A Curse Awakened by Cecy Robson, now you can read online.
The music pounded hard enough to shake Emme’s fuzzy navel, the umbrella in Shayna’s piña colada, Taran’s martini, and my Corona. I’d shoved pieces of cocktail napkin into my über sensitive ears the moment we sat. But I wasn’t going to complain about the eardrum-busting music or the crowd of young men sitting across from us ogling my sisters. We were there to celebrate.
Two years had passed since we’d left our native New Jersey. Two years of roaming the States as travelling nurses. Two years of searching for a place to settle down. We’d stumbled into the Lake Tahoe region when our agency transferred us to a local hospital on temporary assignment. We’d thought it would be fun to check out the area. We hadn’t expected to fall in love with the lush forests, the breathtaking mountains, or the mysticism of the lake. But we had, and collectively agreed to make it our home sweet home.
Shayna raised her girly drink; her blue eyes and grin sparkled despite the dimness in the booth. “To the Wird Girls finding an awesome place to live,” she hiccupped.
“To a thirty-year mortgage and a shitload of remodeling,” Taran muttered. She tried to complain, but couldn’t hide that siren grin that made males trip over their erections. She was happy to settle down, and she damn well knew it.
“To beautiful Lake Tahoe,” Emme added almost silently. She blushed when I glanced her way. I’d like to say she was just tipsy, but no. Emme blushed as easily as the wind blew fireflies. “W-well it is beautiful here, Celia.”
“I know, sweetie.” I tapped my bottle against her frou-frou drink. “Salud.”
I polished off my beer. It was my sixth round, still no buzz. Then again I could chug a keg. Alcohol had no effect on me. My lightweight sisters already slurred their words after three. In their defense, they didn’t have an inner beast with the metabolism of four linebackers to help them out. The waitress rushed over and slapped another Corona down before I could ask and hurried off. I snagged it before it tipped over. Ordinarily one might think of her as a diligent, fast, hardworking, go-getter—nah, she was just scared I’d eat her. Humans never knew what we were, yet they perceive we weren’t anything like them. They didn’t need the amplified senses of preternaturals to know we were different. Problem was, different didn’t appeal to most. And “weird” just plain terrified.
“Oh my goodness,” Emme said. “You didn’t even peek her way or anything.”
My sisters had definitely received the less-daunting side of our backfired curse. I pushed my long hair from my face and shrugged. After years of being feared, I was almost used to it. Almost. “I don’t think tigers have to necessarily look at their prey to scare them.”
Emme placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. The jarring club lights further lightened her fair skin and blond hair and bleached out most of her freckles. “It’s not you, Celia. It’s these silly humans who never want to give you a chance. You’re beautiful. And so is your inner golden tigress.”
Taran rolled her huge blue eyes. “Tigers are beautiful, Emme. But most people aren’t stupid enough to pet one.” She sipped her martini as she gave me the once-over. “Or piss one off.”
Or date one, I thought to myself, taking in the frat boys on spring break continuing to stare and whisper about my sisters.
“Salma Hayek is mine,” one said of Taran.
“I’ll take the blonde,” the other murmured.
“I’ll go with the cute brunette with the ponytail.”
“Hey, I called dibs on her first,” his friend complained.
There were four of them. Four of us. One of the guys fighting over Shayna had taken an interest in me. That is, until he looked at me. Really looked at me. He smiled, but his scent of anticipation and lust quickly evaporated, replaced by the aroma of fear. He’d seen beyond my green eyes, olive skin, and long wavy hair to spot the predator lurking within. He saw her ready to pounce, ready to shred, ready to kill. Beautiful or not, tigers had that effect on humans.
Taran shimmied out of the booth. An impressive feat in the tiny, curve-hugging yellow dress she wore. If the hem lay an inch shorter, she’d end up on the Internet. “Shit. I have to pee.”
Shayna grinned at Taran as she ambled out, her eyes alternating from sparkly to glassy. So not a good sign. “I think that’s an oxymoron, dude.” She threw in a giggle, just to further clarify she was snockered.
I shook my head. Emme smiled softly. “I’ll go with Taran.” Emme was only five feet tall, and just shy of a hundred pounds soaking wet and bloated. Taran, although only three inches taller, towered over her in those step ladders she affectionately referred to as “shoes.” Me? Nothing said comfy like jeans, Uggs, and a long-sleeved tee.
The minute they disappeared into the hall leading to the ladies room, one of the good ol’ frat boys approached Shayna, careful to avoid eye contact with me. “Hey, hot stuff. How about a dance?”
Shayna’s glee faded when she realized I’d be alone if she went to dance. I smiled as best I could without scaring her potential date for the evening. “It’s okay. I’ll just hang and wait for Emme. Go on,” I urged when she hesitated.
The guy snaked his arm around Shayna and led her onto the dance floor. Her sleek black ponytail whipped behind her as she shot me one more tentative glance. She watched me for a while. At first I thought she might return to hang with her spinster-in-the-making sister until the call of Beyoncé loosened the hesitant muscles of her slender frame. It didn’t take long for Shayna to move like the world’s happiness depended on her booty shakes. It did, however, take a hell of a long time for Emme and Taran to return from the bathroom. The waitress dropped my eighth beer down just as I spotted Emme’s hands waving madly amidst the crowd forming near the ladies’ room. “Celia! Ceeeeeelia!”
What the hell?