Authors: Lola James
“Well, that was easy,” Dawn, said brushing some imaginary dust off her. She then walked over to Ben and Kevin, touching the chains that bound them. The iron bindings fell to the ground.
Ben came immediately to the cell I shared with Joanna. When he opened the cell, Joanna greeted him with open arms, holding him for moments until Kevin cleared his throat for Ben to move.
When Ben and Joanna moved, Kevin snatched me into his arms, swinging me around. “I will always be here for you,” Kevin said.
After the second spin, I was dizzy and nauseous.
I have to tell him now or I never will,
I thought. I pulled back from the hug. “Kevin, I should have told you
ago. I just thought that I may have come to love you eventually the way that you love me.” I sighed. “I love you, I do, but my love for you is not exactly as unconditional for you as yours is for me. I mean, you have been with me over all of these years, centuries even. And I do love you. It’s just that I love you platonically, not romantically. That’s why I left with Hades all that time ago…I do love him. I have from the moment I laid eyes on him.” My eyes darted around the room of onlookers and friends. “This is not your battle, and I understand if you don’t want to help us fight or be part of whatever is about to happen.”
He released my hand and backed away. “Antonia, do you know that I have loved you and married you many times over and that we have lived all over the world, some places twice? I did this for you. I love you…my life would be incomplete without you.” Tears streamed from his eyes.
“Kevin,” Dawn said as she wrapped her arms around him.
“But you don’t understand. I do love you. It’s just not the same way,” I said, now crying as well.
“No! You don’t get to cry, you have no reason to cry! You are the one who broke my heart. I never broke yours, so don’t cry,” he said as he slapped my cheek.
I dropped to the ground and Ben became a blur taking Kevin away from me. Then he was crouched down next to me.
“Are you all right, Antonia?” he asked as he helped me on my feet.
His eyes never left mine as I nodded. He stood close to me and rubbed my cheek with the back of his finger. A chill went down my spine as thoughts of Ben and I surfaced from the night in the arboretum. I found it hard to breathe as his finger neared my chin, and he lifted my head up to look into his eyes.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
I nodded again, because words escaped me. He wrapped his arm around me, pulling me close to him as I was engulfed in the smell of his cologne, reminding me of him and our date night together that ended in the park.
I leaned in close and pushed myself onto my tiptoes to whisper into his ear. “I love you, Ben,” I said before I pulled back.
Ben’s eyes widened, as did Joanna’s. Ben swallowed hard, unable to find any words to reply. Suddenly, black smoke formed on the ground of the dungeon. I pushed away from Ben—I knew who was coming. I blinked as a cloud of smoke appeared at the bottom of the stairs and began to form into Hades. His brilliantly chiseled form came into sight.
“Antonia, my sweet,” Hades said, extending his hand to me.
“Hades,” I said as I took a step forward and away from Ben. Hades was instantly in front of me, a cloud of grey smoke enveloping him as if he were on fire, or part of a fire that had just been put out. He was dressed in a black gown. His usually intoxicating hazel eyes were now jet-black, and he looked older than usual.
“My love, why are you dressed this way?
And why do you look this way?” I asked as I looked into his hypnotizing eyes.
“Come, Antonia. We need to talk in private before we depart.” Hades picked me up and cradled me in his arms
I looked over my shoulder at everyone, who now stood in awe as I wrapped my arms around Hades’ neck.
“Where are you taking her?” Ben demanded, suddenly in front of Hades. I gasped at Ben’s reaction.
“Ben, don’t!” I shook my head his way.
“Ah, the charming vampire, Benjamin.
I do not have time for this nonsense. I have to help Antonia before
all head to the underworld,” Hades said as a cloud of black smoke began to rise around us.
Ben grabbed my arm, and the three of us abruptly disappeared from the dungeon. When the smoke cleared, we stood in the same bedroom where Hades and I had made love just a few hours before. Bion was waiting for us, pacing the floor. He turned to look at us as we walked toward the bed.
Hades set me down on my feet. His eyes widened when he saw my rosy cheek where Kevin had slapped me. “Antonia, did Persephone hurt you in any way?”
“No, but you never told me of your wife.” I was angry at that fact—and the fact I was his mistress. Suddenly, I began to second-guess his love for me. I stood looking up at Hades as he looked over me and then at Ben, now standing behind me.
“If you don’t mind, Vampire,” Hades said I tossed my head over my shoulder see Ben in a protective stance. I loved that about him. He wants to be brave for me even in front of the god that owned his soul.
“It’s ok, Ben.” I gave him a reassuring smile that made him relax a little.
Ben backed up with a perplexed look, narrowed eyes fixed on me.
Hades looked down at me. “Antonia, my wife, Persephone, forced me into marriage. I caught a glimpse of her in a meadow with another goddess and I instantly fell for her because of her beauty.” A smile touched his lips as he talked of Persephone and jealousy boiled inside of me. “But you, Antonia, I loved you the moment my eyes met yours.” He shifted his focus back to me.
Ben snorted in the background, and Hades and I spun around to stare at him. “I’m sorry…please
,” Ben, said his hands up in surrender as he backed up further.
“My love, I am afraid that Persephone has the intent of killing you to regain her full-time goddess status on Mount Olympus.” Hades beheld me intently, and it seemed he saw straight into my soul.
I felt his love in the intensity of his gaze. It was as if he was etching my heart with that adoration. Overwhelmed at the emotions now consuming me, I fainted. I could still hear everything going on around me, but everything was foggy as my body fell toward the ground. Hades and Ben both caught me before I hit the floor.
“What did you do?” Ben asked. He softly rubbed my cheek with his finger.
Hades dropped his head as he picked me up into his arms, pulling me from Ben’s soft touch.
“What’s wrong with her?” Ben demanded as he pushed Hades, who laid my limp body on the bed of our love.
I felt the softness tickle my back and a warm hand grab mine as Hades placed me down.
“I put her to sleep. She needs to rest before she goes to the underworld. She is a mortal, and I fear because of her mortality she won’t be able to leave the underworld. Persephone is planning to kill her there, and she will never be able to leave. No matter if she becomes an immortal or not, her soul will be trapped there.” Hades voice sounded defeated and so final. My thoughts scrambled at the weight of his words. They only meant death for me.
“And you are just going to let her die?” Ben asked.
“I have no choice. I can’t upset the balance of nature. I don’t want that war with the gods,” Hades said as he sat on the bed and took my other hand in his. “Every war amongst the gods has been over a woman, whither god or mortal. I cannot start another war after so many years of peace.” Hades tried to rationalize his choice that doomed me to death.
“She must mean more to you than all the peace on earth. You have to do something. You cannot let her go! Just let her die at your wife’s hands.” Ben’s voice spiked with anger and sadness.
“My dear brother would never see it that way. As a god we have been forbidden to be with mortals but Antonia and I met before such a silly law was applied.” Hades kissed my fingertips.
“She hid from you for years. You don’t think she could hide now?” Ben began to rub my ankle.
I felt my other hand still occupied, so I knew it must be Bion that held it because of the warmth.
“I knew where she was all of that time; I just did nothing about it. I was waiting for the day that she would return to me,” Hades said softly, pressing my fingertips to his lips. “Persephone will find her, as I did, if she hides again.”
Bion asked as he released my hand.
“Old friend, there is not much that we as gods do not know. I knew that you changed her appearance to that hideous hair, and you made her forget her life with me.” Hades sounded disgusted as he spoke.
Ben released my leg at those words.
“I thought you kidnapped her. I did not know that you truly loved her and that she truly loved you,” Bion said.
I didn’t understand how Bion knew anything. He was Hades minion…wasn’t he?
“What is going on here?” Ben questioned.
Hades put my hand against his chest. “Ah, the vampire does not know or has never met Mattathias Bion Nikos, or as he is better known, my love’s dear father.” After Hades said this, there was stark silence in the room.
I replayed the words
my love’s dear father
over and over again in my head. I thought back to when I had looked into Bion’s eyes; they’d been so familiar. Now I knew why––
was my father. I felt tears spill from my closed eyes. This was the happiest yet saddest reunion ever. I had been reunited with my father, but I was unable to hug him, hold him, or kiss him. I was stuck asleep and awaiting my demise in the underworld, seemingly at the mercy of my lover’s wife. My life sucked!
“You changed me back?” Bion asked moments later.
Hades resumed kissing my fingertips.
“I thought your daughter should lay eyes on you before she dies at Persephone’s hands.”
“It’s all lies. You are not this evil and malicious god that rules the souls of the dead, and you have a heart,” Ben said with astonishment in his voice.
“And my heart belongs to this beautiful lady that
asleep before us.” Hades wiped the tears that ran down my cheek.
“But the evil ruler?”
Ben questioned in a whisper.
“My wife is the evil one, not I,” Hades retorted.
“How sweet of you to talk of me in such a becoming way, darling,” Persephone’s voice filled the room, “and you have brought those that love Antonia to say goodbye. What have you done? You did not kill her, did you?” Persephone said in anger coming closer toward me in the room.
“She is asleep.” Ben’s voice was somber.
“Calm down, vampire.
Why aren’t you with that lovely little Catherine?” she asked as her voice came closer to where I lay.
“She’s dead, and he killed her,” Annie said as she slammed the door behind her.
“I thought I told you to wait in the room until it is time for us to go to the underworld,” Persephone said.
“You did, but I wanted to join the party, and since I know that it’s my magic that is needed, I figured you wouldn’t object,” Annie said with pride. “What happened to Toni?” She sounded more angry than concerned.
“She is asleep,” Hades said with bitterness on his tongue.
“Well, let’s get her dressed for the underworld,” Annie said. “I think the theme is black because she is dying.” She laughed as she began speaking in a foreign tongue. I felt Hades hand squeeze mine tighter as the cloth that covered me began to move to a different length. The new clothes clung to my body and cut off at my knee, my bare feet were changed with shoes, tight-fitting ones at that. My hair flattened on the pillow under my head.
“Perfect,” Hades said under his breath as Persephone sighed so loudly that no one could miss it.
The ground began to shake again as it had in the dungeon with Dawn.
“What’s with this ground shaking here on earth? This is why I only go to the sky and the underworld. Come, Hades, we need to talk.” Persephone’s angry voice was followed by a loud crash as the door slammed into the wall after being yanked open. “Annie, do make sure our friends don’t kill dear Antonia before we go to the underworld.”
Hades kissed my hand then the path of tears on my cheek. His finger loosed from my hand. A cool hand quickly replaced Hades as I heard a whoosh sound.
“It must suck to be married to someone you hate,” Annie said as she pushed my legs over and sat on the bed.
“Why did you kill Zelma? And why would you want to harm Antonia?” Ben asked.
“Zelma was just an obstacle, but Toni…” Distaste lined Annie’s words. “She is nothing more than a woman who enjoys the misery of others. She isn’t the saint that you think she is.” She paused before she spoke. “She led poor Kevin on for years. He followed her around like flies to honey. She never gave him a second look until Medical School, and then he tricked her and rejected her. It was classic. But who was there for her? Me. I helped her pick up the pieces, I even put her to sleep with spells every night because she couldn’t sleep, but she never once thanked me, or paid me any attention, for that matter. She was just too superficial to pay any attention to me. I’m the one who loved and cared for her,” Annie rambled, not even taking a breath. “Now I come to find out that she was betrothed to him and she left him for Hades and now you. No one woman deserves that much love!
Especially with me waiting in the wings all this time.
I’ll bet she will miss my love now.” Annie smiled as she ended her speech.