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Two months had passed, and Zeus had made himself unavailable to both Hades and Lexi, although in the days following the Mabon incident, Zeus had done the intelligent thing and written Lexi a heartfelt apology, detailing his desire to set things right. Lexi kept this letter by her bedside, rereading it often. The letter Lexi sent in response had Hades so moved by her eloquence, it had resulted in an ambitious indulgence of sex, but had not provoked a reply from Zeus as of yet. In the meantime, Lexi and Hades enjoyed a reprieve from the distraction of Olympus and the council of the gods.

While helping his slightly grumpy fiancé out of bed, Hades listened to Lexi lament about the recent holiday celebration and how sorry she was not to have spent it with her mortal family.

"Thanksgiving is a family holiday. That's all I'm saying. I understand your concern about the babies making their big entrance in less than a month, but it's not like I'm traveling across the country. It takes less than an hour from our door to theirs."

Walking her to the wardrobe, Hades nodded to acknowledge her point. "And this is when I ask you to indulge your doting mate and the father of your children. There are others invested in this pregnancy as well."

"Don't I know it. I can't even take the stairs without letting someone know I'm doing it." Lexi's eye roll was accompanied by a gentle smile that meant she was not terribly put out by the nymph's pregnancy protocol. It was something Hades had put in place with Persephone's first child.

"What are your plans for the day, my love?" Hades pulled Lexi's robe from its hanger, and she paused before stepping into it, recovering so fast he chose not to question the significance.

"Blythe and Lisbon have invited me to the sewing room. I'll be knee deep in fleece and terry cloth for most of the morning."

Hades kissed her cheek before escorting her to the bathroom, and as their day began, he wished he could ignore the souls and spend his time with Lexi under the bedcovers experimenting with positions. Once the babies came, their world would not be their own. After a slow, careful trek down the stairs to the foyer, they entered the dining room where Ink and Lisbon had been kissing by the window a moment before.

"Good morning, your graces." Lisbon smiled through a blush. "You look radiantly pregnant, Lexi."

"Thank you, Lisbon," Lexi said as she grabbed a basket of bread off the table. "I'm going to take Lars some rolls for breakfast. Feel free to seat yourselves."

After appeasing Hades with a kiss on his cheek, Lexi carried the basket out the front door, making for the foot of the bridge where Lars had taken it upon himself to keep vigil. He and his comrade, Cole, took turns standing guard, insisting one of them be there during Lexi's last month of pregnancy in case of an emergency. Hades agreed to humor the minotaurs for Lexi's benefit.

By the time Lexi returned, Ink had engaged Hades in a conversation about the home he and Lisbon commissioned for the south side of the river, having been given permission by the council to remain in the underworld on a temporary basis, which Hades knew could mean anywhere from two months to two hundred years.

"How are Hestia's plans coming together?" Hades asked him. "Is construction showing good progress?"

Ink filled his mouth with food before giving his answer, which afforded him time to contemplate his words. A tactic Hades had familiarity with. "So far, the plans mimic construction, and the centaurs are right on par with productivity, but I don't think Jules and his buddies are used to this kind of labor. There's no one to give them an award at the end of the day."

Hades chuckled. "I understand your point. I also expect they aren't used to taking orders from centaurs."

Lisbon's lilting voice distracted Hades, and he listened to her talk to Lexi about the upcoming meeting of the legacy council, which was due to occur after the babies were born.

"I've been doing a lot of research about the places we should visit for our first philanthropy trip," Lisbon said. "I believe the state of Kentucky in your home country would benefit from our generosity. They have the poorest schools, and I thought we could deliver supplies to all the teachers with updated texts about the gods. Just imagine the looks on their faces when we appear out of nowhere like angels of mercy."

Lexi acknowledged Lisbon with wide-eyed enthusiasm, but Hades knew all of Lexi's expressions, and this one told him she was wary about the reception they would receive waltzing into an American school with an armload of texts on the gods. After breakfast, Lexi kissed Hades farewell at the kitchen door instead of walking him to the stable as she usually did. She was to keep her feet firmly planted on flat surfaces whenever possible. In Lexi's stead, Sella cheerfully walked him to the stable and helped saddle up Spartan. As Sella offered Spartan a cube of herbs, she attempted to reassure Hades.

"Do not worry about Lady Lexi. She will not be far from anyone's sight."

"She shouldn't have to be. She knows she is to stay on the first floor. The sewing room is there. The bathroom is there. The kit..."

"Goodness. You're going to worry yourself useless. Do you need a restorative, my lord?" Sella grabbed another herb cube and held it out.

"I assure you, that would only cause my stomach more distress. Thank you for your thoughtful gesture, though."

Both were grinning when Hades walked Spartan out of the stable. A moment later, he was in the air with the palace swiftly retreating behind him. His mood had been lifted enough that he offered a cordial wave to Lars on his way past the bridge. Hades' world was changing faster than a chameleon, and most of it was a vast improvement on the previous one. He couldn't help thinking this was the best time of his long life.

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