Sealed with a Curse Page 2

“Fascinating,” he said in a way that clearly meant I wasn’t. The feather quill didn’t come with an eraser. And the judge obviously didn’t appreciate my making him mess up his book. He dipped his pen into his little inkwell and scribbled out what he’d just written before addressing Taran. “Taran Wird, position?”

“I can release magic into the forms of fire and lightning—”

“Very well, witch.” The vamp scrawled.

“I’m not a witch, a**hole.”

The judge threw his plume on the table, agitated. Judge Malika fixed her frown on Taran. “What did you say?”

Nobody flashed a vixen grin better than Taran. “I said, ‘I’m not a witch. Ass. Hole.’”

Emme whimpered, ready to hurl from the stress. Shayna giggled and threw an arm around Taran. “She’s just kidding, dude!”

No. Taran didn’t kid. Hell, she didn’t even know any knock-knock jokes. She shrugged off Shayna, unwilling to back down. She wouldn’t listen to Shayna. But she would listen to me.

“Just answer the question, Taran.”

The muscles on Taran’s jaw tightened, but she did as I asked. “I make fire, light—”

“Fire-breather.” Captain Personality wrote quickly.

“I’m not a—”

He cut her off. “Shayna Wird?”

“Well, dude, I throw knives—”

“Knife thrower,” he said, ready to get this little meet-and-greet over and done with.

Shayna did throw knives. That was true. She could also transform pieces of wood into razor-sharp weapons and manipulate alloys. All she needed was metal somewhere on her body and a little focus. For her safety, though, “knife thrower” seemed less threatening.

“And you, Emme Wird?”

“Um. Ah. I can move things with my mind—”

“Gypsy,” the half-wit interpreted.

I supposed “telekinetic” was too big a word for this idiot. Then again, unlike typical telekinetics, Emme could do more than bend a few forks. I sighed. Tigress, fire-breather, knife thrower, and Gypsy. We sounded like the headliners for a freak show. All we needed was a bearded lady. That’s what happens when you’re the bizarre products of a backfired curse.

Misha glanced at us quickly before stepping forward once more. “I will present Mr. Hank Miller and Mr. Timothy Brown as witnesses—” Taran exhaled dramatically and twirled her hair like she was bored. Misha glared at her before finishing. “I do not doubt justice will be served.”

Judge Zhahara Nadim, who resembled more of an Egyptian queen than someone who should be stuffed into a powdered wig, surprised me by leering at Misha like she wanted his head for a lawn ornament. I didn’t know what he’d done to piss her off; yet knowing we weren’t the only ones hated brought me a strange sense of comfort. She narrowed her eyes at Misha, like all predators do before they strike, and called forward someone named “Destiny.” I didn’t know Destiny, but I knew she was no vampire the moment she strutted onto the dais.

I tried to remain impassive. However, I really wanted to run away screaming. Short of sporting a few tails and some extra digits, Destiny was the freakiest thing I’d ever seen. Not only did she lack the allure all vampires possessed, but her fashion sense bordered on disastrous. She wore black patterned tights, white strappy sandals, and a hideous black-and-white polka-dot turtleneck. I guessed she sought to draw attention from her lime green zebra-print miniskirt. And, my God, her makeup was abominable. Black kohl outlined her bright fuchsia lips, and mint green shadow ringed her eyes.

“This is a perfect example of why I don’t wear makeup,” I told Taran.

Taran stepped forward with her hands on her hips. “How the hell is she a witness? I didn’t see her at the club that night! And Lord knows she would’ve stuck out.”

Emme trembled beside me. “Taran, please don’t get us killed!”

I gave my youngest sister’s hand a squeeze. “Steady, Emme.”

Judge Malika called Misha’s two witnesses forward. “Mr. Miller and Mr. Brown, which of you gentlemen would like to go first?”

Both “gentlemen” took one gander at Destiny and scrambled away from her. It was never a good sign when something scared a vampire. Hank, the bigger of the two vamps, shoved Tim forward.

“You may begin,” Judge Malika commanded. “Just concentrate on what you saw that night. Destiny?”

The four judges swiftly donned protective ear wear, like construction workers used, just as a guard flipped a switch next to the flat-screen. At first I thought the judges toyed with us. Even with heightened senses, how could they hear the testimony through those ridiculous ear guards? Before I could protest, Destiny enthusiastically approached Tim and grabbed his head. Tim’s immediate bloodcurdling screams caused the rest of us to cover our ears. Every hair on my body stood at attention. What freaked me out was he wasn’t the one on trial.

Emme’s fair freckled skin blanched so severely, I feared she’d pass out. Shayna stood frozen with her jaw open while Taran and I exchanged “oh, shit” glances. I was about to start the “let’s get the hell out of here” ball rolling when images from Tim’s mind appeared on the screen. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Complete with sound effects, we relived the night of David’s murder. Misha straightened when he saw David soar out of Taran’s window in flames, but otherwise he did not react. Nor did Misha blink when what remained of David burst into ashes on our lawn. Still, I sensed his fury. The image moved to a close-up of Hank’s shocked face and finished with the four of us scowling down at the blood and ash.

Destiny abruptly released the sobbing Tim, who collapsed on the floor. Mucus oozed from his nose and mouth. I didn’t even know vamps were capable of such body fluids.

At last, Taran finally seemed to understand the deep shittiness of our situation. “Son of a bitch,” she whispered.

Hank gawked at Tim before addressing the judges. “If it pleases the court, I swear on my honor I witnessed exactly what Tim Brown did about David Geller’s murder. My version would be of no further benefit.”

Malika shrugged indifferently. “Very well, you’re excused.” She turned toward us while Hank hurried back to his seat. “As you just saw, we have ways to expose the truth. Destiny is able to extract memories, but she cannot alter them. Likewise, during Destiny’s time with you, you will be unable to change what you saw. You’ll only review what has already come to pass.”

I frowned. “How do we know you’re telling us the truth?”

Malika peered down her nose at me. “What choice do you have? Now, which of you is first?”

CHAPTER 2

I gathered my sisters around me. “I’m going first. I can handle Destiny better than the rest of you.”

Taran wasn’t having any of it. “Screw that, Celia. I’ll go. It’s my fault we’re here. Besides, my badass shields will protect me from that fashion emergency.”

I wasn’t so sure, but I reluctantly nodded. Taran hugged us briefly before confronting Destiny. Emme grabbed my hand again for comfort. I gave her another little squeeze. Shayna didn’t need comforting. So long as I stayed strong, she wouldn’t panic.

I took a deep breath to calm my nerves. If Taran doesn’t do well, we’ll get the hell out of here or die trying.

Taran stepped forward, and once again the enthusiastic Destiny did, too. I stiffened when she touched Taran’s head. To my surprise, other than a little shudder, Taran didn’t react. A moment later, her memories of the night in question flashed on the screen.

We found our sister had an extremely graphic memory. The first image was innocent enough; it showed Taran and David dancing together at a club. When they entered David’s limo, things took an unexpected turn. Moaning, groaning, and grunting aside, there were some talents people shouldn’t know their sisters possessed. Emme buried her face in her hands. Shayna cringed. She glanced back and forth from the screen to me.

“Make it stop,” she pleaded.

Oh, honey, I wish I could. I was torn between gouging out my eyes and ripping the flat-screen off the wall to beat Taran with it. What was she thinking? This totally went against our “must not date anything that consumes blood” rule we made last year—the first time I caught her flirting with a vampire. I rubbed my face. Good heavens. It was bad enough to invite a vampire into our home, but to end up having her escapades broadcast like the finale of American Idol was so wrong.

The vampires seemed to enjoy the show. A few fanned their faces and shifted closer to their neighbors for a little cuddle time.

“Tell me when it’s over,” Emme whispered.

An uncomfortable length of time passed before we actually segued to the assault in Taran’s bedroom. I watched David roughly bind Taran’s hands with his tie and expose his fangs, which struck me as strange. This wasn’t foreplay. This was a predator immobilizing prey.

I raised an eyebrow at Shayna, who shook her head, equally confused. Vamps were never hostile to their victims. They didn’t have to be. Humans found them irresistible, and the experience supposedly proved orgasmic for both. Everyone in the courtroom remained mesmerized by the scene. I wasn’t. I tensed, knowing the moment that would seal our fate quickly approached.

On the screen, Taran yelled, “You bastard! Don’t you dare bite me!” The rows of vampires behind me hissed like a nest of angry serpents. Taran’s core flared blue and white before it catapulted a fireball into the aforementioned bastard. The next image showed me breaking down Taran’s door. My green eyes were wild and my long curly hair a mess from sleep. Yet it was the skimpy tank top and lace panties I’d worn that made me blush. I glanced at Misha, who gave me yet another appraising look-see.

My eyes narrowed. Is he flirting? No, of course not. He’s probably just hungry. Men don’t flirt with me. They race away screaming.

I returned my focus to the screen in time to watch myself wrench David up and heave him through the window. The onlookers gasped when they watched me touch his flaming form with my bare hands. Vampires hated fire. Fortunately, they also witnessed Emme and Shayna freeing Taran from her binds, proving they were uninvolved.

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