a cursed bloodline-Page 21

Celia?

I forced myself to ignore Aric’s voice and nodded to Danny. His shoulders drooped. He’d likely hoped I’d change my mind. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a folded sheet of paper. “I ask you, Great Protector, to break our bond.”

I bit into my lip so hard it bled. Tears blurred my vision making it hard to read the words on the page. “Ego scisco…vos valde…patronus ut…effrego nostrum…vinculum.”

“By my blood break our bond.”

“Per meus…cruor effrego…nostrum vinculum.”

“By my spirit break our bond.”

“Per…meus…phasmatis…effrego nostrum…vinculum.”

“By my will break our bond.”

“Per meus…mos effrego…nostrum vinculum.”

“Let the love of my love inhabit me no more.”

My cries ripened into painful sobs. Every word, every syllable hurt to say. “Permissum…diligo of meus…diligo…commoror mihi…haud…magis.”

“Let our spirits go their separate ways.”

“Permissum…nostrum…phasmatis…vado…nostrum…separate…mores.”

“Let our love no longer be one.”

“P-p-p-p-ermissum…nostrum diligo…exsisto…haud…diutius…unus.”

Lightning flashed in the garage. My flesh ripped away in one vicious pull and my world exploded in pain. Every nerve in my body screamed. And so did Aric.

Celia! Celia! Nooooooo!

His screams echoed in my head and morphed into the pained howl of a wolf. My tigress roared in agony. Needles, ablaze with fire, punctured my form, searing and piercing my organs. My muscles ripped from my body, piece by torturous piece.

My screeching burned my ears yet Aric’s anguished cries thundered above my wailing. A chilled wind whipped around me, lifting me off the ground and thrashing me against the floor. The pain was unbearable. I couldn’t endure it and yet I did, until my rib cage was cracked open and my heart was clawed from my chest.

Darkness covered me. It lifted in time for me to see the sun set against the garage wall. My face rested in Danny’s lap. I was crying, cold, shaking, and alone.

“Aric’s dead.”

Chapter Nine

Danny stroked my soaked hair. “No, Celia. He’s not.”

“He is. I…killed him.”

Danny sat me up. My bindings had been cut, but I couldn’t support myself. He held me tight. “The bond broke and you felt the effects of losing him. As his Warrior, I can still sense his presence.”

He lifted me and carried me outside. His body was warm, while I remained unbelievably cold. I felt lighter—hollow—as if only my skeleton remained. Yet the loneliness was worse. It scratched at my decrepit bones, searching for where my heart had once beaten only to discover a cavity of gaping emptiness. I shuddered, mourning my loss and fearing I’d never again be whole.

Danny’s eyes took me in. “My God, Celia. What have I done?”

We reached the gate and he sighed. “Celia, I don’t think I can jump us both over without hurting you. Can you manage?”

My mind wandered back to my baby. “Can I manage?” I repeated aloud. “I guess I’ll have to for both of us.”

Danny answered me, believing I meant him. “Don’t worry about me, Celia. I’ll get over.” He placed me on the ground and graciously hung on to me. My legs wobbled like rubbery strands and it took me a few moments to straighten. I lacked the breath and energy to shift, so I moved a few steps back and leapt over.

My jump lacked grace and I had to roll to break my fall, unable to stay on my feet. Danny crashed next to me with a loud grunt. I scrambled to his side, my voice trembling. “Are you okay?”

He held on to his side. “I broke a couple of ribs, but I’ll be fine by the time we reach Misha’s.”

“Danny, you’re not taking me back to Misha’s. I can’t risk anyone seeing us together—including the vamps.” I searched my pockets. Misha always snuck money into my clothes. Usually I snuck it back into his house, but I hadn’t worn this jacket in a few days. Sure enough, there were several hundred dollar bills. I shoved them into Danny’s hand. “Here. Go to a hotel, shower, and buy some new clothes.”

He shook his head. “I can’t leave you, Celia. You look…terrible.”

A couple of tears leaked out. “Believe it or not, I feel worse. But I have to go on, Danny…I have to.” The talk was for both of us except neither of us seemed very encouraged.

Danny pulled me tight against his side and kissed the top of my head. “Be careful, Celia.”

I nodded numbly and backed away, forcing my legs into a sprint. My movements were awkward at best, like a newborn foal rising to stand. My limbs no longer felt like my own, more like strange appendages on a foreign body.

I tried to focus. My tigress had always made me light on my feet. This time I felt as if I trekked on air, sensing nothing but the breeze against my cold cheeks. I forced myself to hit the ground harder so I would feel something besides the implausible bareness. It didn’t work, and I feared nothing would.

My speed and all the grace of my inner beast remained. It took me mere minutes to reach the stone wall surrounding Misha’s compound. I didn’t slow down and used my speed to propel me. I landed and kept going, maintaining my pace until the excruciating cries of my sisters ground me to a stumbling halt.

Oh, God.

I staggered toward the guesthouse, terror stabbing my skull with each step closer to the door. I was too late. Someone was dead. Anara had struck again.

My hand shook violently as I reached for the knob and threw open the heavy door. I lurched forward, gripping the granite counter to keep me on my feet. Koda sat on the chocolate-covered love seat, his face shiny with tears, holding Shayna, who was beyond hysterical. Taran and Emme clutched each other on the opposite couch, where Bren continued to lie in a comatose state, crying so hard their bodies heaved with each wretched sob.

My sisters and Koda looked up, their eyes widening when they saw me. For a moment no one moved. They just stared. Shayna was the first to react, rising slowly before rushing to me and throwing her arms around my neck. “Oh my God. We thought you were dead!” She kissed my face and bawled against me. Taran and Emme encircled me, speaking and screaming through their choked moans.