a cursed bloodline-Page 11

My eyes fixed on his as he spoke. “Makawee cut through the skin, in hopes that my eyes had survived.” I nodded, but said nothing. He tried to kiss my hands, but what remained of his lips was nothing more than tough and melted flesh. “I can’t blink or close them, so I have to moisten them and cover them with wet gauze to sleep. But I can see. I guess that’s more important.”

He obviously felt the need to explain. So I let him, and I linked my hands around his neck. God, I’d missed him. Aric fastened his strong arms around my waist. But as I melted against him, the faint song of wolves filled my ears. Something struck me in the shoulder, hard enough to break Aric’s hold. I stumbled back. Aric’s grip to my arm kept me from falling backward. To my absolute horror, Anara’s faint image appeared next to Aric’s. My blood turned to ice. He’d arrived to kill Aric.

“Perhaps I didn’t make myself clear,” Anara’s voice echoed in my head.

“No!”

Aric swerved around, growling. He’d scented my fear, but he failed to see Anara. He veered back to me. “Celia, what’s wrong?”

Anara examined him closely. “I can kill him now. Perhaps it might end his misery.” His glare cut back to me. “The decision is yours.”

My body plunged into survival mode, releasing my breath in rapid bursts. “You have to leave, Aric….I don’t want to see you anymore.”

Aric stiffened. “What?”

“Too much has happened to keep us apart. Don’t you see? We’re not meant for each other.”

Aric’s anger and hurt masked his ability to scent my lies. “Don’t say that! You can’t just give up on us. I love you.”

The song of wolves built into a crescendo. Anara’s menacing focus returned full force on Aric. My efforts hadn’t impressed him. So I bit the inside of my cheek and let loose. “There is no more us, Aric. Get out!”

Aric reached for me. I slapped his hands away. “Get out,” I sobbed. “You need to leave. You need to leave now!”

I’d expected Aric’s fury. Instead he became strangely quiet. “No. I’m not going anywhere.”

I shoved Aric hard, over and over again, Anara following us every step of the way. “I can’t be with you! I won’t be with you!”

My sobs threatened to choke me, but it was my hysterical screams that brought Misha and his vampires sweeping into my room like an avenging army. Martin and Emme rushed in behind them.

Misha covered me with a robe and hauled me away from Aric. I cried into my hands, humiliated and devastated by how I’d treated Aric.

And still Aric wanted me. Once more he reached for me, his head shaking with apparent shock and confusion. Martin held him back with a simple clasp of his shoulder. “It’s time to go, Aric.”

Aric slowly lowered his brutalized hands. “Please don’t do this,” his soul begged mine. “I love you.”

I gasped, trying to catch my breath, irresolute between leaping into his arms and sputtering harsher words to force him away.

“You said you’d never leave me,” he whispered.

I dug my claws through the thickness of the robe, digging into my flesh to keep me from collapsing. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry….

Martin led Aric away. He didn’t resist, but watched me until he disappeared around the corner. Anara’s presence lingered long enough to show me a glimpse of his satisfied face before disappearing like a passing breeze.

An Elder, a master vampire, and Aric—a royal among weres—in one room. And no one had sensed Anara. My God, how was I going to stop him?

One by one, the vampires left, seemingly bored now that the drama had concluded with no bloodshed. Misha held me close until my cries lessened to mere whimpers.

Emme stood near my bed. I couldn’t bear to look at her. It wasn’t just how I’d treated Aric, but also the spinelessness I’d shown before Anara. The pain I felt from his physical assault was nothing compared to the ache in my heart. I’d been many things in my young life: an orphan, a foster child, a delinquent, but never a coward.

“I hate you,” I hissed aloud.

The viciousness in my voice made both Misha and Emme tense. They exchanged glances. Emme walked slowly toward me. “Who are you talking to?” she asked. When I didn’t answer, she stroked my hair with her fingers. “Celia?”

Emme’s gentle touch disgusted me. I didn’t deserve kindness. I tore away from her and bounded into my bathroom, slamming the door hard enough to crack the frame. Once again, I threw up, although this time it had nothing to do with my pregnancy. It was, however, a reminder that this situation wasn’t solely about me. My baby depended on me to keep it together, and I’d be damned before I’d lie down and die.

After spending nearly half an hour getting cleaned up, I walked into the living room. Misha and Emme waited in silence. Misha should have been in his glory now that he believed Aric was out of my life. Instead he sat with his hands clasped in a praying position, something he often did when troubled. Emme kept her head lowered and fiddled nervously with the sleeve of her lavender sweater.

I rubbed at my face. “May I please have something to eat?”

Misha stood. “Whatever you wish,” he said softly. He kissed my head. I was grateful for his show of affection. Perhaps I wasn’t such a monster after all.

Emme approached me when he left and held tight to my hands. Her sweet face searched mine with sad eyes. “Celia, I don’t know what’s happening, but please promise me that if I can help, you’ll let me.”

I didn’t promise her anything. Instead I released her and sat on the soft chocolate couch, staring at the unlit fireplace. Emme sighed and ignited it with a flip of a switch then took a seat beside me. She waited with me until Chef arrived with an assortment of finger sandwiches and hot bowls of carrot soup. I ate what I could stomach and went back to sleep.

In my dream, I returned to the same field I’d been in with Misha. This time, I walked through the soft green grass with the Aric of my past. His long dark hair hung slightly over his brown eyes and his five o’clock shadow hugged the strong jaw of his sexy face. My fingertips slid down his cheek. His dark Irish skin was soft and whole once more. He smiled and kissed my hand.

“I love you, Aric.”

His smile faded and his dark brows creased into a deep frown. “No, you don’t.”