Chapter I

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Persephone

Previously . . .

I OFFERED A smile to the man who'd tried to kill Aphrodite, though I could not keep my teeth from clenching. A camera streamed my every move to an island full of people who wanted my extinction. They had my husband locked up so far from consciousness, I couldn't even reach him in his dreams. And the man behind it all, their leader, Jason, sat across the table scowling back at my smile.

"Here." Orpheus, my head priest, unfolded a chair at a scorched plastic table and motioned for me to sit.

"Thanks." I drew in a deep breath that smelled of smoke.

"Not a problem." He held another folded chair, but before he could place the seat, Poseidon grabbed the blackened metal from him.

Shoving it beside mine with more force than necessary, the sea god plopped down and crossed his arms, glaring at the two demigods across the table.

Orpheus rolled his eyes. The famous demigod wanted nothing to do with this meeting, but Jason had refused to deal directly with us when he'd called to set everything up. "Well, now that everyone's here, shall we begin?"

At my assent, Orpheus stepped back, fading into the background behind the camera. Unlike the girl who'd accompanied Jason, the two demigods looked like they could have been brothers. Both were tall, broad-shouldered, and golden to the extreme. Hair, eyes, skin. There were varying shades to the tones allotted within the genetic markers gods used to differentiate demigods, but the combination was unmistakable.

Jason was older than I'd expected. Not Orpheus old. Somewhere in his twenties, rather than thirties, but definitely older than me. I guessed that made sense given how long he'd been working against the Pantheon. But Aphrodite and Ares always made the rebellious demigods sound so young.

That shouldn't have surprised me. Aphrodite might not have been around since the ancient days like Ares, but she'd adopted all the same attitudes and assumptions towards humans. Hades called it perspective. I called it condescension.

And wasn't that attitude just the problem? After generations of the Greek Pantheon treating demigods like disposable pawns, they were fighting back with a vengeance. DAMNED: Demigods Against Major Nymphs, Elementals, and Deities, had one goal in mind: our extinction. And, honestly, I couldn't blame them.

"I'm assuming you're Jason?" I offered my hand, but Jason just sneered at it, though his companion had the grace to look embarrassed by his behavior.

Beside me, Poseidon, the scumbag of the sea, tensed at the snub. The sea god was tall and well-built, something he must have enjoyed showing off, because he almost never wore a shirt. Spiky blond hair completed a carefree surfer boy image. Until you looked at the ocean churning in his eyes.

I let my unanswered question stretch into awkwardness as I glanced around the strange meeting place Jason had selected. We sat in the burned-out shell of an old hospital cafeteria with a low ceiling, cinderblock walls, empty countertops that led to a shattered cash register, and row after row of partially melted plastic tables that smelled like they were still burning. I'd never seen anything like it.

After letting Jason squirm for a solid minute, I lay my hands atop the bubbled-up surface of the table and turned to his companion. "And you are?"

I already knew Medea's name, of course. Aphrodite and Ares had prepped me on what to expect from the unusual demigoddess. The two deities were living on the ominously named Isle of the DAMNED right now, glamoured to look like two demigods we knew—Elise and Adonis.

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