A Cursed Moon Page 2

I rammed my finger in his face. “That’s bullshit. You’ve seen her, she’s not the same, and everyone damn well knows it.” I stormed into the bathroom and slammed the door, cracking the doorframe. I didn’t want to talk about Aric and Celia anymore. That ass-wipe broke her heart. Then he had the balls to get pissed when she turned to that master vamp prick, Misha.

I took my sweet time getting ready and then drove from Incline Village to Squaw Valley. The Den sat on top of Granite Chief Peak, not exactly the best terrain for my ’71 Mustang, but screw it. I wasn’t giving up my wheels just because I signed up to teach a bunch of snot-nosed little punks.

The ’stang roared up the dirt path, kicking up pebbles every time I hit the gas. I’d like to say my baby raced up the steep incline like cougar in heat. I’d also like to say I banged Ali Landry. Neither was true. I fought to keep my ride from swerving off the goddamn cliffs. The trek up the mountain took me fifteen hellish minutes. Talk about a pain-in-the-ass commute.

Waves of magic thickened the closer I neared the entrance. The weres and the local coven of witches had combined their mojo to reinforce protective wards surrounding the mountain and any place used as a safe house for preternaturals. Dan was right about one thing; spooks had been popping up around Tahoe like gophers . . . gophers who liked eating people. It wasn’t exactly a shock. Since the Tribe had emerged a lot of mystical shit had gone down. And since our recent run-in with the demon lords leading them, the amount of spirits lurking about had gone haywire. It hadn’t grown too bad too handle—just a couple of ghosts here and there trying to claim lives—but hell it was enough to keep us on our toes.

I pulled up to the iron gates. A werewolf named Bob barreled out of the gatehouse crankier than sin and roughly the age of stone. His scowl revealed his pleasure at my arrival. I flipped him off. I wasn’t pleased either, pal. My hopes were that that hot blonde, Heidi, was working so I could talk her into a nooner. So much for that.

Bob growled hard enough to quiver his lips like a bulldog. Impressive—if I were a toddler and afraid of idiots. I blew him a kiss and peeled rubber through the gates, away from the dense forest and onto the Den’s large campus. The place looked like a ritzy ski resort for those born with silver spoons rammed up their asses—not like a school for teaching those who could change into snarling beasts at will. Giant chalets with wraparound stone-stacked porches and outdoor fireplaces made up the buildings on either side of me. I huffed. There was money in being a were. Too bad those bastards weren’t willing to share with a mutt like me.

I passed the library lawn where Koda and Liam—two of Aric’s other Warriors—engaged in some kind of training activity with the young weres. They scowled at me. I smiled and gave them a wave. Hey, what could I say? I was a hell of a guy.

I peeled to a stop and parked in front of the administration building, a chalet that ran up three damn stories. Aric’s quarters were supposedly on the top floor. I wondered briefly if he could see God from there.

Gemini lolled down the stone steps as I slipped out of the ’stang. Out of all of Aric’s Warriors, he was the most tolerant of me. It must be because of that whole Zen thing he had going on. At first I didn’t understand how he and Celia’s sister Taran had gotten together. She was a sexy siren and louder than a bunch of frat boys at a strip club. If he was any calmer, he’d slip into a coma. Then I saw how his laid-back nature affected her and I got it. She was his yin, he was her yang.

He probably also likes what she does to his yang. I know what I’d like Heidi to do with my . . . Shit. I wonder if I could track her.

Gemini squared his jaw, darkened by a well-groomed goatee—kind of prissy if you asked me. “Bren, Aric and I would like a word with you.”

I shrugged, knowing he was pissed and knowing I could give a rat’s ass. He led me across the street into the main building used for classes, recreation, and dining hall. Ten-thousand square feet of wall-to-wall dark wood awaited me down the corridor. Too bad Gemini turned left toward Aric’s office.

We found Mr. Royal Among Weres sitting behind a mahogany desk in a office roughly the size of my apartment. He flicked a pen across a paper he was grading, kind of an odd task for a guy who’s supposed to be a big shot. He angled his chin up as soon as he caught my scent and—surprise, surprise—he didn’t appear happy. “Have a seat,” he said through gritted teeth.

Gemini positioned himself at his right side, just like a good ole Beta should. I sat down and put my feet up on his pristine desk. Hell, I’m already in trouble. Might as well have some fun— I hadn’t finished my thought before Aric backhanded my feet off so hard that I spun in my chair. “What the hell, Aric? Do you have your period or something?”

“Bren, when I invited you to join our pack I thought you understood it wasn’t in name only. Belonging requires not only for you to fight evil alongside of us, but discipline and commitment to learning our ways and educating the minds of our young males. You’ve been a lone wolf all your life, so I’ve let some things slide—”

“Is this about the sex-ed talk I gave the students?”

Aric gripped the sides of his desk. Any minute, he was going to smash that fine piece of furniture into rubble. I didn’t care; it wasn’t coming out of my paycheck. He let out a deep breath. “That wasn’t a sex-ed talk,” he snapped. “That was a how-to-get-laid speech.”

I shrugged. “Same difference.”

“No, it’s not. Especially when you were supposed to be lecturing on driver’s ed.”

“I mentioned the driving, but that bored the shit out them. So I talked to them about what to do in the backseat. Believe me, that kept their interest. I was just getting to the extra-credit assignment when you barged in.”

Gemini interrupted, probably to give Aric a moment to calm down. “Bren, we keep males and females separated during their schooling in order to keep them focused on their learning and decrease their naturally competitive natures. In their teens, they’re extremely impressionable and hormonal.”

“You mean horny? It’s okay, Gemini, you can say it. We’re all adults here.”

Aric leaned back in his leather chair and narrowed his stare. “Look, Bren. It’s not just about the damn speech. As weres we’re the ones obligated to protect the earth. Our war against the Tribe has reduced our numbers to a handful of scattered packs.” He swore when I rolled my eyes. “Are you that blind to what’s happening? It’s bad enough we have demon lords to deal with, but this ghost activity is getting a hell of a lot worse!”

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