The Girl Games.pdf
Joan Holub is the author of more than 130 books for young readers, including the Goddess Girls series, the Heroes in Training series, Zero the Hero, Vincent van Gogh Sunflowers and Swirly Stars, and Shampoodle. She lives in North Carolina. Visit her at JoanHolub.com.
Suzanne Williams is the author of thirty-five books for young readers, including the Goddess Girls series, the Heroes in Training series, Library Lil, Ten Naughty Little Monkeys, and the Fairy Blossoms and Princess Power series. She lives near Seattle in Washington State. Visit her at Suzanne-Williams.com.
WE ARE STANDING IN THE COURTYARD OF Mount Olympus Academy,” a goddessgirl named Artemis announced to the tour group gathered around her. The seven girls in her group, who were visiting MOA for the next few days, followed her gaze. The majestic academy—built of gleaming white stone and surrounded on all sides by dozens of Ionic columns—stood right behind her at the top of the granite staircase.
Pointing down, Artemis continued, “The white marble tiles beneath your feet were brought here from a quarry in”—she brushed her curly black hair from her eyes and glanced at the official MOA tour guide scroll in her hands—“Thasos.”
“Wherever that is,” she heard one of the Amazon girls in her group whisper. Her name was Penthesilea. Dozens of silver bracelets jangled noisily on her arms as she moved. Another Amazon girl, named Hippolyta, smacked the gum she was chewing and shrugged.
Ye gods! Why did I have to get these two mean Amazon girls in my group? Artemis wondered. They wore platform sandals, stood ten inches taller than any of the other girls, and were known for being bold and brash. Still, they didn’t have to be rude!
Artemis’s goddessgirl friend, Persephone, sent her an encouraging smile. She was helping lead the group and was always trying to make sure everyone got along.
“Remember,” Persephone whispered to her. “These girls have traveled a long way to get here from schools on Earth and other realms. They’re tired and probably anxious about the Games this Saturday. So let’s cut them some slack.”
Artemis nodded. In truth, she couldn’t really blame the Amazons for being a teeny bit bored. They’d come to take part in the very-first-ever girls-only Olympic Games. Only two days away! A thrill of excitement shot up her spine at the thought of the upcoming competitions.
Although everybody was calling them the Girl Games, their official name was the Heraean Games. Zeus, the principal of MOA, had named them after his new wife, Hera. And it was Hera’s idea to have MOA students give these tours to visiting girl athletes.
It was a good idea, Artemis supposed. The problem was that she didn’t really have time to play tour guide. She had too much other stuff to do to get ready for the Games. Like her, these girls would probably rather be off practicing for their own athletic events right now. After all, there wasn’t much time left!
Noticing that Artemis had gone quiet, Persephone took over as tour guide for a while. “Let’s go look inside the Academy next,” she suggested to their group. Her long, wavy red hair brushed her pale arm as she turned and led them all up the granite staircase.
Artemis followed, her mind full of the megazillion tasks she still needed to do to make sure that everything on Game Day would go off without a hitch. These girls-only Olympics had been her idea, and she didn’t want them to bomb. How awful would that be?
Her stomach tightened as she pushed through the enormous bronze doors of the Academy. Just thinking about the possibility of failure stressed her out. Everyone was counting on her.
An awed silence fell over the girls in their group as they filed inside, entering the main hall. Persephone went over to a golden fountain against one wall. She turned it on for a second so that glittery liquid spurted from its spout in an arc.
“Instead of water, the fountains here at MOA spout nectar,” she said.
“That’s what Immortals drink to make their skin shimmer, right?” interrupted a mortal girl in their group. “What would happen if I drank it?”
“Nothing. It has no effect on mortals,” answered a green-skinned mortal MOA student passing by. Medusa. She and another mortal girl named Pandora were leading a tour group of six girls.
Medusa was wearing her stoneglasses, which were sort of like sunglasses. Without them, her gaze would have turned Pandora and every other mortal she gazed upon to stone. Including the Amazons.
Hey, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing! Artemis thought, grinning to herself.
“Isn’t this the most awesome school ever?” Pandora asked her and Medusa’s group. Then, without waiting for an answer, she fired off more questions. “Did you notice how the domed ceiling overhead is covered with paintings celebrating the exploits of Olympic gods and goddesses? And see that one with Zeus battling giants as they storm Mount Olympus carrying spears and torches? Doesn’t it just give you the shivers?”
As a fitting symbol of her curiosity—and constant questions—Pandora’s blue bangs were plastered against her forehead in the shape of question marks.
“Are any of you swimmers?” Artemis heard Medusa ask as the group continued down the hall. A few girls nodded. “Then you’ll be competing in the Games with me,” she informed them. “And,” she added slyly, “my snakes.”
On cue, her snake hair writhed and hissed, making the other girls step back warily. All except one of the Chinese girls, who said, “No problem. I like snakes.”
As Medusa, Pandora, and their tour group rounded the corner and went out of sight, three of MOA’s cutest godboys entered the front hall from the other direction: Ares, Poseidon, and Apollo. As soon as they saw the new girls, they began to show off.
Ares flexed his muscles. Poseidon twirled his trident (a three-pronged spear) over his head. And Apollo, who was Artemis’s twin brother, flashed his widest smile and waved.
Artemis rolled her eyes. She was just about to shoo them all away when a mortal boy came to join them—Actaeon. Seeing him, her face grew hot. He was her crush. She wasn’t totally sure he liked her, and she didn’t know if he knew she liked him either. It was all very complicated.
Feeling weirdly shy, she looked away from him. Her eyes happened to fall on one of the Amazons—Penthesilea, who was staring from her to Actaeon and back again. Catching Artemis’s gaze, she smirked knowingly.
“Ooh! Those MOA boys are so cute,” Penthesilea cooed. “Especially that mortal one. Right, Hippolyta?” She elbowed her friend.
Hippolyta smacked the pine gum she was chewing, her expression a mixture of surprise and confusion. “Uh, yeah, sure. I guess so.”
Grrr. Artemis glared at them. Amazons had the reputation of being sports-crazy, not boy-crazy. So why was Penthesilea suddenly acting so ga-ga over Actaeon?
Ares and Poseidon decided to head down the hall after Pandora and Medusa’s tour group. But Apollo and Actaeon broke away and came over to Artemis’s group. Penthesilea’s bracelets clanked as she ran a hand over her short brown hair. She smiled at Actaeon and he smiled back.
“Back off. Actaeon’s my crush!” Artemis told her. Well, she didn’t say it out loud, of course—just in her head.
“How’s it going, sis?” Apollo asked.
“Hi, Artemis,” Actaeon said at the same time.
At the sound of the boys’ voices, Penthesilea pretended to swoon. The quick-thinking Actaeon caught her before she could hit the marble floor. Unfortunately.
“Thanks,” Penthesilea murmured, smiling up at him and batting her eyelashes.
What a faker! thought Artemis.
But Actaeon just grinned at the Amazon girl. “Sure. Anytime.”
Apollo’s eyebrows rose. “Whoa! I’ve never had a girl faint at the sight of me. Usually they run away.” It was true. Her brother’s first crush was a nymph who’d turned herself into a laurel tree rather than tell him she didn’t like him.
Actaeon slapped him on the back. “Maybe things are looking up for you, god-dude,” he said with a grin.
It was nice of him to say that, thought Artemis. Only, she was pretty sure that it was Actaeon rather than Apollo that Penthesilea had pretended to swoon for.
“I’m Penthesilea,” the Amazon girl informed Actaeon in a high, flirty voice. “But you can call me Penthe. What’s your name?”
Artemis’s fist closed around her guide scroll, crushing the middle of it flat. Noticing her reaction, Persephone quickly stepped between Penthe and the boys. “That’s Actaeon,” she piped up, pointing at the mortal boy. “And this is Artemis’s brother, Apollo.”
Good thing Persephone was a pro at jumping in to smooth over awkward situations, thought Artemis.
Persephone’s introductions gave Artemis time to take a deep breath. Principal Zeus had said that part of the purpose of the Games was to promote a friendly cultural exchange. They were supposed to be on their best behavior. So, beaning Penthe over the head with her tour guide scroll probably wouldn’t be the best way to impress Zeus. And it definitely wouldn’t promote goodwill among cultures! Artemis relaxed her fist.
Boom! Boom! Boom!
Godzooks! Speaking of Principal Zeus, here he came now, stomping down the hall toward them wearing a dazzling white tunic and golden sandals. The girls in her group gasped, their eyes rounding. She couldn’t blame them. He was pretty intimidating.
Artemis expected him to pass them by without speaking. But to her surprise, he stopped. Yikes! Right in front of her!
His piercing blue eyes practically bored holes right through her. “Aren’t you the one in charge of the Games?” he demanded.
Her throat tightened a l...
The first-ever standalone superspecial in the Goddess Girls series—let the games begin!
Athena, Medusa, Artemis, and Persephone are sick and tired of being left out of the annual boys-only Olympic Games. Their solution? The Girl Games! But as the Goddess Girls work to make their dream into a reality, they come up against plenty of chaos and competition. Told in alternating points of view, this superspecial is packed with Olympic spirit!