Read Twice Cursed Online

Authors: Marianne Morea

Tags: #werewolf, #werewolf and vampire, #werewolf family, #werewolf paranormal romance, #werewolf romance vampire romance paranormal romance thriller urban fantasy, #werewolf romance werewolves and shifters, #werewolf and vampire romance, #cursed by blood series, #urban fantasy suspense, #werewolf saga

Twice Cursed (2 page)

BOOK: Twice Cursed
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Shifting nervously in their seats, no
one spoke. They had all been summoned, pulled from every source
O’Neill could think of to get a handle on what was happening in the
city, His City. The best of New York’s Finest—Intelligence,
Strategic Initiatives, Operations, and the office of Legal
Matters—all were staggered by the situation.


Please, sir, if I can…”
Bureau Chief, Mark Phillips, began, only to be cut off in
midsentence. He was the Commanding Officer of Detectives, so
technically, it was his ass in the hot seat, but the situation did
not bode well for any of them.


I don’t want to hear any
excuses! Do you have any idea who I have screaming at me about
this? Threatening me with things, you don’t want to know. Senator
Ned Kelly. That’s right. Senator,
‘I own
everything in this country’
Ned Kelly. His
cousin’s kid just happened to be one of the victims at this latest
bloodbath down in the 9th precinct.”


A Kelly, huh? What the
hell was he doing at a dive bar off Avenue B? If he’s anything like
the rest of them, five will get you ten it was off the charts
kinky,” Deputy Tom Fay snorted.

Phillips’ head jerked left.
Everyone knew Fay was a first class putz, but now wasn’t the time
to be missing a filter. Still snickering, the dumbass didn’t even
pretend to look embarrassed. Deputies were historically political
appointees, but since becoming Commissioner, O’Neill had been
hardcore when it came to the men and women he surrounded himself
with, demanding they all spent time on the job. Fay’s wiseass
remark made it clear
he
was no more than a political favor.

O’Neill stopped pacing and slammed his
hands on his desk. Glaring, he eyeballed everyone in the room. “Who
the hell cares why? Perhaps he was a fan of slumming it. The only
thing that matters now is that we don’t look like a bunch of
incompetent idiots. This stops now. We need handle on this and
quickly. So gentlemen, not to put too fine a point on the matter,
we need to solve this pronto! Any suggestions?”

The silence in the room was
deafening, and even Fay kept his trap shut for once. Phillips
looked around. Most of the men present had held shields for many
years, but it seemed clear that years of being suits’ had dulled
their instincts, either that, or they didn’t want to risk their
cushy jobs to O’Neill’s wrath.
Well, screw
that.

Phillips was still close enough to the
job to want to get his hands dirty, and this shit stunk to high
heaven. “I have an idea, sir, but it’s a little unorthodox,” he
offered, mentally steeling himself for what he knew could end up
being tantamount to career suicide.

O’Neill slumped down into his chair
and loosened his tie. “At this point, I’d be willing to listen to
just about anything. We’ve had three major incidents in the last
month leaving seventeen people dead, one the relative of a
political powerhouse. The press is on the verge of a feeding
frenzy, and we have absolutely no leads. It’s a miracle we’ve been
able to keep a lid on this thus far—however, I have no other
fingers left to plug up the leaks, so for God sake spit it out
Phillips. I’m all ears.”


We could bring in a
psychic.”

As expected, the reaction from his
colleagues was less than enthusiastic, but Phillips ignored their
sarcasm, keeping his eyes trained on the Commissioner’s silent
expression.


Come on, Phillips, you
can’t be serious? This is enough of a freak show without us
intentionally adding to it,” Fay interjected.

The Commissioner’s face was a mask. He
said nothing, yet his eyes narrowed. With his forearms on his desk,
he drummed his fingers as if weighing the options. Leaning forward,
he pointed one of them at Phillips, fixing him with an ice-cold
stare. “Do you have someone specific in mind, Mark? This better not
be some hokey, spoon bender that comes complete with a lunatic
fringe entourage.”

The two men eyed each other in utter
gravity, as everyone else in the room slowly came to the
realization this was no joke.

Phillips nodded. “I know someone, sir,
we’ve worked with her before, and she’s the best. Very credible and
extremely discreet. Her name is Lily Saburi. I’ll have my office
give her a call immediately.”

Chapter Two

 

***

 


Sit down, Lily! Your
pacing is making me as nervous as a cat.”


I can’t,” she sighed,
shoving her hands into her pockets. “They’ve been at it for days
now, Rissa. Aren’t you even the slightest bit concerned about
what’s going on behind those carved doors across the lawn?” Lily
exhaled sharply, itching for a cigarette.

The fire crackled alongside the soft
swishing of Lily’s leathers as she walked back and forth. She was
dressed in her armor of choice, black leather jeans and a matching,
formfitting jacket, zipped to just above her cleavage. With the
political climate facing the Compound of Weres these days, she was
leaving nothing to chance. She may have looked like a porcelain
doll dressed in biker gear, but God help anyone who assumed she was
easily broken, or worse, easily manipulated. With her vigilante
past, the description didn’t fit the bill. If pushed, she would
fight.

Rissa put down her knitting, the
half-done blanket and skein of baby blue yarn covering her
burgeoning belly. “Of course I am.” She winced, adjusting herself
on the moss green couch, wedging a matching chintz pillow behind
her back for support. “What happens behind those doors affects me
just as much as it affects you. I have much more to worry about
than just my own health, but what I don’t see is why you’re so
agitated. Sean can hold his own, regardless of what Edward Parr
throws at him. Besides, Mitch is with him.”

Lily’s eyes softened. She wasn’t the
only one whose life had turned upside-down. Rissa’s husband had
died horribly, as a result of the mutant virus at the heart of the
proceedings currently in debate at the Compound’s Great Hall. The
same virus threatening their entire existence At least that’s what
the council wanted everyone to think. However, Lily knew there was
more to it than that. Edward Parr had his own agenda, and both Sean
and Mitch knew it too. Parr was dangerous.

For months, the nightmare
of disease went hand-in-hand with the worry of who would be next.
Fear
overwhelmed the community of Weres.
The pathogen spread quickly, for the most part only affecting their
males. However, once the virus spread to Rissa and her unborn
child, the news triggered widespread panic.

Sean and his hunters had no choice but
to eliminate anyone or anything infected with the virus, regardless
of status or relationship. While they battled pandemonium, doctors
at Leighton Research had raced to find a cure for the lethal
contagion. A cure, they had ironically found in Lily’s
blood.

The room where she and
Rissa waited was full of warmth—its soft colors and comfortable
furniture making it a place to curl up and just unwind. Rissa’s
idea to wait in here tonight was a nice try, but right now, even a
hot tub filled with rose scented water and a trained masseuse
rubbing her shoulders wouldn’t stifle Lily’s urge to pace.
Or punch someone.

She walked over to the window, and
gently pushed the delicate curtains away from the paned glass to
peer across the frozen landscape. Smoke circled lazily out of the
four chimneys edging the corners of the manor where Sean was deep
into discussion.

The house and the view were
picturesque, fitting into the wintertime landscape, despite the
sheer size of the imposing structure. The Were compound sat
majestically along the rocky Maine coast, and was comprised of a
few such core buildings, each one assigned to a particular
purpose.

As Lily gazed out at the
manor’s gabled peaks and large, paned windows, it wasn’t hard to
imagine the House of the Seven Gables from the infamous Salem witch
trials, or parallel the themes
of guilt,
revenge, and punishment
present in
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book by the same name. The same themes
Edward
Parr
now
wove like threads into a supernatural web
—a trap for Sean—with Parr sitting dead center like a spider
in wait.

Was it just a month ago she had waited
with Sean, her hopes high and her heart full as he’d led her into
the great hall and the blood rites ritual that would have sealed
her acceptance into their pack, into their world?

She had stood with him at the base of
the rosewood staircase, one hand on the balustrade, and the other
around his waist, as both had waited for the ceremony to
begin.

She remembered the sumptuous rooms,
each with soaring ceilings and intricate woodwork. But, it was the
thick set of wooden double doors at the entrance to the Great Hall
she recalled most. Elaborately carved, they stood sentinel-like,
each side depicting scenes from the Were’s long and complicated
history. On the other side of those doors, banners and tapestries
lined the walls adding to the majesty of the place, and the sheer
history they manifested inspired awe, filling Lily with an
otherworldly sense.

The manor was as much a fortress as
the CIA headquarters at Langley, and just as outfitted with every
technological advance—yet the feel of it belonging to another place
and time hadn’t suffered from it. The upper level housed the war
room, but Sean had told her there had been no real need for a
gathering in over a century.

Until now.

From her place at the
window in the main house, she watched the smoke curl, silently
wishing there was a message from Sean hidden in the wispy
swirls.
Black smoke…no. White
smoke…yes.
Like when the Vatican elects a
new Pope.

With a sigh, she tucked the curtain
back in its place. “It’s been too long, Rissa. Something’s not
right, I can feel it.”

With a raised eyebrow, the
extremely pregnant woman looked up from her knitting. “What do you
mean, you
feel it
?”

Lily’s lips curled into half a smile
as she glanced over her shoulder at her friend’s suspicious face.
“Don’t worry; it’s not as if I’ve been listening in or anything.”
She turned back to watch the smoke wind its way into a starless
sky, disappearing behind heavy clouds obscuring any light.
“Besides, Sean made me promise I wouldn’t snoop.”

Chuckling, Rissa folded the blanket,
rolling the yarn and knitting needles carefully before stowing them
in her sewing bag. “Well, can you blame him? With your temper and
that nasty habit you have of trespassing in people’s heads, he
probably figured it was safer this way. These days, between our
psychics and our psychotics, it’s sometimes hard to tell the
difference.”


Hmmph.”


Lily, listen to me. Sean
is the Alpha Council of the Brethren. The Weres on the Council may
be politicians, but they aren’t stupid. They know which side their
bread is buttered on, or at least I hope they do. What’s more,
Sean’s hunters are with him. That’s not to say he couldn’t take
care of things himself if it came down to it. Edward Parr may be a
consummate manipulator, but he’s not foolish enough to start
something he knows he can’t win. It’s not his style. He’s far too
smooth to put himself in a position where he’d have to fight,
especially if it means a fair fight.”

Lily turned away from the window and
folded her arms against an invisible chill. “I guess, but what if
that’s not his game, Ris? Parr is smooth, but to me that just means
slick—and not in a good way. He’s already forced one stalemate, so
I can’t help but wonder what else he’s managed to twist his
way.”

With an aggravated sigh, she walked
back toward the fire, hoping its warmth would chase her
apprehension away along with the waves of hostility buffeting her
mind from across the lawn. From the way her stomach churned, it was
more likely hot-tempered arguing rather than civilized debate going
on behind those closed doors.

Rissa was right. Edward Parr was a
consummate manipulator. The man had effortlessly exploited hundreds
of years of rivalry between clans, throwing doubt on Sean’s
commitment to the Compound of Weres and his ability to lead. But
why? What was his purpose? Sean was the Alpha. He had more than
proven his loyalty to his kind, especially over the last few
months.

Sean’s brother, Jerard, had been one
of the worst infected with the virus. Deteriorating quickly, until
there was nothing of the once swaggering hunter left to save. In
his place was a rabid beast, incapable of human
cognizance.

Sean had hunted Jerard for the good of
the Compound, regardless of personal emotion. Lily hunted him for
revenge, blaming him for the death of her best friend, Terry. It
was her bullet that finally killed Jerard, but only after he had
mortally wounded her and was about to kill Sean.

She ran her fingers absently along the
scarred grooves hollowed deep into the skin beneath her jugular.
The wounds had long since healed, but the memory of the claws that
gave them to her remained fresh in her mind. Sean wasn’t the only
one that had proven loyalty to the Compound.

BOOK: Twice Cursed
9.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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