The Goddess Legacy: The Goddess Queen\The Lovestruck Goddess\Goddess of the Underworld\God of Thieves\God of Darkness (Harlequin Teen)

BOOK: The Goddess Legacy: The Goddess Queen\The Lovestruck Goddess\Goddess of the Underworld\God of Thieves\God of Darkness (Harlequin Teen)
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For millennia we’ve caught only glimpses of the lives and
loves of the gods and goddesses on Olympus. Now Aimée Carter pulls back the
curtain on how they became the powerful, petty, loving and dangerous immortals
that Kate Winters knows.

CALLIOPE/HERA represented constancy and yet had a husband who
never matched her faithfulness.…

AVA/APHRODITE was the goddess of love and yet commitment was
a totally different deal.…

PERSEPHONE was urged to marry one man, yet longed for
another.…

JAMES/HERMES loved to make trouble for others—but never knew
true loss before....

HENRY/HADES’S solitary existence had grown too wearisome to
continue. But meeting Kate Winters gave him a new hope.…

Five original novellas of love, loss and longing and the will
to survive throughout the ages.

“Why is it your rightful place and not mine? Because of my
sex?” I spat, sounding far more courageous than I felt in the face of my
brother’s crackling power. Mine easily rivaled his, but it was quiet,
understated, the sort you didn’t know was there until it was too late. I could
never display mine in such an intimidating manner.

“Yes,” said Zeus without preamble. “Because you had the
misfortune of being made in our mother’s image, and our mother chose to defer to
our father. You will be a queen if you wish, Hera, but only second to one of
us.”

No one challenged him. No one spoke to support me. And as
those eternal seconds passed, hatred unlike anything I had ever felt before
burned within me. “I will prove you wrong someday,” I snarled. “And when that
day comes, you will be cast out and fed to the wolves. Do not say I did not warn
you.”

* * *

Select Praise for
Aimée Carter’s
The Goddess
Test series

“The narrative is well executed, and Kate is a heroine better
equipped than most to confront and cope with the inexplicable.”

Publishers Weekly
on
The Goddess
Test

“Carter’s writing is a delight to read—succinct, clean,
descriptive.
Goddess Interrupted
is definitely a
page-turner, one full of suspense, heartbreak, confusion, frustration and yes,
romance.”

YA Reads
on
Goddess Interrupted

Also by
Aimée Carter

The Goddess Test Novels
in reading order:

THE GODDESS TEST
“The Goddess Hunt”
(ebook)
GODDESS INTERRUPTED
THE GODDESS LEGACY

and the upcoming
THE GODDESS
INHERITANCE

Aimée
Carter

For Carrie Harris, who is one of a kind,
brilliantly
hilarious,
and knows just what to say to vanquish the
crazies.
JUICES.

The Goddess Queen

Part One

  

In all the years I’d existed, I’d never expected to be
free.

I was the daughter of Titans, and as such, I’d always accepted
it as fact that they would rule. They were without question the most powerful
beings in the universe, after all. They controlled everything and everyone. They
were our makers. They were our gods.

But after ten years of rebellion and war in an effort to
protect humanity from our father’s twisted games, we were the gods now. Still in
our infancy compared to our creators, my siblings and I now ruled over the world
and all her inhabitants. And as I stared out across the great expanse that was
our domain only minutes after our battle had ended, I felt something I thought
would end with the war: I felt fear.

It was unnatural. What did we, the captors of Titans, the new
generation of gods, have to be afraid of? But the more I tried to picture the
future, the clearer it became to me. We hadn’t inherited just the Titans’
thrones. We’d inherited their responsibilities, as well. And whether or not we
were ready for it, the world was waiting for us. Humanity was depending on us to
get it right.

Lightning lit up the sky, followed by a symphony of thunder,
and I snapped out of my reverie. My youngest brother let out a giant whoop that
echoed for miles. “Try to beat that,” said Zeus, elbowing my middle brother,
Poseidon.

Poseidon scoffed. “That’s nothing. Watch this.” And with a wave
of his hand, the sea below us roared to life, swirling ominously and creating
shapes and shadows that danced across the water. Rushing forward, the waves
crashed against the cliff we stood on, shaking the very earth.

“Not bad,” said Zeus. “But I’ve seen better.”

Before I could blink, Poseidon tackled him to the ground, and
the pair of them proceeded to spend the next several minutes trying to pin each
other down. If humanity was depending on us to get it right, they were in for
several eons of disappointment.

“Don’t look so sour, Hera,” said Demeter, my sister. She stood
beside me, a smile playing on her lips as she watched our brothers wrestle. How
she could find amusement in their lack of maturity baffled me.

“Humanity’s going to crumble in a matter of weeks at this
point,” I said. “They need guidance. Protection. Order and help in establishing
a life without the Titans’ tyranny. Our brothers are not fit to rule.”

“We are,” said Hestia from the other side of Demeter. Both of
my sisters watched them with their heads held high, and they looked every inch
the queens the world needed. “As is Hades. Zeus and Poseidon will grow up soon
enough, I suspect.”

“Never!” cried Zeus, and his booming laughter echoed across the
ocean as he managed to gain the upper hand in their wrestling match.

“See?” I gave my sisters a pointed look. “We’re doomed.”

“I wouldn’t go quite that far yet.” Our eldest brother, Hades,
stepped beside me, his dark hair whipping across his face in the wind. He
offered me a small smile, and his eyes glittered with intelligence. Something
our other brothers sorely lacked. “You did well, sister. If it hadn’t been for
you, we would’ve never succeeded.”

My cheeks grew warm. “You’re too kind,” I said with false
humility. I knew as well as he did that by breaking the bonds of the Titans’
loyalty to one another, I’d cinched our victory. But the war was over now, and
the six of us were a unit that not even I could break. United we had proven to
be stronger than even our father, and if we were to have any chance of success,
we had to remain that way.

“Hardly. I dare say you should be ruling us all,” said
Hades.

On the ground, Zeus sat up and shoved Poseidon off him. “Hera,
Queen of the Gods?” He chuckled and gave me an enormous wink. “Maybe if she had
a king.”

He was lucky I was exhausted and weary after battle, else I
would’ve made sure he never had the chance to wink at me or any other girl
again. “Are you saying a woman can’t rule?” I said.

“I’m saying it would never work.” Zeus stood again, offering
Poseidon a hand. Once they were both on their feet, they shoved each other
playfully and made their way over to the rest of us. “Humanity is used to a
king, and Rhea never exercised her rights as queen. They need a leader right
now, not a mother.”

“I could be a leader,” I snapped, and hot anger filled me. Zeus
knew never to bring up our mother. The loss of her presence was still too fresh.
“I would make a damn good one.”

Zeus shrugged and raked his fingers through his golden hair.
“Maybe so, but I was the one who led us all to victory. We can all be kings and
queens in our own rights, and there’s plenty for us to rule over. But as far as
a supreme leader goes—”

“Hera won the war for us,” said Hades in that quiet, measured
voice of his. How he was able to stay so calm in the face of blatant arrogance
baffled me. Zeus might have been responsible for the majority of the brute force
against the Titans, but he was no more powerful than the rest of us. And he was
the youngest and by far the least ready to handle the responsibilities of
leadership.

“We all won the war,” said Demeter. “We will all rule together,
as a council. We will all have equal say, and we will all listen to and respect
one another. It is the only way we will not fall victim to revolt, as the Titans
did.” She squeezed my hand. “Is that acceptable to you, Hera?”

As if I had any real say. But all five of my siblings watched
me, waiting for me to yield, and I had little choice. I would not be the one to
cut the ties that bound us together.

“As long as it is an equal rule, I can accept that,” I said. At
least that way the chances of Zeus and Poseidon wreaking havoc were considerably
diminished.

Zeus grinned boyishly. “Then it’s settled. Let’s draw lots for
the kingdoms.”

“The kingdoms?” I said. “But there are only three.”

“Yes,” said Zeus with mock patience, as if I were a child who
had to be spoken to slowly in order to grasp anything. “Like I said, humanity
would never follow a queen.”

The edges of my vision turned red, and I clenched my jaw so
tightly that I could have shattered diamond between my teeth. But Zeus went on
as if he didn’t notice, and three gray pebbles appeared in his hand. “Poseidon,”
he said with a grand bow, as if he were doing him a favor, letting him draw
first.

Poseidon narrowed his eyes and touched each of the three stones
in turn. “I know which domain you want,” he said. “And you know which domain I
want. So why don’t you just tell me which one to pick?”

Zeus scoffed. “Where would be the fun in that?” But the middle
stone began to glow, and Poseidon snatched it up. As he held it in his palm, a
great crash of sea against rock echoed around us, and the stone exploded into a
rush of water.

Poseidon grinned. “Perfect.”

“Thought you might like that.” Zeus turned to Hades next and
offered him the remaining stones. “Brother.”

Hades eyed him for a long moment, and it wasn’t difficult to
see what was going on underneath his mask of neutrality. Allowing Zeus to have
the sky domain and ultimate rule over the living was dangerous at best. Zeus
wasn’t ready for it, but if this council was truly to be, then perhaps we could
all temper him. Then again, forcing Zeus into the Underworld to mingle with the
dead would kill the light inside him, the same light that had rallied us even
when we thought all was lost. Zeus wasn’t meant to remain among the dead. It
simply wasn’t his place in the world, and we all knew it. But that didn’t mean
he was ready to rule.

Without breaking his stare, Hades picked up one of the
remaining pebbles and cradled it in his palm. I held my breath, and at last the
stone burst into flame, an unexpected light in the dark. The Underworld. Of
course Hades would sacrifice himself for our brother’s happiness.

Before anyone could react, I snatched the third pebble from
Zeus’s hand, closing my fist around it. “I will rule the skies,” I said. “When
you are ready and have proven yourself worthy of kingship, then you may have
this stone back.”

“Hera—” started Demeter, but Zeus interrupted her.

“Is that what you want? Further anarchy and pain for humanity?”
He drew himself up to his full height, thunder rumbling around him. In that
moment, a flash of our father appeared on his face, and I took a step back. “You
condemn us to another war if you insist on not allowing me my rightful
place.”

“Why is it your rightful place and not mine? Because of my
sex?” I spat, sounding far more courageous than I felt in the face of my
brother’s crackling power. Though mine easily rivaled his, it was quiet,
understated, the sort you didn’t know was there until it was too late. I could
never display my power in such an intimidating manner.

“Yes,” said Zeus without preamble. “Because you had the
misfortune of being made in our mother’s image, and our mother chose to defer to
our father. Because that is the example the Titans set for not only us, but for
the world, and we must maintain some order. You will be a queen if you wish,
Hera, but only second to one of us.”

No one challenged him. No one spoke to support me. And as those
eternal seconds passed, hatred unlike anything I had ever felt before burned
within me. Not even for Cronus had I felt such disgust. “I
will
prove you wrong someday,” I snarled. “And when that day comes,
you will be cast out and fed to the wolves. Do not say I did not warn you.”

Turning on my heel, I stormed off toward the center of the
island. It would be a beautiful place to live if not for the scar of healing
earth that led straight into the Underworld, where Cronus and the other Titans
now resided. Perhaps it wasn’t such a terrible thing that Hades had given up
Olympus, after all. At least he could be trusted not to let Cronus escape from
the depths of Tartarus.

“Hera!” called Zeus. “Don’t be that way.”

I ignored him. If he didn’t want me there, then I wouldn’t be
there. But soon enough I heard footsteps behind me, and as they grew closer, I
stopped and whirled around. “Can’t you take a—”

I stopped. It was Hades, not Zeus, who followed me. In the
darkness, he looked far too much like our father for my comfort, but we were all
used to it by now. He could change his form, as the rest of us could, but I had
no doubt he would keep his natural appearance, determined not to let Cronus
dictate who and what he was.

“I am sorry for Zeus,” said Hades quietly. “You do not deserve
to be spoken to in such a manner.”

I swallowed and held my head high. I wouldn’t let Zeus get to
me. He wasn’t worth it. “I won’t be anyone’s second. I’m better than that. We
all are.”

He managed a faint smile. “You could never be anyone’s second,
because that would imply someone was more deserving than you. Never doubt that
you are the reason we have won, Hera. You are our true power, and we all know
it. It is simply difficult for some of us to acknowledge our own lacking.”

A pause, and I deflated. “He’ll ruin us.”

“Maybe,” he allowed. “Maybe not. Time will tell.”

“I won’t rule at his side.”

“I do not blame you.” He touched my shoulder. “You deserve
better than how he would treat you.”

Something tingled down my spine, and his hand felt warm and
heavy against my skin. “I could go into the Underworld with you,” I said. “You
will need someone to help you sort through the souls.”

For a split second, his understanding smile changed to one of
pity, and I bristled. But before I could react, he said kindly, “Nothing would
please me more. As much as I would enjoy your company, however, the Underworld
would not suit you. I am fine with the darkness and the quiet, but you, sister,
would wither without light. And I cannot do that to you.”

“You don’t know that for sure,” I said. “It would be worth the
isolation if I didn’t have to be near Zeus.”

He chuckled softly. “As I said, I do not blame you. But
something better will come along, and in the meantime, you will have an equal
voice on this council.”

“What if that isn’t enough? What if Zeus still finds a way to
take over?”

“Then we will deal with that as it happens,” said Hades. “I am
on your side.”

At least someone was. “You’re sure I can’t come with you?”

He pressed his lips to my forehead. “I would never forgive
myself for what that place would do to you. But I will come visit you often, and
I promise you will never be alone.”

His words warmed me from the inside out, quelling the last of
my frustration. “Why do you have to be so good, Hades? Why can’t you be more
like Poseidon and Zeus? It’d be easier to insist the lot of you weren’t fit to
rule.”

He squeezed my shoulder. “Because if I were, we would be
warring amongst ourselves, and we all know what would happen then. Go back to
Olympus, Hera. Rest. I will see you soon, and in the meantime, try not to let
Zeus get to you. He’s overwhelmed with victory and relief, and that does strange
things to men.”

“He’s not a man,” I said. “He’s a god.”

“Then we can expect this to last much longer than it otherwise
would.” He embraced me for a brief moment before letting me go. “Do not forget
your worth.”

With that, he turned and walked toward the sealed crack in the
earth, his footsteps leaving no trace in the dirt. I watched him disappear until
darkness consumed him, and once he was gone, I took a shaky breath and returned
to the others. I would never follow Zeus, but as long as Hades was there to
introduce reason, perhaps this new life wouldn’t be so bad, after all.

* * *

Sometime in the night, a sharp rap of knuckle against
the wall of my Olympus bedroom startled me awake. While normally we did not need
to sleep, after exerting our powers as we all had during the final battle, we
required rest. Which only made the knock more confusing.

BOOK: The Goddess Legacy: The Goddess Queen\The Lovestruck Goddess\Goddess of the Underworld\God of Thieves\God of Darkness (Harlequin Teen)
5.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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