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Neon Gods: Chapter 21

Hades

I wake up with Persephone in my arms. It’s become my favorite part of the day, that first slide of awareness and the warmth of her. Despite what she said that first time, she’s a cuddler, and it doesn’t matter where we start out when we fall asleep, because she finds her way to me in the dark. Over and over again, every night we spend together in my bed.

If I was a hopeful kind of man, I’d see this as a sign of something more. I know better. She likes what we do together. She even likes me at least a tolerable amount. But the only reason we’re together right now is because we’re on parallel paths to make Zeus pay. The second that’s accomplished, this ends.

Neither of us is fool enough to believe the last few weeks are anything but the quiet before the storm. Everyone thinks Zeus is loud and brash, but he’s only that way to distract from what he’s doing behind the scenes. For three weeks, he’s been attending parties and acting as if nothing is wrong. Demeter hasn’t publicly followed through on her threat, but the shipments into the lower city have decreased a marked amount. If we hadn’t spent years preparing to be cut off, my people would be suffering right now.

All for pride.

I smooth Persephone’s golden hair back from her face. If I was a better man… But I’m not. I’ve set myself on this path and I’ll see it through to the end. I should be delighted that she wants to play out the fantasy I described to her that night. Maybe her fucking me isn’t enough to force Zeus’s hand, but every time she rides my cock in public, we get closer to that point. Every time the rumor mill swirls with what people have witnessed while visiting my playroom, her perceived value decreases in Zeus’s eyes. A brilliant move, even if I’m not making it for brilliant reasons.

She wants it. I want to give it to her. That’s enough of a reason for me.

Persephone stirs against me and opens those hazel eyes. She smiles. “Morning.”

The dull thump in my chest that happens more and more around her gains teeth and claws. I can’t help smiling in response, even as part of me wants to get the fuck out of this bed and start walking and not stop until I have myself under control. Just because I’ve never felt like this before doesn’t mean I’m not aware of what’s happening.

I’m falling for Persephone.

Maybe there’d be time to save myself if I backed out now, but I’m not so sure. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’m not stopping until I have to, no matter how much pain it causes at the end of this. I smooth her hair back again. “Morning.”

She cuddles closer and lays her head on my scarred chest as if the sight doesn’t repulse her. Who knows? Maybe it doesn’t. She’d be the only one, though. I had one relationship very early on where I was naked with my partner, and his response was strong enough to ensure I never did it again. Maybe others would have been more welcoming, but I never gave them the chance.

Not like I’m giving her the chance now.

“Are things going okay?” Her hand quivers like she wants to touch me, but then she seems to forcibly still it on my waist. Respecting how hard it still is for me to lie here in the morning light with my scars exposed. “You haven’t said much this week about supply lines and the like.”

I release a slow breath and try to relax. I don’t know if I want her to touch me or not touch me. I don’t know shit when it comes to this woman, apparently. It’s almost a relief to focus on the greater problem outside this bedroom. “We’re in a holding pattern. The supplies keep dwindling, but we were prepared for that. Zeus hasn’t so much as prodded our borders.”

She tenses. “I can’t believe my mother would be so cruel. I’m so sorry. I honestly thought…” She gives a mirthless laugh. “I don’t know what I thought that first night. That no one would miss me if I disappeared? It seems very shortsighted when I look back now.”

“It wasn’t shortsighted so much as you were terrified and reacting.” But I know Persephone well enough now to know that acting without a plan amounts to an unforgivable sin. “It just means you’re human. Humans get scared and run sometimes. It’s not something you need to beat yourself up over.”

She huffs out a breath, but she’s still staring at things beyond this room. “I don’t get to be human. Not when my whole future hangs in the balance. And even then, I should have been thinking of someone other than myself.”

So we’re back to this.

I gather her into my arms and hold her close. “Do you trust me, Persephone?”

“What?” She cranes her neck to see my face, her dark brows pulled together. “What kind of question is that?”

“A legitimate one.” I try not to hold my breath while I wait for a response.

Thank the gods she doesn’t make me wait long. Persephone nods, suddenly solemn. “Yes, Hades, I trust you.”

The clawing feeling in my chest only gets stronger. It feels like my heart is trying to dig its way through calcified tissue to get to her. I’m rapidly reaching the point where I’d cut my chest open and dig my heart out just so I can present it to her. What the fuck is wrong with me? She’s leaving. She was always leaving.

I never thought she’d take my beaten-up heart with her when she walked away.

“Hades?”

I blink and push the new revelation away. “If you trust me, then trust me when I say you’re doing better than anyone else would have in your situation.”

She’s frowning at me again. “It’s not that simple.”

“It’s exactly that simple.”

“You can’t just decree it to be so and wipe all the doubt from my mind.”

I chuckle. “I wouldn’t even if I could. I like you when you’re difficult.”

Persephone shifts, sliding a leg over my hips and moving up to straddle me. With her hair a mess and her body backlit by the faint morning sun sneaking through the curtains, she looks like some kind of spring goddess, all warm and earthy.

She holds my gaze. “Since we’re on the subject of trust, I want to talk about protection.” She holds perfectly still, as if she doesn’t notice my cock hardening against her. “As in, I would like to stop using it.”

My breath catches in my throat. “You don’t have to do that.”

“I know, Hades. I don’t have to do anything with you that I don’t want to do.”

The easy way she says it makes me feel… She just flat-out makes me feel. A lot. I gently set my hands on her hips. “I’m tested regularly.”

She nods as if she expects no less, taking me at my word. The sheer trust she’s putting in me is a little staggering. Persephone covers my hands with her own. “I haven’t been with anyone since my ex-girlfriend, and I was tested after that. I’m also on birth control—an IUD.”

“You don’t have to do this,” I repeat. I want to be inside her without a barrier more than I want almost anything right now, but I also don’t want her to agree to something she’s not one hundred percent ready for. I really should know Persephone better by now.

“Hades.” She doesn’t move. “Do you not want to? Because it’s okay if you don’t. I know there’s some trust involved with the entire birth-control subject, and if you’re not comfortable with it, that’s okay, too. I promise it is.”

For a moment, I just stare at her in shock. When was the last time someone took my comfort level into account? I don’t know. I really have no fucking idea. When I was with partners in the past, I was the dominant one, the responsible party who designed the scenes and ran them. I like that role, like having others submit to me, but I didn’t realize how tired I am until Persephone offers me the tiniest of considerations.

She’s frowning again. “Oh gods, I crossed a line, didn’t I? I’m sorry. Forget I said anything.”

I tighten my grip on her hips before she can move. “Hold on. Give me a second.”

“Take as long as you need.” She says it so meekly, I almost laugh.

I finally get ahold of myself. “I think we’re on the same page.” I speak slowly, feeling my way. “If you change your mind at any point, we’ll go back to condoms.”

“If you change your mind, too.” She gives me a happy smile and grips my wrists, slowly bringing my hands up to palm her breasts. “Never a better time to start than now.”

“Can’t argue that.”

She arches her brows. “Really? You’re not going to argue even a little bit? How disappointing.”

I snag the back of her neck and tow her down to meet my mouth. As much as I enjoy sniping back and forth with her, I’m not in the mood right now. The amount of trust she’s placing in me staggers me on a level I’m not prepared to deal with. This isn’t anything as deceptively simple as telling each other truths. She’s taking my word that she’s safe with me in this moment.

Persephone melts against my chest, eagerly meeting my kiss. I slide my hands around to grip her ass and shift her up enough that my cock notches at her entrance. I hold perfectly still, giving her plenty of time to change her mind. I really should know better by now. She’s set herself on this path and is ready to eagerly race forward just like she seems to do with everything else.

She circles her hips slowly, working the head of my cock inside her. Persephone shifts to whisper in my ear. “This feels so wicked, doesn’t it? You’re so hard, it makes me crazy.” She gives her hips another swivel. “Talk to me, Hades. Tell me how good I feel. I love it when you spill sexy filth into my ears while you’re inside me.”

I love it, too. I let my hands coast down her ass to stroke the point where the curve meets the back of her upper thighs. “You’re so tight and wet, little siren. I think you like being wicked.”

“Yes.” She sinks another slow inch onto me.

“Don’t play coy. You wanted my cock. Now take it.”

She moans and slams all the way down, sheathing me to the hilt. I tangle my fingers in her hair and draw her close for another kiss. It’s messy and fucking perfect. It gets even better when she starts moving, rolling her hips even as she fights not to break the kiss. I can already tell it won’t be enough.

I release her and nudge her back to press my hand to the center of her chest, urging her to sit up. “Ride me.”

She obeys, arching her back and riding me in slow, decadent strokes. I watch my cock disappear into her pussy and have to fight not to come from the sight alone. The feel of her without a barrier between us, the sheer amount of trust she’s placing in me, it’s all too heady. I can’t think. I feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience because the only thing I can do is hang on to her as she fucks me slowly and thoroughly.

She’s a golden goddess and I’m just a mortal who will never deserve her.

Persephone grabs my wrists again, moving one hand to the apex of her thighs. “Touch me. Please, Hades. Make me come.” She moves the other to bracket her throat and leans into the contact. “Don’t stop.”

Sweet fuck.

I tense my arm, letting her press her throat harder against the palm of my hand, letting her control the pressure, and trace slow circles around her clit with my thumb. Her eyes slide shut with pleasure, and then she’s coming, her pussy clenching around my cock. It’s too much. Another time, I’ll go slower, last longer, but right now all I want is to follow her over the edge. I drive up into her, pleasure overwhelming me.

Persephone catches my mouth, catches me, in a kiss that slows everything and settles me back into my body, cell by cell. I wrap my arms around her and hold her close. My heart feels bloody and raw and that should scare me, but it’s somehow cathartic as fuck. I don’t understand it, but I don’t need to.

I press a kiss to her forehead. “Let’s take a shower and get moving.”

“Really?” She stretches against me, an intoxicating sensation of her skin against mine. “I thought maybe we could just play hooky and stay in bed.”

“If we do that, we can’t visit the greenhouse again today.”

She lifts her head so suddenly, she almost clocks me in the chin. “The greenhouse?

If I had any doubts about my plans for the day, the happiness written across her features would have banished them. “Yes.”

She’s up and off me before I have a chance to brace for it. “Well then, what are you waiting for? Let’s get moving.”

I watch her ass as she strides across the room and disappears through the door to the bathroom. A few seconds later, the water turns on and her voice floats out. “Coming? I think we’ll save time if we share a shower.” The wicked lilt to her tone gives lie to the words.

I find myself grinning as I climb out of bed and stalk toward the bathroom. “Save time and water. Sounds like a plan.”


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