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Embers curse prime wolf, p.11
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       Ember's Curse (Prime Wolf), p.11

           Gena D. Lutz
 
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  I guess our little game of cat and mouse is over, I said panting. I immediately stopped breathing hard to mask my slight. It was an ingrained instinct of mine not to show any signs of weakness.

  Not over, Love...just on hold. This big bad wolf is going to feed his mate, if she likes it or not.

  And like it, she did. I settled myself down into the grass and looked on as Collin ran down the panicked deer. When his graceful long strides carried him close enough, he leapt into the air. When his jaws landed around the deer’s throat, it was over within seconds.

  ***

  I was very thankful that my clothes had always shifted with me. Not every wolf was blessed with that convenient attribute. When it was time to return and join our group, all Collin and I had to do was change back into our human form and our clothes were fresh, clean, and left us dressed to impress.

  I thought about Harper and found myself getting worried about her reaction to the stated that her own appearance was most likely in. She didn't have the luxury of a quick shift to put everything back in its place. Just great, she was going to be in the worst mood when I saw her. Visions of F-bombs and dripping fangs bombarded me and I cringed at the thought of facing my best friend.

  "Turn around," Collin’s voice requested from behind me.

  I turned to face him. His hand came up to my face and it landed gently on my cheek. With a soft tug, he pulled me to his awaiting lips. I lost myself in the warmth of his breath and my hand took on a life of its own as it traveled over his tight chest. He gently pulled away from the kiss; I felt the loss immediately.

  "Are you ready to go back?" he asked me, running his finger over the spot that still missed his lips.

  "I suppose," I said, looking at the ground to hide a pout.

  "We will finish the rest of tonight's duties as quickly as possible. Then after that, I will take you home and run you a hot bath."

  That sounded like a perfect plan to me. Well, at least the latter part of it. I pictured myself soaking in a hot bubble bath while Collin caressed and washed my body with nothing but a bar of soap and his bare hands.

  "Okay, then," I said, turning abruptly to the path leading back to the lake. "Let's get this show on the road."

  Collin and I had arrived back at the lake just in time to watch Harper stomp around like a toddler in the middle of a tantrum. She was yelling at anyone who was foolish enough to get caught in her line of sight. I was about to jump behind Collin for cover when I became the unfortunate soul who landed in the path of that berserker gaze.

  "You!" she said, storming in my direction. She stopped mere inches from me and threw her finger in my face. The wagging digit almost flew straight up my nose. "You will explain to me why I look like this!" she spat out in disgust. Her hands fluttered up and down her body to make damn sure that I was completely aware of the state she was in. Her designer dress was covered in grass stains. There was a tear up the side that showed off an obscene amount of her left thigh. She picked a twig out of her tousled hair and groaned. "I can't go to the party looking like this," she said, throwing her arms to her side in defeat. "Just look at my poor dress."

  I had to think of a way to fix this, and quickly, before she worked herself back up again. I looked from her dress to mine and the answer hit me. It was actually a pretty simple solution. Harper stood with her eyes still glued to her dress.

  "Take it off," I said, pointing to the offending garment. "Collin, can you unzip me please?" I asked, lifting my hair out of the way so his nimble fingers could go to work. When he finished with the zipper, I immediately stripped down. We then switched dresses and I shoved myself into her ruined Valentino original. By the time the fabric finished settling on my body, I was already in mid shift. I looked up at Harper and Collin from my new height and they both went silent. I shifted back a moment later wearing a now unmarred dress.

  She popped me in the shoulder and her face beamed in delight. "You’re a genius, Ember!" she said, bouncing up and down in an un-Harper like way. "Now hand it over," she ordered. Ah, that's more like the bitchy Vampire I know and love, I thought.

  Chapter 13

  Two hours had already passed since we first pulled up to the docks. It was now 11 o'clock and I was officially, inexcusably late for my faux engagement party. Tommy was going to rip me a new asshole if I didn't get to the pack house soon.

  It had taken me extra time to help put Harper 's hair and makeup back in place, not to mention the half hour of explanations I had to give to Milo, Nathan, and of course Brady, about the hour they had lost while spelled.

  I'm getting pretty tired of you having to worry about Tommy. It's becoming pretty clear to me that he isn't the kind of wolf who should be leading a pack, Collin growled through our private link. The sound rolled out of his chest in that way he had when he was aggravated, so I tried my best to reassure him.

  That thought has dawned on me a time or two as well, but like it or not, he's my Alpha.

  I could challenge him, he said candidly.

  Yeah, right. That makes so much sense. You have the Adelphi to lead remember? Not to mention a whole community of ‘others’ to help govern, Collin. And besides, this is not your pack.

  But you are my mate, which gives me the right to protect you, he said, hurt by my last comment.

  I rubbed the side of his leg and leaned in for a quick kiss. After three more pecks and a tight squeeze to his derrière, he rewarded me with a warm hug.

  You're right. My welfare is your business. I'm just asking you to let me handle this. Like I said before, it's something I need to do on my own.

  Collin nodded in assent. He might not agree with me handling the situation with Tommy on my own, but I was pleased at how well he understood that I had to.

  "My concession doesn't come without a price, my darling," he said, grabbing my hand.

  We had been casually strolling behind the others down a long wood-planked dock. He gently pulled me to a stop right before we reached the first boat. The expression on his face was playful. His charming green eyes twinkled in the moonlight, and I had no clue what he was up to. I could only hope that it would involve bare skin and chocolate syrup. I am a sucker for chocolate and an even bigger sucker for Collin. Pun intended. I'm guessing that because of the psychic connection between us was so strong, or because he was being naughty and reading my mind again, Collin knew exactly what I had been thinking. He delivered a well-placed smack to my ass and winked at me.

  "I accept your offer," he said, chuckling. He then pulled me into the boat and sat me firmly next to him.

  "I'm not sure I'm up to this," Brady said, standing at the edge of the dock. He was holding onto the railing so tight that I could hear it splintering under the pressure.

  "Is it the water that's freaking you out?" I asked him calmly. He shook his head.

  "No, it's not the water," he said looking off into the distance.

  "Okay, then what is it?" I asked him, trying to be as patient as possible.

  "It’s her," he said pointing behind us. I swirled around to see who he was pointing at, but there was no one there. Just open water.

  "I don't understand," I said, turning back to him.

  "It’s the monster that took me to the bottom of the lake. I can feel her all around me."

  His eyes widened and he took a few steps back. I couldn't figure out what had him so spooked. I didn't see or feel any imminent danger to him, or us for that matter. The queen had assured us safe passage over her waters, so the nymph, who I think was named Ariel, could not harm any of us. Not unless she wanted to risk a severe punishment from her mother.

  So considering I seemed to be in more danger from Tommy’s wrath if I was late, than Brady currently was from an unknown water monster. I had no other choice but to do something I would rather not. I had run completely out of time. There was no more room for stalls.

  Collin, do you think it's possible to get him in here, and quickly? There's no time for his hysterics.

  I'm
on it, he answered simply.

  I felt my shoulders ease. Collin jumped out of the boat and landed right behind Brady. His hand flew to the crick of the vampire’s neck, and with three fingers, he pressed down in such a way that it had him falling limp into Collin’s arms. I blinked and he already had himself, and the now unconscious vampire, back in the boat. "Let's hit it," he said, smacking the side. The others took his cue and took off before us.

  ***

  We all piled out of the speedboats and onto shore. There was no one there to meet us, but that didn't surprise me. We were at least four hours late. I could hear the music from the party being carried over the breeze. It made me imagine beautifully dressed women being spun around the dance floor by their partners. Collin and I have never shared a dance together; I was secretly wishing that would change tonight.

  I walked toward the guys. They were trying to bring Brady around by smacking him kind of hard across his face. Whatever voodoo Collin worked on him earlier to get him in the boat, had done the trick, maybe a little too well.

  "Just toss him in the lake," Milo said. "That’ll wake him up."

  "That sounds good to me," Harper chimed in. It was no surprise that she would be an advocate for subjecting Brady to a freezing cold water bath.

  "We had to knock him out because of his fear of the water. How do you think he would react to waking up in what would be equivalent to his worst nightmare?"

  Sometimes I wondered if they were really on the side of good. Some of their ideas were just plain evil. Evil and funny...but still.

  "You're a buzz kill," she said as she continued to reapply her lipstick for like the fifth time tonight.

  "It doesn't matter anyway you guys. Looks like he's coming around."

  I watched as a puzzled look flashed through Brady’s brown eyes. He jerked himself out of Collin’s hold and said, "How did I get here?"

  "Calm down, buddy. I had to knock you out. I used a very simple pressure point technique. Don’t worry, there are no lingering effects," Collin explained.

  He turned on Collin and puffed out his chest like a rooster. "Don't you ever do that to me again. Never touch me without my permission. I've had enough of my life and choices taken from me. I won’t live like that...not ever."

  I couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy. Out of all of us, he seemed the most unstable. Everyone else I brought with me tonight had better coping skills. Milo and Nathan didn't even bat an eye when I had explained to them that they had been spelled to sleep by a couple of naked water nymphs. As soon as Milo heard the word naked, we had to physically restrain him from jumping into the water to go in search for what he called his water angels. But Brady on the other hand, had been pushed to his limits.

  "Man, seriously. Chill." Collin said, throwing up his hands in front of him. He backed away in hopes that a little space would make Brady feel less threatened.

  "Ahoy there, Maties!"

  "Who the heck is that?" Harper said, putting away her makeup. She stuffed her purse underneath her arm and walked over to me. "He's kind of cute."

  "You think anything with a pulse and a hard-on is cute," Nathan said, joining the conversation.

  "Where ya be headin’ on this abominably fine night?" the young man asked, stumbling up to us.

  It was Ol’ Rum Pot, as he liked to be called, but his real name was actually Korbin. He was known to all as the island’s resident pirate. He carried his jug of grog in one hand and leaned heavily on a silver tipped cane with the other. It was his father’s cane; he only carried it around with him for sentimental reasons. Well, that and to help keep himself standing upright under the heavy weight of his booze habit. He must've been nearing the bottom of his jug if you considered how much he seemed to need it right now, to do just that.

  "Well, ya gonna answer me question?" Ol' Rum Pot asked. He blinked his one good eye. The color of it was striking. Light green with shoots of brown. The brown was flecked in thin slivers all throughout the iris. It carried enough beauty in that one eye to make up for the loss of the other one. There was a pink puckered scar running out from under a black patch over his left eye. It covered his cheek and stopped right at the corner of his mouth. A mouth that he was quickly filling up by taking several long draws off his jug.

  I watched as he clapped Nathan on the back good heartedly. "Should be respecting yer elders, ya should," he said, pushing his long red hair out of his face. The hand he used to do this with just happened to be the same one that was holding his grog. The jug slammed up against his forehead, with a thud. It cracked down the middle and poured out over his face, drenching his white dress shirt.

  "You're seriously cracked, Rum Pot. I'm older than you by at least a decade," Nathan said with a chuckle. "You'd remember that and quite a few other things too, if you sobered up every once in a while."

  The pirate looked at Nathan like he had just sprouted two fire breathing heads and said, "Now, why'd I be doing something as foolish as that?"

  I had to stop myself from laughing at the scene unfolding in front of me. I studied Korbin for a few seconds, trying to understand why Harper had somehow found this guy desirable. I never really took a good enough look at him before. But I guess if you could get passed his drunkenness and see behind the thick red tangle of hair that always seemed to hide his face, one could actually consider him attractive.

  Korbin threw down his ruined and now empty jug. "Never ye mind! Back to the party is where I be headin’. If the lot of ya had half a mind, ye'd be followin’. This island’s ripe with spirits when the night falls upon it, and not the wondrously delicious kind!" He then turned around and lumbered off without saying another word.

  "Well that was interesting," Milo said. He picked up the remains of the fractured jug and tipped it over. The small amount that had survived drained out of it and fell in rivulets to the sand. "Ol’ Rum Pot might be a drunkard but he has the right idea. Let's get to the party. I'm getting pretty thirsty myself."

  ***

  The walk from the forest to the pack house didn't take very long at all. I kind of wished it would have taken longer, though. I wasn't in the mood to deal with Sylvia and Tommy's matchmaking attempts.

  We all began the slight climb up the grassy hill that would lead us to the enormous front deck that wrapped around the ten room, two story log cabin. It was lit up like a beacon against the backdrop of the pitch-blackness of the night.

  The music was blaring in our ears now that we were right on top of it. I hoped my ears would grow accustomed to the loud noise soon because I was well on my way to developing a massive headache. And then, as if aware of the second I had arrived, Sylvia came barging out of the main house’s opened front doors. Her face was pinched up into a scowl and she threw a feral look directly at me.

  "Tommy, she has finally arrived," she yelled back into the house. The way she said it gnawed at me. It was the falsely sweet tone of her voice that plucked on my last nerve. The one she used in front of important visiting guests. Well, the ones she deemed important anyway. Everyone else was blessed to suffer her true personality. A selfish, cruel, heifer wolf is what she truly was.

  "And she has brought guests," she said, looking Harper, Collin, Brady, and Milo, up and down with distaste as we stepped onto the deck.

  She came at me like a viper as soon as I was in arms reach. She grabbed me hard by my bicep and pulled me to her, whispering harshly into my ear, "What in the hell took you so long?" I tried to answer but she just kept on talking over me. "Your soon to be fiancé almost left twice. Twice! If it wasn't for my considerable talent at wooing the opposite sex, you would have ruined everything!"

  I heard a shuffling behind me and thick hot breaths bathed the top of my head. I knew who it was immediately. "I suggest you take your hands of her...now," Collin’s voice growled out. He didn't yell; he didn't have to. His mere towering presence was enough to make his point. Or it least it should have been. Nevertheless, Sylvia always fell back on her rank and the lack of repercussions
it allotted her. So, instead of letting my arm go, she just grabbed it tighter. That was a big mistake on her part. Before Collin had a chance to protest, Harper reached over my shoulder and with barely any effort at all, she yanked Sylvia off the porch and tossed her into the yard. Sylvia landed hard on her ass and a "whoosh” escaped from between her lips from having the wind knocked right out of her. The expression on her face was comical. But I didn't dare laugh. I looked at Harper who casually stood in front of me with her arms crossed. I could only image what she saw in my eyes. Part worry, part disbelief, I would assume. And then she said something that blew me away, "She started it."

  I felt myself being surrounded. I looked back and saw Milo and the rest of our traveling companions step in a protective line around us. When I faced forward again I knew why. Tommy was piling out of the house with his second in command right behind him. He looked at his wife sitting in the middle of the yard and then looked back at me and my group. "You!" he said, stabbing the air with his finger in my direction. "Come with me."

  I took a step toward the door and Collin’s arm flew in front of my chest, stopping me.

  "She isn't going anywhere without me," Collin announced.

  Tommy tried to stare Collin down. His mouth fell into a frown and a low growl rumbled in his chest. If I didn't stop this play of dominance now there was no doubt in my mind that it would end in bloodshed or even death. I stepped between their stare down and broke eye contact for them. This way there would be no winner or loser in their little battle between Alpha wolves.

  "I will come with you, Tommy." I said, looking up into Collin’s eyes. His gorgeous blues were clouded over with anger, but soften up when he settled them on me. "But my mate is coming with me."

  "You better count me in too," Harper said, sounding bored by it all.

  "We will all go," Collin said, brooking no argument.

  Tommy threw up his hands and turned, storming back into the house. "Fine! The whole fucking world can come!" he yelled.

 
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