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Hades could barely contain his emotions. Had he finally found a goddess who would agree to be more than a consort? To share his home and keep him from his tortured thoughts. After so many rejections, it was something he rarely dwelled on. While Persephone had always been understanding, offering her arms as solace and sharing her adventures in Olympus to cheer him, she would never reveal her concern that he might not find another to fill the empty space in his heart. The space she could not fill.

"So, what's our first move?" Lexi said, pulling Hades away from his thoughts. "I need to know more about the underworld before I make my final decision. Can we exchange letters? There's always Boston. I may be able to sneak away there."

Hades smiled. Something about Lexi's determined spirit told him she was going to give everything she had to the effort. She was thinking with her heart rather than her head, which was definitely encouraging. "My visits to the mortal world are limited and need approval from the council of the gods, but if you're able to break away from your parents while you're in Boston, perhaps we could meet for dinner next month. I hear the clam chowder is excellent."

"Like hell you will!" Z's voice boomed as his burly shoulders filled the space between the door frame.

Lexi immediately balled her hands into fists as they met her hips. "Honestly, Zeus. If you don't want to be the cause of my misery, you're going about it all wrong."

"You have no idea what you're considering, Lexi. I am saving you from a life of unhappiness. Remember, you will have eternity to regret your decisions."

"And you should know by now that I never make snap decisions. I plan to find out everything I can about the underworld before I..."

"I said, I forbid it!" Z slammed his hand against the wall, causing a picture of Lexi and her family to rattle loose from the nail. On impact, the glass shattered, spreading shards across the tile.

"You're an arrogant prick!" Lexi's eyes went wide as soon as she made her announcement, and she backed into the French door. Z promptly pursued her, but Hades stepped between them.

"Let's talk about this like rational gods," Hades said, knowing damn well Z was not interested in being rational.

"Out of my way, brother." Z pushed Hades aside, but Lexi had already escaped through the door and was sprinting for the rose garden.

The Maxwell's garden had been designed to mimic the labyrinth Daedalus built for King Minos of Crete, done on a smaller scale and without the added threat of a monstrous minotaur. While the towering hedgerows appeared intimidating, Lexi hurried into it without reservation, and Z stomped after her, cursing as he went.

"Dammit, Lexi! Stop this foolishness!"

Hades followed them in, pausing at the entrance to assess his options. He was no stranger to mazes, having navigated the labyrinth in Crete several times. He had three directions to choose; left, right, or straight ahead. It didn't take him long to pick up Lexi's scent, which lured him to the left.

He chased the trail of lemon verbena, hopingwith each turn he would spy the fiery goddess. Finally, he saw her as she slipped around acorner, and he shot forward, using his godlike speed to catch up. Once she was within his grasp, he grabbed her by the shirt and dragged her backwards into his chest.

Lexi's heart pounded like a blacksmith's hammer, and her eyes were wet with tears. She opened her mouth to speak, but Hades covered it with his hand as they listened for Z's heavy footfalls. Tugging on his arm, Lexi led him to the end of the path. Two turns later, they came to the exit on the far side of the estate. But Lexi was not done running. She hauled Hades onto the trail leading to the sea, keeping up a frantic pace as they maneuvered around roots and branches, stopping only when they had reached the beach.

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