“Why is Zerina so important?”
“He wouldn’t tell me. Knowing Chronos, he probably had one of his visions.”
“He went to a lot of trouble to have her killed. He would have succeeded if Grimm hadn’t found her.”
“Have you asked Zerina if she has any idea?”
“I didn’t want to frighten her. She’s sensitive.”
“Like I don’t know that. I was ready to throw myself in the fire pit when she was wandering around through the tunnels after she found out you have concubines. I would have—”
“I know what you would have done,” Hades cut him off. “Lucky for her, she’s not yours. She’s mine.”
Hades recognized the gleam in Zeus’s eyes. Jealously.
He took a step toward his brother when a terror-stricken cry drew his full attention to Zerina.
“What is it?” Zeus paled at the expression that crossed Hades’ face.
“Chronos and Merlin have made their move. So, what’s it going be Zeus? Are you going to be their pawn, or are you going to be the king you were meant to be?”
“What’s happening?” Abby screamed as she held the end of the bar to keep from falling.
Zerina looked at her mother as she held on to it also.
The earth had started shaking as she and her family had been waiting for the men’s return.
“We are being attacked.” Fate had made her way to the window to stare outside.
“By whom?” Cara held on to the wall as she made her way to the window.
Zerina took Broni’s, and together they managed to steady themselves to stand beside their mother.
“Mother above!” Zerina whispered.
The sight she saw was beyond anything she had seen before.
“What is that thing?”
“That is Typhoeus. He’s been imprisoned beneath a mountain. He’s broken free.” Fate put a shacking hand on the windowsill.
Fate pointed at those who were following behind the volcano god’s path of destruction.
“The bastard!” Destiny shoved herself to the front of the crowd who was gathering to watch inside. Screams filled the air as those outside ran, trying to find a place to hide from the wind that was battering them.
Valentine went to open the door to let them inside.
“Don’t open the door,” Fate ordered as the gate outside flew toward the sky until it was out of sight.
“We can’t just leave them outside!” Cara turned to open the door herself, but Fate stopped her.
“They’re already fleeing from the back. Chronos doesn’t want them.”
“What does he want?” Zerina watched as Typhoeus stopped moving, letting the wind die down.
“He’s about to tell us.”
Chronos moved his chariot until he could be seen over Typhoeus’ enormous body.
“Send Zerina out!” Chronos shouted.
Zerina’s hand went to her chest, seeing everyone’s eyes on her. “Me? Why does he want me?”
“Typhoeus could crush this place with one foot; why aren’t they?” Broni asked, tightening her grasp on Zerina’s hand.
Fate didn’t take her gaze away from the window. “Because he wants her alive.”
“Stay still.” Fate nodded her head back to what was happening outside.
Zerina looked. “Mother!”
Zerina saw Mother appear outside the window. Her regal body blocked the clubhouse as Jinx appeared next to her.
“Wife, I see you have decided to show yourself.” Chronos wasn’t intimidated by her arrival.
“You no longer are a husband of mine. I have put up with you for far too long. If Jinx hadn’t warned me, you would have had casted a spell so that I wouldn’t be able to protect what I created.”
“It would have been easier for you that way. Now you will witness earth’s destruction firsthand.”
“Why, Chronos? Why earth? You will destroy your sons and everyone connected to it?”
“Earth is where you derive most of your power. These humans are weak, but they worship you instead of me! If my sons don’t stand with me, then they are against me, so why should I care if they are destroyed?”
“No one is standing against you. You are just as beloved as me. But that isn’t enough for you, is it? Nothing will ever be enough for you, until you are standing alone. Who will you rule then?”
Chronos’ expression grew triumphant. “I’m not the one standing alone.”
“Neither am I. You are a coward, Chronos. You came here with those who have betrayed my love to attack a place that is filled with women and a messenger of love. It’s easy to be brave when the odds are in your favor.”
Mother took a brave step forward. “Warriors!”
Zerina and the others saw Hades appear. She gave a fearful gasp as he strode over to stand behind Mother’s left shoulder.
She was so busy watching Hades, it was only when Zeus stopped to stand at Mother’s right shoulder that she saw him.
Broni and Cara both repeated her gasps when Jericho and Rhys appeared, with Balder by his side, axe in hand. They moved to spread out beside Hades.
A flash of lightning slammed toward the spot next to Zeus as Thor took a place next to him.
The next to arrive was Odin and his warriors from Valhalla. Odin crossed his arms as he moved to stand next to Thor, his men lining up behind him.
Valentine went to the door as other gods and goddesses appeared. Zerina knew where he was going, so were Destiny and her mother, who moved toward the door.
She and her sisters started to go also.
“No, Destiny,” their mother interrupted, “stay here and don’t let them come out. Cara and Broni, stay and protect your sister.”
Destiny hugged Fate and Valentine before returning to their side.
Zerina stared at her parents, her heart aching, afraid of what was about to happen. “I’m going—”
“There’s a reason that Chronos wants you. Stay.”
It was the hardest thing
she had ever had to do to—watching them go out the door without her.
They watched as Fate and Valentine took a place in the expanding line to stand behind Mother.
“I wish I had been able to meet my nephew.” Cara and Jericho had left their newborn son in the safety of their mother’s castle.
“You will,” Cara assured her.
The sisters stood side by side, watching as Chronos’ army gathered around him. Montu, the Egyptian war god; Dionysus; Merlin; and Aeolus moved to stand by Chronos’ chariot. Then Ares jumped up onto the chariot that held Chronos.
Zerina wasn’t surprised to see Aphrodite in the middle of the crowd. The two lovers always stuck together. Mother had been a vocal opponent of their continuing affair. Atlas and Nereus appeared, shoving their way to the front of the line.
When the former king of the sea’s appeared, Poseidon appeared next to Hades. They clasped each other before facing forward again.
Both Mother and Chronos had built their armies until they were spread out as far as the eye could see. Mother’s outnumbered Chronos two to one.
Zerina grew even more fearful that her grandfather didn’t seem worried by Mother’s numbers.
“You can stop this now, wife. Give me Zerina and return home,” he shouted out.
“I do not believe, even with Zerina’s help, you can beat me,” Mother raised her voice back at him.
“She has the Omphalos stone. I saw her holding it in one of my visions. I want her, or there won’t be a speck of dirt when I’m finished.”
“I don’t have it,” Zerina whispered in the mounting tension of the clubhouse. “I’ve never seen it.”
“There won’t be anything, regardless if she does give it to you.” Mother didn’t get angry often, but when she did, then… Chronos and the army behind him tensed at her glare, waiting to see who would make the first move. “You think you can beat me with that paltry army? You have my permission to make the first move.”
“I don’t need your permission. But if you’re stupid enough to put your faith in those behind you, who am I to argue? Morgana!”
Zerina clutched the windowsill until her fingers turned white as Morgana exultantly stepped forward to grasp Merlin’s hand, which they lifted into the air, chanting a spell that opened a doorway.