“Well spotted,” I said. “I suppose the lower body of a horse is what gave him away?”

She punched me in the arm.

“Chiron,” I said, “this is Meg McCaffrey, my new master and wellspring of aggravation. You were saying something about disappearances?”

Chiron’s tail flicked. His hooves clopped on the planks of the porch.

He was immortal, yet his visible age seemed to vary from century to century. I did not remember his whiskers ever being so gray, or the lines around his eyes so pronounced. Whatever was happening at camp must not have been helping his stress levels.

“Welcome, Meg.” Chiron tried for a friendly tone, which I thought quite heroic, seeing as…well, Meg. “I understand you showed great bravery in the woods. You brought Apollo here despite many dangers. I’m glad to have you at Camp Half-Blood.”

“Thanks,” said Meg. “You’re really tall. Don’t you hit your head on light fixtures?”

Chiron chuckled. “Sometimes. If I want to be closer to human size, I have a magical wheelchair that allows me to compact my lower half into…Actually, that’s not important now.”

“Disappearances,” I prompted. “What has disappeared?”

“Not what, but who,” Chiron said. “Let’s talk inside. Will, Nico, could you please tell the other campers we’ll gather for dinner in one hour? I’ll give everyone an update then. In the meantime, no one should roam the camp alone. Use the buddy system.”

“Understood.” Will looked at Nico. “Will you be my buddy?”

“You are a dork,” Nico announced.

The two of them strolled off bickering.

At this point, you may be wondering how I felt seeing my son with Nico di Angelo. I’ll admit I did not understand Will’s attraction to a child of Hades, but if the dark foreboding type was what made Will happy…

Oh. Perhaps some of you are wondering how I felt seeing him with a boyfriend rather than a girlfriend. If that’s the case, please. We gods are not hung up about such things. I myself have had…let’s see, thirty-three mortal girlfriends and eleven mortal boyfriends? I’ve lost count. My two greatest loves were, of course, Daphne and Hyacinthus, but when you’re a god as popular as I am—

Hold on. Did I just tell you who I liked? I did, didn’t I? Gods of Olympus, forget I mentioned their names! I am so embarrassed. Please don’t say anything. In this mortal life, I’ve never been in love with anyone!

I am so confused.

Chiron led us into the living room, where comfy leather couches made a V facing the stone fireplace. Above the mantel, a stuffed leopard head was snoring contentedly.

“Is it alive?” Meg asked.

“Quite.” Chiron trotted over to his wheelchair. “That’s Seymour. If we speak quietly, we should be able to avoid waking him.”

Meg immediately began exploring the living room. Knowing her, she was searching for small objects to throw at the leopard to wake him up.

Chiron settled into his wheelchair. He placed his rear legs into the false compartment of the seat, then backed up, magically compacting his equine hindquarters until he looked like a man sitting down. To complete the illusion, hinged front panels swung closed, giving him fake human legs. Normally those legs were fitted with slacks and loafers to augment his “professor” disguise, but today it seemed Chiron was going for a different look.

“That’s new,” I said.

Chiron glanced down at his shapely female mannequin legs, dressed in fishnet stockings and red sequined high heels. He sighed heavily. “I see the Hermes cabin have been watching Rocky Horror Picture Show again. I will have to have a chat with them.”

Rocky Horror Picture Show brought back fond memories. I used to cosplay as Rocky at the midnight showings, because, naturally, the character’s perfect physique was based on my own.

“Let me guess,” I said. “Connor and Travis Stoll are the pranksters?”

From a nearby basket, Chiron grabbed a flannel blanket and spread it over his fake legs, though the ruby shoes still peeked out at the bottom. “Actually, Travis went off to college last autumn, which has mellowed Connor quite a bit.”

Meg looked over from the old Pac-Man arcade game. “I poked that guy Connor in the eyes.”

Chiron winced. “That’s nice, dear….At any rate, we have Julia Feingold and Alice Miyazawa now. They have taken up pranking duty. You’ll meet them soon enough.”

I recalled the girls who had been giggling at me from the Hermes cabin doorway. I felt myself blushing all over again.