Date Published: 9/6/16
Publisher: Sunday Morning Publishing
After his fall to Earth, Icarus has been in Hell, punished for his hubris. When he wins a chance at parole, he's thrilled - except for the set of wings attached to his body.
Eve Gregory runs a small bookstore in northern Connecticut. When she hires the handsome stranger to work for her, she doesn't know the secrets he's hiding. Or that becoming involved with him will embroil her with the Greek gods and goddesses.
Icarus and Eve must perform a quest set down for them by Zeus. If they are successful, will that be end of their relationship? Or will love teach them a new way to soar?
N.W. Moors lives in Portland, Maine, the land of lobster and pine trees. She grew up in Connecticut and retired north(it's nice along the coast in winter). She's a voracious reader and avid traveler - she loves to visit Great Britain and Ireland. Researching trips meant that she tries to learn as much about the area as possible and listen to great Celtic music. She's also a knitter and hiker/walker with two cats(the cats don't walk). She truly appreciates you sharing this adventure with her. She will continue to write about magic, love, and the small town of Antrim, Maine. Please leave reviews and like her Facebook page or follow her blog or twitter feed for further updates.
The imp had come to him where he sat on a pile of stones, watching Sisyphus roll his rock uphill unceasingly. Icarus had found that once he was used to his wings, boredom was his biggest torment in Hell. There was nothing to do. He did not delight in the suffering of others, and there was no other entertainment.
The little imp had bowed, then said in a high squeaky voice, "My lord, Hades, wishes you to attend him at once."
Icarus did not react. Better to not let the demon know how astounded he was by the summons. Instead, he stood up and followed the creature through the tunnels and caverns back to Hades' great hall.
He was bewildered when they bypassed the entrance of the Great Hall to instead pass through a tunnel where Hades and Persephone had their private apartments. The Queen of the Underworld was only there six months of the year, but Icarus had seen her from a distance. She was beautiful but sad-looking. Icarus wasn't sure if it were better or worse to be able to leave Hell for six months of the year. Still, it was something different he could spend hours pondering to waste more time.
The imp paused before a door and stepped aside to allow Icarus to enter. He did so with some trepidation and found a comfortable sitting area. There was a table that held the remains of a meal and brightly-colored flowers adorned a vase. Persephone must be in residence.
He waited near the door, sweat running down his back between his feathered appendages. While this room was cooler than most parts of Hell in deference to its Queen, it was still warm. And he was nervous.
Icarus startled when Hades walked into the room from an entrance tucked in a corner. He hummed to himself; the pleasant sound eased some of Icarus' dread.
Hades straightened up and smirked when he saw Icarus. He poured some wine into a goblet and sipped at the cup, licking a red droplet from the rim. He did not offer any to Icarus, who, though dead, still felt his mouth dry in a memory of thirst. Hades found his chair and sat, took another drink, then put the cup down precisely in front of him. He leaned forward and placed his chin on his fist, studying Icarus for a few long minutes. Hades did not speak during the entire performance.
Finally, he crossed his hands over his stomach. "Your father, Daedalus, has asked a boon of my brother, Zeus."
He paused again, obviously enjoying the suspense. Icarus refused to give him the pleasure he sought, so he kept his face impassive and waited, struggling not to give any sign of his shock and curiosity.
Hades rolled his eyes, then continued. "Your father is a favorite of my brother. He has created many amusements for Zeus over the years with his various inventions." Hades shrugged, picked up his goblet, then put the cup back again. He slid a long finger around the rim of the cup, round and round. His behavior made Icarus anxious; it wasn't like the Lord of the Underworld to be so hesitant.
"Your father has requested your parole, and Zeus has decreed that the time for your punishment is over. You have spent over two millennia in Hell with great patience and forbearance. So you are to be released." Hades raised his hand palm out when Icarus gave an involuntary jerk at the words. "There are conditions."
"Yes, my Lord," Icarus croaked. The dryness had spread from his mouth down his throat. There was a roaring in his ears, and Icarus felt like he might heave up the contents of his stomach if there was anything left in his nonliving body.
"You will be returned to Earth as a living being. Athena has agreed to give you knowledge of the modern world to help you assimilate. The manner in which people live today has changed considerably since your previous time on Earth."
"Thank you, my lord." He started to bow but stopped when Hades spoke once more.
"That is not all. Your wings."
Icarus's eyes widened in amazement. If he were to live among men once more, he would not be able to keep his wings. Perhaps Hades thought he would miss them, but it was not so. He hated them, the symbol of his downfall, and couldn't wait to get rid of them. Icarus would gladly give them up. So he was shocked at Hades' next words.
"You will keep the wings as a reminder of your transgression. Accommodation will be made so that the wings fold into your body, but you will have them as a constant memory of your sin against Apollo. It will set you apart from other men, even if only in your own mind. Do you agree to these conditions?"
Icarus did not hesitate. "Yes, my lord." He would reconcile himself to the hated wings for the chance to live as a man once more.
Hades nodded. "Then your father's boon is granted." He flicked a finger, and Icarus was assaulted with pain he had not felt since the wings had been added to his body. He fell to his hands and knees as his back was split once more and the wings folded inside his torso. He trembled with the shock, but the pain continued as his long dormant heart started beating once more. The agony of his body coming back to life was unbelievable, but he bore it. Long minutes passed until the torment finally ceased. He lay on the floor, sweating, and his renewed body ached from its rejuvenation.
When Icarus finally pushed himself up on his knees, Hades spoke again. "You now have what appears to be a long ridge of scar tissue on each side of your spine." Hades shrugged. "Explain them however you please if another human is curious. But the wings will appear when you need them and contract back into their compartments when you have finished with them."
Icarus clenched his fists but finally managed to get his legs underneath him and stood erect. His body felt odd without the weight of the wings dragging at his shoulders. Icarus grimly promised himself that they would never be freed from their compartment unless there was a dire need.
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