Cursed By Destiny Page 67

We sat down with Misha and were joined by Hank. Yippee. By the second course I’d begun to breathe normally.

Until I caught Hank staring at my sister. “Quit looking at her, Hank.”

“Not until you stop smelling yourself. That’s really annoying, Celia.”

“Your mother is really annoying.”

“Yeah, she was. What’s your point?”

Emme placed her hand on Misha’s arm. “Excuse me, Misha, but I think you need to consider Celia’s feelings on this, er, union.”

“I have, sweet Emme. She doesn’t recognize us as husband and wife—”

“That’s because we’re not,” I snapped.

Misha smirked. “So then none of this matters. The marriage between us can only be complete through mutual consent.” He danced his eyebrows, setting my girl parts off to do the limbo. “And by consummating the union.”

Emme took in the over-the-top decorations and the orchestra that continued to play. “Then why go through all the trouble of having this reception?”

Misha leaned back in his seat, smiling. “My original intention was to celebrate Celia’s awakening and our survival. My family believes the start of our union was triggered the night I fed from Celia and therefore felt the marriage should be commemorated. It seemed important to them, so I allowed it.”

I leaned forward, resting my arm against the table. “I thought you didn’t care what others think?”

“Normally I do not allow the influence of others or my emotions to rule me. If I did so, not only would I be an ineffective leader, but also an irresponsible one. Thus, the happiness of my family can never be at the forefront of my decisions. However, if an opportunity arises where I can grant them a bit of joy, I do.”

“They didn’t look joyful when they left,” I muttered.

“That’s because you’re an ungrateful psycho,” Hank mumbled.

I sighed. On second thought, maybe I hadn’t earned his respect.

Misha and Emme gave Hank just enough of a glance to make him squirm. Oddly enough, he seemed more affected by Emme’s response than Misha’s. Staff members appeared to remove the plates and offered sorbet in preparation for the next course. Misha took a few bites to cleanse his palate before continuing. “My family searches for any opportunity to throw an event. This was yet another reason for them to dress elegantly and socialize. Planning everything in mere hours gave them an unexpected thrill they are unaccustomed to. When we’re done with our dinner, they will continue the festivities. If you wish, you are welcome to partake, but I assure you, my kitten, you’re under no obligation.”

I pushed my hair aside. “I don’t want them to get the impression I am a willing participant in all this, Misha. Staying here would only reinforce their beliefs that I’m your wife. It’s not fair to allow them to think that.”

Misha watched me carefully before rising and motioning me toward the stone terrace. “Kitten, step outside with me a moment. There is something I wish to discuss with you.”

Two servants opened the floor-to-ceiling glass doors. We stepped out to a spectacular view of Lake Tahoe, deep blue beneath the clear starry night. Four outdoor fireplaces warmed the area despite the frigid cold. I followed Misha to the edge and so did my shadow, Emme. He did a double take when he saw her, but her presence somehow managed to delight him.

“No offense, but I don’t trust you.” I crossed my arms and so did Emme. She tried to appear tough, but still wouldn’t have scared off Porky Pig.

The gleam in his eyes made my happy place throb all over again. “It would seem it’s you who does not trust herself around me.” A slow, sultry smile eased across his face. Suddenly, it wasn’t so cold outside. Misha closed the distance between us and reached out to touch my face. I swayed a little, mesmerized by the vampiric magic around him, amplified by the mysticism of the lake. I couldn’t move. My body took over and shoved all conscious thought aside. Oh, no. No.

Emme yanked on his sleeve. “Misha, stop that.” He ignored her and stroked my cheek. She stamped her little foot, but I barely heard it. A strange cloud numbed my senses and reason. She tugged him harder. “Stop it, I say!”

My face melted against his hand and Emme panicked. Rather than using her force to push him away, she slapped his hand and broke her own in the process. She yelped and jumped up and down from the pain. It scared me and snapped me out of my stupor. I reached for her. “Emme! Are you okay?”

Hank appeared and wrapped his arm around her waist to still her. “Querida amor,” he whispered in her ear. “Cálmate, mi vida, cálmate.” His silky voice was tranquil, seductive. The prick had never used such a gentle tone with me. I didn’t even know he spoke Spanish. And what was all that “my love, my life” crap?

Hank’s calming words allowed her to relax and focus. She used her gift to heal herself. Still, once she mended, Hank refused to release her. I could smell the heat rising between them and stepped toward them to break it up. Misha grabbed my hand and pulled me back. When I turned to protest, he fell to one knee.

“Wwwhhhaaat are you doing?” I sounded like I’d been zapped by too many lightning balls.

“The celebration tonight was not only about your return to health, my love.”

My already sensitive girl parts tingled with every word he spoke. “Ahhhhh.”

The surge from his power and whatever link I’d created by allowing him to feed from me threatened to disintegrate my clothes. I didn’t want Misha. I didn’t love him. But something in my mind snapped and robbed me of my will. I tilted a little from side to side, just like a human trapped in a vampire’s hypnosis. Sweet Lord. Misha had me within his cerebral grip. And there was not a damn thing I could do about. My soul screamed, trying to fight and gain back control.

Misha angled his head, confused by the daze I’d fallen into. Vampires couldn’t control other preternaturals and yet he had me just fine. His eyes widened when he realized I’d succumbed to his power. He passed a hand in front of my face. And just like that, my will returned and the sizzle coursing through my feminine regions dissolved.

He kissed my hand, his soft gray irises meeting mine. “Celia, you almost died for me the other night. You did so not because you are bound to me by blood, but because of the type of being you are.” His stare traveled the length of my figure. “I know that your body is ready to yield itself to me.” He sighed. “But I also recognize that your heart is not. When you are ready—in heart, soul, and body—I shall be waiting.”

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