Courting the Underworld

Bonus Chapter 1

“Thanks! Drive safe!” Persephone waved off the cab driver, staying long after the car had turned the corner before crossing the street.

Before her stood an entirely innocuous building. She honestly would never think to go in.

“It’s a secret, Persephone!” Aphrodite’s voice was muffled as she wriggled into a dress. “Isn’t it delightful? The mortals want to party so much they make their own hidden parties. It’s like the 1650s all over again!”

Somehow Persephone didn’t think there would be floggings for consuming alcohol this time around. The house looked much nicer than the ditches or bridges mortals would consume alcohol under back then.

She pulled her (fake) fur stole around her shoulders to stave off the evening chill and walked around the side of the building.

The streets were dark, the only light coming from the windows of neighbouring houses. It was a far cry from her mother’s realm, or Mount Olympus, but there was a certain charm to it. The austere brick buildings were quaint, even. Ivy curled around the austere brick buildings, an aged wooden door half-hidden by trailing plants.

Slipping through the door, Persephone was greeted with an ornate hallway. A doorman sat just inside, a clipboard propped up on his knee. He was a solid man, with a thick beard, but he didn’t look terribly intimidating given the steaming mug clutched in one hand.



He paused, scanning the list. “Ah, yes. Miss Aphrodite’s guest. She’s been expecting you, Miss.” He gestured down the corridor. “She’s in the main room, to your right. Rest rooms are on the left.”

“Thank you.”

The room in question was bathed in a warm, golden glow. Smoke filled the air as jazz music and laughter echoed through the room. Persephone navigated through the crowded entryway, spotting a bar on one side and a small dance floor in the centre. It was a heady mix, and Persephone breathed it in, giddy nerves bubbling up.

She quickly spotted Aphrodite, the goddess unmistakable amongst the mortals. The goddess of love sat at a corner table, back turned to the door, waving a drink around as she spoke. Her free hand clasped that of the man opposite her, their fingers entwined. They leaned in, lips touching. Persephone’s nose scrunched up. Perhaps she should wait until they were done.

“Sorry, excuse me.” Persephone murmured as she pushed through the crowd towards the bar, but the throng of people was too thick, and she found herself jostled around. She tried to slip between two men, but one of them stepped back, and she collided with his solid chest.

“Sorry, sorry, I didn’t see you there.” Persephone’s cheeks burned as she stepped back, raising her hands. Muscular and rugged, the man had a strong jawline covered in wiry stubble that looked like it would scratch. He smirked at her, eyes crinkled with bemusement.

“Don’t worry about it, love,” he said, his voice rough and deep. “I’ve had worse things than a pretty girl falling into me.” He winked, and Persephone’s blush deepened.

“I’m sure you have. Excuse me.” Persephone pushed past him, her cheeks burning. His laughter followed as she hurried to the bar, and she prayed he hadn’t been watching her.

Squeezing between a kissing couple and a loud group of women, Persephone tried to get the bartender’s attention.

“Excuse me? Sir?”

“Evening. Whatcha having, doll?”

Persephone looked along the row of bottles, all unlabelled to allow plausible deniability. She wracked her brains, trying to recall what was in fashion for mortals this year.

“What’s good?”

“Ah, a virgin to our little home. I’ll get you the house speciality.” The bartender got to work, pulling out a cocktail shaker and filling it with ice. He took a bottle of a deep red liquid and poured it in, followed by a clear liquid. He shook it vigorously, and then strained it into a glass. A slice of orange was added to the rim of the glass, and he slid the glass over with a flourish. “On the house, love.”

“Are you sure? Oh, thank you.” She took the drink quickly, adding a straw and sipping. Her eyes widened as the sweet, fruity taste hit her tongue; the headiness of wine or the bitterness of ale absent. It was quite nice, she decided. Much more palatable than ambrosia even, the sweetness in this drink tempered by the acidity provided by the orange.

She was just taking another sip when an arm snaked around her waist. Persephone jolted, ready to smite the perpetrator when they spoke.

“Ooh, what’s that you’ve got?” Aphrodite’s words ran into each other as she leaned over. Her golden hair was pinned up in a faux bob, and she wore a slinky, low-cut gown of shimmering black fabric that clung to her curves. A long string of pearls hung around her neck, and her lips were painted a deep red.

Aphrodite snatched the drink, taking a long sip. “Hmm, not bad. You look fabulous, my dear. I’m so glad you could make it.”

Persephone shook her head, smiling. “I’m borrowing your clothes. You look stunning.”

 “Oh, I know. But you look lovely too, I promise. I’m so glad you’re enjoying yourself! I knew you would. I have the best taste in parties. And in people. Have I mentioned the time I set up-”

“Only about a thousand times.” Aphrodite pouted at the interruption, but it was clear she wasn’t really upset. She never was. “Do we need to constantly talk about love?”

“No, but life much more fun when we do.” She spotted something over Persephone’s shoulder. “Oh, there’s Amphitrite! Let’s go say hi!”

“Wait, Aphrodite, I don’t think-” Persephone’s protests were in vain. The goddess had already pulled her from the bar, her grip firm on Persephone’s wrist. Aphrodite tugged her across the room, waving at various people as they went. Persephone tried to keep up, but Aphrodite was a whirlwind, and she found herself stumbling over her own feet.

Aphrodite’s target had barely taken two steps in when the goddess barrelled into her, pulling her into a tight embrace. Persephone was glad she hadn’t suffered the same greeting.

“Hello, my darling!” Aphrodite pressed a kiss to each cheek. “Persephone, meet Amphitrite, my dear friend, and wife of your Uncle Poseidon. Amphitrite, this is Persephone, my latest project.”

“Project?” Amphitrite raised an eyebrow, and Persephone felt herself shrink under the woman’s gaze.

“Not like that!” Aphrodite laughed, tugging Persephone nearer, so the three women were uncomfortably close. “Demeter coddles her so much. I’m trying to get her to experience the world.”

“I see. I hope you’re enjoying yourself, Persephone. Aphrodite can be quite the handful.” Amphitrite turned to Aphrodite. “I trust you’re not causing too much trouble?”

Aphrodite fluttered her lashes, attempting innocence. “Me? Of course not. I’m just giving the mortals a taste of the divine.”

They fell into easy conversation. Persephone relaxed, laughing at the jokes and stories that the women shared. Amphitrite was a kind, warm woman, and she was easy to talk to. Soon enough, they had all migrated to the bar once more.

“Hey, handsome. You’re not ignoring me, are you?”

“I’d never, love. What can I get you?” The bartender leaned over, and Aphrodite whispered in his ear. He laughed, and turned to the bar, grabbing a bottle of something new. He poured three glasses, each topped with a slice of lemon.

Persephone sniffed it, nose immediately assaulted with the strong scent of alcohol mixed with a sweetness only seen on Olympus.


“Well, your mother isn’t here. Drink up! You’ll want nothing else all night.”

The taste was nicer than the smell, but not by much. As she drank, Persephone felt a warmness spread through her body as the nectar rejuvenated her. In minutes, energy pulsed through her body, relaxing her inhibitions.

The night became a blur of movement, colour, and sound. Aphrodite was right; the ambrosia was delicious, and the more she drank, the more she wanted.

The Ambrosia made her giddy, and she laughed at everything, clapping along to the music and dancing with strangers. She didn’t know how long she spent on the dance floor, but eventually her sore feet and dry throat forced her away, searching for liquid sustenance once more.

Persephone stumbled to the bar, leaned against it, and took deep breaths. The smile on her face wouldn’t abate.

“What can I get you?”

“Surprise me!”

The barman laughed and mixed something together, sliding it over to her. She took a sip, surprised by the strength of it. It was bitter, and she fought not to grimace. “What is it?”

“Whiskey sour. It’s a bit of a kick, but I think you can handle it.” He winked, moving to serve the next man. Persephone’s eyes followed along, freezing when they landed on a man sat at the far end of the bar.

He was stoic, glaring intently at his drink. His hair was dark and short, and his jaw was strong. He had a five o’clock shadow, and it made Persephone’s fingers itch. He was older than her physical appearance, but not old, and there was a softness to his features that made her want to run her fingers over them.

His suit was tailored to his body, and it hugged his muscles in all the right places. Thick-rimmed glasses obscured his eyes, but she could see the sparkle of the lights in them. He was the most beautiful mortal she had ever seen.

Persephone giggled, her hand coming up to cover her mouth.

She could speak to him. She had spoken with mortals frequently in her shop. They weren’t that different from gods. Aphrodite was always encouraging for her to get a mortal lover. There had never been any sparks with those she crossed, save for Hades, but this man… She bit her lip. This man she might be able to talk to. Nothing had to happen. It was just a conversation. A conversation with a man in a green shirt that set off his eyes beautifully.

She could do this. She had been watching Aphrodite all night; she (kinda) knew what to do. Persephone just needed to approach him, and everything would fall into place. She took a deep breath and strode to meet him, reaching out to touch his arm. She pulled back at the last moment, her eyes widening. What was she doing?

“Are you alright?” The man turned to her. He was even more beautiful up close. His eyes were a deep hazel, staring into her soul, and she felt naked.

“Y-yes. I’m fine.” She forced a smile, her hand coming up to play with her hair. “I was just admiring your… your glass. It’s a nice glass.”

“I’m glad you think so.” The man’s voice was deep, and it sent shivers down her spine. “It’s a gift from my mother. She has a thing about glassware.”

She blinked, realising almost too late that the glass matched hers. He was joking. Oh.


The man chuckled, his eyes crinkling at the edges. “Had-Hadrian.” Hadrian took her hand, pressing a kiss to it. “Pleasure to meet you.”

Hadrian. It was a nice name. Strong.

“Do you come here often?”

“I’m new to the city. A friend forced me to come.”

“Oh, I am too! Well, I’m new to this part of the city, I mean. Never been to one of these clubs before.”

“Are you enjoying yourself?”

“Yeah, it’s… it’s nice.” She said, and he raised an eyebrow. “I mean, I work a lot. Spring is coming, so it’s all hands on deck, you know?”

“I can imagine.” The way he said it made her think he didn’t really understand at all. “Spring? What industry do you work in? Weddings?”

“Not quite. I’m a florist. It’s my passion. I like to think that flowers are the most beautiful thing in the world, but then I come to places like this, and I see people like you, and I’m not so sure.”

“People like me?”

Persephone took a deep breath. She could do this. It was just telling the truth. An objective fact. “Yeah. You’re really… you’re really attractive.”

“As are you. Your eyes are the verdant green of springtime fields, but when you turn just there, towards the light, they become the fiery aurora borealis.”

“They are?”

“Indeed. They are an entity of themselves. It’s entrancing.”

He was entrancing. Persephone felt as though he was peering into her soul. She wanted to tell him everything, to have his attention on her and her alone. She leant into his touch, and he moved closer, his breath tickling her skin.

She could almost imagine she was looking at Hades.

Persephone pulled back, burnt. She couldn’t do this. She shouldn’t have tried to mimic Aphrodite by indulging in non-existent desires. There was only one man (god) that she actually wanted. This wasn’t fair on Hadrian.

“Is something wrong?” Hadrian asked. “You’ve gone quiet. Do you need some water?”

She shook her head, trying to clear it. “I’m sorry, excuse me.”

“Wait,” he reached out, but stopped just before their skin touched. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing. I just realised I have to be up early tomorrow. I should go.”

“Please, was it something I said?”

“No, No. Not at all Hadrian.” She reassured him earnestly. “I’m messing you around. I’m sorry. I’m… I’m in love with someone else.”

“Does he not feel the same about you?”

She laughed bitterly. “He doesn’t know I exist.”

“I’m sorry. That’s rough.”

“It’s life, isn’t it?”

“Not everyone is as blind as you think. I’m sure he knows you exist. You’re a beautiful woman, and you deserve to be happy. You deserve someone who can appreciate you for who you are, not what you can give them.”

“I can’t give him anything he needs.”

“Don’t say that.” He touched her shoulder, clasping it firmly. “You are worth the world, simply by existing, and you should never settle for anything less.”

“Thank you.” She leant into his touch, closing her eyes. “I really should go.”

“Let me escort you home. I promise I won’t try to enter your abode or do anything uncouth.”

“No, I’m fine. I can get home myself. I’ve done it plenty of times before.”

“You’re drunk. I don’t think you should be left alone.”

“I’ll be fine. I promise. I live just down the road.” She pulled away, her hand lingering on his. “Thank you for your time, Hadrian. You’re a good man.”

She leant up and kissed his cheek. “I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. I hope things work out for you.”

“Thank you.” She gave him a small smile and pulled away, making her way to the exit and fading out to Mount Olympus. She didn’t look back.




Hades watched Persephone leave, her steps unsteady as she stumbled through the door. She was drunk. The goddess of spring was drunk. The thought was laughable. Hades watched her go, shaking his head. Who would have thought that in this crowd of people, she would have found him so easily?

He was not the only one who had noticed. Hecate sidled up to him, taking his arm and resting her head on his shoulder. “What is this I see? Hades? Unsociable god of the millennia, having a conversation? With a pretty goddess? Is that a smile I see hidden on the corner of your lips?”

“Drunk. Aphrodite spiked her drinks.”

“Have you been watching her all night?” Hecate shook her head. “I don’t want to know. Stop being an old man. I’m sure she wasn’t that bad.”

“She didn’t recognise me.”

“You’re wearing

“Hilarious.” Hades wondered why he had agreed to come here. Or allowed Hecate to dress him up for the occasion.

“Lighten up. You’re so broody.”

“I’m not broody. You’re the one who’s broody.”

“Your face is broody. You’re a broody, broody, broody man. You need to get laid.”

“That’s the pot calling the kettle black.”

“Hey, I get laid. I just don’t have relationships. Mortals get scared of me.”

“You don’t have the emotional capacity for relationships.”

“That’s not true. I have plenty of emotional capacity. I just don’t want to be tied down to one person.”

Hades didn’t bother to respond. It was an old argument, and he had no desire to argue with Hecate. She was one of the few people he could stand.

“Come on; one dance to show your face, then you can flee with dignity.”

“One dance.”

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4 Responses

  1. This had such an amazing tail spin at the end this is such a lively chapter oh my!!!! Everytime you take me to a world I want to escape to absolutely a pleasure! Can’t wait for the next one! 😉

  2. Loved this! Aunt Aphrodite seems both fun and exhausting (in the best way lol). And bearded Hades – or Hadrian, excuse me – with glasses? Yes please!

    This was fantastic and very cute and enjoyable!

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