A Cursed Moon Page 7

She rounded on me. “Sorry that I found out, or sorry for acting like a monstrous prick?”

Was that a trick question? I shrugged . . . well, I tried to anyway. “Both, I guess.”

“You guess? That’s seriously all you have to say to me.”

“Come on, Ceel. I said I was sorry. Aren’t you done yet?”

“No, I’m not done! I can’t believe you would talk about me in such a repulsive way to Aric and his entire gang of midnight streakers! You’re supposed to be my friend!”

“For hell’s sake, you know I didn’t mean a damn word of it. I only meant to distract him so I’d win the fight.”

“Couldn’t you have distracted him another way?” Celia bent and slapped me upside the head. “Did you have to say that Misha and I do it like orangutans?”

“I would never say that . . . I said you did it like monkeys.”

That earned me the ultimate glare. Beneath the rising moon, Celia’s green eyes morphed into that of her beast and fired with anger. Her fangs had also begun to protrude, a neat trick and not something weres could do unless they were trying to turn someone into a werebeast. Her body’s reaction told me two things: One, her inner golden tigress was itchin’ to unleash and beat my ass. And two, shut the hell up, jackass.

“Whatever, Bren,” she hissed. “Trying to win a fight at my expense is dirty and unfair. I would never do that to you!”

“Celia, everyone there knew I did it just to bust his balls. Besides, that ass**le deserves a few jabs to his ego for dumping you.”

I should’ve stuck to the “shut the hell up, jackass” game plan. Celia stilled, her eyes resuming their round human shape and her fangs dissolving back to into average incisors. She stared hard at her worn shearling boots. Shit. Way to go, idiot.

“What happened between Aric and me is no one else’s business—do you understand me? Save your lewd comments for your drinking buddies and watch your mouth when it comes to me and him.” She veered around slowly and headed toward her deck, her hips swinging in that catwalk of hers . . . though I didn’t miss how her shoulders slumped slightly. Misery had that effect.

“Where you goin’, Ceel?”

Celia didn’t bother looking back. “To Misha’s. The vamps aren’t perfect, but at least when they insult me, they do it to my face. I may or may not be back to free you tonight. Enjoy the view of the backyard.”

“Aric referred to you as his mate,” I said quickly before she could bounce up the steps.

My comment froze her in her tracks. When she glanced over her shoulder, I thought for sure she’d let loose the waterworks. Had I been free, I would have kicked my own ass.

Her eyes brimmed with tears. “Don’t you dare play with my feelings like that.”

I swore a few times in my head. “Ceel, I may be an ass**le. But you know I’d never intentionally hurt you. Look, get me out and I’ll prove it to you.”

She crossed her arms over her perky bosom. “Bren, I swear, if this a trick—”

“It’s not. Come on, get me out. It’s cold down here.”

Celia yanked me by my moppy hair and shifted me free from my earth-packed prison. She waited with clenched fists ready to pound. Before I got knocked out for the second time that day, I fumbled for the note in my back pocket. She frowned when I grabbed her hand and placed the wrinkled and torn pieces in her palm.

I grinned. “Think of it as a puzzle you have to put together.”

She clasped her hand over the ripped bits of paper when the wind picked up, and walked up the wooden steps leading to her deck. I followed, watching as she used a few pebbles gathered in an old mason jar to weigh down the rumpled pieces while she arranged them on her patio table. It didn’t take her long to put the note back together. Debbie, or whatever the hell her name was, hadn’t taken the time to shred the evidence. After all, she had an unsuspecting fiancée to deal with and the rage of a jilted werebitch to unleash.

Celia crossed her arms again and read Aric’s words in silence, paying close attention to where her wolf openly proclaimed their matehood. Damn shame he never told her himself.

“Do you mind if I keep it?” she asked after a while.

I shrugged with one shoulder. “Go ahead. I think I’ve worn out its uses.” I paused, wrestling with whether I should open my yap again. Aric had majorly f’d up when it came to my girl, and shattered what little confidence their relationship had brought her. It was his fault. All of it. But she needed validation that what they had had been real—and not some game he’d played to get in her pants.

She angled her chin in my direction. “What is it?”

I plucked another pebble from the mason jar and tossed it in my hand a few times, struggling with whether to shut my trap or squeal like a little bee-atch. In the end, my loud mouth won. Hell, it usually did. “I hate to admit it, but that wolf does love you. I know I’ve told you before, but you need to believe it, kid.”

I wandered to the edge of the deck, unable to bear her reaction. As it was that bittersweet scent of her sadness belted my schnoz like a sucker punch. I pitched the pebble past where her property ended, swearing beneath my breath. The small round pebble soared over the cluster of bulky pines, up the steep incline, and into the forest. I heard it land a few seconds later, its dive to the ground muffled by the thick bed of pine needles carpeting the forest floor.

Celia leaned against the weathered rail next to me, her voice strained. “Maybe he does, but he’ll be married soon—and it won’t be to me.”

I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. She leaned against me, despite how muddy the shift had left me. Celia was always cool about forgiving me. Maybe she realized I wasn’t such an ass-wipe after all . . . and that I’d do anything for her and her sisters. “Come out with me tonight. You could use a good laugh.”

She lifted her head. “Are you going to a comedy club or something?”

“Not exactly.” I chuckled again. “Dan’s convinced he can get laid without me. I’m betting he can’t.”

She rubbed her brow. “Oh, no. Poor Danny. For the love of all things holy, what did you bet him?”

“I—” An unearthly cold hit my spine like a frozen spike and my head whipped in the direction of the forest. The sour stench of rot and torture burned through my nose and rolled my stomach. I snarled and shoved Celia behind me. There, at the edge of her lawn, inched a spirit dressed in a sheer flowing gown of red.

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