A Game of Fate
It’s time for terms, Hades.”
He scowled and sat back in his chair, glaring. Aphrodite threw her head back in laughter.
“Someone does not like to lose.”
Her words were like a poker in his side. Hades did not actually mind losing. He lost all the time when he bargained with mortals, but he had not wanted to lose to Aphrodite.
The goddess pressed a finger to her chin and offered a soft hum, as if she did not know what to ask of him. She was wasting his time. She knew what she wanted, but just as he was about to bark at her, she spoke.
“Fall in love, Hades. Better yet, find a girl who will fall in love with you.” Then Aphrodite clapped and exclaimed, “That’s it! Make someone fall in love with you!”
Hades’ jaw tightened, and Aphrodite stared back as if she wished to see to his soul in turn. Her terms were insulting. If it were that easy to fall in love, he would not be alone now.
“Is this your idea of a joke?” he asked, his voice quiet and calm, despite the anger twisting his insides. He was going to have to torture someone just to release the tension in his body.
“Not a joke,” she said, raising a thin blonde brow. “You’ve offered love advice. Follow it.”
Not a joke then, but retribution. She was frustrated with him for offering his opinion on her marriage.
“And if I can’t meet those terms?”
Her smile cut across her face wickedly.
“Then you will release Basil from the Underworld.”
“Your lover?” Hades could not keep the disgust from his voice. They’d just spent the last few minutes discussing her love for Hephaestus, and here she was asking for a man—her hero, to be exact. Basil had fought and died for her in The Great War. “Why? Don’t you want Hephaestus to admit that he loves you?”
She glared at him. “Hephaestus is a lost cause.”
“You haven’t even tried!”
“Basil, Hades. He is who I want.”
“Because you imagine yourself in love with him?”
“What do you know of love? You’ve never loved in your lifetime.”
Those words did not hurt, so much as embarrass him. He leaned toward the goddess.
“Basil loves you, that is true, but if you don’t love him in return, it is meaningless.”
“Better to be loved than not at all,” she countered.
You are a fool, Hades wanted to say. Instead, he asked, “Are you sure this is what you want? You have already petitioned Zeus for a divorce, now you have asked me to resurrect your lover in the event I cannot meet the terms of your contract. Hephaestus will know.”
Aphrodite was quiet, and he recognized her uncertainty in the way she toyed with her lip.
Finally, she answered.
“Yes. It is what I want.” She took a deep breath then and managed a smile. “Six months, Hades. That should be enough time. Thank you for the entertainment. It was…invigorating.”
With that, the Goddess of Love vanished.