A Touch of Darkness(6)

By: Scarlett St. Clair

They opened their clutches so the two could check for prohibited materials, including phones and cameras.

The one rule at Nevernight was that photos were forbidden. In fact, Hades had this rule for any event he attended.

“How would Hades even know if some curious mortal snapped a photo?” Persephone had asked Lexa earlier when she’d explained the rule.

“I have no idea how he knows,” Lexa admitted. “I just know that he does, and the consequences aren’t worth it.”

“What are the consequences?”

“A broken phone, blackballed from Nevernight, and a write up in a gossip magazine.”

Persephone cringed. Hades was serious, and she guessed that made sense. The god was notoriously private. He hadn’t even been linked to a lover. Persephone doubted Hades had taken a vow of chastity like Artemis and Athena, and yet he managed to stay out of the public eye.

She sort of admired that about him.

Once they were cleared, the ogres opened another set of doors. Lexa grabbed Persephone’s hand and pulled her through.

A blast of cool air hit her, carrying the scent of spirits, sweat, and something akin to bitter oranges.

Narcissus, Persephone recognized the scent.

The Goddess of Spring found herself on a balcony overlooking the floor of the club. There were people everywhere—crowded around tables playing cards and drinking, at the bar shoulder to shoulder, their silhouettes ignited by a red backlight. Several plush booths were arranged in cozy settings and packed with people, but it was the center of the club that drew Persephone’s attention. A sunken dance floor held bodies like water in a basin. People move against each other in a mesmerizing rhythm under a stream of red light. Overhead, the ceiling was lined with crystal and wrought-iron chandeliers.

“Come on!” Lexa pulled Persephone down a set of stairs that led to the ground floor. She held on tight to Lexa’s hand, afraid she would lose her as they wove through the crowd.

It took her a moment to figure out which direction her friend was going, but they soon found themselves at the bar. They squeezed into a space only big enough for one person.

“Two manhattans,” Lexa ordered. Just as she reached for her clutch, an arm snaked between them and threw down a few dollars.

A voice followed, “Drinks on me.”

Lexa and Persephone turned to find a man standing behind them. He had a jawline as sharp as a diamond and a head of thick, curly hair. It was as dark as his eyes, and his skin was a beautiful, burnished brown. He was one of the most handsome men Persephone had ever seen.

“Thanks,” Lexa breathed.

“No problem,” he said, flashing a set of pretty, white teeth—a welcome sight compared to the ogre’s grisly fangs. “First time at Nevernight?”

Lexa answered quickly, “Yes. You?”

“Oh…I’m a regular here,” he said.

Persephone glanced at Lexa, who blurted exactly what Persephone was thinking. “How?”

The man offered a warm laugh. “Just lucky, I guess,” he said and extended his hand. “Adonis.”

He shook Lexa’s hand and then Persephone’s.

“Would you like to join my table?” Adonis asked.

“Sure,” They said in unison, feeling giddy.

With their drinks in hand, Persephone and Lexa follow Adonis to one of the booths they had seen from the balcony. Each area had two crescent-shaped, velvet couches with a table between them. There were already several people there—six guys and five girls—but they shifted so Lexa and Persephone could have a seat.

“All, this is Lexa and Persephone.” Adonis pointed to his group of friends, saying names, but Persephone only caught those who were closest to her—Aro, Xeres, and Sybil. Aro and Xeres looked like siblings. They both had ginger hair, a spray of freckles, pretty blue eyes, and the same, willow-thin body. She soon found out they were twins. Sybil was blond and beautiful. She had long legs and wore a simple white dress. She sat between the twins and leaned over Aro to speak to them.

“Where are you all from?” she asked.

“Ionia,” Lexa said.

“Olympia,” Persephone said.

The girl’s eyes widened. “You lived in Olympia? I bet it was beautiful!”

Persephone had lived far, far away from the city proper in her mother’s glass greenhouse and hadn’t seen much of Olympia. It was one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Greece. It was where the gods held Council and had sprawling estates. When the Divine were away, many of the mansions and surrounding gardens were open to tour.

“It was beautiful,” Persephone said. “But New Athens is beautiful, too. I…didn’t really have much freedom there.”