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This is it. This is really it. I'm doing this. I'm really doing this.

Lexi's thoughts assaulted her, making it hard to focus on breathing as she tugged Hades down the path toward the gorge. In a matter of moments, she would climb into a chariot with the god of the underworld and plunge into the depths of the earth. Or, maybe it wasn't that far down. She didn't know what the hell to expect. She was flying blind, trusting the word of a near total stranger while her heart and her libido pushed her on.

As the rocks of the gorge came into view, Lexi's confidence wavered, and she switched to autopilot, navigating the landscape by memory. For years, this place had been her playground, providing endless adventures and escape routes. Little did she know it would lead to her future, a future currently blocked by a fifteen-foot rock wall. A fitting obstacle for her reckless actions.

"How are you at rock climbing?" she asked Hades as she directed him to the foot of the stone monolith.

He smirked. "Would you like me to name all the mountains I've tackled? I don't think we have the time."

"Okay, smartass. Just try to keep up." Lexi planted a swift kiss on his mouth before starting her ascent. The climb was tricky but the incline wasn't that steep, and she didn't bother to check on Hades below her. She could tell by the sound of his soft grunts he was doing fine without a coach, and they made it to the precipice of the gorge in very little time. Once Hades pulled up next to her, they peered into the canyon and the river below. It had always been one of her favorite vantage points.

"Truly breathtaking," Hades whispered reverently, as if he were in awe. Despite the many views he must have seen, he hadn't lost his sense of wonder, and she counted that as a point in his favor. Lexi dragged her gaze away from the ominous landscape to stare into the eyes of her delinquent lover.

"Now what?"

He smiled and pressed his fingers to his lips, filling the gorge with an ear-piercing whistle. "Now, we ride."

As Lexi watched the horizon, a large shadow rose into the path of the sun. It took the shape of a chariot led by a team of horses, four abreast, their black coats shimmering like scarab beetles. The image perfectly fit Lexi's fantasies about the gods, except for the horses. Unlike Pegasus, they flew without the benefit of wings. Instead, their hooves pounded the air like the dirt of a racetrack. Lexi guessed they were Friesian, given their dark coats and strong musculature. Did they breed horses in the underworld?

Lexi's mind fought to deny the magic unfolding in front of her, and she swallowed several times as she watched the team approach. In fact, her eyes barely registered the flash of light that arced over their heads, assuming it was part of the show. It wasn't, and a clap of thunder boomed afterward, making her jump. The horses had the same reaction, and one of them reared up, jerking the chariot sideways and sending it careening toward the cliff where Lexi and Hades stood.

"Damnable Zeus!" Hades cried as he yanked Lexi down by her hand. They dove for an opening between the earth as the wheels of the chariot collided with the boulders just shy of their heads. "Hurry, Lexi. We don't have much time."

Hades pulled Lexi to her feet, and they ran for the chariot, which had come to rest between the crags of rock. When they reached the horses, the frightened creatures were trying to dislodge the carriage, probably to escape the fury of a pissed-off god. One horse tossed her head like she was battling a swarm of bees, and Hades attempted to calm her with gentle strokes on her neck.

"Settle down, Misty. I won't let anything hurt you." Hades turned to Lexi as he explained. "Misty hates leaving the underworld, but she's my fastest horse."

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