WINGS, WHISKEY & a WAITRESS SNEAK PEEK
*♥~*♥~SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!! SPOILER ALERT!!!~♥*~♥*
If you haven't read
book 3 in the Goddess of Tornado Alley Series yet,
DO NOT READ THIS POST!
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
If you have read book 3 ... welcome back! I don't have a release date planned yet for this next book, but as soon as I do, I'll let y'all know. Every one of these stories is planned. I've got character sheets and outlines ... but the fun thing about this series is that not even I know what might happen between points A and B. Frankie and the gang have a tendency to take off when I'm least expecting it, and I just run along after them and write up the incident report. Having said that, you need to know that things are subject to change. Who knows what might happen before the last paragraph of this story gets written???
This first chapter continues right where book 3 left off. If you need a refresher, here's the conclusion of Honeymoons, Harpies & House Arrest:
“And now for you, Aphrodite, goddess of love,” the father of the gods continued. Frank tried to concentrate on the proceedings and noticed the change in Zeus’ tone. Her eyes moved and she saw the teenage girl look of defiance coloring Aphrodite’s pretty face. “We also have a judgment ready for you.” He waited for a response from the goddess, but one wasn’t forthcoming. “As of tomorrow, you, Aphrodite are banished from Olympus.”
Everyone sitting behind Frank and Archer responded to the judgment. Most were in favor, of course, because they were all there to support Frank. Definitely, all of them were surprised.
Aphrodite was livid.
The sound of the train was getting closer.
“For a year, until the day Frances comes to us with her decision.”
“A year?” the goddess said in disbelief.
“You will be stripped of your powers, just as you stripped Eros of his, and you will live as a mortal for three hundred and sixty-five days.”
“Uh, Frankie …” Archer’s fingers tightened around Frank’s.
“Yeah. I know,” she responded. “The timing is not great …”
She turned to look and saw something she hadn’t expected to see. Her father, who, she’d recently learned, had engaged in a rather tumultuous affair with the goddess of love before breaking it off to marry Rosalie. Her dad was rather handsome, although he was probably worse at dating than Frank had been. Divorced twice, and left by more women than he could count, he wasn’t exactly what anyone would call dating material for the goddess of love.
She wasn’t noticing how handsome Charlie was, though, nor was she taking note of the smart suit he must have bought for the occasion. It was the blue glow that was radiating off his skin that caught Frank’s attention.
“Dad’s glowing …”
Archer looked over his shoulder, and because he was holding Frank’s hand, he could see the first tell-tale sign that Charlie was ready for his match.
“I won’t do it!” Aphrodite yelled from her throne. “This punishment is ludicrous, and I won’t accept it!”
Zeus was not amused, and Hephaestus rolled his eyes. He’d been a party to a good number of tantrums thrown by the goddess of love.
“The judgment has been made. It has now been carried down to you. It is done.”
Frank moved her eyes a little to the left and saw an identical blue glow.
“Oh, Archer …” she said quietly in her head. “You’re never gonna believe this. Do you see it?”
Aphrodite stood up, her gaze like a laser beam shooting straight through Frank. Her normally pale and perfect complexion was spotted with color pooling in her cheeks. “You’ll pay for this,” she said, the words dripping with venom.
But Frank didn’t hear her. She was too busy staring at Athena, virgin goddess of war and wisdom … who was, apparently, Charlie’s true love.
“Good goddess …” Archer whispered.
Okay, this is your last chance ...
If you haven't read book 3, turn back now!
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Wings, Whiskey & a Waitress -
Goddess of Tornado Alley Series Book Four
Copyright © 2021 by Jennifer C. Wing All rights reserved.
“You just took the words right out of my mouth,” Frank said, her eyes moving from Athena to her dad and then back again. “There’s no mistaking it, right?” she asked, although the blue glow that surrounded the two of them was intense, and there was no questioning its presence. “Humor me. It’s been a stressful week. I’m over-tired. Tell me I’m totally imagining this.”
Archer squeezed her hand a little tighter. “If only I could. Oh, there are so many potential problems with this, kanéla …”
“Yep,” Frank nodded. “Figures with Dad’s track record that his true love would be a centuries-old virgin.”
A burst of laughter exploded from Archer. It was such an unusual occurrence, and it was so loud and unexpected, especially in the Olympians’ throne room, that everyone, including Frank, turned and stared at him. Archer had been alive for thousands of years and seen some unbelievable things take place in that time. The fact that even he seemed a bit unbalanced by this latest turn of events weighed heavily on Frank.
“You think this is funny?” Aphrodite spat.
Frank felt Aphrodite’s heated stare on the side of her face before she actually saw the anger in the deity’s face. When she moved her eyes to face the death glare the goddess was aiming at them, she felt suddenly nauseous.
There had been so much in the past few days. She almost wished she was back in her own world dealing with Peri’s crazy wedding planning and Ella’s high maintenance Bridezilla persona. She was ready to go and sit in the dressing room of the Stardust and listen to Curtis and Jacob bicker back and forth about hair, makeup and fake boobs while she realized for the umpteenth time that Jacob was a more beautiful woman than she’d ever be. Adam’s apple and all. And speaking of Adam … She’d even rather hear her best friend’s husband tell her how batshit crazy she was, even though she couldn’t control all that had happened in the last eight months, and it was really unfair of him to lay all of that at her feet, especially when she had no control over any of the chaos that had swooped into her life like a tornado and literally swept her Gianvito Rossi’s right out from underneath her.
“You have no idea.” The sound of Archer’s voice chased all other thoughts away from Frank’s mind, and it was impossible for her to pretend she wasn’t where she was: On Mount Olympus, standing before all thirteen major gods, numerous other divine beings and every human she’d ever held genuine affection for after returning from completing a gauntlet of tasks put before her by the goddess of love—who had shown none of that romantic, lovey-dovey side of the personality she was so well known for as of late—where she, Rosalie, Peri, Ella and Muffin had almost met their demise more than once.
She saw the fire that smoldered in Aphrodite’s eyes, saw the color that pooled in the goddess’ unbelievably lovely face, and all the fear, all the tension, all the sadness and anger she’d felt while being physically and mentally separated from Archer as she fought to prove her worthiness to a goddess who hated her very existence bubbled up to the surface. Then the whole mess went and spilled right over the top.
“I’ve had just about as much from you as I’m gonna take,” Frank said, her hazel eyes every bit as heated as the deity’s and a strength in her voice that stilled the room. Muffin looked up at Frank and let loose a quiet whine. He didn’t have the power to read her thoughts like Archer could, but even he knew when his favorite human was about to lose her mind.
“In the last eight months, you have berated me, ridiculed me, laughed at me and harassed me. You have plucked me out of a sound sleep, literally whirled me around in that travel tornado to places like Mexico and Paris in the middle of the night where you’ve bullied and browbeat me. I’ve been chased by a chimera, tossed out of a tree, stalked by a catoblepas, shot at by Stymphalian birds and carted off by a goddamn harpy. Naked, by the way. Me,” she clarified, “not the bird.” She’d built a head of steam and neither she nor Aphrodite had blinked. The rest of the court was captivated, and all eyes were on Frankie as she continued to bubble over.
“I’ve dealt with mermaids … Those nails and the teeth …” The shiver that came over her was involuntary. “And shells,” she paused, “so many shells. And then there were all the bee stings and honey from head to toe, and Charon and the River Styx, and don’t even get me started on the Big Bad,” she said, her voice rising. “Typhon of all things. I hate killing spiders in my shower, and you’ve got me plunging Hermes’ sword into Typhon’s brain for crying out loud.” She vaguely heard a yelp of distress from behind her at the mention of spiders and realized once again where she was and who she was with. Poor Jacob. She briefly wondered if he’d ever be the same again, or if Arachne had left permanent emotional scars.
“Don’t forget Pan,” Archer reminded her.
“Seriously,” Frank said, her anger ticking up another notch at the mention of the newfound god. “As if I could. Fucking goats. What is it with the goats?”
“I will end you!”
In a fit of rage, Aphrodite flung herself from her throne, her arms extended and the sleeves of her gown flaring like a wild set of wings. Frank’s breath caught in her throat, and Muffin hopped up and moved to stand in front of her. She tried to step back, but Archer let go of her hand and she felt him wrap his arm around her waist, holding her in place.
Aphrodite’s face had gone from heated to outright furious. Frank was sure she was going to finally see godly splendor, and would, if only for a brief moment, know what it was like to be a human piece of toast. Muffin rose up on his hind feet and barked, the sound echoing in the big room and exploding all around them.
Then Aphrodite did the least godly like thing she’d ever done in her long life. She tripped on the hem of her long, flowing gown and fell from the steps that uplifted the row of large, ornately carved thrones and tumbled into a pile of fabric, wayward limbs and long blonde hair a yard away from Frank’s feet. Both Aphrodite and Frank gasped while Muffin sat down hard on his rump and gave his big head a quizzical tilt to one side.
“Yes,” Archer said with a knowing nod. “I remember it well. That first step as a mortal is a real doozy.”
Aphrodite raised her chin and met eyes with her son.
“Oh,” Frank breathed. “There it is …”
“What?” Archer asked.
“Toast eyes. Good thing for me and Muffin her cord got yanked just in time.”
The noise that emanated from Aphrodite’s mouth sounded anything but human, and when she propelled herself forward on hands and knees, Muffin popped back up again and started barking in earnest.
“Arketá! Eíste exorístike!” The father of the gods sent his voice through the big room and it echoed like thunder. Muffin fell silent and moved backward until his backside was pressed against Frank’s legs. Aphrodite’s mouth was open, but Frank wasn’t sure if she was still screaming. The sound was too great for her to hear anything but Zeus. The now mortal goddess’ hair lifted as if there was a great gust of wind that pushed itself up from the floor, and the long strands swirled around her. The blue of her eyes focused upward, and Frank watched as the reality of Aphrodite’s situation was fully realized. In another moment, the deity was gone.
Frank heard the word in her head over the chaos in the throne room, and she blinked at the now empty expanse of white marble floor in front of her.
Muffin whined and sat down on Frank’s black suede, three-inch, Stuart Weitzman pointed toe pumps.
The silence that came with Aphrodite’s departure was nearly deafening.
It was a common reminder. Frankie couldn’t remember a time when Archer wasn’t telling her to breathe.
“Do the gods ever do anything calmly?”
Archer’s response was quick and simple. “No.”
“Not yet we haven’t. What’s coming next certainly won’t be calm.”
“I believe that concludes this morning’s business,” Zeus announced, his voice back at normal volume, but still rich and rolling easily about the room.
“About that …”
There were twelve gods perched on their thrones now, and they all turned to watch Frank.
“We’re not quite finished,” Archer spoke up.
“What is it, Eros?”
Frank felt Archer shift a bit, his hand moving at her hip. “Frank has found another couple who are ready to be matched.”
A quiet noise rose behind where they stood, and Zeus moved his gaze to Frank. “Is this true?”
“Yes, sir, Father God …” she stammered. “Zeus.”
“Interesting,” he commented, looking around the room.
“In normal situations, I would know exactly what to do.”
“You would make the match.”
Frank nodded. “I would.”
“Tell me why the situation is different today.”
Frank’s eyes moved down the row of gods. Hades was watching her closely, his dark eyes kind. He gave her an almost imperceptible dip of his bearded chin, silently urging her to go on.
Frank wasn’t so sure.
“I didn’t do this.”
“I just hope no one shoots the messenger.”
“Just rip off the Band-Aid.”
Frank heaved a sigh and shook her head. “Well,” she said aloud, “the couple is my dad, Charlie …” She looked away from Hades and turned her head to find her father. He was watching her, his hazel eyes suddenly widening. “And Athena.”
Another wave of noise rose around her, this time a little louder, and Frank closed her eyes as she faced forward once more. When she parted her lashes, the first person she saw was the goddess of war and wisdom. The beautiful, raven-haired Lynda Carter lookalike was sitting on her throne, her back ramrod straight and looking every bit like the Wonder Woman that she was. Except this superhero had traded her bullet-deflecting bracelets for a brilliant blue glow that clung to her shapely frame.
The train had been held at bay, Frank surmised, by the pandemonium that had recently taken place. Things were never quiet for long, though, and it was back, racing furiously along a set of invisible tracks. She’d never ignored an opportunity to gift a couple true love before, but if the look on Athena’s face was any indication, Frank guessed the goddess wasn’t open to accepting this particular present.
“Athena.” It wasn’t a question, and Frank looked over at Zeus. She gave him a nod and something that might have been a smile found his lips. “And your father, Charlie.”
Although she’d already announced it, this seemed to be the confirmation those in attendance needed. Athena rose swiftly from her throne, and without making eye contact with anyone, she walked down the steps and made her way toward the door, her head held high and her beautiful face stoic. Once she was on the move, many of the other gods vacated their posts, and Frank felt movement behind her.
“What in the world have you done?”
Frank recognized that voice. She’d been hearing it since Kindergarten. She turned to see Ella making her way towards her.
“Let me explain this whole matchmaking thing to you again,” Frank began. “I don’t choose. Remember? That’s not how it happens.”
“Where did she go?” Peri wanted to know. Her red hair was pulled back into a messy but stylish bun sitting on the crown of her head, and her cinnamon-colored freckles stood out on her creamy white skin.
“I’m sure this was a huge shock to her,” Frank explained. “I mean, she’s been single her entire life.”
“There was that thing with Hephaestus.” Frank turned to find Thalia next to her.
“You mean Erichthonius?”
The little muse beamed at her with pride. “You have been studying.”
“Eric who?” Ella wanted to know.
“Half infant, half snake,” Frank began, then she thought better of it and shook her head. “You know what? That story is a little long. And I’d like to think I’ve gotten to know Hephaestus a bit. I need some clarification on that story before I feel comfortable telling it.”
“I appreciate that, neari kyría,” she heard over the din. Muffin was excited by the arrival of the big god.
Hephaestus bent down and cupped the dog’s head in his over large palm. “Geia sas, o paliós mou fílos!” Frank wasn’t sure how much Greek Muffin knew, but he seemed to understand enough to be pleased with the greeting.
“I need to make sure she’s okay,” Ella said, hiking her fallen purse strap back onto her shoulder.
Ella gave her best friend a sideways look. “If you didn’t notice, your little announcement wasn’t all that well received.”
“I didn’t make it happen, El,” she reminded her once more.
“She had to say something,” Archer added. “Do you remember when Charlie showed up and ended the battle?”
Ella turned her less than friendly gaze toward the god of love. “You mean at my disaster of a wedding reception?” Sarcasm dripped from her words. “I vaguely recall that, yes.”
Archer ignored her tone. “Then you’ll also remember him telling Mother that he believed that Frankie would find his true love. He knew without question that she could do that for him, and she did. She couldn’t very well keep quiet about it. True love is oftentimes messy and difficult. It’s up to Athena and Charlie to decide what happens now, but Frankie had no other choice but to present them the opportunity once she saw it.”
Peri watched Archer as he spoke, then looked over at Ella. “Yeah,” she said, her eyebrow raised. “It’s volatile around here. I think I’m gonna go say hello to the god of the dead.”
Hephaestus drew Frank close to his side and gave her a one-armed hug. He towered over her and was nearly twice as wide as she was. She felt engulfed in his embrace, but as large and as strong as he was, Hephaestus had always had a soft spot for Frank. She’d never felt anything but safe in his presence.
“Come with me,” Thalia said, wrapping her fingers lightly around Ella’s wrist. “Athena doesn’t need us but seeing her might make you feel better. I think I know where she might have gone.”
“What is this bullshit about, Frances June Reed?”
Frank closed her eyes and stayed where she was, squished against the deity the size of a small mountain. She loved her mom but was suddenly reluctant to leave the big-hearted god in exchange for the older woman’s wrath.
“Two goddesses?” Rosalie demanded. “Your father? I need you to explain to me how in the hell that’s at all possible.”
Frank sighed and patted Hephaestus’ chest. The deity took the hint and released her from his gentle grasp. “Thanks, my friend,” she told him, shooting a smile upward toward his somewhat lopsided but handsome face. “Stick close, okay? I might need you.”
Frank turned to see her dad. Rosalie saw him at the same time.
“God, give me strength.” Archer reached over and laced his fingers with Frank’s. “I see what you did there.”
The god laughed quietly in Frank’s head and she heard the faint sound of bells. “It’s important to keep a sense of humor when you can.”
“Athena?” Rosalie accused. “Really?”
“First of all,” Frank told her mom with a shake of her head. “There will be no middle naming me right now. I keep trying to explain it, but this whole matchmaking concept is really lost on y’all, isn’t it?”
“You have to admit,” Charlie reasoned, “me and two goddesses. That seems rather unlikely, don’t you think?”
“Listen. I don’t know how you and mama goddess hooked up in the first place—”
“She was at the Midwest Dental Convention,” Charlie interrupted. “I gave a lecture on pulp therapy and management of immature permanent teeth. Something I must have said really captured her attention because after my lecture, she sat and had drinks with me. We even talked about my ideas for the tooth whitener I’d been working on for so long.”
Rosalie and Frank turned at the same time and their eyes locked. “Do you think she had something to do with the success of Wonderwhite?” Rosalie asked.
After many years of trying, Charlie had finally come up with a formula for the product that made him and two ex-wives incredibly wealthy. Frank did some mental math.
“I was a toddler when that happened. I’ve heard it so much I know that tale as well as I know the contents of my shoe closet. That was years after he’d split with the goddess.”
Rosalie turned and narrowed her eyes at her ex-husband. “Unless you were seeing her behind my back.”
“Are you kidding me right now?” Charlie countered.
“Dad didn’t cheat on you,” Frank scolded.
“And Mother’s not known for granting favors,” Archer added, “especially after she’s been dumped. I’d say Charlie figured out how to whiten teeth all on his own.”
“Thank you, Archer,” Charlie told the god, “but dumped is such a strong word.”
“There’s no beating around that bush, Dad. You dumped her. You found Mom. She was better. Old news. What I can’t figure is why in the world Aphrodite would show up at a dental convention, but I’m just gonna put that with all the other million things I don’t have answers for and leave it at that.”
Zeus’ summons drew the small group’s attention and they all turned to see the god as he walked toward them.
“I was happy to see you return safely. You have provided us all a bit of relief from the ordinary these past several months.”
“Frankie’s a bit like one of those little cars at the circus. You keep thinking there can’t possibly be anything more, but clowns just keep pouring out.”
Frank shot Rosalie a scathing sidelong glance before offering Zeus a tired smile. “Thank you for your hospitality,” she said, squeezing Archer’s fingers. “Thank you for what you did today.”
A flicker of movement behind Zeus caught Frank’s eye and she stepped closer to Archer to get a better look.
Although everyone thought Pan had vanished again after making his appearance and announcing to the other gods that Frank was the one who had found him, it seemed as though he hadn’t gone far.
“You’ve shown that you are courageous and brave,” Zeus told her. “And that you have a strong and tenacious character, especially for a mortal.” Frank tried to let that last one slide. It was just like a god to taint an otherwise kind compliment by tacking on that whole being a mortal thing. “I hope Aphrodite didn’t tax you too much. You turned out to be a much more formidable opponent than she imagined. I’m sure she never expected you to succeed, let alone survive.”
The laissez-faire way in which Zeus talked about Frank’s death was just another character trait Frank had attached to the deities’ way of thinking. At least some of them.
She saw the god of the wild, companion of nymphs give her a smile before he disappeared from the throne room. She smiled back but looked up to catch Zeus’ gaze. “I appreciate all the help we received along the way. I’m truly grateful. We were treated so kindly by so many, and I’m glad I got to meet Pan.”
The faint tinkling of bells sounded in the air. When she heard a raucous bleat mixed in with the otherwise musical tones, she couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
“He seems really cool. I mean, for a goat.”