That phone call was absolutely devastating. Someone had my son. There was no lead on who it could possibly be. The police were trying to trace the call, but they couldn’t. They needed him to call again. So far, he hadn’t. But there was a police officer staying here with us tonight just in case anything else happened.
Everything was so overwhelming for me, it was too much to take in so I retreated into my room. Seeing his empty crib made my heart break all over again. I just sat on my bed and cried. This room felt so empty without my son. It hadn’t even been twenty-four hours yet but I felt like my life was ending.
“Athena?” I hadn’t even heard her come in, but there was my grandma standing right in front of my bedroom door. She looked tired and stressed. Her face was red and raw, like she’d been crying. She probably had been.
“Y-yea?” I replied hesitantly. I wasn’t exactly in the mood for conversation but I wasn’t about to be rude to my grandmother.
“Can I sit down? I’d like to talk to you.” She spoke softly, like she was trying not to upset me.
“Sure.” I scooted over to make room for her.
As she sat down on my bed, my cat Dexter, followed suit. I smiled slightly at the sight of my cat. He was such a calming presence, I was glad he followed her in here.
“I’m so sorry Athena. I should’ve protected this place. I didn’t even think to. I’ve gotten so complacent with the peace we’ve had in recent years. I thought I didn’t have to fear for your safety anymore. I thought we were finally being left alone. I’m so sorry you’ve had this happen.”
“It’s not your fault, Grandma. I’m a witch too. I could’ve protected this place but I didn’t.” Sure, I didn’t really know all that much about protection spells, but I could’ve learned.
“I didn’t teach you very much. I worked so often during your childhood and teenage years that I didn’t have time. But I want to change that.”
“What? What do you mean?” I asked hesitantly. Now didn’t seem like a good time to learn something new.
“I’m gonna teach you. Defensive spells, offensive spells. All of it. I know it’s a little late, but if we’re gonna find Jj and get him back, we’re going to need all the knowledge and all the witch power we can get.” Grandma told me confidently. I wish I could’ve shared the feeling.
“I don’t know Grandma, are you sure I can handle this?” I asked. My hands were still shaking, my legs felt numb. I didn’t feel like this was something I could do right now.
“Get some rest. We’ll start in the morning.” She told me, matter-of-factly.
“How can I sleep at a time like this?” The thought of sleeping, while my little boy was with that creep… It didn’t feel right.
“You need your strength, Athena. I’ll wake you if we get any news. Now, get some sleep.” She ordered. Grandma kissed me softly on the forehead and smiled.
“I love you.” She told me.
“I love you too.” I replied, though my thoughts were elsewhere in that moment.
Where was my son?
That night I didn’t sleep much. My body was exhausted, but my mind was racing too fast to rest at all. So when my grandma came in my room early in the morning, I almost cried from exhaustion. But I didn’t want to stay in bed all day, I needed to get up and work towards getting my son back. I knew I’d never rest normally until he was back in my arms.
It was hard to concentrate while so exhausted. The spells were not incredibly hard to remember, but there were quite a few.
Maybe it was petty, but I was trying extremely hard to beat my opponent. I was absolutely just doing this to learn how to fight to get my son back, but the idea of finally being superior to my sister was so appealing.
I kept hitting her with a blinding light spell, and she was starting to get frustrated. “Goddamn Athena, give me a chance to get my shit together!” She yelled, though she wasn’t looking in my direction. She couldn’t see, it was quite amusing to see her looking so lost.
“Attackers aren’t going to give you a second to get your shit together, Artemis.” I told her condescendingly.
“Ugh.” She pointed her wand in my direction and cast a blinding light spell as well.
But, my reflexes were better than hers. And, well, I could actually see. I blocked her spell with a shielding one.
“Athena! Geez, just let me get one good shot in!” Artemis exclaimed with frustration.
“This isn’t a ‘lets take turns blinding each other with spells’ exercise. This is a battle, Artemis. You’re my enemy right now and I’m not gonna let you win.” I told her, while sending another blinding spell her way.
“Don’t be a poor sport, Artemis. That’s not gonna fly in a real battle. You’re gonna end up dead if you keep talking like that.” Hillary chimed in from next to me, while masterfully blocking all of Zeus’s spells.
“Have you done this before?” I asked in awe.
“Nope. Zeus here just sucks.” She chuckled, while sending a freezing spell his way.
“Oh shut up.” Zeus grumbled, while trying his hardest to actually hit Hillary with his spells. It wasn’t easy, she was good and he had terrible aim.
“If anyone should be shutting up, its you and Artemis. You guys should be focusing on actually trying to beat your opponents.” Winter sighed from behind the two of them.
So, for the rest of the day, we all shut up and worked on our spells. I felt ready to take on the son of a bitch who had my son.
All we had to do was find him.
That night, I sat alone in the kitchen after everyone was asleep. They’d set up some sleeping bags in the garage and were staying there. I offered my grandma my bed but she refused to take it, she was so stubborn.
It was hard for me to be in my bedroom. My son’s cold, empty crib was a sore reminder of how I screwed up. I wasn’t diligent enough. I should’ve set a protection spell, or at the very least an alarm system. I felt like such an awful parent. How could I let someone kidnap my toddler?
“Hey, can we talk?” Zeus came through the garage door and stood by the table. He looked sheepish, like a young child being scolded.
“Sure.” I sighed, I was so exhausted and didn’t want to get into it, but I didn’t really have a choice.
“How’re you holding up?” He asked tentatively.
“Oh, I’m just fantastic.” I rolled my eyes at him, I knew it was rude and childish, but he asked a dumb question.
“Okay, yea I deserved that snark.” He smirked slightly for just a split second, before looking remorseful.
“Listen Athena, I’m so sorry. I’ve been such a dick. I’m sorry for the way things went down.” Zeus couldn’t make eye contact, he just stared down at the table.
“You were an asshole to me. To both of us. You didn’t make any time for us, you blamed me for keeping him, and you said you didn’t want any of this. That sucked, Zeus.”
“I know. I wish I could take it all back. I’m not much older than I was then, but I still feel like I’ve grown. I don’t feel that way anymore.” He sighed.
“I don’t think keeping him was a mistake. I don’t blame you. I was an asshole, I should’ve spent more time with both of you, I should’ve helped more.” He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “I wish I could take it back.”
“I wish you could too. You hurt me, Zeus.”
“I’m sorry Athena. I know I was cold to you. I just couldn’t handle the amount of stress I was under.”
“You’re making excuses, Zeus. You’re only saying all of this because he’s not here. He’s missing, and you only give a shit about him now because now you don’t get to decide if you ever get to see him again. Before, we were just in the background of your life. If you ever wanted to see us, the option was there. But now that option is gone and only now you give a shit about it.” I ranted. It was rich that he was doing this now. How he only cared now that Jj was missing.
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe I only care now because he’s not here. But, we’re going to find him. We’re going to get our son b-” He started, but I stopped him.
“My son. You gave up the right to call him your son when you decided to never call us or see us.”
“That’s not fair Athena. He’s still my son. Give me another chance. I promise, when we get him back, I’ll come around a lot more. I’ll be a part of his life.” He was practically begging me.
“I’ll think about it. I don’t want to set my son up for heartbreak.” I told him. And with that, I got up and went to bed.
That was the moment I realized I was absolutely, completely over Zeus Garnett.