Cursed By Destiny Page 91

“Weres don’t belong in human hospitals, sweetness.” He scanned his injuries. “And there’s no plausible explanation to justify the extent of my scars.”

I returned to mashing the vegetables. “I just want to help you.”

“I know,” he responded quietly.

Aric and I barely spoke the remainder of the eighteen-hour flight. Mostly we just held each other and tried to rest. He’d fidgeted, unable to sleep until I moistened a washcloth and placed it over the hard slit covering his eye.

“Thanks, love,” he murmured beneath the cloth.

Out of habit, I reached to stroke back the bangs he no longer had. I fought back my sorrow. It wasn’t fair. Once upon a time, however brief, we were both safe, we were both whole. Now the scars enveloping his form marred and claimed us both. Happily-ever-afters in the mystical world didn’t come without a hefty price. And yet it was a price I’d willingly pay. I crawled beneath the covers and found my place beside my mate.

Aric nudged me awake sometime much later. “We just landed in Tahoe, sweetness. The Elders are outside waiting for me.”

The realization we would be apart jolted me awake. “Okay . . . but when will we see each other?”

Aric turned from me. “I don’t know.”

My hand covered his. “Aric, we’re going to work through this, okay? You have to believe me.”

He lifted my knuckles and tried to kiss them, but I barely felt the movement of his mouth. “I love you, Celia.”

He said it, and maybe he meant it, but his words sounded more like good-bye. By the time I climbed into Misha’s limo, I was an absolute mess. I wanted to be with Aric. I wanted to care for him. And I wanted him to know I’d never give up on us. Instead I had to watch him leave without me.

Emme tried to console me, but I couldn’t stop crying.

Misha watched me. Initially he held back. Finally, I guess my despair became too much. He slipped onto the long leather seat beside me. “My darling, look at me.” I was so embarrassed by the blubbering spectacle I’d become I couldn’t do as he asked. “Kitten, please look at me.”

He lifted my chin, taking care not hurt me. As soon as I met his soft gray eyes, I lost myself in their tenderness and beauty. A sense of calm surrounded me. My soul took a breath and silenced my tears. Emme’s soft voice echoed from a faraway place. “What are you doing to her, Misha?”

“Just granting her some peace, sweet Emme.”

“Will it be permanent?”

“No. My power is no match for her pain.”


I awoke in Misha’s guesthouse. The first thing I did was check my cell phone for messages. There were none. Aric hadn’t called. I took a moment to calm before I showered and started my day.

I drove to my house in Dollar Point to gather some personal items following my doctor’s appointment. I was about to take a walk along Lake Tahoe to clear my head when someone knocked on my door. Anara waited on my doorstep holding a charm similar to the one I had to pass through the wards. My hackles instinctively rose. How did he have access to my house? “What are you doing here, Anara?”

A long vicious growl rumbled through his chest. “I’m here to tell you that if you ever see Aric again I’ll—”

“You’ll what? Kill me?” I was livid. How dare he come to my home and threaten me!

This made him laugh. “No, you stupid woman. I’ll kill him.”

His response infuriated me. I crouched and readied myself to attack. “Not if you’re already dead.”

Anara threw out his hand as if batting a fly, sending me slamming into the portrait-covered wall. Glass from the frames cut into my skin, stinging and piercing my flesh like the jagged teeth of a shark. Warm blood trickled down my back and soaked through my thick cotton sweater. He held me a few feet off the floor with just his will. I jerked my shoulders, trying to move, to kick—anything to break from his hold. My limbs failed me. I reached into my tigress for strength, but Anara’s power caged her within me.

He walked inside, slamming the door behind him. Invisible fists struck my face with each step he took, each blow harder, magnifying my agony and making me scream. He broke my nose and bloodied my face without ever lifting a finger. My ears rang from the jolts and from the eerie call of howling wolves.

“Do you think me merely a vampire or a Tribemaster you can so easily defeat?” he spat. “I am an Elder. I can summon the power of the pack and use it to my liking. I can kill Aric and anyone I wish from miles away. No one can stop me—and no one can help you!”

My heavy lids widened. He was robbing the pack of its power just to come for me. Again, I tried to move my shoulders and pry free from the wall, but I barely managed to jerk my head.

Anara lifted his palm and squeezed his fingers, choking me slowly from where he stood and ceasing my frantic attempts. Spots speckled my vision. I thought he would kill me, until he dropped his hand and released the pressure burning my throat. He paced in front of me, seemingly pleased with the amount of power swirling at his fingertips. I spit out blood and tried to speak. “You’re abusing pack magic. The other Elders will know.”

“I’ve ensured that they won’t.” He closed the distance between us and leaned in close. “That half-breed Martin may lead as Alpha, but I possess his power.” He stopped smiling. “I’ll kill Aric, Celia. I will.”

“Why?” I croaked.

His hot breath stirred against my face. “I will not allow an abomination like you to taint his bloodline. He is a king among wolves and you are nothing but a whore. I’d rather see him dead than have you ruin what remains of our eminence!”

His stare traveled the length of my body with the deepest of loathing. He lifted the edge of my sweater before yanking it down with disgust. “I never understood what he saw in you,” he scoffed.

Anara’s hold continued as he stalked away. “My influence and control extend everywhere, Celia. I can manipulate anyone to do my will—just as I did Virginia and those she sent word of your power. I will know if you see Aric. I will know if you speak to him.”

Virginia . . . the Tribe . . . the shape-shifters. Jesus, he’d deluded everyone—including his enemies—to view me as the threat. The realization struck me like a thunderbolt and washed my bleeding form with cold dread. Anara was the one who believed me the key to his destruction . . . and to all the weres he led.

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