Cursed By Destiny Page 60

Gemini didn’t respond. He knew I was right.

Bren cracked his knuckles. “The Elders don’t require me and Dan to live here. We’re going back to our apartment. Come with us—you can crash at our place.”

“Thanks, Bren, but I feel safe enough going back to Misha’s.”

Taran and Shayna remained shaken by the events of the evening. They wanted to return to Misha’s house with me or back to Dollar Point. I insisted they stay with their wolves and appease the Elders. No one seemed happy, but their worry increased when Emme climbed into the car with me. It was then that everyone seemed more aware of Liam’s absence.

Emme drove behind Bren and Danny, passing through the large stretch of Den grounds. I stared at Emme, who kept swallowing hard and taking deep breaths. As we passed through the wrought-iron gates, the dam burst and she broke down. I had her stop the car before we crashed. Bren rushed over to us to see what was wrong. “What the hell happened?”

“She and Liam broke up,” I answered quietly. I slid out of the car and went around the other side.

Bren wrenched the driver’s-side door open, fired up. And yet when he reached for Emme, he was incredibly gentle. He gathered her into his arms and kissed the top of her head. “Do you want me to kick his ass?” he offered.

I hurried around the other side and clutched his arm. “It’s not like that.” I sighed, not wanting to announce my sister’s business to the world but worried Bren would go after Liam if he thought he’d hurt Emme. “Liam told Emme that she’s not his mate.”

Hearing the cause of their breakup in words was the emotional kick to the shins Emme didn’t need. She sobbed into her hands.

Bren looked down at her, then at me, then called for reinforcements. “Dan! Hysterical female, you need to handle this.”

I led Emme into the backseat and tried to comfort her while Danny drove our Legacy. Bren was better off driving alone in his Mustang. The moment he slammed his door shut he blasted Metallica. He didn’t do well with crying women, emotional breakdowns, or drama. He did only bar brawls, babes, and beer. And yet he’d done his best to soothe Emme’s pain.

Emme choked through her words. “Liam didn’t take our breakup well, and begged me reconsider.” She wiped her tears with the sleeves of her pink sweater. “When I asked him if he was certain I wasn’t his mate, it took him a long time to answer. I kept waiting for him to give me hope. But he wasn’t able to. Instead he promised to love me as much as he could.”

My heart panged. “As much as he could” wasn’t good enough, no matter how much Liam meant it to be. I didn’t want their relationship to end. But I also wanted what was best for both of them.

“We didn’t say anything more once we heard the screaming inside.” Emme leaned heavily against me. “I’ve never loved anyone else, Celia. And I don’t think I ever will.”

I held her close and thought of Aric. If her mate wasn’t Liam, then it was someone else. If so, she would love another.

• • •

Bren and Danny left us at Misha’s after Bren explained the effects of my poisoning in graphic detail. Misha seethed with a rage I’d never seen. Like the wolves, he’d concluded one of his own had poisoned me. It made sense. My last meal and drink had been in his home. And the witch fire . . . yeah, that had occurred under his watch and on his turf as well. It went without saying something was rotten in Dracville.

Emme and I passed the line of vampires waiting to be interrogated on our way to the guesthouse. Most of them shook in fear of Misha’s wrath. But none like Chef. Sweat cascaded down his face in rivers and he crumpled his hat with trembling hands. “What’s going to happen to Chef?” Emme whispered when we stepped outside.

“I don’t know,” I answered. But I did. Vamps could sniff lies, but they weren’t immune to illusions or conspiracies. If Misha suspected Chef’s involvement, he wouldn’t last the hour.

“It’s hard to believe Misha would kill his own.”

I opened the door to the guesthouse. Someone had lit a fire in the family room’s small fireplace. The glow greeted us in the otherwise dark house. I flipped the lights on in the hall. “Vampires live by different rules, Emme. Disobedience isn’t tolerated. Otherwise vamps would roam the earth hurting humans and making them aware of their presence.” I focused on the dancing flames. “I’m not saying it’s right. But it is their way.”

“D-do you think Chef did it? Do you think he’s been the one trying to kill you?”

“Considering I was poisoned, he seems the most likely suspect. Still, I don’t see how he can possibly see me as the key to ending the vampire race.” I pursed my lips. “I wouldn’t want to be the one deciding his fate. I just hope Misha’s decision is the right one.” I grabbed a set of towels and placed them in the bathroom for Emme to shower. I was handing her a T-shirt when my phone rang.

“Hello?”

Aric growled on the other end, the rage evident in his words. “Are you okay?”

I stepped into my bedroom and closed the bathroom door behind me. “I’m fine. Gosh, Aric, I’m sorry about tonight.”

“None of this is your fault.”

“You just sound so angry.”

“I am—but not at you. I blame myself.”

“Why?”

“If I hadn’t claimed you as my mate, the obsessive trait of the spell wouldn’t have been as severe. I almost killed you.”

“No, you didn’t. Please don’t say that.”

“Celia . . . I’m going to have to break our mate bond.”

My heart sank. “You want to sever our bond. The very one you started and never told me about? No. That’s unacceptable.”

“Celia, I know I should’ve explained our matehood sooner. Forgive me for keeping you in the dark. That night I was out of my mind for you and your body. My animal instincts took over and drove me to claim you. I should have held off, knowing you weren’t aware of what we were sealing between us.”

I remembered that night so well. Aric wasn’t the only one hungry to make love. And while I didn’t know what was happening between us, it didn’t take away from what we’d created. It remained one of the best moments of my life.

My voice quavered. “If you break our bond, you’ll have to obey Anara. We won’t be able to see each other. Don’t you think we’ve spent enough time apart?”

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