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I quickly walked back into the Ballroom, scanning the area for the mysterious Zeph.

When I couldn’t find him, I gave up and headed back outside.

When I was about halfway through the door, I felt a hand grabbed my wrist.

My eyes locked with my brother’s panic filled gaze.

“Where have you been?” He asked, dragging me back into the ballroom and through the rowdy crowd “We’ve been looking for you everywhere!”

“I needed a break” I said, yanking on my wrist for him to let go “Why were you looking for me?”

“We’re leaving”

“Leaving? Why are we leaving?” I asked, not because I was sad that we were cutting the party short but more curious since we never ever leave a party early “Did something happen?”

His gripped tightened and his jaw locked “We’ll talk when we get home”

“Tris, you’re scaring me”

His eyes softened but his grip never let up.

“We need to hurry” he said softly “Mom and Dad are waiting for us in a car”

“But we walked here” I said in confusion “Why would we need a car if our house is like ten minutes away?”

“Dad will explain later Serenity” he said firmly “For now just walk faster”

My eyes widened at the use of my full name.

He rarely used it, choosing to call me by my nickname instead because it suited me better, Tristan only used my full name when he was either really upset with me (which was almost never) or when something serious was happening.

We arrived in front of a black SUV and Tristan opened the door quickly, urging me to get inside.

When I entered, I was surprised to find both my father and Queen Kassiopeia arguing while my mother and King Rhys stared at their mates in concern.

“You had no right to hide that from us Kassiopeia!” My father yelled, his face turning red “As your subjects, and especially your family, you should have trusted us enough to tell us about the deal you made!”

“I couldn’t!” Aunt Kassi cried out “It was part of the deal!”

“BULLSHIT!” Dad roared, slamming his hand on the center console

“Everyone needs to calm down” Uncle Rhys said calmly “Nothing good can come out of this if we’re all fighting”

“Stay out of this Rhys” both Dad and Aunt Kassi growled at him

“I’m just staying...”

“Well don’t!” Dad snapped “You have no say in this. It’s not your kid he wants”

My eyes widened

What the Hell?

Someone’s after us?

“I’m sorry Kaden” Aunt Kassi whispered “I didn’t think...”

“No, you didn’t think” My dad said harshly “Because if you did, we wouldn’t be in this mess”

“That’s not fair Kaden” Aunt Kassi said through her sniffles “I had no other choice...”

“Can someone please tell me what is going on?!” I said from the passages seat.

Tristan shot me a concerned look but quickly shifted his eyes back to the road. His fingers clenched the steering wheel so tight that I was afraid he would rip it right off.

All the adults gave me a startled look, seeming to just realize now that I was in the car and listening to their conversation.

“Baby...” Mom started but Dad gave a her a look that made her pause

“We’ll discuss it when we get home” he said gruffly

“I think we need to discuss it now” I turned in my seat to face him “Because whatever it is, it’s starting to scare the crap out of me”

“We’ll talk when we get home Serenity” Dad said harshly “And not a moment sooner”

I shut my mouth and faced forward, thinking of all the horrible possibilities that would make everyone so on edge.

My mind came up blank

Whatever it was, it had to have been horribly bad or else no one would be acting this...scared.

Too soon we were parked in front of our house.

Everyone, including my cousins and Aunt who apparently took a separate car, headed towards our house door.

My father unlocked the door and hit on the light switch and we were all surprised to see two male figures standing in our living room, looking at our framed family tree on the wall with interest.

“Interesting...” one man murmured before turning towards us “Very interesting”

Aunt Taylor let out a strangled noise and my Dad gripped the door frame, his complexion turning a deathly pale white color.

“Ethan?” he whispered shakily “Is that you?”

“Don’t be fooled” Aunt Kassi said from behind us, nudging me out of the way as she walked further into our house “It’s the sick bastard Hades. He did the same thing to me earlier”

Hades snickered “You should have seen your face”

Uncle Rhys growled and took a menacing step forward but my Mom gripped his arm, holding him back from attacking.

The second man, whose back was still facing us, sighed

“Can we please get this over with?” he asked and I stiffened.

That voice.

I knew that voice.

“Awe” Hades pouted “You’re no fun Zephyr”

“We’re here on business” Zephyr snapped, facing the man “Not pleasure”

“Fine” Hades sighed before looking at my father “We’re here for your daughter”

My eyes widened in shock

Everyone was silent for a beat of a second before all Hell broke loose.

Dad and Tristan shifted into their wolves and lunged at both men.

Hades and Zephyr dodged them effectively before engaging in a fight with more grace than I have ever seen someone use before in a fight.

The twins were at my side in an instant, grabbing both of my arms and urging me out the door.

“We need to get out of here” AJ said “While they’re distracted”

“I can’t leave them!” I cried out, fighting against their grasp “I have to help them!”

“Sorry Sin” AJ yanked on my arm hard and I stumbled toward the door “Alpha’s order”

“We need to leave!” EJ yelled “NOW!”

“LET ME GO!” I growled at them but they held on strong, pushing me out the door and towards the car.

A gust of wind shot past us and suddenly Zephyr was behind the twins, yanking both of them backwards and throwing them off the porch.

They each hit a tree and from the looks of it, they were both knocked out cold.

“AJ!” I yelled “EJ!”

I tried to run towards them but Zephyr wrapped an arm around my waist and dragged me back into the house before I could jump off the porch.

I summoned my Wolf forward and was about to shift when he wrapped his big hand around my throat.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you” he said before nuzzling my cheek with his nose.

“Why the fuck not?” I snarled, yanking my head to the side and away from his face.

“Because if you shift and don’t cooperate, Hades won’t hesitate to kill your family”

I looked around and saw that my whole family was being held captive by these zombie like individuals.

Their skin was an ugly shade of grey and their eyes were glassy and unseeing. They were wearing some type of uniform and when I looked closely, their hands were glowing.

“What the hell are those?” I snarled

“Soul Eaters” Zephyr responded, his hand loosening around my throat “Hades’ personal bodyguards when he comes topside”

“Why are their hands glowing?”

“Because they’re currently siphoning fragments of your family’s souls” Hades responded, holding my father by the scruff of his neck “And they will keep on siphoning their soul fragments until these two behave properly”

“Dad!” I yelled, wriggling around frantically in Zephyr’s arms “Let go of him! You’re hurting him!”

My dad let out a low growl and snapped his teeth threatening at Hades.

Hades just smiled and tightened his grip

“Kaden...” Mom said weakly

My eyes snapped to hers and I noticed that she was slouching against the Soul Eater with a pale complexion.

One glance at the rest of my family and I could tell that they weren’t doing much better either.

“Oh, that right!” Hades snapped his finger “I forgot! Little Ms. Wifey isn’t a Wolf! She’s a human!”

“Why does that matter?” I snapped at him

Zephyr’s arm around my waist tighten

“Soul Eater’s powers vary on the different species” he whispered lowly in my ear “The more magic the soul has, the longer it takes to consume that soul”

“So if my mom’s human...” I trailed off before shooting her a panicked look “Oh shit”

Zephyr gave me a sympathetic look

“Human’s don’t have magic” he said, voicing my concerns out loud “And if they don’t have magic then it shouldn’t take the Soul Eater that long to consume her soul”

“Dad!” I yelled for him “If you don’t stop now, Mom will die!”

He ignored me in his anger fueled haze and continued to snap at Hades.

My Wolf rose to the surface, her presence prickling underneath my skin

“Don’t...” Zephyr started but I cut him off with a glare

“I know what I’m doing”

“Dad” I growled at him, pushing some of my Alpha dominance at him “You need to stop”

While my dominance wasn’t nearly as strong as his, it did pose enough power to startle him and wake him from his haze.

“Interesting” Hades raised an eyebrow before throwing my father against our living room wall “Very interesting”

He whimpered in pain as his back hit the wall

“No!” I lurched forward but Zephyr held on strong

“Don’t...” he whispered “He’s already aggravated and low on patience. Their’s no telling what he’ll do next”

“He looks pretty fucking calm to me” I growled

“Look closer” he said “Look at his body language. His shoulders are tense and his stance is defensive. He’s left handed so a tell of when he’s ready to snap is when he begins clenching his fist”

Sure enough, as I watched Hades closer, I noticed that everything Zephyr said was true.

He was like a predator waiting to attack, watching my dad with a wild look in his eye.

“How do you know all this?” I snapped “Are you his boyfriend or something?”

“I...” he was cut off when something large slammed into us.

We both hit the floor and he was forced to release me.

I turned in time to watch him face off with my brother.

“Tristan!” My eyes widened “NO!”

“RUN SERENITY!” He said, blood running down his face “NOW!”

I ran up to the two brawling men and pushed my brother out of the way just as Zephyr’s large hand landed a blow to my shoulder.

I gritted my teeth in pain and Zephyr gave me a horrified look.

“I...I...” he stammered

“ENOUGH!” An angry voiced roared and I immediately stiffened

I turned and watch my father hang onto the wall, panting harshly and wincing in pain but still manage to look menacing while giving Hades a death glare.

“Call your men off” he said through gritted teeth

“Oh?” Hades raised an eyebrow “So you’re ready to talk now?”

“I have no choice” Dad growled “You’ll slaughter my whole family if I don’t”

“Wise choice” Hades said before turning to his Soul Eaters “Ase me”

They nodded at the master’s command and in the blink of an eye, they were gone.

I quickly rushed to my mother’s side as she collapsed to the ground.

“Mom” I shook her body “Mom, wake up”

She groaned

“It’ll take a few days before the Soul Eater’s effects wear off” Hades said

I shot him a look and he grinned at me, raising his hands up in defense

“Feisty” he winked “I like it”

“Fuck off” I snapped, shielding my mother’s defenseless body from him.

“Hades” Zephyr said sharply “We need to stay on task”

“Fine” Hades pouted

He gave Aunt Kassi a look

“We had a deal” He said “One favor in exchange for the lives of your friends. You signed a contract and now I’m here to collect”

“She had no right making that contract” Dad said in a harsh tone “Especially since my daughter has to be the one to pay for it”

Hades shrugged and nodded at Kassi

“She made the contract and agreed to the terms” he said in a stoic tone “One favor that I could collect at anytime, any place, and from anyone”

“But why my daughter” Dad asked through gritted teeth “What could you possibly need from her?”

Hades smiled “Wouldn’t you like to know”

“Hades...” Zephyr said in a warning tone “Stop antagonizing him”

Hades sent him a sharp look, his eye flashing a vivid green to a deep crimson.

I sucked in a sharp breath.

‘Crimson eyes’ I thought ‘He has Crimson eyes, only a shade darker than Zephyr’s’

Zephyr shut his mouth and looked away, clenching his jaw so tightly I thought he was going to break all of his teeth.

“Why I need her is no longer your concern” Hades snapped “Since I practically own her now”

“Excuse me?” I snapped “Own me? Like a dog?”

Hades smiled “Loipón eíste skýlos? Den eísai?”

“Den échete to dikaíoma na milísete me aftín étsi!” Zephyr snapped.

“i̱rémi̱se” Hades rolled his eyes “den katalavaínei ti léo”

“Allá to káno!” Zephyr yelled

“Excuse me!” I snapped “As much as I enjoy your little Greek soap opera, I would like to know what he means when he says he practically owns me?”

“Read this” Hades snapped his fingers and immediately a piece of weathered parchment appeared in my lap.

I read each line of the contract and by the time I was finished my hands were shaking.

“What does it say?” Tristan asked

“It’s really true” I whispered softly, meeting his eyes with my tear filled one “What he’s saying is true”

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for the past twenty minutes” Hades said in exasperation “But it seems like you wolves have a comprehension problem”

“Take me instead” Dad volunteered after reading the contract “I’ll take my daughter’s place”

“DAD!” Both me and Tristan yelled at the same time

“I have no use for you” Hades said in a disgusted tone “I have enough Matthews men giving me headaches, I don’t need one more”

“Please” Dad pleaded and it was the first time since this whole ordeal began that I heard the desperation in his voice “She’s just a child”

“She’s eighteen” Hades deadpanned “A legal adult”

“But she hasn’t lived” Dad said in a panic “I’ve lived my life already. She hasn’t. She hasn’t seen or experienced the world like I have”

“Dad...” I whispered, tearing up “Don’t...”

Zephyr gave me a sympathetic look.

“I’m sorry” Hades said in a short tone “But I’ve made up my mind. Your daughter comes with us”

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