I’m a terrible blogger who makes promises and then totally shits the bed. Not literally, of course. I almost never actually shit the bed.
Anyway, I’ve missed a few Sneak Peek Sundays, and I’m sorry. Today, I finally remembered (mostly because I’m revising a WIP and realized the error of my ways). So, here’s a sneak peek at NEFARIOUS, book 3 in my “For the Love of Gods” series. (Just a couple of months before LUCKY is released!) These scenes are important to Book 4, because they mark where Hades and Persephone’s marriage takes a nosedive, and Hades starts believing he could actually one-up his brother.
“Hades, let’s not fight.” She walked to a small table next to her bed and placed her silver gloves on the smooth top. “Part of my deal with Dionysus was to provide him with a nymph. His very own little love bug. I agreed, and the soul was to end my association with him. Happy?”
Damn Dionysus again. Persephone was more concerned about pleasing the fool than she’d ever been regarding Hades’ pleasure. Jealousy consumed him. “Maybe you should’ve been his love bug. You seem to enjoy his company.”
She stiffened, but kept her back to him. “There is nothing between your nephew and me. Chaos arranged the deal. I did what was necessary to prevent further meddling from her. A thank you would be appreciated.”
“I should thank you for putting me at odds with my brother by plotting with Chaos. Yes, Percy, that’s absolutely wonderful.”
Persephone’s crimes just kept piling up. Hades felt his anger grow. It expanded to fill his belly, branching up toward his chest.
“You should trust my judgment, Hades.”
“How can I trust you when you cavort with such… distasteful company?”
Persephone spun to face him. Her eyes lit with the familiar anger. She was always unpleased with him. Never failed. “You are one to criticize. What was I to do? Go back on my word? It’s one soul. A worthless one at that. She was Fated to go to the Fields anyway. Not like you’d get any power or pleasure from her.”
“I take pleasure from no one but you, Percy, and you know it.”
She loosened the ties holding the black silk curtains around her bed. “I’m finished with this silliness. Please leave.”
“You leave.” He said.
“This is my room, so unless you’ve prettied up another prison cell to place me in, you’ll have to go.”
“Prison?” Hades swallowed his irritation. Why did he bother? She’d never feel the way he hoped she would. “If it’s so tortuous to be my wife, go back to Olympus. I’m tired of your constant disgust.”
She straightened, but kept her back to him. “Idle threats are for children, Hades. Don’t speak such words unless you mean them.”
He didn’t want her to leave, but he was tired of forcing her to stay by his side. Sure, she played the good wife sometimes, and she definitely enjoyed his body, but Persephone’s heart wasn’t in it. The knowledge was devastating to his ego. “I mean every word. Go find someone who will love you as much as I do.”
“Maybe I will.”
“It’s impossible, but I’m sure you’ll try.”
And Hades would kill whoever attempted to prove him wrong.
Hades summoned Thanatos after returning home. As he waited for his friend in his hall, Hades worried over his fight with Persephone. If she left, he’d have to follow. No way would he allow her to make him look more of a fool than she already had. He was King of the Underworld, for crying out loud. What message did it send if he couldn’t keep his wife in line?
“You called?” Thanatos appeared, a scowl darkening his features.
“Yes.” Hades straightened in his throne. “You recently visited a human. A woman.”
“I visit many women, Hades. You’ll have to be more specific.”
“She was shot in her home.”
“Ah, that one. Weird situation.”
Hades frowned. “How so?”
Thanatos shrugged. “I entered the home, touched her and then I felt the presence of two powers. One I couldn’t identify, but it was strong. The other was Eris.”
A slow pounding started in Hades’ head. What the hell was Eris doing on Earth? “Did she speak to you?”
“No. She didn’t show herself at all, but I sensed her presence. I think her purpose was tied to the other power.”
Hades tapped his chin. Had Chaos found a way out? Was she running amuck while they all assumed she was locked away? Why would Eris be involved?
“You’re sure you didn’t recognize this other power?”
“It felt male, but other than that, I don’t know.”
So it wasn’t Chaos, but Hades would wager the old witch knew all about it.
“What are you planning?” Hades appeared suddenly, forcing Chaos from her slumber.
She rolled to her side. “I have no plans at the moment.”
“My wife just stole a soul from me, and then she gave it to Dionysus. When I ask her why, she gives me some nonsense about owing him a nymph. I ask around a little more, and the whispers tell me you’re knee-deep in this nonsense.”
“I find it hard to believe my name crossed anyone’s lips.” Chaos had been careful to ensure her name was forgotten entirely.
“I know whom they speak of, even if you’ve wiped your name from their memories. Please tell me you aren’t on another revenge binge.”
For most of her stay in Tartarus, Hades had been her friend, although he played the role of jailer first. Chaos would use him later, but he wasn’t ready to take the field just yet. “Hades, you give me too much credit. How can I plan anything, bound as I am?”
“I’m not as gullible as my brother. You can’t fool me with nonsense.”
She laughed. “It is the truth. I cannot leave this place.”
“No, but your reach is infinite. Zeus was a fool to think he could confine your power to Tartarus. I’m not blinded by your docility. The only way to contain you is to squirrel you away with the others.”
“Fine.” Chaos shuddered at the thought. “The soul was Dionysus’ woman. If he helped Persephone teach Thanatos a lesson, she promised to return the woman to his side. I may have urged him to make the deal.”
“And Persephone agreed to deal with you?”
“No. Dionysus made the contract.”
“So if Hera gets wind of this little arrangement, my wife’s name will stay out of it?”
“It’s in my best interest to keep this from Hera. If she learns of the woman’s presence, we both know what will happen. I brokered the deal with Dionysus. Persephone’s part in it was a secret.”
Hades scowled. He stepped into her cave and sat on a delicate chair near her bed. “I am hearing of it, so I’m sure others have as well.”
“And if you tell them it is nonsense, they will forget.”
“I suppose now that the woman is a nymph, Zeus will protect her from harm.”
“Or he may not. I don’t wish to take the gamble. It’s best you forget about her and your wife’s dealings with Dionysus.”
He stared for a moment and then shook his head. She smiled. Even if the room were fully lit, and shadows weren’t covering her face, he’d never discern the truth. Her imprisonment had made her an expert at deception.
“You’re hiding something.” He said. “I don’t know why or what you’re hoping to achieve, but you risk the safety of everyone here if you tangle with Zeus. You realize this, right?”
“I’m not tangling with anyone.”
“This isn’t a game.”
“And I’m not playing.” It wasn’t a lie. Chaos was serious about freeing herself from this place and teaching Zeus and Hera about the benefits of humility.
“And what of Eris?”
Chaos had forgotten about her. “What of her?”
“Why was she at this woman’s home when Thanatos came to collect the soul? He claims to have felt another presence with her too, a divine entity he couldn’t identify. I think they’re connected to you somehow.”
“Why would Eris waste her time with me? She trusts no one.”
“Are you going to force me to investigate?”
It thrilled Chaos to know Gavin’s power had grown enough that important gods like Thanatos noted his existence, but Olympus was not yet prepared for Gavin. She picked at the edge of the sheet. “I don’t know anything about it. Eris does as she pleases. I’d think you would be happy she’s found a friend. She does have such difficulty playing with others.”
“There is something else.” He pointed, as though his finger might divine her secrets.
“The less you know the better.”
Hades sighed. “I’m afraid I agree. This is not the last discussion we’ll have, Chaos. I’ve managed to maintain a tenuous peace with my brother for a long time. I will not have you creating a war between us with your games.”
“But what if it were a war you might win?”
“I will not turn against Zeus.”
“You do agree, though, that he needs humbling?”
“He needs a kick in the ass, but not by my foot.”
“Perhaps there is another who would do it for you.”
He grinned. “Now that idea is tempting.”