Cursed By Destiny Page 89

The atmosphere changed when Anara took center stage.

His gaze scanned the crowd until it fell directly on me. I sensed the chill he brought with him, and his fury when he spoke. “We lost many great Warriors and friends today and I fear more than ever for the future of our were race. Only through proper breeding can we ensure the survival of our species.” He shook his head from side to side, anger digging further into his hawklike features. “It disgusts me that even our own Leaders fail to see that the world will crumble without us.” He looked to the were dignitaries of Central and South America, ignoring Uri and Misha beside him. “I plan to put forth a decree before the North American Were Council that will require all unmated weres to fulfill the same duties we demand of our purebloods. And I urge you all to ask the same of your governing bodies. The future of our kind depends on it!”

My gasp was barely audible over the uproar that ensued. Martin stormed forward and muttered low into Anara’s ear, his angled brows illuminating his displeasure with Anara. Anara kept his attention on me, refusing to acknowledge a single word. Was he that arrogant? Pureblood Beta or not, Anara wasn’t stronger than his Alpha.

Many weres disagreed with Anara, but a surprising number took his side. I covered my face and bit back a furious roar. The Tribe might not have succeeded in taking over the world, but it had succeeded in massacring the numbers of weres who guarded it. God damn Anara. He wouldn’t stop with creating a law to force all weres to breed. He’d make sure my relationship with Aric was construed as a crime.

• • •

We separated into groups following Anara’s rousing speech, waiting like cattle to be transported out of Chaitén. Aric was ushered out quickly, leaving me with Emme, Taran, Bren, Danny, and a couple of Alliance members I’d never met.

Bren took in the mess around us. “How the hell are they going to explain all this shit?”

“Most of it will be blamed on the volcano erupting.” Danny wiped some of the ash covering his hands on his jeans and sneezed. He only succeeded in soiling them more. “The vampires in the South American Alliance are pretty high up politically. They feel a few hypnotic suggestions will take care of any loose ends.”

Emme crinkled her forehead. “Is that all they plan to do?”

Danny scratched his coated curls. “The Alliance feels since they just saved the world from Ihuaivulu, the least the Chilean government can do is pay for the cleanup.”

Taran agreed. “You’re damn right they can.” Her head jerked to the side, where a vampire stood waving from the bed of a battered pickup truck. “Come on—it’s our turn to go.” Although she was eager to leave the destruction far behind her, she waited for me to join her side. “How are you holding up?”

I watched as my filthy sneakers passed over the trampled ash-ridden soil, my head so heavy I couldn’t lift my chin. “I don’t know—angry, numb, seconds from losing my mind.” My voice cracked as we passed a few weres lifting another who’d lost both his legs. Taran’s hand gripped my arm as if to stabilize me and my volatile emotions. “This wasn’t supposed to happen, Taran. The Tribe was after me. Me. No one else should have suffered.”

Taran whirled me around. “Don’t,” she snapped. “This bullshit is not your doing. These bastards go after everyone—the weak, the strong, it doesn’t matter. If it wasn’t you, it would have been anyone else who had the balls to stand up to them.” Her tone carried such an edge, I didn’t realize she was crying until I glanced up and caught the thick drops leaking from her eyes.

Her grip tightened. “And don’t think it’s over, Ceel, because it’s not. We have majorly pimp-punched them and sent them running. But whatever remains of them still f**king remains. They’ll continue to come after you. So be sharp, and stay strong.” She motioned ahead to where Aric and Koda had disappeared. “And fight for those you love.”

The ride down the mountain required us to wear masks. Between the breeze continuing to sweep the chunky powder off the leaves and the smoke from the smoldering forest, I didn’t take a decent breath until we reached the airport. My silence, however, wasn’t solely due to my muffled mouth or the state of Chaitén. Taran was right. The efforts of the Alliance had pummeled the Tribe. But that didn’t mean it was gone. I was safe—for now. Maybe even for the next week, or month, until the legion of superscaries regrouped and remembered I’d helped bring them down.

And that I was indeed as formidable as they’d feared.

We scrambled out of the pickup at the outermost edge of the runway. The air remained thick and covered, but considerably lighter and more bearable. We walked along the tarmac, carrying the tightly wrapped bags of clothes the jeep driver had tossed us, and searching along the fleet of planes for our ride home.

Gemini rushed out from one of the private jets ahead of us and raced to our side. He took Taran’s hand and motioned forward. “Come with me—hurry.”

We moved fast. It wasn’t fast enough. The Elders caught me ascending the stairs as they boarded the plane just to our right. Martin and Makawee averted their gazes. Anara didn’t. His piercing dark irises raked at mine like a branch of thorns. Never had anyone hated me so.

We entered the plane, where Shayna, Koda, and Liam waited in silence. My entire body tensed. “Where’s Aric?”

Liam met my face with sad eyes. “He’s in the back, Celia. I think he needs some space. Maybe you should give him a moment.”

I waited until we reached altitude. Then waited another half hour more. Aric never joined us. My anxiety worsened and kicked my patience aside. I grabbed the I LOVE CHILE shorts and T-shirt set I’d been given and entered the small suite. All the lights were out. I didn’t bother turning them on. I knocked on the door to the bathroom, once, twice. He didn’t answer, but even through the door I could smell the lingering aroma of his burnt flesh.

I gathered my resolve and opened the door. Aric stood before the mirror, unmoving and barely breathing. My stomach twisted hard enough to make me clasp my hand over it. Oh, God. He’d finally seen the extent of Ihuaivulu’s damage. And there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to ease his hurt and shock.

I beat back my sorrow and took a breath. Aric didn’t need my tears; he needed my strength. I shimmied around him and turned on the small shower. It wasn’t until I started ridding myself of Taran’s borrowed dirty clothes that Aric acknowledged me. “Celia . . . what are you doing?”

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