First And Last - By Stacey Kennedy Page 0,1

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

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