One day Persephone is an ordinary high school senior working at her mom’s flower shop in Athens, Georgia. The next she’s fighting off Boreas, the brutal god of Winter, and learning that she’s a goddess—a rare daughter of the now-dead Zeus. Her goddess mom whisks her off to the Underworld to hide until Spring.
There she finds herself under the protection of handsome Hades, the god of the dead, and she’s automatically married to him. It’s the only way he can keep her safe. Older, wiser, and far more powerful than she, Hades isn’t interested in becoming her lover, at least not anytime soon. But every time he rescues her from another of Boreas’ schemes, they fall in love a little more. Will Hades ever admit his feelings for her?
Can she escape the grasp of Boreas’ minions? The Underworld is a very cool place, but is it worth giving up her life in the realm of the living? Her goddess powers are developing some serious, kick-butt potential. She’s going to fight back.
This is a deleted scene from my novel, Persephone. It was originally supposed to be the prologue, but my publisher decided to cut it. It was the only scene written for Persephone with a point of view from Hades. I’ve paired it with the same scene from Persephone’s perspective.
She was beautiful. Hades hadn’t expected that. Silly really, the daughter of Zeus and Demeter would hardly be plain. He wasn’t sure what he had been expecting as he tore his way through the earth. He hadn’t taken the time to think, had only been advised of what was happening above his realm, and acted.
She held her head high as the ice retreated. Her fists clenched in defiance as her white dress swirled around her petite frame. She had to be frightened. He could almost see her pulse hammering in her throat. Still, she stood calmly facing his chariot as he drew to a halt.
He felt as though he was seeing the sun for the first time. Had she only been beautiful, he would have been able to tear his gaze away from her. He had seen no shortage of beauties in his long and lonely existence. Helen of Troy, Andromeda, even Oreithyia could not have matched this girl for beauty. It was the purity and intelligence sparkling from her cypress green eyes that held him captive. That she was still standing spoke of immeasurable bravery to say nothing of that defiantly clenched fist.
He loomed over her, in his black chariot. He was trapped in her gaze, unable to move forward. His mind kept repeating an endless refrain of thanks that he had not been too late. Another thought kept edging to the forefront of his brain. He tried to shove it back unsuccessfully. He had to have her.
That she would complicate his life beyond measure was of no importance. Demeter would be furious. If this begat a war with the few gods left, so be it. Cassandra had warned him this would happen one day. Gods help him, he’d thought she was kidding.
“I can’t believe I’m even considering this,” I muttered.
My hair whipped across my face as a breeze picked up around me. I sat up and placed my hand on the cool, dark earth before me, feeling energy thrumming through the soil. I closed my eyes and concentrated on making something, anything, happen.
I felt a tickle against my palm and jerked forward, eyes flying open. I nearly fell face first in the dirt when a bright green stem unwound itself between two of my outstretched fingers. I scarcely breathed as red petals unfurled themselves into a tiny red poppy.
I gasped. I had powers! I was a goddess! I wasn’t crazy, Mom wasn’t crazy. Melissa, Orpheus, it was all true. Wasn’t it?
“I’m not hallucinating, am I?” I touched the flower, feeling the silky petal brush against my hand. The wind pushed me forward forcefully. My bag of pomegranate seeds blew over, spilling around the poppy. My dress flapped against my ankles as chills shot across my skin. I heard crackling and spun around to see the ground freezing around the flower.
The frost crept toward me. The branches above me stretched toward my face, ice inching along the branches. I heard a loud snap and a massive branch broke from the tree and hurtled toward my head.
I screamed and stumbled backward. The branch crashed in front of me, scraping my legs. I ran for the parking lot as fast as I could. The frost closed in, surrounding me. I’d never been claustrophobic, but as the frost cut off my escape path with a solid white wall, I panicked.
Fog rolled in, like cold death, cutting off my view of the park. It curled around me, brushing against my face, arms, and legs. I turned back to the tree and ran faster, my dress tangling between my legs as the fog and icy wind blew against my skin.
The parking lot is the other way! my mind screamed. The other way was cut off by a mountain of ice. I felt as if I was being herded. By ice?
I slipped on the icy ground, falling face first into the frost. Ice crept up my toes and along my legs. I thrashed and screamed. I felt the fog becoming a solid mass above me, pinning me to the ground. The ice piled around me. Am I going to be buried alive?
I dug my nails into the frigid snow in front of me and tried to claw my way out of the frosted death trap. I was so panicked I didn’t feel it when my nails broke against the impenetrable wall of ice, leaving red crescents of blood welling up on sensitive skin. A hysterical sob worked its way out of my throat as I gouged red lines into the ice. The ice was above my knees, snaking its way up my thighs. I shivered.
Shivering’s good, I reminded myself. It means your body hasn’t given up . . . yet. The cold was painful, like a thousand little knives pricking my skin. A violent tremor went up my spine, sending waves of pain through me.
“Help me!” I screamed, knowing it was futile. I was going to die here.
Except I couldn’t die. Could I? Mom said I was immortal, but was that all-inclusive? Did I have a weakness? Was snow my Kryptonite? If I got hurt, would I heal or would I be trapped in an injured body in pain forever?
I suddenly didn’t know if immortality was a good thing or a bad thing. The cold hurt. I was kicking, screaming, and clawing my way out of the frost, but for every inch I gained a mountain piled around me. I thought I heard a man’s laughter on the wind, the sound somehow colder than the ice freezing me into place.
The ground before my outstretched hand trembled. The shaking increased. The earth lurched beneath me. The surface cracked and the sound was so loud that for a moment all I could hear was high-pitched ringing in my ears. The ground split into an impossibly deep crevice. My voice went hoarse from screaming as I peered into the endless abyss, trapped and unable to move away from the vertigo-inducing edge. A midnight black chariot, drawn by four crepuscular horses that looked like they’d been created out of the night sky, surged from the crevice. I ducked my head into the snow with a frightened whimper as they passed over my prone body.
The fog around me dissipated as the ice melted away from my body. Terrified, I sprang to my feet, stopping when I was eye-to-eye with one of the frightening horses pulling the chariot. For a moment I could do nothing but stare into its huge, emotionless eyes. A strangled whimper tore from my throat and the horse snorted at me.
They weren’t black; they weren’t anything. They were an absence of color and of light, a nauseating swirling void. They hurt to look at. My head ached, and my stomach lurched in mutiny. I clenched my fists and turned to the driver.
His electric blue eyes met mine, and he seemed to see everything I’d done and everything I’d ever do. I had the strange sensation I’d been judged and found wanting. No way this guy was human. His skin could have been carved from marble; his hair was the same disorienting black as the horses. A terrifying power emanated from his tall, statuesque frame.
I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t move. His ebony cape billowed behind him as he marched toward me. At the grasp of his hand I snapped back to life and jerked away from him.
“We have to get out of here.”
“Let me go!” I yelled, yanking my arm away. He closed in on me, pushing me toward the chariot. I struggled against him, shrieking with rage when he picked me up and slung me over his back like a sack of potatoes.
I punched his back, kicking my legs. “Let me go! Someone help me! Help!”
I recalled the instructor of some self-defense class long lost in memory reminding me dead weight was harder to carry than a thrashing captive. My body rebelled at the idea of going limp so I pushed aside his cape, pulled his shirt up and raked my torn and ragged nails across his bare skin. His hands jerked in surprise and I slid off his back and onto the hard ground.
My breath left my body as I hit the ground with enough force to make me dizzy. With strength I didn’t know I possessed, I scrambled away, clawing at him as he pulled me back.
“Enough!” he shouted. “We don’t have time for this! I have to get you out of here!”
“No!” I yelled. Did he really just expect me to go Okay, strange creepy man, I’ll get in your scary chariot of death. No problem.
His furtive gaze took in the empty park, and he swore in a voice as smooth as silk. “I’m sorry.”
My eyes widened in surprise as his lips pressed against mine. I went wild, hitting and scratching and pushing for all I was worth. He didn’t budge. He exhaled, and I sank lifelessly into his arms.
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