READ THE FIRST TWO CHAPTERS: Gilded Ruins (Blinding Night, #2) by Chantal Gadoury
Bestselling author Chantal Gadoury returns with the last chapter in a whirlwind mythological romance...
When she and Darce are summoned to Mount Olympus by Zeus himself, Summer Mavros finds herself faced with a new cast of Gods and Goddesses. Suddenly, the destined lovers themselves separated—but Summer would search both heaven and hell to find him.
Explore the Grecian Underworld with Summer and Darce this Tuesday!
Pre-order your copy here, and be sure to join the Official Underworld Facebook Group in time for Chantal's release day blitz on Tuesday, May 12th! It's going to be a whimsical celebration you won't want to miss!
Gilded Ruins (Blinding Night, #2), by Chantal Gadoury
"The Story Continues...
Summer and Darce are summoned by the order of Zeus himself to travel to the home of the Gods: Mount Olympus, where they're to face even more ancient Gods and Goddesses.
Summer braces to confront her mother again, illuminating secrets about the truth of her tragic pasts, while also persuading Zeus to allow her to stay with the God of the Underworld, her true love - Darce.
Aboard Poseidon's luxury yacht, Summer meets her mythological family, while also uncovering what exactly happened to her past lives - and the true roles her mother and Darce played.
When Darce and Summer suddenly find themselves separated, Summer must find her inner power and unite them together, before her mortal time runs out."
Arae adjusted a curl around my ear as she placed a golden crown of twisting vines on my head. I knew she was enjoying this. Far more than I was. The soft, blue dress she had chosen for me to wear hung off of my shoulders, pooling onto the ground like a waterfall. Intricate pieces of gold thread weaved through the gown, making it sparkle like a crystal in the sun. It was vastly different from all the jeans and sweaters I had been wearing since my arrival to the Underworld. I never thought in a billion years I’d ever say that. Me—in the Underworld. “If you’re going to face the Gods of Mount Olympus, you should appear as a Goddess,” Arae said as her fingers trailed along the length of my necklace. It was like wearing a costume piece from the Moulin Rouge, and where I was Satine, the large black diamond sitting on the hollow of my throat was a gift from my own Duke. When I first saw it sitting among the selection of gowns Arae had brought, I thought it was as black as death—if death was a color and black could be any shade darker. “But I’m not one,” I muttered under my breath as I gently pushed her prying fingers away from my neck. “Well, not completely.” “That may be,” she agreed, breaking the silence. “But you are the one Darce has chosen.” Arae wrinkled her nose, irritated. She had been the one to insist I come to her room and try on a gown she had picked out for me. She had been the one advising me on “Goddess” lessons—quizzing me on the different names of those I would likely meet at Mount Olympus. I was tired of the endless cycle of names and fabrics. It had only been three days ago when the messenger of the Gods—Hermes—had appeared in the dining hall of Elysian announcing Zeus’s request. I could still see the warm, clever smile on his lips as he gave us the order from the God of all Gods. He, in his golden glory, had come for me, to whisk me back to my mother’s side. Back to the Goddess, Demeter and the nameless other Gods who all had sided with her. I could feel the united scoffing and eye-rolling of all my past lives at the thought of my mother—our mother. I still hadn’t come into the powers that I had hoped to obtain again—whatever powers Persephone had possessed. I didn’t expect anything as dramatic as Superman’s flying, or Spiderman’s ability to create webs, but I at least thought I’d feel different after everything that had happened. While I was the one Darce had been searching for-the reincarnation of his long-ago bride—Persephone, I still didn’t feel like a Goddess. In reality, I had only gained the power of knowledge. Persephone had come to the world during various eras, and each time Darce had found her, she had slipped between his fingers. Instead of Spring and growing flowers, I had experienced death four times over and I had watched Darce’s agonizing expression too many times to count now.
I had been different. After losing both of my parents in a car accident, Darce had brought me down to the Underworld, in hopes of remembering the past. “You’ll see for yourself,” Arae’s voice cut into my reverie. “The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus care more about how you dress and carry yourself, than your ranking as a mere mortal.” “But you care quite a lot about that detail. . .” I retorted, glaring at her. She returned it with a snark smile and took a step back as she lifted her hand to her chin. She eyed her work curiously, scanning me from head to toe. “I don’t,” she replied. I snorted. “Yes, you do.” She shrugged and crossed her arms. “It’s not my fault you choose to look like a vagabond.”
“Excuse you,” I muttered under my breath. “It’s casual mortal fashion. Geez.” “Shoes?” She asked, pointing to the hem of the long dress and ignoring me entirely. I knew it was coming, too. With a grimace, I lifted the dress just slightly, revealing my Keds. I shouldn’t have been surprised that she would crack down on me, especially after everything she had done to get me in the dress I was wearing. “I told you,” she said, clicking her tongue. “It matters on Mount Olympus.” “Won’t they be too busy talking to Darce and I—” “Do you recall a French Queen from your mortal history?” Arae asked, raising a brow. “Imagine Mount Olympus as though it were Versailles. And you are a foreign queen entering new territory. Everyone who’s anyone will be there. Everyone judges everybody. They’ll be exceptionally ruthless when it comes to you.” “Even my shoes?” I lifted the hem of my gown, revealing my Keds once again. “Oh Summer,” she growled as she snapped her fingers. “Take them off.” Pursing my lips, I glared at her as I pushed them off. She crossed the room and gathered a pair of what looked to be gladiator sandals. They were a light beige-tan but encrusted with small diamonds over the tops of my feet. “And these are supposed to be better?” They looked uncomfortable. “At least it goes with the outfit,” she replied with an irritated sigh. “Did you dress Darce this diligently too?” The curt look she gave me could have sliced bread. “Thankfully, my Lord knows how to dress himself, unlike his counterpart.” If there was only one thing we could agree on, it was that Darce did in fact know how to dress himself. He definitely knew how to undress not only himself, but me, like a pro. In the few days that had passed since Morpheus had shown me my past lives, Darce and I had filled the few hours that we had together, with each other. Maybe he thought of it as making up for lost time? Either way, what bliss. Since Hermes’ arrival, Darce hadn’t let me out of his sight. Not that I could really blame him. If Hermes took me back to Mount Olympus without him. . . I was almost sure that I would never see him again. After dinner each night, Darce led me back to my room, and peeled away my clothes. Peeled away the layers of the memories I hadn’t discovered yet. In-between the silent hours, Darce would tell me stories about the women I had been before; Winnie, Celena, Lorena, and Persephone. Sometimes, when I closed my eyes, and sank into my bed beside him, I wondered who he missed the most. If he, as he watched me from across the table at our meals, looked at me and wished for another face to be there instead. The thoughts were fleeting as Darce would pull me closer, tighter against him—keeping me warm and safe in his embrace. This certainly wasn’t where I imagined myself to be these summer months—hidden away in the Underworld with a Greek God. I also never imagined that I—Summer Mavros—was actually a Greek Goddess: Persephone. Yet, here I was, having a gown prepared for my arrival to the infamous Mount Olympus, a place I had always presumed was fictional. I was going to meet the most famous Greek God—Zeus, along with the many other Gods and Goddesses I had only heard about in books and movies. “Does this really mean Zeus is my father?” “He was the father of Persephone, so I suppose that would mean he’s yours too.” Arae replied as she took a step back, tapping her finger against her chin. Sometimes I wondered if she was contemplating a curl or my entire head of hair. “But wouldn’t that make . . . Darce. . .my uncle?” I cringed at the thought. “Look,” Arae replied, snapping her fingers as she gazed at me. “Things are different here. Much different than in your rule-riddled world. Gods and Goddesses aren’t made the way you humans create life.” “Then how?” “How were the first humans created by God?” Arae asked, raising a brow. “He made them from ash and dirt, correct?”
She was right, but I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction. Instead I quietly chewed at my bottom lip and turned back to look at my reflection. I didn’t recognize the girl—woman—I saw staring back at me. It was much more than just the beautiful gown I wore or the crown of golden leaves on my head. I was so much more than who I was before everything happened, which I credit to my “spring awakening,” as Thanatos had jokingly referred to it. I was meant to be a Greek Goddess now. “I think you finally look presentable enough,” Arae murmured before she flicked a strand of my hair over my shoulder. “Enough to appease the Gods of Mount Olympus.” “I’m not going there to appease anyone,” I muttered under my breath.
“For the last time,” she hissed. “You’re not going there for a party. You’re being summoned. That means you and Darce are in more trouble than you might realize.” “We didn’t do anything wrong.” “Minthe will say otherwise.” Right. Minthe. She was the sole reason why Hermes came to the Underworld in the first place. She had been rejected by Darce and ran to Mount Olympus to tell Zeus and my mother where I was. That I, Summer Mavros was indeed, Persephone, and had been returned to Hades. “Currently it’s her word against yours.” “But soon it’ll be hers against Darce. That should make a difference.” I swore I heard Arae mutter, “not likely,” under her breath, but I didn’t bother to ask for clarification. She was still too busy inspecting me like a prize horse readying for a race.
“Perfect. When we go to Mount Olympus, this is exactly how you will dress.” Arae stated confidently. “Adhere to my fashion advice and there will be no question of who you are.” As I tilted my chin back towards the mirror’s reflection, I couldn’t help but feel the lie layered in Arae’s words. There was a good chance that everyone who looked at me would see who I was trying to be—someone hoping and willing enough to fill the shoes of the long-ago Persephone. But then, they might also see right through that act and see me for what I was. . .Darce’s partner. The Summer of today was not the Summer of four weeks ago. I carried a lot of responsibility, especially now that I knew my life was the last in Persephone’s long line of reincarnations. “Where is Darce again?” I asked, turning my attention back to Arae.
“He and Thanatos are on the other side of the Underworld, in the Asphodel Meadows.” “Oh,” I murmured as I quickly began to pull the golden crown from my head. “I think I’ll change and start packing.” “You could leave the packing to me,” Arae said with a smirk. Yeah right. Arae detested my comfortable human clothes, and I wasn’t willing to give up my comfy clothes just yet. She couldn’t make me surrender my leggings and sweaters if she wasn’t the one packing for me. Even if it meant I could only wear it in my room with Darce, I still wanted the pieces of my things that were still me. I tried to give her a warm smile as I shook my head. “Don’t worry, I’ll pack what you want me to.” “You’ll thank me later,” she promised in a sing-song voice. “Mmm,” I hummed in my throat as I reached for the clasp of the necklace. This time it was my turn to mutter, “not likely.” Arae scoffed as I set the necklace in her open palms, but she didn’t say anything more. I decided to leave before she tried though, so I jumped up as quickly as I could and disappeared through the door of her room. I was glad that at least the shoes she had selected for me didn’t clatter against the marble floor as I walked. She had tried putting me in heels once and the constant clicking drove me batty, so I had stashed them behind a potted plant. I wondered how long it had taken her to find the discarded heels. Just as I reached the hallway leading back towards my rooms, I decided to take the other way, leading to the docks. If there was a chance Darce and Thanatos had come back early, then maybe I could ask Darce for his real opinion of Arae’s dress. I smiled to myself, despite how awkward I felt. I knew he would like it on me regardless. As I approached the main entrance, I saw the familiar outline of wings and a flash of silver and blue hair. It fluttered in the gentle breeze coming off the river. Sometimes he was an enigma to me, but easy to spot in a crowd—anywhere really. Morpheus. The God of Dreams. He braced himself casually against a wall with one hand, watching the river as the waves moved across the surface. I could picture his relaxed and thoughtful expression. No doubt he was brooding over something. Sometimes I wondered what it would be like to read his mind, especially since he could practically see into mine. He had a love for Persephone once, too, and he still seemed to hold a flame for her. I knew better not to ask. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to know. He was my first real friend, and while our first encounter upon my arrival to the Underworld had been strange, things had quickly changed. Sometimes, it felt as though he were my only friend, short of Darce. Morpheus had welcomed me without question, unlike Arae, who had taken some getting used to. He had been the one who had helped me realize the truth about my past; the truth about my being the Goddess, Persephone. Without him, I might have lost Darce to Minthe. Without him, I might have lost myself too. I watched as he tilted his chin to the side, turning slowly to glance over his shoulder.
The corner of his lips turned into a careful smile as he caught my gaze; his eyes were warm and welcoming. “I see Arae got her hands on you,” he said with a slight chuckle. “Is it that obvious?” I asked, wrinkling my nose as I slid my hands to my waist. He parted from the wall and tucked his hands into his dark trousers pockets; his clothing was the usual black with the swirling silver crest of the Underworld on his chest. Upon his head, he wore a small silver diadem—a formality. “I’m surprised you let her,” Morpheus replied, raising a brow. “I really didn’t have much of a choice.” I explained as I tugged at the skirt. “His Lord isn’t back yet, but should be soon,” Morpheus explained, gesturing back towards the river with his hand. “I presume he is the reason you’re here.” “My cheeks flushed as I slowly nodded. “I apologize,” he said as he slowly turned on his heel, glancing back at the water. “I must be a disappointing sight.” I shifted slowly, taking a step closer toward the dock. I could feel his unease. “You being here isn’t disappointing, Morpheus,” I admitted softly. Since he had helped me in remembering my past lives, something had changed between us in our short-lived friendship. Now when I gazed at Morpheus, I saw a deep sadness in his eyes—as dark as the night sky. I was too terrified to ask about it; too terrified to know the reason why. I wrapped my arms around myself and chanced a quick glance in his direction. He was still focused on the water. “Are you sure you want to go to Mount Olympus?” I asked sheepishly. “And leave you and Darce to all the fun?” He asked with a small smirk. I felt him watching me, and I shrugged as indifferently as I could manage. Morpheus shook his head. “Someone must keep an eye on you. Darce. . .will have his own things to attend to.” “I don’t need a babysitter,” I replied sharply, meeting his eyes. His eyebrows rose with amusement. “Don’t you?” I tilted my chin slightly before releasing a soft denial, “no, I don’t.” “Defiant. As expected.” Morpheus paused, clearly amused by my response. “I suppose I should go for Darce’s sake. He’ll be worried about you when he’s occupied with the others. You know nothing of the ways of Mount Olympus, of the Gods and Goddesses. You’ll be glad to have a friend on your side.” “I only know what you’ve shown me,” I responded. Morpheus had shown me an image of what it was to live on the mountain. To have all the Gods and Goddesses present, drinking and laughing with one another. It was almost like a scene from a time-period movie. It was a different sort of living from the Underworld. I suppose there would be a difference from a place where only the regal lived, compared to the place where the dead occupied. “Exactly,” he said with a nod. “Which is why I’m going.” There was a finality in his voice; a tone that meant there was no arguing the matter. “How soon?” I asked, tucking a strand of loose hair behind my ear. I knew Hermes was anxious for us to leave with him, but Darce had done his best in delaying the move for a few days. We all knew it wouldn’t last long. Eventually, we would—I would—have to go with Hermes. I would have to go to Mount Olympus to face the Gods—Zeus—and my mother. “I suppose his Lord will tell us soon. . .” Morpheus said with a shrug. “I would make sure your bags are packed. I suspect we could be departing as early as this next morning.” The morning? Tomorrow? Would we really leave so soon? I had hoped for at least a few more days. The mere idea of leaving this place behind caused my stomach to twist into knots. I nervously chewed my lip as I gazed out over the waters. My thoughts drifted to my mother and all the things I wanted to ask her. All the questions that I