Persephone sat in one of Hades’ plush chairs before the fireplace in his bedchamber wearing a silky red dress that looked more like a robe. She’d barely left this room since she’d reunited with Hades on Friday. It was now Sunday.
Tomorrow, she would have to return to the Upperworld and face the aftermath of their public embrace and kiss, but tonight she would pretend that none of that was on the horizon. Tonight, she decided she would bargain for something she’d wanted for a long time. A fantasy that had been playing in her head since the first night she and Hades had slept together. Given their history, it probably seemed ridiculous that she was too nervous to ask outright. She’d never had any problem exploring, teasing, submitting, and rationally, she knew Hades would be up for anything.
But this felt different.
She felt vulnerable.
What if he laughed?
A bargain was easier. She wouldn’t have to offer details unless she won and she liked the idea that Hades would agonize over her secret if she lost.
That thought had her smiling. Then, a shiver shook her spine.
Hades had returned.
She felt him before she saw him. It was like her body understood her attraction before her mind. A fire ignited beneath her skin, and every part of her suddenly felt like a livewire. By the time Hades entered the room, she was wound so tight, a simple touch from the God of the Dead would offer release. She sat with her back straight, nails digging into the arms of her chair.
Hades paused inside the doorway, still shrouded in the darkness of the room, but she could make out his eyes, ignited by her need and fueled by his lust.
“Are you well?” The words were quiet, smoky. They made her shiver deep, burn hotter. Take him. Command him. Ruin him, her body commanded.
Instead, she cleared her throat and crossed her legs, suppressing her desire. “I am well,” she answered.
Hades eyes narrowed, and he took a few more steps forward. The firelight reached him now, highlighting the contours of his beautiful face. The King of the Underworld was grossly misrepresented in the Upperworld, even ancient texts hadn’t captured his beauty. He was magnificent: high cheekbones, accentuated by the silhouette of a well-manicured beard, full lips and dark eyes crowned by sharp brows that could make him look cold and severe. Except right now.
Right now, they made him look sensual.
His hair was long and pulled away from his face in a knot at the back of his head. She liked running her fingers through it, liked pulling it, liked feeling like it was her lifeline when he was inside her.
At that thought, the air became heavier, and she noticed Hades’ chest rise as he inhaled deep, tasting her lies. She was not well. She was hot and wet and desperate. Desperate for something she couldn’t put into words, which was why the bargain was so important. Focus, she told herself.
But then Hades knelt before her, as a servant would kneel to their queen. His hands trailed up her calves, lifting her dress, she shuddered when he reached her thighs and placed her hands over his, stopping him.
Hades met her gaze.
“Tell me what you want,” he commanded quietly.
“A game,” she managed, and took a breath, composing herself, then she cleared her throat. “I am eager for a game.”
Hades raised a brow, confused at first and then suspicious. “You wish to play? Now?” “Afraid I’ll win?” she teased.
Hades grinned. “I suppose that depends on the bargain,” he answered. “What do you want, my darling?”
She shook her head.
“We must choose a game before we agree to the stakes.”
Hades relented and got to his feet, taking the seat opposite her. There was already a deck of cards on the table between them.
“We’ll play blackjack, then, since you insist.”
She nodded in agreement. It was a game Hades had taught her and they’d played often. “Shall I get you a drink?”
“No need.” A glass of amber liquid appeared near his hand. He paused to take a sip, meeting her gaze.
She frowned, still enchanted by his magic. She was nowhere near as powerful and she hated it.
She flushed and answered with a breathy, “Yes.” Her throat was suddenly very dry. “Wine, please.”
The glass appeared before her and Hades turned his attention to shuffling the cards. She watched him work, dividing and mixing them with skillful hands—hands that had trailed her skin and drove her to the edge over and over until she was begging him to bury himself inside her. Before she’d met him, people had said Hades took pleasure from torture.
She believed it now.
Her breath caught in her throat and to hide it, she sighed and began drumming her fingers on the tabletop to distract herself from her thoughts.
Hades eyed her hand.
“Impatient,” she answered.
Of course, for you, she thought, pressing her thighs together until they shook. Instead she answered sweetly, “For the cards.”
She thought he was amused by her reply, but she couldn’t be sure because he suddenly looked very serious.
“What’s your bargain, Goddess?”
She considered this for a moment, pulling her bottom lip between her teeth. She didn’t want to ask for her fantasy first. She’d like to know what her winning streak was going to look like, and once she felt confident, she’d put the offer on the table.
She met Hades’ burning gaze, and leaned toward him as she answered. “A favor. To be collected at a future time.”
Hades raised a brow. “A favor? What would you need from me that I would not give willingly?” It was a fair question.
“I suppose neither of us know the answer to that question which makes a favor all the more useful.”
Hades appeared amused and conceded. “Very well. If you win, I will grant you a favor.” “And you? What do you want, King of Darkness?”
“A weekend,” he said.
That surprised her. “You can have me every weekend.”
He chuckled. “A weekend away from the Underworld—away from New Athens.” She suppressed the urge to giggle. Who would have thought the God of the Dead vacationed? “You’re not doing a very good job of motivating me to win,” she joked. “But I accept.” Hades did as she asked and dealt them each two cards—one face down and one face up. The goal was to get to twenty-one by adding up the value of the cards.
Persephone’s face card was an eight. Hades’, a seven. Hades dealt himself another face card, unsatisfied with his count.
They turned their cards at the same time.
Persephone’s other card was a jack, which meant she had eighteen.
Hades’ other card was an eight—a bust.
She had won.
Hades met her gaze. “It looks like I owe you a favor, my lady.”
Hades swept the cards up and started shuffling them again. “Shall we bargain again?” “Yes. What do you want?”
“My wishes haven’t changed,” he said, and he sipped from his glass. She watched his throat constrict as he swallowed. She’d like to kiss him there. “What do you want?”
Her eyes shifted to his. She could ask him now, but one win was hardly a streak of good luck. Instead, she answered, “A shirt—one you wear often.”
Hades raised a brow. “Again, my lady, you are wagering for things I would gladly give.” This time Persephone took a sip of her wine. “Perhaps this game gives me the confidence to ask.”
The look that passed over Hades face made her think he was both surprised and a little frustrated by that.
“You can tell me anything, ask me for anything, Persephone,” he said.
She shivered at the gravity in his tone. She believed him, but that didn’t mean it would be easy. Hades dealt the cards. Her face card was a ten—Hades an ace.
“Hit me,” Persephone said.
Hades gave her another card—a six.
Hades didn’t take another and when they turned their cards.
“It seems you have won your weekend,” she said.
But Hades did not revel in his victory. Something was bothering him. He scooped up the cards and shuffled them again. She frowned. Had her earlier comment upset him? “Your bargain, my lady?”
Persephone took a breath before lifting her gaze to Hades’. His ancient eyes were dark as a moonless night and they burned her skin as they drifted over her face and body. “I have…a fantasy,” she admitted.
“A…fantasy?” He asked, his eyes falling to her lips. “Please, continue.”
“A sexual fantasy,” she said, sitting back. “I want it fulfilled. If I win, of course.”
“Of course,” he answered, and suddenly he seemed tense. There was a long pause and she wondered if he was going to be able to continue, so she did.
“And you? What do you want? If you win?”
He stared at her, his eyes like fire. For a moment, she thought he might just say fuck it and let her have her way.
Instead, he answered, “If I win, I’d like the same.”
“The same?” she was a little surprised.
“I have a fantasy,” he said. “A sexual fantasy. I want it fulfilled. If I win, of course.” She should have assumed Hades had a fantasy, but she’d never thought about it. Persephone felt her face heat. It was too warm in this room.
“Agreed,” she said on an exhale.
With the terms set, Hades dealt the first hand. Persephone’s face card was a nine, Hades’ a three. They both requested an additional card.
Persephone rolled her shoulders as Hades dealt.
“Feeling restless, darling?”
“Quite,” she said. “And you?”
“Thoroughly aroused,” he answered with a devious smirk.
Persephone’s heart raced as they revealed their hands.
She had twenty-three—a bust.
Hades had eighteen.
Her gaze lifted, connecting with his. Hades’ eyes were like chasms—dark and deep, full of ancient things. His full lips curled into a provocative smile.
“I must admit I am a little disappointed.”
“Because you wish to know my fantasy?”
“Oh, trust that I will learn either way,” His voice sent a shiver through her—it was sultry and deep and full of a promise she was sure would shatter her. “Though I am aware you will not confess easily.”
She couldn’t help but smile at that. It was true—if he wanted to know, he was going to have to work for it. “And what do you intend to do? To encourage my confession?”
“I’m afraid, darling, that I must keep some cards close to my chest.”
Hades stood, loosening his tie and cufflinks. Persephone tilted her head back, her gaze trailing the planes of his well-muscled physique.
“Ten seconds,” he said.
Persephone looked confused. She’d expected other words to come out of his mouth like…undress or kneel.
“What?” Maybe she’d misheard him. There was no way she’d misread the tension in this room. Her gaze dipped where his erection strained against his slacks.
“You have ten seconds to hide. Then I will seek you out.”
“Your fantasy is hide and seek?” she asked.
“No. My fantasy is the chase. I am going to hunt you and when I find you, I will bury myself so far inside you, the only thing you’ll be able to say is my name.”
That seemed fair.
She feigned considering this proposition and said, “Will you use magic?”
“Oh, this will be much more fun with magic, darling.”
She narrowed her eyes. “But this is your realm. You will know everywhere I go.” “Are you telling me you don’t wish to be caught?”
It was her turn to smile. It was probably good that Hades could sense wherever she went in the Underworld considering her teleportation powers were hit and miss.
Without another word, she vanished from his sight and appeared in her garden. She had landed in the open, upon the black stone path that wound through colorful flowers and dark trees. She darted into the foliage, ducking under curtains of wisteria and parting willow branches. She felt Hades appear. He was heat, a flame that warmed her skin and she was drawn to it like a moth. She pressed herself into the trunk of a willow, watching him through its graceful limbs. He turned in her direction, taking deliberate but careful steps toward her.
“I’ve thought of you all day,” he said, and a thrill went through her. She peeled herself away from the tree and wandered along the garden’s edge. Hades continued following and talking. “The way you taste, the feel of my cock slipping inside you, the way you moan as I fuck you.” Persephone’s heart beat faster. “When I came home, I had every intention of bending you over and burying myself inside you for the night.”
She halted, having come to the corner of the garden’s wall. She was trapped. She turned to find Hades blocking her way, his gaze hungry. Her eyes roamed his physic—he was beautifully sculpted. He stuck one arm out and then the other, caging her between him. His breath caressed her lips as he spoke.
“I wanted to fuck you so hard your screams reached the ears of the living.”
Persephone’s lips curled, and she leaned close, tongue flicking out to taste his lips before she asked breathlessly, “Why didn’t you?”
Then she was gone.
She appeared in Asphodel, at the center of their crowded streets. This has been a mistake, as she had intended to teleport to the vacant field outside Asphodel.
The souls called and began to crowd her. The children were especially happy to see her and squeezed between the older souls to reach her, hugging her legs and reaching for her hands. “Come play with us, Persephone!”
“I’m so very sorry, everyone. I’m afraid I’m…in the middle of a game with Lord Hades.” “What kind of game?” One of the children asked.
“Can we play, too?” Another said.
She really should have kept her mouth shut, but when Hades arrived, the souls of Asphodel turned their attention to him, including, to Persephone’s surprise, the children. “Hades!” they cried and bounded toward him. The Lord of the Underworld caught one—the smallest child, Theo—and lifted him into the air. The child giggled and Hades smiled. It was a breathtaking smile and it hit her heart like an arrow.
Persephone was stunned and her thoughts moved in a direction she hadn’t expected—thinking of Hades as a father.
“Hades, play with us!” they cried.
“I’m afraid I have made a promise to Lady Persephone I must keep,” he said. “But I will make a promise to you now—Lady Persephone and I will return to play as soon as possible.” Persephone smiled as Hades took her hand. The Goddess of Spring waved at her friends. “I’ll visit soon!”
Hades teleported them to the Asphodel Field.
“Is this where you meant to go?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said, blushing. “My powers—”
“Are developing,” he said, and placed a hand on her cheek. “Do not be embarrassed because you are learning.”
He kissed her, and for a brief moment, Persephone forgot that they were in the middle of a chase. It was rough and his tongue clashed with hers. He drank deep, as if he wished to consume her essence. Her fingers dug into his muscled arms as she held on, drowning in his power. She managed to come to her senses, and pull away from him. Hades looked surprised, and his eyes darkened.
“Forgive me,” he said. “You asked a question earlier I failed to answer. You asked why I didn’t take you earlier, given my thoughts. It was because you proposed that we play a game and not fuck and I will never say no to foreplay.”
Hades gripped the front of her dress and drug her against him, tearing the fabric in two so that it exposed her breasts. He took each one in his hand and covered them with his mouth, working her nipples with his hot tongue until they were taunt. Then he kissed up her neck, his hands replacing his tongue as they pinched each tight bead.
Persephone’s head fell back as his lips trailed her neck. He nibbled her ear, eliciting a gasp, and growled low in his throat. “Surrender.”
Her head spun, surrounded by his scent. He had pulled away enough so she could see his face and she was able to take a breath, and answered, “No.”
It was the most difficult thing she’d ever done in her life.
Then she vanished.
This time, she appeared in Hades’ cavernous throne room. Despite having multiple windows, much of the room was left in darkness. She ascended to the throne and took a seat. The obsidian was slick and cold against her arms and back, and despite the fact that her dress was torn, she sat with her back straight, breasts exposed.
If Hades thought this was his win, he was mistaken.
When he materialized and saw her upon his throne, his eyes darkened, and his lips curved into a seductive smile. He was ravenous, and his desire permeated the air like a violent storm. It smelled like spice and smoke and she leaned toward him, wanting to taste it. “My queen,” he said, and started toward her.
“Halt!” she commanded. To her surprise, Hades immediately obeyed, though it was clear he hadn’t wanted to—his hands fisted and his jaw tightened, his shoulders tense. Before he could protest, though, she gave another command. “Undress.”
He watched her a moment, and his lips curled. “For someone who doesn’t like titles, you sure command as if you have one.”
She glared at him. “Should I repeat myself?”
Now Hades was smiling. He lifted his hand, and Persephone stopped him. “Not with magic. The mortal way. Slowly.”
“As you wish,” he said.
Hades took his time unbuttoning his shirt and pants. He took his shirt off first, revealing his burnished skin and the muscles of his arms and stomach. Next, he slid out of his pants, revealing his thick and heavy erection.
By the time he was finished and stood naked before her, she sat on the edge of his throne, her hands gripping the arms of the elegant chair. She considered reaching for him, wrapping her fingers around his velvety cock, but refrained.
“And your hair,” she said. “Take it down.”
He reached up, massive muscles flexing, as he untied his usually slick-backed hair. The long, dark locks fell around his shoulders in waves making him look feral and untamed. It thrilled her. But there was one more thing she wanted.
“Drop your glamour,” she said.
The corners of his mouth lifted. “I will if you will.”
She stared at him for a moment. She was getting better at releasing her glamour once she was in the Underworld, but it still made her feel uncomfortable. Hades knew that. “Here you are free,” he had said. “You have no need to hide who you truly are.” His words had meant a lot, but nothing could make her comfortable in her Divine form except time. She had only recently started to think of herself as a goddess, and her powers were nowhere near as great as Hades’.
Still, she did as he asked and released her hold on her magic. It was like letting a heavy cloak drop from about her or shedding skin that had become taunt and vaguely uncomfortable. Hades’ eyes swept her whole body—from her slender, white horns that twisted out from a head of unruly, golden hair to her bare feet, dirty from running through the garden and Asphodel. It shouldn’t feel so intimate because the way he looked at her was familiar, but when his dark eyes met her bottle-green ones, she felt like she might implode from the intensity. He dropped his glamour next. Persephone loved watching Hades transform. His glamour evaporated like smoke, peeling from his body to reveal the ancient god beneath. Hades wasn’t often in his Divine form, which was strange considering he encouraged Persephone to remain in hers. His horns were black, lethal, and yet, graceful, having the same slender curves as a gazelle’s. The dark of his eyes burned away to reveal electric blue iris. He was beautiful and terrifying but she didn’t tremble—she never trembled.
She stood then, studying him as intently as he had her, and approached.
“Don’t move,” she whispered.
She thought she heard him groan, but she wasn’t sure.
She placed her palm on his chest. His body was an inferno beneath her hand, as hot as the River Phlegethon. His skin was smooth and his muscles hard. She explored him—his abs and his sides, moving lower until her hand came into contact with his erection. When her fingers closed around the velvet shaft, Hades inhaled, his hands fisting so tight, she was sure he had pierced flesh. She looked up at him, stroking him until a thick bead of fluid glistened at the tip of his cock. She removed it with her forefinger and brought it to her mouth. Hades watched like a predator. She was pushing his limits, but that’s what she wanted. She stepped away, returning to his throne, never taking her eyes off him. With the taste of him upon her lips, and said, “Come.” Now Hades grinned. “Only for you.”
She considered vanishing again, but Hades was on her instantly. He shredded the rest of her clothes, and picked her up from his throne by the waist. She had no desire to resist him. She was hot and ready for him and he melded with him—chest to chest, legs around his waist, soft skin to iron muscle.
Hades drove into her and a guttural cry escaped from deep inside each of them. Persephone didn’t have time to catch her breath because Hades’ took her breast into his mouth, sucking hard, drawing his tongue around her nipple. Her fingers twined into his hair, pulling hard. Hades groaned and tore away to look into her eyes.
“I was beginning to think all you wanted to do was stare,” he said against her skin. She answered with a moan as he leveraged her weight and started to move in and out. Every slick inch of him filled her to bursting.
“I wanted you,” she managed. “I wanted to fuck the moment you entered the Underworld.” Her voice was a whisper now, husky and thick with pleasure. Each time he thrust, she stopped speaking, reveling in the pleasure wracking her body.
“And instead of fucking, you asked for a game.”
“I guess I like foreplay, too,” she answered, nibbling his ear.
Hades chuckle turned into a growl and he kissed her hard, slamming into her for a few uncontrolled moments. Persephone’s cries filled the throne room, but softened when Hades momentum slowed. It was sweet torture—he was dragging her to the edge of a cliff, holding her over by a thread.
Hades was the ultimate addiction. He was a glorious high, an intoxicating bliss she wanted all the time.
“I hate waiting for you,” she said.
“Then find me,” Hades said, kissing down her neck.
“You are busy.”
“Dreaming about being inside of you,” he said.
She managed a breathy laugh.
“I love that laugh,” he said, kissing her.
“I love you,” she said.
Something changed when she uttered those words. It wasn’t like she hadn’t said them before, but their reunion was still fresh. Hades met her gaze and held it as he seated himself on the edge of his throne.
Persephone kept her legs wrapped around his waist
“Say it again,” he said.
She studied him for a moment and twisted his hair around her fingers. It would be her lifeline because she knew by Hades voice and the way he looked at her, she was about to be consumed. “I love you, Hades,” she said softly.
His smile was breathtaking and he kissed her, helping her move up and down his shaft. “I love you,” Hades said, tearing away from her lips. “I loved you the moment I saw you.” “You didn’t—”
“I did,” he cut her off. “Never doubt.”
She started to respond but her words were swallowed by waves of pleasure. Hades kept speaking, his words punctuated by the impact of their bodies. The air was stifling, their bodies slick.
“You were made for me—I could taste it on your skin and the only thing I regret is that I have lived so long without you.”
He took one breast into his mouth and then the other.
“You are perfection,” he said, squeezing her bottom where he still held her. “You are my lover. You are my queen.”
He leaned back and slipped his hand between them. A new sensation accosted her as he stroked those sensitive nerves. She groaned and took control, riding him harder, faster, feeling him deeper than ever before.
“That’s it, darling.” Hades breathed as she moved up and down, building sensation after sensation as the sensitive tips of her nipples brushed against his skin.
Hades responded, meeting her thrusts. The pounding of their bodies was vicious and they came, brutally. Persephone collapsed against Hades, and they struggled to catch their breath. After a few moments, she felt Hades kiss her hair.
“You are beautiful,” he said.
She found it hilarious that after everything they had done together those simple words made her blush the deepest. She pressed a kiss to his chest and whispered. “So are you.” She heard him chuckle, and she pulled away to look at him, offended. Hades was still inside her, and as she moved, she felt him growing harder.
“Why are you laughing?”
His eyes glittered, but there was a seriousness to his expression that told her he wasn’t really amused.
“No one describes the God of the Dead as beautiful. Loathsome, yes. Frightening, yes.” “Well,” she pressed her palms to his chest, reaching for his lips with her own. As she did, she slid up Hades’ now-hard cock. “I am not no one.”
She spoke against his mouth but didn’t kiss him, and when she slammed herself down, Hades hands gripped her thighs and he growled. “No—you most certainly are not.” His fingers trailed over her cheek and to her mouth, Persephone parted her lips and nibbled at them. Hades sat up straighter, his other hand climbed up her back, and twined into her hair.
“Will I still learn about this fantasy of yours?”
Persephone wanted to smile—laugh, even, but she focused on the sensation of him inside her. Finally she managed, “You should have thought about that when we set terms.” “I’m merely asking out of concern for you,” he said.
His grasp on her tightened.
“Your pleasure is my highest priority, Persephone. I don’t want you to be afraid to ask me for anything.”
She wasn’t—was she? Hadn’t she just commanded the god of the underworld to strip naked? Still, telling him to undress wasn’t like telling him her deepest sexual desires, and she blushed at the thought. How was she supposed to tell him all the way she wanted to explore him? They came together once more and after, Hades reclined in his throne. Persephone was draped across his body.
“So your fantasy was to chase me across the Underworld and fuck me?” she asked. He chuckled.
“Something like that.” He pressed his lips to her hair. “Did you enjoy the thrill?” “I did,” she said. “I’m just curious about why I hadn’t heard about your fantasy before?” She realized the irony of her words.
Hades chuckled and squeezed her tighter.
“Darling, every time I fuck you it’s a fantasy.”