Cursed By Destiny Page 33

“Celia, your table manners are—”

“Tell me.” I growled, but couldn’t manage a straight face.

He chuckled before speaking. “I suppose it makes me feel human.”

My lips parted. Most of the time I forgot Misha was a vampire. If it wasn’t for his necessary diet, he could have passed for any average supermodel on the street. “Ever wish you were human again?”

His eyes never left mine and he took his time answering. “No,” he said finally.

I realized I had caught Misha in a lie. I didn’t push it, though; some things were better left unsaid. And some vampires shouldn’t be messed with.

CHAPTER 13

I didn’t want to move.

The day of Aric’s wedding had finally arrived. I didn’t get up for breakfast, preferring to lie in bed and wallow in my misery. It was the ultimate jilted ex-girlfriend moment. Empty boxes and wrappers of Tastykakes littered the bedroom floor while Celine Dion’s “All by Myself” blasted away for the hundredth time. Tears streamed down my face as I devoured the last cupcake. There was no point in getting out of bed. I had Celine, a box of tissues, and was moving on to the Butterscotch Krimpets next.

My phone rang all morning. My sisters left several messages, claiming their calls were just to say hi. I knew better. Eventually I just shut it off and prayed the Tribe would invade Tahoe City so I could have something to kill. Around dinnertime, there was a knock on my door. When I opened it, a tremendous brown wolf tackled me to the floor. The wolf slobbered all over my face. “Bren, get the hell off me.” He didn’t move; he just wagged his tail and bombarded me with sloppy kisses. I adjusted my hips and tossed him across the kitchen floor and into my living room. I wiped my face with the sleeve of my nightshirt. He grinned at me with his giant fangs. When he bounded to my side, I knelt down and patted his head. “What are you doing here?”

Liam and Danny raced in; my sisters stumbled in behind them. Everyone babbled in loud, excited, breathless voices all at once. I couldn’t hear or understand a thing. Especially once Liam pulled me to him and spun me in the air, howling like a crazed beast.

I pressed my hands into Liam’s chest until he put me down. Everyone stared at me, smiling, their cheeks flushed with excitement. “Aric couldn’t go through with it,” Liam said.

I gawked at him, unsure I’d heard correctly. It felt as if my brain had abandoned my skull and my body was hovering above the wood floor.

He grabbed my shoulders and shook me lightly. “Did you hear me, Celia? Aric didn’t marry Barbara. He bailed at the last minute.”

I clasped my hands over my mouth. “Oh, my God,” I whispered. “What happened?”

Liam wore a navy suit and red tie, but his brown eyes shimmered with the excitement of a three-year-old and his blond hair spiked out of control. “Well, we knew all hell was going to break loose when Aric showed up at the civil ceremony dressed in the jeans and T-shirt he’d obviously slept in and lookin’ ready to maul. Barbara ignored him and said her vows like there was no way he’d ever have the stones to back out.” He chuckled. “Aric couldn’t or wouldn’t say shit. Barbara threw a major fit and called Anara. Anara ripped Aric a new ass**le over the phone and ordered him to marry Barbara. Aric flat-out refused and hung up on him. Well, then the shit hit the fan. Barbara marched up to Miss Eliza and told her she’s been throwing herself at Aric and since he’s failed to respond she must have birthed the g*yest wolf on the planet.”

My lids peeled back and I had to grip the counter to keep from falling over. “What happened after that?” Good Lord. I could barely spit the words out.

“You’re going to love this. Miss Eliza was all calm. She smiled real sweet like and said, ‘That’s so strange, dear. I don’t recall Aric ever having problems showing Celia affection.’”

Oh, snap!

My heart pounded in my chest. I couldn’t believe it. I was almost out of my mind with joy. I tried to hide my brimming tears. Liam stopped me by clasping my hands. “I think Aric was able to resist Anara because he doesn’t want to be with anyone . . . unless it’s you.”

The tears leaking from my eyes earned me a much-needed hug from Emme. “Thanks, Liam. I needed to hear that.” I wiped my cheeks. “Where is Aric? I have to call him.”

“You can’t do that, Celia,” Liam answered.

I nodded. “You’re right. I don’t want to get him into more trouble with Anara.”

“Oh, no—I don’t mean you shouldn’t. I mean you can’t. Barbara smashed his phone into his face and broke it.” We all gasped. “Anyway, Aric went wolf and took off. We don’t know where he is.” He shrugged. “I’m supposed to help the Warriors search for him. The Elders are worried he’s gone off the deep end and they want us to find him before he eats a mailman or something.” He bent to kiss Emme before jogging off.

My sisters threw their arms around me, thankfully shielding me from Bren’s naked form. He yanked on the jeans Danny tossed him. Taran shoved me into my bedroom. “Get dressed, Ceel. We’re taking you to Hairy Bastard’s to celebrate.”

• • •

Hairy Bastard’s was the premier steakhouse in Carson City, famous for booze, big servings, and catering to weres.

“There’s that vamp tramp, Celia Wird,” some werehyena said in a barely audible whisper.

The patrons were famous for hating vampires and, apparently, anyone associated with them. I ignored her and slipped into our booth. Bren and Danny kept their sights on her, but it was Shayna who spoke up. “Don’t talk about my sister that way!”

We angled our heads slowly toward Shayna. “You heard her?” Bren asked.

Shayna continued to narrow her eyes. “Well, duh—she said it loud and clear.” Usually such a response fell under Taran’s list of personality traits.

“No, she didn’t, Shayna.” I took a sniff to see whether I could detect any underlying lupine aroma. I couldn’t sense anything. She was still Shayna, but something about her had changed. “It looks like Koda gave you more than just healing abilities.”

Shayna placed both palms on the table. “Dude! Are you serious?”

Taran shut her compact closed. “What the hell’s going on?”

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