Cursed By Destiny Page 77

Emme sat next to Tye. He patiently explained his strategy to her while she listened closely and tried to understand. He wasn’t being inappropriate with her, so I couldn’t be mad; in fact, he was actually very nice to her. He caught me watching and smiled. I ignored him to stalk to the refrigerator and grab us more drinks. I’d just filled my arms with water bottles when an uproar erupted from the table. Ying-Ying had won with Bren’s tutelage and walked off with over two hundred dollars.

“Great job, Ying-Ying,” I said. She asked me something in Mandarin. All I understood was Bren’s name and made the mistake of nodding. Her whole face beamed and she bowed back excitedly. I realized I’d done something terribly wrong when she grabbed Bren and led him to the rear of the plane.

Bren saluted me before they disappeared. “Thanks for the good word, Ceel.”

Shayna screamed and raced back to the main area with her hand clasped over her mouth. “They’re, like, going to do it.”

I ignored Emme’s blush and handed Tye a water bottle. “You don’t drink?” he asked.

I shrugged. “Occasionally, but since we’re headed for Africa I figured we need to hydrate.”

“Nice to see all the Girl Scout training has paid off.”

“Mmm. I was never a Girl Scout. We’ve never even been camping.”

Tye almost choked on his water. “Tell me you know how to build shelter and fire.”

“Nope.”

“You do hunt, though, right?”

“No. I eat meat, but I like animals too much to kill them.”

Tye glanced around the cabin, horrified. “What can you do, then . . . any of you?”

My tigress barreled to the surface. “Who the hell do you think you are?”

Emme frowned. It always impressed me how she oozed cuteness even while fuming. “I’ll have you know we’re all excellent fighters—”

“Well . . .” Danny interrupted.

Emme’s blush returned. “Except for Danny, but he’s smart and an excellent researcher.”

My head jerked toward the bedroom. “Um . . .”

“And, well, Ying-Ying, too.” Emme’s blush deepened.

Tye appeared ready to vomit. “Ying-Ying can’t fight, either?”

Shayna held her hands out. “No, man. But her yoga skills are . . . superb.”

“She’s here to do yoga?” Tye let out a string of swearwords. “This is a nightmare! How are we going to get the stone if I’m busy babysitting?”

“We’re not inept,” I hissed. “We’ve fought our way out of many dangerous situations.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it, sister.”

“I am not your sister.”

Tye growled. “No. You’re not. You’re just the one I’m destined to be with.”

Tye grabbed a blanket and pillow and threw himself across the couch with his back to us. Turned out he wasn’t so impressed with me after all.

Chang muttered something in Korean as he watched Tye get comfortable. I nodded at him, agreeing. “Yeah, I know. What a total ass**le.”

I turned on my heel and prepared for bed. Sometime around one in the morning West Coast time, I woke up. Emme and Shayna lay in bed with me. To my surprise and relief, Shayna hadn’t woken up screaming. She sometimes twitched and whimpered, but she would settle and return to sleep.

I moved slowly to avoid waking my sisters and slid open the window shade. From what I could see out the window, it appeared we’d just landed in Amsterdam. A team of men in safety orange suits rushed to the plane and prepared to refuel the jet. Our captain stepped out and spoke to one of the workers, smiling. His pleasant demeanor reinforced that all was well.

Next stop: Tanzania.

“Why do you sleep with them?” Tye sat on the couch opposite us, his clear blue eyes appearing to glow from the subtle light in the cabin.

I didn’t understand why he was asking, but I answered anyway. “There’s not a lot of room considering Bren and Ying-Ying hogged the back.” I covered Emme’s back with the blanket when she shivered. “Besides, it’s not a big deal. We grew up sleeping together.”

Tye leaned forward, causing the sheet around him to slide to his waist. “Didn’t you have your own rooms?”

“No. Our parents slept in a pullout sofa in the living room when we were little, while we shared a bed in a small bedroom. In our first foster home we were separated . . . but that just made us want to be together more.” I didn’t elaborate and hoped he wouldn’t ask for details.

“You were in foster care?”

I nodded.

“What happened to your parents?”

“They were killed during a home invasion.”

Tye’s frown relaxed into something that resembled shock. I guess no one had bothered to tell him anything about me, except that we should have cubs together. “You said ‘our first’—how many foster homes did you end up in?”

“Just one more. Ana Lisa, our foster mom, kept us and gave us a real home. Her house had only two bedrooms so we went back to sharing a room.” My fingers traced along the sill in an attempt to distract myself from my rising discomfort.

“Four girls in a room together and you didn’t kill each other?”

“No, we’ve always been close.” I scooted off the couch and disappeared into the bathroom, well aware of Tye’s gaze following me.

I waited outside the bathroom door when I finished. Tye now lay across his bed, supporting his weight on one elbow. He watched me, as if expecting something extraordinary. I returned to bed without a word, hoping he’d get the hint that I no longer wished to discuss my past or anything else. He continued to regard me with interest. I ignored him and tried my best to fall back asleep.

Our plane soared through the skies for ten more hours before landing in a small airport in Arusha, Tanzania. It was eleven in the morning in Tahoe, but nine at night in Arusha. Evil, it seemed, had no sympathy for jet lag. We grabbed our packs and hurried off the plane. Just because it was night didn’t mean we could stop to rest.

I rubbed my skin, feeling sticky from the dry heat digging its way through my pores despite the absence of sunlight.

“How far is it to Ngorongoro Crater from here?” Danny asked Tye.

“Pretty damn far. We have another plane ride to the Manyara airstrip and then a two-hour drive on gravel roads to the park.”

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