Cursed By Destiny Page 82

Ying-Ying collected weapons from those too injured to fight. She carried them to Emme, who was protecting a small band of women, and an already injured Danny, who struggled to stand. Emme gathered her force and launched all ten spears at the demons who had escaped Bren and Tye. They fell to the dry earth, moistening it with their splattered entrails.

Ying-Ying contorted herself into some kind of ball and used her body to knock the demons down like bowling pins. Chang and I pounced, beheading their stunned forms. “Celia!” Chang called, pointing wildly at a demon flying off with a crying baby.

I darted toward the baby but was intercepted by a mound of yelping beast and wings. Danny had tried to rejoin the battle and now a demon had him. Blood saturated his fur as he tried to fight off the giant brute. Yet despite being were, Danny could not match the demon’s strength. I scrambled forward and tackled the demon, sending us both down the ravine.

Gravel and sharp dried branches pummeled and punctured my skin the entire way down. I hit the bottom with an excruciating jolt, cracking my skull against a large flat rock. Fluid seeped from my ears and mouth and my stomach lurched from the cold rush of nausea. I wanted to scream from the paralyzing agony, but could barely gather a breath. Something was wrong—very wrong. I’d never felt pain like this. I lost my concentration and changed back to human.

It took me a long time to gather my resolve and attempt to stand. When I finally tried, my limbs failed. I gave up for the moment and tried to regulate my breathing. That’s when Aric appeared. He clutched my broken body in his powerful arms and comforted me with his soft sweet words. He promised me a lifetime of togetherness, but I had to stay strong and survive. I held on to his words. He was right—I had to live. Although at that moment I wasn’t sure how.

Neither the demon nor I moved for a long while. I sprawled completely helpless, praying he was dead, but my prayers were not answered. The moisture from my sweat and blood chilled my skin as the demon slowly stood and limped his way toward me. He stretched his leathery wings and smiled with shattered fangs.

Aric’s hideous growls fired all around me, but he wasn’t actually there to help me. I struggled to move, and once again failed. My body trembled as the demon crawled on top of me. His long forked tongue slithered out with a hiss and black drool splattered my face. He drew back his claws and aimed them toward my heart. I flinched at the expectation of my death.

It never came. He slumped on top of me, dead.

Above me, the mother whose child I had saved held the spear that pierced his skull.

A group of men sprinted down the side of the hill and hauled the creature off me. “Thank you,” I mumbled when they helped me to my wobbling feet. They caught me as my knees buckled. I couldn’t stand while human. I needed the strength of my beast. I gathered what focus remained and changed back to tigress, much to the wonder of the Tanzanians.

My body stumbled and swayed. The only reason I wasn’t dead was the same reason I’d managed my eagle form. Misha’s blood had made me strong enough to cheat death twice.

Tye met me halfway up the ravine and stroked his face against my neck. Damn, Celia. How bad are you hurt? He rubbed his body against mine and urged me up the mountain. Talk to me, dovie. As cats, we can speak to each other. Just concentrate and allow your tigress to take over.

I collapsed and threw up in response. The pain worsened as blood from my stomach spewed out. When I was done, Tye nudged me to my feet and up the ravine. The Tanzanians walked on either side of us, their spears out and ready to protect us from any threat. It wasn’t necessary. When we reached the top, it was clear no demon had survived. The waiting crowd parted and allowed us through. We must have been quite the sight, a golden tigress and an albino lion walking side by side.

I tried to reach Emme, but didn’t make it. What little strength my tigress had given me to make the climb ran out. I fell on my face and changed back. Shayna screamed and Bren swore when they saw me. Someone threw a blanket on top of me while Bren yelled for Emme. Ying-Ying and Chang spurted rapidly in their respective languages; both were cut and bleeding, but they didn’t seem to care about themselves.

Emme had just finished healing the baby that had been rescued and immediately hurried toward me. She touched my face. Her gentle yellow light surrounded me and her sympathetic tears wet my cheeks. We both cringed at the popping sound my skull made as it readjusted itself and I bit back a shriek when about four ribs abruptly snapped back into place.

“I can’t watch,” I heard Bren say over the buzzing in my ears.

The image of Aric’s face appeared in my mind and his deep timbre filled my head. I love you, he said. It’s almost over. I focused on his words. It took Emme a long time to mend me. The severity of my wounds far surpassed what I’d ever endured. Slowly, my strength returned and my nausea disappeared.

I spit out the blood that remained in my mouth and stood. I would have rather lain on the ground and slept, but I needed to reassure myself and everyone I was safe. Shayna helped adjust the blanket around me while Tye spoke with several of the men, communicating in a language I couldn’t identify.

Tye stalked over to us, his brows set in a deep frown. “The Maasai say all the neighboring parks had been evacuated due to what they believe were leopard attacks. They were fleeing when they encountered the demon children. The Tribe is obviously near. False info or not, they’re getting close to that damn stone. We need to get to the blasted crater before it’s too late.”

The beasts among us immediately changed. Tye was right—we were running out of time. Emme climbed on my back and held tight to my fur. The others sped off ahead of us. I paused to look back at the woman who had saved my life. She clutched her daughter against her. These Tribe ass**les wanted me dead and I hated them for it. But I hated them more for all the lives they’d claimed along the way. It was time for them to die.

Emme stroked my head. “Are you all right, Celia?”

I chuffed a yes before running full out to join my team.

CHAPTER 29

I ran my fingers through my unruly curls and tried not to melt from the wretched humidity. “And how exactly did you learn to hot-wire a car?”

Shayna’s tiny butt shimmed and twitched as she toyed with the SUV’s wiring. “Koda taught me. He said, ‘Baby, every gal needs to know how to do three things: defend herself and hot-wire a car.’”

Emme fanned herself with her hand. “That’s only two things. What’s the third?”

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