X-ray technologist and College Instructor Meredith “Merry” Ainslie is fast approaching middle age and learning that her passions are not well-served by good decision making. While she struggles to save an already doomed marriage, a series of chance encounters foretell profound changes taking place around and within her. Men are becoming infatuated with her, and she’s inclined to believe something she was told long ago—she may be one of the Goddess Aphrodite’s chosen daughters.
Merry forms an unlikely friendship and strengthens two others as she learns she’s not the only one with a suddenly unbolted sexual drive. When she and her three friends seek answers, they find themselves privy to a little-known legend of the Goddess Aphrodite, also known as Cytherea.
The prophecy qualifies them to fulfill Cytherea’s ancient promise to the Titans that her four slain daughters would live again in every generation. Should they prove themselves worthy, each will receive a gold bracelet that had belonged to the Goddess herself and will take her place as a beloved Daughter of Cytherea.
Meredith Ainslie walked into her classroom at the Rhode Island Community College, ready to begin teaching third semester Radiographic Positioning. The lecture hall held seventy-five persons in theater-style seats. Her roster of twenty-eight students showed the usual twenty percent drop from the first semester, due mostly to failings in the rigorous two-year program. Unfitting the stigma of community college curriculum, the Radiologic Technology Program was difficult to get into and grueling to complete. Meredith sympathized with her students’ challenges, having graduated from the program only a few years previous.
At thirty-two years old, Meredith was no older than half her students. The program’s pre-requisites took her years to complete, and like most everyone who entered the program, she spent three years on a waiting list. Rhode Island Community College was the only facility within a hundred-mile radius to offer the program. Unless they came from out of state, all Radiographic Technologists in the area had graduated from RICC. Meredith considered herself very lucky to have been hired as an instructor, even though she only taught two courses—first and second year positioning.
She peered up to see familiar faces crowding the lower two-thirds of the semi-circular room. Triple checking her attendance list she breathed a sigh of relief, seeing that one name, in particular, wasn’t on it.
“Good morning, everyone,” she sang out in her cheeriest voice, slinging her white canvas bag onto the desk. “Welcome back.” Reaching into the bag, she produced a tall stack of papers and thumped them onto the small desk. “The dreaded second-year syllabus,” she warned in a playful but histrionic tone. “Your second-year clinical reassignments are in. If you don’t like the switch, talk to Dr. Cummings...if you dare.”
“Merry?” Delilah Comestock asked. “Do we really have a test on week three?”
“Relax, Lila,” she assured. “Distal phalanges to the glenoid fossa and everything in between. Nothing you can’t handle. Remember your acronyms like Steve Left The Party To Take Carol Home and Dip-Pip. You’ll be fine.” Waving the attendance sheet, she called out, “Same rules on attendance. Never miss a day...never be late. Sheet’s comin’ around.”
Handing the sheet to Delilah, Meredith returned to the front desk as the door opened. She jerked like a hip-hop dancer as a bolt of shock stunned her. Reginald Reggie Harris scurried in. “Sorry I’m late, Merry,” he offered as he started up the aisle.
Meredith’s lower lip quivered as she forced in a breath. A bead of sweat squeezed out between her brows and ran down the side of her nose. It pooled at the corner of her mouth as if daring she lick her lips.
“Ruh-Reggie,” she stammered. “Can I have a word with you...outside the door?”
Dropping his bag on a seat, Reggie jogged down the stairs and out the door as Meredith held it open. “Hey, Merry,” he acknowledged, standing a full foot taller than her. “I know the rules on tardiness—”
“Tardiness?” she interrupted, peering into his hazel eyes. “You were dropped from the program...at my request! You and I agreed on that much.”
“Merry. I’ve got too much invested in this. I went to Dr. Cummings.”
“So did I, dammit!” grunted Meredith in a raging whisper. “I’m still trying to put my marriage back together!” She huffed out a gasp, raking her hair behind her ear as a full-time professor passed by.
Reggie nodded as the man passed, then turned back to Meredith, reaching out his hand. Meredith flinched and pulled back. “Relax,” he insisted, showing the paper in his hand. “It’s my clinical assignment.”
She snatched the paper and opened it, looking through the door of the lecture hall to assure they were out of sight from the class.
“North County Hospital,” he proclaimed. “I asked for it...cuz I know it’s not on your visitation schedule. Kelly handles North County.”
“Visitations are just an hour every other month, Reggie, but class is twice a week. I told my husband you left the program...that I’d never talk to you again.”
“So, don’t tell him I came back. You told me to leave you alone and I will.”
“Just like that?” she asked. “You can just...forget?”
“I won’t forget, Merry, but I’ll leave you alone. What happened between us...it just happened...like it had to or something. But it’s done. I get that.”
“It’s done, alright. I’m going to Dr. Cummings after class.”
“Listen,” he proposed in a soft, promising tone. “You’re the only instructor for this course. I’m gonna mind my own business...do my clinical, take my classes and graduate. I won’t ask for anything, but I’m staying in the program. I waited five years to get in, so don’t ask me to leave.”
“I’m dropping you first chance I get,” she warned in her best attempt to sound intimidating. “And if you so much as smile at me, I’ll call security.”
Reggie tendered a daring smile, then turned and bolted to his seat.
“In trouble on day one, Reggie?” Delilah jested.
“Bite me, Lila,” he replied, plopping into his seat.
“Hey,” Meredith called. “I think you two are going to be in clinical together. Get along.” Taking out a packet of scan sheets, she clunked them down next to a pile of papers and proposed, “Let’s do a pretest. I won’t score it, but be sure you get the answers. The test will look remarkably similar.”
The class knew the drill from the first two semesters. They filed down, each taking a test and a scan sheet before returning to their seat. Meredith tugged at her sundress and sat. She logged onto her faculty account and began reading her department email. Dr. Cheryl Cummings, the Department Chair, had corresponded only minutes before. Meredith, please see me briefly after class. Attached is your updated class roster. Opening the attachment, Meredith gleamed at Reggie’s name, added early that morning. Her conscience began to flutter in chaotic glimpses.