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Lexi made it to the third floor landing before she slumped onto the staircase, dropping her head into her hands and letting herself sob freely. She didn't know if she was crying out of sorrow, disappointment, or anger. She expected Hades to question her about posing in the nude, but the gods did not have hang-ups about their bodies. Modesty was a virtue only for the chaste goddesses. How audacious of Hades to cross examine her that way. He needed to trust her judgment if they were going to make this work, but his reaction was probably just the perspective Lexi needed. If the tables were turned, she would be one inconsolable goddess.

Wiping her sleeve across her face, Lexi stood and made her way down the stairs. She knew the nymphs would be calling them for supper, and she soon met up with Sella. The nymph greeted her with a sober expression. It was impossible to have a breakdown on the staircase without someone hearing it.

"Is there anything I can do for you, my lady?" Sella asked almost in a whisper.

"I'm as hungry as a horse. Is supper ready yet?"

Sella's eyes immediately brightened. "Oh, yes. I was just coming up to inform your graces of this. Can I interest you in a nice cup of herbal tea? Some red raspberry would pair well with the summer salad Fiona has prepared."

A smile spread across Lexi's face, dissipating her anger and reminding her of the blessed life she led. Her lover might still behave like a petulant child, but Lexi knew she could count on the nymphs to handle most situations with calm and grace. "That sounds delightful, Sella. Lead the way."

Seated at the dining table, Lexi enjoyed her meal alone, with only Cerberus to keep her company at her feet. It was anyone's guess whether Hades would get over himself and join her, or if he would choose to take his meal in the dome room. Lexi couldn't help wondering how often Persephone had tested his limits. What was with these controlling gods? It seemed they could dish it out but they couldn't take it.

When Lexi finished everything on her plate, she reclined in her chair, taking a moment to recall the events of the day. Hades hadn't given her a chance to share everything she'd learned; about the prophecy predicting the titans' death, about her involvement with the new council, and there was Phoebe's forecast that she was carrying Hades' child. Of course, Lexi would need to confirm this before she shared it with Hades. No sense stirring things up if it turned out to be a false alarm.

Would Hades see a child as a nuisance? They had been enjoying each other's company without any distractions other than the ones they imposed on themselves. Lexi placed her hand gently over her belly, imagining what life would be like with a child running around the palace. Would she be a good mother? A shiver rushed her and she glanced up to find Hades standing in the entryway, an expression of remorse casting a shadow over his handsome face.

"Shall I call the nymphs to bring out your supper?" Lexi gestured toward his seat but he ignored it, traveling the short distance from the door to Lexi's chair and kneeling next to it. Tentatively, he took her hand and held it between his palms, infusing his warmth into her skin. It was a demonstration of his affection Lexi had grown fond of.

"Once again, you have handed me a dose of humility, Lexi, reminding me what an emotional coward I am," he said, his tone mirroring the regret written on his face. "So often I find myself in awe of your propriety and poise, and I doubt my worthiness of your love. Perhaps, this is why I have these moments of confusion. Please, forgive my shameful outburst. I absolutely love my gift, and I unequivocally love you."

Hades leaned into her hand, placing it against his cheek and lowering his eyes in a show of submission. Lexi kissed his forehead as she slid her fingers through his tousled hair. Would she ever get used to having the god of the underworld supplicate himself at her feet, declaring his love for her? He could be so strong one moment and so weak the next.

"I forgive you, Hades. I know this relationship has been challenging for you. I, for one, have learned that when you entrust one person with your heart, the weight of losing it can be crushing. I am proud of you. Three years of monogamy for a god has to be a record."

A smile slipped onto his face, and he appeared to give her comment some thought. "I believe Hera may have me beat, but I don't think it necessary to confirm that."

As they shared a laugh, Lexi caught Hades by the chin and lifted it, pressing her lips to his mouth. She hated it when he brooded, and the only solution she had found to bring him back to himself was the promise of sex. It was a solution they could both benefit from.

"Why don't you appease the nymphs who have labored over this wonderful meal and let them serve you." Lexi waited for him to nod his agreement before offering him more. "And after you have satisfied your stomach, I will help you satisfy your lust."


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