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Lexi ignored the gods standing behind her as she took out her anger on the ocean. Why did her godfather have to be such a bully? Why did he have to be her father? She kicked the waves again and again, imagining Zeus's fat head taking the brunt of her fury.

Her fingers tingled from clenching them, and her body felt like it was filled with lightning bugs carrying explosive gas. Was it possible for a demigod to spontaneously combust? Lexi shook her hands, attempting to free them from the unsettling sensations, and a column of water suddenly rose to greet her, splashing her cheeks with salty spray. And this was no ordinary wave. It didn't crash onto the shore like waves were supposed to. Instead, the water swirled like a tornado in front of her face, threatening to flatten her.

Lexi yelped as she tumbled onto her backside, and the water cascaded over her head, drenching her to the bone. Dazed, she crawled onto the beach, spitting and coughing as the ocean buried her again, spraying salt up her nose. Hades hauled her to her feet, and she clung to his strong arms for support, while in the distance, a deep voice roared with laughter.

Hades's eyes twinkled with amusement as he helped Lexi reach dry land, all while she spewed sand from her mouth. She was tempted to slap the grin off his face, but she couldn't hurt the man she loved. He had offered to fight Zeus for her freedom. No boy ever stood up for her before. No boy ever had to. But knowing Hades was ready to defend her despite having the odds stacked against him... That felt pretty damned good. 

"I take it you didn't expect that to happen?" he said. "Most demigods are shocked by their gifts when they manifest. It's usually during times of intense emotional upheaval."

Her gifts? Had she caused all that? It wasn't Poseidon getting back at her for cursing him on her birthday? "So, my gift is drowning people? That'll really impress them in Olympus." Lexi couldn't hold back the sarcasm, and she made a vulgar gesture at the ocean. This spurred a powerful gust of wind that had her staggering backwards. Hades caught her in his arms.

"Watch where you're aiming. You could put somebody's eye out." He chuckled but Lexi found no humor in the situation. She felt like a live wire, and the sensations invading her body would not let up. Zeus was still laughing when he joined them, and he put a firm hand on Lexi's shoulder, nearly knocking her over.

"You're definitely your father's daughter," he said. "Now you've got some power behind that feisty spirit. Why don't we return to the estate and share the good news with your family?"

"Are we going to tell my dad? And Dion? I don't think I'm ready for that."

"Of course, you are. You can't leave without giving everyone a proper goodbye."

Lexi glared at Zeus. How could he be so insensitive? Had he always been that way and she was just noticing it now? Nausea rushed her and she bent over, grabbing her knees and waiting for the bile to rise in her throat. It didn't come, but she wished it would. She always felt better after a good hurl.

Another hand came down on Lexi's shoulder. She knew it belonged to Hades because it didn't feel like a fifty-pound weight. "You're going to be fine, Lexi. I will be there for support." He wrapped his arm around her waist, nudging her towards the path, and Lexi heard Zeus huff through his nose, but he didn't try to separate them. Maybe the king of everything had a heart after all.

By the time they reached the house, Lexi's gut was churning, which may have been from hunger. After drying off in the laundry room, she headed for the kitchen to find whatever breakfast leftovers had survived the staff. Thankfully, Chef Pastille was occupied inside the walk-in pantry when she arrived. She didn't want him to see her tears, so she quickly snagged a croissant and a handful of cheese cubes before hurrying through the dining room door. Lexi plopped her food on the table and sunk into a chair, not caring that her wet pants were soaking the expensive upholstery.

Hades stayed on her heels the whole time, and he sat down beside her, keeping his thoughts to himself as she stuffed her face with food. She offered him a cheese cube, which he declined, his face awash with pity. Lexi didn't care if he thought she was weak as she blinked tears onto her cheeks, and when she folded her arms on the table and lowered her head to cry, he didn't try to console her with words. Somehow, he knew she didn't want a pep talk. She just wanted his presence, and he kept a vigil next to her, brushing hair off her cheek and caressing her back. He already knew her so well, and soon he would be gone forever.

By the time Lexi's stomach had settled, so had her resolve. She had never been one to make hasty decisions, especially important ones, but she knew she would regret missing an opportunity like this. As Zeus pointed out earlier, eternity was a long time to carry regrets.

"I'm not going to Olympus with Zeus," she said as she lifted her head and locked Hades in a watery gaze. "Tell me how to get to the underworld."


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