Cursed By Destiny Page 44

Emme’s pink cocktail dress made her the belle of the ball. My God, she looked lovely. All the wolves sported black tuxes of varying James Bond style—even Bren.

The sight of those who loved me extinguished my anger. We greeted one another with warm hugs and excited smiles. “Here, Celia. Let me take your coat,” Danny offered. Their jaws collectively dropped when Danny slipped the fake fur from my shoulders. My insecurities brought a flush to my cheeks, but the howls and whistles from the wolves heated my entire face.

Liam hooted. “Aric is going to lose it when he sees you.”

Koda winked. “Hell yeah, he is!”

Apprehension erased my cheer. “It didn’t seem that way just now. He growled at me—growled.”

The wolves exchanged worried glances before Gemini stepped forward. “Aric’s wolf has been especially . . . irritable lately.”

“Irritable?” Bren snapped. “The werecougar rammed up his ass is using his colon as a scratching post—and he’s invited friends!”

Gemini narrowed his eyes. “Aric’s frustrations with his situation, his anger at the Tribe for targeting you, and his need to be with you have surged his animal instincts as of late.” He leaned forward to speak low in my ear. “Your presence will give his wolf the alleviation that he desires. I’m sure of it.”

“I hope you’re right.”

Gemini’s reassuring grin morphed into a scowl at Misha’s arrival. That only made Misha flash a gleaming incisor and slip his arm around me. “Come, my love. It’s our turn to be presented.”

I glanced nervously between him and my sisters. “Um, presented?”

Shayna grinned and pinched my backside, making me jump. “It’s just a formality, Ceel. Don’t worry—we’ll see you inside.”

Misha whisked me away and placed us before a set of large ornate wooden doors carved with images of wolves during a hunt. His vampires positioned themselves directly behind us. I fidgeted a little in my shoes. Damn, a formal presentation was so not my idea of a good time. “You appear nervous,” Misha whispered.

“That’s because I am. Can’t we just walk in through the back?”

Misha chuckled and offered me his arm. I clung to it like a drowning woman. “Fear not, my love. You are the most desired woman in attendance. Enter knowing every male seeks your company.”

“You’ve been sucking on crazy if you think that’s going to make me feel better.”

His chuckles turned into full-out laughter just as two Den students in dark suits and white gloves pulled opened the brass knobs. Misha yanked me forward when I failed to move. A were roughly the same age as dirt cleared his throat as if choking on his own lungs. Unless they died in battle or from loss of their mates, weres lived until the first full moon after their one hundredth birthday. That wolf looked a dozen moons past his quota. “I present Sir Misha Aleksandr, Lady Celia Wird, and family.”

I didn’t know how I ended up with a title, but crap, I’d be sure to return it the moment this gala was over. All I wanted was to shift out of the room and out of the limelight . . . until I caught my first real look at Aric. My heart stopped. All the attendants vanished except for him. I walked forward, drawn by the pull of his wolf and the urging of my tigress.

He stood behind a large granite table. His dark Irish skin appeared tanned against his black silk shirt and tie. He wore his chocolate brown hair just the way I loved it, short all around except on top, where long strands hung slightly over his light brown eyes. Aric’s damn sexy face and body sizzled to smoking-hot proportions in that tux. I stopped breathing for a moment just to take him in.

The surfer-looking were I’d seen leaning against the stone fireplace stood next to him, along with the Elders, Uri, and some other higher-ups in the supernatural world. Aric’s lids peeled back. He lunged toward me, hard enough to shove the heavy granite table blocking his path. My tigress clawed inside me with excitement, trying to reach him, knowing his wolf had tried to reach us. My hips swayed harder as I neared. I nibbled on my bottom lip. We were almost to him. I smiled and he . . . scowled.

I stopped dead. What the hell? Aric was livid. The aroma of his fury sliced around his aura. I watched him for a few moments of stunned silence until his glare and my anger at his response made me give him my back. The tension between us beat against my skin. I waited numbly while his Warriors and my sisters were introduced next.

Taran’s steps slowed when she caught a gander at His Royal Pissiness. She inched her way to my side and frowned. “Why the hell is he so premenstrual?”

I forced back my protruding claws. “Oh, don’t worry, Taran. It’s not him—it’s just his wolf.” Beast rising to the surface or not, I was miffed at both of them.

I stared straight ahead. The elderly were continued announcing the honored guests until only one remained. “And last, but certainly not least, I present . . . Destiny.”

Taran and I jumped—she into Gemini’s arms and I against Misha. Aric’s deep warning growl made it clear I should have leapt elsewhere. Perhaps off the mountain. I couldn’t help it. I didn’t frighten easily, but Destiny scared the bejeebers out of me. Taran and I had had the oh so jolly experience of meeting Destiny in vampire court. Destiny had the ability to transfer people’s memories onto a screen by merely placing her hands on their heads. Neat trick, huh? Well, not so much if you were the poor schmuck on the receiving end. Taran and I had been exposed to her hauntingly agonizing, vomit-inducing touch. The process had felt like barbed wire scraping along my brain. I’d never wanted to see her again—never—much less mingle and share hors d’oeuvres.

Destiny stood on the tippy-toes of her zebra-print cowgirl boots and waved excitedly like we were old pals. Her fashion sense hadn’t improved since our last meeting. Tonight’s ensemble consisted of a shin-length fuchsia dress with dark brown furry polka dots. Destiny loved polka dots. They matched what resembled a dead weasel wrapped around her neck.

I blinked several times. Oh, good Lord, that is a dead weasel.

A lime green bow anchored her librarian bun. Matching lime eye shadow covered her lids, clashing with her neon pink lipstick. Damn. Seriously. Damn.

Destiny barreled toward us. Taran made a break toward the exit. Misha pulled me to him when I attempted to skitter after her. Amusement trickled into his Russian accent. “Do not fear, kitten. I will keep you from harm.”

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