This is one of (hopefully) many on one of my favorite topics, words which defy the "I before e, except after c, unless as an a, as in neighbor, or weigh" rule.
gotta go find my list.
It's an E sound, there's no C anywhere near it (I mean, yes, the E is, literally, 'after C' but it's quite a bit after).
Never noticed it.
Not after C, nor sounding like A.
Is 'C' perhaps covered by the 'K'?