~68~

30.9K 1.9K 104

Lexi nodded her head as Hecate lectured. "I realize how difficult it is for you to heed directives, Lexi, but being the lady of the castle you should have followed the protocol. You had the nymphs in a frantic state, not to mention the rest of us."

"I know, Hecate. Everyone has told me how irresponsible my actions were. I promise I will never again leave the palace in my ninth month of pregnancy to fly to Elysium without first telling someone."

Hecate's cheeks reddened, which may have been from frustration with Lexi or from crying over Rhea's passing. Lexi had both babies at her breasts as she reclined against a pile of bolsters, while Hades escaped to the bathroom after spending a fair amount of time navigating the cribs through hallways and stairwells to get them to their bedroom. When he returned, he hurried over to sit with them.

"You have no idea how wonderful it is to see the three of you together like that," Hades said as he kissed them all in turn. "I expect rumors of the birth have been circulating thanks to Charon and Heracles, but I will leave it up to you to decide when the formal announcement should be made and to whom."

"I was just going to ask if you could lower the scrying mirror and pull a chair up so I can call Zeus. He can't ignore us now. And we need to know what's happening with respect to Rhea."

"Your wish is my command, my lady."

As Hades set to work doing Lexi's bidding, Hecate made for the door, pulling a handkerchief from her robe to surreptitiously dab her eyes.

"I will take my leave," she said. "Keep drinking that red raspberry tea, Lexi. Fatigue will not benefit you or those babes. And keep your bottom planted on that pad if you wish to enjoy those Egyptian cotton sheets in the future. You're going to bleed at least seven turns."

"Thank you, Hecate. For everything."

Hecate offered a friendly nod before escaping from the room. Lexi figured she was going to have a good cry once she was alone. Hades arranged Lexi's chair in front of the scrying mirror and pulled the footstool over from the fireplace, then he walked to the bed and lifted their daughter into his arms, while Lexi kept their son at her shoulder. Hades helped her carefully out of bed, and they shuffled to the chair together. Cerberus had already taken his place next to the chair, and all three heads watched attentively as Lexi nestled into the cushions. Hades tapped the mirror and spoke to the palace nymph as he bounced his daughter gently on his chest.

"Lady Lexi requests an audience with Zeus," Hades told the nymph. "Tell him it is in regard to his mother and his grandbabies."

While they waited, Cerberus stood and sniffed her son's hairless head. Then he followed Hades to the fireplace, where he inspected her daughter in the same manner. Zeus appeared at the scrying mirror, looking like he had seen a ghost, but he made an attempt at a smile.

"It appears Heracles was not exaggerating," he said as he gazed through the glass. "Your son is as bald as a honeydew."

"How did Heracles know that? It was only his spirit who witnessed the birth."

"His spirit is just as skilled at spreading gossip as he is. I hope you and the babes are well."

"Yes. Hades and I have welcomed a beautiful son and daughter. I assume you heard they were born in the river under the divine guidance of Rhea. I am very sorry about Rhea's passing, Zeus. If only I had been with her when it happened, I may have been able to keep her alive."

"Do not feel remorse for her passing. We are all trying to understand it ourselves. Strangely enough, her body still lives. Her breathing is shallow and her pulse faint, but both are present nonetheless. It seems only her spirit has left her."

Lexi glanced at Hades where he looked up from a sheet of paper he was writing on. His daughter was still tucked securely between is his arm and his chest.

"Is that unusual for a god?" Lexi said to the room. "How long before her body expires? Maybe there's still time to save her."

"I don't know if it is unusual," Zeus said. "Most gods who have passed shed their corporal form due to severe injuries they cannot recover from. Rhea was in perfect health."

Lexi bit her lip as she forced her exhausted brain to assist her. "Is there some way her body can be transported here and I will see if I can reunite the two? Do you think that will work, or will the prophecy prohibit it? I don't want to make matters worse."

"I don't see how you could make matters worse. A bier is being built so she may be honored. Perhaps we could secure it to our largest chariot. Poseidon has one that might accommodate it. But, are you up for such a task? You look fatigued."

Lexi glanced at her son, who had fallen asleep on her shoulder. "I'm sure there will be time for a nap before the chariot arrives. Will Poseidon bring Rhea or will you?"

Zeus exhaled through pursed lips and Lexi quickly added. "You could hold your grandchildren."

Lexi watched his face contort as if his hands were being tied painfully behind his back.

"Lexi, you don't know what you're asking."

After a moment, Lexi exhaled her own frustrated sigh. "No. I guess I don't, but I will be ready to fulfill my godly duties when Rhea and her courier arrive. You and I still have things to discuss, once this serious business is behind us. I have others I want to share our good news with, like my mother." Lexi turned to Hades. "Hades, could you locate my stationery so I..."

"I am writing Charles and Lilith right now... on my stationery, if that suits you."

Lexi smiled. "It's perfect. Thank you." When Lexi looked back at Zeus, he appeared to be ready to say something he didn't want to say, or maybe he was just troubled by the circumstances. "Thank you for speaking with me, Zeus. I hope two months will not have to pass before we see each other again."

"What of your wedding? Now that the babes are born, you can keep the original date and we will see each other then."

Lexi thought it was unlike Zeus to bring up the marriage he seemed so opposed to, but she wasn't going to question it. He was probably in shock. "Yes, you're right. The invitations have not been sent out, but solstice is less than a month away. It doesn't give me much time to prepare."

"You wouldn't be doing it alone. There are nymphs and gods at the ready. Have you decided where you will have it? There are more options open to you now."

"There are? How so?"

Zeus grabbed the point of his beard, tugging gently. Lexi knew this to be a nervous gesture of his. "Well, there have been no plagues of locusts or brushfires that have swept through the city, so it should be safe to allow Hades admittance to attend his own wedding if you had it in Olympus. It would also encourage more guests, wouldn't you agree?"

Lexi stared at Zeus before turning her wide eyes on Hades. He set down his quill to regard her, offering a confused shrug. "I... I agree it would," she said. "Except for my mortal family, of course. They could not attend a wedding in Olympus."

"We could hold a second wedding in the mortal world," Zeus said with a grin. "A wedding just as grand as the first."

"Gee, Zeus. I don't know what to say. Let me take the evening to think about it. In the meantime, I will anticipate hearing from the palace regarding Rhea's arrival in the underworld."

"As you command, Alexandra. Take care of my grand babies."

"As you command, your grace."

The grin was still planted on Zeus' face as the mirror went dark, and Lexi slouched against her chair. Was she dreaming? Had she just imagined Zeus giving permission for Hades to enter Olympus to marry her? And did Zeus call her Alexandra? He never used her full name unless he was yelling at her. When Lexi had regained her wits, she addressed Hades. "Well, my lord. Would you like to get married in Olympus?"

Hades took no time to give his reply. "As long as it is you saying 'I do', I would get married in Tartarus."

Lexi's Promise {Book 3}Read this story for FREE!