“You have to be bored down here. Do you ever go outside?”
Her thoughts started turning, hoping he had told her the truth about not reading her mind. “Can I go when you do?”
“You think one of your relatives or Mother will rescue you if I do?” Hades threw a loose stone into the water. “They won’t. What the devil takes, he keeps.”
She lowered her face, her shoulders dropping. “The sunlight isn’t real, is it?”
“No. If you thought to climb the stone walls, let me dissuade you. You will only cause yourself needless pain. I won’t stop you if you want to give it a try, though.”
She remained unmoving, the brief enjoyment of sitting under golden rays gone.
“No? Then if you’re ready, I will return you to your room.”
Instantly, she found herself back in her room.
Realizing she was alone, she sank down on the side of her bed. She smothered down the feeling of loneliness. No matter how luxurious, the room wasn’t her home, and that was where she wanted to be, with her family.
Sliding to the floor beside her bed, she prayed. It was her last fragile hope. If it didn’t work, centuries of being consigned to this room lay before her.
She burrowed her face into her coverlet, weeping, feeling as lost and vulnerable as she had the night Grimm had found her.
Emotionally exhausted, she fell asleep, still sitting on the floor, unaware of the man who had appeared by her side to lift her onto the bed. Waving a hand, he covered her with a warm blanket.
“Sleep, Zerina. May you find solace in your dreams. Mother cannot answer your prayers. Only I can.”
Hades left Zerina’s room, locking the door behind him. When he turned the key, those who inhabited his castle were free to roam and show their free forms.
Murmurs and sexual pleas could be heard again from the corridor that contained Zerina. However, Hades paid no heed to their calls for attention.
A wraith coming up the stairs to change his bed linens flew by him, not wanting his ire directed toward him. Downstairs, Grimm was lying on the large white couch with two nymphs cuddled to his side. Seeing Hades, Grimm straightened, sending away the two females.
“Go to my room and wait for me there.”
Hades saw the two nymphs disappear at his furious glare.
“I told you I did not want any visitors until Dionysus was found.”
“I didn’t think you meant Aurae or Erytheia.”
“I meant everyone. No one can be trusted. Rhys warned Mother that Dionysus was searching for Zerina. The asshole has nearly destroyed mankind trying to find her.”
“Broni’s mate may be wrong. Why would Dionysus show himself and place him and Zeus in jeopardy from Mother’s wrath?”
Hades went to the fireplace, the flames inside lovingly reaching out to touch the hem of his pants. “Mother believes that Zeus is behind Dionysus’ treachery to take control from her.”
“You don’t believe it?”
“No. Zeus has no reason to. He knows he would start a war with the other gods who would defend Mother. Why start a war? He’s Mother’s heir. I think Dionysus is searching for Zerina for another reason. The attack on the Moirai that brought Cara, Broni, and Zerina to earth was deliberately planned just to get Zerina. I think that’s why Zeus is hiding to keep his gift of foresight from Dionysus—to keep him from finding the soul he’s searching for. With Zeus inaccessible to him, the only one who knows whose soul he is searching for is Zerina.”
Grimm raised a brow. “You have any idea who it is?”
“None.” Hades stared broodingly into the flames.
“Why not just tell Zerina you’re keeping her here to keep her safe? Or tell Mother where Zerina is?”
“Because Mother is right about one thing. Dionysus is a follower, not a leader.”
“Who do you think is behind him?”
“I have no fucking clue. Many want Mother’s power. But the person he is searching for is human. However, no human has the ability to destroy her. The only thing we can do is wait. When Dionysus gets tired of searching earth for Zerina, he will come here to search for her, and I’ll be waiting.”
“I wish you success getting Morgana to talk.”
“The spell she placed on herself is working for now. Sooner or later, she’ll break. They always do.” Hades grimly reached down to one of the flames, letting it lick his fingers, before turning back to Grimm. “Jinx is prowling around, looking for the entrance. I think we should invite her inside.”
Grimm gave a saccharine smile. “Which room do you want me to give her?”
“Take your pick; it doesn’t matter to me.”
“Your concubines are already unhappy that you haven’t visited them since Zerina has been in residence. When they see another one, I’ll be the one having to listen to their bitching.”
“Then it’s easy to solve. Who bitched the most when I returned Athena to court?”
Without hesitation, Grimm answered, “Teicu.”
“Problem solved. Return her to court, or ask if she wants to remain as one of your concubines.”
Grimm’s surprise turned to lust. Jerking to his feet, he bowed. “I’ll ask her now.”
“Show her the room you want to give her before she makes up her mind. Then see to Jinx when you get her situated.”
Grimm disappeared in the blink of an eye. Hades was sure he was eager to fuck the minor goddesses. Therefore, Jinx would be sitting outside his doorstep for another day.
Deciding to take care of business before Zerina woke, he waved his hand, making the front room transform into a dark cavern. Torches were hung from the stone walls, giving light to the sexual atmosphere. Loud music played for the drudges that Mother had consigned to his home. Demons of all sizes and colors, and monsters that were so ugly they gave men nightmares lay around on couches. Prisoners he had chosen to serve for the crimes they had committed on earth waited on them, providing anything they desired. Whether it was liquor or sex, they were unable to refuse.
Hades made his way through the crowded chamber, going to the wall where a large man was chained. A woman who had the head and arms of a spider was playing with Hades’ prisoner.
“When are you going to let us have him?” Arachne whined.
Hades turned toward the prisoner. “What about it, Tank? Tired of hanging around?”
The biker had committed many crimes on earth, torturing and raping many without regard to those he hurt. By the time Hades was finished with him, he was going to care. He would see to it.
“He doesn’t seem to like me.” Arachne used her claw to grab the struggling man’s balls.
“He’ll come to love you, just like the other servers.” Hades waved his hand, removing the manacles that bound Tank to the wall.
When he would have struck out, Hades gave a mirthless smile, waving his hand to freeze him in place.
“If you’ll excuse us, Arachne. Tank will see to your needs when he finishes a small chore. You probably ha
ve to get in line. You’re not the only one wanting to get their han—claws on him.”
With a wave of his hand, Tank was left with no choice but to follow him.
“You have nothing to fear. What she claws off will grow back. It’ll be painful, but it will grow back.” Hades stopped before a stage that everyone in the chamber could see. “You used to love to make the weak dance for you. I don’t believe any part of that dark soul of yours regrets the actions that you felt entitled to do. Their pain and humiliation will be felt by you until you no longer remember anything but the monsters and demons that will become your living nightmare.”
“I’m not going to do shit for you or them!”
“You think you have a choice?” Hades touched Tank’s forehead, planting the seed to obey deep within the man’s brain. “Go dance.”
Hades didn’t have to wave his hand to gain Tank’s acquiesce, though his eyes showed he was struggling internally not to obey. The man followed his command, climbing the stone steps then turning around to face the myriad of grotesque faces that cheered him on. His feet shuffled to the beat of the music, sensually dancing as he had made the human women move before he had died.
Hades went to the bar, taking a stool, deciding to wait and watch the human. Many were waiting eagerly for the music to stop, wanting to be the first to initiate Tank to his duties.
Tank stared at each face, believing he was surrounded by monsters and demons. In reality, he would never see the true monster was himself. None inside the chamber would hurt and demean the helpless as he had done.
“You look tired tonight, Hades. Mind some company?” Jinx plopped down on the stool next to him.
“I see you found your way inside.” Hades motioned for Stheno to bring a jug of wine.
Medusa’s older sister expertly carried the jug of wine as the thin, red snakes hissed and glared at him. She sat the jug down as two goblets appeared in front of them.
“Not without some help from you, I’m sure,” Jinx quipped wryly, pouring wine for her and him.
“I expected you to be with Zerina.”
“She’s still sleeping.” Jinx looked around the chamber with interest. “Is that centaur trying to dry hump my leg?”