Cursed By Destiny Page 16

Taran scoffed. “It’s more like they want to keep us on a leash, Gem. The only reason they want us there is because they’re worried we’ll join Team Misha.”

Shayna’s long black ponytail swung when she shook her head. “And how can we take it as a compliment when they insult Celia by excluding her?”

I didn’t want my family upset, especially on Taran’s birthday. The Tribemaster had seen pony rides and lollipops enough. “It’s okay, peeps. That’s what I get for throwing demon brains in Anara’s face.” I tried to laugh. No one laughed with me.

Misha tightened his grip on my hand and moved me closer to him and away from Shayna. “You will stay with me, as always.”

The way Aric’s Warriors glared, you’d think they had caught us in bed. My eyes narrowed, despite the flush to my face. I didn’t have anything to be embarrassed about, and they very well knew it. “Thank you, Misha. I’ll be ready as soon as I wash up.”

I stormed to my suite, wanting to scrub the maggot juice off me and to distance myself from the wolves. Shit. Didn’t they realize that, if Aric hadn’t left me, I’d never have chosen the vampire road to Nutsville? Yes, I would have continued to hunt the Tribe. But it would have been at Aric’s side. He fortified my strength and bolstered my courage. Only in his arms had I ever felt truly safe.

I washed my hair, pausing when I thought about how his fingers used to bury deep into my long waves when he kissed me. When I swept the sponge over my biceps, it was easy to envision those muscular arms that held me close and silently promised to protect me. I pictured Aric’s large hands as my own slid down my body. I loved him, needed him, and desired him. My hands idly traced my curves as I continued to think of his caress. I wanted him to touch me, to feel his strong hands grip my—

“Hey, Celia. We’re out of soap. Can we borrow yours?”

“Liam!” I tried to cover my girl parts. “What are you doing here?”

Liam seemed confused. He scratched his spiky blond hair. “I told you, we’re out of soap and I was wondering if—”

“Get the hell out of my bathroom!”

Liam sighed dramatically and shook his head. “Celia, you need to get over your shyness. I told you, the body is a marvelous wonderland—”

I hit him in the face with a bottle of conditioner. Emme appeared as I reached for the liter of shampoo. “Liam, honey, not everyone wants you to see them naked. We’ve discussed this, sweetie . . .”

Emme guided Liam out of the bathroom while he continued to hold his bleeding nose. I’m sorry, she mouthed to me over her shoulder.

I fell back against the tile. The water grew cold the longer I stood there alone, a painful reminder that nothing would change when I stepped out. Aric wasn’t there to fight beside me. I was on my own. And monsters had already begun to hunt.

CHAPTER 7

“There is something I believe we should do.”

I quirked a brow at Misha. He leaned across the kitchen table. Most of the things he “believed we should do” involved fur cuffs and frosting. I paused in the middle of pouring my juice. Behind me Chef swore as he cut watermelon to resemble a blooming flower. “What might that be, Misha?”

“We’ve been focusing on training your physical abilities, but have neglected your other talents.”

I didn’t like the direction of this conversation and put the pitcher of OJ down. “I’d rather you concentrate on landing me a new mission so I can kill the big creepy bastards hunting me before they strike again. My beast has grown restless with the need to protect me, Misha. If I don’t sink my fangs into evil soon, I’ll go nuts.”

Misha continued unaffected. “If what seeks to kill you recognizes you as the key to its annihilation, perhaps you need an additional weapon.” He smiled at my unyielding stare. “Your dormant magical abilities need to be awakened, dearest one. And I believe I know how.”

“My magical abilities are just fine and dandy. Leave them the hell alone.”

Misha met my scowl with a sigh. “I disagree. From what you describe, you cannot control your change when exposed to animals.”

“Yes, I can. If I know they’re there, I can block their spirit and not accidently change into them.”

“That’s not what I mean, my darling. You need to train yourself to absorb their spirits and control the change, as opposed to trying to prevent it. It would please me if you could transform into any animal at will.”

“I don’t want to be considered a shape-shifter; those things are freaky.”

“Shape-shifters spend decades making blood offerings in order to command their forms. I assure you no lives will be taken or virgins sacrificed. I’m merely suggesting an experimentation of sorts.” A vampire entered the room. Misha sent him scurrying with a subtle wave of his hand.

I slammed my palm on the table and grinned. “Good to know virgins are safe in your hands, but I’m still not doing it.”

Chef placed more food in front of me and glowered at my plate. “Merde! Eez zat all you are eating?”

Misha ignored my protests. And we both ignored Chef. “My love, developing your gift would give you an advantage no one else on earth possesses and would further add to your uniqueness.”

“Don’t you mean my weirdness? Misha, I think you believe I’m capable of more than I am. Aside from my tigress, all other forms I’ve managed have been temporary. Besides, it’s not pretty when I come in contact with an animal—I have seizures during which I’m vulnerable. I drool, and my skin turns so raw I feel like I’m being raked by broken glass.” I threw my hands in the air. “I can’t even return to human or tigress until I completely relax.”

“My darling, I believe that is related to lack of practice with your abilities. Which is why I am suggesting we start strengthening your power.”

“No. Sorry. It’s not going to happen.”

Misha’s gray eyes brightened when he flashed me his typical wicked grin. “We’ll see.”

• • •

“Where the hell are you going?”

Vampires weren’t the friendliest of creatures. I muttered a curse and veered toward where Hank stood in the driveway. His black hair was mussed and his white collared shirt spread open from the cold breeze. All the buttons were missing and lipstick marks ran the length of his excessively tanned torso. I raised my chin and adjusted my cream-colored sweater over my skinny jeans. “Go back to your room, finish deflowering whatever coed you managed to dupe into thinking you know Rob Pattinson, and leave me alone.”

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