“Don’t yell at me. I was only at Fate’s castle for a short while, and I may have had too much to drink, so I didn’t realize that Broni could be in any real danger. But if you remember … Never mind, your mind was on your waffles. I never said she was safe. Dionysus decided to make some humans Drearien. They are in a clubhouse that has become a sanctuary for humans seeking safety.”
“How bad is it?”
“Earth has been nearly destroyed. Food has become scarce, and what humans are left have turned into roving gangs who kill to survive.”
“And my sister is there?” Zerina grabbed Jinx’s hand, jerking her off the bed. “You might not be able to transport me, but you can show me the way out of here.”
Jinx tried to pull her hand away from her grasp. “Broni has her husband to protect her. Rhys has several warriors from Valhalla to make sure no harm comes to her. Which is more than we have. I don’t know my way out of here; we can get lost.” She fearfully shook her head, the fake sunlight from the window hitting the different colors of her hair and making it glitter. “Believe me; you don’t want to get lost in Hades’ castle.”
“Why do you look so scared? Did Hades do something to make you afraid?” If Hades had taken Jinx to the pit and given her the same punishment he had given her, the arrogant god, she would …
Her thoughts drew to a stuttering halt. She had no power to pay Hades back. She couldn’t even find a way to pay him back for the time she had spent in the pit.
She smoothed her hair back, going to the dressing table to find a comb to brush it. Twisting it into a tight knot, she secured it to the top of her head with a pearl pin as Jinx watched.
The fairy was inquisitive, watching every move she made.
“Why are you always staring at me?”
Jinx tugged her top down. “You’re graceful when you move. I’m clumsy. Most of the women I know have left me to fend for myself. I want to be more feminine like you.”
“Jinx, you’re very feminine, too. It’s the accidents you cause that put the other fairies and goddesses off. You tend to draw trouble whenever you’re near.”
“The more I try to make others like me, the more it backfires.” Her somberness didn’t last long. Giving another bounce off the bed, she said, “What do you want to do? Grimm showed me around briefly. For some reason, he was in a big rush. You want to go to Hades’ game room? Or go for a swim?”
Zerina bit her lip. She wanted to try to reach Broni. “You truly don’t think you can find our way out?”
The fairy was lying. Did she fear Hades? Should she press her to help? Even if she found her way out, would she be able to find Broni? Powerless, she was useless. If Dionysus did find her, she would have no way to run from him. He was a god, and without her powers, she wouldn’t be able to escape him, just as she hadn’t been able to escape from Hades’ watchful eye. Which would be worse: Hades or Dionysus?
Not able to answer her own question, she thought it would be wise to wait. If Mother wanted her here, then she would stay, despite how much she wanted to get away from Hades.
If his sexual appeal hadn’t been at the forefront of every confrontation with him, she didn’t think she would have been so antagonistic toward him. That and the way Grimm had killed her to bring her down to the Underworld. It was kind of hard to forgive.
She would work on forgiving Grimm and try to avoid contact with Hades until Dionysus was caught. In the meantime, she needed to discover if Jinx knew the way out. That way, if Hades tried to punish her again, she would be able to escape.
“Then let’s go play. Maybe we can talk Grimm into joining us. He’s cute and broody. Just how I like my men.”
“That’s not going to happen.”
“Why not? I can mate with whomever I want. I haven’t pledged myself to anyone. He has a dark soul, but half of me is white. It’s when two dark souls unite that Mother frowns down upon.”
Zerina shuddered. When two dark souls united, the outcome could be disastrous. Evil that could be born from such a union, becoming the nightmares told about in human’s myths; the monsters so terrifying their human minds couldn’t accept.
“That wasn’t what I meant. I was talking about Grimm. He doesn’t have a playful bone in his body.”
“There is only one bone on his body I am interested in,” Jinx quipped. “I’m tired of being a virgin, and Grimm is just the man who can get the job done.”
“You have gods and immortals chasing you across dimensions; why would you choose Grimm to give your virginity to?”
“Have you not seen him without his cloak?” Jinx kissed the tips of her fingers on one hand. “He is ooh, la, la.”
“I’ve seen him without it, and I can honestly say …” Zerina tried to think of a delicate way to say what she was thinking. “Grimm may be too big for you to …”
“Fuck? Zerina, that’s a fairy’s dream come true.”
“Come on, Zerina; don’t be so shy. I want to swim. There’s no one around,” Jinx coaxed, swimming through the water and seeing Zerina just sitting on the large boulder.
“Hades could show up at any time.” Zerina shook her head, denying herself the lure of the water.
“We haven’t seen him for the entire month I’ve been here; why would he show up now? Come on.” Jinx splashed water toward her. When Zerina reluctantly rose, Jinx then started slamming her hand down on the water, chanting, “Take them off. Take them off!”
“Shush! He’ll hear you.”
“Mother, please! He has better things to do than watch you to take your clothes off. Besides, he can do that any time he pleases.”
Zerina carefully stepped onto the slippery rocks that led toward the water. She had taken off her jeans, yet left on the gauzy top. Her long black hair fanned out around her. “How deep is it?”
“It’s deep in the middle. Shallowest under the waterfall.”
Zerina turned sideways, the cool water rising to her thighs. It rose to her waist as she stood under the waterfall.
“This is fantastic.” Zerina leaned her head back, letting the water hit her head.
“I told you,” Jinx said from the other end of the pool.
The two stayed in the water until they grew tired. She was too damp to put her jeans back on, and growing frustrated, she just carried them over her arm as they made their way through the tunnel to the castle. When they past Maxi, though, she stopped to look at the hole that he had been digging when they had passed him on the way to swim.
“Is it me, or has that hole gotten smaller?” Zerina asked Jinx, who had also stopped to watch his progress.
“It’s smaller,” she whispered, rolling her eyes at the man who kept digging away.
A loud moan filled the chamber, causing both her and Jinx to turn toward the sound. Jinx went toward the tunnel that the sound had come from.
“Jinx, let’s go. Hades warned me not to go in the other tunnels.” Zerina had become accustomed to the look of curiosity on Jinx’s face.
“You stay here. I’ll be right back.” The fairy disappeared, leaving her alone in the tunnel with Maxi.
Several minutes passed. Zerina was furious at her friend. She was tempted to leave the woman behind and return to her room alone, but what if she was trapped in a chamber and couldn’t get out? Or worse, what if a prisoner had her and wouldn’t let her go?
She had dried enough to be able to put her jeans back on. She took a tiny step toward the mouth of the entrance, trying to look inside the dark depths. Unlike the ones that Hades had shown her, this one was so dark and gloomy she couldn’t see.
? Zerina called out, taking another step closer.
She spun around to see Maxi watching her before he went back to digging.
Zerina moved back from the tunnel, going toward the one that would lead upward to the castle. She really, really didn’t want to call out for Hades and get Jinx in trouble for being where she wasn’t supposed to.
Another moan came from the tunnel.
“Jinx, when I find you, I’m going to pull all your gold strands out.”
Jinx was proud of her gold strands. Usually, fairies had only colors or silver ones.
When Jinx didn’t reappear, Zerina knew she was in trouble.
She took one of the torches off the wall then went toward the tunnel.
“Don’t,” Maxi warned again.
“I can’t leave her,” Zerina said as she took a step inside the tunnel, expecting Hades or Grimm to appear at any moment.
The sounding moans echoed throughout the tunnel. The farther she walked, the fainter the sound became.
“Jinx?” Zerina called out, shivering in the damping gloominess, hoping her friend would hear her and answer. Only the moans answered her.
She took several steps forward. Now the plaintive cries were growing farther away. She stopped again. She didn’t know why, but she placed her ear to the stone wall, and then fell back when a huge door appeared.
Ignoring the instinct to run, she slowly opened the creaking door, then wished she hadn’t.
Hades stopped her before she could run.
“Come inside, Zerina. We’ve been waiting for you.”
Zerina tried not to focus on Hades as she reluctantly entered. The dungeon she had been inside was much different than this one.
She didn’t take her eyes off Jinx’s terrified ones.
“As you can see, you’ve found her.”
“Let her down.”
Jinx was hanging from her legs upside over a pit. She was swinging over it as she tried to escape the rope that was wrapped down her body, pinning her arms to her side.
Zerina’s eyes traveled the length of the rope, seeing it was attached to a hook on the high ceiling.