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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 (3 page)

BOOK: Twice Cursed
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Lily turned her back to the fire and
raked a hand through her long, honey colored hair. She liked her
new color, despite Sean’s grumblings. He preferred her natural dark
chestnut, but with all the waiting around, she needed something to
occupy herself. Rissa had suggested a salon day, and Lily jumped at
the chance to do something just for kicks. Blondes have more fun,
or so they say. Lately, fun was in short supply despite the past
month of Were Holiday merrymaking.

Christmas had come and gone, and so
had the January Wolf Moon, and along with it went the last vestiges
of harmony and peace. Parr had forced the issue once more about her
place within the pack, goading Sean into ending his hard won
adjournment over the holidays. The past month of celebrations went
by so quickly, and with such hope. Unfortunately all the
postponement did was give Parr the chance to wheedle his way
through the Council and the community—something he did like an
oiled snake.

Lily exhaled
sharply.
“The council is only debating
because Parr threw doubt into the ring. He wants to force Sean into
making me a full Were. What if he convinces them to turn me against
my will? Against medical advice? What then? I meant it when I said
I’d rather die than allow myself to turn into some kind of crazed
beast. I know Jerard was your husband and Sean’s brother, but
Rissa, I saw what this pathogen did to him. I was in his head. He
had no memory of the man he was or the people he’d killed in his
crazed state.”

Not even Terry.
Lily swallowed hard, before continuing. “When he
attacked, his brain was like mush, rudimentary at best and ruled by
nothing more than base bloodlust. I won’t allow it. I won’t allow
the virus I contracted from his bite, to become active through a
forced transformation.”

Lily caught a shadow of unguarded
grief pass across Rissa’s face, disappearing just as quickly before
she could say anything else. She knew she had hurt her friend, but
it was what it was. Rissa had Mitch now. She had faced what she had
to and moved on. Perhaps it was time for Lily to do the
same.

Rissa didn’t say a word. She sat with
her eyes trained on her hands, folded over her belly. “Rissa…” Lily
began, immediately sorry. But the other woman held up her
hand.

Looking up, she offered Lily weary
smile, but its warmth didn’t quite reach her eyes. “I think I’m
going to turn in. I’m a little tired.”

Lily exhaled, inwardly cursing herself
and her big mouth. “Don’t leave simply because my brain to mouth
filter is malfunctioning. I shouldn’t have brought it up. It’s this
waiting. It’s making me crazy.”

Lily took Rissa’s hand and helped her
off the couch. At the simple touch, the woman’s emotions flooded
her mind. Her sorrow at losing Jerard, her guilt at finding
happiness again with Mitch, worry over the future for her four
year-old daughter, Stephanie, and for the new baby she now
carried.

Lily’s hand tightened and her heart
clenched.


What I think you mean, is
that this is making you crazier than usual,” Rissa shot back,
rubbing the dull ache lodged in the small of her back. Her gaze
softened. “It’s not you, Lil, trust me. I’m truly tired. It’s a
wonder I don’t fall asleep where I stand, enormous as I am, and who
could blame me?” she said, glancing down at her swollen
belly.

She gave Lily a hug, and picked up her
sewing bag. “As for all the rest, well, it is what it is. I need to
accept that there was nothing I could do to save Jerard. We weren’t
exactly the happiest of couples, but we did love each other in our
own way, and I know I have to let what happened go, but sometimes…”
Her voice trailed off. “I’m okay, or at least I will be. One day at
a time, right?” Looking around the room, she gestured with her
hand. “Don’t stay cooped up in here too much longer tonight, huh?
You could use some rest yourself.”

Lily nodded as Rissa closed
the door behind her. This whole situation sucked. Two months ago,
she’d had a normal life. Then everything had changed. She’d gained,
and she had lost. She may have found the love of her life in Sean,
but she had lost her best friend. And while she knew she wasn’t
responsible for what happened, she wasn’t about to lose Rissa
simply because she couldn’t remember to keep her thoughts to
herself. What was it Terry used to say?
Constipation of the brain, diarrhea of the mouth?
Yup. That just about covered it.

The living room was quiet,
except for the sound of the logs crackling on the fire and the hum
of her thoughts racing around in her head. Glancing back at the
closed door, she frowned, angry with herself again. She was lucky
Rissa was the forgiving type.
Just like
Terry
.

With a sigh, she walked back toward
the window. Terry had always been there for her. Now she was dead.
Lily’s throat tightened, and she swallowed hard again. No matter
how much time passed, she would never quite get over it. Terry was
the only one Lily could count on to help her keep her eyes on what
mattered most. She had been Lily’s touchstone, the one to force her
to see the truth about herself, whether she wanted to or
not.

Lily smiled this time, as
she glanced over her shoulder at the door again. Terry would have
liked Rissa. They were different personalities, but somehow they
both managed to bring out the best in her.
Maybe I should try the ‘love is patient, love is kind’ thing
too,
she thought, half- expecting Terry’s
snort of laughter at the idea. Yeah right, that from the person who
was the poster girl for shoot first and ask questions
later.

Even as a Shade for a short time after
her passing, Terry had been there, conquering death just long
enough to force Lily to face her fears, and ultimately her love for
Sean. To put aside her guns and her vigilante need for revenge and
learn to forgive, starting with herself.

Lily blinked at the wetness
prickling at the corner of her eyes. She hadn’t cried in a long
time, and she wasn’t about to now.
Only
happy tears
. That was the last thing Terry
had said to her, before moving on and into the light.

There were those words again…move on.
Lily lit a cigarette and took a drag. Blowing smoke through her
nose, she flicked the ashes into the fireplace. “We’ll see soon
enough, won’t we?” she murmured.

 

***

 

Lily rolled onto her side. She cracked
one eye open, staring blankly at the window across from her bed. It
was well past three a.m., and still no sign that the Council had
come to any kind of accord.

With a sigh, she shoved a pillow
beneath her down comforter and wiggled it toward her feet, wedging
it between her knees, not that it would help. Sleep just wasn’t
going to happen tonight.

Why had she ever agreed to let Sean
handle this alone? She kicked at the duvet, sending the down
puffing out around her. Lily had promised she wouldn’t interfere,
and as much as she hated to admit it, he honestly hadn’t given her
much choice.

Indomitable was certainly one way to
describe Sean Leighton, Alpha Council of the Brethren. As was Mitch
Paris, his second in command, and the rest of their team,
especially when it came to the women in their lives.

This situation was unadulterated
bullshit, nothing more than pack politics running amok. She
stretched out her legs, her feet brushing against the cold edge of
the sheets. There was no soft snoring, or wide, warm back to cuddle
up against, not with the large wolf that should have occupied the
other side of the bed still out playing with the politicians. She
shivered, burrowing further down and taking the covers with her.
The Alpha’s bed was large and comfortable, but without Sean to fill
the emptiness, it was nothing more than vast sea of lonely
blankets.

According to tradition, the Alpha’s
word was law, but this situation required more than just an edict.
It required finesse, as the notion of the Compound itself, with its
elected Alpha, was an anomaly in the supernatural world. Sean held
the right of Alpha in his own wolf pack, but the Compound wasn’t
just comprised of wolves. Many different species of Were had joined
in this unprecedented endeavor, electing Sean to represent all, and
gifting him with the abilities of each group.

If the Compound failed, Were relations
would splinter into traditional factions, and any steps taken
toward the dream of one cohesive Were State would be lost forever.
Even before this viral pandemic, Sean had been on the verge of
uniting the normally volatile community of Weres, much to the
dismay of some. But in the face of near extinction, even the most
discordant factions rallied into the ‘all for one and one for all’
mindset.

At least that had been the case until
Edward Parr had had his fifteen minutes of fame.

She frowned.
Bastard!
Parr’s
unexpected political maneuvering had not only derailed her
acceptance by the pack, but had also succeeded in fracturing the
hot-blooded Were community. Not to mention driving a wedge between
her and Sean, as if their relationship wasn’t hard enough on its
own.

So what if she was human? She had Were
blood in her veins, courtesy of Jerard’s rabid attack. Lucky for
her, she was asymptomatic, regardless of cross reactivity to the
virus. Even luckier, it seemed her antibodies were the key to
curing this mystery illness. That fact alone made the current
situation all the more ludicrous.

A disgusted sigh left Lily’s mouth. If
it were up to her, she would have given Parr two shots behind the
ear without batting an eye or ruining her mascara. Unfortunately,
as tempting as it was, she had to keep her cool. For whatever
reason, Sean was trying his hardest to remain politically correct.
There was something hidden behind this, or why else would Parr risk
such an upheaval? On this point, she couldn’t argue with Sean. The
status of her humanity wasn’t a strong enough case to merit all
this debate.

She sighed.

Enough was enough. Sean had closed the
door on their shared mind link, but as the Alpha, he had no other
choice. He needed a clear head, especially since Parr would use any
pretext to discredit Sean.

Chewing on her lower lip, she sent her
senses out. It would be so easy, and really, with her skills who
would know?

Weres were a tricky breed to read, but
all she needed was one person with their guard down. She had even
joked that it was like being the proverbial fly on the wall without
all the mess of having to phase.

Within moments, she found
her opening and slid right in. Her vision was hazy, as she hadn’t a
clue as to whose eyes she looked through, but an underlying fear
radiated from her host like they’d rather be anywhere else but
there. Smiling ruefully, the words
been
there, done that,
ran through her
mind.

Sean’s voice rang out above the din,
bringing all eyes to him. One leg crossed over the other, his hands
rested casually on either arm of the Alpha’s chair. His relaxed
pose was in complete contradiction to the tension echoing
throughout the room, and Lily guessed it took significant effort on
his part to appear that nonchalant.


Let’s be reasonable. Every
test, every report our lab has generated over the past month states
unequivocally that Lily’s blood needs to remain pure. Would you
risk everyone’s life for an archaic law? You would risk your own?”
His eyes traveled across the room fixing Parr and his allies with
an icy stare. “This pathogen affects everyone, or did you think
status would be a mitigating factor?”

Parr stepped forward, his
robes swirling in an exaggerated gesture of polite distain. Lily
snorted from her vantage.
Poser!
Couldn’t they see how smarmy he was, despite his
polished veneer and practiced words? Were they all genuinely that
obtuse they couldn’t see through his theatrics?


Once again our illustrious
Alpha demonstrates his contempt. What more proof does the council
need? Leighton won’t even entertain the idea of turning his human
lover, simply because she would rather not. The audacity! Well, I
ask you, when did we as a species start putting the wants of humans
above ourselves?” Parr raised one hand against the murmurings that
stirred.


It is one thing for this
human girl to be kept in her natural state while her blood is of
use to us. On that point, I do not argue. But what I find abhorrent
is our Alpha’s unwillingness to agree to an acceptable timeframe
for her to be turned. She has seen too much, knows too much. I tell
you this, gentlemen, if we allow the threads of our covenant as a
species to unravel, so then follows the entire fabric of our
society!”

Oh, he was good…the son of
a bitch.

Sean shook his head. His exhaustion
was clear, regardless of his calm exterior, and Lily’s heart broke
for him. He’d been fighting windmills and getting
nowhere.


She has a name, Edward.
It’s Lily! And your disrespect sets my teeth on edge every time you
refer to her
as the
human
. Everyone is quite aware of her
humanity; however, let’s not forget what she has done for us. We
have given you irrefutable proof that our very survival depends on
Lily’s blood. There is no alternative. You speak of timeframes, but
the doctor’s at Leighton Research have already given us one, and
they were exceedingly specific. One year. That is the time required
for the vaccine results to be conclusive.”

BOOK: Twice Cursed
9.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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