Cursed By Destiny Page 11

My sisters hurried out of the way. Shayna lifted a dish towel from the safety of the family room. “Get on your mark,” she said. The wolves and I crouched. “Get set.” My tigress flicked her tail in anticipation. “Go!”

The wolves and I raced to the stacked plates, playfully elbowing each other in an effort to be first in line. Never get between beasts and their meals. I made it first, my small frame and quick speed allowing me to slip around the snarling pack of “big bads.”

Bren’s growls were especially loud—after all, there were blueberry-stuffed crepes and sausages at stake. Taran shoved us into the family room as we finished filling our plates and then grabbed a few things for herself. I sat on the cream-colored sofa with Danny and Bren and dug in.

“So, witch fire, huh?” Liam said through a mouthful of bacon.

I sipped my milk, then placed it back on the coffee table. “Apparently. There are no signs of anyone entering Misha’s home—”

“Which means one of the unholy bastards tried to snuff you.”

Gee, Koda was pissed. There was a shocker-roo.

“Misha says the lake has been whispering sweet nothings in his ear again,” I said. “Apparently some dark critter sees me as the end to its existence. Did you happen to pick up on any would-be psycho wearing a ‘Celia Wird Marks My Doom’ button when you reviewed the recordings from the surveillance cameras?”

“Nope. I went back a week—nothing unusual near the Hummer.” Koda’s tumultuous brown eyes cut to me and narrowed. He continued making his eggs Benedict his bitch without much comment. I’d tricked him into admitting he’d hacked into the vamps’ surveillance system. And he hadn’t liked it one bit.

“Aric wants you home,” Gemini said. “Once he hears what the vampire has discovered, he’s not going to be happy.”

Without Aric there, home wasn’t exactly the same, even though my sisters remained and the wolves frequently stayed with them. “As an Alliance member, I’m trying to bring down the Tribe just like the other remaining weres, witches, and masters in the coalition. It’s not any less noble because I happen to fight alongside the vampires.”

“The same dead ass**les who are trying to kill you,” Koda snapped. Shayna cupped his knee with her long slender fingers, instantly calming him.

“You don’t know that.” My gaze swept the room. “And what’s to say I would be any safer here? Our days of flying under the radar and avoiding the supernatural are long gone, peeps.”

Taran placed her half-eaten plate on our heavy wooden end table, between the picture of our parents and foster mother. “But at least then you’d be with your kind and with your family—where you belong, Ceel.” I could taste an inkling of her bitterness. She hadn’t liked it when I informed them I’d be leaving home to work for Misha, but as the months went by, her dislike had turned to resentment and now loathing.

“I’m not moving back. If someone or something is trying to kill me, I want to keep it as far away from you as possible.” I tried taking a bite of my waffle. It was cold and suddenly didn’t taste as sweet. “Misha wouldn’t be investing so much time in me just to off me later.”

“No, but he would to bang you.” Bren didn’t mince words nor did he apologize. He continued to dig into his plate. “Keep your eyes open, kid. Murderous psychos aren’t the only thing you need to worry about in vamp camp.”

“Son of a bitch. Is this shit real?” Taran opened her presents the moment Bren swallowed his last bite of food. She’d gone insane over the car. The shopping spree from all of us had floored her, and you could have heard a pin drop when she pulled the necklace from its velvet case.

Emme shook her head. “Maybe they’re Austrian crystals.”

I played with my hair. “Knowing Misha, they’re real diamonds.” I explained about Agnes and Edith’s naughty ways and how Misha had chosen to punish them. That made everyone else, with the exception of Gemini, more accepting of the gifts. Taran immediately clasped it around her neck. As with everything else, it looked stunning on her.

Shayna shielded her eyes as if blinded by the dazzling necklace. “Holy sparkling rocks, Batman,” she said.

Taran admired her reflection in the hall mirror. “Damn. You can say that again.” Another small velvet box remained. Gemini snatched it off the table and shoved it into his pocket. I noticed, and so did Taran. “Babe, what are you doing?”

“It’s nothing. I’ll take it back.”

Taran frowned and strutted to his side. “Let me see it.”

Gemini reluctantly gave the little red box to her and we watched as she opened it. Taran pulled out a beautiful silver cross with a single diamond set in the center. Emme and Shayna stepped closer, smiling. The silver necklace sparkled despite the dim lighting in our family room.

“It’s so pretty,” Emme said quietly.

I leaned forward to get a better look. “It’s engraved.” I grinned when I saw the lettering. “Taran, read what it says.”

Taran’s eyes brimmed with tears. “It says . . . ‘Mi Bella Taran,’” she whispered softly.

Gemini had engraved it in Spanish, a tribute to our mother’s Latin heritage.

“What does that mean?” Koda asked.

Gemini’s face mimicked the color of his burgundy sweater. “My beautiful Taran.” His gaze swept to her. “I wanted to get you a ring . . . but I know you’re not ready for that.”

Taran’s actions spoke louder than any words she could have uttered. She removed Misha’s necklace and tossed it to Shayna. Tears streamed down her face as she placed the cross around her neck and threw her arms around Gemini. “It’s the most beautiful gift anyone has ever given me,” she whispered. Taran had dated many men. But she had never found true kindness or love until she met Tomo “Gemini” Hamamatsu.

Gem murmured in her ear, “Happy birthday.”

The rest of us returned to our seats in an effort to ignore the heat from Taran’s thank-you.

“Do you mind if I try on your other necklace?” Shayna asked.

Taran snuggled against Gemini. “I don’t care—”

She jerked away from Gemini, stumbling back against the wall. Gem grabbed her to keep from falling as her irises bleached to white. Everyone tensed. The wolves and I jumped to our feet, straining to detect something with our preternatural senses. Nothing registered except the frantic efforts of my tigress, struggling to free herself from within.

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