Cursed By Destiny Page 53

Aric’s hands passed along his chest as he washed, just not with the same enthusiasm I’d demonstrated. “At least he’s supportive,” I said.

“As much as he can be. He knows being away from you has tortured me. I’m pissed all the time and I’ve been a bastard to be around.” He placed his hands against the tiled wall and dropped his head. “I can’t believe I ever left you. I couldn’t even bring myself to touch you that day. If I had, I wouldn’t have been able to do what I thought was right for the sake of my race.” His bruised gaze met mine. “I’ll never forgive myself for hurting you.”

I hugged my arms and turned away for a moment. The pain I experienced that day still affected me. And it still wasn’t behind us. “What happened when you met with the Elders tonight?”

Aric stepped out of the shower and took the towel I handed him. “It was damn obvious we’d been together. I couldn’t hide our scent, nor did I want to. We . . . had words, and Anara ordered me never to see you again.”

I frowned, confused. “As Beta, Anara closely matches Martin in were magic.”

“Yeah, he does.” Aric answered as if he didn’t care, and that the Elders’ supremacy meant nothing.

“Then how are you here, especially after a direct order to stay away? I thought that whole blood bond wolf mojo thing prevented you from disobeying.”

He toweled off, smirking. “There are certain loopholes to the blood bond. When Anara ordered me to take Barbara as my fiancée, I had to obey. During the ceremony, my bond to you as my mate helped me resist.”

“But the Elders are aware of the loopholes, right? I would think they would have tightened them somehow.” I scoffed. “Especially given all the power they can draw from the pack.”

Aric wrapped the towel around his waist, his grin widening. “They’re aware. And I’m sure they used some of our collective magic to help strengthen the order. But I don’t think they realized how strong I’ve become, and I’m not planning on telling them.”

I reached for him, but thought twice before touching him. “What happens if Anara or the others discover you disobeyed them?”

Aric stopped smiling. “Let me worry about that.”

“Aric . . .”

“Celia, I hate hiding our love like it’s something wrong. If they find out, I’ll deal with it.” Aric’s eyes held the strength and determination that first attracted me to him. “I’m going to fix this, Celia. Somehow I’ll find a way for us to be together.”

I returned with Aric’s clothes after running them through the dryer with a softener sheet to remove my scent. I watched him dress, my growing need to hold him worsening. We were together again, but still so much apart. “Be careful,” I said softly.

Aric slipped his long-sleeved black shirt over his eight-pack. He leaned forward. “I’m going to come back to you. Don’t worry.” He stilled. “In the meantime, I want you to stay sharp. The only reason I’m not dragging you out of here is that, ass**les or not, the vamps have the muscle to protect you and keep you safe in my absence.”

My body tensed. This was so not the moment to tell Aric I was jumping off the S.S. Bloodsucker. Maybe I could crash at Bren and Danny’s. Two wolves and a tigress should be enough to thwart scary monsters, right?

“Okay, love. I promise to keep my eyes open.” I walked him to door, smiling when his lips found mine. He licked his own lips, camouflaging my scent and having one last taste of me.

No sooner did he disappear into the breaking dawn than the snow began to fall and Maria appeared at my door.

She followed me into my bedroom. I ignored her and hauled my large suitcase from beneath the king-sized bed. Her walk lacked her usual shimmy and she kept quiet despite her typical tendencies to say something wretched. “You are really leaving, aren’t you?”

“Yup.”

“It will not be de same without you. You are crazy bitch weird and all, but okay.” She made an irritated gesture with her hand. “Just okay.”

I couldn’t help but smirk. “Gee, thanks, Maria.”

A breeze slapped me in the face and I felt someone behind me. “Do you need something, Liz?” I asked.

She flung her ice blond hair back and started filing her nails. “Chef prepared you some breakfast. You should go eat.”

It was too early for the vamps to be up, including Chef. Misha’s anger must have kept them up. “Is Misha there?”

She stopped filing. “No. The master is not there now.”

“But he will be.”

She tried to sound indifferent. “Yes, most likely he will be.”

Misha and I would have to talk eventually, and I’d never been one to walk away from a fight. When I entered the kitchen there was a whole spread laid out. The vampires I was most familiar with loitered around, watching me with solemn faces and unusually quiet mouths. I tried to smile encouragingly, although it was foolish of me to do so. They were annoying, oversexed, selfish, and downright vicious. Still, I didn’t want the so-called creatures of the night to feel bad.

I thanked Chef and proceeded to eat like I was going into hibernation. I was almost done when Misha appeared with Virginia in tow. “Leave us,” he said to the others in the kitchen.

Everyone scattered like dropped marbles. Misha sat at the table and watched me as I drank my orange juice. Our eyes met with equal stubbornness, but I didn’t want to play “who blinks first.” I wiped my mouth and threw my napkin on the table. “I’m sorry about what I said last night, Misha. I was angry, but I didn’t intentionally mean to hurt you.”

“What do you hope to accomplish by seducing that mongrel?”

“What?”

“Are you trying to convince him to leave his pack?”

My hackles rose and my tigress readied us to strike. “Misha, you’re way out of line.”

“Do you know what happens to a were of his stature who decides to turn his back on his race?”

I stood, knocking my chair back. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.” My body shook. “I suggest you shut the hell up!”

Misha’s stare fired with malice and his voice thickened with spite. “Yes, I do. The reputation of your wolf’s family will be destroyed. All his finances and those of his closest relatives will be depleted—”

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