In the blink of an eye, she found herself flat on her back, lying on the black marble floor with Hades on top of her, holding her hands in his and preventing her from striking him again.
“I haven’t had so much fun in decades.” He laughed down at her, mocking her attempts to hurt him. “You’re going to stay and keep me company for a while. At least until you begin to bore me.”
Zerina lifted her head until her mouth came close to his shoulder. Before he could guess her intention, she latched on, biting down … hard.
“Dammit.” Hades tried to push her mouth away from his shoulder, but she refused to relinquish the flesh that was starting to tear. One of her hands became free when he tried to push her away from his shoulder, and she raked it down his cheek, leaving bloody gouges.
Hades swore as he pried her jaw open and away from his flesh. Lifting himself to his feet, he then waved a hand to close the gaping wound.
“Are you bored yet?” She spat the blood from her mouth at his feet, spraying the shiny shoes.
His voice became deadly. “Grimm, take Zerina to her new bedroom.”
Zerina screamed out in protest when Grimm lifted her to her feet. She pounded her fists against his chest and face, forcing him to drop his cloak as she tried to break away.
Zerina didn’t see the fist coming until it struck her cheek. A blinding wave of darkness overwhelmed her, and she slipped once again into unconsciousness.
Hades watched as Grimm slung the beautiful woman over his shoulder without remorse then headed toward the large doorway that would lead his servant through his palace to the room he had picked out for her.
“Be gentle with her,” Hades ordered.
Grimm nodded, gliding over the floor.
“Oh, and Grimm, don’t ever dare touch her again. That spitfire is mine.”
Grimm’s face paled in fear. Nodding, he escaped before Hades could reconsider and give him a punishment it would take a century to recover from. The only thing stopping Hades from doing so was that Grimm had brought him his new plaything that he had plans to enjoy to the very depths of his greedy soul.
Deciding to wear something different than she normally would have worn, she put on a pair of jeans and a form-fitting sweater that ended at her hips. The humans she had seen when gifting a child a soul had changed through the centuries. These were so thick she didn’t understand why humans found them so comfortable. However, she didn’t want to give Hades another opportunity to examine her body through the thin gowns she usually wore.
From her mother’s stories, she had imagined Hades’ domain, but it was nothing like she thought. Instead, his castle was cold, which was another thing she missed from home.
“Why so sad?”
“Jinx! Where have you been?” Zerina went to the fairy, who was suddenly sitting on her bed, trying to touch her.
“What are you doing?” Jinx asked with interest when Zerina’s hand passed through her.
Sighing, she sat down next to her. “I was seeing if you were really here or still outside.”
“You could have saved the trouble and asked. It tickled when you did that.”
“Where did you go?”
“I went home. I was hungry. Unlike you, I don’t have anyone concerned if I am hungry.”
Zerina didn’t look at the table of food that she had ignored when it had appeared after she had dressed.
She felt bad for the woman who spent much of her time alone, ostracized by both her magic and fairy kin. Neither of her kind wanted to accept Jinx, so they didn’t. Her homeland had rules that magic and fairies weren’t allowed to mate. Mother had made the rule to prevent them from conceiving a child. A child like Jinx who had the power of both worlds. Merlin and her mother had broken the rule, and they both had been punished by losing their powers until Mother had relented when Chronos had intervened. Merlin and Chronos were confidants, as her own mother was to Mother. Mother embraced Jinx when she was born, but it didn’t prevent her from being shunned by both families.
“I would if I could. It’s hard to feed someone who’s not really here.”
“It’s all good. I ate. I went to your mother’s castle and told her I was still looking for you.” Jinx made herself more comfortable on the bed.
“You didn’t tell her where I was?”
Jinx rolled her eyes. “Of course not. I told you I wouldn’t.”
“I know you did. I just don’t want my mother and father hurt because they are afraid for my safety. Did she look well?”
“Fate always looks beautiful. Destiny was there, and so was Valentine.”
“My father was there?” Maybe her, Cara, and Broni’s disappearance would draw them back together. She had never lost hope that her parents would reunite.
“Cara was there.”
“Cara was there? At my home?” Zerina asked excitedly.
“Yes, her and her husband Jericho.”
“Cara is married?” Zerina’s eyes filled with tears. She had always dreamed of being by her sisters’ sides when they wed.
“Yes, and he’s hot.” She made a sizzling sound, placing a thumb on the palm of her other hand.
“Who is he? Which god did she marry? Was it he who returned her home?”
“Aren’t you going to eat your breakfast?” She hopped off the bed, going to the table to stare down longingly at the bounty that Hades had sent her.
“No, I’m not hungry, and you’re not either—you just ate. Tell me about Cara!” she demanded.
Sitting down at the table, Jinx tried to grasp a piece of bacon. “I’ve always wanted to taste human food. What does it taste like?”
“Okay, okay!” She finally turned her attention back to her. “Cara married a human. She met Jericho Hawk when she was stranded on earth. Fate said they fell in love when she stayed with him while trying to find her way back home. Morgana tried to kill them, but your brother stopped her.”
“You have more than one brother?”
“You know I don’t,” she snapped, wanting to shake the fairy silly for drawing out her explanation.
“You have no sense of humor.” Jinx gave a long, drawn-out sigh. “Yes, it was Thor who carried them home. Cara had been made mortal, so he killed them both, making Cara Moirai when he returned her and Jericho to Fate’s castle.”
“As a god, Thor had the power to return Cara’s power, but how did he carry Jericho?”
“You want me to explain or not?” Jinx made a face at her interruption.
“Please.” Zerina went to the table, taking a piece of bacon and chewing it in enjoyment, just to irritate her.
Jinx narrowed her eyes at her. “You’re not worried that, if you eat something from earth, you won’t be able to return home?”
“That’s an old wives’ tale.” Taking another bite of bacon, she sat down at the table. “Tell me about Jericho, or I’m going to eat the waffles.”
Jinx appeared at the table, staring down at it longingly. “It’s a good thing you’re my friend, or I would put a spell on you to make those waffles go to your hips.”
When Zerina reached for the waffles, Jinx started talking again.
“Jericho is a demigod. Of course, Cara didn’t know that until Thor carried them home and Fate told her.”
Zerina wanted to cry in relief at her sister being home and finding a mate worthy of her.
“Fate also told me that Broni has been found and is living on earth with her new husband. She won’t be able to return until Mother allows her punishment to end. Seems like she’s been going back and forth in time with Chronos’ help.”
“Is she safe?”
She shrugged. “Depends on what you consider safe. I wouldn’t want to be mortal and face the challenges she has. But Broni has always enjoyed fighting battles, so I’m sure she feels right at home. I’m sure the handsome man she married is keeping her warm,” she joked.
Zerina didn’t think anything that Jinx had told h
er was a joking matter, but she could no longer control her emotions, knowing her sisters had been found and were safe.
“Why are you crying?” Hades materialized beside her chair.
Zerina quickly brushed her tears away, debating to tell him what Jinx had told her. When his eyes turned toward Jinx, she decided to tell him.
“Jinx just told me that Cara and Broni have been found.”
“Ah … so they are tears of happiness.”
“Yes. You could have told me if you wanted to,” she said accusingly.
Hades sat elegantly down at the table, placing a napkin neatly over his dark pants. “I would have, but I wanted to save you the heartache of searching for a way out of my domain to find Broni.”
The idea had already occurred to her, but it would be impossible without his help. Even if she found a way out of his domain, she would need to find which time period Broni was living in. Again, she would need Hades’ help if Jinx wasn’t able to create a spell to transport her to Broni.