Sealed with a Curse Page 8

I watched them until they disappeared. “I barely looked at them.”

Bren rubbed at his dark scruffy beard as he laughed. “Trust me, babe. Even your subtle glances are scary as hell.”

He took a long pull on his beer and draped his arm around me. I leaned against him. “Is Danny coming?”

“No. He’s in Santa Barbara at some stick-up-your-ass science convention, trying to get laid.”

I quirked a brow. “You can get laid at a science convention?”

Bren chuckled. “I could. I don’t think Dan can. He’s trying to bang some biochemist working in the research lab next to his. For his sake, I hope she’s as hot as he claims. His last lay could scare Christ off the cross.”

I almost choked on my beer. Bren and Danny were the ultimate odd couple. Danny was human, neat, book smart, and hardworking. Bren was a lone werewolf, a slob, liked porn, and never woke before noon. And yet they remained the best of friends. Bren would take a bullet for Danny.

Bren grinned as he watched me take another a sip of my Corona. “It’s good to see you out, babe. It’s been too long.”

I shrugged. “I needed to get my mind off things.” Too much laundry, stress at work, crazy vampires hiding in bushes waiting to eat us…

“No kidding,” Taran muttered.

Bren narrowed his eyes at me. “Celia, you’re not seriously thinking about getting involved with all that vampire shit, are you?”

“How did you…” Shayna suddenly felt the need to concentrate on her martini. “Shayna! You told him?”

Bren chuckled. “I called while you were in the shower. All I did was ask her what was new and she sang like a canary.” He shook his head. “The master vamp a**holes are trying to off each other. Let them. But keep your skinny ass out of it. Nothing good ever comes from playing with leeches.”

I straightened. “I’m not playing. I’m totally serious.”

Bren’s typically jovial spirit vanished. “So is this bloodlust shit. If some vamp is f**ked-up enough to release that poison, she’s not going to care who gets in the way.”

“But isn’t that more of a reason to stop her?” I argued.

“The hell it is. Leave that to pack weres. It’s their goddamn duty to guard the world from all the mystical evil shit.”

I didn’t agree with Bren, but I also didn’t want us to fight. And neither did Emme. She tugged on Bren’s “I heart Tahoe babes” T-shirt. “Guess what, Bren. Celia has a boyfriend.”

I sighed. “Misha is not my boyfriend.”

Emme’s jaw dropped. “I meant that wolf you met on the beach.”

“Oh…him. He’s not…I mean, I don’t even know him.” I squirmed a little, wondering why my body suddenly felt so hot.

Taran’s all-knowing smirk inched its way across her face. God, I hated that smirk. “No. But you want to. Really want to.” She danced her eyebrows. “Don’t you, Ceel?”

I stiffened. “I’m not sure I know what you mean.” Bren laughed out loud. I couldn’t blame him. I was a horrible liar. Discussing a male I’d only been able to fantasize about bordered on pathetic—considering my sisters frequently enjoyed the company of real-life suitors.

Shayna shifted her weight excitedly in her seat. Her face beamed, her butt bounced, and her finger pointed directly in my face. “You’ve been running every day, twice a day, since seeing that wolf. Don’t think we’ve been falling for that, ‘Ooh, I have to go shopping again. Does anyone need anything from the store?’” She nibbled on her lip. “So…have you seen him?”

“No.” Despite my marathon-length runs, I hadn’t caught one whiff of that wolf’s addicting aroma. Even if I had, I wouldn’t have known what to do. Mostly I just wanted to see him again. And hoped maybe he would approach me.

My faced burned hotter, especially when my sisters grinned my way. It seemed strange how the mere thought of the wolf brought an easy smile to my face.

Taran winked at me. “Ceel, we have to find that big, bad wolf.”

“Bren! What the hell are you doing?” Bren’s boss screamed at him from the bar.

“I’m on break, Paul!” Bren shouted back.

“Break’s over, dipshit. Get back to work!”

Bren rolled his eyes and returned to his station at the bar. Immediately a cluster of women with horrendous boob jobs swarmed him. If Bren weren’t so popular with the ladies, Paul would have fired him years ago.

I’d barely finished my third beer when a small pack of wolves in their human forms entered the club. Every vertebra in my spine stiffened, hoping he walked among them. My shoulders slumped with disappointment when my wolf failed to appear. Still, I couldn’t relax. The powerhouse pack tingled my senses like a shock wave.

The wolves stalked across the crush of dancers toward the bar, shoulder-to-shoulder, moving smoothly as one. The human patrons perceptibly sensed the wolves’ dominance at a primal level. Some gawked; others cuddled closer to their partners. Most scrambled out of their way. A few of the brave straightened, growing wary of the sudden danger.

Bloodlust, supernatural stalkers, and werewolves. What was next? Locusts and four horsemen? Taran’s irises briefly turned white. “Celia, three weres are coming toward us.”

“I know. I picked up their scent.” My tigress instinctively growled. The wolves’ collective power had been strong enough to change Taran’s eye color and send my tigress’s territorial instincts into overdrive.

“Good grief, they’re huge. Are they the same ones from the beach?” Emme asked, sounding hopeful.

I shook my head. “No, they don’t look familiar.”

The weres didn’t need to do more than glance at the guys sitting across from us, and the six guys crowding the booth vacated fast. The weres claimed the space and watched us closely once they picked up our scent, ignoring Bren’s watchful gaze from the bar.

Weres didn’t typically attack, but that didn’t mean I’d turn my back on them. They were tall, over six feet, with the large chests and lean muscles typical of wolves. One was Native American, with long, loose black hair that hung past his shoulder blades. He was good-looking in an “I’ll rip your throat out in one bite” kind of way. But his most prominent feature was his eyes. They reminded me of the start of a dangerous storm, a turbulent brown that bordered on black. The were sitting next to him was Asian, possibly Japanese. He had short black hair and a thin, well-trimmed goatee. And unlike his friends, who wore jeans and T-shirts, he’d dressed in slacks and a button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He was handsome in a stoic way. His presence held a sense of calm, but his dark almond eyes remained vigilant.

The third wolf reminded me of a rock star. If he were on a stage, girls would’ve thrown their panties at him. His messy blond, spiky hair must have required a lot of hair gel to perfect. He carried a definite edge, but his face possessed a boyish charm. I glanced around to see what had made him smile. I knew we were in trouble when I caught Emme blushing and smiling back.

Oh, crap.

Part of me wanted to grab her and run when he approached our table. Instead, I remained still, despite the rise in my hackles and the growl rumbling in my throat. To add to my unease, the other two weres exchanged glances and followed.

“Hi,” he said to Emme. “I’m Liam, Liam Smith.” He nodded toward the Asian. “This is Gem, and that ray of sunshine over there is Miakoda.”

“I go by Koda,” the Native American said. He shot Liam a snarl that caused my claws to protrude, but Liam ignored him.

Emme smiled so sweetly at Liam, I feared the poor sap might need insulin. “I’m Emme Wird. These are my sisters, Celia, Taran, and Shayna.”

No one said anything at first. Koda, Gem, and I were too busy sizing each other up. If it came down to it, I thought Bren and I could take them in a fight.

Liam remained oblivious to the tension. “Would you like to dance with me, Emme?” he asked, extending his hand.

“Sure.” She strolled off before I could stop her.

Shayna, who could sense the growing strain between Koda and me, intervened. “How about a dance, big guy?” she asked.

This broke Koda’s eye contact with me, and he seemed genuinely surprised. “Are you talking to me?”

Shayna’s grin lit up her face. “Well, duh. I’m looking right at you, dude.”

It wouldn’t have shocked me if no one had ever asked Koda to dance before. He was a scary mo-fo of epic proportions. Shayna wriggled to the edge of the seat to leave, but not before I shoved the toothpick from her martini into her hand. She giggled and kissed my cheek. “Don’t worry, Ceel,” she whispered, glancing at Koda from the corner of her eyes. “I’ve got this one.”

Koda moved aside to let her out of the booth. Shayna grabbed his hand and led him out to the floor like a well-trained poodle rather than a two-hundred-and-fifty-pound werewolf. I couldn’t believe it. Taming someone like that was impressive even for her.

I turned to Taran, who had been unusually quiet. Gem slid into the booth next to her. They stared into each other’s eyes, but not in a challenging way. Most guys gawked at Taran. I was used to that. Yet the way Gem stared at her wasn’t sexual; it was tender, and it put me on edge. I couldn’t understand what the hell was going on, but thought it best to run interference.

“So, what kind of name is Gem, anyway?” I asked, trying to rip his eyes off my sister.

“My nickname is Gemini. My real name is Tomo Hamamatsu.”

“Is that your astrological sign or something?”

He returned his gaze to Taran. “Something like that,” he muttered.

Taran said nothing. Hell, she barely breathed.

I pinched the bridge of my nose. Another fun night out with the girls.

I enjoyed a good paranormal romance as much as the next gal, but there was only so much lovey-dovey crap I could take. After fifteen minutes of watching Taran and Gemini reenact the last few seconds of Ghost, I left to take a seat at the bar.

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