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Child of Spring

My daughter is seven hours old.

I’ve been intimate with the passage of time since I was a child. A necessity, really, when you’ve only got so long before your brain scrambles itself into a total shutdown. But now time has burrowed into my skin. Every heartbeat marks another passing moment.

Each one is an enormous bell, tolling outside my heart. The vibrations come down over me again and again and again. I’m alive. Persephone’s alive. The baby is alive. 

The baby is more than alive, though she remains nameless. Persephone didn’t want to choose a name before the birth, and afterward she was so love-drunk that she did nothing but murmur to the baby until her exhaustion caught up with her.

Now she sleeps in a hospital bed I had custom-built and shipped to the mountain. As a rule, I don’t use any of the hospital beds here. But they are sometimes occupied, and it’s only good hospitality that they aren’t made from sheetrock like the usual kind.

Persephone sleeps, her curls a mess on the pillow, and I hover over my daughter’s bassinet like the superstitious bastard I’ve discovered myself to be.

She’s just so small. So fragile. I cup a palm over the downy top of her head and feel her heartbeat there. She doesn’t stir, wrapped up in her swaddle, only breathes soft breaths. A little bird, come home to roost.

I don’t let myself think about the inevitable flight away from me.

Stepping away feels like a bad idea.

We’re safe here. Triply so, though I didn’t tell Persephone how many people I’ve vetted and hired and overpaid to surround the mountain. My brother Zeus and his fiancée Brigit remain unaware of the twelve-person team that accompanied them on the train ride here. No one is coming in that I don’t expressly order.

That, and I gave Oliver, my head of security, permission to wake Zeus up if anything goes wrong. He likes a good fight.

Still.

It doesn’t ease the worry that’s taken up residence in the vicinity of my heart.

She cried, earlier, when the sun hit her eyes. Of course, the baby has been in the comfortable dark for long months now. It would be excruciating for anyone to be confronted with light. But there is a possibility that nags me.

“Is she all right?” Persephone’s whisper falls through the darkness like a jewel, and I go to her automatically, even though it means leaving my own beating heart sleeping in the bassinet. 

“Yes.” I sit on the side of Persephone’s bed and brush her hair back from her face. “She’s still asleep. No signs of trouble.”

She rolls over onto her back and presses my hand against her cheek. “And what about you?

It’s dark enough, and late enough, for raw truth. “It’s painful.”

“Your head?”

“No. Loving her so much.”

Persephone sighs, but it’s a happy thing. “I know.”

“Did you think of a name?”

A low laugh that makes me wish I could take her to another bed. “No. I was dreaming about a pearl on a ship. Isn’t that so strange? A box of pearls.”

“Maybe that’s her name.”

She turns her head to kiss my palm. “No, no, not yet. The sooner we decide…”

“The sooner we’ll have something to call her, other than sweet baby?”

Persephone meets my eyes in the faint light of the hospital machines, which stand by in case of emergency. “She’ll be so grown up, if we name her. It’ll be the name we say when she leaves home.”

I lean down to kiss her then. She tastes like the Tootsie Pop she demanded thirty-five minutes into our daughter’s new life. Persephone’s been eating them for weeks. It’s not for me to question it. “We have time. But you know Brigit is going to ask you in the morning.”

“The morning, then.” She tugs me down onto the bed with her. This only works because Persephone is so petite. “We’ll decide in the morning. Come to sleep with me. You’ve been awake all night.”

She’s quiet for a long time. So long that I chance putting voice to the worry.

“She could be like me.”

I say it mildly, hoping she’s asleep, but Persephone shifts against me. “Good. I hope she is. Only not as tall. That would be a little much.”

“I meant—”

“I know what you meant.” She turns, putting a hand over my eyes. “I meant what I said, too. Whoever she’s like, you’re still going to protect her. Nothing’s going to be different.” Persephone takes her hand away and brushes a kiss across my cheek. “Come to sleep.”

“I love you.”

“I know.”

“Such terrible manners.”

“I love you, too.”

I mean to stay awake, listening for any sound from the bassinet. I’m determined to do it. I can hear my daughter breathing from here. Tomorrow she’ll have a name. But tonight the easy flutter of her breath sends me drifting into a dream. In the dream, a little bird lands on the window by my rooms.

She’s visiting home.

Thank you so much for reading Child of Spring: A King of Shadows bonus scene! Scroll down to learn more about King of Shadows, the modern Hades & Persephone retelling you need (I promise). 

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King of Shadows book cover
“Breathtaking, intense, and scorching hot, KING OF SHADOWS is the modern myth I’ve been waiting for.” –New York Times Bestselling Author Skye Warren

We made a deal. Now she belongs to me.

Desperate people make deals with the devil.

When Persephone meets me in the dead of night, she offers me her body in exchange for her lover’s life.

She’s too innocent to know the depth of my cruelty.

All she wants is her freedom.

All I want is to possess her.

I’m a powerful billionaire with a dark heart, and she’s a sweet, sheltered thing with dreams of a kind world.

I’m the man of her nightmares.

And she’s my new queen.

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