Sealed with a Curse Page 14

“Chai.” I chuckled when he blinked back at me. “It’s a tea made with spices, honey, and milk.”

He sipped it carefully. “Mmm. It’s good. Real good.” He took several long sips before his tongue swept over his top lip. “I like it.”

I stared at his mouth, wondering how soft his lips were and how good they would taste. A slow, sexy grin inched its way along his strong, stubbled jaw. His eyes sparkled as they met mine. I couldn’t remember how to breathe. “I really like it,” he murmured once more.

Say something. Anything. Tell him you love him and want to have his puppies. “Haven’t you ever had tea before?”

Shit.

Aric gave me a hard stare. “Real werewolves don’t drink tea.”

I threw back my head and laughed, only to wince when pain rumbled into my shoulder.

Aric came to my side, taking my mug and placing it on the table. He straightened my arm. “Maybe I can help.” His fingers massaged me through the thick cotton of my robe, edging their way slowly up my arm to my shoulder. My breath caught. Aric’s touch electrified me. His voice lowered in pitch. “Tell me if I’m being too rough.”

My heart pounded in my ears as his fingers pressed and swept over my sore muscles. But then I became aware of an added heartbeat.

His.

I watched his hands move along my arm, a deep heat building between us. My chest ached from lack of breath.

“Shhh, it’s okay. Try to relax, Celia. I promise not to hurt you.”

Visions of hearing his words whispered in the dark spun in my mind. I inhaled deeply, forcing myself to breathe. Slowly, oh, so slowly, my body began to accept his touch. My head fell back; I was hypnotized by the tremendous comfort he brought me. A purr mixed with a soft moan escaped my lips. Aric froze.

And that’s when I realized the side of my robe had fallen open.

Aric bolted upright as I jumped and yanked it closed. “Sorry—sorry.” He backed away, his breath hard and fast. “I should…go.” He rushed out, pausing at the door, but failing to look back at me. “Don’t forget what I said. You and your family will be safer if you leave Tahoe tonight.”

I watched the door shut behind him, slumping onto the couch when he started his Escalade seconds later. I opened my robe and stared at the girls, mortified and convinced the universe hated me. If he had to see my br**sts, why couldn’t it have been the perkier of the two?

I groaned as the phone rang, covering up when I saw who called.

“Hi, Misha,” I said before he spoke.

My sisters ambled in less than ten minutes later. I disconnected my call, surprised they were alone and lacking the smiles I would have expected after spending time with a sultry pack of wolves.

Taran tossed her purse aside and flopped onto the couch next to me. “Shit, Ceel. Where the hell have you been? Misha’s staff has been calling us nonstop.”

Emme and Shayna knelt in front of me. Emme placed her hand on my knee. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you since you walked out of The Hole. Why didn’t you answer your phone?”

“It sort of got damaged.” I frowned. “I sent you a text, Emme. Didn’t you get it?”

Emme shook her head. “I’m sorry, Celia. My battery was low. I left my phone charging upstairs.”

“Okay. But never mind me; what happened with your wolves?”

Shayna grinned, but her smile lacked its typical glee. “Dude, Koda and his friends rushed out of the club shortly after you did.”

My eyes widened although I probably knew the reason. “They did?”

Shayna nodded. “Koda got a call while we were slow dancing. It was strange; a moon appeared on the screen, but he didn’t answer it. He just grabbed Liam and Gemini and they took off.” She shrugged. “I thought maybe he liked me, but he didn’t even bother to say good-bye.”

At least he didn’t run off at the sight of your boobs.

Emme crinkled her nose. “Did you call Bren? He’s been worried. Especially once he realized Misha’s vampires were trying to find you.”

“Ah. No.”

Taran wiped the mascara beneath her eyes with her fingertips, then gestured to the cordless phone in my hand. “Then who were you on the phone with?”

“Misha. I’m going to help him kill Zhahara.”

My comment hit Taran like a physical slap. Her blue eyes fired with anger as her head whipped toward me. “Like hell you are!”

I let out a breath. “Taran, I just got off the phone with Misha. Bloodlust is spreading like fire. He’s been forced to kill again.”

“Well, sucks to be him.”

I shook my head. “You don’t get it.”

Taran jumped to her feet. “I don’t have to get it. This is bullshit!”

I rose and slipped off my cozy bathrobe, revealing the bruises to my shoulder, arms, and back. My entire right side resembled the continent of South America, each contusion highlighting a different country. My sisters screamed. Loudly. Emme stumbled to her feet in her rush to heal me.

“Oh, my goodness. What happened to you?”

“I found the big, bad wolf.”

Emme screamed again. “Your boyfriend did this to you?”

I sighed. “No, Emme. His students did.” And he’s not my boyfriend…but I wish he could be.

I explained everything after Emme healed me, leaving the flashing-the-werewolf part out.

Taran paced back and forth across our wood floor. “Look. I’m sorry about those women and all. That seriously has to be the worst way to die. But your wolf has a point. This is so not our problem.”

“He’s not my wolf.” I stared at my fingertips. I had to scrub them to get all the blood off. “And that blonde…God, she looked so much like you, Emme.” My heart clenched as I remembered. “She could have been you.”

Shayna clasped her hands over her mouth. Taran swallowed hard. And Emme—poor Emme—didn’t move.

“I’m going to Misha’s house tonight. I was just waiting for you to get home.”

Taran’s leopard stilettos tapped the wood floor until she met me face-to-face. “Not without us you’re not.”

I suspected Misha was rich, like all master vampires, but when we pulled onto his property, I didn’t expect to drive almost a mile just to reach the front gates.

“Damn,” Taran muttered when I finally stopped our Subaru.

The exterior of the massive compound appeared to be surrounded by a tall stone wall. Gargoyle heads protruded randomly from the barricade. Their snouts spewed water, but in the darkness they appeared to drip blood. I could barely see the house from where we waited; the trees lining the driveway blocked my view. Maybe it was the gargoyles or the thickening clouds overhead, but I suddenly had second thoughts.

I cracked my window, hoping for an intercom so I wouldn’t have to leave the safety of the car. I scented two vampires. One of them eyed us suspiciously through my window. The other assumed a stance directly behind our SUV. If he thought I wouldn’t run him over, he was wrong.

“State your business,” the vampire to my left spat.

“Hey, dude,” Shayna greeted him from the backseat. “We’re here to see Misha. He invited us over.”

This made the vampire smile. “For dinner?”

This was not the night to piss me off. I rolled my window completely down and yanked the idiot closer—by his throat. “No, we’re here to help save your master’s life,” I snapped. “So either you open the gate or you explain to Misha why you’re missing your arms and your buddy has my tire marks running up his chest.”

“Let them through,” a disembodied voice commanded. I realized the gargoyles were more than decorative features. Someone watched us from strategically placed surveillance cameras in each.

I released my grip on the vampire’s neck. He hissed threateningly, but stepped back to let us pass. “Pansy-ass bastard!” Taran yelled as we drove through the gate.

Anger extinguished my fear, and now my inner beast prowled, restless to prove herself, but as I entered the property, my trepidation returned once more. Blue slate lined the double-wide driveway. We crossed over a stone bridge before finally circling an enormous fountain. Water cascaded over the beautiful stone waterfall and into the fountain’s pool. I drove most of the way around the circle and parked facing the exit in case we needed a quick escape. We stepped out to the monstrosity Misha called home.

The exterior of Misha’s compound resembled a well-manicured park, and the house was a three-story, Mountain Craftsman–style masterpiece. The soaring wood trusses at the entry and art glass doors drew me to the rustic elegance. The rooflines were layered with deep eaves and ornately carved gables. The foundation of the house appeared to be stacked stone, and the facade was either cedar shake or timber. I shook my head as I gawked at the porch supports built with stone bases and massive hewn-wood columns. Crap, did he take down a forest to build it?

“Dude,” Shayna whispered. “This has to be a lodge. He can’t possibly live here.”

I couldn’t blame Shayna for thinking that. There must’ve been a lot of money to be made among the bloodsucking elite.

Petro rushed down the front stairs as I stepped out of the car. A few of his family trailed behind him. My God, he looked awful. Dark circles shadowed his eyes, and perspiration drizzled down the sides of his face. He hurried to my side and gripped my hands. “My brother seeks to destroy Zhahara.”

“I know, Petro. That’s why I’m here.”

His jaw slackened before a glimmer of hope flashed across his terrified face. “Will you help him, Celia?” He glanced back at my sisters. “Will all of you?” Tears welled in his eyes. “Misha cannot defeat such an opponent alone, but he considers me weak and refuses my help.”

I took in Petro’s crumbling state. It was a wonder he could stand with how badly his anxiety battered his small form.

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