There were also pictures of women that weren’t human. Empousa was a goddess whom everyone hated enough to spread the rumor that she had lost her power and had one leg of bronze and another one like a donkey. In her portrait, she was lying nude on a lavish bed, both shapely legs visible.
Jinx saw where she was staring and asked, “Do you think they are down here?”
“Yes.” Zerina lay back on her bed, staring up at the ceiling morosely.
She missed her mother, father, and sisters. Having never been separated from them, Hades’ castle seemed more cold and quiet. She was used to Broni and Cara bantering back and forth. Her mother’s stories of gods, goddesses, and immortals. Her father’s quiet presence as they strolled through his gardens. No wonder Hades looked for diversions, being removed from the beauty of the heavens and the distractions at Mother’s court. Her only hope was that he would become bored with her and give her freedom back.
Jinx settled down next to her as the scene outside the window grew into one of darkness with a bright moon and stars shining.
“He doesn’t seem so bad,” she tried to console her.
“He isn’t nice, either,” Zerina warned. “He doesn’t contain the souls that are doomed to stay here forever by being nice.”
“I don’t think most of the women complain about being here if they can see him every day,” she mused.
“You have a one-track mind.”
“Yes, I do.” Jinx sighed. “He’s sexy as—”
“Will you stop saying that?”
“Well, he is,” she muttered in a staccato voice.
“Go away, Jinx. I’m going to sleep.” Zerina rolled to her side, away from the irritating woman.
“Are you mad at me?” Zerina could hear the subtle hint of hurt in her voice.
Sighing, Zerina rolled back over. “You can stay if you let me go to sleep.”
Obediently, Jinx closed her eyes. Zerina closed hers also, comforted that the other woman was next to her, even though she was an apparition.
Drowsily, she raised her lashes. “If you find the entrance, don’t come inside. I don’t want you to become trapped.”
Jinx didn’t open her eyes when she replied, “I’m not making any promises until I see the size of his dick.”
Zerina pulled her pillow out from under her head, tempted to smother her. Instead, she used it to cover her eyes from the glow of the moonlight.
“You know what your problem is, Zerina?”
“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”
“You’re too prissy. You should learn to relax more.”
“You know what your problem is?”
“You won’t shut up.”
Zerina woke to the sun outside her window and Jinx gone. She went to the closet that she had discovered was full of clothes when Grimm had thrust her inside the bedroom. That had been after her first meeting with Hades. It was a meeting she would never forget.
The stories her mother had told her as a child concerning Hades eclipsed seeing him in person …
“Broni, you know you will see her again,” Zerina comforted.
Broni nodded. “I don’t know why I’m crying.”
“Because your part in her life is at an end. She no longer needs you to fight for her, and that is hard for you. I feel your sadness. I was part of her birth, saw life enter her, and it was with sadness that I saw this happening, but we can do nothing else, other than assist. We cannot interfere.”
Both women watched as Cara spoke to the little spirit, though neither could hear her words.
Zerina made an offer she had never made before. “Would you like to help escort her?”
“How is that possible?” Broni questioned.
“With Cara’s help, we can travel with her to the doorway. Mother is at the council; she won’t know until her return.”
Broni smiled. Zerina was always trying to please those she loved. She was the most powerful of the three, often not able to show emotion at the decisions her job demanded.
Zerina’s gift was to find the right spirit for their physical forms. Present at the birth of each child, she often had to make decisions that Broni didn’t know if she could make, especially if the soul would be entering a home where it would not be properly loved or cared for. Zerina often said those required stronger souls, because they had to survive despite those hardships.
Cara turned and held out her hand, and Broni took it, instantly becoming ethereal. She then realized Zerina was holding her other hand. Linked, they were now able to see Adoni’s spirit.
“Are you angels, too?”
“We are not angels; we are Moirai.”
“Moirai?” Adoni questioned.
“We are your guides through life. Zerina was with you at your birth, Broni helped and protected you through your physical life, and I am Cara. I am here to help you to your new afterlife.”
“Am I being punished for disobeying my mother? She told me I was never to ride alone, but it was such a beautiful day that I could not resist.”
“It had nothing to do with you disobeying your mother. It is time for your beautiful spirit to move forward to a new life. Do you remember when you and your mother moved to a new village? How frightened you were? How much you came to love your new home?”
“Yes, but my mother was there,” Adoni whispered.
“Your mother cannot be with you yet; it is not her time. When it is, you can greet her, and she will not be as frightened. You will be able to introduce her to all your new friends. But this time you must be brave on your own, Adoni. I promise you have nothing to fear.” Cara read her thoughts. “Broni will look out for your mother, as she has protected you.”
Broni spoke up, “I have been by your side during your many illnesses. The night you escaped the fire that burned down your home, I made sure you awakened in time to escape. I give you my word; I will protect your mother.”
Reassured, Adoni turned to Cara. “I’m ready.”
Cara and the others slowly began to slip away, carried away in what seemed like rushing wind but wasn’t. Movement became nothing more than a moment in time until it seemed as if they were walking in the sky itself with bright stars surrounding them.
Broni understood now why souls could become lost. There were so many directions and bright lights glittering in the darkness. The vastness of it all would have been overwhelming without Cara’s help.
Without hesitation, Cara guided them through the darkness, leading them to a destination that only she knew.
Adoni suddenly tried to break free and move toward one particularly bright light, but Cara tightened her grip on the girl, moving her forward.
“That doorway is not yours, Adoni.”
“But I want to go there. It’s so beautiful.” Adoni became petulant. Being young, she was attracted to the beautiful doorway.
“It is, but yours is just as beautiful.” Cara inexorably moved the girl forward. It was as if there was a path only she could see.
Suddenly, a bright light was before them. Cara stopped before they came within touching distance, mere inches away.
“It’s not as large as the other one.” Disappointment and fear were the emotions Cara sensed within Adoni, as well as something Cara couldn’t quite put her finger on.
“Darling, the size doesn’t matter; only what is inside. Your doorway is just different than the other, not better or worse.”
Adoni nodded, relieved. “Will I see you again?”
Cara turned and looked into the bright light, studying it for several minutes. “Yes, you will see us again and soon.”
Cara tried to hide the apprehension she was feeling from the girl, but Zerina and Broni knew something was wrong.
“Go, Adoni. My sisters and I must leave, and I want you safe before we go.”
Zerina and Broni began to feel a disturbance around them. Broni’s instinct to protect Adoni again flared within her, but she wa
s unable to move, holding each sister by the hand. If she released Cara, she and Zerina would be lost in the dark maze, but if she released Zerina, then she would be lost alone.
Cara pushed Adoni toward the light, and as soon as she entered it, she disappeared. Then Cara turned toward her sisters. Clasping Broni’s hand tighter, she hurried through the darkness.
“Do you feel the disturbance?” Cara spoke quietly.
“Yes, we must hurry. Someone is following us.” Broni kept her voice firm, not wanting her sisters to feel her impending sense of doom. Her feelings were never wrong; they had saved more than one soul.