Hot as Hades
Ensnaring the ultimate bad boy has its risks…and its rewards.
It’s not easy being Hades. Constantly guarding his world against other meddling and ambitious deities is stressful work. So when a naked goddess falls directly into his lap, along with the news that he has to shelter her for the indefinite future, he is less than thrilled.
The Underworld isn’t the first place Persephone would pick for a vacation—who in their right mind would choose a dark palace over sunshine and flowers? Yet from Hades’s first touch, the dark, sexy ruler fascinates her and has her thinking a fling might be just the thing to while away her confinement.
But trust each other? Not a chance. Until the day comes that Persephone must leave…and they realize that trusting each other is the only way they’ll ever meet again.
Author's Note: This novella was initially published in 2010, and has been out of print for a few years. I made some changes prior to its 2021 rerelease, though the plot remains essentially the same.
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Hades, a.k.a. The Unseen One, a.k.a. The Awe-Inspiring Lord of the Underworld, was accustomed to souls dropping into his kingdom. The fortunate and unfortunate, his subjects and servants, they came with nothing.
However, that didn’t mean they were naked. Or flesh-and-blood. Or dropped literally into his lap.
“Well hello,” he said to the wet, naked, shaking, warm, soft—and wait, did he mention naked?— woman sprawled over him, straddling him where he sat on his mighty throne. “Can I help you?”
Rapid panting was her only response. Her breath skimmed over his neck where her face was buried. All he could see was hair, wild waves of damp black silk which covered her back.
He could feel quite a bit, though his vision was obscured by her springy mane. Her arse was round and full, nestled upon his thighs. Hard nipples drilled into his bare chest where her breasts flattened against him. Her heart pounded in triple time.
Clap her in chains and demand an accounting of her presence.
Yes, that’s what he should do, obviously. He wasn’t a fool. He had more enemies than he did friends, and he wasn’t about to assume anything out of the ordinary in his realm was benign.
Instead he inhaled, pulling her scent into his lungs. It was a foreign smell. Sweet, and…floral?
She raised her head and straightened away from him with some effort, shaking her hair back from her face. He could at least see her face now, which was nice. Alas, her breasts were no longer squished against him. That was not nice.
Her eyes were stunning chips of emerald ice, perfect except for the dazed confusion in them. No fault could be found with the rest of her— smooth bronze skin, full ruby red lips and a face that was so perfectly carved, it could have been mounted on any temple wall. His sharp gaze catalogued her pretty face quickly and followed the glistening rivulets of water down her body to what he could see of her flesh playing peekaboo with that glorious hair. Her breasts were firm and large, the nipples brown and tightening from the cool of the room. The rest of her was similarly lush—round, soft thighs, the heat of which he could feel through his leather pants, that healthy handful of a derriere nestled against his crotch, wide hips and a tangle of black curls over her mound that looked as touchable as the strands on her head.
Her heart continued to beat fast, he noted, as he tried to drag his gaze back up to her face. No, wait. She wasn’t pressed against him any more. That was his heart.
“Hello.” He purred the word this time. His hands automatically clamped over her giving, wondrous hips when she shifted.
You’re not going anywhere.
“Where…? Who…?” A frown pleated her smooth forehead and she shifted, raising a hand to her temple, as if she had a ferocious headache.
The light from the gas lamp closest to him fell on her upraised arm. The flame danced along her skin, her sudden motion bringing out a heretofore unnoticed pearlescent glow. The subtle inhuman coloring made his breath catch. Not in lust.
In fury. “Goddess,” he spat out. His hands tightened. Oh no, she definitely wasn’t going anywhere now.
He didn’t know if it was the venom in his tone or his harder grip that jolted her. Her lashes fluttered as she blinked and shook her head once. Rapid-fire emotions flickered over that heart-shaped face— confusion gave way to fear which gave way to horror when she glanced down and took in her lack of clothes. With a small, feminine shriek, she pushed her hands against his chest and tried to launch herself out of his grasp. It was laughably easy to subdue her by wrapping his arms around her and pinning her hands between them.
Those unearthly eyes narrowed. “Release me, you sick bastard.”
He considered that laughable edict for all of, oh, point three seconds. Release a goddess, probably here to murder him, or worse, seduce him? “No thanks.”
“That’s an order, not a request.”
“I never did take orders well.” Along with his inability to share his toys, it was one of his many vices.
Her little stubborn chin lifted in an annoyingly regal manner, as if she was the one in the throne and not naked and subdued in his arms. “Release me, or suffer.”
“Aren’t you cute.”
Those pretty lips thinned. “Even if you aren’t scared of me, you should be terrified of my family.”
He raised an eyebrow, equally amazed and impressed that she dared to threaten him. “I’ll be terrified of your family, eh?”
“Do you have any idea who I am?”
“Nope. Don’t know, don’t care, and I particularly don’t like that you stole me out of my bath to fondle me and ask me stupidly irrelevant questions. I promise you, sir, my family will rip you limb from limb for abducting me.”
Seriously? She actually thought he would be fooled by her going on the offense? He used his grip to pull her closer, savoring her gasp of outrage and that odd, unidentifiable scent that teased his nostrils. “I ripped you from nowhere. I was minding my business when you tumbled straight into my lap.”
She may not care who he was, but he cared who she was. Some minor deity? Granted, he never left the Underworld anymore, but he knew most everyone at Olympus by description, if not by sight. No one had ever described someone so…delicious.
“Lies. You’re saying that I happened to step out of my river and, with no foul play, fell into…” She looked around and froze.
His decorating skills were amazing, in his opinion, but he was aware his home wasn’t to everyone’s taste.
“Are those…are those skulls mounted into the walls?”
He dipped his head. They were the finest skulls fear could buy, but he didn’t like to brag.
“Your door handle is a femur.”
“Belonged to a famous Hollywood executive,” he said with pride. He didn’t like to brag much. The powerful businessman had accomplished a stunning array of evil things in his life, and it had brought Hades much joy to install that handle, while the man’s soul watched. Torture didn’t always involve physical pain.
She didn’t look impressed by his boast. Did he need to go into more gory detail? Because he could.
“Where the hell am I?”
What an actress. Since he was half-enjoying the novelty of this playacting, he replied. “Yes.”
“You’re in Hell. The Underworld, love. To be more specific, you’re currently in the throne room of the palace of the almighty and great ruler of said Underworld.”
She swallowed, and didn’t that just conjure up all sorts of dirty thoughts? “Which would make you…?”
He bowed his head in greeting. “Hades. I know, you’re wildly pleased to make my acquaintance.”
He stiffened. The tremor of fear in her voice was evident. Though he knew this must be an act, a sharp pang hit him.
Why shouldn’t she be afraid? She’d probably been told all her life what a mad, bad bastard of a god he was.
All those rumors really made him want to live up to that hype. She should be afraid. Everyone should.
“Send me back.”
“Once again: I didn’t bring you here.” No doubt she’d hoped to slip in, accomplish whatever foul deed she was up to and slip away again, with him none the wiser. Like that was possible—if a soul passed gas down here, he heard about it. How she had managed to enter his palace at all was a mystery, one he’d be solving immediately. The only god or goddess who was powerful enough to conceivably break past his many safeguards into the Underworld was Zeus—and baby brother knew better than to interfere in Hades’s job.
Long story short, beautiful or not, this little goddess should be perched on a cloud somewhere and not his lap. He gave her one last chance. “Let’s start with your name, goddess.”
Her mouth set in a mulish line. “Bite me.”
Hades’s blood fired at the flat refusal. “Would love to. First things first.” Keeping her pinned with one hand, he grasped her chin with the other and stared into her eyes.
Reading a mortal’s past was child’s play—he looked at a soul, and the person’s history was an open book, every thought, every screwup, every moment of rapture projected into his brain in Technicolor.
Deities were harder, but not impossible. He could get snatches of their life story here and there, particularly if they were lesser gods and goddesses.
Her power hit him harder than he’d hit that Hollywood executive, slamming him out of her brain and life.
This woman was no lesser goddess.
Facing a power that possibly rivaled even his awesome talents was a little like staring at the sun. It blinded him to everything else. With sheer force of will, he gritted his teeth and attempted to at least study the delicate core of strength for any familiar traces. Genetics were everything in their circle. If he knew her father or mother, he could potentially use that knowledge to fight her.
Unfortunately, this conglomeration of power was utterly foreign to him, which meant she hadn’t been born of any deity he was familiar with, including his siblings. Not that he had really thought she was of his blood. When one overthrew one’s parents, one got in the habit of keeping tabs on one’s remaining family members and their offspring.
He had to close his eyes from the effort it took to dig out even that small scrap of information. When she commenced her feeble squirming, he opened them. His suspicions, already heightened, grew even more now that he was aware of the depth of her power. He wasn’t holding her that tight. Why wasn’t she fighting him?
Unless, of course, this show of weakness was all part of her plan. Her plot. Her plot to…well, do something. If that was the case, she’d underestimated him.
“Maybe you didn’t hear me, Goddess. Name, purpose for being here. Or we do it the hard way.” Because the easy way, plucking her memories out of her brain, wasn’t an option any longer, but she didn’t know that.
“Maybe you didn’t hear me. Let. Me. Go.” She punctuated each word with a jerk of her body.
Hard way, then. “And maybe I’ll keep you right here, since you so conveniently threw yourself at me.” Though he meant his words as a threat, he found the thought of keeping this stranger naked, bound and at his mercy particularly attractive. It had been too long since he’d had someone as lovely as her tempting him. Mortal souls threw themselves at him all the time, of course, but after centuries, that desperation and sick fascination had lost its appeal, if it had ever been there to begin with. He hadn’t left his world to seek sexual partners, mortal or immortal, in a long time.
He waited for her to quit this act and break his hasty bond, but instead she looked down her nose at him and sniffed, the very picture of courage in the face of a fate worse than death. If he didn’t know better, he might actually believe in her innocence.
“You have a lovely body.”
She snorted. “I know.”
His lips curved despite himself. “No modesty?”
“What good is modesty? Many men have found my body appealing.”
Was that a hint of bitterness he heard? “Ah. Are you a disciple of Aphrodite, then?”
“I’m under no obligation to tell you anything. Release me and send me back to my river.”
“Your river? Are you part nymph?” He could see her as a water nymph, those svelte, accommodating creatures, with their slick bodies and slicker…
Ah, he’d had some good times with nymphs in his youth.
“Are you deaf? I’m not telling you anything.” She squirmed again, like that futile motion would accomplish anything.
“By all means, keep moving. I’m enjoying it.”
She froze, her eyes shooting sparks at him. A curl shimmied with the force of her outrage. Her hair was starting to frizz, little hairs popping above her hairline. “How dare you…?”
“My house, my rules.”
Just the sound of that name made him want to strip his clothes off and roll around naked in broken glass. There was no love lost between him and his siblings. Particularly since he knew any of them would cheerfully cut his throat if it gained them an ounce of power. “Zeus has no say here. This is my world, and you breached it. Surely you’ve heard of how I deal with trespassers. If I want to imprison you in Tartarus, no one would intervene. If I wanted to toss you to my demons, same. Is that what you want? Did you ignore an age-old treaty and come out for a jaunt just to play big bad hellhound and the scared little pussy?” Hell, that was a plausible and not an altogether unwelcome scenario. Morbid sexual fascination wasn’t limited to desperate mortal souls, he supposed. Though if that was the case, it might be the first time he was tempted to satisfy the curiosity.
“Listen, you backwards behemoth. You may have the upper hand now, but you so much as think of harming me, I’ll kill you.”
He smirked. “Do it, then—” His words ended in a shout as sharp pain lanced through his arms, his chest, his legs, every part of him that touched her.
He shoved her off his lap in a move that was more violent than he intended. He had the presence of mind to materialize a plush pillow to cushion her ass before it could land on the marble floor of his throne room. She rose up on her hands and shoved her hair out of her face.
He examined his palms, but there were no puncture wounds.
He rose to his feet and gazed down at the goddess from his superior height. She was voluptuous, but small. He allowed himself to grow larger, adding a foot to his already formidable height. “What did you do just now?” he rasped.
Bullshit. It had felt like she’d sunk a thousand thorns into his flesh. “I’m going to put you in the deepest prison I can find. A dark pit where snakes will crawl over you for eternity and no one will hear you scream.”
Fear flashed in her eyes and she sank back. He was happy she was finally cowering from him.
Yes. He was thrilled. This was his thrilled face.
He huffed out a breath. Smoke came out of his nostrils, a sign of the rage he’d learned to control in his adolescence. “You crash into my home, refuse to tell me even your name. Why shouldn’t I imprison you?” Another tendril of smoke, and he grew another foot. “Are you here to steal a soul?” Some might say he was overly paranoid about any souls leaving his kingdom, but it was with good reason. Leaving the underworld caused shockwaves across all the realms.
“No! No, listen. I have no idea what I’m doing here either. My name’s Persephone.”
The name meant nothing to him. “Go on.”
The beauty sighed. “Persephone, daughter of Demeter.”
Shit. A shock of distaste and outrage ran through him. “Daughter of Demeter?” He wanted to hit something. He, who knew better than anyone that life was absolutely, motherfucking unfair, wanted to rail at the fates for this.
Not. Fucking. Fair.