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Hades was certain he had heard Lexi wrong. Was she truly willing to follow him home? Did he dare hope she might bring him the happiness he'd been longing for? He stared into her tear-soaked eyes, seeing bold determination and a fair amount of anger in her unflinching gaze. It was encouraging, but he had to be sure.

"Lexi, you're upset and not thinking clearly. Please, do not do this for me."

"It's not for you. I'm being completely selfish. I deserve to choose which road to take, whether right or wrong, and Zeus is forcing me to decide before I know which is which. So, I'm taking the information I have and improvising." She breathed out a purposeful sigh.  "All I know is, I don't want to spend eternity in a world without you. Just tell me what I have to do."

Hades dried her cheeks with his thumb. "First, you have to kiss me." He leaned into her lips, savoring her softness and the salty mix of tears and seawater. The idea of having Lexi near enough to taste, to feel her body's warmth when his went cold, to seduce her and have her willingly submit, made his heart and manhood ache.

After a passionate kiss he hoped would bolster Lexi's spirit, Hades released her, and with a lump in his throat, he explained. "Here's how I see it. Z will be taken by limousine to a secluded area where he will meet his chariot..."

"A chariot? You're kidding me, right?"

"Gods have no need to modernize like mortals. Chariots have served us perfectly from the beginning. Many use quadrigas, which are pulled by four horses. While Z ascends through the clouds with his team, I descend through the earth, usually by way of a cave or canyon."

He paused while Lexi nodded her understanding, albeit bewildered. "The only way I see this working for us is to beat him to it. I know you'll want to say goodbye to your family, so we can't leave now. We need to come up with a convincing diversion to aid our escape before Z drags you off. Whatever we decide, it needs to be quick, and I suggest we take your car for a faster getaway, if you follow my meaning."

"I follow you perfectly." Lexi nibbled her lip as she stroked the back of his hand, looking thoughtful. "Well, I'll want to bring a few things on my supposed trip to Olympus... personal items to remind me of my family. Zeus has to allow me that much, right?"

"I'm sure he would not deny you that."

"Okay, then. While I'm in my room doing that, you collect your stuff and slip into the garage. I'll escape down my ladder and meet you there."

Hades smiled at Lexi's cleverness, a trait that seemed to come naturally to her, along with many other fine attributes. She was going to make a superb goddess, but something still troubled her. A distant expression had washed over her face. He knew this expression, and it made his heart sink. "What is it, Lexi? Are you having second thoughts?"

"I'm still trying to wrap my head around this idea of Olympus and the underworld. Are they located in remote places on Earth, unreachable by humans? Is it in a different dimension? On another planet? My only frame of reference is books... and Disney."

Hades released the breath he'd been holding. Of course, she would have questions about her future home. This was sure to be the first of many. "It would be hard to explain in the limited time we have, but you can think of it as a different dimension, for now. Only immortals can enter, or souls, in the case of the underworld. This is because neither gods nor spirits are bound by matter in the same way mortals are. Does that help?"

"Not really, but I'm throwing caution to the wind today."

The dining room door flung open, and Lilith rushed in. Tears trailed down her face, leaving black smudges in their wake. Z entered behind her, his jaw set like the rock of Gibraltar. Obviously, Z had taken it upon himself to inform her of Lexi's fate.

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