Cursed By Destiny Page 12

Emme clutched Liam’s arm. “What is it, Taran? What’s here?”

Taran’s voice lowered to a deep, unrecognizable rasp. “Tribemaster.”

CHAPTER 5

If Webster’s published a supernatural equivalent of a dictionary it would define Tribemasters as “the deadly and highly intelligent offspring of a demon father and a powerful witch mother, capable of producing spawn with predatory instincts who feed on human flesh” or “supernatural evildoers in charge of a large group of Tribesmen.” They might even include an illustration of Noah Webster himself screaming and sprinting away from said evildoer.

I had the nightmarish displeasure of meeting a Tribemaster when the Tribe emerged several months back. He thought my sisters and I had the perfect wombs to bear his children. He also pummeled three pack Elders and Misha’s maker, Uri, and he beat the unholy snot out of me and tore off Misha’s arms. I managed to punch a hole in his head and rip out his brain, only because his claws were busy skewering Aric.

We didn’t sense anything at first, until the ground began to tremble. There was a loud squishing sound, similar to someone pulling his or her galoshes out of the mud.

“Oh, shit. That can’t be good,” Bren said.

“Celia, get your sisters and— Where the hell is Shayna?” Koda’s head whipped around, searching for his mate.

Shayna barreled down the stairs, holding the sapphire- encrusted daggers Misha had once gifted her and Taran’s necklace fastened around her neck. Silver light streaked from platinum facets and into her arms. The diamonds glimmered in a burst of light as Shayna’s power transformed the daggers into long and deadly swords.

Squish, squash, squish.

Gemini stalked toward the door. “It’s getting closer. Everyone outside—now!”

“I don’t want Shayna involved,” Koda growled.

Gemini furrowed his brows. “There’s no choice, Koda. It’s too late to get them to safety.”

Shayna jetted past me, her determination tensing her slender frame while fear blanched her face. She was spooked. And yet there she was the first one out the door. Koda and I bolted after her. I didn’t understand her need to race ahead of us, especially given her blatant terror. I stopped short of plowing into her when she stumbled to a halt on the snowy front lawn. She froze, her focus glued toward the sloping entrance of our neighborhood.

I froze, too, when I saw what had crashed the party. Oh, hell no.

What appeared to be a giant maggot, the size of a city bus, slithered and crept its way along our cul-de-sac in wet and small slimy bounces.

Gemini rushed to my side. “Taran,” he growled, “put the neighbors to sleep—as many as you can. No one else needs to see this.”

I wished she could have done the same for me. The thing looked nasty. I didn’t remember Buffy having to deal with this shit.

Taran stepped forward, releasing ribbons of blue and white mist from her core. They spread like widening translucent streamers encasing the neighborhood in a light fog. Unfortunately for Mrs. Mancuso, that was the moment she chose to storm out of her house to harass us. “Taran Wird! What in the name of sin are you up to?” Mrs. Mancuso’s eyes crossed the moment she inhaled Taran’s mist. She flipped over the porch railing and landed in her hedges, snoring the moment her orthopedic shoes hit the lawn. It was a tense moment, yet one that couldn’t stifle Taran’s chuckle.

The wolves changed and prowled toward the Tribemaster. Danny, the pack’s newest werewolf, awkwardly followed suit. Poor guy, he hadn’t signed up to go furry. Bren had turned him following a near-death battle a few months back. The others moved with predatory grace, their heads lowered and their ears pinned back. Their actions promised a vicious assault and a battle to the death. Poor Danny just concentrated hard to put one paw in front of the other. The giant larva lifted his wobbly head when he saw them approach, though his eyes weren’t visible through the rolls of pale gray flesh. His voice sounded wet, garbled, and sinister as his giant lips peeled back to reveal a mouthful of serrated fangs. “Bring me Celia Wird and I might let you live.”

Emme’s breath caught. “Could he be the one who tried to kill you last night, Celia?” she whispered.

Maggots weren’t known for their hearing. This one did just fine. His wrinkled face shot in my direction. He didn’t know me when he’d first arrived, but now he did. He roared, furious and loud, his black tongue shooting out past his daggerlike choppers. “Mine!”

“Sorry, Celia,” Emme squeaked.

I answered my attacker with a roar of my own, my anger and fear calling forth my protector. I took the offensive and ran toward him, yelling at the wolves to destroy the brain. My sweater and jeans ripped like Velcro from my almost four-hundred-pound tigress form as my claws broke through the frozen surface of the snow.

The wolves and I attacked as one. I leapt and dug my claws and fangs into where I thought his skull might be. His skin bounced like thick, rubbery gelatin—really nasty, slimy gelatin. I raked his flesh; it felt like I was scratching an oversized bouncy ball with human nails. He shook his head sharply, more to buck me off, and definitely not because I was inflicting much damage. I flipped back and sprinted around him the moment my paws touched the freezing asphalt. I circled him, searching for a weak spot. Strange rounded spikes protruded along the length of his back. I didn’t think they were meant to enhance his beauty and hoped we’d kill him before we discovered their true purpose.

A wolf howled in pain as I leapt onto the Tribemaster’s back. The maggot struck Danny hard with his monstrous head. Danny staggered back, trying to escape.

The Tribemaster flung his giant tongue out his mouth and spiraled it around Danny. He lifted him high into the air and slammed him repeatedly against the road. I drove my claws into two pink spots on the Tribemaster’s head, mistaking them for eyes precisely the moment my sword-wielding sister stepped in.

Shayna sliced off the Tribemaster’s tongue with an expert flick of her wrist. He roared in pain and spewed Shayna with black-colored fluid. The inky mess knocked her back, blanketing her completely. She rolled to her feet, narrowly dodging his snapping fangs.

I yanked my claws free, pulling out what resembled long, wrinkled, fluid-filled earlobes. I realized too late they were his testes. Oh, gawd. I shook my paws like a madwoman—or, rather, an extremely skeeved-out tigress. One of them landed on the hood of Taran’s new car, splattering the windshield with thick pink foam; the other exploded all over Danny’s back. He yipped excitedly over the Tribemaster’s roars, knowing I’d caused some damage, but sadly oblivious to the amount of supernatural se**n coating his bluish fur. Perhaps that was a good thing.

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