The Underworld (Chapter Eight, page 2 of 8)


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"I went to the human world to try to fix things, and you shut me out."

The world began moving again.

"Okay. That wasn't it." He drew a calming breath. "Deidre would know what to do."

Silence.

"So you're … what? Interested in hearing about her? Sad she's gone? As furious as I am with her?"

The animals and trees remained quiet.

"The heart of the underworld is broken. Because you miss her?" Gabriel rested his elbows on his knees, sensing he was close to whatever it was the Lake was waiting for. He shifted to peer into the water and gazed at his reflection, gazing back at him. He appeared worn and frustrated, the skin around his eyes tight, and sorrow in the depths of his gaze.

Souls glowed like tiny lanterns beneath the surface of the water, and he heard the sad song again from the trees and lake. They felt much like he did. As he watched, a scene began to play out on the surface of the Lake, one of the day where he'd felt pain after a lifetime without it.

The day Past-Death turned away from him. He watched himself storm off. She had seen him go. When she turned away, there were tears on her face, and he saw for the first time what he'd never known about the goddess who held his heart.

She'd loved him enough to be hurt, too. Deities were immune to emotions, sociopathic liars out to protect their domains. The traits were needed, because they never let anything else come between them and their duties.

"Except something did," he whispered. Shit.

For a long moment, he sat in the silence, allowing his thoughts to return to where he hadn't wanted them to go: to the past he wanted to forget but couldn't.

"Because I miss her," he whispered. He racked his brain to recall when exactly the underworld had begun failing, before the demon invasion and the cracking of the sky that occurred before he was appointed as Death. "This started before Rhyn came to the underworld to find Katie and was followed by the demons. It began …"

The moment Death made me give up my soul and then dumped me.

Gabriel dwelt on the unpleasant memory of trading his soul to Past-Death in exchange for her allowing Rhyn the time he needed to save his mate. The only freelancer among the death dealers, he'd volunteered to stay with Past-Death for tens of thousands of years, after falling in love with her when he was a foolish seventeen year old mortal.

Shortly after demanding his soul, she banned him from her bed. He'd thought her callously uncaring at the time, but the vision replaying on the surface of the water told him otherwise.

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