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The fields were real, and Misty the flying horse had no problem carrying Lexi and Hades over the seemingly endless landscape. In fact, the skittish horse's mood improved significantly once she was airborne, but who wouldn't be soothed by the rolling hills of lush grass, the rivers and streams, the colorful flowers... all of it was here, although Lexi still planned to recommend Hades step-up his concierge service.

The light had not changed since they arrived, remaining in perpetual dawn. Was it all part of her imagination, a re-creation of the images she took comfort in? Did evil lurk below? Where was Tartarus? She definitely wanted to avoid that hell hole. Hopefully, Hades would give her a map.

"How far is it to your palace?" she asked, although the question sounded like a Disney cliché.

"If you look off to your left, the dome is just coming into view."

Hades pointed over her shoulder toward a long flat plateau on the horizon. Situated in the center stood a palace unlike any Lexi had seen on earth. While the structure held the classic lines of a fortified castle, the topmost point took the shape of a glass and steel dome, reflecting the dawn's light like a silver sun. Four spires rose from the outer circle, each one topped with an angel, wings spread wide and heads tilted toward the sky. Lexi had not expected to see angels in the underworld, but it made perfect sense.

"I've never seen anything like it," Lexi offered. "And I've visited my share of cathedrals."

"I'll take that as a compliment and relay it to my sister, Hestia. She designed my home."

"Does Hestia visit you here?" Lexi glanced back at Hades when she realized her question might have been a trigger. His smile told her it wasn't.

"She visits on rare occasions, but we prefer to meet at more exotic locales. She's partial to Hawaii."

As they drew nearer to the castle, Misty snorted excitedly as she started her descent toward a massive stone bridge. It offered the only access to the plateau, which hovered magically inside a wide gorge serving as a moat, and the dark waters of a river coursed below it, highlighted by dots of foam. Lexi was reminded of the gorge back home, the one from her former life, and she took in a shuddering breath as reality slowly but surely set in.

After making a smooth landing on a patch of moss-covered stones, Hades dismounted. "You stay put, my lady," he said, patting Misty's hind quarters and urging her across the bridge.

As Lexi gawked at the palace, Hades walked alongside them, smiling up at her like a child eager to show off his new toy. No doubt, he was proud of the entrance engraved with images of flame and fire, the diamond cut window panes, the scalloped stone walls, and the four mammoth pillars that supported the grand portico. His home might have been designed by a female, but the masculinity of the structure could not be denied. And all of this... all of this was hers now. She could do worse.

"It isn't what you expected, is it?" Hades asked.

"Not at all. Nothing has been, so far." Lexi looked down at Hades, admiring his regal poise and strong, attractive face. He had been unfailingly polite and respectful, and she felt like a princess riding up to her castle with her prince charming. So, why did reality keep kicking her in the stomach? Was this too good to be true? Could it really work out, long term?

"What I don't understand is," Lexi went on, covering her nerves with inquiries. "Why would any goddess turn down a life with you? You've got the whole package. Sex appeal, kindness, and you own the nicest house on the block. I keep waiting for a fire-breathing dragon to rise up and burn us to a crisp."

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