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Hades opted for his pale blue robe as he readied himself for work. He knew he would be meeting Lexi at the gates when she returned from Olympus, and she always preferred him in blue, claiming it reminded her of the shirt he wore the day she realized she was falling for him. A flutter erupted in his chest at the thought of Lexi having such feelings for him, a feeling she had not experienced with any other prior to their meeting. He was her first and only true love.

Before leaving his chamber, Hades decided to contact Rhea. Until Lexi came to live with him, Hades had been a rather irresponsible son, letting too much time pass between conversations with his parents. It was shamefully easy to take loved ones for granted when you knew they would always be there. But, his mother had been on his mind since his exchange with The Fates, when they had unceremoniously dangled Rhea's thread of life in front of him threatening her imminent demise, an exchange he had chosen to leave out of his communications with Z. Not even Lexi knew.

"Good morning, Hades. To what do I owe the pleasure of this communication?" Rhea beamed at Hades through the glass, reassuring him she was still in command of her corporal form.

"Can a son not have a reason for calling other than to check on his parent's wellbeing?"

"Of course, he can, but I suspect there is something else motivating you to reach out, as I have been well nearly every day of my long life." Rhea tapped the base of her chin with the back of her hand as she fluttered her eyelashes. This made Hades grin.

"I may have had a particular thought provoking me, which came to mind after I saw Lexi off this morning. I wondered if she had mentioned to you that we have pushed the wedding date back to spring to accommodate her pregnancy."

"No, she had not."

"I suspect she meant to, but she has been plagued with a variety of personal setbacks and distractions. Her father was involved in an accident and we spent most of our recent visit at the hospital."

"Oh, dear. How serious is his condition? Was she able to help him?"

"Yes, she was. Her gifts appear to heed no limits."

"She is a gift to us all." Rhea's smile reached to her rosy cheeks, and her eyes twinkled with the sage wisdom of her years. "It is proof of your worth that you have earned her unerring devotion, Hades. I hope you never underestimate your gift as a humble and committed mate. There are many who believe you have cultivated those divine traits because you have not been exposed to the excess and arrogance promoted here in Olympus. Surely, you can see some truth in that."

"Perhaps." Hades shrugged, feigning indifference. Three years ago, he would have traded places with any god in Olympus, but now that he had Lexi, a goddess who not only pledged herself to him but had given up the benefits of Olympus to stay with him for eternity, he would not change a thing about his life. "I suppose I should get to work. I am glad to see you are well. Will you consider joining Lexi and myself the next time we visit her family? I would like to see you again, as well as Cronus, if he is willing."

"I am sure we can arrange that. Please, give Lexi my kind regards. Pleasant day to you, Hades."

"The same to you, Rhea."

Hades tapped the glass and turned away before it went completely dark, not wanting to see Rhea's image fade to black. He left his chamber, taking the long route to the staircase on the opposite side of the hallway. As he did, he took in the images posing inside the framed portraits of his family, replicas of those that hung in the palace of the gods. They had been the first things installed once the final stone of his palace was laid in place. He stopped in front of the rendering of Hestia, the sister whose intelligence and forward thinking facilitated the design and raising of his grand home. Next came Hera, her round, cherubic face reminding him of his youth when she would make off with one of his possessions and hide with it, forcing him to search for her. Demeter hung beside her sisters, staring determinedly ahead, already serious at the tender age of thirty.

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