First And Last - By 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 fuck 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

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