Natalie Bartley is a Canadian Adult-Fantasy author. Natalie has been writing for most of her teenage and adult life but started publishing those stories in December 2019 with her first book, Love and Pain in Zion. Natalie’s faith as a polytheistic witch leads her to many storylines involving the gods which surround her. She lives with her partner and stepson in Bowmanville, Ontario and is also completing her clergy status with the Correllian Nativist Tradition. They hope to one day open their own Pagan store together.
I found a bench nearby and sat down, letting the air waft over me. We were a distance from the ocean, but I could almost feel the Atlantic calling to me. It was both confusing and warming. Like a lover I had never known, beckoning me home.
A few hours later, we were home, and I was curled up on the couch with a large bowl of chicken noodle soup. I had a warm blanket around me, and Revan was fidgeting. I could tell he was trying to phrase how to break the bad news to me, so I put the bowl on the side table to take his hands. “Just say it.”
I could almost feel the tension in the crowd as the first notes of the song began. I shivered with anticipation. I opened my mouth, heard the crowd inhale with me, and began. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I wouldn’t stop. I was addicted to the sensation.
I leaned into his hug, needing his strength. “I didn’t cast myself into foam. Gods, I wish I had. It may have been easier. I never gave up, Pater; I wanted to be there, for Atlantis, for Poseidon…I didn’t choose to leave, to disappear.”
“PheePhee, I understand that more than you know, the need to run, to travel, to see the wild, to be the wild again. You missed so much while you were away. You need to take the time to see it all again, to truly appreciate this world you are walking in again.”
We danced, the song lulling me into a sense of security. Or maybe it was Dion’s arms, but something was making this night better than it had been, and I was grateful. I knew that the memories would resurface about what was discussed, what happened, what was broken. But for now, all I needed, all I wanted, was him.
It wasn’t a lie or an evasion. Mathieu and I had put so much time and effort into this event. Now that it was happening and progressing along, I seemed to be lost in it. Dion reached over, sensing my discomfort. He patted my leg and squeezed it softly. I smiled at him. Tonight was taking forever.
I snorted derisively. “Even when we were never technically married? If it ever comes to that, we’ll have that conversation then. But no, I’m not ready to give up the throne. I wasn’t 2,000 years ago, but I couldn’t physically return.”
Hours later, when they were through, I turned and looked in the mirror and was astounded. I looked…well, I looked regal. The only thing missing was my old diadem, but I had left that in Atlantis, as was proper. I stood slowly and looked around. The stylists had gone, but Mathieu remained. “You’re beautiful, my lady,” he said softly.
Look at me. I’ve turned into a sappy romantic bitch. “Love me, or I’ll die.” Ugh, I can’t even look at myself right now. And yet, it’s how I feel. Like Dionysos is my future, and I can’t shake it. I don’t want to shake it.
I smirked at her. “And if we can’t figure out whose it is by process of elimination, the advice is crystal clear. Don’t dip the binky in the wine more than five times.” I chuckled softly as Nike brought her hand up to cover a laugh, and Eris doubled over.
“Of course, people knew you were missing, Amph. You told them you were heading home, then no one hears from you, and a hurricane breaks in the Pacific.” I nodded sadly as Alessa continued. “Wait, you said we. Who is we?”
He was handsome, alluringly so…maddeningly so. I felt drawn to him, yet I didn’t know why. I felt like I was looking at someone I knew ages ago. For a moment, my mind went to the first time I met Rommel, and I shook my head to clear the incoming memory.