Authors: Kelly Lawson
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Paranormal, #Werewolves & Shifters
imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons--living or dead--is entirely coincidental.
Cursed Love copyright @ 2014 by Kelly Lawson. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embedded in critical articles or reviews.
PART 1 of the HEART OF A BEAR
an you stop nattering and actually take some damn orders?” Phillip, Ramona’s boss, yelled at her before tossing one of the small notepads that each of the waitresses was required to carry around and take their orders on.
“It’s my break time, Phillip.” Ramona turned on her heel and disappeared through the back door and into the break room. She checked her long, dark hair in the small, murky mirror before applying another layer of ruby red lipstick, the red making her lips stand out from her dark skin.
“You know you’re not supposed to wear makeup while on shift.” Another employee glared at her from across the staff room, her nose buried in a thick novel. Ramona shrugged her delicate shoulders before she poured herself a cup of coffee and then took a seat on one of the soft armchairs. She wasn’t overly worried about following the rules that Phillip had set, since he knew that she was the best waitress there, and she wouldn’t care about quitting on the spot.
Ramona knew that she had taken a longer break than the rest of the employees but at this time of the month she wasn’t bothered about following rules, her skin tingling, her mood changing regularly. She stepped back out into the small cafe and frowned before taking a deep breath, her eyes closing. There was a familiar scent in the air that she couldn’t quite place. She followed the scent, her hand reaching into her pocket to take out the notepad. Her senses led her to a table in the back left corner, to a young blond man.
“I’m Ramona and I’ll be your waitress today, how can I help you?” she couldn’t figure out what was so familiar about the man’s scent. She knew that she had never seen him before, a man as pristine and clean as him shouldn’t be in this neighbourhood.
“Where is your clan?” the man looked up at her and she flinched away from the ferociousness in his eyes. His eyes had a wild look to them. She gasped out loud when he reached out and grabbed her wrist, his eyes searching hers.
“Let me go.”
“I’m dreadfully sorry.” The man immediately released her wrist and looked back down at the table, his blonde hair covering the right half of his face. Ramona looked around the cafe before taking a seat opposite the man, an angry glare on her face.
“What do you mean where is my clan?” she hissed, nudging him with her hand to make him look up at her.
“I must have gotten you confused. I thought you were a bear shifter.”
Ramona felt the entire colour drain from her face at those two words. She was certain that she had been able to hide her dreadful curse, and she had managed to for three years, before this man began questioning her.
“How do you know about that?”
“I-I— I could smell you. It’s nearly the full moon...” the man reached up and brushed his hair aside, a look of fear in his eyes as he watched her. Ramona didn’t think that she was that scary of a person to look at. She had dark hair and skin, her eyes matching. The man in front of her almost doubled her in size and height. She had no clue why she could smell a rancid, sickly sweet smell pouring off this man that she could only assume was fear.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I suggest you get out of here before you say something you’re going to regret.” Ramona stood before waiting for him to stand up. He rushed out of his seat so fast that he almost tripped over his own feet, a frown on his handsome face.
“Why are you lying? I can smell it on you!” the man began to raise his voice and draw attention to the both of them. She sighed deeply before grabbing him by his wrist and pulling; there was no way that she was going to be able to forcefully remove him, so she had to hope he would follow her. He did, and a few moments later they were standing outside of the cafe.
“I do not have a clan. I may be a shifter but I do not and I do not intend to have a clan. Go find another place to worm you way into.”
“You can’t be on your own. You’ll go mad.” Ramona glared at the man and he dropped his gaze to the ground again, his hands shaking.
“Get out of my sight before I call the police!” Ramona watched as the man scuttled away, running towards the local motel. She sighed before running her hand through her hair and turning to go back into the cafe. She wasn’t sure how the young man had found her, but she wasn’t happy that she was going to have to move once again.
Tomas stopped running long enough to take a deep breath and to bang his head against the brick wall that he was standing next to. He’d followed the scent of Ramona from the train station and was sure that she was going to be able to help him. He was determined that he was going to stand up for himself and demand that she take him to her clan, so he could request asylum from his family.
He found it strange that she didn’t have a clan. Usually if a bear wasn’t part of a clan then after a few months of being on their own they started to have hallucinations and began to get so sick that they couldn’t shift. Tomas had been kicked out of his clan a month ago today, and he was already beginning to feel sick.
He felt himself slide down the wall and didn’t do anything to stop himself, and soon enough he was crouched on the floor with his head braced on his knees. His body started to shake as he tried to keep the sobs inside. Almost a month ago he had had his coming of age ceremony; it was almost five years too late, since he was the runt of his litter, and they were always weaker and took longer to develop their abilities.
His mind started to go back to that night, but he forced himself from the ground and took another deep breath before wiping his face. He just had to convince Ramona that she needed a clan or at least another shifter before she begun to get sick. Tomas unlocked the door to the sleazy motel room that he was staying in and frowned.
After twenty five years of being at the bottom of the clan, of being the other members’ chew toy, he had begun to grow sick of being alive. He’d attempted to take his own life almost once a year, but unfortunately Celeste, his previous best friend, had found him in enough time that the clan’s doctor was able to resuscitate him. Until a shifter has their coming of age ceremony then they were just like a normal human, they didn’t heal rapidly and even had some of the illnesses that humans contracted, so it made it easier for them to cause harm to themselves.
Tomas jerked out of his memory as a small Spanish voice penetrated through the door. He sighed before opening the door and allowing her to step inside. While he hadn’t been in the room all day, it would be nice to have some clean sheets to sleep in.
He watched the small woman dart around the room, and in no less than five minutes she was carrying the dirty laundry out and pushing her cart to the next room. Tomas checked his wallet and counted the few hundred dollars he had, before sighing. He needed to eat, he hadn’t eaten in nearly four days and his stomach was beginning to complain at him.
He took a few bills out of his wallet and headed towards the vending machines that were nearby. While it wasn’t the healthiest of options, he couldn’t risk going back to the cafe so soon without scaring Ramona. He sat on the edge of his bed as he ate his stale tasting food, before climbing into under the sheets in his clothes. He’d visit the cafe tomorrow and hope for the best.
“You can't leave! I need you here.”
Ramona rolled her eyes at Phillip as she sat on the counter, her feet swinging back and forth. While she didn’t want to leave this small town, she knew that she had to for fear of being found by more shifters like the man from last night.
“I’ve been here too long, I need to move on.”
“What is so important that you need to quit and leave so urgently?” Phillip ran his hand through his nearly bald gray head and sighed angrily.
“Personal reasons.” Ramona frowned as she caught the familiar scent of the man from yesterday. Her eyes canvassed the cafe and glared at the small blonde head in the far corner; she hopped off the counter and headed towards him, ignoring the angry words that Phillip was shouting at her.
“What are you doing back here?”
“I just need to know a few things, please?” the man looked up and kept her gaze; she could still smell that horrible scent that was radiating from him.
“I want to know some things from you first.” Ramona sat opposite the man and frowned as she took in his appearance. It seemed like he hadn’t been able to sleep for a couple of weeks at least, and his clothes looked like they could do with a wash. His blonde hair was messy and looked like it hadn’t been washed in a while either.
“I’ll answer anything that you want to know.”
“How did you know that I was...what I am?” Ramona looked around the cafe as she whispered the words, fearful that someone would overhear her.
“I followed your scent from the train station. Each different shifter has a distinctive scent and I could smell what you were and hoped that you would show me asylum or help me somehow. How long have you been a shifter?”
“Three years. What do you mean — there are other shifters? I thought I was the only one.”
“What made you think you’re the only one?”
“I don’t even know your name. What is your name?”
“My name is Tomas. You couldn’t possibly believe that you’re the only one out there. There are over four hundred different types of shifters. Ranging from wolves, to bears, cats, birds and even spiders. Didn’t your parents ever educate you on what you were?” Tomas tilted his head to the side slightly as he stared at her. Obviously he appeared to be getting more comfortable around her if he was able to look her in the eyes.
“My father died a few years back. I never knew my mother.” Ramona frowned again and rubbed her temples. She couldn’t believe that there were other shifters like her; she honestly thought that she was the only one. A freak of nature.
“How old are you, can I ask?”
“I turned twenty four a few months ago. Why?”
“You say that you shifted when you were twenty one? That’s strange since most shifters usually have their first shift when they’re sixteen.” Tomas rubbed his hands together and breathed between them to generate heat.
“Do you want a coffee or something?”
“Huh? Oh no, I’m fine thank you.”
“You say that you tracked me to here? How did you do that?” Ramona leaned back in the seat and watched as Tomas sat up straighter in the booth, his head hanging low.
“I used to be the best tracker in my clan. A lot of other shifters wouldn’t have been able to track you because of the stench of the city — it masked most your scent. You chose the perfect place to hide, if you are hiding from something or someone.”
“Used to be the best? Don’t you have a clan anymore?”
“Not now. I was thrown out because I was different from the others.” Tomas’s voice cracked slightly and Ramona watched as he took and deep breath and murmured something under his breath before returning his gaze to hers.
“How are you different from the others?”
“I don’t feel comfortable sharing that information with someone I barely know.” Tomas licked his lips and gazed down at the menu before nodding. “I’ve changed my mind. I’m feeling a bit better now. Can I please have the breakfast platter and some coffee?”
“The breakfast platter feeds four people.” Ramona warned as she stood up and jotted the order down.
“That’s fine. I’ve not eaten in a while.”
“Alright.” She shrugged and placed the order in the kitchen, then surveyed the guy from across the room. He seemed to be very jumpy and scared of most people. A small child walked past him and reached out for something and Tomas flinched away from the child’s grabbing hands, a look of fear on his face. She wasn’t sure what had happened to Tomas in his old clan, but it obviously wasn’t a good thing.
Ramona returned to the table with Tomas’s order and watched as his eyes lit up with pleasure and he dug into the mountain of food, a smile on his face the entire time. Ramona couldn’t help but watch as he devoured the food before sitting back and patting his stomach.
“I’ve not felt this full in months.”
“How long have you been without your people?”
“It’s been just over a months now. Explain to me how you didn’t know about the other breeds of shifters.”
“I didn’t even know until my dad died and on the full moon I turned into a grizzly bear in the middle of my living room. That was three years ago and it’s not fair, I just want it all to stop. It’s always painful and I have no control over my body for the rest of the night.” Ramona took a deep breath to hold the tears back. Each month she was forced to become something she hated and despised. No matter how hard she had tried to fix this curse she hadn’t been able to find a way.
“You’d never been able to shift before your dad died?”
“Did you dad go out every full moon or at least once a month?”
“He was always on business trips at least once a month. I didn’t question it.”
“I think you might have a curse. Listen to me before you get all angry at me. You didn’t start shifting until after your dad died, you can’t control your bear, while most shifters including myself can control their inner animals. These are two of the main signs that this is a curse and not something you were born into.”
“I know it’s a curse. So this isn’t what happens to everyone? People are born into this?”
“Yes, people are born into this, into their clan or flock depending on what type of shifter they are. Their parents will teach them the right procedures, so that once they do finally shift for the first time that it’s not so painful. The curse you have sounds like a very rare form.”
“Do you know any way I can get rid of it?” Ramona felt her heart flutter in excitement at the thought of breaking this curse.
“Did your dad keep a journal? Most leaders of a clan have a journal.”
“We don’t have a clan. It was just me and him. But he did always carry this thick leather book around with him. It’s probably in storage along with the rest of his stuff.” Ramona felt the first flare of hope that she hadn’t felt in years. Maybe Tomas could help her lift this curse.
“Do you think if I found the journal, you could look through it and help me?”
“Oh, I’m not sure I’m the right type of person for that job.” Tomas shook his head and twisted his hands together, a frown on his handsome face.
“Tomas, you seem to know so much about this and I could really use the help. I know I was rude to you yesterday but that was because I was scared. You’re the only other one I know who is the same as me.”
“I’m just not sure...”
“Look, here is my address. Come by after eight tonight, if you come then I know you’re willing to help me. The meal is on me by the way.” Ramona wrote her address on a napkin and took away the empty plates with a smile, before she disappeared behind the back door in the kitchen.