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Hades worked swiftly and expertly, commanding the boulders away from the shore and into the water with a wave of his hands. The ground beneath his feet shifted as rocks uprooted from eons-old mud, but he was sure Gaia would forgive him. The safety of a goddess was at stake.

Hades only had seconds, which he used to create a shallow dam, enough to get a foothold. But Lexi would have to maneuver just right, or she could hit the rocks head-on. He caught sight of her rounding the bend, clinging to her branch as she bobbed down the river like a basket on the Nile. She had seen his make-shift bulwark and stretched her legs in front of her, preparing for impact.

Hades was just questioning the integrity of the dam when Lexi's feet made contact, and he held his breath as she shoved the branch away, caught the rocks in a squat, and scrambled over the dam like a true Olympian. As soon as her outstretched arms were within his reach, he pulled her onto the riverbank and tucked her into his chest.

Pressing his face to her head, Hades breathed in the heady scents of river and sweat. Despite Lexi's drenched state, he was never so glad to have her in his arms. "Gods, Lexi. What the hell were you thinking?"

"I wasn't thinking," she panted. "If you hadn't helped me... I might have..."

"Shh. I don't want to think of that. I just want to feel your heart beating."

Hades offered his thanks to Gaia as Lexi quivered against him. There was no turning back now. Immortal or not, the thought of losing her hit him like an avalanche, and he was determined to keep her close, come hell or high water.

A loud snort had Lexi lifting her head. "What the hell is that? I thought it was a bear. Then the bear turned out to be you."

"It's not a bear. It's your horse. I had a feeling she would know where to find you."

"Oh. Does anyone else..."

He put his finger to her trembling lips. "I can answer all your questions later. Right now, I need to dismantle the dam."

The boulders that had aided in Lexi's rescue submitted to Hades once again, lifting out of the water and returning, one by one, to their earthly resting place. Lexi appeared properly impressed as she watched the display with an open mouth.

"That was amazing. What other tricks do you have up your sleeve?" Lexi's teeth chattered as she spoke, and Hades wrapped his arms around her, calling upon his powers to raise his body temperature. It wasn't long before she relaxed into his warm embrace.

"How is that?" he asked.

"Much better than an electric blanket. I take it that's another one of your tricks?"

He smiled against her head. "It is one of my gifts, yes. I can command the elements of earth and fire." Another snort interrupted them, followed by a sharp crack that sounded like a hoof impatiently kicking a rock. "I think Jackie O is worried about you," he said. "We better let her know you're okay before she yanks her hitching post out by the roots."

They arrived at the tree Hades used to tie up Jackie O and found a very nervous mare. Lexi attempted to calm her friend, but something had the animal spooked. A few seconds later, three figures burst through the trees: Z, Lilith, and Dion. He was surprised they hadn't come sooner. He alerted the Maxwells of Lexi's hasty exit before he and Jackie O made for the gorge.

"It looks like the cavalry has arrived," he said, making no attempt to unwrap his arm from Lexi's waist as she stood shivering.

"Oh gods, Lexi! Are you okay? We were so worried." Lilith called out to her daughter as she stumbled over the rough terrain. Z offered his arm, but she refused his help with a brusque wave. She appeared angry with him, and a little tipsy.

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