"What secret is that?"
"I assume why is was destroyed. Not even we really know what happened the day it vanished.
Whatever went down there went down fast, and those who know the truth have kept it hidden ever since."
Geary cocked her head as she remembered her research. "Plato wrote that is was human hubris that caused the gods to destroy it as punishment."
Arik scoffed. "Plato wrote of a parable about a nation that was destroyed long before his ancestors had been born. He knew nothing of the truth. Anyone who’d ever gotten close to learning about Atlantis didn’t live long enough to tell anyone else."
She stepped back as pain filled her. "That’s why my family’s dead, isn’t it? We got too close."
He gave her a sympathetic nod. "I’m sorry, Megeara. But yeah. Your father was all over the real site."
A single tear fled down her face, but she quickly wiped it away.
" Come for me, Megeara, and I will grant you vengeance on those who’ve wronged you- those who’ve taken the ones you love most. Come here, child, and let us both deliver to them what they deserve. For petty vanity they took from us both the very people we loved. Help and I will help you." It was the same angry woman’s voice Megeara had always heard here.
"Apollymi?" She whispered the name.
"It is I. And I will protect you, child, if you listen. I would have saved your father, but he denied
my help and they killed him. I would spare you a young death."
"Is she talking to you?" Arik asked in a whisper.
If it’d been anyone else asking Megeara that question, she would have denied it emphatically. "She says the gods took from her someone she loved."
"Her son. At least that’s what Zeus claims. Her husband, Archon, slew Apostolos, and in grief she destroyed her entire family."
But that didn’t make sense. "Then why does she want revenge against the Greek gods and not her own?"
"Because Apollo has long asserted that he was the one who killed Apostolos. Back then, Greece and the Atlanteans were in a very strained truce. They’d warred against each other for centuries. The Atlanteans had tried to kill Apollo’s son, but he’d managed to remove the baby from the queen’s womb before she birthed him and he substituted another child there that they killed instead. He then took his son Strykerius to Delphi, where he was raised by Apollo’s priestesses."
That didn’t make sense. "If Apollo saved his son, why would he kill Apollymi’s child?"
"Because twenty-one years later Apollo had another son on the Greek island of Didymos. Atlantean assassins broke into the palace in the middle of the night and executed the baby and his mother, who was Apollo’s sanctified mistress. To exact revenge on the Atlanteans for their crime, Apollo claims, he killed Apostolos, then cursed everyone of their bloodline to die horribly on their twenty-seventh birthday-the age of his mistress at death. That is what set Apollymi off. Like Apollo she wanted revenge for the death of her son, but Apollo was the greater god, so he trapped her in Kalosis, where she now sits, plotting her revenge against him and the rest of the Greek pantheon."
Megeara tilted her head as she caught a strange note in Arik’s voice. "But you don’t believe that."
He looked away. "I’ve met Apollymi and I know Apollo… he is not the greater god. I’ve never seen a god yet who would go up against the Destroyer. Even her own family was scared of her, and rightfully so. They say it took her less than ten minutes to blast all of them to oblivion while they were gathered together in their own hall. Knowing gods as I do, I’m quite sure they didn’t go quietly to slaughter. But rather they put up one hell of a fight, and out of an entire pantheon there’s only one of them still standing."
A vicious thought went through her. "Then she could deliver her promise to me? She could save you and restore my father’s reputation without anyone being hurt."
He cupped her face in his hands and stared at her intently. "Listen to me, Megeara. The gods don’t act selflessly. None of them will help anyone without getting something out of the bargain. Ask yourself what it is Apollymi wants from you."
He shook his head. "It’s never that simple, love. Apollymi wants revenge and she doesn’t care who suffers for it. If she is ever released, she will destroy the entire world. All of it. No one will be able to stop
her. That’s why she’s imprisoned and why everyone is willing to keep her there." His look intensified.
"She can’t ever go free."
Geary understood that. It made sense. And yet she was so close now to her goal. Her father had been right and she could prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. She could expunge his record…
But at what cost? Was it worth it?
And still Apollymi beckoned in her head with promises of revenge.
" Vengeance only destroys the one who seeks it." Geary paused as she remembered her grandfather in New York telling her that after she’d returned to the States to live. During World War II, his entire family had been slaughtered while celebrating his birthday by a raiding Nazi party who happened upon them.
Only nine years old, her grandfather had been wounded, blinded, and left for dead.
While he was unconscious, protected by the lifeless bodies of his family, a mysterious man had come and saved him. The man had bandaged her grandfather up and brought him safely to America to start his life over.
As an angry teenager, Geary had asked her grandfather if he’d ever thought about the ones who took everything from him.
Her grandfather had patted her lovingly on the hand. "Of course I do, Megeara. I’ve never had a birthday since that day that I don’t hear the gunfire. That I don’t see them kicking in the door of our cottage to murder us all. The last thing I saw before they blinded me was my mother dying while trying to protect me. My fourteen-year-old sister being dragged off to be raped and murdered. Do you honestly think, little one, that I don’t remember that day constantly and wonder why I alone survived it? If I wouldn’t have been better off dead, too? Yet here I am and I’m grateful for it. Because had I died that day, there would be no you."
Rage for him had burned inside her. "I would have gotten revenge on them. I wouldn’t have been able to live until they paid for their crimes."
He’d nodded at her in that understanding way of his. "I thought about that, too, and even went so far as to book passage back to Europe after the war to find them."
"But you didn’t go."
"No. My Saving Angel"-his name for the one who’d brought him to America-"came to me again as if he knew what I planned and he told me that it is by our actions we are destroyed or saved. The choice is ours. He said he didn’t save me that day to see me die so foolishly. And he told me that vengeance only destroys the one who seeks it. If I chose to go, he wouldn’t stop me. But he asked me if the lives I sought to take would be worth the one I could make here away from the hatred and sorrow. So I chose to stay here and let go of the past. Yes, it haunts me, but it doesn’t rule me. And because I stayed here, I met your grandmother and had all of you to warm my heart and to ease my sorrows. My only regret is that I’ve never seen the beauty of your smile with my own eyes."
He’d smiled tearfully at her then and patted his heart. "But I feel its beauty here and I know there is not a lovelier, more precious child in this world than you and your cousins. I am glad that though someone did me grossly wrong, my final mark on this world is not one of countering hurt with more hurt but is one of love and friendship. We will always be known by our actions. Let them always be good ones."
Geary had to clear her throat as the memory surged and made her eyes tear. She loved her grandfather Theo so much. He was a good man and she wouldn’t hurt him ever if she could help it. He’d lost enough people in his life. She wouldn’t let him bury another loved one.
"The quest has ended."
Arik’s brow furrowed in disbelief. "Has it really?"
She nodded. "I think the boat explosion was an omen, huh? I think we should just leave it alone before someone gets hurt."
"Do you think Tory will let you do that?"
He had a point, but it didn’t matter. "I’ll ship her back home if she says anything."
"Will she go?"
"Kicking and screaming." Geary cringed at the thought of how irate the girl would be. But better alive and irate than dead and happy. "Sometimes we don’t want what’s best for us"-another thing her grandfather was always saying-"but we need it anyway."
Arik never ceased to be amazed by her. He was so used to people who could only think of themselves that her altruism was baffling. That she would give up a goal that meant so much to her to keep someone safe…
It was miraculous.
And because he knew how much it meant to her, he wanted her to have it. No one should get this close to their dream without attaining it. It seemed cruel to him.
That would be his final gift to her. Before he died he wanted to see the look of joy on her face for redeeming her father. "How about we make a compromise?"
She gave him a droll stare. "How would that be possible? You said it yourself that all the gods are against this."
"We can try. I’ll take you back to the site and we can salvage a couple of incidental artifacts that won’t hurt to have known-enough to prove your father wasn’t insane-and then we can tell Tory that the site is too unstable for excavation. Tell her part of it caved in on us and we barely escaped. We can cut the live feed and make it seem real. Then we can say that Atlantis needs to remain at the bottom of the sea where the gods intended it rest."
Geary was stunned at the beauty of that argument. Until reality came crashing down on her. "I’d have to give up the location in my findings report."
"Lie. Who would know? You can give them a location somewhere else. Tell them the site was off the banks of Mykonos."
"But if someone else digs-"
"They find nothing and they don’t die. People have been looking for Atlantis for eleven thousand years without finding it. It’s just one more chapter in this chronicle. You will still have irrefutable proof that Atlantis existed. No one will be able to argue against it."
Would that work? It truly sounded too good to be true. "Are you sure the gods will be appeased?"
"I think so. I just need Kat’s number from you."
Arik hesitated before he answered. He wouldn’t out Kat and her relationship to the gods. If she wanted Megeara to know, it was Kat’s place to tell her, not his. "We’ll need another diver on the project. Just in case. She’s more levelheaded than Teddy and I think she’d understand our reasons for keeping it hidden."
"Good point. You want me to call her?"
That would defeat the purpose of not outing her. He needed to explain this to Kat before they went back. The last thing he needed was for her to try to kill them, too. "I’d rather do it myself."
Stepping back, Geary eyed him warily. "Is there something about Kat that you’re not telling me?" The suspicion in her gaze deepened. "Is she one of you?"
"No." That was the honest truth. She was in a class all by herself.
"Then I’ll call her."
How did he keep getting himself into these messes? Kat would flip without his explanation. "Why don’t we wait until tomorrow to talk to her then? Let her rest tonight."
He was grateful Geary didn’t push this. By tomorrow he might have a better idea.
Suddenly someone was pounding on the study’s door.
"Excuse me," Solin snapped angrily from the other side. "Last time I checked, this was my house. Why am I locked out of my own study?"
Arik moved to open the door. "Anything to piss you off, Brother. Why else?"
Solin scoffed as he entered the room. "Oh, that’s easy enough to do. Basically the fact that you breathe does that."
Arik closed the door and turned to face him. "Love you, too."
"Of course you do, like a plague on your privates."
Well, at least Solin understood the nature of their relationship. "So what brings you back?"
"What part of my house did you miss?"
Arik countered with his own argument. "What about the part that we could stay here if we needed to?"
Solin opened his mouth to retort, then snapped it shut. He was silent for a few moments before he spoke again. "I did say that, didn’t I?"
"Fine," he said irritably, "stay. But whatever you do, put down a blanket or something next time you two want to get frisky on my hardwood floors. That’s just… disgusting."
Geary sputtered at his indignation. "How do you-"
"He’s a demigod," Arik answered in an unamused tone, cutting her off. "Never get too close to one if you want to maintain secrets."
Her cheeks pinkened to let him know she was quite embarrassed by it. "Well, that’s not fair."
Solin gave her an arch stare. "You seem to have an issue with fairness, don’t you?"
"I don’t like things to be disorderly, if that’s what you mean. There should be a degree of fairness in the world."