She would never figure men out. Her mother had told her she never would.
“All gods believe their cocks are bigger than the others’. They strut around as if no other god can satisfy you like they can. If you love them, it’s your job as a woman to make them believe it.”
“Even if it’s not true?” Zerina had asked her mother.
“If you love them, then it is true.”
“What if you don’t?”
“Then my question to you, daughter, is: why would you care about a god’s cock if you didn’t love him?”
She paused in the doorway of the library. She had come downstairs to search for a book to read. Changing her mind, however, she stood there in indecision.
Sighing, she turned to see Hades standing behind her. “I’m not in the mood to read a book.”
“I have time if you want to play chess?”
“No, thank you.” Spending time alone with Hades was not on her agenda. She had no intention of sinking further in love with him. “I’ll just go back to my room …”
“There are a few places I haven’t shown you yet.” A frown appeared on his brow, as if he were already regretting his decision to show her.
“That would be nice, unless you’ve changed your mind? I didn’t mean to disrupt your day. I had intended to read. I can find a book and return to my room.”
“I’ll show you.” Hades held his hand out toward her, and Zerina smiled, taking it. He then stared down at their clasped hands, his frown growing darker when she had trustingly taken it. “Zerina …”
Zerina sighed. “Hades, if you’re going to warn me about having ulterior motives to seek a way to escape, you’ve already warned me. You can easily read my mind; do you see any deception in there?”
“Then you don’t need to repeat that warning. And if you’re worried that I will make more of it, I learned that lesson, too. May we go now?”
“Yes.” His face etched in a compromising line. “You can watch, but don’t talk and don’t sway my opinion.”
Zerina found herself transported to his office, where Hades motioned for her to take a chair that sat behind his desk to the left. He gave her an enigmatic expression as he took his seat behind his desk.
With a wave of his hand, Zerina was startled when she saw a doorway appear across the room from her. She twisted her hands in her lap as Grimm came through the doorway, carrying the soul of an attractive woman with brown curly hair. Her slim, struggling body was then thrown to the floor in front of Hades’ desk.
The sight had a nightmarish quality that had her reliving when she had been tossed down in front of Hades.
The woman scrambled to her feet, screaming and running haphazardly, looking for the doorway that had disappeared after Grimm had carried her through.
Hades idly raised his hand, freezing her in place.
Zerina was moved to pity at her horrorstricken face. She wanted to leave, but remained sitting, knowing how frightened the woman was. She had been terrified when it had happened to her, and she was Moirai who knew Hades was real. Most humans didn’t really believe in Hades until they were confronted with him in the flesh.
Hades gave her another warning look as he stood up in front of his desk, leaning indolently back on it.
“Where am I?”
“Come on, Sena; you’re not that naïve.”
“I’m in Hell.”
Hades nodded, his arms crossed as he stared at her.
“I didn’t do anything to be here.” While her body remained frozen, it didn’t affect her ability to speak.
“You and I know that is untrue. I know you weren’t responsible for contracting the death of your husband, but you were instrumental in the death of your mother-in law.”
“No! I’m innocent. That happened years ago. I was found innocent!”
“True. Time has treated you well. You were allowed to live your life without any repercussions. Unfortunately, that life has ended and you have entered another chapter of your life where you won’t find it so comfortable.”
“I’m innocent. Why should I have to pay for something I didn’t do?”
“My court does not have twelve jurors where your lawyers can cast doubt on your innocence.” Waving his hand, he let Zerina see what had transpired through her mind; how Sena had committed the crimes that Hades spoke about. From Sena’s gasp, she knew Hades was replaying it in her mind also.
“My husband was a monster …”
Hades shook his head before she could finish. “He wasn’t a monster. I’m the only monster you’ve ever had to face. Your mother-in-law was frail and eighty-four years old. She did nothing to deserve you taking her life, other than holding on to the purse strings that kept you from buying that expensive home you wanted.”
Hades then showed the painful death the elderly woman had been forced to endure.
His newest prisoner’s eyes widened, then turned cunning when she realized there was no way to lie herself out of trouble.
“The woman was an old bitch. I’m not sorry she died. I should have done it sooner.” Calculatingly, the dark soul tried to hide her true color. “What are you going to do to me?” she asked suggestively.
Hades arched a perfect brow. “What do you suggest I do?”
Zerina began to feel uncomfortable at the blatantly sexual look she was giving him.
“It might not be so bad here if we can come to an agreement on how I spend it. I don’t mind putting out to make my stay more comfortable. I’m not into that BDSM shit, but I’ll make an exception for you.”
“So, me chaining you up wouldn’t bother you?”
“No, I’m game if you are.”
Hades tsked her. “I’m afraid you don’t measure up to the women who share my bed.”
“Baby, we don’t have to use a bed. I can get as down and dirty as you want.”
“Now, that’s an offer I’ll take you up on.” When he waved his hand, Zerina saw Sena morph into a small snake. Zerina winced when Grimm picked it up. “Send her to Stheno,” Hades said as he went back to his chair.
The snake disappeared from Grimm’s hand as he turned back to the doorway that reappeared.
When he left, Hades swung his chair toward her. “You want to leave, or stay and watch another?”
“I’ll stay.” She watched as the doorway opened again. This time, a young man was flung inside.
Hades stayed seated, lifting one of the balls that sat on his desk. “Welcome, Flynn.”
Zerina recognized the dark soul of the young man. It was one of the souls she had hated gifting to the unsuspecting parents.
“You don’t need me to explain where you are?”
“I know where the fuck I am.” His ugly soul didn’t bear a resemblance to the handsome face that stared back at Hades in contempt. “I’m not afraid of you. I’ve done worse than what you can do to me.”
“I may not have your imagination, but I think I can come up with an appropriate punishment for you.” With a negligent wave of his hand, Flynn disappeared as Grimm left.
“Why didn’t you show me his crimes as you did Sena’s?”
“I saw no need to ruin yours or my lunch.”
“Yes,” Hades answered bleakly. He might have spared her the memory of the atrocities the man had committed, but Hades couldn’t spare the reality of Flynn’s crimes.
Hades didn’t ask again whether she wanted to stay or go, as one soul after another were brought before him.
The variety of punishments Hades gave out had her glad she wasn’t sitting in his place. There had been one or two for whom she had expected the punishments to be more severe due to the crimes they committed, while some of them were so incongruous his prisoners believed they were getting off lightly. She was relieved she wouldn’t be around when they found out their punishments were heinous.
As they were waiting for Grimm to bri
ng Hades his next victim, Zerina noticed he was drumming his fingers on the desk, becoming bored.
When Grimm returned, a handsome man in his thirties willingly stood beside him.
“This is going to be interesting.” The thought that she could clearly hear in her mind from Hades had her eyes jerking to him. He had never spoken in her thoughts before.
He didn’t return her stare, concentrating on the man who walked forward to stand a few inches from his desk.
“I am honored to meet you. I have worshiped you most of my life.”
“Cortez, you would have done better worshiping Mother.”