F O R T Y - O N E
3 1/2 Years Later
“What’s wrong with him!” My Husband demanded, his eyes blazing more fiercely than the flames of the entire Underworld combined “What’s wrong with our son?!”
“Dying?” I gasped, my voice wobbly “How can he be dying? He’s only had symptoms that correlated with the mortal flu.”
Right then my son, my baby boy, coughed up dark blood, his chin covered in the overwhelming mess.
And it wasn’t a small amount of blood either.
When I wiped the blood away, the whole handkerchief was covered in deep red blood.
“On the Eve of his fourth birthday, during the risen Blood Moon, he will die” Hecate said, her voice devoid of emotion and sympathy for our baby boy “The son you’ve both longed and pleaded for will die for the fate of another. Their threads of fate are woven strongly together. His life, for hers.”
“But why?” My husband all but snarled “What makes her life so much more special than my son? The Prince of the Underworld?”
Hecate shrugged “I am not a Fate. I do not know.”
“Isn’t there something you can do?” I pleaded “Can we somehow...postpone his death...transfer his fate onto another soul?” I said, pointing to the wall of souls behind us “There aren’t a shortage of souls here.”
Hecate stared at me, her eyes blank “There is a spell but I cannot guarantee that it will work.”
I looked at my husband and I knew he saw the resolve in my eyes because the same was reflected in his.
We needed to save our son, no matter what the cost.
“Whatever it is” Hades said threw clenched teeth “We’ll do it. We just need our son alive and healthy.”
Hecate, for the first time since I’ve met her, smiled at our situation.
Her eyes gained a sparkling look and if it wasn’t my son’s precarious life dangling in her twisted hands, I would have called the whole deal off.
“This spell, if it does work, will only buy your son time” She warned us “On the Eve of the next Blood Moon, the girl’s second decennium, a choice will have to be made. The same choice that was presented today. His life or Hers. I cannot bind their souls again without erasing their individual existence nor can you two interfere again. The Souls whose fate is on the line must decide who gets to live and who gets to die.”
“What do you mean bind their souls?” I asked, gnawing on my lip in worry “I thought their fates were already intertwined?”
“Intertwined yes,” Hecate said, her fingertips twitching with navy sparks “But intertwined to the point where he dies and she lives. By binding their souls, I am giving them an equal existence at life. Neither one can survive without the other.”
“Lucky for us, this girl happens to be a Wolf” She continued, giving my husband a mocking grin “A Wolf who, just so happens, has chosen a Mate.”
“How is this lucky for us?” Hades gritted his teeth “Wolf bonds are chosen by a Goddess I’m not too fond with. Why do I care that this girl has a chosen mate when my son’s life is on the line?”
Hecate let our a delighted laugh “Because my sweet, it so happens that you son dies for this Wolf, his Chosen Mate.”
“How is that possible?” I gasped “We aren’t wolves.”
She shrugged “Fates only know why they were mated together.”
“Who is this girl” Hades snarled “Which wolf pack does she come from?”
Hecate snapped and a piece of paper landed in his hands.
“A newborn” Hades snapped “My son is dying for a barely birthed newborn?”
I glanced at the paper with the information on it “Serenity Matthews? Of the Matthews Pack?”
Hecate nodded and I blanched at the familiar name.
Both the Pack and my Husband and I had history with the deceased wolves of the Matthews Pack.
History that was peacefully resolved when we granted them land in the Underworld that was free of our interference.
The New Guardians of the Gate.
“The Matthews Pack is rapidly growing every day” she said “It won’t be long before they become one of the most feared packs in the Western Continent. It is strongly believed that she will be crowned the next Alpha by her twentieth birthday.”
“Why would we care about that” I shook my head.
“Just wanted to remind you that your son isn’t the only important one in the relationship” Hecate shrugged “This girl has the chance to change the world for all female Alphas.”
“Perform the spell” Hades hissed “I’ll handle the rest.”
He left the room and I gave Hecate a look “Gather what you need but do not perform the spell until I return.”
She nodded and bowed “I will be back shortly.”
I quickly carried my sleepy son back to his room and tucked him into bed.
I gave him a kiss on the forehead before exiting his room and running into my husband’s office.
His eyes were blazing like rubies and he was scrolling through our soul archive at a rapid pace.
“What are you doing?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” he said, his voice devoid of emotion “I’m finding this girl and going to eliminate her pack.”
I gasped “You can’t do that!”
“Why not?” he snarled “It’s either her or our son and I, for one, do not care enough about what happens to one little pack.”
“Especially one that causes me so many headaches even in the afterlife.” He muttered under his breath.
“You heard Hecate, Hades” I grabbed his wrist “This isn’t just any pack. This is Zephyr’s mate’s pack. One of the most rapidly growing in North America. You can’t eliminate something so big nor can you destroy a girl who’s fate is intertwined with our son’s. If she dies, then he does too.”
Hades growled “What do you propose me to do then? Watch our son die?”
“I didn’t say that” I said softly “We just have to figured out another way to go about this.”
Hades suddenly brightened “You are brilliant αγάπη μου!”
He gave me a quick kiss.
“Uh thanks...” I said once I caught my breath “But remind me again why I am so brilliant?”
He slashed his palm and quickly drew a familiar symbol on the wall.
“What is this?” I asked as a familiar screen started to materialize on the once vacant wall “What are we looking at?”
“Recently, there has been an influx of Wolf souls coming through our gates” he said quickly, scanning the screen “I would have thought nothing of it if it wasn’t for the fact that these wolves are part of Selene’s bloodline.”
“Selene?” I asked “Like the one who destroyed the underworld to bring back her own Mate from the dead?”
He nodded “Her descendent line is declining at a rapid rate. Faster than anything I’ve ever seen before.”
“Why is that?” I asked as I watched hundreds of wolves and humans slaughter each other in an unknown forest.
“At first I didn’t know” he answered “But after investigating, and with the small help of Hérmes, I found out that Wolf Hunters are trying to enact this age old prophecy.”
“Which is?” I asked when he trailed off and focused on the screen “Wolf Hunters?”
“The Wolf Moon” he said dismissively “It seems like some mortal fools want to try to capture and harness Selene’s power for their own.”
“Okay...” I said “So what does that have to do with our predicament? How will this help our son?”
He pointed at the screen and I saw a beautiful young woman, no more than eighteen, strapped to a stone altar “That girl is the key to everything.”
“How so?” I asked “And who is she?”
“She is the child born of both a Hunter and Wolf” he said “The direct descendent of Selene’s favorite child. The girl that will inherit the metaphoric crown and rule over all the Wolves.”
I stared at him “Even the Matthews Pack?”
“Especially the Matthews Pack” He nodded “And, it just so happens, she is very good friends with the younger Matthew twins.”
“What are you trying to tell me Hades?” I asked “How is she they key to all of our problems?”
“With how things are going, she will die” he said bluntly “And when she does, I will be there to make her a deal.”
“What kind of deal?” I asked warily.
He cut his gaze from mine “A deal she can’t say no to.”
“Hades” I grasped his large hands in my smaller ones “This plan, whatever you have concocted in your mind, once it is put into action cannot be reversed. Any innocent blood will be on your hands if you interfere with things you have no right to interfere with.”
He returned his gaze to mine and spoke softly “It’s the only way to save our son Persephone.”
“We can’t sacrifice an innocent’s life for our son’s” I shook my head “I would feel forever guilty if I took away another mother’s child.”
“That’s why I’m not asking you to make this deal” he urged me “I’m making this deal so you don’t feel guilty. The blood will be on my hands, not yours.”
“You’re telling me about it though.”
“You don’t even know what I’m going to offer her” he shook his head “So it won’t be on your conscious. Just mine.”
“I don’t know...” I whispered shakily “It’s a big decision...”
“We’re running out of time Λατρεία μου” Hades grasped my hands tighter in his and nodded towards the screen.
“What happens after you make the girl the deal” I asked “How will it help our son?”
“The girl’s family will not release her willingly” he said “Therefore, when the time comes, I will use the deal with this girl to make the family release Zephyr’s Mate to me when I need to collect her.”
“And then what?” I gripped him “Hold the girl hostage until the time comes when Zephyr has to chose his life or her’s?”
“We’ll figure that out when the time comes” He shook his head “Maybe we’ll send them on a journey throughout the Underworld to see if they hate each other. If they hate each other, then the choice should be clear.”
I looked back at the screen and stared at the girl trying to escape her restraints from the alter. Unbeknownst to her, a Hunter man was aiming a gun right at her head from a few short feet away.
I closed my eyes and knew, without a doubt, what my decision would be.
“Make the deal” I said, tears springing to my eyes “Make it one that she can’t refuse.”
“Please,” The young girl pleaded with me, tears streaming down her pretty face “I’ll do anything to stop this.”
She looked at the screen, the one currently displaying her family’s demise in real time, and choked on a sob and more wolves continued burst into a house.
While I did feel bad about tricking the girl, I knew that it was well worth it.
I would be the bad guy in any situation if it meant my son, my entire family, would be safe.
“Anything?” I asked, wanting to make sure she meant what she said.
I played along as the bad guy and gave her a wicked grin.
“I’ll let you go...” I said “On one condition.”
“Anything” She said in desperation when muffled cries and tortured screams came from the house “Just name it!”
“I want a favor” I replied, leaning back on my marble throne “One that I can collect at anytime, at anyplace, or from anyone of your people.”
I named my conditions and watched as her easily expressive face filled with apprehensiveness.
“What could I or any of the other wolves offer you that you don’t already have?” she questioned after a few moments of hesitation “I won’t let anyone suffer from a deal that I made.”
‘Intuitive...how quaint’ I thought to myself, admiring the girl for her bravery.
“That’s for me to know and for you to find out.” I said cryptically, ignoring her question.
I knew that if she had any inkling of my plan regarding her friend’s daughter, she would refuse in an instant.
“Tick Tock Kassiopeia. I might have all day but it seems like your friend’s time are running out.” I challenged her.
She bit her lip, no doubt weighing the pros and cons of this deal in her head.
‘Come on girl’ I urged ‘My son’s life depends on this.’
With a quick but discreet flick of my hand, I added some extra motivation to her by incorporating a few extra helpless screams.
“One favor and only One person” she stated, her posture straightening “And it has to be during my lifetime. The deal’s null and void the second I die.”
“Do you really think you should be making demands of me when your friends lives are in my hands?” I sneered.
“And do you think I really am such a fool to agree with a favor that has so many loopholes” she sneered back “I can’t have you killing me the moment I agree with your little bargain. My Mom taught me better than to leave any loose ends behind.”
“Fine” I spat, knowing that the Blood Moon would occur during her lifetime anyways “We have a deal.”
As quick as lightening, I grabbed her hand and slashed a my dagger through it.
She hissed at the usual burning sensation and tried to yank it away from from me but I held her much smaller hand in a death grip.
I refused to release it, instead, gripping it tighter so that more blood pooled in the center of her palm.
This ruse, was all a formality, and although I technically didn’t need to make the contract right this second, I knew that if I didn’t, she would try to back out of our deal the moment she realized in the future that I have come to collect Serenity.
When there was enough blood for the signature, I held her hand against a piece of parchment and began chanting the contract binding spell.
The parchment glowed brightly for a moment before disappearing into my personal vault.
“What a pleasure doing business with you koutávi”
“Kiss my a-” she started to say but I cut off with a snap of my fingers, sending her back to her godforsaken home.
I leaned forward in my throne and put my head in my hands, wondering how I was going to survive this feeling of pain, sorrow, and guilt.
Guilt for tricking the girl into a deal she had no choice but to accept...
Pain for what my son was experiencing...
Sorrow for what will become of Serenity Matthews in eighteen years...
Because if it came down to it, I wouldn’t hesitate to do everything in my power to make sure my son survives this whole ordeal.
It was an hour later when Hecate returned with the necessary supplies needed to perform the spell.
Before she began, I pulled her aside.
“What?” she asked, her dark eyes flashing with annoyance.
I looked at my wife, who was currently wiping the excess blood off of our son’s face.
“Can you bind the Mate bond between Zephyr and his mate?” I asked, taking my eyes off of my family for just a second “Just until the next Blood Moon?”
Hecate raised a brow “You want to deny your son of his one true love?”
“Yes,” I answered “I don’t want his feelings too blind and influence his choice.”
“You know if I bind the bond, they can still develop feelings for one another.”
“Yes, but the feelings won’t be so all encompassing” I said “That will at least give him a chance to make a decision with a clear head.”
“If I bind the bond, then neither of them will realize that they are each other’s mates if they cross paths” She said, trying to deter my decision “And if they cross paths, they will develop feelings that are equally perplexing and inconceivable. Are you ready to put you son through that?”
“Yes, because that means he’ll be alive to figure out those feelings” I hissed “Since when do you care about trivial things like feelings?”
She smirked and shook her head “As you wish your majesty.”
With those final words, she bowed and went to complete the spells.
Once the spells were finished, she locked eyes with me.
“Bound by blood, mated by fate, for only one will survive and await the next Blood Moon in order to return what was once lost and loved” She raised her hands and blue sparks flew “For the family you once knew will be no more, the son you’ve always desired will ablaze the whole moral world into a unstoppable pyre.”