Page 25

My cheeks burned. “A bell—the first chance we get, we are buying him a bell.”


A god popping in and out of your bedroom was, unsurprisingly, a major mood killer.

After Apollo vanished, neither of us was willing to risk him coming back with a ten-minute warning. Aiden had offered to speed up the get-ready-together process by sharing a shower.

From the bed, I raised my brows. “I don’t think that would be a quick shower.”

“You’re right.” He backed toward the bathroom door, his pajama bottoms hanging too low on his hips to be legal. “Can’t blame me for trying.”

He disappeared, and I flopped onto my back, groaning. I was going to ninja-kick Apollo in the face when I saw him.

Today, I didn’t put jeans on. I wore my Sentinel uniform.

My hair was still damp when we headed to the dean’s office. I don’t know why we had to keep meeting in there. It wasn’t so much because of what Ares had done in that room but because there were a lot of stairs to climb.

A lot.

The whole crew waited inside the office, and I knew Apollo was in there with Hades. I ran my hand over my arm, watching the marks glide seamlessly across my skin.

“Itchy?” Aiden asked.

I shrugged a shoulder. “The marks always go crazy when there are gods nearby.”

As we walked toward the dean’s office, he reached over, trailing his fingers along my arms. “Do they still react when I touch you?”

Heat crawled through my veins, and I nodded. The marks had followed the path of his touch. “Yeah, they still like you.”

One side of his lips curled up, and a look of male pride crossed his face. I shook my head. Boys.

We entered the office, and all the godly power in the room, plus Seth’s presence, was a bit overwhelming at first. I clenched my hands into fists to keep myself from bouncing off the walls or monkey-climbing Seth.

The two gods stood a good head taller than everyone else. They were shoulder to shoulder, but they couldn’t have been more opposite of one another. Where Apollo was all golden skin and sunlight, Hades was dark as night.

Aiden sent Seth a downright frightening glare as he strolled toward the people clustered around the two gods. At least he didn’t punch Seth, so that was a start in the right direction.

I guessed.

Seth lingered in the back, leaning against the wall as he eyed the two gods with an edge of distrust. I took a deep breath and approached him. A new wariness crept into his expression. “What’s up?” he asked.

“I didn’t say thank you.”

One golden brow rose. “For what?”

“For helping me out yesterday,” I explained, turning so we stood side by side. “I didn’t say thank you, so thank you.”

“You’ve said thank you three times now.”

“Yeah.” I leaned against the wall. “I can say it again, if you want.”

Seth turned sideways, facing me. When he spoke, his voice was low and held a biting, hard edge to it. “I don’t want you to say it at all.”

I arched a brow, but before he could elaborate, Marcus cleared his throat, drawing my attention.

Two gods stared at us.

I swallowed. Eerie. At least Apollo had normal eyes. Hades, on the other hand, looked like someone had forgotten to give him irises and pupils.

Seth pushed off and went to stand by the opposite wall, his back stiff and shoulders tensed. The gods tracked his movement like lions watching a gazelle. Then Hades turned to me.

The god’s lips spread into a tight smile. “Nice to see you again, Love.”

With the exception of wanting to kill me that one time, Hades was an exceptionally gorgeous man. And he had a British accent, which made him that much hotter. I had no idea why Hades had one, and I’d yet to hear another god with the same accent.

“No puppies this time?” I asked.

His eyes narrowed at the reminder. The last time we’d met, it had been in a convenience store in Middle of Nowhere, West Virginia, and I’d taken out a few of his prized three-headed hellhounds.

“No puppies. Yet.” Dressed in a sleeveless tunic, Hades’ biceps flexed as he folded his arms. “So, it’s true?” He swept the rest of the room with an arch look. Olivia shrank back, her normally caramel-colored skin pale. Hades’ grin spread. “You all have a favor to ask of me?”

Marcus glanced at the Apollo. “You haven’t told him?”

“Oh, he has. I was hoping that someone in here had used their intelligence and changed their minds.” Hades smirked. “Although, I see that is highly unlikely.”

Luke elbowed Deacon, who kept his face perfectly blank.

“Does everyone in this room understand the danger of releasing Perses?” Hades asked, standing in the middle of our loose circle. His leather-clad legs were spread wide, thighs like tree trunks. The silver cuffs at his wrists glinted in the light. “I’m not talking about a slight risk of him killing someone we don’t want dead. He will, mark my words. Perses is what you would call…”

“Unpredictable,” Apollo threw out, grinning. “We are well aware of that, as is Zeus, and from what I hear, he has sanctioned Perses’ release.”

Athena was his favorite child.

“That means squat to me, and you know that. Zeus has no power over my realm. And before this conversation proceeds any further, I want everyone to fully grasp what they are agreeing to.”

“We understand,” Seth said, gaining the boss of the Underworld’s attention.

“Do you?” Hades turned to him, head cocked to the side. “You’ve been around Ares. Let me ask you a question. What does Ares thrive on the most?”

“More than one thing—war and fear,” Seth responded blithely, and I flinched. “But most of all, he loves winning.”

“Correct, but Perses thrived on the bloodshed of battle. He used to bathe in the entrails of those he’d defeated.”

Olivia turned green.

“Not only that, Perses fought to destroy—not to win. There’s a big difference there.” Hades paused, and it felt like cold wind had circled its way down my spine. “And what has happened since Ares decided to play in the mortal realm?”

Aiden shifted his weight, his jaw set in a tight, grim line. “There’s been conflict—countries everywhere on the verge of war. His presence affects mortals. We know.”

“And what do you think will happen if you add Perses to the mix?” Hades asked. “His influence is stronger than Ares’. Those countries on the verge may make war just because we’ve released him. Is that another risk you’re willing to take?”

No one answered, because seriously, we could be exchanging one apocalyptic situation for another. “We have to take that risk,” I said finally, meeting the all-white eyes of Hades. “And we’ll make sure he behaves.” Hopefully.

“You think he’ll behave because I’ll release him into Elysian Fields afterward? Do you have any idea what crimes Perses was responsible for?”

I could only imagine.

Apparently Hades didn’t want me to use my imagination. “He created the term ‘rape and pillage.’ He wiped out entire generations and civilizations for the fun of it. He killed our brethren just to hear them scream and plead for their lives. He took our children and ripped them apart because he could. That is what you are releasing into the mortal realm. That is what you’re asking me to give paradise to.”

My heart rate kicked up. I got what Hades was saying. It was like allowing Hitler into Heaven or something, but I wondered if Hades had ever heard of the whole throwing stones and glass houses thing. “And how is that any different than what you guys have been responsible for throughout history?”

Hades took a step toward me, and over his shoulder I saw Aiden and Seth stiffen, but I didn’t need them. I held my ground and lifted my chin. The god stopped a few feet in front of me.

Akasha, the fifth and final element, simmered in the pit of my stomach. The marks on my skin tingled in warning, but I refused to look away from his unflinching stare. “What? It’s the truth. How is a Titan truly any worse than an Olympian running amok? Any worse than what Ares is already doing?”

A slow, almost-reluctant smile graced Hades’ lips. “You want to know the difference?”

“Yes.” Did he know how creepy his eyes were? Probably.

Hades leaned down, coming so close that we shared the same breathing space. “A God Killer can kill an Olympian. Not a Titan. And a Titan can kill an Apollyon.”

My brows shot up. “Oh.” Well, then…

“Yeah, ‘oh.’” Hades wheeled around, eyeing Aiden, who had made it halfway across the room before Apollo had intercepted and blocked him. “So does everyone still want to hold a welcoming party for a bloodthirsty Titan that no one can kill if he decides to not play along?”

Unrest filled the room. Luke and Solos shifted their gazes, no doubt having second thoughts. Deacon looked like he had no idea how he’d ended up in this room, and Olivia was slowly shaking her head. Only Aiden, Marcus and Seth looked resolute.

“You’ve stopped the Titans before,” Aiden said, voice level and calm despite the rising tension. “And there were many more than one at that time.”

“It took all of us to stop the Titans, one at a time. And if we manage to stop Ares, we will be down one,” Hades responded. “So it wouldn’t be easy.”

Apollo squared his shoulders. “You offer him paradise. He will behave.”

“You think?” Hades folded his arms again. “And I thought you weren’t really down with this plan?”

“It’s not the best thing, but it is all we have, and you know that’s true, so stop posturing. What do you want in return for releasing Perses?”

Hades’ jaw worked like he was crunching bone. “And for offering him paradise?”

The Sun god looked like he wanted to toss Hades at the sun. “Yes. And for that.”

Here it comes, I thought. What could Hades possibly want that we could give him in return for his assistance? The souls of our firstborn children? A giggle rose, but I squelched it, because it seriously could be that.

Seconds turned into an eternity, and then Hades finally spoke. “You.”

I blinked, at first having no idea who he was speaking to, but then I saw his attention fixed on Aiden. My heart thumped against my chest like a caged bird.

“What?” I demanded, my voice too thin.

Hades’ lips curled into a smirk. “I want him.”

A flash of bewilderment raced across Aiden’s features. “You want me?”

I had no idea where this was going, but I did not like it.

“He doesn’t swing that way,” Apollo commented, his blue eyes alive with amusement. “And I didn’t think you did, either.”

Someone, I suspected Seth, choked on a laugh.

Hades shot the other god a scathing look. “I want his soul.”


I was seconds away from discovering what would happen when an Apollyon hit a god with a bolt of anger-fueled akasha. Seth sensed my fury. Hell, he had to be drowning in it. He was edging along the wall, coming closer and closer to me.