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Pen Your Pride

~39~

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Hades was thankful to return to the palace after an exhausting three days in Boston. He and Lexi stayed long enough to escort Charles home from the hospital and tuck him into bed, although he argued for being propped behind his desk in the study, claiming he felt good enough to climb Mount Everest. Lilith was determined to dote on her husband, which clearly made Charles happy, and Lexi appeared to be recovering from her own trials. In fact, a smile remained on her face for the duration of their journey home, and this was how she met Cerberus and two cheerful nymphs as their welcoming party raced outside. That is, the nymphs raced, Cerberus lumbered.

"Lord Hades! Lady Lexi! It is so good to have you both home." Blythe chirped out her greeting like a songbird on a spring morning, reaching for Lexi's bag on pointed toes.

"It's good to be home," Lexi said as she bent over to offer Blythe a hug. "I hope you've had no trouble while we were gone. Have there been any sightings of Ink?"

"I'm afraid not, but we have all noticed the minotaurs keeping watch on the palace."

"Oh?" Hades dragged his hand through his hair as he made to glance over the wall of the palace, which he knew was too high to give him a decent view. "I wonder why they feel the need to keep tabs on us all of a sudden." He raised his brows at Lexi, who was scratching Cerberus behind his ears.

"Don't look at me. Maybe they've extended their territory. I've said before that the minotaur population is recovering rapidly."

Before Hades could make his point about the protocol for extending territories, Sella stepped up to Lexi and handed her a rolled parchment.

"This arrived for you while you were gone, my lady. It is from Olympus."

"Thank you, Sella." Lexi took the parchment while Sella waited expectantly until Lexi gave her a hug, complementing it with a kiss on the cheek. "I suspect this is a message from Odessa," Lexi mused. "She promised to write out the agenda for the new council. Why don't we go inside? I'll read this somewhere I can put my feet up."

With a cup of hot tea at her elbow and Cerberus at her feet, Lexi stretched her legs in front of the fireplace and read the message from Odessa while Hades indulged in a glass of white wine and listened attentively. Lexi had mentioned very little about the new council since Hades voiced his complaints about her involvement, but he was determined to overcome his petty anxieties and support her.

"Dearest Lexi, as promised, I have outlined the agenda for the new council of the gods per our discussion at the Olympic after party. I like our idea of naming the council The Legacy Court. It identifies us as the younger generation of gods and goddesses and suggests a council with knowledge and authority. Of course, we can put this to a vote at our first meeting."

Lexi lowered the parchment to gaze at Hades when she caught him smirking. He had vowed to keep his cynicism to a minimum. Apparently, he had failed. "Care to share your thoughts with the room?" she said.

"I can see Z having a problem with that title. He may let the 'legacy' part slide, but using the word 'court' gives the impression you will be judging others or presiding over them like royalty. Perhaps, you could call yourselves The Legacy Council." He shrugged in a gesture of his neutrality, which prompted a smile from Lexi.

"Good call. I can always count on you to offer your seasoned and sage wisdom. I will make the suggestion when I speak to Odessa." Pragmatic as ever, Lexi lifted the parchment and continued.

"Our agenda will consist of four main objectives, as follows: One - volunteering as an exercise in altruism: This will take the form of participating in duties relegated to satyrs, centaurs, and nymphs. Two - promoting monogamous relationships and recognizing those who participate."

Hades pressed his lips firmly together, but a snort escaped through his nose. Lexi adroitly ignored him.

"Three – philanthropy: This will be carried out as acts of generosity in the mortal world. And, four - a deep analysis and reinterpretation of the bylaws of Olympus."

The wine Hades had just poured into his mouth spewed back out, shooting across the hearth and causing the fire to hiss. Lexi looked on impassively as he wiped the residue from his chin.

"Really, Hades? I would have expected a more thoughtful reaction from you. You're always complaining about the bylaws being an outdated text in desperate need of revision."

"And my feelings on the subject have not changed, but that doesn't mean I think you have a snowball's chance in hell of accomplishing it. These are eons old gods we're talking about. They are more settled and unbending than the stones of this palace."

Lexi set her jaw in a hard line but still managed to speak through it. "I expect no one has ever tried to move the stones of this palace, so how do we know they won't budge. My dad always says, 'Where there's a will, there's a way'. And I have the will."

Hades watched Lexi take a long pull off her tea, her pinky raised in defiance. "Remind me never to get in your way."

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