“No one should be here. I am the only one able to follow these paths.”
“They are following us. They wish to destroy us.” Broni’s battle instincts were surging through her body. She wanted to stay and face the approaching enemy, but would not risk her sisters’ safety.
“Whatever happens, we cannot release hands. You will become lost and disoriented without my help,” Cara spoke hurriedly, feeling the danger draw nearer. She was practically running through the corridor. “Can you tell what it is?”
Both women shook their heads as Cara rushed along the unseen path with her sisters desperately trying to keep up.
“We’re almost there.” Cara could see their doorway just ahead.
They each prayed to reach the doorway before whatever danger stalking them struck.
They were inches away when they were suddenly hit with a power surge, knocking them apart.
The next thing Zerina knew, she was shivering in the frigid air, crouching low behind a large trash container in a parking lot. With trembling fingers, she brushed her damp tresses away from her face. She was so cold. How was she going to survive without warmth or shelter?
She was terrified, tendrils of danger had the hair at the nape of her neck rising. The shadowy figure that had chased them through the Halls of Death was near.
She gazed around the dark parking lot, trying to come up with a plan. Her appearance alone would raise questions that she wouldn’t be able to answer without her sanity being questioned. She also didn’t want the one who was responsible for her predicament to find her, so she decided to stay hidden until she could come up with a plan to find Broni and Cara.
The freezing cold that was slowly making it impossible to move left no doubt in her mind that she was now mortal. Her powers were gone.
The large building she was hiding in the shadows beside was a hospital, the structure easily recognizable, as it was one of the few structures she could visit on earth.
She shook not only from the cold but the fear of children being born during her absence. They would be soulless, mere shells, until they grew into demons and begot devastation among the humans.
She shakily reached out, bracing a hand on the large metal trash container, forcing herself to rise from the damp concrete.
Seeing that the parking lot was briefly empty, she made for a side door where she had seen employees enter. Reaching the doorway, she prayed to Mother that the door would be unlocked.
Thankfully, she had gone back in time far enough that the doors didn’t have to have a code punched in. At first, she thought it was locked. Then her fear gave her the adrenaline rush she needed to open the heavy door.
The empty hallway was filled with carts of dirty linens.
The sound of another door opening startled her. Seeing a door to the side, she rushed inside and closed it behind her softly. Her breaths sounded loud in the dark room.
Tiredly, she leaned against the wall, holding back the desire to burst into frightened tears.
Zerina forced herself to gather her scattered wits and begin to piece together who was responsible for the treachery that had placed her and her sisters, Cara and Broni, in danger.
A slight movement behind her had her freezing in place. Then an icy-cold body pressed against her back.
A terrified scream parted her lips, but before it could escape, a hand closed over her mouth.
Zerina struggled against the cold hand covering her mouth. Kicking backward was useless, since her feet were covered in soft slippers.
The command didn’t pacify her fears.
Increasing her struggles, she almost managed to break away, when she was pressed harder against the dark cloak he was wearing. It hindered her efforts to get away as he wrapped it around her, enveloping them both inside.
“I’m trying to help warm you. You’re freezing,” his chilly voice sounded in her ear.
She had only met Grimm a few times over the centuries, yet she recognized his voice. It was hard not to. It dripped icily, as cold as the body against her.
She had always hated to see him when a child’s soul had met an end. Only three times had a child’s soul found its way to Hades. Each had been a reincarnated soul that had slipped underneath Mother’s guard.
Dark laughter filled the room. “I just saw Cara. They left me in a predicament.”
They? Her heart lightened to know that Cara was safe. But was he referring to Broni, too, when he mentioned ‘they?’
“Unfortunately, they took a soul that I was sent for, and now I have no way home.”
Grimm’s hand left her mouth. The moment of relief was short-lived when she felt his hands on her throat, tightening, preventing any sound she would make.
Struggling, she tried to break his death grip, as her oxygen-deprived lungs began to burn.
“Don’t worry; it will only hurt for a moment.” With cold precision, Grimm told her she was going to die.
Spots filled her vision, faltering her struggles as she lay limply against him, his grip never lessening. Her tear-filled lashes closed as the sound of her heart slowed then stopped.
He was right; she had felt no pain. The only thing she felt before she lost consciousness was his cloak enveloping her closer to his lean body as he lifted her into his arms, enclosing her in darkness.
Her last glimpse of anything was a doorway appearing and swinging open. Grimm carried her forward as a silent scream filled her head when she saw where he was taking her.
Zerina slowly regained consciousness to the feel of a cold, smooth floor against her cheek. Her vision swam as she tried to blink her eyes open, seeing the shiny black marble against her face.
Placing a hand on the smooth surface, she managed to raise herself to a sitting position.
“I see you’ve finally wakened.”
Her gazed jumped to the man sitting casually on a large desk a few feet from her.
“Rise, Zerina. Let me have a good look at you.”
She found the strength to stand, swaying unsteadily. The cold that had been assailing her moments before was gone, replaced by a heat building in her body from the tips of her toes in her thin slippers, gliding upward through her body until she felt as if she were burning alive.
She fell to her knees, clutching her belly. “Stop it!” she screamed.
“Too much?” The indolent seductiveness of his voice tore through her body, making the fire between her thighs unbearable.
A small scream escaped as she felt a rush of wetness leak from between her clenched thighs.
She might have been a virgin, but she was smart enough to recognize what had just happened to her body.
Hades stood, wearing a black silk dress shirt tucked into a pair of black slacks that didn’t hide the bulge that he was plainly unembarrassed by.
As he stood over her, Zerina tilted her head back so she could glare up at him.
“Mother will punish you for bringing me here!”
“Are you afraid, Grimm?” Hades didn’t even look at Grimm, who was looming next to her.
“Not really.” The caustic reply had her head snapping to the man who was removing his cloak.
Hades shrugged. “Oh well, I guess I’ll worry about that when she comes for a visit. Grimm, when was the last time my mother came for a visit?”
r /> “I guess that’s why I had trouble remembering.” He traced a lean finger down her cheek, leaving a trail of fire. “Don’t worry; she won’t be coming any time soon. We’ll have plenty of time to get to know each other better. Much better ...”
Zerina jerked away from his touch. “Don’t touch me!” she snapped. “I demand you have Grimm return me to my home!”
His soulless eyes stared down at her in amusement. “What you want is not important. What I want is. Don’t worry, Zerina; I’ll make sure you’re very well taken care of.”
When he crouched down in front of her, she scooted back from his closeness, feeling like she was going up in flames, that the only part of her that her mother would retrieve would be her ashes.
How could women bear to touch the dark king? She had heard that a few of the goddesses had snuck down for a night of pleasure, many trying desperately to return for another, only to find the passage barred. Hades only allowed them one night in his bed. Therefore, many had found themselves wandering the earth, looking for an entrance that opened only when Hades wanted it to.
“My mother and father will come for me.”
“I’m not afraid of your parents. Fate, I can handle, and Valentine cannot step foot in my domain. He can only go where love can exist. Hades has never known the emotion of love. Lust, greed, hatred … now those are all emotions I’m very familiar with down here. I plan on introducing you to some of them, especially lust.” His eyes dropped to the cleavage that her white gauze dress left exposed. “Especially lust.”
She slapped him across the face that was leering at her. “You touch me and I will …” Her words stuttered to a halt.
“What, Zerina? What could you possibly do to hurt me? I, on the other hand, have many ways in which I can hurt you. Some of them pleasurable. Some, not so much. I find I like the occasional bite of pain when I’m fucking. How about you?”
“You bastard. I’ll give you all the pain you want if you dare touch me!” Zerina threw herself at him. All the stress of becoming lost in the Halls of Death, terrified for her sisters, then having Grimm kill her were more than she could take.