Cursed By Destiny Page 13

I shook off the disturbing chills buzzing down my spine. I didn’t like how close the maggot’s fangs were to Shayna, and neither did Koda. We landed at her side. Koda caught one of the larger fangs between his jowls and pulled with the force of his entire body. He extracted the tooth, causing the creature to writhe in agony. I tackled Shayna out of the way just before his head whipped back, barely missing us. His skull landed so hard it rattled the neighborhood and cracked the road. Danny wasn’t so lucky. The Tribemaster nailed him in the ribs and sent him flying into our neighbor’s yard. He landed with a loud crack and his head twisted in the opposite direction. I shoved Shayna back toward the house with my body and growled at her to stay put. Her fear was making her reckless. I worried she’d get hurt. When she didn’t make an effort to return, I raced back to check on the others.

Emme knelt over Danny, trying to heal his broken neck. Liam perched at the top of the screaming creature’s head. All I could see were his back legs and his wagging tail as he burrowed his way through the thick gray flesh and toward the creature’s brain. Black blood and chunks of flesh splattered his brown fur. He’d caused major damage. In a few more feet he’d cast the blow to end the Tribemaster’s life. Koda distracted the creature from attacking Liam by continuing his role as the periodontist from hell. Extracted fangs littered the street like piles of bones.

Taran stood in the middle of the road, generating wicked blue and white fire and waiting to strike should Liam fail. She was in a good spot—safe, and ready to sear the Tribemaster’s hide. I joined Gemini and Bren, who gnawed at the creature’s side trying to reach the vulnerable underbelly. I raked with my claws and pierced the flesh until I caught something long and slick reaching for my throat. I veered out of the way, narrowly missing the long wet tongues that ensnared my friends. The tongues had emerged from the spikes lining the Tribemaster’s back. They squeezed, cutting through the wolves’ fur and into their flesh.

I sliced through the tongue, tightening around Bren’s large neck, only to have another whip me across the face and pull Bren tighter. Gemini howled, calling the pack. Another tongue encircled his muzzle, sealing it tight and silencing him. Usually another were would answer his howl. My ears strained to hear a reply. None came. The pack wasn’t coming, and we needed help.

Having a master vampire for a guardian angel had its advantages. I concentrated on Misha and called him through the connection he’d passed to me long ago. Misha, I’m under attack. Get your Armani-clad butt over here.

I fought the other tongues trying to snatch me while I clawed my way up the creature’s back. I sliced Bren free and charged toward Gemini. Gemini’s oil-black wolf snarled and something cracked. A second identical wolf punched through his back, severing the tongues with a powerful snap of his fangs. My tail flicked with excitement. Watching Gemini split into two wolves never got old.

I helped Gemini’s twin wolf free his other half and then trudged through the jungle of tongues toward Liam, slicing at anything that attempted to rope me.

Liam scrambled out of the hole he’d made before we reached him. He changed back to human, panting and covered with black ooze. “It’s not there! The brain is somewhere else in his body.”

Which made sense, considering I’d cut his male parts from his forehead.

Shayna’s screams cut through the mist. “Danny, look out!”

Danny had attempted to rejoin the battle. He should have stayed down. The Tribemaster batted him with his tail and launched him into the side of Taran’s new Mustang, leaving a huge dent. Emme lifted Danny with her telekinetic force and pulled him to the side of the house and away from the fight.

Taran, encased in an inferno of blue and white flames, gaped at the enormous dent before fixing her royally pissed-off face back on the Tribemaster. “For shit’s sake, get away—now!”

We landed on the ground in time to see a fireball the size of an elephant slam into the giant maggot’s side. It bounced off his rubbery skin and into Taran’s new car, engulfing it in a sea of flames.

“Son of a bitch!”

So maybe the fireball was more the size of a Mustang.

Shayna sprinted across the lawn and attacked. She lifted her swords and rammed them into the two small holes above the maggot’s mouth. She was now unarmed and helpless. The wolves and I rushed to protect her when the remaining tongues enmeshed us in a wriggling net.

Taran struck the Tribemaster with vicious blue lightning bolts. She sizzled the creature’s flesh, but failed to cause much harm. Danny staggered to his feet only to stumble back into the snow. His wolf was exhausted from healing; it would take him time to recover. The pack wasn’t coming and Misha didn’t appear. We were seriously screwed until Emme got creative. She raised Taran’s flaming car with her force and smashed it into the Tribemaster. The creature wailed in pain and the tongues loosened enough to allow us to breathe.

Shayna ripped the borrowed diamond necklace from her neck, ignoring Taran’s loud and descriptive protests, and converted it into a giant translucent sword. Emme hoisted Shayna with her gift and onto the Tribemaster’s back. Her face remained fearful yet resolute. She hacked through tongues and sliced us free. We fell to the ground. Shayna remained on his back, spinning with a dancer’s elegance as she cut through writhing appendages. The wolves and I gathered for an offensive assault and rammed our prey with our claws extended.

“Taran!”

I jerked my head toward Emme’s screams in time to see the Tribemaster lurch forward and swallow Taran whole.

No!

The Geminis roared and dove at the Tribemaster’s face. One latched to the mandible and snapped the bone while the other gripped the lower jaw and yanked. The Tribemaster squalled as his mouth crashed to the ground.

The rest of us attacked the underbelly, determined to kill him and free Taran. Thick and sticky chunks of flesh embedded into my claws and black ooze dripped into my right eye, but I couldn’t stop—I wouldn’t stop. He had my sister.

We tore open the belly just as a horrible gurgle rumbled my front paws. Horror slapped my face like a tangible force. In my mind I believed he was digesting Taran, until a scorching heat built beneath me. I changed back to human, sensing her fire build. “Pull back—now!”

Shayna jumped off the Tribemaster’s back and into my arms. I shoved her ahead of me and tried to scramble away, but I wasn’t fast enough. The Tribemaster exploded. Tarlike innards splattered against our backs and propelled us forward. I landed face-first in a bank of snow on Mrs. Mancuso’s front lawn. I pushed myself up with my arms and gagged. Everything smelled like rotting fish and my exposed skin stung from my belly flop into the frozen snow.

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