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Hades felt Lexi's presence even before the snorts of her horses announced her arrival. A moment later, the sconce light glinted off her chariot, and he smiled proudly as she brought the team smoothly to rest. She had become quite an accomplished charioteer.

"How was your visit, my lady? Did you and Odessa enjoy your lunch date?" He met her with an extended hand, helping her dismount as he watched her face for clues she might be withholding something unpleasant. If her appointment with Hera had not gone well, surely he could read this.

Her smile reassured him as she delivered a kiss to his mouth. "I enjoyed our lunch date very much. We talked about many things. I like Odessa. She is the perfect partner to help me build the new council. I also had a chance to talk to Artemis about the agenda. She has offered to look it over."

"Oh? I assume Z will be left out of the loop."

"Yes, for now. I am not sure what Artemis will think of it, but at least one other council member will be aware of it, besides Poseidon, of course. Odessa has already shared it with him, among other things." She offered him a wry grin but nothing further. "Are you ready to head home or should I wait for you at the palace?"

Lexi glanced over his shoulder and waved at Thanatos, who graced her with a rare, albeit sterile, smile. Thanatos had made gradual strides in improving his persona, which Hades credited to Lexi's insistence he join them for dinner once a month.

"I would be happy to accompany you to the palace," Hades said. "I left Spartan with Charon. We will catch you up."

Hades felt a great relief as he and Spartan flew for home, keeping pace next to Lexi and her chariot. She appeared to be in good spirits, which he took as a positive sign despite the fact she had not yet shared the details of her visit with Hera. She probably wanted to wait until they were alone due to the sensitive nature, and he did his best not to read into it. Blythe and Sella greeted them at the stable, offering to get the horses settled so he and Lexi could unwind before supper.

It was not until they were in their bed chamber that he noticed Lexi chewing her lip as she changed clothes. He slipped up behind her as she stood naked in front of the wardrobe, gliding his hands over her bare shoulders then down to her abdomen, relishing in her skin's softness and the bulge of her belly.

"Have I told you lately how beautiful you are, my love?" he said.

"Yes, at breakfast. You complimented my hair and how it caught the morning light from the window, although I believe your words were more poetic and involved the color of an Indian sunset."

Hades lifted one hand to her hair, drawing his fingers through the strands and letting them fall against her back, each one dropping like waves of silk. He tucked into her neck, tasting her ever-present sweetness. "I hope you never tire of my poetic compliments."

Sighing, Lexi placed her hand across his where it rested on her belly. "Hades, I'm pregnant with twins." Hades drew in a sharp breath at her ear and she stiffened, turning in his arms. "I know this is a shock. I have been trying to wrap my head around it all afternoon, but I am sure we can make the best of it."

"Oh, Lexi." Hades embraced her, cutting off whatever rationale she was preparing to offer. "We will more than make the best of it. I did not think you could bring me any more happiness, but you have done it."

"Well, you had something to do with it, too."

Her sheepish grin had him nearly bursting with gratitude. He wanted to climb to the roof of the dome room and shout the news to all the inhabitants of his realm. "It appears I will be felling another tree. One crib will not be adequate for the offspring of the king and queen of the underworld." He peppered her mouth with kisses, prolonging the joy spreading through every part of his body. A moment later, his manhood swelled beneath his robe, pressing earnestly into her pelvis.

"Speaking of trees." Lexi giggled against his lips.

Hades let his desire swiftly take him over, and he relieved himself of his robe as he devoured her mouth, sucking on her tongue until she whimpered. He slipped his fingers between her legs, and her readiness immediately provoked him to action. "I need to take you. Now."

Dispatching the foreplay, Hades hauled her to the bed and bent her over the mattress. Lexi met his enthusiasm with a girlish squeal, pretending she wanted to escape from him over the bed. Hades caught her easily by the waist, dragging her backward until his hips collided with her buttocks. Desire for this beautiful goddess overpowered him, driving his actions and stripping away his will. As he took her from behind, he made sure she felt every pleasurable inch of him. He wrapped her hair around his hand and pulled her head back so he could kiss her face, and she moaned in the delight of being worshiped.

Lexi's flawless love made him both weak and strong. He would do anything for her, give anything to her, and she accepted him unwaveringly. Gritting his teeth, he skated on the blade's edge, allowing Lexi to take her fill of him until she shattered in a vocal chorus of his name. Only then did he indulge himself, leaning over her back and cradling her breasts in his hands as he groaned through his fiery release.

When the intensity of their union had abated, Hades retreated and turned Lexi around. She smiled as she brushed the hair off his forehead, which promptly fell back again. "If we keep this up, we may have to build a new wing on the palace for all the children."

"I would gladly make more space for them." Hades beamed at her, taking in the perfection of her face, the face of a sated goddess. There was not much else he could wish for. Twins! They were having twins!

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