T W E N T Y - F I V E
“Where are we going?” I asked as he dragged me towards the edge of the courtyard.
He gave me a soft smile “It’s a surprise.”
I frowned “I hate surprises.”
“You’ll love this one” he said, pulling me to the edge of the castle grounds where the Acheron, or as I call it the Lake of Boiling Ghost water, surrounded us.
I raised an eyebrow “I thought we couldn’t travel the River without the sexy ferryman?”
Zephyr scowled “Do you want to see your surprise or not?”
“It’s a joke!” I snickered “Don’t get your knickers in a twist!”
“Knickers? Really?” He raised a brow “You aren’t even from the UK.”
I shrugged “I went through a phase.”
He gave me the side eye.
“What?!” I defended “I did!”
And I did.
I was so obsessed with anything UK related when I was younger that my parents ended up taking our whole family across the pond to where we were able to diverse ourselves in their culture for a whole month. To say I was sad when we had to leave was an understatement.
I was downright devastated.
The only thing that could get me on the plane to return home was the promise that I could come back after my High School graduation with the twins as our present before college started.
I nearly sulked, thinking that before all this crazy Hell stuff happened, I was a few short months away from reliving one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Zephyr pulled a pocket knife from his dark jeans before opening it and carving into his palm.
“Eek!” I squeaked when blood began oozing down his forearm “What are you doing?!”
Zephyr grinned, wincing slightly but overall, continuing to carve into his skin.
“Afraid of blood, are we?” He smirked “I thought wolves liked to hunt and weren’t afraid of getting their hands-I mean paws- dirty?”
“We aren’t” I shot back “But I don’t particularly like when someone I care about starts carving into their freaking skin!”
His smirk soften into a gentle smile.
“It’s part of the surprise.”
“Well, I don’t want it anymore” I mumbled under my breath “Not when it hurts you.”
“It doesn’t hurt” He said “It stings yeah, and may leave a scar for a while, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.”
“You don’t heal fast?” I asked, curious “Like I do? Like your parents?”
He shook his head “I don’t heal like a human, and what might kill them might only injure me, but I don’t nearly heal as fast as you do.”
“Why is that?”
He shrugged “Don’t know.”
“Does you brother heal fast?”
“Cerberus likes to slither his way out of things before the chaos turns deadly” He snorted “I’ve seen him turn the tables on so many people that, by the end of the day, those people don’t even realize why they were fighting with each other in the first place.”
I wrinkled my nose “What a sleazeball.”
“Sometimes, I wonder how we ended up so different.” Zephyr said softly before shaking his head “Anyways, today is about you. Not him. Let’s continue with the surprise.”
I nodded, taking a quick at his disfigured palm.
I was surprised to see such an intricate skull and crossbones type design.
It almost looked real and when I took a close look, I noticed that they weren’t crossbones underneath the skull.
Zephyr immediately bent down toward the Acheron before plunging his carved hand into the water.
He hissed when the water touched his skin.
“And why did you have to knife your hand again?” I bent down next to him and rubbed his arm.
He huffed out a laugh “For you.”
I frowned “No surprise is worth this much pain and trouble.”
He gave me a lopsided grin “This one is.”
“What are we waiting-”
The water started boiling around his hand, rising higher and higher until it was at his elbow.
Zephyr let out the breath he was holding before pulling his hand out of the water.
When I saw said hand, I winced.
It was red, raw, and blistering with blood still leaking from the wound.
When Zephyr saw what I was focusing on, he hid his hand and nudged me to watch the bubbling water.
“Just watch” he kissed my cheek quickly “I promise it will be worth it.”
I raised an eyebrow, but ultimately did what he said.
My mouth dropped open and my eyes nearly popped out of my head when a cloaked figure started rising from the water.
“What the...” I cursed, surprised at my...well...surprise.
Just when you thought you saw everything...BAM... something new and unexplainable pops up again and throws your mind for a loop.
At this rate, I’m lucky my mind hasn’t exploded yet.
Charon’s gorgeous figure peaked from under his hood as he scrutinized us from his boat.
“Why have you summoned me Zephyr?” He deep voice rumbled loudly, echoing against the cobblestone.
“You know why.” Zephyr stated, voice just as loud.
Charon shook his head “I cannot.”
“You can” Zephyr said confidently “You owe me this.”
Charon crossed his arms over his broad chest.
“I owe you Little Prince” he said “But I cannot owe you this.”
“You must” Zephyr said “We leave in two days. I want her to have this chance before it’s too late. Before something goes wrong.”
“Besides,” Zephyr added “We’ll be gone a couple of hours, not days.”
Charon remained silent for a few minutes, most likely contemplating his decision.
I looked back and forth between the two me, trying to decipher their unique conversation.
“Six hours” Charon rumbled, holding his hand out for me “I will only allow you six hours before I mention it to Hades.”
Zephyr grinned, ignoring Charon’s outstretched hand, and grabbing my waist gently before depositing me into the boat.
I rolled my eyes at his possessiveness and Charon gave us an amused smile.
“Glad to know you have some of your father’s traits” He said dryly “He does the same thing to your mother whenever I offer my assistance.”
Zephyr shrugged “You’re too pretty to trust.”
I snorted at the comment.
“You don’t trust him because he’s too pretty?” I roared with laughter “That’s your excuse?”
“I don’t trust anyone” He defended “But I especially don’t trust pretty people. They just strive to be perfect in such an imperfect world. We’re all born with imperfections, therefore, I don’t trust people who want to be perfect. They’re always the one’s with the most secrets.”
“Interesting logic” I commented with a smile.
“So you don’t trust Serenity?” Charon asked from behind us, a smirk teasing his lips “Because, from where I’m standing, she’s pretty perfect to me.”
What a flirt!
Zephyr choked, sending him a glare, and wrapping his arm around me.
“I trust her” he said simply.
“But you just said you don’t trust pretty people because they strive to be perfect” Charon countered “How can you truly trust Serenity, a gorgeous woman, if you say you don’t trust anyone ‘too pretty’?”
“She’s a different story” Zephyr growled “And I don’t have to explain it to you.”
“But you do have to explain it to me” I pushed him away with a teasing smile “I want to hear this.”
“Uh oh” Charon laughed, “This should be good.”
Zephyr pouted “I’ll tell you later.”
I snickered “Too much of a macho man to say your feelings out loud?”
“Yes” He muttered “Plus, whatever I say, he’ll just hold it over my head for the rest of my life.”
“True” Charon laughed “Just like the time you ran onto my boat naked after watching that Disney movie.”
I whipped my head around and faced Charon, a huge smile lighting up my face.
“I HAVE to hear this!”
Zephyr groaned, his face flushing, and he sunk deeper into his seat.
“Once, when he was four, I was docking in front of the Castle to let out some particularly...interesting souls... when Zephyr ran straight past me and dove into my boat. When Persephone and Hades finally caught up with him, he said he wanted to go back to the Mainland with me and become that kid from that Disney movie” Charon snapped, contemplating the name of said movie “What was the movie again Zeph?”
Zephyr’s blush deepened
“The Jungle Book” he muttered quietly.
I laughed so hard that tears started to stream down my face.
“No...way...” I gasped.
“I was four!” Zephyr defended “Mowgli was my hero.”
“But...you didn’t...have to...be...naked...to become...him” I gasped out, more tears streaming down my face as my laughter continued.
“Says the girl whose best friend was a frog.” He grumbled.
“Ooh” I snickered “Looks like we touched a nerve.”
“Zephyr always was a sensitive child” Charon surmised “How I hope it wouldn’t follow him into his adulthood.”
“Shut up” Zephyr growled at him before turning to me “And you did not hit a nerve.”
“I think I did” I sang to him “Or else you wouldn’t have brought up Mr. Ribbers.”
Zephyr sighed “Even after all these years later, I still think he has a stupid name.”
I gasped in outrage “YOU TAKE THAT BACK!”
Zephyr grinned, his pretty eyes brightening “Looks like I touched a nerve now, huh?”
“You’re damn right you did” I pinched his sides “Take it back!”
“YES!” I pinched harder until he winced slightly but was still laughing “Mr. Ribbers was a beautiful name for him!”
“Looks like I got my very own Princess and the Frog” He teased, puckering his lips “What do you think will happen if I kiss you right now?”
“I’ll deck you again” I deadpanned “Probably harder than last time considering you insulted my frog’s name.”
“As much as I would love to see that” Charon’s amused voice interrupted our heated discussion “I can’t let you waste the five hours and fifty-seven minutes you have left.”
Zephyr jumped out of the boat quickly before reaching for my hand.
“We’ll be back Charon” Zephyr said, squeezing my hand.
“You better be” Charon said “Or else, I’m letting Hades know.”
“Yeah, yeah” Zephyr grinned at me “We know.”
Things are getting good!