Cursed By Destiny Page 3

Misha blinked back at me as if I’d pulled a rabbit out of my yoga pants. I laughed. No one could lie to a were or a vamp. I had a strong sense of smell, but even I couldn’t sniff a lie the way they could. “I just don’t want anyone hurt because of me.”

“That I can believe, but, my darling, they have left me no choice but to punish them.”

Living with a master vampire sucked. Seriously. They had their own sadistic rules, especially when it came to disciplining their family. “How severely?”

“Well, I may not kill them—this time—but I may have to torture them.”

I took his hand and squeezed. It was something I’d started doing recently and it made me feel close to him. “There are other methods of punishment besides physical ones. Can’t you try being creative and think of something just as effective?”

Misha glanced at our hands. “Perhaps.”

“Please, Misha. I’ll sleep a lot better if you do.”

“You would also sleep better if you joined me in bed tonight.”

Every night Misha asked me into his chambers. Every night I refused. And every night someone else would join him. Now and again, it was several someones.

My head lowered. “I can’t.”

“What stops you?”

I didn’t answer and continued toward the circle drive. I desired to be touched and sometimes the gnawing ache of my loneliness sent me into a state of despair. But Misha wasn’t Aric. And it wasn’t right, especially since I believed Misha had genuine feelings for me. He was my friend, and it would destroy me to hurt him.

I don’t know if my expression gave me away or perhaps I waited too long to answer, but Misha became well aware of my thoughts. “My darling, that mongrel will be married soon. There is no future for you with him. You need to move forward with your life.”

“I know this, Misha, but I can’t.” The purr from his Hummer limo filled the awkward pause between us. Hank, one of Misha’s bodyguards and driver, leapt out of his seat to open the door.

Misha motioned with his hand. “After you,” he said quietly.

I nodded. The conversation of becoming bedmates was over. At least for the moment.

I placed my foot into the monstrosity of a vehicle. The aroma of dried crushed herbs and magic smacked me in the nose and sent a stabbing pain into my skull. I whipped around and lunged at Misha and Hank, shifting us the moment my knee connected with the slate. I dissolved my body and that of the vampires into minute particles, easily and swiftly passing through the frozen soil and in the direction of the garden. The earth rumbled above us. We traveled fast, but I didn’t get us far. I hadn’t taken a sufficient breath and my lungs demanded air. I surfaced near an old redwood just as a second explosion sent the limo door spiraling toward us like a giant baton.

I shifted us down to our waists as the rim embedded into the redwood above us like the blade from an electric saw, missing our heads by less than a second. Chunks of bark and broken glass peppered my scalp. I surfaced enough for us to crawl away from beneath the dented door. We were knocked onto our sides when a third blast pulverized what remained of the vehicle. I stared blankly at the roaring inferno.

Holy crap. Someone just tried to kill me.

CHAPTER 2

The good Catholics practically shoved me out of the way in their urgency to reach Misha. I limped around Agnes Concepción, ignoring her vicious hiss when I accidently stepped in her way. Hank barked orders at the male vamps. “Search the premises. Now. Whoever cast the witch fire may still be here. Tim, check the digital recordings on the surveillance cameras!”

The vamps disappeared like a passing breeze. I hobbled toward Hank, who focused with deep loathing at the bright orange flames encasing what remained of the Hummer limo. The heat grew stronger as I drew near. The intensity of the fire irritated my green eyes and sent streams of tears trickling down my heated cheeks. There was no smoke, just odd orange flames and the increasing aroma of drying herbs. Hank had called it witch fire. To me it seemed more like multiple grenades packed with a mystical combustion. But then, he’d know more than I.

“Did you sense anything when you climbed in, Hank?”

“No. Nothing. I didn’t feel shit until you approached.” He looked me up and down before taking hold of my arm. He pulled me toward the flame. Or, at least, he tried.

I jerked my arm free. “What do you think you’re doing?”

Hank rolled his eyes. “Just trust me. Will ya?”

I threw my hands in the air. “Hank, you hate me. Explain to me why I should trust you to lead me toward a blazing magical inferno.”

He scoffed. “I don’t deny you’re a pain in the ass. But you know the master will stake me if I hurt you.”

That much was true. Still, that didn’t mean I’d allow him to lead me around like a wimp. “What do you need me to do?”

“Just take two steps toward the Hummer.”

I took one step forward. The flames intensified. I took another. The flames screamed. Screamed like a premenstrual woman in serious need of chocolate. That’s when I took four hurried steps back.

“Shit,” Hank muttered. “Just as I thought. You’re the goddamn trigger. Take off your shirt.”

“Um. No.”

“Your pants?”

“No!”

“Fuckin’ A, Celia. They’re ripped anyway.”

I jabbed my finger in his chest. “They’re ripped because I banged my knee when I saved your sorry undead ass!” Hank glared at my finger, then at me. I sighed, ripped a section of my pants off, and tossed it to him. “There. Is that good enough?”

Hank snatched the cloth from me and sniffed it, smiling when he caught a whiff of my blood. No, that wasn’t creepy or anything. He neared the blaze and flung the cloth like a Frisbee. A static charge of orange light crackled above the fire and the aroma of herbs built until it coated my tongue with a nasty film. Sections of flames raced inward toward the fabric like small fire entities. They leapt on top of one another in their attempt to reach the disintegrating cloth, but instead of growing stronger by uniting, they extinguished one by one.

All that remained of Misha’s ride was a warped, ash-covered frame. “Someone tried to kill you, Celia,” Hank muttered, his tone one step shy of a hiss. “This witch fire wouldn’t have gone out unless it was satisfied its target had been eliminated.”

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