Sealed With a Curse by Cecy Robson, now you can read online.
The courthouse doors crashed open as I led my three sisters into the large foyer. I didn’t mean to push so hard, but hell, I was mad and worried about being eaten. The cool spring breeze slapped at my back as I stepped inside, yet it did little to cool my temper or my nerves.
My nose scented the vampires before my eyes caught them emerging from the shadows. There were six of them, wearing dark suits, Ray-Bans, and obnoxious little grins. Two bolted the doors tight behind us, while the others frisked us for weapons.
I can’t believe we’re in vampire court. So much for avoiding the perilous world of the supernatural.
Emme trembled beside me. She had every right to be scared. We were strong, but our combined abilities couldn’t trump a roomful of bloodsucking beasts. “Celia,” she whispered, her voice shaking. “Maybe we shouldn’t have come.”
Like we had a choice. “Just stay close to me, Emme.” My muscles tensed as the vampire’s hands swept the length of my body and through my long curls. I didn’t like him touching me, and neither did my inner tigress. My fingers itched with the need to protrude my claws.
When he finally released me, I stepped closer to Emme while I scanned the foyer for a possible escape route. Next to me, the vampire searching Taran got a little daring with his pat-down. But he was messing with the wrong sister.
“If you touch my ass one more time, fang boy, I swear to God I’ll light you on fire.” The vampire quickly removed his hands when a spark of blue flame ignited from Taran’s fingertips.
Shayna, conversely, flashed a lively smile when the vampire searching her found her toothpicks. Her grin widened when he returned her seemingly harmless little sticks, unaware of how deadly they were in her hands. “Thanks, dude.” She shoved the box back into the pocket of her slacks.
“They’re clear.” The guard grinned at Emme and licked his lips. “This way.” He motioned her to follow. Emme cowered. Taran showed no fear and plowed ahead. She tossed her dark, wavy hair and strutted into the courtroom like the diva she was, wearing a tiny white minidress that contrasted with her deep olive skin. I didn’t fail to notice the guards’ gazes glued to Taran’s shapely figure. Nor did I miss when their incisors lengthened, ready to bite.
I urged Emme and Shayna forward. “Go. I’ll watch your backs.” I whipped around to snarl at the guards. The vampires’ smiles faltered when they saw my fangs protrude. Like most beings, they probably didn’t know what I was, but they seemed to recognize I was potentially lethal, despite my petite frame.
I followed my sisters into the large courtroom. The place reminded me of a picture I’d seen of the Salem witch trials. Rows of dark wood pews lined the center aisle, and wide rustic planks comprised the floor. Unlike the photo I recalled, every window was boarded shut, and paintings of vampires hung on every inch of available wall space. One particular image epitomized the vampire stereotype perfectly. It showed a male vampire entwined with two na**d women on a bed of roses and jewels. The women appeared completely enamored of the vampire, even while blood dripped from their necks.
The vampire spectators scrutinized us as we approached along the center aisle. Many had accessorized their expensive attire with diamond jewelry and watches that probably cost more than my car. Their glares told me they didn’t appreciate my cotton T-shirt, peasant skirt, and flip-flops. I was twenty-five years old; it’s not like I didn’t know how to dress. But, hell, other fabrics and shoes were way more expensive to replace when I changed into my other form.
I spotted our accuser as we stalked our way to the front of the assembly. Even in a courtroom crammed with young and sexy vampires, Misha Aleksandr stood out. His tall, muscular frame filled his fitted suit, and his long blond hair brushed against his shoulders. Death, it seemed, looked damn good. Yet it wasn’t his height or his wealth or even his striking features that captivated me. He possessed a fierce presence that commanded the room. Misha Aleksandr was a force to be reckoned with, but, strangely enough, so was I.
Misha had “requested” our presence in Sacramento after charging us with the murder of one of his family members. We had two choices: appear in court or be hunted for the rest of our lives. The whole situation sucked. We’d stayed hidden from the supernatural world for so long. Now not only had we been forced into the limelight, but we also faced the possibility of dying some twisted, Rob Zombie–inspired death.
Of course, God forbid that would make Taran shut her trap. She leaned in close to me. “Celia, how about I gather some magic-borne sunlight and fry these a**holes?” she whispered in Spanish.
A few of the vampires behind us muttered and hissed, causing uproar among the rest. If they didn’t like us before, they sure as hell hated us then.
Shayna laughed nervously, but maintained her perky demeanor. “I think some of them understand the lingo, dude.”
I recognized Taran’s desire to burn the vamps to blood and ash, but I didn’t agree with it. Conjuring such power would leave her drained and vulnerable, easy prey for the master vampires, who would be immune to her sunlight. Besides, we were already in trouble with one master for killing his keep. We didn’t need to be hunted by the entire leeching species.
The procession halted in a strangely wide-open area before a raised dais. There were no chairs or tables, nothing we could use as weapons against the judges or the angry mob amassed behind us.
My eyes focused on one of the boarded windows. The light honey-colored wood frame didn’t match the darker boards. I guessed the last defendant had tried to escape. Judging from the claw marks running from beneath the frame to where I stood, he, she, or it hadn’t made it.
I looked up from the deeply scratched floor to find Misha’s intense gaze on me. We locked eyes, predator to predator, neither of us the type to back down. You’re trying to intimidate the wrong gal, pretty boy. I don’t scare easily.
Shayna slapped her hand over her face and shook her head, her long black ponytail waving behind her. “For Pete’s sake, Celia, can’t you be a little friendlier?” She flashed Misha a grin that made her blue eyes sparkle. “How’s it going, dude?”
Shayna said “dude” a lot, ever since dating some idiot claiming to be a professional surfer. The term fit her sunny personality and eventually grew on us.