1001 Nights: Arabian Nights, Part I

I giggled nervously and suddenly felt like an idiot. How does she make me feel this way and lose myself? I took another swig of my drink and turned towards Artemis, ready as I was going to be for our very public first kiss.

The anticipation of Hekate’s party had me energized. Most of my family, all together in one place, celebrating the defeat of so many Titans, was something I was looking forward to. Plus, Artemis would be there. She had been so consumed with the care of Sayeh. The only time I really got to see her was when I visited the cave. It would be good for her to get out and away for a breather. Hekate said to come dressed in Arabian-themed attire, and I found this beautiful salwar kameez in mint green and pink-trimmed silver combination. The green reminded me of Sayeh, and the pink was that of Arty’s favorite pink peonies. It was perfect. I walked up to Urania’s gallery to a beautiful sight. Hekate had outdone herself. Candles and fabrics draped the room and hallways as you entered, changing the entire feel and look of the gallery. The music poured out of the speakers at the perfect level to complete the ambiance. 

As I approached the entrance, Nike stood there on duty, announcing each guest as they entered. Artemis, Persephone, and Morpheus were already there and huddled together, chatting with each other. 

“Introducing Selene,” Nike called out in her crisp, professional voice. I slipped in and made my way towards my friends. Hekate pulled Morpheus to the side just as I reached them, so I waved and figured I’d catch up with him in a bit. 

Standing with Persephone and Artemis, I met her smile. “You look amazing tonight, Arty.”

Artemis smiled slightly. “Thank you, Selene, as do you. I love your dress.”

Her lehenga was a beautiful green that reminded me of Sayeh even more so than my own. “Is that color in honor of Sayeh?”

“Yes, it is. How did you know?”

“I’d know her color anywhere.” I blushed as I caught Artemis’s eyes.

As Hekate finished her discussion with Morpheus, she walked to the center of the room, waiting for people to quiet. Morpheus watched the crowd, smiling, knowing what was coming next. 

“Persephone, you look amazing,” I exclaimed as I drew my attention away from Artemis to greet my friend. Her lehenga was a lovely turquoise color with pink flowers on the bodice, along the flowing bottom, and sprinkled through her hair. Her face was rosy as she had only recently returned to the surface and was readjusting to time in the sun. 

Persephone replied before turning to Hekate, “Thank you both. If not for you I wouldn’t have come.” 

“I see you have matched. Is that for Sayeh?” Artemis asked.

Hekate arched a brow. “May I have your attention, please?”

Artemis turned to listen to Hekate as she called our attention, shifting her focus from the question she just asked me.

Hekate continued, “Welcome, family, and thank you for coming. A special thanks to Urania for the use of her gallery tonight. I know the decorations seem sparse, but I ask…that you trust me.” She smiled slightly and made a graceful bow with her head.We have come through trying times, but we have come through together. And before our work takes us in different directions, I thought we could all use a little magic, a little beauty, and a little more time together.” Hekate nodded to the Lampades, and the nymphs began handing out glasses of wine. 

Hekate lowered her voice to a trancelike tone, and the wine in the glasses began to glow like a sunset sky. “The mind is a strange thing. Consciousness is the enemy of dreams, and a pleasant dream is what we need now, more than anything. This wine is enchanted to lull your conscious mind into a state of submission and allow the dreaming mind to come forward.”

Artemis and Morpheus each took a glass from the nymph and sipped on it.

Hekate continued, “If you do not drink, you will not have the full experience of the night.

Again…I ask that you trust me. I ask that you drink and share a dream with me tonight. All of us together, before the waking world demands us again.” She held up her glass in a toast, then drank it down.  

Persephone took the wine graciously but held it awkwardly. Artemis smiled at Persephone and called out to Morpheus to join us again. Hekate drained her glass and placed it on the tray of a passing nymph. Following suit, Persephone took a small sip of the wine. 

Persephone doesn’t drink often and was afraid to lose her senses in such a public place, so she was apprehensive about drinking a lot.

Morpheus nodded to Artemis that he would join us when he was done, then turned his attention back to Hekate in anticipation of his cue. 

Persephone looked up from her glass to Hekate and asked, “The whole thing?” 

Hekate replied, “The more you drink, the better the illusion will work.”

Artemis whispered to me, “It’s time to drink up.”

Morpheus downed his glass and placed it on the table. I tipped the glass back and drank it down.

“Selene, if this wine knocks me out, make sure I get back to my room, okay?” Persephone leaned in and asked me before Morpheus began in a calm, clear, melodic voice. 

“Everyone, clear your mind and relax your body. Close your eyes for just a brief time. You are protected and in a safe place. This is a time for friendship, love, and releasing worries. You are still you, but your sleeping mind is awakening. You are open to peaceful intentions. Everyone who should be here is. As you slowly open your true eyes, you look around. You are in a large Bedouin tent in the desert. Soft golden light shines within a large sitting area. Colorful pillows, rugs, majlis sofas, and other floor couches are arranged aesthetically. Hibiscus tea, arak, and mint lemonade sit prettily on tables with hummus, falafel, tabbouleh, baklava, and other delicious options to happily tempt you. There are small palm trees, jeweled jars, and as you breathe in the scent of handcrafted beeswax candles, you smile, and walk forward to enjoy the party.” He then bowed and smiled, and the dreams he conjured took their hold on the party.

“I’m sorry Arty, I went to answer you, and Hekate needed the floor. Yes, this is the closest I could find to Sayeh’s color,” I replied as the dream and drink began to take effect, and I blushed.

“Now that the scene is sufficiently set…I have gifts for you all,” Hekate said, drawing our attention from Morpheus and back onto her.

Artemis slowly opened her eyes, glazed over with the dream in full effect. She turned to me and smiled warmly.. “You are so sweet to wear green for Sayeh.”

Making his way over to us, now that his task had been completed. “Artemis, you made it,” Morpheus stated with a smile, glad to see his friend.

“Wow!” I said as I looked around, impressed as I had never had a dream before and was completely fascinated by this experience.

Artemis smiled and hugged Morpheus as Hekate nodded to the nymphs, who moved through the room, distributing small square boxes wrapped in colorful ribbons.

Hekate began again, “If everyone will open their gifts, please.” Brightly colored butterflies in prismatic hues flew from all the boxes, except for the ones in the hands of Eris, Persephone, and Clio. Their boxes held a tiny brass genie lamp.

I gasped as the butterflies filled the room. “So beautiful,” I said, watching the colorful creatures flit about the room.

Clio’s eyes brightened. “Oh! Oh! I have an idea, guys!”

Hekate turned to look at Clio.

Clio giggled. “We should play a game, and I know which one to play.”

Artemis looked at Clio. “A game?”

Hekate opened her mouth to say something and reined in her tongue. “With all due respect, Mistress, we will not be playing anything you suggest tonight.”

Clio pouted, “Why not, Hekate? It is harmless.”

Eros looked down at his drink, then at Katie evilly. “I have a game.” He perked up.

Hekate looked at Eros. “Fine. Anything but what Clio wants to play.”

Eros smirked wickedly. “I have noticed that not nearly enough of us have made out, a true travesty, let’s play a mortal game…Spin the Bottle.”

A stunned look crossed Hekate’s face before she replied, “I don’t think that’s exactly appropriate, Eros.”

“Spin the Bottle?” I asked, surprised at this unforeseen turn of events. This was not exactly what I expected at this party.

Artemis switched her empty wine glass for another refill and smirked. “Spin the Bottle? Really?”

“Something else, Eros,” Hekate replied.

Eros shook his head. “Too bad. You said anything but Clio’s game.”

With resignation, Hekate conceded, “The game is named.”

I looked around for another drink. “Iwill need more for this.”

Artemis looked down and back at me. “Would you be playing this game?”

Hekate cleared off a space on a low table for Eros to use as he explained the game.

Eris, in his male form, spoke up, “Is kiss the only option for what is done to them?” 

“Um, yeah. I’ll play,” I replied to Artemis and grabbed a glass off a passing tray and drank it down. “Why not?”

Artemis shifted uncomfortably before she replied, “I guess I could join you then, Selene.”

The thought of Artemis playing and that I could actually kiss her made my heart flutter. I muttered, “Oh crap,” under my breath.

Eros pulled out a long golden arrow, the top glinting. “Spin the arrow has a better ring to it,” he said with a cocky grin spreading across his face.

Hekate frowned.

I tried to act like it didn’t bother me and replied, “If you want, Arty. It could be fun. I haven’t really ventured out since Endy, ya know?” I blushed, trying to deflect my true feelings.

Eris piped back in, “It’s been a long time since I kissed someone, you know, other than to get out of being arrested.” 

I smiled. I had missed Eris and was glad they were home. Their male form was rather dashing tonight, as well. I was definitely not complaining if I landed on them.

Persephone caught my eye and grinned at me. “Let’s get our seats,” she said as we walked over together.

Artemis dragged Morpheus to sit down with her, opposite to Persephone and me. 

The game got underway, and it was several uncomfortable scenes and another drink or two later when Eros called out, “Missy! Your turn!” I gulped and looked around for another drink. 

“What?” she called out, surprised he would call her so soon. 

“Spin the arrow, Missy.” He smirked.

Artemis picked up the arrow and placed it on the table, gulped, then spun it. The arrow stopped, right…on…me

“Oh, shit!” I gulped. Our first kiss and it was going to be here in front of everyone? I knew I was feeling something towards Artemis recently, but this was forcing the issue a bit, sudden and awkwardly. I looked at Artemis to see how she was reacting to where the arrow landed. She was smiling and looking right at me. I giggled nervously and suddenly felt like an idiot. How does she make me feel this way and lose myself? I took another swig of my drink and turned towards Artemis, ready as I was going to be for our very public first kiss.

Artemis got up from her side of the table and walked over and sat down beside me. She placed her hand on my cheek and caressed my face. She leaned forward and placed her lips on mine, closing her eyes and kissing me deeply. I put my hands on Artemis’s strong shoulders, bringing her closer as I responded, reciprocating her deep kiss. 

As we pulled out of the kiss, Eris called out, “That’s what I call a full moon!” Artemis’s face turned a deep shade of crimson, mine a similar hue. 

“Holy crap—” I began to speak when Eros chimed in again.

“Selene, you’re up!”

Artemis placed her hand on mine, and I lost my train of thought again. “Hmmm?” I asked Eros, completely lost in the touch of Artemis’s hand and the memory of her lips on mine.

“Spin the arrow. It’s your turn,” he said, snapping me out of it.

“Fuck! Um, okay.” Taking a deep breath, I reached for the arrow and spun it.

“Oh, shit!” Artemis called out as I shot a side glance at her, my heart racing in my chest.

The arrow stopped on Eris. “Well, I didn’t see that coming,” Eris said with a smile.

“Okay, um,” I giggled nervously, “welcome home, Eris.”

 

Selene (Renee Christian)
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