It’s release day for Venus Rising, and now I can share my super secret news! Persephone is returning as a POV character! She won’t have as many chapters as Aphrodite (it is her story), but you’ll get to see her plenty in the thrilling conclusion of Aphrodite’s trilogy. Enjoy this sample of a Persephone POV chapter below (if you haven’t seen the chapters leading up to this, head on over to my wattpad page to check them out) and then go get your copy of Venus Rising!
Not caught up on Aphrodite’s trilogy? No problem! Aphrodite is on sale for .99 cents! That means you can get the whole trilogy for eight dollars.
You can also enter to win this awesome tote bag from my publisher.
IT HURT COMING back to my old home in Athens, Georgia. Nothing had changed in the past year. I hadn’t let it. Even though I didn’t spend much time here, I couldn’t bring myself to sell it. Mom’s priestesses maintained the property, and somehow, they’d made sure it still smelled the same. Floral, of course. My mother and I had always been strong on theme. The house worked well as an emergency meeting place for the Pantheon. There was even an entrance to the Underworld in the backyard.
I ran my hand along the familiar kitchen counter, flicking on the warm yellow lights. Rose-print wallpaper adorned the walls of the bright, open space, and white cabinets lined the room. Mom’s kitchen had been the heart of our home. If I didn’t turn around, I could almost pretend she still sat at the table behind me, flipping through one of her gardening magazines.
Salt and water burned at my eyes as I hunched over the pine countertop, my breathing jagged. Almost twenty years ago, my mother got disgustingly close to the biggest jerk in the entire Greek Pantheon—Zeus. And she’d done it for one reason.
Me. She knew that Zeus always passed on a power that gave his children a fighting chance in a world that didn’t believe they existed—charm. Basically, divine mind control. Gods lived off worship, which was increasingly hard to come by unless you had the ability to look a human in the eyes and brainwash them into doing whatever you wanted.
My mother raised me human without any knowledge of the Pantheon outside what little mythology I learned in school. Her deception had far-reaching consequences on my psyche. But she’d done it for the same reasons she’d chosen Zeus to be my father. Most of the gods had failed to blend into human society, becoming more and more isolated from a world they understood less and less as time went by. And for beings who needed worship to survive, isolation was death, charm or not.
Everything she’d done, every choice she’d made, had been with my best interests at heart. She’d given me the best of her powers: rebirth, renewal, spring—all super-poetical ways of saying I made pretty flowers grow— with none of the responsibilities. Mom had this entire life envisioned for me. One where I got to grow into adulthood as a “human” with all the experiences and rites of passage the upper-middle class had to offer. Then, once she deemed me ready, she’d sit me down and show me all the wonderful gifts she’d given me.
I slid to the distressed wooden floor in a rustle of fabric, clutching my knees against my chest. The faint smell of laundry detergent filled my lungs as I took a sharp breath. It would have been a great life.
Mom couldn’t have known that an old enemy would try to rip us apart. She couldn’t have anticipated that Hades would rescue me. That we’d fall in love. Or through a strange twist of fate, I’d become queen of his realm. She couldn’t have known that Zeus would try to suck the very powers she’d given to me from my cold shell of a corpse to help him take over the world.
But even when her best-laid plans went to hell, she protected me. She’d pushed every iota of power she had into my being, shredding her soul, to give me a chance against Zeus. And now she was gone.
A sob tore through my throat.
Take a breath, she would say if she could see how upset I was now. The kitchen would fill with the comforting smell of hot chocolate brewing on the stove. Her green eyes would meet mine with that look that seemed to pierce through my soul and lay it bare. Sit with me for a little bit. Tell me what happened.
Gods, I would do it in a heartbeat. I wouldn’t even roll my eyes or sigh or run upstairs to call my best friend, Melissa, and complain instead. I’d spent so much time angry with her for not telling me what I was, so much time fighting or outright avoiding her, and now I’d give anything to get her back.
My breath hitched when I lifted my gaze to the empty table. Power hummed beneath my skin, like tiny bolts of static, searching for a way out. I kept my breathing even, trying to maintain some semblance of control. Otherwise, I was going to spin out thinking about the fact that Mom was dead, Hades was gone, Aphrodite was still in danger, everything was breaking apart, and for some reason, the gods kept looking to me for answers.
In defeating Zeus, I’d become one of the most powerful goddesses there had ever been or likely would be again. Back in the days of the Primordials or even the Titans, the next deity would have only been a step or so down the ladder, but since the power of the Pantheon was at an all-time low, it just meant I had further to fall.
The gods really valued power and hierarchy. A triple realm ruler with near limitless power stood high on both totems, so now, I had a bunch of ancient, powerful beings looking to me for leadership. They didn’t care that I didn’t want it. Power and hierarchy trumped all.
But I’d stepped up to the plate, hadn’t I? I banged my head against the hard cabinet, my gaze settling on the roughhewn elm beams running along the ceiling. I’d been a handy pawn to fight their battles, to win their war, so now they’d elevated me to the frickin’ (unofficial) queen of the Pantheon.
Half the time, I thought they looked to me out of boredom. The rest of the time, I felt sure they’d just been so ready to get the world off their shoulders, they didn’t care who the burden fell to.
It hadn’t been so bad with Hades by my side. We’d split our powers with each other equally, which made our marriage bond super intense. Hades and I were in each other’s heads all the time; we could feel each other’s pain. It sounded like a nightmare, but it wasn’t. He was a piece of me, and I of him, but there were limits to even equilibrium.
We both had to be conscious.
My tears were getting ugly now. The sounds emitting from me with each sob didn’t sound human. Without Hades, I felt like I was missing a limb. I’d never wanted any of this, but it had been worth it with him.
The air rippled, stirring against the folds of my long skirt. I lurched to my feet, glamouring away any evidence of my tears as Poseidon appeared with a wave of salt-laced wind. Beside him, Ares dropped to the ground just in front of the kitchen table. He curled in on himself, crying out in pain.
“What happened?” I dropped to my knees beside him, reaching out to touch Ares’s shoulder. Heat seared my hand, and I jerked back in surprise.
“The poison’s still in his system,” Poseidon said quickly. “Teleportation takes a toll.”
That damn poison. Before we’d even realized the demigods were organizing against us, they’d managed to drug three of my people. Aphrodite got the worst of it, but Ares and Artemis had both been dosed. It affected their ability to use powers, so teleportation put them through a special kind of hell. And there was nothing I could do to make it better. Only dig my nails into my palms and watch helplessly as Ares rode out the pain. I dropped the glamour I’d kept on him and broke his bond of fealty to me just in case that helped.
I’d forgotten how intimidating he looked. Uneven, dark bangs hung over eyes that seemed to burn with rage as he recovered. When he struggled to his feet, the faint scent of burning cinnamon filled the air. He stood a head shorter than Poseidon, but his bulging muscles looked positively herculean in comparison.
A leather jacket appeared in his outstretched hand, and he shrugged it on, relaxing visibly when the folds of fabric touched his skin. His token, I remembered Aphrodite telling me.
Tokens were objects from a god’s home realm that could act as a kind of conduit. Instead of struggling to draw power while in a foreign realm, a god could channel their power through their token. Ares was back in his home realm, but his jacket must have still helped with the pain.
“You.” His eyes flared when they landed on Poseidon, and his voice darkened with the fires of rage. “You left her.”
“She’s still there?” My voice rose in panic, and the power clawing beneath my skin surged, seeking an outlet. A metallic taste filled my mouth, and I realized I’d clamped down on my tongue.
“I tried to get her!” Frustrated waves churned in miniature against the pupils of Poseidon’s sea-green eyes. “That demigoddess must have taken her when she teleported the whole island. I—”
“When she what?” The lights above my head flickered.
Poseidon’s fist clenched with irritation when the ground began to rumble. He drew in a breath, no doubt ready to say something scathing, but then he caught the look on my face.
I wasn’t doing this on purpose. My teeth ground together as I struggled to regain control, blood thick on my tongue. Aphrodite was gone. Trapped on an island with my husband while the demigods did gods knew what to them. An island we no longer knew the location of, because no one had stopped to ask if demigods could teleport. Including me!
How could I have been so stupid? The rest of the gods made their assumptions out of arrogance, refusing to believe anyone mortal could ever reach their level. I was supposed to be different.
“Easy.” Poseidon stretched his hands in a soothing gesture.
“Easy?” Ares surged toward Poseidon. “Easy! Do you have any idea what they’ll do to her? What you’ve left her to?” What—” He paused, seeming to notice the dishes rattling inside the white cabinets.
I sucked in deep breaths of rose-scented air. A lightbulb shattered above my head, glass raining down on the wooden floor.
“Persephone . . .” Poseidon was beside me in an instant, reaching out, but I jerked away before he could touch me.
I hated him. I hated him for hurting my mom all those centuries ago. For staying alive and strong when so many other gods died. For being one of the only people she could turn to for help during the final months of her life. For not stopping her dying. For looking at me the way he did. Like I was the only thing he had left of her. Like I meant something to him. He wasn’t allowed to grieve my mother.
Wood groaned and glass shattered as every door in the house flew open in a gust of damp wind. Oh, gods, I was ruining it. The one place I could still see her. Gasping for composure, I took my hatred for Poseidon and buried it. Like it or not, he was one of the only gods left, and I needed his help. “What do I do?”