When Annabeth had said she needed the place for a meeting, she really meant it. For the next couple of hours, Silena observed two different phases of the meeting. Once Annabeth had aired her grievances, it seemed as if Hylla and Annabeth were circling each other, slowly getting the measure of each other and building some rapport, while also squeezing the extent of the problem from Elenore. Why Hylla would almost interrogate Elenore in front of Annabeth, Silena had no clue, but for whatever reason, the poor woman was now in the crossfire between the queen of the Amazons and an overall lovely but occasionally psychotic daughter of Athena. Once that was done, the women actually got down to the details.
For hours, the women poured over lists of pending orders – why they hadn't arrived yet, where they were now, and what compensation Annabeth might get for the late arrival or other workarounds to solve the problem. Slowly, Silena got the impression that Annabeth's role as the architect for Olympus was a bit bigger than she had originally assumed.
The meeting lasted so long that Silena had to hide a sigh of relief when Percy finally came back. Both Khione and Juniper had done their best not to make an appearance, and listening to the meeting had grown tiresome a while ago.
Percy froze when he spotted the still-running meeting and who the guests were. "Ah, Perseus!" Hylla greeted him brightly and rose to greet him.
With the attention now away from her, she gave Percy a very pointed look, trying to convey her silent plea.
"And you must be the people Annabeth wanted to meet," Percy deduced, and Hylla smiled. "We are," she confirmed.
"So, what are you guys up to?" Percy asked brightly.
"Union busting," Kinzie immediately replied, grinning innocently.
"I see," Percy said, giving Annabeth a quizzical look, who only nodded curtly.
"So, I will leave you to it. Gonna have to steal Silena, though," he announced, and Silena internally sighed in relief. She might not be as bad as Annabeth, but her ADHD had not been her friend in the past few hours, and by now her breasts were seriously getting uncomfortable.
So she bade her farewell and retreated downstairs, with Percy behind her. "You look very nice," Percy mused from behind her, and she gave her hips an extra sway, not so much that it would be obvious, but enough to make getting her out from behind the bar worth his while.
"Thanks," she said and smiled over her shoulder. They found Khione camping out downstairs in the kitchen. "Not gonna wear this one again," she muttered to herself.
"Huh, why?" Percy asked when she turned around, his eyes wandering up her body, very clearly appreciating how it left very little to the imagination when it came to her figure.
"Because it is too tight, in the wrong places," she said. "Hey, Khione, I will be right back."
She hurried back into her bedroom and quickly changed into sweatpants and a hoodie, and returned to the kitchen where Percy and Khione were quietly talking. Their conversation died when Silena entered the room. "You guys talking about me behind my back?" she asked jokingly.
"Had nothing to do with you," Percy said defensively.
"Just pulling your leg," she replied and pulled a tub of chocolate ice cream from the freezer and scooped herself some into the bowl.
"Good taste," Khione muttered.
"Something I should know about?" Percy asked, sounding mildly concerned as he looked at the ice cream doubtfully.
"Oh no," she quickly responded, realizing the potential implications of a girl holding a tub of ice cream. "I just really love ice cream."
Despite Hylla's support, the supply chain issues didn't magically disappear. However, Annabeth couldn't deny that the next day brought some relief when a sixteen-wheeler pulled up to the loading port of the Empire State Building, carrying a shipment of hardware that was desperately needed. It wasn't everything she had hoped for, but considering Annabeth suspected that Hylla had perhaps employed some forceful tactics with her mortal employees, she couldn't help but imagine a comical scene of minimum-wage workers being chased around by Hylla and Kinzie, clad in black leather costumes and swinging bullwhips.
The supply situation still left much to be desired, but slowly her projects were gaining momentum, and she managed to meet a couple of deadlines for wages that needed to be paid. Juggling her responsibilities of helping Sally, spending time with her boyfriend, and dealing with work-related challenges left little time for anything else. Thankfully, Piper had joined a study group with some classmates, reducing the amount of assistance she required from Annabeth.
"We never talked about what happened," Piper announced, having put on some unfamiliar Netflix shows.
"Huh?" Annabeth feigned ignorance, knowing exactly what Piper was referring to.
"The New Year's kiss," Piper pointedly reminded her.
"Oh, yeah," Annabeth acknowledged.
In hindsight, she wasn't entirely sure if it had been a wise decision. However, Percy didn't seem upset, and it appeared he didn't mind witnessing her kiss beautiful daughters of Aphrodite. "I hope you're not upset. I was really drunk..."
"No, not really," Piper replied, her voice slightly louder than intended, her cheeks flushing with color.
Embarrassed, Piper covered her face with her hands and rested her feet on the living room table. "And Reyna saw it all!" she complained.
"Reyna is chill," Annabeth innocently remarked. She had made her choice, and it was time to embrace it. There was no use in appearing indecisive.
"It was kind of hot, though," Piper playfully admitted, her cheeks bright with a blush.
"Well, Percy agrees with you there," Annabeth joked, earning another deep blush from Piper.
"If you think it was hot, maybe we should charge admission next time," Annabeth teased with a mischievous glint in her eyes, further teasing Piper.
Piper gasped and playfully swatted Annabeth's arm. "Oh, please, as if we need any more drama in our lives. But I have to admit, it did make for an interesting start to the year."
Annabeth chuckled, enjoying the light-hearted banter. "Yeah, it definitely added some spice to the festivities. I guess we can cross 'ringing in the New Year with a scandalous kiss' off our bucket lists."
Piper smirked, her cheeks still slightly flushed. "And with an audience, no less. Thanks for that, by the way. I'll never be able to look Reyna in the eyes again."
"Well, what are friends for if not to provide embarrassing moments for future reminiscing?" Annabeth quipped, raising an eyebrow. "That being said, if you ever want to make out again, let me know."
Piper rolled her eyes but couldn't suppress a laugh. "You're incorrigible, you know that?"
Annabeth's expression softened. "Yeah, kinda."
So, here you go nerds. This is a short one, and sorry for the long wait. Currently advancing this story is very tactical, hence a lot of consideration in what I post.
I am also getting sidetracked with "Watchers In The Dark". Kindly read and review, it is actually getting rather good.
That being said, I hope you enjoyed yourself.
Henry Locker over and out.