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Chapter no 4 – I Take a Himbo for Smoothies

The Chalice of the Gods

The first request arrived the next day.

At least I’d gotten through all my classes this time. I survived math, kept

my eyes open through English, had a nap in study hall (favorite class ever), and got to meet the swim team in seventh period. The coach said our first swim meet would be on Thursday. No problem, as long as I remembered not to breathe underwater, swim at Mach 5, or come out of the pool totally dry. Those things tended to get me strange looks.

It wasn’t until I was on my way to meet Annabeth and Grover at Himbo Juice after school that I got accosted by a god.

I was sitting on the F train when someone’s shadow fell over me. “May I join you?”

I knew instantly I was in trouble. Nobody talks on the subway if they can avoid it, especially to people they don’t know. No one ever asks if they can join you. They just wedge themselves into whatever seat is available. And besides, the car was almost empty.

The guy in front of me looked like he was about twenty. He had short-cropped black hair, large brown eyes, and coppery skin. He was dressed in ripped jeans, a skintight black tee, and various bits of gold: rings, earrings, necklace, nose ring, wrist bangles. Even the laces of his boots glittered gold. He looked like he’d just stepped out of an ad for some Madison Avenue boutique: Buy our jewelry and you will look like this dude!

I caught a whiff of cologne: something between clove and cinnamon. It made my eyes water.

He said something again. “What?” I asked.

He gestured to the seat next to me. “Oh. Uh—”

“Thank you.” He plopped down in a cloud of too-sweet-smelling fragrance and looked around the train at the six other riders. He snapped his fingers, like he was calling a dog, and all the people froze. Not that you could really tell any difference.

“So.” He spread his manicured fingers on his kneecaps and smiled sideways at me. “Percy Jackson. This is nice.”

“Which god are you?”

He pouted. “What makes you think I’m a god?” “Lucky guess.”

“Hmph. And I went to all this trouble to blend in. I even put on

clothes.”

“I appreciate the effort. Really.”

“Well, you’ve ruined my big reveal. I am Ganymede, beloved cupbearer to Zeus, and I need your help. What say you, Percy Jackson?”

The train came screeching into my stop. Annabeth and Grover would be waiting.

“Do you like Himbo Juice?” I asked the god.

 

 

 

I’d had all kinds of meetings with gods before, but this was the first time I’d ever taken one to a smoothie bar. The place was packed. Fortunately, Annabeth and Grover had scored our usual booth in the corner. Annabeth waved me over, then frowned when she saw the golden guy trailing behind me.

“We put in our order already,” she said as we slipped into the seat across from them. “I didn’t know you were bringing a friend.”

“Order for Grover!” said the server at the counter. Like most of the dudes who worked at Himbo Juice, he was huge and ripped and wearing a tank top, and his smile was blindingly white. “I’ve got a Fiji Fro-Yo, a Salty Sailor, and a Golden Eagle!”

“An eagle?! Where?” shrieked Ganymede, trying his best to hide under the table.

Annabeth and Grover exchanged a confused look.

“I’ll get the drinks,” Grover said, and he jogged over to the counter.

“The Golden Eagle is just a smoothie,” Annabeth told Ganymede, who was still hunched over and quivering.

Cautiously, the god straightened up. “I . . . I have some unresolved trauma about eagles.”

“You must be Ganymede,” Annabeth guessed.

The god frowned. He looked down at his shirt. “Am I wearing a name tag? How did you know that?”

“Well, you’re gorgeous,” Annabeth said.

That seemed to cheer up the god, though it didn’t do much for my mood. “Thank you,” he said.

“And Ganymede was supposed to be the most beautiful of the gods,” Annabeth continued. “Along with Aphrodite, of course.”

Ganymede bobbed his head like he was weighing the comparison. “I suppose I’ll allow it.”

“You used to be mortal,” she went on. “You were so beautiful that Zeus turned into an eagle and snatched you away, brought you to Olympus.”

Ganymede flinched. “Yes. Long ago, but it still stings. ”

Grover reappeared with a tray of smoothies. “I got you a Mighty Mead,” he told Ganymede. “Hope that’s okay. What did I miss?”

“He’s a god,” I said.

“I know that,” Grover said. “He’s Ganymede.”

“How did you—?” Ganymede stopped himself. “Never mind.”

“We were just about to hear why Ganymede came to find me,” I said. Grover passed around the smoothies. Salty Sailor for me, obviously—

just a hint of salted caramel with apples and bananas. The Fiji Fro-Yo was Grover’s. The Golden Eagle was Annabeth’s: turmeric, ginger, coconut milk, and a bunch of brain-food-type stuff, as if she needed any help in that department.

Ganymede thoughtfully stirred his Mighty Mead, occasionally eying Annabeth’s smoothie like it might grow claws and snatch him into the heavens. “I saw your ad on the bulletin board,” he began. “It . . . it also seemed too good to be true.”

“Thanks?”

“And all I have to do to reward you is write a letter of recommendation?” I bit my tongue to keep from making several comments: Tips are appreciated. Actually, our surge pricing is in effect. “That’s the deal.

And what is it have to do?”

 

 

 

“We,” Annabeth and Grover corrected me in unison.

Ganymede squeaked his straw in his smoothie lid. I hated that sound. “I have to be sure this is completely discreet,” he said, dropping his voice and peering around nervously, even though none of the other patrons were paying us any attention. “You cannot tell anyone else. Is that understood?”

“Discreet is what we do,” said Grover, who had once blindly dive-bombed Medusa in a pair of flying shoes while screaming at the top of his lungs.

Ganymede sat up a little straighter. “How much do you know about my responsibilities on Mount Olympus?”

“You’re the cupbearer of the gods,” Annabeth said.

“Must be a sweet job,” Grover said dreamily. “Immortality, godly power, and you just have to serve drinks?”

Ganymede scowled. “It’s a horrible job.”

“Yeah, must be horrible.” Grover nodded. “All that . . . drink-pouring.” “When it was just at feasts,” Ganymede said, “that was one thing. But

now ninety percent of my orders are deliveries. Ares wants his nectar delivered on the battlefield. Aphrodite wants her usual with extra crushed ice and two maraschino cherries delivered to a sauna in Helsinki in fifteen minutes or less. Hephaestus . . . Don’t get me started on Hephaestus. This gig economy is killing me.”

“Okay,” I said. “How can we help?”

I was afraid he’d subcontract his delivery business to me, and I’d end up bearing cups all over the world.

“My most important symbol of office . . .” Ganymede said. “Can you guess what it is?”

I figured this must be a trick question. “Since you’re cupbearer of the gods, I’m going to guess . . . a cup?”

“Not just any cup!” Ganymede cried. “The chalice of the gods! The goblet of ultimate flavor! The only cup worthy of Zeus himself! And now . . .”

“Oh,” Annabeth said. “It’s missing, isn’t it?”

“Not missing,” said Ganymede miserably. “My cup has been stolen.”

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