Sealed with a Curse Page 11

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Tommy nodded, curling into a protective ball. Aric left him and took in the scene. He sniffed the air, tracking the small droplets of splattered blood until they morphed into angular streaks along the corpses. He motioned to the honey blonde. “The vamp bit her first. And broke the other’s spine when she tried to flee.”

“How…how do you know he killed the blonde f-first?” Tommy stammered.

Aric inhaled deeply. “The blood on her clothes is a full minute drier.”

Mohawk gasped. “That vamp drained her in under a minute?”

Aric nodded. “The bloodlust in his system had advanced, making his appetite more voracious.” He leaned over the brunette’s face. “Did you see her teeth? They’re pushed in. He covered her mouth to keep her from screaming while he finished his first meal.”

Aric circled the women, frowning. He bent and examined their remains. “The bodies are already in rigor.” His scowl deepened as he inhaled. “The bastard didn’t leave them one ounce of blood.” He reached for the cell phone in his back pocket and made a brief call. “It’s Aric. I’ve got two more in an alley near Northwood Boulevard and McCourry. Tommy’s hurt. I’ll need him transported.”

“We’re on our way,” someone said on the other end.

The midnight black wolf yanked his head free in a crash of falling rubble. With a roar he bolted toward me, teeth bared.

“Don’t touch her,” Aric warned.

The wolf stopped his onslaught as quick as a flick of a switch. Good for him. I was done taking shit.

The kid with the Mohawk whose eye I had, well, gouged out, flipped. “Why are you defending her? For all you know she’s in league with the bloodluster!”

“I am not!” I snarled.

Tommy, the redhead, scowled despite the worsening color of his skin. “We saw you standing over them. We know you’re not human.” His upper lip curled. “And you’re sure as hell not one of us.”

Aric narrowed his eyes, his voice bordering on rage. “Use your goddamn noses.”

Mohawk shook his head violently. Taran’s shoe flew off his face, leaving a big, gaping, bloody hole. None of the wolves reacted. I was ready to hurl. “Aric, she can do things,” Mohawk insisted. “Maybe she can cover her lies, too. For shit’s sake, look at what she did to my freaking arms!”

Aric must have thought Mohawk merely lay on his elbows. His eyes widened when he saw the idiot’s limbs fixed to the concrete. He frowned. “What are you?” he asked again.

My growls would not be silenced. “It’s none of your business what or who I am. I’ve done nothing wrong!”

Police sirens screeched in the far distance. Aric leaned back on his heels. “Maybe not. But I would ask that you fix my student.”

Aric’s words slapped the PMS right out of me. “Students? These are students?”

“They’re supposed to graduate this spring.” Aric’s gaze swept over my petite frame before frowning back at his boys. “Now I’m not so sure they’re ready.”

Fantastic. I seriously thought I’d whooped ass. Here all I’d done was beat up a bunch of high schoolers. My eyes took in their tall, burly forms…and baby faces. I groaned, humiliated. Maybe I could take on Justin Bieber for an encore. Their movements during our rumble had been more choreographed than reflexive—like they’d spent a lot of time sparring and very little time in actual brawls. That should have been my first stupid clue. I limped toward my shifting victim.

Mohawk growled hideously, but Aric’s glower immediately silenced his audible protests.

My head shot toward Aric; I was confused as to why he continued to defend me. He didn’t know me. I was the protector. I didn’t need protecting. Still, if I abandoned his pack mate, it would take nothing short of a jackhammer to free him.

My good hand reached cautiously toward one of Mohawk’s long spikes. “Don’t move. It will only take a moment.” I concentrated briefly and shifted him out of the concrete as easily as if he’d lain in a puddle of water. Mohawk jerked, staring at his arms in terror, as if he’d expected to be amputated.

Aric tilted his head, examining me closely. I grasped my injured arm defensively, convinced he’d already labeled me a freak. So when he gave me an approving nod, it caught me by surprise. And so did the kindness in his voice. “Thank you for releasing him.”

Mohawk’s outrage masked the drying scent of blood and garbage from the Dumpster. “Why are you thanking her? She could have killed us!”

Aric faced him. Immediately the Taylor Lautner poser dropped his gaze and moved back. “If she wanted to kill you, she would have ripped off your heads or torn out your hearts,” Aric hissed. “But she didn’t—even after you attacked without cause. Don’t blame her because she tried to defend herself!”

Aric’s protectiveness heated my face with humility. I wasn’t used to anyone watching out for me, and I knew it was wrong to want it—especially from a male. I growled, furious and overwhelmed with the need to explain. “I wouldn’t have touched any of you if you hadn’t jumped me. Never once did you ask me what happened!”

Aric moved away from his wolves and faced me again. “What did happen?”

I tightened my hold around my arm. “I was taking a cab home.” I glanced at the poor women who would never again watch the sun rise. “I smelled…death and leaped out of the cab to investigate. They were already like this when I found them.”

Aric pointed to the cabbie’s baseball cap on the littered ground. “Who does that belong to?”

My tigress made us notoriously vigilant and yet I hadn’t noticed the cap. Probably since I’d been preoccupied fighting for my life. “It’s the cabbie’s. He chased me, but then ran away when he saw their bodies.”

Aric turned to the black wolf. “Find him.”

The black wolf sniffed the cap and disappeared, becoming one with the night. The blasts of sirens inched closer, adding to my distress. My head jerked back to Aric. “Where is he going?”

“To find your driver. Otherwise, you may get blamed for the murders.” He frowned. “What’s wrong with your arm?”

“It’s dislocated.”

“I suspected as much. It’s hung limp since I saw you. Why haven’t you healed?”

I backed away, averting my gaze. “I mend at a human’s pace.”

Aric’s eyes widened slightly before he stalked toward the wolves. “Tell me what you smelled when you caught her scent.”

Tommy wrinkled his nose. “I don’t know. She smelled weird.”

Aric’s tone lowered an octave. “Did you scent any of the victims’ blood on her?”

The wolves exchanged glances, understanding softening their deep-set scowls. “No,” Mohawk replied. “But she stood right next to them—and she’s not human.”

Aric loomed over them. “You attacked an innocent bystander! Just because her scent is unfamiliar does not make her your enemy.” He motioned toward my arm. “Look at her. Her body has not healed. Had you cast a fatal blow you would have ended her life.” Aric shook his head and scoffed. “There is no excuse for your actions.”

The young wolves dropped their heads. “Sorry, Aric,” they mumbled.

“It’s not me you owe an apology to!”

The young wolves sought to kill me, and continued to disrespect me. While I didn’t like it, their actions didn’t surprise me. What I couldn’t comprehend was why Aric cared.

I shuffled toward him. “It’s fine, Aric.”

Aric faced me at the sound of his name. “No. It’s not.”

The sirens boomed louder. Several SUVs and a few police cars screeched to a halt across the street. Blue and red lights flooded the alley like an old seventies disco, sliding over the corpses and coloring their gray skin a sickly lavender. The scene reminded me of the many crime dramas on TV. Yet it was too much to hope that the credits would roll, the show would end, and the crew would remove the synthetic bodies for future episodes. These women had no future. Their lives had been viciously robbed in their prime.

My eyes skimmed over their ruined outfits. Their style of dress and trendy shoes told me they’d taken pride in their appearance. Now, their sunken faces would haunt me forever.

It’s not fair.

“Are you all right?” Aric asked quietly.

I nodded, more so he wouldn’t sniff my lie.

The soft hammering of feet awakened my tigress. Weres of all species rushed the alley. They skidded to a stop upon seeing me. “She’s with me,” Aric warned when they attempted to circle me.

I didn’t know what position Aric held, but everyone there did. They moved away, careful to give me space. Two escorted Tommy out while the others gathered around the bodies.

Time to go.

I limped backward, jumping when I accidently stepped on a sharp piece of cracked mortar. Aric retrieved Taran’s shoe and handed it to me. It would have been an awesome Cinderella moment if my back claws hadn’t shredded through the leather and the heel didn’t have the wolf’s eye still attached.

My stomach rolled. “Um. You keep it.”

Aric glanced at the pierced eyeball. “Ah. Right.” He sighed. “My students will pay for your things—”

“Don’t worry about it.” I removed Taran’s other shoe and tossed it into the Dumpster. It hit the lid with a loud clang. I then padded toward the exit, stopping only to grab my battered phone and purse.

“Where are you going, miss?”

Aric’s question surprised me. It also sounded odd being addressed as “miss,” especially by him. “My name is Celia.” I pushed my hair out of my eyes to get one last look at him. “I’m going home.”

Aric approached slowly. I guess he worried about frightening me. But I wasn’t scared, just freaked out by his presence and all the remaining adrenaline from the fight.

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