Chapter 1 – On the road

As far as anyone from work knew, I was taking part in a three-month research project on the Sand Tiger sharks in Long Island Sound. As far as I knew, the only marine life in our bay was sea monsters but I figured I could make something up the night before I had to go back to work. I'm pretty good at "working out" most things to do with water/fish/amphibians/marine mammals. I guess it's hereditary.

Annabeth was basically a free agent – she was heading the New York sector of a London-based architecture and landscaping company. They had practically begged her to join and couldn't refuse her all summers off forever in exchange for her ingenious visionary talents. This meant we had the entire summer to ourselves...

And I was pretty sure I knew what to do with it.

"Aren't you excited? My gods, I can't believe it's been a year. Can you believe it's been a whole year? And last year was so extreme right after we graduated. Can you believe we are now working adults? Can you believe we even made it to adulthood? We must be the luckiest half-bloods in the world...."

Annabeth's mouth carried on going at a faster mile per hour than the car. It made me happy to see her so excited again and to be honest I was crazy excited too. I really couldn't believe it had been a whole year or that we were working adults or that we had made it to adulthood. I should technically have died seven years and nine months ago. But here I was aged twenty-three, in my fancy new car, on the Long Island expressway, next to my insanely gorgeous albeit wound-up girlfriend on my way to the best place on Earth. And just when I thought my life couldn't get any more fantastic, I remembered the padded blue box in the front pocket of my suitcase and grinned wider than the Pacific Ocean.

"Take the left exit here and for gods' sakes, Annabeth, calm down! Seriously, put both hands on the steering wheel or we're swapping seats and I'm driving!" I said, laughing as she jiggled impatiently in her seat.

"I'm sorry it's just... I've missed camp so much! I mean, except for Chiron, who have you missed most from camp? For me it's definitely Daisy or Juniper. Probably Daisy because I love Juniper but, well, she's a tree, you know? And trees are really not that deep except Thalia, of course, my gods, Thalia! I really wish she could be there, but she's probably off trying to slay some monsters. Or men. But the difference isn't all that great so..."

I whacked her on the head with my map and immediately regretted it. "Annabeth, steering wheel, two hands!" I shouted, fearing for our lives and my car.

"Relax, Seaweed Brain. I want the satisfaction of your death in the arena later; I'm not going to kill you now."

"Ha ha," I said sarcastically, "You know you can't beat me at anything but a pop quiz, Wise Girl."

"Oh yeah," she replied, rolling her eyes, "Stupid invincibility!" She leaned in and kissed me on the end of my nose making me temporarily forget my surroundings. Not for long though.

"Annabeth! Eyes on the road!"

She rolled her eyes again. "We're basically there anyway, Seaweed Brain" she insisted "Relax!"

I spent the rest of the car ride watching the sunlight glance off her golden hair and wondering how my life got quite so fantastic.