a cursed bloodline-Page 50

The group returned to the table and resumed their card game, passing what remained of the tequila. I didn’t want to see the damage they’d inflicted yet I realized Misha had summoned me for a reason. I cringed. The gashes dug deep enough to expose his ribs. His head slumped lifelessly against his chest, and he wheezed with every breath.

Without thinking, I reached to touch him. I couldn’t feel his skin directly, but I did sense a twinge of something, like skimming the surface of water.

“Celia,” he rasped.

“Yes, Misha. I’m here.” I tried to push his hair back. And while I felt that strange sensation, I failed to move the matted strands from his face.

He spoke between harsh gasps. “I fear…my time…has come.”

My tears moistened the dirty barn floor. “Don’t say that. We’re close. You have to stay strong.”

His eyes shot open, illuminating in that horrible shade of green. “Tell me you love me.”

I barely recognized his voice. When I didn’t answer he winked and bared his famously wicked grin. “Please,” he added, a little less psychotically.

Under the circumstances, I shouldn’t have laughed, but I did as I continued to weep. The hint of humor proved he wasn’t too far gone. “I love you, Misha.”

He smiled again. And although his eyes continued to shine in that sickly green, they held the same tenderness he’d often demonstrated in my presence. “Tell me you’ll be my bride.”

My arms encircled his neck. Dirt and salt from his sweat masked his normal scent of sex and chocolate. “Don’t push it, Misha.”

Misha chuckled and rubbed his face against my hair. “Will you join me soon?”

“Yes, your family and I are coming for you.”

His body trembled. “Will there be blood?”

I glanced from the whip lying carelessly on the filthy floor to the weres, who kept their guns close to their sides. “Yes, Misha. There will be blood.”

Chapter Twenty-one

The doors crashed open. The woman who stomped in brought the weres scrambling to their feet. She stood about my height, with curly brown hair down to her shoulders, eyes as black as midnight, and dark olive skin marred by years of sun exposure. A soiled T-shirt and cotton skirt covered her stout figure over bare legs. Varicosities raked her shins like old tree roots, and worn flip-flops encased her dirty feet. Anyone human would have mistaken her for an average peasant woman, but I wasn’t human and neither was Misha.

I released Misha and swerved to face her, only to tense from the vile odor of magic seeping from her pores. The weres rushed to bow before her. It might have seemed comical for someone like her to intimidate such cruel-looking males. Yet I recognized this woman was nothing to laugh at.

Her voice was gruff and her lips pursed in displeasure. “¿Porque no le han dado de comer al vampiro?”

“Lo siento, Lucinda.”

Rather than explaining why Misha hadn’t been fed, the largest wereox apologized and raced toward the pigpen. He snatched a medium-sized hog by his hind leg and dragged the shrieking creature across the dirt floor.

My head jerked toward Misha. “They’re feeding you pig’s blood?”

Degradation hollowed Misha’s stare. “Go.”

“¿Quien esta aqui?” Lucinda scanned the area surrounding Misha, demanding to know who was there.

She’d sensed me and stalked to where I waited.

While she didn’t know precisely where I stood, she was close enough. She glowered at me just slightly to the left. My tigress already hated her. The growl that escaped me was meant to challenge and frighten.

It failed to have the effect I wanted. The edges of Lucinda’s mouth curved into a sadistic smile. “Te veo luego, puta,” she said right before jabbing her finger into my sternum.

I gasped for breath, clutching my chest as a strong hand seized my lung. Tye shook me and yelled my name. It took a few more coughs before I could breathe again. His eyes fired with anger. “What the hell happened? You stopped breathing!”

The vampires around us stilled, waiting for my response, seemingly more furious than ever. “She squeezed the air out of my lung,” I answered, thinking aloud. “She told me she’d see me soon.”

“Who?”

“Lucinda—a witch. She knew I was there, but she couldn’t see me.”

Tye swore and paced the room. “I was hoping she wouldn’t be involved.”

“You know her?”

“Not personally, but she’s bad news. She was one of the thirteen strongest dark witches in Central and South America.”

“What do you mean was?”

Agnes adjusted her tiny librarian glasses. “She’s one of only four who still reign. The others have been killed, captured, or gone into hiding. Her daughter—who was almost as powerful—died recently.”

I continued to rub my chest. “Really? How’d she die?”

“Your sister Taran killed her.”

I stopped rubbing my chest. “Oh, this can’t be good.”

Agnes worked on rebraiding her hair, something she often did when agitated. “Her daughter was Veronica, the witch who helped the Tribe raise Ihuaivulu.”

I suddenly felt nauseated. “And you’re telling me Veronica—who was strong enough to awaken a seven-headed fire-breathing demon after it had been asleep for a millennium—was still not as powerful as her mother?”

Agnes started on her other braid. “Mmm-hmm.”

Hank leaned forward. “You saw the master, didn’t you?”

I tried to relax my breathing. “Yes…he’s really sick. We have to get to him fast or he may not make it.”

“Who has him?” Tye asked.

“A few weres, but I could also scent traces of vampires.” I shook my head thinking back to their torture of Misha. “Lucinda seems to be the one in charge. The wereoxen guarding Misha are scared to death of her.”

Edith tugged the edges of her plaid skirt. “But they’re feeding the master, aren’t they?”

She wanted me to give her hope. They all did. I debated whether I should tell them, but ultimately it wasn’t fair to keep information from them. “They’re forcing him to drink pig blood.”

The she-vamps screamed and collapsed to their knees, clawing at their faces and wailing. The males locked arms and shook each other violently, hollering with fury and sinking their fangs into their arms.