Cursed By Destiny Page 22

The man led us to the nest with a big grin on his face and his eyes swirling from Maria’s hypnosis. We had formed a plan, one I wasn’t happy with. The vamps thought it best to split us up, but I refused to leave my sisters alone. My sisters sided with the vamps, feeling we needed to attack strong from all sides in order to emerge victorious. I suspected they didn’t trust them and felt they needed to be kept in check. Regardless of the reason, we needed to act fast. My group would be the first to go in and the others would commence an assault from different sides.

Shayna especially made me anxious. She tossed the hilt of her new sword back and forth between her hands as we bustled through the dense vegetation in the back of a pickup. She wasn’t able to return Taran’s necklace to its original form. Taran told her to consider it her birthday gift for the next thirty years.

“I want to be the one to make the kill,” Shayna told us. “I want to be the one to kill the Tribemaster.”

Taran and I exchanged glances. “Son of a bitch,” Taran snapped. “Are you out of your mind?”

“You and Celia have both done it,” Shayna protested.

“Yeah, and almost died in the goddamn process!” Mini bolts of blue and white sizzled from Taran’s fingertips.

Shayna veered on Taran. “Did you get eaten alive by demons?”

Taran answered her with a scowl.

“Did you, Celia?” Shayna asked, turning back to me.

I stopped drumming my fingers against the rim of the truck bed. No. I’d been bitten and I’d been tortured, but my injuries paled compared to what those damn Tribesmen had done to Shayna. If it hadn’t been for Koda’s attempt to turn her wolf, we would have lost her. She couldn’t change, yet she’d received enough of Koda’s essence to heal her ravaged body.

I leaned forward. “What’s going on?” Her hands shook and that terrified look returned to her face, just as it had the day we’d fought the giant maggot. “Shayna?”

Shayna released a shaky breath. Then another. And another. She spoke very softly, likely so Emme couldn’t hear her in the cab of the truck. “I dream every night that I’m being devoured by demons. I wake up screaming. Koda’s freaking out.” She glanced back to where Emme was sitting up front. “I’ve asked Emme to use her healing touch to tend to my emotional wounds, but it’s not working. I think I’m losing it, Ceel.”

Blue and white sparks sizzled above Taran’s head. “Celia, tell the vamps to turn around. She shouldn’t freaking be here.”

“I’m better since the fight with the last Tribemaster,” Shayna insisted. “It’s like it helped knowing I could still fight and protect myself. I think . . .” She swallowed hard. “I think killing one of these things will be the ultimate therapy.”

I watched her closely. I knew revenge. We were the best of friends and the worst of enemies. But Shayna wasn’t asking for a chance at vengeance. She wanted to feel safe. It’s not something I could grant myself. Yet maybe I could gift it to her. “We’ll see what happens. Just don’t do anything stupid.”

My sisters and I prayed before leaving the pickup. The Catholic schoolgirls kept their distance from us. Unlike some vampires who were devout Catholics—bizarre, considering they didn’t possess a soul—these she-vamps embraced the uniform and very little else. It’s not that a Hail Mary would have killed them; it’s just that it probably made them nervous. In becoming vampires, they’d ceded the opportunity for heaven or hell. An eternity on earth was the only thereafter they’d know. If ever killed, they’d simply cease to exist. After all, you can’t move on without a soul. That’s what made Misha so powerful. He simultaneously balanced life and death.

We separated into our groups. My team and I moved silently through the area and stopped when we spotted the main entrance to the compound. A gangly man hauled a whimpering young girl to the gate. The gate opened and a vampire stepped out. I could scent his aroma of sex and chocolate from where we huddled.

“Aquí está mi hija,” the man said. “Dame el dinero que me prometiste.”

I swore as the vamp tossed him a crumpled twenty-dollar bill.

“What happened?” Edith Anne whispered.

“He just demanded money in exchange for the sale of his daughter.”

“Well, that sucks.”

I raised my eyebrows at her. “You think?”

“Oh, calm down, Celia,” Liz complained. “If you’d like, I’ll eat him for you after we’re done.”

The girl trembled with fear as the vampire scrutinized her. He laughed when her cries turned into choked sobs as he dragged her screaming into the camp. Her father picked up the bill from the worn path and dashed off in a mad run. “I don’t think you could catch him if you tried,” I added bitterly.

The closer we drew to the compound, the cooler the air. A horrible sense of death and wrongness shadowed the nest like a cloak fashioned from iniquity and suffering. I nodded toward the demon children in the nearby trees. There were fifteen, sleeping upside down like bats. Fangs protruded out of their reptilian mouths and their long leathery wings encased their scaled legs and arms. Taran once described them as “the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.” I disagreed; the flying monkeys were way cuddlier.

The demons varied in size; some were only about two feet tall, others a hell of a lot bigger than my five-foot, three-inch frame. The leftover bones and skulls from their dinner had been licked clean and cluttered the ground beneath them. The bones were human. I was sure the Tribesmen had also paid about twenty dollars for them. Bastards.

“They’re sleeping off their dinner. Let’s keep this quiet.”

The Catholic schoolgirls and I worked fast. The little buggers didn’t know what hit them. Tearing into demon children released their innards, which resembled pulsating worms that slithered away until the air dried them into shriveled clumps. The hardest part about the whole thing was trying not to hurl. We almost lost it a couple of times and I really didn’t want to see the schoolgirls vomit. Unlike Misha, they didn’t eat food.

“Hold your positions and stay together. We’re moving now.” We disappeared into the shadows, embracing our predator instincts. We stalked in silence. My goal was to sweep in and obliterate the biggest threat before my sisters’ teams advanced.

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