The Lost Chalice Feb 2015
The quest for the third relic grows more dangerous as Kendall, Nathan and Jake join forces with the Protettori in a race to find the Holy Grail before the Reaper can get it. But a startling discovery threatens to tear the trio of relic seekers apart. They will have to put their differences aside if they hope to find the lost chalice and stay alive.
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Nathan slipped his hand into hers. It was warm and strong. She felt a lump in her throat. Adam was back. Kendall’s heart thudded as they stepped past the nearest statue. All that stood between them and death were the silver crosses hanging around their necks. She didn’t know how they worked, but she had witnessed the horrifying consequence that occurred when someone tried to pass the statues without a cross.
As moved farther into the room, their gazes were immediately drawn to the golden light seeping through the floor above the Fountain of Youth, as if mere stone couldn’t contain its glory. “I always wondered if it really existed,” he said. “I guess every treasure hunter and collector has.”
“Even we did, when we were kids. You said if we found it we’d drink from it and never grow old. We would search for relics forever.”
Nathan stared at the light, his expression hopeful. “You think it really works? Eternal youth and all that?”
“You’re not still looking for a cure for your curse?”
“You know you have a gift, like Raphael’s.”
“What if I don’t want it?”
Kendall didn’t know what to say. She had a gift. It was frustrating, but she’d had it for so long she couldn’t imagine being without it. It was part of her. She tried to imagine how Nathan must feel, having it appear out of the blue. Sensing things was a lot different than having your body physically change. “Marco said you’re a guardian. You’ve sought relics all your life, whether you admit you’re Adam or not. It’s in your blood. I don’t understand it either, but what better way is there to use your abilities than to protect relics?”
“What if Marco’s wrong about what I am?” Nathan sounded uncertain, like he had when he first admitted to her and Jake that he believed he had a curse.”
“You’ve got eyes like Raphael’s,” Kendall said. “That must mean something. You wouldn’t walk away from this, would you?”
“Not as long as you’re part of it.” And though he didn’t say it, wouldn’t even admit it, she knew that inside he was thinking, I’ll never leave you again.
She wanted to forget everything and wrap her arms around Nathan and cry. Cry for the lost years, cry that she’d found him again, but there were more important things to attend to. It was time to start acting like a keeper, or a keeper in-training. If someone would take the time to train her. With Marco’s wandering mind, that task may be left to Raphael, and if he didn’t drink more water, he may not be around to do the job.
“If people find out the fountain is real, the world will become a dangerous place,” Kendall said. The lure of eternal youth would bring out the greedy and ugly side of humanity. There was no telling the lengths people would go to to find it. The Reaper already knew, and he had almost destroyed his brotherhood to secure the fountain.
Nathan’s face grew somber. “Maybe Brandi’s right about destroying the relics so no one can use them.”
“That’s a conversation for another day. For now, we have to save Raphael. He’s probably the key to this puzzle. If anyone can sort out the Reaper’s motives, it’s Raphael.”
“And he should know better than anyone what the chalice looks like. He’s the one who hid it. Wait. What’s that noise?” Nathan turned his head to listen.
“I think it’s the statues,” Kendall said, turning to look at the stone guardians—sentinels, Marco called them—that stood along the edge of the temple. “Hard to believe these were once alive.”
“Sounds like they’re whispering.”
It did sound like someone softly whispering. “Maybe they are.”
“You think . . .” Nathan walked closer to one. He was a tall man, but the statue was taller and broader. If Marco was right about the statues once being alive as guardians, then they were essentially living tombs. Guardians in life, sentinels in death. “I don’t see how they could have once been alive,” Nathan said. “Maybe Marco was confused again.”
“I don’t think so. When I touched them before, I sensed pieces of their lives.”
“What did you feel?” Nathan’s eyes sparked with excitement, reminding her of the dust-covered boy who’d stood on a cliff above her, his enthusiastic grin urging her to hurry and see what he’d found. How had she missed this similarity between Adam and Nathan? Or had she known subconsciously all along, and that was why she’d felt so connected to him?
“You want to see?”
Nathan’s eyes flared. “Yes.”
“Put your hand over mine. I’m not sure this will work, but sometimes it does. It did with Jake.” She felt Nathan stiffen and wished she hadn’t mentioned Jake’s name.
Nathan put his hand over hers, and she slowly reached toward the statue. The sentinel’s stone eyes were open, his hand grasping his sword. Kendall touched the hardened fingers gripping the handle of the blade. The humming sound that the statue emitted flowed into her fingers and up her arm. Colors flashed, and she saw a man with short auburn hair and green eyes. He was outside a house, not the Protettori’s castle in Italy, but a simple house with a thatched roof. He was leading a horse and smiling as he talked. To the horse, she guessed, since she didn’t see anyone else there.
Nathan yanked his hand away.
Kendall pulled back too, and the images disappeared.
“Bloody hell. What was that?”
“That was the sentinel before he was a statue. When he was a live guardian.”
“He was talking to his horse,” Nathan said, his voice hushed with awe.
Kendall looked at the hand that had held the reins, now stone, and the mouth set in a straight line instead of a smile. “Yes,” she said softly. “He looked happy. I wonder what his name was.” If she spent a little more time with him, she may find out. Sometimes her senses were so sharp she could pick up small nuances in addition to larger details. Other times she couldn’t sense anything at all. And she had no idea why or what controlled it.
Nathan’s face wore a troubled frown.
“I can’t let anyone find out about you, about what you can do. I’ve got to keep you hidden. Do you know how valuable your gift is?”
“Enough for you to hire me,” Kendall said, making light of the matter. She was comfortable with her gift, but didn’t like feeling different from everyone else. Guess you’d better get used to it, Miss Relic Keeper. Even her subconscious was starting to sound like Jake.
“You know what I mean?” Nathan said. “People would kill to use your gifts. Governments, politicians, criminals. You’re as dangerous as the fountain. Makes me want to lock you up in a vault.”
“Don’t even think about it. We’ll just have to keep it a secret. I’ve done that most of my life.” Only her father and Adam had known what she could do. Not even Aunt Edna knew.
Nathan brushed her cheek with his thumb. “But now the Reaper knows. He’s the one I’m worried about.”
“We’re going to beat him, Adam . . . Nathan.” The slip surprised them both. His eyes locked on hers, and something passed between them. Nathan wasn’t the little boy she had adored. He was a man. A handsome, powerful, and very sexy man.
The name whispered through her mind, as if he were beside her, glaring at her thought. “All three of us, you, me, and Jake. Five of us, including Marco and Raphael, unless they’re retiring or something, which I hope they’re not, since we don’t have any idea what keepers and guardians really do. We’ll stop him. We have to.”
“Let’s get the water and get out. The sooner we can get some answers from Raphael about what happened in that portal, the better.” They walked to the stone wheel on the wall, which controlled the opening in the floor that led to the fountain. It was similar to the etching in the tunnel and the tattoo on Nathan’s arm. “Do you want to open it?” Nathan asked. “Or shall I?”
“I will.” Kendall stepped up to the wall and placed her hands on the wheel. The sensation hit her with the force of a storm. He had to find the Holy Grail. It was the only way to save her. Kendall’s head swam with the intensity of the strange thought, and her body felt as if it weren’t hers. A raw burst of energy caught her off guard and flung her aside. The sensations worsened, as if her body were separating from her head. She heard Nathan calling her name, and when she could focus, she saw him reaching for her, but he seemed to be fading. He cursed and lunged for her, wrapping his arms tight around her.
“Bloody hell. Not again.”