Cursed By Destiny Page 79

Tye started to say something, but instead paused to sniff the air around me. His expression changed from someone ready to make a smart-ass comment to an individual who knew compassion and carried it well. “You’re serious, aren’t you?” I nodded with my now crimson face. He scoffed. “I had you pegged all wrong, girl. Here I thought you were another stuck-up princess. In truth, you’re just a timid little bird.”

I couldn’t argue. Aside from my relationship with Aric, I knew nothing when it came to romance. I barely understood the male species, and had absolutely no desire to learn more.

I’d seen Tye-the-player and Tye-the-jerk in action, but at that moment, he showed me a different side. Instead of continuing his banter, he spared my feelings and described some of the animals we’d see on safari.

We talked for about an hour until the plane struck some kind invisible wall. It didn’t make sense. The plane continued to speed forward. But then it jolted as if rammed by something hard, and the controls went haywire. Lights blinked off and on and several alarms blared a warning. The nose dipped and the steering mechanism wrenched free of Tye’s grip. My stomach lurched to my throat as the plane plunged downward in a spiral. My sisters screamed. Tye fought to regain our altitude, only for us to be jerked back down. Again, he managed to level the plane, but just barely.

“The Tribe knows we’re here!” he shouted. “Get ready to jump!”

CHAPTER 28

Everyone in the back scrambled for parachutes. I unbuckled and hurried to help, while Tye fought to keep our plane in the air.

We turned the plane inside out, only to find one chute.

“Shit!” Bren growled.

I scanned the compartment filled with terrified faces, desperately trying to figure a way out of this. Only Chang and Ying-Ying remained surprisingly calm. I thought it was because they didn’t comprehend what was happening. I swallowed a lump in my throat. How could I possibly explain we were all about to die? Charades at a time like this seemed completely inappropriate. I opened my mouth to say something when Ying-Ying pointed to the plane door. I didn’t move, so she pointed again. “Bren,” she said.

Emme clutched the headrest in front of her, her fair skin pale with fear. “I—I think she wants one of you to open the door.”

Bren and I tried to explain that we couldn’t open the door when Chang stood. He calmly strapped on two backpacks and grabbed a blanket from one of the storage compartments. A huge smile lit his face as he kicked open the door. Gusts of wind overtook the small cabin, smacking my hair into my face. I pushed it out of the way in time to see Chang grip Shayna’s arm and leap out with my poor shrieking sister.

Bren and I rushed to the door in a panic. I gasped when I caught a glimpse of a white parachute. Chang had somehow magically converted the blanket. “Holy shit!” Bren yelled.

Bren and I continued to gawk while Ying-Ying slinked her way through the small space. He freaked out when he saw she was carrying two packs: hers and his. “No. No, no, no, no.” He held out his hands trying to block her. I watched in horror as the tiny yogi shoved my extra-large friend into the air before diving after him. Her maniacal laugh exploded out of her, drowning out Bren’s hollers as she flew toward him.

Tye grunted. “I can’t keep the plane up. Get going, now!”

Danny had just finished securing the parachute to Emme. “Celia, grab Emme and go—the parachute will hold you both. Tye and I will jump before the plane crashes.”

“Screw that!” Tye shouted. “Go with Emme, Dan. They’re going to need you to find the stone. Celia will just go eagle and fly us out.”

“Good idea!” Danny yelled and leapt out, clutching Emme.

Good idea? GOOD IDEA!?

“Tye, I don’t think I can—”

Tye grabbed our packs and flung us out the door.

I didn’t have time to think or attempt to calm the hysterical female shrieking inside me. The wind whipped against my body and the earth spun below. I gritted my teeth and called forth my will to survive.

But then my call turned into a screech—the mighty screech of an eagle.

My legs shrank and my arms lengthened, sprouting feathers from one breath to the next. I righted myself and glided into the night with a grace and speed I’d never known. My sharp vision fixed on Tye, who was hurtling toward the ground at an alarming rate. With one, two, three flaps of my powerful wings I had him.

I dug my talons into his shoulders and cried out in triumph over the sounds of the plane exploding below. My new form felt natural, as if I’d done it a million times. Unfortunately, this was my first flight, and if it hadn’t been for the tree we smashed into, I wasn’t sure how we would’ve landed.

The pain broke my concentration and I changed back to human. We swore and groaned as we hit just about every damn branch on our way down. I landed on my back and rolled into Tye, who lay sprawled trying to catch his breath. A family of very pissed-off monkeys shrilled and scurried around us, completely disgusted that we’d disturbed their sleep. Leaves rained down on us and collected into several small piles before either of us moved. Tye let out the mother of all swearwords before turning to glare at me. “What the hell kind of eagle are you anyway?”

I sat and wiped the dirt from my arms and shoulders. “I never claimed to be an eagle! I only ever managed the full form once and even then it was only for a few seconds.”

“My boy Uri said—”

“Your boy Uri likes to exaggerate the truth!”

I scrambled to my feet and tried to pick the leaves and twigs out of my hair. I was pulling what I hoped was a giant seed from my curls when I noticed Tye’s expression had morphed from furious man to hormonal teen. He stared at me smiling. It hit me too late that I was standing there naked.

I jumped behind the tree. “Throw me something from my pack,” I demanded. He went through my pack and tossed me a pen. “Damn it, Tye—you know what I mean. Give me something to wear!”

He stood and strolled toward the tree. “It’s hot. You’ll probably be more comfortable this way.”

Before I could pound the crap out him, Danny’s wolf howled. My head whipped in the direction of his call. “They’re in trouble!”

I changed into a tigress and bolted. Tye sprinted behind me, but he couldn’t keep up. I swerved through a maze of trees until I reached a clearing of flat earth and drying patches of grass. The crumbling blades crunched beneath my feet as I stalked.

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