Home > First and Last (The Magical Sword, #4)

First and Last (The Magical Sword, #4)
Author: Stacey Kennedy

Chapter One

Nothing could have prepared me for what faced me now—nothing at all.

Magnus, my destined mate, was dead, by my own hand. Since Magnus and I had completed the bonding ceremony, the role of Ruler over the Underworld had now landed in my lap.

Oh yes, it’s unbelievable. I’m now the Lady of the Underworld. Coming to terms with such insanity, my body reciprocated with full out laughter.

No one said a word. The demons, witches, and warlocks that filled the room all studied me. Some of them laughed a couple times. Others just looked royally pissed.

“Ahh…” I finally managed after my laughter ceased and my breath returned. “Wow, that’s funny.”

Kyden brushed the hair back from my face, his touch gentle and loving. I glanced up and saw my hunky Guardian—his typically strong features soft with relief and dazzling green eyes more than amused by my fit. As his gaze held strong with mine, the memory of all that had taken place hit quickly. For the first time since this whole bizarre situation started, all the emotions I should have felt slammed into me, and my breath caught in my throat.

You see, while Magnus was here and our bond held strong, all I could feel was anger, and my love for Kyden had vanished. Now that Magnus’ hold was gone, it took all of a second before those tears of laughter became ones of sadness.

I let out a scream that echoed the pain in my heart and did nothing to hold back the tears that began to fall.

Misa rushed forward, grasped my arm tight. “My Lady, are you all right?” Her all-American girl look was troubled indeed, but don’t be fooled—she’s a demon.

Kyden gathered me up into his arms as I sobbed heavier than I had in my entire life. Sobbed that I almost lost him and everything that mattered, but mainly because I’d betrayed him. Not only had I slept with Magnus in the dreaming, but Kyden had seen me want him. Had seen me kiss him and witnessed my undying love for Magnus.

I couldn’t even look him in the eye.

Zia, Master of Witches and one of the four master supernaturals who governed the Otherworld, knelt down beside me. Her long strawberry blond locks brushed against my arm. “You have nothing to be shameful of, Nexi. A soul bond is not one by choice.” She gave a firm look that I’d expect to see from someone who was as close to me as a mother. “Do I need to slap you to make you see reason?” She made it a habit to smack some sense into me if I couldn’t see it—regularly.

I glanced up at her, momentarily eased by the distraction of receiving a blow from her. “No, that won’t be necessary.”

Kyden let out a long deep breath, which I only heard, since I refused to look at him. How could I? After all that happened, how could he still love me? He stood with me in his arms, said nothing to the others and quickly left the auditorium.

When he reached a large Maple tree, he sat beneath it, cradled me in his arms, and took my chin in his hand to force my gaze to his. “We’re going to sort this out now. I won’t have you feeling shame or guilt. So, tell me, Álainn, what troubles you?”

Álainn, Gaelic for beautiful—normally hearing him use the pet name he gave to me sent waves of love straight to my soul, but now all I felt was empty. “I slept with him. We were bonded. Oh my God, Kyden, I’ve betrayed you.”

His grip on my chin tightened, his eyes bore into mine with such intensity it captured my already shallow breath. “You think I give a f**k about Magnus and his attempt to lure you?”

“How can you not?” My voice squeaked, tears streamed down my cheeks. “How can you forgive me?”

He brushed his fingers along my cheek to wipe away the tears. “There’s nothing to forgive you for.” His voice gentle and so unlike Kyden. “I don’t doubt for a moment where your heart lies. Besides, he took you in the dreaming—it wasn’t flesh on flesh. And what happened in there,” he nodded back to the auditorium, “is to be expected. His bond had taken you. The fact that you had the ability to deny it and destroy Magnus in life itself is enough. But I know you. The real you—the Nexi Jones that stole my heart would never have considered another.”

“But…I…”

He put his finger on my lips to quiet my words. “No. I told you, there’s nothing that needs to be forgiven.” He sighed again, even deeper. “All that matters is that I still have you.”

Tears still streamed down my face as I wrapped my arms around him and hugged him as tight as I could. “I love you, Kyden.”

“As I do you,” he whispered against my ear.

We stayed that way for a while, just holding onto each other. Sure, my heart still felt heavy, but something else filled my thoughts. I backed away to meet his gaze. “You almost died.” I could barely even say the words, unable to think of what could have been.

“But I didn’t.” His gaze was unwavering. “This is the last conversation you and I will have on this subject. We have been granted the right to be together again and we won’t waste it. We won’t worry about what has happened or took place, only focus on each other and our future. Am I understood?”

I nodded, understood his words perfectly and sank against his chest as he wrapped me in his strong protective hold. This was the last time we would ever talk of Magnus, and what took place, because he didn’t matter—what happened didn’t matter. All that mattered was us, our love and life—no matter how strange it was about to become.

We stayed like that for a while, hugging each other, never letting go. Never again would we be apart and I relished in the love I felt in his embrace.

After my tears finished, Kyden leaned back and smiled down at me. “We need to get back. You have a world to rule.”

His gaze was amused. It was a great restraint on his part that he wasn’t doing a serious belly laugh. I gave his arm a good smack. “It’s not funny. This is insane. What are they thinking? I can’t rule them.”

He stood with me still in his arms, then placed me on my feet, took my hand and squeezed it tight. “It’s a peculiar situation for sure, but one you can’t deny. So, best we just go face this and see what they want from you.”

“Just when I think I can’t take anymore, life only seems to get harder. You know, I’m thinking your whole idea about leaving the Otherworld doesn’t sound all that bad right now.”

He cupped my cheek, ran his thumb over my bottom lip. “I’m afraid, Álainn, that isn’t a choice anymore. Don’t worry, I’ll be with you. We’ll get through this together.”

I leaned into his hand and smiled. At least, I had that. He would be beside me through anything. With him, I had everything.

Hand in hand, he led me back toward the auditorium. When I entered, everyone stood and bowed. I snorted, thoroughly annoyed. “Oh, please.”

Kyden chuckled.

“Are you okay?” Zia inquired.

I loved the telepathic communication we shared as Spirit Witches, especially in times like these, when others didn’t need to hear.

“Better. But what the hell, is this for real? Do they really think I’m going to lead them?”

Her smile was more than amused, it bordered on hilarity. “I’m not sure what they expect of you, but it seems as though Azar and Misa must have a plan since they assisted you against Magnus. Be kind to them, Nexi. They gave you a great gift by helping you.”

“I know you’re right, but Zia, I can’t do this. I. Don’t. Want. To. Do. This.”

“There are steps for you to appoint a new leader, but right now, we need to learn more of this world. You cannot appoint someone who you know nothing about. Think of the consequences. Let’s just take this one step at a time, all right?”

Just then, Misa approached me and bowed. “My Lady…”

“Nexi,” I interjected before she continued. “My name is Nexi.”

“Okay then.” She smiled. “Lady Nexi.”

“No, drop the Lady, just plain old Nexi.”

Misa looked around completely confused. “You’re asking me to call you only Nexi?”

“That’s right.” I glanced around the room to all the Underworld creatures. “All of you. My name is Nexi. That’s it! Got it?” Everyone in the room exchanged a confused glance. The sight of it made me laugh. “And none of this bowing stuff. It’s quite ridiculous.” Their befuddled expressions shifted to complete bewilderment. I had the real feeling that I was asking for the impossible.

To hell with it, I had other matters to attend to. My gaze fell upon Azar. A warlock who looked just as one would expect—scruffy with long white hair and dark eyes that exuded power.

I released Kyden’s hand and stepped toward him. As I reached him, he bowed. I touched his arm, drawing his gaze back to mine. “Why did you help me?” He’d withdrawn the hold Magnus had on me. Without his help, it wouldn’t have turned out this way. I would have been lost to the darkness forever.

He held his hand out, an offering for me to read his thoughts. Just a neat trick the Spirit Element gives to me. I took his hand without hesitation and opened myself up to him so that I could get a grasp on what this was all about.

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