Cursed By Destiny Page 18

I peered at the flowers clutched tightly in my hands. The sudden meeting had briefly pushed aside our troubles and circumstances—enough that I’d forgotten about the Tribe, the attempts on my life, and the end of my and Aric’s relationship. For those brief minutes I was happy again, beside my love, meeting his mother for the first time. Funny how reality could clobber dreams like a fist.

I didn’t know what gamut of emotions played across my features. I only knew I couldn’t stay there any longer. I handed Eliza my flowers. “I’d like you to have these.” I swore in my head when I realized my voice had cracked.

She took the bouquet, not bothering to look at it. Instead she searched my face, grasping, I imagined, for something to say. My eyes stung. I needed to get away. “I’m glad I had the opportunity to see you. Please forgive me, but I have to go.”

I hurried away. Behind me I heard Eliza’s insistent voice. “Let her be, son. She’s been hurt enough.”

I collapsed into the driver’s seat and wiped my eyes with my sleeve, frustrated with how I’d reacted. It took me a few minutes to calm down enough to drive. I arrived back at Misha’s so upset I barely remembered the ride. Resentment, sadness, and anger churned my stomach. All I wanted was to go back to the guesthouse and lock myself in. Yet, when I saw Misha waiting for me in the garden, I knew I wouldn’t be able to make my escape.

Misha stood along the freshly swept stone path like a man who could crush the pyramids to dust, despite holding a Cavalier King Charles spaniel in his arms. The dog was completely enamored with Misha. It must be a girl. The bitches love Misha.

“Hello, kitten. It pleases me that you made it back safely—despite your lack of escorts.” He pointedly glared at his bodyguards. Rivers of sweat ran down Hank and Tim’s faces and fear of Misha’s rage made them quiver. The Catholic schoolgirls wore smiles, obviously delighted they weren’t the ones in trouble for once.

My hands fell to my sides. I didn’t want to deal with any of this crap. “Misha, don’t be mad at Hank and Tim. I’m the one who ditched them. And what the hell’s up with the dog? I told you I don’t want to participate in your freaky science experiments.”

Mish sped to my side me before I could blink. “Come now, my darling. How bad can it be?” He swatted my shoulder with the dog’s tail. I already had my guard up in an attempt to block the dog’s essence. It didn’t help. Either I was too upset or too distracted. Whatever the reason, I crashed to the ground in a violent seizure.

Hank swore. Maria said something like, “If she dies, I call dibs on de master.” A huge commotion ensued and everything became a dizzying blur of images and noise.

As my world and teeth rattled, someone lifted me from the ground. I screamed from the torturous agony the contact inflicted. In mere moments, I found myself on a very large bed. My body shrank and my ears elongated. I panted profusely, tasting merino wool as my lolling tongue scraped against the expensive fabric.

My vision cleared slowly. When I finally focused, I didn’t like what I saw. Misha and his vampires had me surrounded. Most had big grins and some were shaking, trying to hold in their laughter. Misha leaned over the bed, his fists digging into the mattress, his shoulders rigid. A sinister shadow darkened his stone-cold features. “Whoever laughs first shall die by my hands,” he said in a deadly whisper.

There was such an immediate silence, I feared I’d gone deaf. I tried to sit up. Big mistake. The supersized room spun in a stomach-lurching whirl. I quickly flopped back down and shook my head to clear it. My long ears slapped against my fuzzy face. The shake had helped some, but by then I was royally pissed off.

What the hell, Misha? I told you this was a bad idea. I can’t believe you freaking did this to me. Just when I thought we were friends you had to pull a prick move like this!

That’s what I was thinking. What came out was, “Woof, woof. Yip, yip, bark, growl, bark!”

Liz leaned in close to my face, her ice blond hair hitting my little wet nose. “I think she’s trying to tell us something. Do you need to go for a walk, Celia?”

Agnes Concepción adjusted her glasses and peered down her nose at me. “No, she wants a biscuit. Celia’s always hungry.”

I growled at both of them.

“She does not want a damn biscuit,” Maria spat in her thick accent. “She wants ah steak.”

“Is that it, Celia?” Edith asked. “Do you want a steak?”

No, I don’t want a steak! I just want my body back! You all suck! Once again, “Yip, bark, bark, bark, woof,” was what they heard.

Someone wanted to kill me, Aric was getting married, and I was a damn dog. I wanted to pee on the fire hydrant I called life. What I didn’t know was that things were about to get much, much worse.

CHAPTER 8

“Bad, Celia. Off the couch!”

Liz swatted my butt with a rolled-up newspaper and had the ovaries to flip out when I bit her hand. “You’re getting hair all over the furniture, you little bitch!”

Aside from the time I was awaiting my Nursing Board results and accidently came in contact with a skunk, this was the longest I’d gone without changing back to human. The entire day was miserable. Everyone took turns walking me and trying to force steak down my throat. I gave in after a while and ate the steak—but only because I was hungry. I refused to pee on the lawn, though. After escaping Edith Annes and Agnes Concepción’s clutches, I found a bathroom and used it privately. It took some maneuvering, but I managed to use the toilet without falling in.

Misha spent the day pacing and muttering to himself. He barely glanced at me. When he did, guilt darkened the strong angles of his face. His eyebrows remained furrowed and that damn arrogant grin of his was noticeably absent. I repeatedly bared my teeth at him. You should feel bad, you jackass. I’m drinking from a damn bowl!

When nighttime arrived, I tried to make my way back to the guesthouse, figuring I could shift underneath the ground and come up inside my quarters. I was almost to the back door when strong arms grabbed me and scooped me up. “No, Celia. You will stay with me this night.” Misha’s voice sounded stiff and unyielding. I barked in protest. He ignored me, carried me to his room, and shut the door.

The minute he released me, I tried to escape. “Growling and scratching at the door will accomplish nothing,” he said. “I need to ensure your safety this night.”

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