November 6, 2017

Resurrection: A Novel by Kylie Stewart

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Resurrection: A Novel by Kylie Stewart

The Legend Series follows the mystical tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. Arthur, now known as The Duke of Avalon, is a cursed man living in the modern world, desperate to break the curse that has plagued him for over a century. Forced to live a thousand years watching his beloved Queen live hundreds of lives just beyond his reach, he has now made active strides to make her his and break the curse. 

Alexandria York is just a normal young woman, an artist, striving to make her mark on the world. When she meets The Duke of Avalon, she is catapulted into a world where the impossible is possible, and her Dragon of a Duke is her King. Alexandria must make peace with her fate and chose the love of her past or the love of a lifetime in order to save the tortured Avalon.

Resurrection is the third book in The LEGEND Series. You’ll want to read the prior two books first, Set in Stone and The Duke’s Curse, and TCK Publishing packages all three Kindle editions together at a low price (all three are free with Kindle Unlimited).  In Resurrection, the true quest begins. Alexandria and Avalon have come together, accepted their fates, and proclaimed their love. Can Avalon keep the love of his life safe, or will Mordred’s evil plot to open the flood gates of hell and drown the mortal world in shadow occur? Blood will be shed in the fight to be free.

When the legend of a nation lives and breathes, only time will tell if Avalon can prevail for the place he calls home, and keep the woman he loves alive, for the sake of the world.

***

PROLOGUE

John

The sound of laughter echoed through the sanctuary walls as I placed the book down. Little eyes stared back at me, wide and gleaming. They were completely innocent. They were completely clean.

Unlike me.

“Father John, we want another story!” I smiled, breaking from the ghosts of my past.

“Your parents will be here at any moment. We have to get your jackets on.” I noticed Sister Karen peek her head around the corner. “Ah, see, Sister Karen is already here for you.” I picked up one of the smaller children as I stood.

The black dress shirt buttoned tightly around my wrists prevented the insidious markings from showing. My white collar no longer choked me with the chains of who I had been in this life and the last. I tossed the girl upward, and she giggled.

“Come on, all of you, behave.” They scuttled off after the older woman who treated them all like her grandbabies. I tried to unhook Abby, the little girl I held, from my shirt, but she refused.

“I want to stay.” Her chubby cheeks pouted.

“I would love for you to stay, but you have to go home. Your mommy and daddy would miss you very much if you didn’t.” I bounced her on my hip. “You can always come and visit me.” I tapped her nose. “Is that okay?”

She weighed her options and gave me a shy smile before wiggling out of my arms.

A familiar essence grew stronger and closer as the children were led away. I shoved my hands into deep pockets.

I knew she was behind me.

Without turning around, I sighed. “Four years ago, you said the resurrection was about to begin.” I spun on my heel to face her. “I’ve been waiting, and now that I am settled, you decide to appear?”

Vivian’s radiance hadn’t diminished at all. She stood down the aisle of the chapel, dipping her hands in the water and making the sign of the cross before walking toward me. She didn’t walk; rather, she floated. Long, slender legs drew the priestess closer and closer until I felt her aura brush mine.

“Look at you, Father John Alexander. I see you have made something of your mess.” It was half a tease and not appreciated.

“Why are you here?” I didn’t wish to be rude, but her presence was a bit out of the blue.

“I hear you are one of the strongest exorcists in the Catholic Church. In the world too.” Her eyebrows arched, impressed. “You are as pure as you were once before. There is so much God in you, it radiates.”

I ignored her halfhearted attempt at praise, curling my fingers into a fist. I knew a priestess’s vanity was high, no matter how godly she was. And here I was, a priest, human, yet I held an impressive ace.

“Enough small talk, Vivian. What do you need?”

Her lips drew into a thin line at my directness. “We need you. It’s time.”

I examined her crystalline blue eyes and forced the raging desire to abandon her wishes low in my stomach.

This was my duty.

To my king, and to my God.

Bending to one knee, I lowered my head. “My lady, what must I do?”

Vivian’s heels clicked as she stepped closer, resting her hand on my hair. Her touch was as heavy as it was soothing.

“Your king requires your service, Galahad.”

 

ONE

Alexandria

September

I stared at the pile of bills and mail on the kitchen counter just waiting for me to open them. They demanded my attention away from what was truly on my mind. I picked up an envelope and slid my finger under the fold to tear it open.

“Ouch.” I stuck my finger in my mouth before investigating to see how bad the paper cut was. A small, red mark was visible. It hadn’t started bleeding yet.

I set the envelope back down with a sigh. I’d deal with these later. Right now, I had to unravel my thoughts. So much had happened in the past month.

I push open the door to my room and survey the space I used to call home. Now, it just made me claustrophobic. I supposed I would have to get used to it. The statue of Eros and Psyche was complete. It was done.

I let my hobo bag slip from my shoulder and crash to the floor.

My mind swam with confessions.

I drowned in the admissions.

My heart had crashed with the truth.

Without thinking, my fingers found the silver bands still hanging from my neck.

One night.

That was all we had.

That memory was what I had taken away from Caliburn Estate. I had to remind myself that I had been the one to walk away. At the end of it all, I chose to leave. There was a good reason for it.

I was bound.

I was ensnared.

I was contracted in blood to the man I thought I could trust.

Avalon’s confession came a week after he had risen from the dead, quite literally. A week of bliss, celebrating, and planning was ruined by Lancer’s slip of the tongue. I refused to believe it. It was so outrageous it couldn’t be true.

The truth had been what Avalon tried to tell me before I gave myself fully to him, but I had ignored his attempts. Now that I knew it, knowing the danger I was placed in, I felt used. Completely and utterly used. Everyone seemed to know my fate better than I did. Well, that was over.

If I closed my eyes and drifted long enough in the darkness, I could feel Avalon’s fingers on my skin. I could taste him on my tongue. Spice, whiskey, and mint wafted in faint wisps, teasing my nose. He still surrounded me.

That horrid day a month ago, though, tainted my memories of a man I swore would protect me against evil. He couldn’t even protect me against himself.

 

One month before …

 Lancer, what is it? I have to get back to work. Avalon is busy plotting a gala for when it is finished.” I let him lead me into a side sitting room.

His normally kind forest eyes were hard. He didn’t speak at first, which worried me. Whatever he was going to say wouldn’t be good.

“Do you know anything about a contract?” His words started very slowly, taking his time to form them in his mind before speaking.

My brows knitted. “Just the one I signed to work for Avalon. I haven’t signed anything for Mordred.” I smirked. “I’m hoping I won’t have to now that His Grace is well again.”

Lancer’s jaw tightened. “You don’t know anything more? Do you remember anything strange that happened when you signed Avalon’s contract?” He studied my face.

I didn’t like where this was going.

“What are you getting at, Lancer? Just come out with it.”

He ran fingers through his already wild brown air and grimaced.

“Has Avalon tried to tell you something? Something he said was important before you…” He made a stabbing motion with his hand.

I hesitated before giving a light laugh at the description. I ran my fingers along the back of a silken embroidered chair.

“He did actually. The night before that entire ordeal, we were talking in his room, and he tried to tell me something.” I shrugged.

A confused look crossed over Lancer’s face. His eyes tightened, and his lips pursed. I met his gaze for only a moment, guilt washing over me.

“Why didn’t he tell you?”

I jumped when he touched my hand. I shook my head, swallowing hard.

“We started arguing like we always do. He forgot.” I needed to turn this back on Lancer. He was too close to knowing what really deterred Avalon from telling me. “Why do you ask? Do you know something that I don’t?”

I played coy.

He didn’t buy it, but he nodded.

It felt like a lead weight dropped to the pit of my stomach.

“What do you know?” I took a step closer to Lancer.

His eyes detached from mine, and he sucked his teeth. “I will tell you the truth, if you tell me your truth, Alexandria.”

I narrowed my eyes. “What do you mean?”

“Don’t lie to me, Allie! I know what you and he have done! I know!” He looked toward the open door and lowered his voice. Inches from my lips, he whispered, “I know you spent the night before with Avalon in his bed. Don’t deny it.”

The hurt in his gaze at knowing my truth cut like a thousand swords. I opened my mouth to speak, but a voice in the back of my head told me not to lie to myself anymore. I bit back my worst fears and faced Lancer head on.

“I did.”

A sound erupted from his chest like a wounded animal. He backed away from me with his hand over his mouth. I stood there, waiting for the shouting to come, but it never came. All he did was hold a wooden chair and hang his head.

After a moment, he sniffed, “What am I to you, Allie? A toy? A waste? Am I not good enough?”

“NO! No, Lancer you are good enough. I …” There was no way I could fix this. “I do love you, but we are not together. You wanted space. Even when we saw each other again, you never brought it back up. Did you just take it at face value that I would fall back to being yours again?”

“Yes!” he roared, causing me to rear back. “You are mine! You and I, you and me! We are supposed to get married, have a family, grow old, and die together. I want that with you, Alexandria, so damn badly. But this … this isn’t you.”

He straightened, gripping my shoulders with a painful force. “This isn’t you because it isn’t you.” He forced his lips over mine, pulling me flush to him. “He’s done this to you.”

Too shocked to react and too dumbfound to pull away, I stood there. I stood there and listened to Lancer chant in a mantra how Avalon had spelled me. How he had blood bound me.

Wait—blood bound?

“What do you mean blood bound?” I shoved him off, and my heartbeat took off at a gallop.“What blood contract? Spells? What are you talking about, Lancer?”

Cupping my face in his hands, he looked so sorrowful, so pitiful. “When you signed that contract, you cut your finger, and you bled. That parchment was spelled. It was spelled to bind you to Avalon.”

Everything around me faded. I heard nothing. I saw nothing but that day last spring when I signed my name above Avalon’s.

That was why he had been so concerned.

That was why he looked terrified that I had bled.

I had sealed my own fate with my clumsiness.

Avalon had tried to tell me but decided to indulge in me instead.

I felt exposed and naked, and I didn’t like it.

The man I ran to when no one else was there had lied to me.

He stole my soul.

“Wh-what does that mean?” My voice was small, afraid to learn more.

“It means that if Avalon died that day instead of being resurrected, you would have lived for eternity. You would take his place wandering the Earth. You would have taken his curse.”

Those words were like nails in a coffin.

I stumbled to sit down before my legs gave out on me.

No.

This was all a lie.

Avalon wouldn’t do this to me.

He would never wish this on me.

Which was why he won.

He had to.

This was his regret.

That revelation caused me to choke on a sob.

“What the bloody hell is all the screaming for?” Avalon’s voice made my blood run cold. His footsteps came closer. I could sense his body heat. I smelled his skin.

I wanted to peel my skin off. He had been inside me. He had spilled inside me. He and I were inseparable now. And he had lied all this time.

I saw his hands reaching for me, but I swatted him away.

“Don’t touch me.”

I heard his words catch in his throat.

“Lancer, what is wrong with her?” He had no idea what I had just uncovered.

“Your lies have caught up with you, Your Grace.”

Was that satisfaction in Lancer’s eyes?

I couldn’t tell. “I have to go. Allie, should you need me, call.”

I couldn’t look up. Looking up required I see Avalon, and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look into the eyes of the man I held so close to my heart. He had been winning my heart! How could he do this to us?

Avalon’s thoughts were so loud I could hear them. He still had no idea.

“Alexandria, stop this now. What the hell was he talking about? My lies? What did he say?” he demanded. It had been a while since I heard that sharpness to his voice. It made me loathe him and want him at the same time.

“You lied to me, Avalon, about something very important.”

“If I have, then please tell me. Allow me to explain.” He moved toward me in a tidal wave of power and ferocity.

God, why was he made of blood and heat?

Why did such an innocent touch illicit such desire?

“If you had died, slept for eternity, you would have left me behind.” I finally gathered the strength to look into his eyes of gray and bursting emerald. “You blood bound me, Avalon. You damned me, and you didn’t even tell me.”

The betrayal finally hit me, and tears slid down my face.

“After all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me? This is how you show your love for me?” I swiped at my cheeks with the back of my hand. “You would rather have sex with me than tell me the truth. Is that it?”

His face swam with a variety of emotions before settling on one.

Regret.

I had been right.

This was his regret.

He nodded. “That is true. You are bound to me. But may I explain?”

I held up my hands.

I stood, shaking my head.

This was all too much.

“No, I don’t want your stories. I don’t want any more lies. You promised, Avalon, there would be no more lies!” Anger boiled in my blood, thickening and thinning. “You told me you loved me. You gave me our wedding bands, but you never told me the truth. Never.” I shook my head. “From day one, I’ve been an unknown pawn in your game. Your curse may be partially lifted, but mine never will!” I was screaming now. “How could you do this to me? Haven’t you done enough?”

Silence fell between us.

I could see him desperately trying to find a way to make me see, make me understand his view. I wouldn’t allow it.

“Alexandria, I have been searching for a way to rid you of it. I never wanted it!” His voice was raw with emotion. “I do love you. I love you so much, and I need you.” Strong arms wrapped around my shoulders. “My love, I need you. But I swear I have been searching every avenue to free you of this.”

“Why, Avalon?” I sobbed into his chest. “To me?” I was so tired of being pulled by extreme emotions. My mind snapped, and I ceased my tears soon after I started.

I stepped away from him. “I will complete the statue. Once I am finished, I will leave. You will find a way to lift this from me. It will be the last thing I allow you to do. Do you understand?”

I was so cold. I had to be.

His eyes swam with tears, his face crestfallen and decimated.

“Alexandria …” His voice hitched. “Are you leaving me?”

I spoke from my head, ignoring my heart completely. She would only bring me more sorrow should I follow her. “Yes.”

He was able to compose himself but just barely. His chin trembled. He pushed hands through raven hair.

Clearing his throat several times, he let me go and stepped back. “As you wish, Alexandria. Thank you …”

 

Present day …

Avalon had left without another word. The rest of my time spent there was for work only. I took my meals in my room, and I didn’t answer his requests to speak. I did allow myself to sit on the balcony and cry myself to sleep to the sounds of a lamenting violin.

The day I left for good, Avalon didn’t even say goodbye.

M did it in his stead.

Handing me an envelope, he gave me a tight smile. “Here you go, Ms. York. It’s all there plus some.”

“Thank you for everything, M.”

I had already said sad goodbyes to Orla. I had also stopped by the barn and hugged Cam.

“Of course.” M nodded. “Take care of yourself.”

“I will.” With a tight smile, I got into my car and started rolling down the drive.

I knew I shouldn’t look in the rearview mirror, but something pulled my eyes behind me.

Avalon stood in the center of the drive, staring at me, chest heaving.

Our eyes met.

I didn’t turn around.

I felt so empty. Loneliness was a feeling I needed to welcome as a friend. I couldn’t run to Avalon this time.

I held the wedding bands hanging from my neck as tears spilled down my cheeks.

Could I survive without him?

Or would I go back to Lancer and be the model future he so desired for us?

***

 

 

Kylie C. Stewart has been writing short stories and books all her life. Kylie was influenced by her Scottish heritage to become an independent British history buff. She has a small library dedicated to Tudor history and is lover of the Arthurian legends. She also has an intense love of the supernatural, theological, paranormal, and mythological worlds. Kylie is also an Audio Book Narrator with over 50 titles under her belt and a member of the APA.

Resurrection is the third book of the Legend series, a modern retelling of King Arthur’s tale. You can sign up for Kylie’s newsletter and connect with her on her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

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