F O R T Y - T W 0
“What the hell are you doing in Hell?” Both Uncle Ethan and I exclaimed at the same time.
We paused and I watched as Ethan cleared his eyes with the hand that wasn’t holding a weapon.
“I knew I shouldn’t have smoked the peace pipe with the Chief.” he muttered under his breath.
I looked at him in amusement but then my smile died when I realized that this could be a trick.
My hackles raised and I took a defensive stance “How do I know you’re really my uncle?”
He raised a brow and narrowed his eyes “How do I know you’re really my niece?”
“I asked first” I said, my chin raised “Tell me something that only my real uncle or family would know?”
I mean, he looks like my uncle, based on the pictures lining both my own house as well as my Nana and Tata’s house but somehow, I just had to make sure.
I didn’t want him to suddenly turn into a big ass spider and murder me in my sleep with his little spider minions.
I also needed to know if it was really him because A. He hasn’t changed a bit from the last photos taken of him all those years ago and B. because he looked so much like a younger version of my dad that my heart panged a little, wanted to receive some comfort from a family member.
Even, a dead family member.
Yep, I’ve officially lost it down in this hellhole.
“Kaden didn’t stop wetting the bed until he was ten, when your mother started sleeping over with him during their weekend movie nights.” My Uncle said smugly, snickering at what I assumed what was a funny memory.
My lips twitched up “How would I possible know that?”
“You wouldn’t” He shrugged “I just wanted to mention that since it was the first thing that popped into my head.”
This time, I smiled “How about telling me something that I might know?”
He thought about it for a second “You first shifted when you were born.”
I gaped at him “It’s really you?”
He nodded slowly “It’s really me.”
Before he could say another word, I stepped forward and tackled him into a hug.
“It’s nice to finally meet you Uncle Ethan.” I sniffled as I hugged him tighter.
He hesitated for a second before embracing our hug, hugging me tighter.
After a few minutes, he asked “Serenity, what are you doing here?”
I sniffled and remained quiet for a few minutes, which made him stiffen.
He pushed me back slightly and his eyes widened in horror “Are you...?”
“Dead?” I finished for him and he swallowed thickly before nodding “No, not yet.”
“What do you mean not yet?”
I gave him a sheepish smile “I mean considering that I just befriended a minotaur, which might come back to bite me in my ass later on, and am not dead yet after multiple attempts, I’m fairing pretty well.”
“You’ve friended Asterius?”
“You know Asterius?”
He gave me an incredulous look “If you aren’t dead then...”
Before he could finish his sentence, a big thump landed behind us.
I turned in time to see Zephyr on his back, cursing and glaring at the wall “Son of a...”
I immediately left my uncle’s side and kneeled next to him.
“Hey Handsome” I brushed back a lock of his hair “Long time no see.”
He locked eyes with me and then sat up quickly to gather me in his arms “Serenity!”
I hugged him back, leaning my head on his shoulder and closing my eyes.
After a few moments, he pulled back and cupped my cheeks “How did you escape?”
I gave him a small smile “Asterius, the Minotaur, helped me.”
His eyebrows shot up so high I was surprised that they didn’t catch in his hair line.
“The Minotaur?” he questioned “The same one that dragged me by the scruff of my neck and threw me out here?”
I snickered “He was a perfect gentleman with me.”
“How much of a gentleman was he?” Zephyr grumbled, eyeing me from head-to-toe “Because the smile on your face isn’t sitting right with me.”
A throat cleared behind us and I craned my neck to see my Uncle giving me a “Explain this now” look.
“Uncle Ethan, this is Zephyr” I stood and gave him a sheepish smile “My Mate.”
My Uncle’s mouth dropped open comically “Are you shitting me?”
I shook my head and Zephyr wrapped one arm around my waist while extending the other one towards my Uncle.
“Hello Sir” he said politely, his deep voice making me shiver “It’s nice to meet you.”
Uncle Ethan looked at Zephyr’s hand like it was a poisonous snake “Does you father know about this?”
I blushed “We didn’t even know about it until recently.”
Before I could finish talking, Uncle Ethan suddenly clutched at his chest and bent at the waist.
I stepped towards him in worry and noticed that his whole body was shaking too.
“Uncle Ethan are you-” he cut me off with cackling laughter.
“Your dad’s going to shit his bricks” he laughed so much tears clouded his eyes and he dropped to the floor, clutching his stomach “This is his worst nightmare. Literally. He used to wake your mother up at midnight, dripping in sweat, freaking out about your future mate and how he was going to take his little princess away from him.”
I smiled and he hooted louder “God, I can’t believe I’m going to miss his face when he see’s you canoodling with GQ over there!”
He pointed at Zephyr and I snickered when Zephyr rolled his eyes.
“Oh my god” Uncle Ethan took a deep breath in, trying hard to contain his laugh but failing when more snickers came out “He’s going to have a new nightmare pretty soon. And it starts with one word: Grandpa.”
My face flamed and I nearly smacked Zephyr’s wide grin off of his handsome face.
I smiled and then that smile promptly faded when I realized where my Uncle was residing.
“What are you doing here Uncle Ethan?” I bit my lip “Isn’t Hell, especially this part of it, meant for those who are undesirable.”
“That’s the first time I’ve ever been called undesirable” My Uncle’s eyes twinkled in amusement “But no sweetheart, this part of Hell is reserved for the Matthews Pack only. It’s our Elysium.”
Zephyr’s hand rested on the small of my back and I looked up at him “There are no separate fractions for souls. No Heaven and Hell.” he said softly “All souls come here and then are divided accordingly. Elysium’s are given to those who deserve it while, undeserving souls are sent to a place where they are forced to relieve their sins over and over again for eternity.”
He bit the inside of his cheek “Your family’s Elysium, however, is special.”
“How so?” I asked warily, afraid of what he was about to tell me.
“We’re the Guardians of the Gates” Uncle Ethan chimed in ”We guard the Undesirables. Therefore, any member of our family whether they’re living or dead, could enter our Elysium and help us protect the gates if we somehow end up in the situation if we need the help.”
At his explanation, something inside of me clicked on and I looked at Zephyr in horror.
“This is why Hades sent me here, isn’t it?” I asked quietly “He want’s something that only my family can offer.”
Zephyr looked away, his jaw clenched.
I pulled away from his touch and face him, my back straightening like a ruler “Why am I here Zephyr? What does Hades want?”
He refused to meet my eyes and I felt my Uncle’s demeanor shifting from fun and loving to something more intense and protective.
“I don’t...I don’t know” Zephyr said, reaching for me “I don’t know what he wants.”
I gaped at him and my Uncle growled low in his throat “How do you not know what he wants?”
“I just don’t...”
I growled, frustrated with the nonexistent answers “Why me?”
“What?” he asked, startled at my change of pace “What do you mean?”
“If any living member of the Matthews Pack could enter the gates, then why was I chosen? Why not my brother or my father? Or even my cousins? Why was I specifically chosen?”
He clenched his jaw tightly “I don’t know.”
“I would choose my next words very carefully GQ” my Uncle said “Because whatever you say to her will decide if I like you or not. And if I don’t like you, then the rest of the Matthews clan will despise you for messing with one of their own.”
“Serenity” Zephyr said softly, his eyes pleading with mine “I can’t...”
“Can’t or won’t?”
“Both.” He answered.
“Because it’ll change the way you see me” he said softly “And I can’t have you looking at me like that. I can’t see those pretty eyes of yours staring at me with disappointment.”
“I wouldn’t...” I started to say but then stopped when I saw his devastated face “Zephyr...why was I chosen?”
He hung his head “You were chosen because you are my Mate.”
“Yes,” I said slowly giving him a confused look “We’re mates now but I don’t see how...”
“No,” he cut me off “You don’t understand.”
My Uncle inhaled a sharp breath from behind me before muttering a low “Uh oh” under his breath.
“I just didn’t ′realize′ that we were soulmates” Zephyr’s eyes, which were usually so bright and full of light, dimmed “For as long as I could understand what Mates were and how they worked, I knew that I had one out there. I knew that you were my Mate. I’ve known all along Serenity. I was just waiting for you to figure it out.”