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For Sharie, the best sister an only child ever had
The ability to control and move liquids. Density of liquid affects level of control. Water is the easiest liquid to manipulate because, with the exception of dramatically dry environments (i.e. Las Vegas, Sahara Desert, Australian Outback), it is always present in the surrounding air.
DYNAMOTHEOS STUDY GUIDE © Stella Petrolas
An honest-to-goodness goddess.
With superpowers and everything.
Okay, so I’m just a minor, minor, minor goddess. Technically, I’m supposed to say hematheos, which means godly blood, or part god, but goddess sounds much more impressive (to the like ten people I’m allowed to tell). There’s no percentage requirement or anything—all that matters is having a god or goddess somewhere up the line, and my great-grandmother, it turns out, is Nike. The goddess; not the shoe. That makes me a tiny leaf on a narrow branch of the massive and ancient family tree of the gods.
So I can say with only minor hesitation that I, Phoebe Castro, am a goddess. The thing is, I only learned this about myself a few months ago—when my mom married a Greek guy and transplanted me halfway around the world to the tiny island of Serfopoula.
I spent the first seventeen years of my life believing I was a perfectly normal girl from a semifunctional family with a deceased dad and a workaholic mom. Then wham-o, I find out Dad’s dead because he disobeyed some supernatural edict and got smoted to Hades and I am, in fact, part of the fully dysfunctional family of Greek gods. Talk about your issues.
Being part goddess comes with some serious perks, though. Namely powers. I can pretty much do whatever I want whenever I want so long as I don’t break any of those aforementioned supernatural edicts. These include, but are not limited to: no bringing people back from the dead (not a problem because, even though I’m dying to see my dad again, I don’t actually want to die to do it. I have a lot to live for—like my fabulous boyfriend, Griffin Blake), no traveling through time in either direction, and no using your powers to succeed in the nothos—the normal human—world.
These seem like no big deal, right? Well, they wouldn’t be ... if I could keep my powers under control. But that is way harder than I ever imagined.
My stepdad, Damian Petrolas—part god himself—says it’s going to take time and training. Everyone else at the Academy—the ultra-private school for the descendants of Greek gods where he happens to be the headmaster—has known about their powers almost since birth. They started learning how to use them properly before they could walk. But even they sometimes have trouble keeping their powers under control, like last September when my not-yet-boyfriend Griffin accidentally knotted my Nikes together during cross-country tryouts.
Like I said, I’ve only known about these powers for a few months and these things aren’t exactly easy to control. Once, I slept through my alarm and tried to zap myself to class before the bell—my first-period teacher, Ms. “Tyrant” Tyrovolas, has a zero-tolerance tardy policy—and wound up crashing a parent-headmaster conference in Damian’s office. Can you say detention?
Clearly it’s going to take a while to figure this out.
So I could spend more time on my powers training, Damian banned me from running more than five miles a day until school let out (last week, thank Nike!). Even my cross-country coach at the Academy, Coach Lenny, supported the reduced running time. He says I can never race in the Olympics if there’s a chance I might accidentally turn my competitors into molasses or something. Only the lure of the Olympics could convince me to cut back on running. That and the fear of accidentally getting myself smoted by the gods. Eternity in the underworld is a pretty big deterrent.
All the time I used to spend on cross-country I had to spend on learning to control my powers. Not that all the extra training helped much. Countless after-school sessions and weekend lessons—with Damian, Griffin, my friends Nicole Matios and Troy Travatas, various Academy teachers, or, on days when the Fates were feeling vengeful, my evil stepsister, Stella—and I’m still a menace. No matter how many times I close my eyes and concentrate on moving the book across the table, sensing my instructor du jour’s thoughts, or manifesting an apple from thin air, it inevitably backfires. Hideously.
Sure, with Griffin’s help I figured out how to turn Stella’s hair green for Mom and Damian’s wedding, but my attempt at zapping myself some new Nikes ended very, very badly. Let’s just say I like my toes and I’m thankful every day that I have all ten of them.
Now it’s summer break and I still have only limited control.
I’m back to my regular running schedule, training for the Pythian Games trials, which are just two weeks away, and wondering whether my next powers screwup will be the one that lands me in Hades.
Some days I wish I’d never learned the truth. Life would be so much less complicated if Mom had never met Damian. Right now, I’d be back in L.A. with Nola and Cesca, enjoying my last summer before college by spending hours on the beach. Maybe finally learning how to surf from some hottie surfer boy who would totally fall in love with Nola and—
I shudder at the sound of Damian’s voice echoing through the house. He sounds really, really, really upset.
“Yes?” I answer as sweetly as possible from the relative safety of my bedroom. Not that walls hinder his ability to read minds—or sense fear.
I watch the door nervously. I know it’s a bad sign when I see water streaming under the crack, flowing into the grout lines between each tile and pooling in the depressions of the age-worn ceramic surfaces.
“Trust me,” Damian says from the other side of my door, “you do not wish to make me open this door myself.”
I leap up from my desk chair and, neatly avoiding the rivulets lacing across my floor, pull open the door. “Damian, I’m—”
My mouth drops open and my apology sticks in my throat.
Normally impeccably-dressed-in-a-suit-and-tie Damian is standing there wearing board shorts, Birkenstocks, and a shark’s-tooth necklace. Oh, and he’s soaking wet.
“Omigods, Damian,” I blurt, staring instantly at the floor—I do not need to see my stepdad’s bare chest, thank you very much. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to, um . . .” I wave my hand up and down in his direction, still averting my eyes. “Sorry, sorry, sorry. I was just thinking about how much I miss L.A. and that I’ve never learned how to surf and now that school’s out I could go if I didn’t have the Pythian trials and my stupid powers weren’t—”
Damian holds up his hand and takes a deep, deep breath. He lets it out super slow, with a little bit of a growl from the back of his throat. And then he takes another. And another.
I’ve really done it this time. I mean, the palm tree in the living room had been bad enough, but he is clearly beyond furious at the moment.
Instinctively I inch back a step . . . right into a growing puddle. The sloshing sound of me smacking into the water breaks his deep breathing.
“I am not angry with you,” he says, carefully enunciating each word. “Truly.”
I’m not convinced.
He runs a hand through his wet hair, sending a fresh spray of water droplets everywhere.
“Oh, for Hera’s sake,” he mutters. For a second I’m nearly blinded by a bright glow, and when I open my eyes again, Damian is back to his dry, fully clothed self. The puddles are still there. “Let us speak in my office, shall we?”
I hang my head and follow Damian through the house. Why do these things keep happening to me? I mean, you’d think after all these months I’d have improved a little. At least enough so that things wouldn’t go haywire when I’m just randomly thinking about completely non-powers-related stuff.
“Please.” Damian gestures at a chair in front of his desk. “Have a seat.”
Sinking into the soft leather—hard-core-hippie Nola would have a field day with the cruel and unnecessary use of animal hide—I try to clear my mind of all thoughts. It’s thinking that gets me into trouble. If I could go the rest of my life without thinking, then—
“I know you are using your powers neither carelessly nor intentionally,” Damian says as he lowers into his chair. “But in the several months since your powers first manifested, your control has not improved. In fact”—he pinches the bridge of his nose like the idea of my uncontrolled powers gives him a headache—“it may have gotten worse.”
Worse? My heart sinks. I’ve been spending hours upon hours working on controlling my powers. All right, some of those hours—okay, many of those hours—were spent with Griffin. And maybe we don’t always spend every second on my training, but hey, a girl can’t focus on work all the time when in the presence of such a god. Can she?
“I don’t blame you, Phoebe. We both know that, since you are the third generation removed from Nike, your powers are stronger than most. It is not surprising that you are having difficulty controlling them.” He smiles kindly and my stomach kind of clenches.
I don’t need pity . . . I need help.
“I don’t know what else to do,” I say, trying not to whine. I am so not a whiner. “I’m sorry. I’ve been working hard. Maybe I just need a little more time.”
“Unfortunately,” he says, “we have little time left.”
Little time left? What is that supposed to mean? No one ever said anything about a time limit. No learn-to-use-your-powers-by-summer-or-else speech. Suddenly I have an image of myself, chained to the wall in the school dungeon—not that they have one, but this is my nightmare and I can be as creative as I want—being tempted by cheesy, yummy bougatsa I’m not allowed to eat until I learn to—
“Phoebe,” Damian says, interrupting my fantasy of torture and bringing my attention back to his desk—which is, I realize with sad resignation, now covered in the cheesy pastry treat. Damian waves his hand over the bougatsa, erasing it as quickly as it came, and says, “Please, try to restrain your rampant imagination. No one is going to torture you for your lack of control.”
“Sorry,” I say for like the millionth time. I don’t mean it any less, but it’s starting to feel like the only thing I know how to say.
I shake off the self-pity. Feeling sorry for myself is not going to solve the problem.
Excerpted from "Goddess Boot Camp"
Copyright © 2010 Tera Lynn Childs.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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