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It had been two weeks since Lexi's birthday celebration, a day she would remember for many reasons, one of which was the rescue of Ink. Despite Ink's swift and striking comeback, both he and Lisbon were still hiding out at the palace, and there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the two had fallen in love. When Lisbon and Ink were not engaged with each other, Lisbon helped Blythe with the sewing, building a stockpile of clothes for the twins, while Ink spent time with Hades at the gates, entertaining the souls with a wit no one knew he had. Even Thanatos enjoyed Ink's company.

Lexi and Hades endured the growing wrath of Zeus, who called nearly every day to vehemently voice his displeasure at their flagrant disrespect of the council and what it represented. The only solace Lexi found was knowing Zeus would never come to the underworld to fetch the two insubordinate gods himself. She also knew she could not avoid Zeus forever. She and Odessa were due to speak to the council at mid-day, but she still felt anxious as she dressed for the meeting. Hades stood on the balcony beyond the open doors, gazing at the landscape. Despite the distance between them, Lexi could sense his angst.

"I believe this dress has reached its limit to accommodate your growing dimensions, your grace," Sella said cheerfully as she tugged the ivory fabric over Lexi's belly.

As Lexi posed in front of the mirror, one of the twins made an adjustment, prodding her in the side. She might have flinched at the sudden shift, but Lexi maintained her posture. If Hades thought she was in distress, he would be putting her to bed and threatening to stay there with her. The tactic had worked before.

"I think you're right, Sella. I was hoping to get one more wearing out of it. I thought the lack of color might soothe Zeus' agitated mood, but I don't need to worry about my appearance while I'm standing in front of the council."

"Perhaps the moss green dress Blythe and Lisbon made for you would serve the purpose. Green is a calming color for forest nymphs, and you have a connection to nature." Sella offered a winsome smile, the smile no mortal or god could resist, except maybe Zeus.

"That's a wonderful suggestion. Let's go with green."

When Lexi had been properly pampered by the nymph, Hades returned to the bedroom, offering a poetic compliment on her radiance. Then he walked her downstairs to breakfast, shadowed by Cerberus, who had not left Lexi's side since she climbed out of bed. The silly, three-headed beast had made it his mission to play bodyguard after an incident on the staircase involving a loose hem and Lexi's challenged equilibrium.

Along with their new roommates, Ink and Lisbon, the palace was hosting Kade and Hecate for breakfast. Kade had been sent to fetch his daughter at Zeus' insistence. The mighty god's aim was to have Ink follow his lover to Olympus where they would both face judgment in front of the council. Lexi knew how likely that was, and she was not looking forward to being the bearer of bad news.

Hecate stood in the foyer and smiled at Lexi as she navigated the last few steps, and Hades was forced to release his fierce hold on Lexi's arm to allow their embrace. Lexi noticed the sweet smell of apples wafting from Hecate's robe, which reminded Lexi of the day.

"Pleasant morning, Hecate, and Happy Mabon."

"A splendid Mabon to you, Lexi." Hecate spent a moment inspecting Lexi's rotund belly before acknowledging Hades. "Happy Mabon, Hades. I trust everyone has already taken their places at the table."

This announcement meant they should take their places at the table, and they entered the dining room together where Kade was standing behind Hecate's chair. He politely pulled it out for her, and Hecate accepted his gesture with a wary eye. Lexi had learned theirs was a precarious relationship, which stemmed from an incident involving firecrackers in Hecate's pumpkin patch. When everyone was seated properly, the nymphs began serving.

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