Authors: Anita Clenney
ALSO BY ANITA CLENNEY
Awaken the Highland Warrior
Embrace the Highland Warrior
Faelan: A Highland Warrior Brief
Angus: A Highland Warrior Brief
Heart of a Highland Warrior
Jamie: Shadow of a Highland Warrior
(Here We Go Again Anthology)
Guardians of Stone
(The Relic Seekers)
Fountain of Secrets
(The Relic Seekers)
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Text copyright © 2015 Anita Clenney
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Montlake Romance, Seattle
Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Montlake Romance are trademarks of
, Inc., or its affiliates.
Cover design by Anne Cain
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014949394
This book is dedicated to my wonderful friend and sister-in-heart, Sandy White, who has encouraged me along every step of this writing journey.
RELIC SEEKERS CHARACTER INDEX
an ancient brotherhood that protects powerful relics
handsome billionaire and relics collector with a dark secret; it is believed he may in fact be the long-lost Adam Whitmore
human bloodhound with a nose for mystery and a sixth sense for the history of relics and sometimes people
sexy ex-mercenary; hired by Nathan to protect Kendall
Kendall’s childhood best friend who she thought had died when she was ten
ancient member of the Protettori; the relic keeper
ancient member of the Protettori; the guardian
Thomas’s sister; their parents were killed by the Reaper and their relic collection stolen
Brandi’s brother, who went undercover to find and destroy the Reaper
a master criminal of the antiquities world, once an ancient member of the Protettori, also known as Luke
Adam’s father; rich relics and antiquities collector
Kendall’s father; archaeologist; ancient member of the Protettori
ancient member of the Protettori
Nathan’s head of security
ANY CENTURIES AGO
, a secret brotherhood was born to
protect powerful relics, some religious, some thought to be myth. Four of these relics were so powerful they had to be separated to ensure no one could use them together and gain the power to rule the world. The first relic is the Spear of Destiny. The second is the Fountain of Youth. The third, the Holy Grail. The fourth remains a mystery.
The brotherhood made their home in Glastonbury Abbey in England until the abbey’s destruction, after which they relocated to Italy upon discovering a portal connecting the two locales. There, they built a castle to conceal the relics and continued their work, becoming known as the Protettori. Throughout history, men searched for these relics and lusted after the power they held, but the Protettori had guardians to keep the relics from falling into the wrong hands. Guardians who included legendary men such as King Arthur and his knights. Unfortunately, the wrong hands belonged to one of the brotherhood. Luke, a powerful guardian, wanted the relics for himself, so he betrayed his brethren many centuries ago, earning a reputation as a nefarious, evil entity—the Reaper.
The brotherhood cast him out and surrounded their sacred places with sentinels to ward off the betrayer, statues that had once been living men, guardians of the Protettori.
After centuries of working in secrecy, the brotherhood has been infiltrated by a team of relic seekers who also want the relics. The team has three members: Nathan Larraby, billionaire, who has been driven to find the relics but who hasn’t been truthful about his reasons for the quest. He believes he has a curse that only the relics can cure, a curse that’s connected to his past.
Kendall Morgan is Nathan’s relics expert. She has a sixth sense for relics and sometimes people, and she knows her boss is hiding something important. She feels a connection to him that’s much deeper than attraction.
Jake Stone is an ex-mercenary who Nathan hired to protect Kendall, but he’s watching more than just her back. He’s never met anyone like Kendall, and all his crude efforts to keep his heart safe have failed. Both men are falling in love with her, and would die to protect her and win her heart.
The relic seekers and the Protettori join forces to keep the Reaper from finding four powerful relics he believes will make him invincible. Now that he’s discovered the Fountain of Youth, he needs the Holy Grail so he can drink from the fountain and complete his quest for immortality.
The story weaves its way through legends and myths as the relic seekers work alongside the Protettori, facing danger and mystery as they uncover connections to the past that could only be the result of destiny.
IRT COVERED HER
body, filling her mouth and nose. She clawed at the darkness as silent screams tore from her throat.
Kendall woke but she couldn’t move. Something heavy covered her. Her first thought was that she’d been buried alive, but when she pried open one eye, she saw light. A noise rumbled over her. A groan? There wasn’t enough air in her lungs for even a breath, much less a sound. Someone was lying on top of her. Jake? Nathan? It didn’t smell like either of them. She shoved at the body, and the weight shifted, allowing her a tiny gasp of air.
Her oxygen-starved brain lit up like a switchboard, and her memories came rushing back. She wasn’t in a grave. She was lying on the bathroom floor of her room in the Abbey House in Glastonbury, England. She, Nathan, and Jake had found the Fountain of Youth hidden inside a mountain called the Tor. Raphael, the ancient guardian of the Protettori, had attacked the Reaper there, and both had disappeared into thin air.
Raphael wasn’t missing anymore. Kendall had opened her shower curtain and found him passed out in her bathtub. What he was doing there was a mystery. Before she could ask, he had opened his eyes and lunged at her, but his feet got tangled in the shower curtain, causing him to land square on top of her, which explained her current predicament.
It had happened so fast it was like a flash of her sixth sense, but she knew it was Raphael. She saw his memories, pieces of his life—some he’d probably even forgotten. And some she couldn’t quite believe. That’s what happened when you could touch objects and people and know things no ordinary person could know. Except when your sixth sense wasn’t cooperating, and that was usually when you needed it the most. Paranormal abilities had a way of not being there when you needed them and popping up when you didn’t. At least for her.
Footsteps pounded across the floor and a boot moved into view. Her fuzzy gaze traveled up a long, muscular leg to a fit body and the gorgeous face of Jake, her bodyguard, and lover—at least twice. Her blurry inspection was interrupted by a familiar British curse.
“Bloody hell!” That was Nathan, her handsome billionaire boss, who was also her newly discovered best friend, Adam, who she’d thought had died when she was a kid. He wasn’t sure he was Adam. But she was. “Get him off her.” The weight lifted and her lungs whooshed in a gulp of air.
“What’s he doing here?” Jake asked.
“He was in the bathtub,” she croaked. “He lunged at me.” Another hard gulp of air. “Got tangled in the shower curtain.”
“How the bloody hell did he get there?” Nathan asked.
Kendall looked up and saw the ceiling swirling, similar to how it had inside the Tor just before Raphael and the Reaper had vanished. If Raphael was here, maybe the Reaper wasn’t far behind. “The Reaper!”
Jake and Nathan dropped Raphael, and the room filled with curses as they went into fight mode. Through the tangle of Raphael’s hair, still covering part of her face, she saw Jake and Nathan whirl toward the door, Jake with his knife drawn, and Nathan . . . Nathan didn’t need a weapon. His eyes were like flames, his body tensed for attack. When it was evident the Reaper wasn’t there, they looked back at her.
“Ceiling,” she mumbled. “Swirling . . .” Like the portal in the temple room. Then she noticed that Jake was swirling. So was Nathan. And the walls. “Everything’s swirling. It must be my head.”
Jake’s gaze ran over her body, the half that wasn’t covered by Raphael’s muscular arm. Kendall’s hand grasped for something to cover herself and found only the thin cloth of the shower curtain that had fallen with Raphael. She dragged it over her naked parts and tried to sit up, but the room was still spinning, and Raphael’s arm was as heavy as a log.
When they finished dragging Raphael off her, Jake removed the shower curtain and covered her with a towel. Kendall saw his eyes moving together across his forehead. They settled into one wide eye above his nose and then everything went black.
She woke in the bedroom to shouting and opened her eyes in time to see Jake sail across the room. Raphael appeared to be the thrower. His eyes were glowing like Nathan’s, but even brighter.
, she thought, trying to clear her head.
Jake bounded to his feet, his body a mass of fury, but he didn’t attack Raphael. Nathan did. The two men rushed at each other, eyes burning, and collided in the middle of the room.
Kendall pulled herself up and slid off the bed. “Stop it!” she yelled from the floor. “What do you think you’re doing?”
The men turned. Nathan and Raphael’s eyes slowly began to return to normal as all three men gaped at her. Kendall looked down and saw the towel had slipped. She adjusted it and tried to stand. Still unsteady, she leaned against the bed. “Why are you fighting?”
“I was trying to stop him,” Nathan said. “He woke up as we were moving him.”
Jake wiped a drop of blood from his lip. “He wasn’t happy.”
“I thought you were the Reaper,” Raphael mumbled. His eyes rolled back in his head and he started to sway.
“He’s going.” Nathan grabbed for Raphael. Together with Jake, they caught the guardian before he fell. “Get him to the bed,” Nathan said, grunting as he and Jake carried Raphael between them. “He looks pretty bad.”
“He just went through a portal and fought with the Reaper, who’s probably nearing a thousand years old,” Jake said. “Raphael’s insides could be mush for all we know.”
Kendall dragged herself out of the way and watched their progress. “He should be in a hospital.”
“I can’t see Raphael confined in a hospital,” Nathan said as the men maneuvered Raphael onto the bed. “I don’t think he’d like being examined.”
Jake made a sarcastic grunt. “Yet a few days ago, you kidnapped him and locked him up like a lab rat.”
Nathan’s mouth tightened. “I was desperate.”
“Not sure how we’d explain what happened to him anyway,” Jake said. “I wouldn’t want to tell them he followed an ancient villain through a portal.”
“We’ll get Marco and see what he suggests,” Kendall said. “Don’t move him. He’ll need rest.”
“There go the sleeping arrangements,” Jake said. He turned to Kendall and looked her over, his eyes concerned. “Do you feel OK?”
Kendall pulled a robe over her towel. “Like I got hit by a train.”
Nathan moved behind Kendall and examined her head. “You’ve got a nasty bump.”
“You need to start wearing a helmet,” Jake said, joining Nathan’s inspection. “Maybe you should see a doctor.”
“I’ll be fine,” Kendall said. “My head’s tough.” It had to be to deal with Nathan and Jake. “How’s Raphael?”
“Still out.” Jake bent down and shook him. “Raphael, can you hear me?”
The tattoos covering one side of Raphael’s face were dark against the paleness of his face. His eyes fluttered opened, and he muttered something.
“What did he say?” Nathan asked.
,” Kendall said. “I have a bottle here.” She got it from a nearby table and carried it back to the bed. Gently, she held it to Raphael’s mouth.
He shook his head. “No,” he murmured, fumbling inside the pocket of his robe—a wicked ninja-looking outfit. He pulled out a metal vial like the ones she’d seen in a room at the castle containing relics and priceless artifacts.
“Is that water from the Fountain of Youth?” she asked.
Raphael nodded and shakily brought it to his lips. It started to spill, and she steadied the guardian’s hand. He drank a few sips and then his head fell back against the pillow.
“How’d you get into Kendall’s bathtub?” Nathan asked.
“I was thinking about the fountain. Needed water to heal.”
“And you landed in Kendall’s bathtub?” Jake shook his head. “Your gifts seem about as stable as hers.”
Kendall rolled her eyes. Raphael’s gifts were far superior to hers. He could make a person fall asleep, read their memories, walk through walls, and as evidenced by his surprise appearance in her bathroom, he could also teleport.
“Where’s the Reaper?” Nathan asked.
“I lost him.” Raphael’s voice was weak. “But he’s injured.”
“If he’s injured, it might slow him down,” Nathan said.
“How did he just disappear like that?” Kendall asked.
“He opened a gateway.” Raphael grimaced. “I don’t know how he found out where the fountain was hidden. We can’t let him find the chalice.” His eyes closed. “Or his child.”
“Child?” Kendall swallowed. “The Reaper really does have a child?”