Cursed By Destiny Page 5

My powers were unique and strong, even in a world packed with supernatural muscle. My ability to shift underground unscathed made me difficult to track and conquer. My inner beast also made me formidable against anything with fangs or claws. Pure light could sear a demon and detonate an average vamp, but it had no effect on me. Misha’s legion of undead couldn’t say the same.

Weres matched me in strength, but they’d made it clear they didn’t want me. So in my quest to rid the world of the Tribe, I chose to help the vampires, just as Aric had chosen his pack above and beyond me.

Crap. I rubbed my face. In the end, my thoughts always returned to Aric.

Misha watched me closely. The silence between us grew longer and filled with tension. When he spoke, his light Russian accent dripped with frustration. “You must forget about the beast, Celia. Even if that mongrel does love you, he is obligated by blood and pack to breed with his kind. There is nothing you can do. Your relationship with him is over.”

Misha had recognized Aric’s snarls just as I had. I’d heard them a thousand times out of fear for my safety. Misha had heard them on the receiving end of Aric’s wrath. I’d definitely experienced the cuddlier side of that werewolf. I sat slowly. “Do you realize that you only call me Celia when you’re being serious or when you’re angry with me?” I smiled weakly. “Which is it now?”

He sat across the table from me, frowning in a way that would have sent his family scurrying in fear. “Perhaps it is a little of both, since you fail to come to your senses. You could be with a more deserving male.” He paused. “You could be with me.”

His comment hitched my breath. For once, he wasn’t merely asking me to bed. “Are you asking me for a commitment?”

Misha’s jaw tightened. “Perhaps.”

I stood and walked to his side and brushed his long blond hair away from his face. His expression softened when he caught my smile. “I think you’re the one who needs to come to his senses. You deserve better than what I can give you.”

I meant that. For a vampire, Misha was a tremendous catch. In addition to his incredible masculine beauty, he was smart, funny, and enjoyable company. And, for anyone who cared, he was also obscenely wealthy. I think he owned Canada.

Misha regarded me with complete tenderness. It was a look he gave me frequently since I’d inadvertently returned his soul. His expression was one of kindness and compassion I’d never seen him demonstrate to anyone, and it warmed my heart. He reached out and stroked my face. “Thank you for believing I’m a better man than I am.”

I squeezed his large hand with mine in time for Hank to appear. “Did you find the culprit?” Misha asked without looking at him.

Hank shook his head. “No, Master. We’ve searched the house and the grounds, and the digital recordings taken over the last twenty-four hours have been reviewed. No one but your family and feasts have entered the premises.”

Which meant either the limo had been booby-trapped during an excursion . . . or Misha’s family hated me more than I thought. My thoughts played across my Latina features like a violin. “None of my family would dare harm you,” Misha said. He turned to Hank.

Hank backed out of the room as if Misha was wielding a flamethrower. “No . . . of course not, Master.” He jerked his head toward me. “We would never think to hurt our lovely Celia.”

It was all I could do not to roll my eyes. Sure. Yup. Whatever. “How long can a spell like that stay dormant? I haven’t ridden in the limo in over a week.”

“At least a month, under the proper conditions. The longer it’s inactive, the more dangerous it becomes. Its hunger for its destined prey fuels the accelerant.”

My inner tigress sat up and pawed at me irritably. We didn’t like being referred to as prey; it enticed our need to hunt and made our claws itch to fight. “So either a witch is after me or someone hired one to cast a spell.”

“It would appear. Such magic is ancient. It continues to be created in a cauldron and poured into a vial upon its completion. Since the magic targets a specific subject, anyone may carry the specimen without risking injury and dispense it wherever he pleases.”

My tigress grew restless and paced within me. “I’m picturing witch fire lying around the compound like land mines. Please tell me I’m wrong.”

Misha shook his head. “Witch fire is potent, yet easily destroyed when exposed to the elements. Those few who can cast such a spell rarely choose to. Their magic is squelched to give the spell its strength, and often it fails to return.” His hand covered mine when he sensed my doubt. “Trust me, my dearest. Witches hoard their power—they’re not ones to gamble something considered so precious.”

“Unless the witch was desperate enough to take me out, or someone forced her.”

“Or filled her pockets. Such magic costs more than most American homes.”

Whoa.

Another apprehensive vamp entered the kitchen with her head lowered. “Master, your dinner is ready.”

Misha sighed, annoyed. “She can wait. I will be with her when I finish my meal with Celia.”

I couldn’t help but chuckle. The supernatural world was a twisted laugh riot, doubly dipped in a gravy boat full of crazy. Where else would anyone refer to dinner as “he” or “she”?

“What’s on the menu tonight, Misha? Blonde, redhead, or brunette?” I asked.

I wouldn’t have joked if I thought any of the vamps were going to harm their dinner guests. Vampires kept their beauty, their youth, and their bodies functioning by taking small amounts of blood from humans throughout the day. Between their supermodel good looks and the seductive pheromones they emanated, humans flocked to them. It also didn’t hurt that the blood consumption process was the equivalent of multiple emotional orgasms. Misha especially seemed to be a remarkably great eater. I could usually hear his meal screaming for Jesus and all his disciples clear to the guesthouse. Oh, yes, being a so-called creature of the night didn’t suck; most spent their days tanning.

But even though I knew vampires weren’t as scary as Bram Stoker claimed, their “feasting” was not something I could comfortably observe. The vamps ate away from me. Since my arrival, Misha usually ate his non-stiletto-accessorized meals with me first. I suspected it was his way of bonding with me, especially since he consumed food because he could, not because he needed to. Only blood could keep him alive and young.

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