A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair (Hades & Persephone #1) Publication date: Spring 2019
Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist. Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible. After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever. The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a Goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.
She felt solid ground beneath her and a musical voice commanded her to breath.
She couldn’t—it was a combination of the pain and the exhaustion. Then she felt the press of a mouth against hers as air was pushed into her lungs. She rolled over and heaved as water spilled onto the grass. When she was finished, she rolled onto her back, exhausted.
A face loomed over hers. He was handsome and reminded her of sunshine. He had golden curls and bronzed skin.
But it was his eyes she liked the most. They were gold and curious.
“You’re a god,” she said, surprised.
He smiled, showing a set of dimples on either side of his face. “I am.”
“You’re not Hades,” she said, confused.
“No.” He looked amused. “I am Hermes.”
“Ah,” she said and laid her head back down.
He grinned. “So you’ve heard of me?”
She rolled her eyes. “The God Of Trickery And Thieves.”
“I beg your pardon, you forgot trade, commerce, merchants, roads sports, travelers, athletes, heraldry…”
“How could I have forgotten heraldry?” She asked absently, and then shivered, starting up at the dim sky.
“You are cold?” He asked.
“Well, I was just pulled from a river.”
He pulled off his cloak, and covered her. The fabric suctioned to her skin. It was then she remembered that she had wore a short, silver dress to Nevernight and flushed. “Thank you.”
“It is my pleasure,” he said, still watching her. “Shall I guess who you are?” He asked.
“Oh yes—entertain yourself,” she said.
Hermes looked serious for a moment, and tapped his full lips with his finger. “Hmm. I think you are the Goddess of Sexual Frustration.”
Persephone barked laughter. “I think that is Aphrodite.”
“Did I say sexual frustration? I meant Hades’ sexual frustration.”
Just as the words were out of his mouth, the god was thrown back. His body made the ground shake beneath her as he landed, tossing up dirt and rock.
Persephone sat up, despite the pain and turned to find Hades. He stood, towering over her in his sharp, black suit. His eyes were dark and angry.
“Why did you do that?” She demanded.
“You try my patience, goddess, and my favor,” he said.
“So you are a goddess!” Hermes sounded triumphant, and rose from the rubble unscathed.
She glared at Hades.
“He will keep your secret or he will find himself in Tartarus.”
Hermes brushed dirt and rock from his arms and chest.
“You know, Hades, not everything has to be a threat. You could try asking once in a while—just like you could have asked me to step away from your goddess here instead of throwing he halfway across the Underworld.”
“I’m not his goddess! And you—” Persephone looked at Hades. Hermes brows rose, and he looked very amused. She struggled to her feet, because up until now, she’d been glaring up at them both from the ground. “You could be nicer to him. He did save me from your river!”
Once she was on her feet, she regretted moving. She felt dizzy and nauseous.
“You wouldn’t have had to be saved from my river if you had waited for me!”
“Right, because you were otherwise engaged,” she rolled her eyes. “Wonder what that means.”
“Shall I get you a dictionary?”
Hermes laughed and Hades turned on him. “Why are you still here?”
Persephone swayed. Hades lunged, catching her before she hit the ground. The impact jarred her side, and she moaned.
“What’s wrong?” He demanded.
“I fell on the stairs. I think I…” she took a breath and winced. “I think I bruised my ribs.”
When she met his gaze, she was surprised to see he looked worried. She revered Ilias’ words from earlier—he takes it personally if anyone is harmed in his realm. Before now, he’d just seemed annoyed.
“It’s okay,” she whispered. “I’m okay.”
Then Hermes said, “She has a pretty nasty gash on her shoulder, too.” And the worry she’d seen burned away with his anger. His jaw tightened, and he lifted Persephone into his arms, careful not to jar her.
“Where are we going?”
“To my palace,” he said, and teleported.
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Scarlett St. Clair lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She has a Master's degree in Library Science and Information Studies and spends a lot of time researching reincarnation, unsolved murders and Greek mythology-all of which made it into her debut novel, When Stars Come Out.
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