell.
I'll admit, I may have reacted a tad too harshly...but I was already having a bad, boring day and I didn't feel like giving Xavier any subtle, offensive remarks as usual. Sometimes, his presence was too painful to bear and I needed to escape before I physically threw something at him. I didn't understand why people liked him so much – he drove me insane!
Xavier callously laughed as I stormed out the classroom door, knocking passed his shadow of a friend and catching his vigilant notice. Xavier left the doorway, entering the classroom entirely to receive some class transfer forms from Mrs. Jennings. The muscled man was left in the hallway, staring down at me with a look of amusement.
"Sorry," I mumbled and glanced upwards, meeting the student's thunderstorm eyes.
He wore a knowing half-smile and I was surprised to find how defined his features were. In contrast with his dark skin, his grey eyes were bright and luminous – like shooting stars at midnight. He was taller than I first imagined–at least 6'5"–with a buzz-cut, black jumper and grey jeans. There was something behind that smile, as if he respected my smartass attitude.
"I didn't mean to..." I trailed off.
He didn't even seem fazed by my apology. That shrewd smile vanished and he nodded once: emotionless and wordless. He straightened up and shifted his attention back to Mrs. Jennings and Xavier, watching attentively.
He didn't look back at me once, yet I still felt inclined to remark, "You're Xavier's bodyguard, right?"
For a moment or two, he didn't reply. "Where did you gather that from, Miss Wyatt?"
His deep, sensuous voice startled me.
No way was this student sixteen-years-old! I wouldn't be surprised if he was actually twenty. No wonder he retained from speaking – that would totally blow his cover. A guy with such a husky voice should never be allowed in perimeter of a high school...uttering one syllable would send the girls mad for him! However, no one took notice of Xavier's bodyguard and they dared not ask why he was constantly following him.
"You always follow Xavier around. No one ever notices you, though," I said with a frown.
"Don't friends go places with each other?" He raised his eyebrow matter-of-factly.
"You follow Xavier," I stated certainly. "Xavier never follows you. And he never, ever talks to you. Doesn't that bother you?"
"Shouldn't you get to class?" He averted the question immediately and shot me an irritated glance.
"What's your name?" I asked suspiciously.
The guy hesitated for a moment, his eyes flashing of caution. "Ezekiel."
"Ezekiel," I repeated softly. His whole body tensed and his strong, square jaw tightened even more so. He seemed pained, almost frightened of my voice. He looked as if I were about to murder him! Was this guy actually scared of me? "I'm sorry I never asked before."
"We don't run in the same circles," Ezekiel stated expressionlessly.
"But you know my name," I countered.
"It doesn't matter anyway."
"Why doesn't Xavier ever speak to you?" I whispered curiously, shooting Xavier a glance. He was totally engrossed in his conversation with Mrs. Jennings; he didn't even seem to notice my discussion with Ezekiel. "You said you were friends."
"He's not really social with people he trusts."
"Oh..." I trailed off quietly. Well, I didn't expect that-
"You should go," He continued and I noticed an odd, hurried look cross his face.
"What's the rush?" I shrugged nonchalantly. "Class ends in...like five min-"
"Talking to yourself, ay?" Xavier strolled towards the doorway with raised eyebrows.
"Excuse me?" I tsked and gestured to Ezekiel, who was leaning against the gloomy corridor's wall. I shot Xavier a hateful glare. "I'm talking to Ezekiel, who you should pay a little more attention to sometimes, you jerk!"
Xavier glanced carelessly at Ezekiel and frowned, puzzlement breaking across his face. Ezekiel's eyes met mine abruptly and he shook his head, as if he wished me to dismiss the topic immediately. He remained silent, though, and I shot him a questioning look. "What the hell are you talking about?" Xavier rolled his eyes. "Have you lost it, Dork Brain, or are you referring to the wall as yourself?"
My eyes widened in disgust. "You go lower than I thought, Xavier."
"Who's Ezekiel anyway?" Xavier queried with a shaky laugh.
Ezekiel sighed, closing his eyes with a calm exterior. "Asteria, stop talking. You'll only worry him."
I jumped in surprise, staring at Ezekiel in aghast. "How do you know my full name?" I demanded.
Xavier raised his eyebrows and he followed my gaze, where Ezekiel stood quietly, looming over us both. "You're talking to a wall and saying your full name is Ezekiel?" He pursed his lips, cocking his head to the side. "I thought Ria was short for Asteria."
"It is," I snapped, shooting Xavier an annoyed look. "And I wasn't talking to you."
"Well, who else are you talking to then?" Xavier was beginning to appear concerned. His eyes moved back towards Ezekiel and Xavier looked genuinely perplexed. The sarcasm in his eyes vanished and he looked back and forth – between Ezekiel and me.
"Please, Asteria, just pretend not to see me," Ezekiel pleaded softly, peering deep into my eyes.
"But I can see you!" I exclaimed in exasperation. "And he's pretending not to. He's being a total jerk, undermining you like this," I shifted my gaze to Xavier and snarled, "Xavier, don't you have any respect for anyone other than yourself?"
"Okay, Ria, stop it," Xavier snapped with anxiety etched across his face. I would've been surprised to hear him speak my name for the first time in four years if I wasn't so furious with him. "You're...you're scaring me now. I get the joke already! Just quit it, alright?"
"Do you see what I mean? You're scaring him," Ezekiel raised his eyebrows, gesturing to Xavier. "Just go along with it. Say it was a joke...pretend not to see me."
I narrowed my eyes at him and glanced towards Xavier, watching his expression grow ever more frightened. He took a step away, looking upon me as if I were crazy.
"Is something the matter, children?" Mrs. Jennings hobbled towards us with a warm smile. She, too, looked straight passed Ezekiel and gave Xavier and me a concerned frown. Ezekiel shifted his thunderstorm gaze towards Mrs. Jennings and swallowed audibly, looking almost nervous.
Xavier looked like a rabbit in the headlights and I could only roll my eyes at him. What a wimp, I thought. I shot Ezekiel one last, watchful look before I forced a casual laugh through my lips. "No, Mrs. Jennings, I was just joking with Xavier. Everything's fine!"
Xavier sighed of relief, rolling his eyes nonchalantly. "I knew you were just messing around."
I smirked in fake satisfaction, avoiding Ezekiel with my eyes, who nodded in approval once I dropped the subject. Mrs. Jennings smiled at the playfulness in my eyes and chuckled. "Oh, good! I'm glad you're getting on better, you two. I'd hate this year to end with that little grudge still looming. You are older and more mature nowadays, maybe you can both look passed your differences."
Xavier and I shared at look of disagreement. I will never, ever stop hating Xavier Blake...
However, I smiled tightly and waved goodbye to Mrs. Jennings as the school bell rang.
"Bye, Mrs. Jennings."
"I'll see you tomorrow afternoon, Ria!" Mrs. Jennings called once I started walking away.
Of course, Xavier rushed outside and into the school grounds as soon as I turned to leave.
Ezekiel obviously followed Xavier, but kept in pace with me because Xavier and I were walking along the same route to reach the student school gates. Ezekiel's eyes were glued on Xavier's every move as Xavier joined his horde of jock friends, observing them laughing and shoving each other around playfully. Ezekiel walked causally beside me, in long strides similar to a soldier's march, yet it'd never been so awkward.
I glared at the ground, confusion and frustration clouding my mind. And the mental fog over my thoughts only thickened when Ezekiel finally spoke, "You can't tell anyone you see me, Asteria," He stated, staring straight ahead with most emotionless face.
Talking to Xavier Blake may have been like talking to a wooden wall...but speaking with Ezekiel was like talking to a brick wall. At least a wooden wall can creak and snap under pressure, but brick walls are so unyielding and too strong for their own good. Ezekiel was a brick wall.
"Why can't anyone else see you?" I murmured stubbornly, shooting him a glance. "I just thought Xavier was being a jerk...but Mrs. Jennings can't see you either, right? And how do you know my full name? I never tell anyone my full name."
Ezekiel heaved a sigh and his features suddenly seemed weary. "Just...forget about it, okay? People can see me, it's just-"
"No, they can't," I snapped with narrowed eyes. "Look around you, Ezekiel, people are staring at me like I'm crazy because they think I'm talking to no one," I gestured to the surrounding students, who were giving me curious glances. I didn't bother to act any differently; it wasn't as if I had a reputation to lose.
"Maybe I'm just a figment of your imagination, Asteria," Ezekiel smirked knowingly and sarcasm grazed his deep, husky voice. "Maybe I'm not real."
My impatience grew and I rolled my eyes at his petty excuses. I'm not crazy...he's real. I know his is, my thoughts defended. "People who aren't real don't say they're not real," I hissed defiantly.
Ezekiel chuckled and tilted his head to the side. "That's true. Okay, maybe I am real."
"Then how can I see you and no one else can?"
"Don't you think you're overreacting just a little bit, Asteria?"
"How do you know my full name?"
"Didn't I tell you that Xavier and I were friends?"
"Ugh," I threw my hands in the air incredulously. "Stop answering my questions with a question!"
"Am I doing that?" He smirked again, not meeting my eyes once.
I glared at the side of his face and grumbled, "You're an impossible bodyguard."
Ezekiel's amused expression faded and the excitement in his eyes whenever I spoke disappeared. His jaw tightened again and his eyes flickered from me to Xavier. Our gazes locked from the corner of Ezekiel's eye and I could feel him searching my personality for trust. "I'm not a bodyguard."
"Should I be worried about that?" I arched an eyebrow.
"Yes, you should. But I'm glad you're not jumping to any drastic conclusions, Asteria."
"You've been following Xavier around ever since we started high school. That's worrying."
"Not if you knew the whole story."
"What's the whole story?" I murmured quietly.
"Why the sudden point of interest, Asteria?" Ezekiel met my eyes this time and frowned.
"There it is again! How do you know my full name?"
"Asteria is a beautiful name. Why do you even care?"
"Hey, we're doing it again, aren't we?" I laughed with revelation dawning in my eyes.
"Doing what?" He asked, baffled.
"Answering questions with questions."
Ezekiel thought for a moment and laughed – a deep, heartening sound that made me shiver at its beautiful resonance. "We should stop doing that, shouldn't we?" He smiled, his eyes twinkling.
"Yes, why don't we?" I grinned, dazzled by his pearly smile.
"Hey, Ria, over here!" A familiar voice chirped from across the lot.
I snapped my attention towards Guinevere Guthrie: my best friend of ten years.
I'd met Guinevere (pronounced Gwen-iv-ere) in kindergarten and we'd never grown apart.
Her known nickname was Blue because she adored water and anything to do with fountains, brooks or forests. Her mother, Echo Guthrie, was a bit of a hippie and her nature-loving qualities were bright in Blue, too. Guinevere had long, deep red locks–curly and unruly–a tad similar to mine.
I possessed dark, chestnut ringlets and we both went through great pains controlling our maddening curls. Blue's skin was pale and porcelain and she was a few inches shorter than me. She was also fifteen-years-old, a year younger than me, as account to starting school early. Guin was always very innocent, but not immature, and believed the best in people.
She was trusted with my deepest secrets...which weren't that deep compared to other girls.
For example, Melinda Hays (Xavier Blake's girlfriend of two years) had lost her virginity when she was fourteen-years-old and the worst I've done is get really drunk on punch with Blue, which we didn't even know contained vodka. We'd all gone to a friend's party and, after a few drinks, Blue admitted to being utterly in love with Xavier Blake and I think I slapped in her in face.
Alas...Blue's clumsy, hiccupping, giggling reveal had been unfortunately true. She was really in love with a guy two years her senior, which everyone in our grade would call completely scandalous. It'd be worse than Melinda's situation three years ago. However, she'd sworn me to secrecy and I complied.
"Hi, Blue," I smiled, engulfing my best friend in a hug.
She held me tightly, a 'best friend code' signal that meant something was very amiss and as I expected Blue hurriedly hissed into my ear with a hushed tone, "Why are you talking to Xavier's bodyguard. Everyone's looking at you. No one ever talks to Xavier's bodyguard, Ria."
I tensed, wide-eyed, and murmured back, "Wait...you can see him, too?"
"Who can't? It's not like he's a ghost, sweetie."
I pulled away, uncertainty flooding my tone of voice, "Yeah...yeah, right."
I looked up to find Ezekiel was quite a few metres away, silent and following Xavier. All signs of that incredible smile disappeared and he was totally emotionless again, more like a ghost than ever before. People could see Ezekiel. Somehow, I was relieved and disappointed at the same time. I actually thought there may have been something special about me.
Ugh...I'm really tired this afternoon, I thought dejectedly. Blue giggled at my bewildered expression as I stared after the human shadow of Xavier Blake, totally dazed. I blinked rapidly, snapping out of my confused and mildly dreamy trance. Ezekiel didn't turn back to farewell me and, surprisingly, I was saddened to watch him leave so abruptly.
Guin (Gwen), however, gazed adoringly after Xavier himself and blushed at the sight of him laughing – the sun beating down and making his emerald eyes sparkle. I rolled my eyes at Blue and tsked. This stupid crush Guin had on Xavier was getting harder and harder to conceal. Soon, he'd be able to see straight through her and then where would she be? Guinevere Guthrie would be the talk of the school! And popularity was never something Guin aspired to.
"Come on, you lovesick puppy," I grumbled, weaving my arm through Blue's and pulling her along.
"Hey, I saw the way you looked at Xavier's bodyguard!" She countered with a brightening blush.
"What way?" I retorted, snorting at her ridiculousness. "We were conversing for the first time ever. Ezekiel knows my full name, which is uncommon, and Xavier was acting really weird at the end of class today. He left Mrs. Jennings' sewing lessons for football training. He's a junior and he made it into senior teams. Impressed?"
"How can I not be? And how long did you honestly expect his sewing classes to last, Ria? Xavier: sewing? I don't think so," Blue laughed. "But how does Xavier's bodyguard know your full name. I didn't even know your full name until fourth grade!"
"I...I don't know. He didn't really tell me. It was weird, talking to him and having him reply. For some reason, I never thought he'd respond. I've never seen him speak to anyone."
"Because he doesn't. I've tried talking to him myself, be polite and civil...but he just ignores me as if I'm not there. Maybe there's something special about you, Ria," She gave me a suggestive wink. "Maybe he thinks you're worth talking to..."
"Anyway, next subject please!" I groaned with a roll of my eyes. "Have you heard there's a new girl in our history class?"
"Yeah, she's coming tomorrow. Mr. White gave us a brief recap. Her name's Tansy Antheia and she comes from Greece. Calli–her mother, I think–is some famous, European opera singer. And, apparently, Mr. White has stuck her in Mrs. Jennings sewing class because he wants us to be her friends for the first few weeks."
"Oh, not again! Why do we always get stuck with newcomer's duty?" I sulked.
"I guess we're just too nice to resist," Blue grinned, throwing her arm around my shoulders.
"Too true, Blue, too true."
A/N: I hope you liked it!