Cursed By Destiny Page 49

Tears burned my eyes as I rose. “If you do, you’re certainly giving it your all.”

He stepped toward me. “Don’t look at me that way—”

“What way, Aric? Like I expected more from you? Well, maybe I did!” I glared into the night where his tramps had flounced off. “Maybe I’m the one who needs to get over you. You’re not the man I thought you were. Not like this.” I swallowed hard. “It was my mistake to love you . . . and to think that you really loved me.”

I veered quickly and slammed right into Tye. He was happy to see me and yanked me into a tight embrace. The feeling wasn’t mutual and his words disgusted me. “There you are, dovie. Since we’ll be making babies soon, maybe we should get to know each other.”

I shoved him into a wall when he bent to kiss me. “If you think I’m going to sleep with you because some geek with hideous fashion sense said so, you’re out of your mind! Keep your goddamn hands to yourself before I ram them down your throat!”

I barreled down the steps and cut through a walkway between two smaller buildings. I wasn’t sure where I was going. I just wanted to get away from Tye and Aric. The walkway seemed endless. I don’t know how long I stormed down the path before it finally curved and led into a large garden.

The leaves had shriveled from the trees and stout bushes. I didn’t care about the barrenness and welcomed its solace, just like the large gulps of air I struggled to take. My back fell against a retainer wall. The cold granite was like a slab of ice against my exposed back, yet it didn’t bother me enough to move. My body trembled from my raw emotions and my tigress fought to emerge, to protect me from the pain of the evening and manage the hurt that always seemed to haunt our lives. I tried to settle her. It was hard. The mysticism of Tahoe brought my beast a sense of peace, both energizing and harmonizing my inner magic. We belonged in Tahoe, and in a way we were a part of it. It wasn’t that way in Squaw Valley. I was hated here, and there was nothing I could do to change that.

My anxiety and sadness surged. I needed a distraction before my tigress tore free. I concentrated hard on the branches of one tree. A slight breeze caused the tips to dance and drop icicles onto the snow like frozen tears. It comforted me in a way to have something symbolically cry for me. If I allowed myself to weep, I wasn’t sure when I’d stop.

My tension began to lift a little just when someone approached. Aric had tracked me. He moved toward me slowly and leaned against the wall beside me. We both stared straight ahead and didn’t speak for a long time.

I hated standing next to him like that, without talking, without touching. How had the relationship I’d once so cherished ended like this? “Don’t you have someplace else to be?”

“No.”

A growl burned my throat. “You could have fooled me.”

Aric let out a long breath. “You know what would have happened if I’d met those females—nothing. My beast rejects anyone who’s not you, and the man in me doesn’t fight to change his will. Except tonight.” He stared out hard into the darkness. “My Elders came down on me just now, and threw everything in my face—Destiny’s prediction, my obligations to my pack, and the annihilation my kind faces if we fail to reproduce. I finally surrendered and gave up any hope between us . . . and then I saw you on the porch. All it took was feeling your spirit beside me to know that I can’t be with anyone else.” He turned to me then. “No matter what anyone tells me.”

I angled my head to the side, not wanting to expose the rip in my heart.

“What about you?” he asked when I failed to speak.

I wiped my eyes. “What about me?”

“Do you want Tye?”

I couldn’t believe he even had to ask. “Of course not.”

“Or Danny?”

“No.”

“Or Misha?”

Tears streamed down my cheeks in tandem when I faced him. “How can I be with Misha or anyone when all I think about is you?”

Aric reached for me, holding my face with his hands and wiping my tears with his thumbs. “Don’t cry, sweetness. Please don’t cry.”

Aric’s eyes met mine, the way they had so many times in our past. There was no anger, no bitterness, no distance. Only compassion and tenderness remained. I held his hands with mine. “I can’t help it, Aric. I love you. I’d give anything to be with you.”

“You don’t have to.” He kissed me, hard, just as he had a thousand times in my dreams. The warmth we shared spread through me like a wave of soft water. I didn’t want to stop, but I knew I had to. Whether I loved him or not, the world needed him, and so did his pack. The werebear and his pregnant wife had shown me as much. I struggled against him and finally managed to pull away.

It hurt to move away from him so forcefully. My tigress rushed to the surface, trying desperately to pull us back to him. He had felt so good. The rest of me tried to beat her back, knowing I couldn’t handle it if he abandoned me again. “Aric, what about your commitment to the pack?”

Aric backed me up against the wall, pressing his body firmly against mine and gripping my hips with his large hands. His pounding heartbeat threatened to explode between my br**sts. “I don’t want to talk about that now,” he murmured in my ear. “You just told me you love me—prove it. Prove that you still need me. Prove that you still want me, because I sure as hell want you.”

Aric smashed his lips against mine. This time, I didn’t resist. I drove my tongue into him, making him groan. My arms wrapped around his neck. His hands moved from my waist and traveled beneath my skirt to caress my backside. I let out a cry filled with anticipation. Aric became more insistent; he wasn’t going to stop. But even if he did, I wouldn’t have let him. I kissed him across his jawline. When I found his ear, I licked it in the way that drove him crazy and grazed the lobe with my teeth. A deep growl thundered in his chest and his growing need hammered against my stomach.

Aric reached into the halter part of my dress and peeled away the stick-on bra. He cupped my br**sts possessively, smoothing his rugged palms along the curves. My lids fluttered from his touch and eagerness, but when he tugged at the tips, I couldn’t stifle my mews.

“That’s better,” he muttered through clenched teeth.

The warmth between us spread into a burning fire. We didn’t have much time, and fear of being discovered kept me from ripping his clothes free of his hot form. So I kissed and nibbled while my hands worked to unbuckle his belt and pants.

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