Shayna’s deep blue eyes widened as she took in Hank. “Em…where have you been? We left you a bunch of messages telling you Celia was in trouble.”
“I know. I’m so sorry.” Emme reached her hands out to heal me, encasing my trembling form with her soft yellow light. “We hurried back as soon as we knew.”
Every menacing stare shot toward Hank. A spark of white and blue fire sizzled over Taran’s head. “Oh, hell no.”
Hank ignored us and focused solely on Misha. “Emme has been with me, Master. We wanted some privacy so we silenced our phones.”
Misha had Hank by the throat before we could blink, dangling him several feet off the ground and shaking him with every word he hissed. “Do you find me so beneath you, you may disregard me at your leisure?”
My larynx may not have been completely crushed, but Hank’s sure was. He could barely spit out an apology. “Of course not, Master. Please forgive me.”
Misha’s eyes flickered to Emme before returning to Hank. “Did you harm her?”
Emme’s palms shot up and her fair skin darkened to red. “Of course not. Please let him go, Misha.”
Taran rounded on her, blue and white flames sizzling in waves along her arms. “Forget that asshole and worry about your sister. We’ve just spent the last hour removing glass from her back. Now for shit’s sake work your mojo and heal her!”
Emme’s soft green eyes glistened with unshed tears. I’d never seen Taran so angry or aggressive toward Emme before.
Hank snarled, a rare feat considering the purple tinge working its way up to his hairline. “Don’t talk to her that way.”
Misha didn’t seem happy Hank could still speak. He gave Hank’s throat another squeeze, ignoring Emme’s audible gasps.
Air fizzed out of Hank’s nose. Shayna glanced nervously at him. “Hank, I’d keep your mouth shut if I were you.”
I cleared my throat. “Um, Misha, I’d really like my face back. Could you stop choking Hank so Emme can concentrate?”
Misha flung Hank out the door. Emme clasped her hand over her mouth as Misha stalked past her. He cranked the hot water into the bath. “I will have clothes and food brought to you. Later this evening, if you are well enough, I would like a word with you.”
Sure, can’t wait. “Okay, Misha.” He kissed my head and left without further incident, although I couldn’t fail to notice the hesitancy in his steps.
Emme approached me under Taran’s watchful glare. Taran’s fire had died down enough so the mansion wouldn’t burn to cinders, but the tension around her curvy figure was hot enough to scorch.
Emme bowed her head, her honey-blond hair falling around her face. “I’m sorry, Celia. If I knew you were hurt I never would have—”
“Forget it, Emme. I’m fine.” I stared at my injuries in the mirror. “This is going to hurt, isn’t it?”
Emme nibbled on her bottom lip. “Since I have to readjust the bones in your face…a little.”
Emme lied. It was torture. Pure, unadulterated, beat-me-with-a-battle-axe-and-stab-me-in-the-face torture. We all jumped at the sick, crunching sound my cheekbones made when they realigned. And although I think Emme tried to quickly lead my nose back home, the agonizing pain lingered. My scream woke the dead—or at least every vamp in the house. Snot trickled down my face like a faucet in time for Misha to charge back in.
I smeared all the nasal contents across my face in my failed attempt to wipe. “Hi,” I muttered.
Liz gagged. “Is she healed?”
Shayna narrowed her eyes and reached for one of the toothpicks she kept in her pocket, ready to convert it into a long, deadly needle and stab Liz with it. “Well, duh,” she said. “Can’t you see how much better she looks?”
“No. I can’t.” Liz made an irritated gesture with her hand. “Wash her. She looks nasty.”
As much as Shayna appeared ready to stab her, she managed to clasp Taran’s wrists before she shut Liz up permanently. Aside from surrounding herself with blue and white flames, Taran couldn’t gather her magic without the use of her hands.
“Now, Liz, is this any way to address your mistress?” Misha remained calm, unlike Taran, who screamed obscenities at the top of her lungs.
Liz, like all vampires, was very tall, slender, and beautiful. She seemed to shrink as she cowered at her master’s feet. The slightest narrowing of Misha’s lips inspired her to flee.
“You’d better leave, you ignorant bitch!” Taran yelled after her.
Misha bent to face me as I continued to use the towel as a tissue. “You will feel more like yourself after you bathe,” he said gently.
Misha’s obvious strength and allure intimidated most everyone. He commanded any room he entered—women and men fell over themselves to please him. He had power, wealth, and everlasting beauty. He’d grown accustomed to getting what he wanted…and then he met me.
I’d turned down his invitations to bed more times than I could count. In spite of my rejections, I’d become something he didn’t have, a real friend, and he had absolutely no idea what to do with me. Unlike the vampires he ruled, I was loyal because I wanted to be—not because I had to be. Initially he’d continued to flirt, but when I moved into his guesthouse our relationship changed. Misha developed genuine feelings for me. While I loved him, it wasn’t the way he wished. I loved Aric and no one could change that.
Misha gazed at me with complete tenderness. It was a look he never gave anyone—not even his beloved master, Uri, who regarded him as a son. Although not completely my fault, I ruined our moment. I’d been nauseated for days, but the scents of my slathered body fluids overwhelmed me at once. I made it to the toilet just in time. Shayna was a labor nurse, like I was before I joined Team Misha to help him and his vampire allies take down the Tribe. Emme had continued working in hospice. They were both accustomed to vomit. Taran worked in the cardiac catheterization lab. She didn’t do puke.
Taran was the perfect blend of a thin figure and voluptuous curves. Out of the four of us, she had inherited the majority of our mother’s Latin genes. Her deep olive skin and dark wavy hair drew males to her with a simple bat of her thick lashes. Taran was beautiful. But she wasn’t acting beautiful then. “Damnit, Emme, I thought you healed her!”