Nightshade Page 13

“You’re sure about this?” I sighed.

She bobbed her head with a little too much enthusiasm. “You have to look fierce, Cal. You’re our alpha. Make an impression.”

“Fine. I’ll wear it. But only with a jacket,” I said. “And I’m still wearing my jeans.”

Bryn frowned for a moment but then shrugged. “I guess that works. Suit yourself.”

She sat on the bed while I stripped off my T-shirt and bra and wiggled into the corset.

“I’ll lace it up,” Bryn said. “Just tell me when you can’t breathe.”

“Great,” I said.

“Say uncle!” She jerked the stays.

“That’s tight enough!” I choked, glancing down. Oh my God.

“I’d kill for your boobs,” Bryn said to my reflection.

I snatched my leather jacket from the back of a chair, pulling it tight around my body.

“I didn’t have these boobs until you cinched it up.”

She laughed. “Ren’s going to turn inside out when he sees you.”


“Well, that’s the point, isn’t it?”

I didn’t answer. Maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing. The union was getting so close. I wanted him to want me, even if we couldn’t act on it.

She was quiet for a minute. “He hasn’t bothered you again, has he?”

“I wouldn’t say he’s bothering me,” I mused. “Ren’s just being Ren.”

“I wasn’t talking about Ren.”

“Oh.” I frowned. “No. Nothing else. He hasn’t tried to talk to me since Logan pulled him out of Big Ideas.” I fiddled with the embroidery on the corset’s hem, thinking about how I wished he would try, even if I shouldn’t want him to.

“And Mr. Selby?”

“Back in class like nothing happened.”

“Well, maybe everything will get back to normal now.” She smiled.

“Nothing will be normal if I have to keep wearing stuff like this.” I rapped my knuckles on the corset’s boning. “At least it might be able to double as armor.”

A gasp followed by several coughs came from my bedroom door. I turned to see Ansel, ashen-faced, staring at us from the doorway. I quickly buttoned my jacket, but his eyes were locked on Bryn.

“Are you feeling okay?” I frowned at my little brother.

Ansel seemed to have lost his ability to blink.

Bryn smiled at him. “What’s up, Cub Scout?”

“Come on, Bryn.” He kicked at the door frame. “I’m a sophomore now.”

“Yep, and we’re seniors. Which makes you a cub as far as I’m concerned.”

“Whatever. I just wondered when you guys were gonna be ready.” Ansel stared at his shoes. “Mason said he’d drive—his parents gave him the Land Rover for the night. Fey is already at his house. He wants to know when he should pick us up.”

“Half an hour, tops,” I said. “Bryn, do you have fashion tips for my brother too?”

She wandered over to Ansel, who stood transfixed in the doorway. She tugged at the collar of his black silk shirt, deftly unfastened one button more than Ansel had left open, and eyed his jeans critically. After a moment she smiled, patting his cheek.

“Nah, he’s adorable.”

Ansel swallowed and then bolted from the door frame.

“I’ll yell when Mason gets here!” he called without looking back.

The bouncer, a Titanesque Bane elder, took our names and jerked his thumb toward a stairway cordoned off from the main floor of the club.

“VIPs head upstairs.” His eyes were respectful but wary as they moved over our party.

“Thanks.” I led the Nightshades up the steel staircase to the second level of the warehouse-like club. Eden throbbed with a mix of industrial beats and dark trance. Humans packed the main dance floor, pulsing and swaying with the heavy bass. Bryn elbowed me. Compared to the other women in the room, I could have been mistaken for a nun.

“Are you going to say I told you so?” I glared at her as I pulled off my jacket, baring my arms, shoulders, and far too much else.

“I don’t think I have to.”

“You’re not gonna fall out of that, are you?” Ansel laughed.

“Shut up or I’ll make you wait in the car.”

Mason darted forward, wrapped his arm around my shoulders, and pecked me on the cheek. “You look fabulous. Ignore them—go forth and conquer.”

I squeezed his hand but wrinkled my nose when we reached the second floor. Mason frowned when he caught the scent in the same moment. We both glanced up at the ceiling. No less than six wraiths floated in and out of the scaffolding above us.

“Tight security,” he murmured.

“No kidding.” I fought to keep my eyes off the shadow guards who hovered fifteen feet over our heads.

Bryn flinched when she saw the dark figures skimming along the ceiling. Ansel twined his fingers through hers and tugged her forward.

“Come on, we’re on the list, right? Efron’s guests. No trouble.”

Bryn let my brother guide her onto the dance floor. Fey brought up the rear of our pack. Her lips half curled in a snarl as her gaze darted up at the wraiths. She took a few quick steps forward to catch us.

“So what do we do now?” she asked. “Just shut up and dance?”

I shook my head. “We need to find our hosts and thank them for inviting us.”

Fey put her hands on her hips. “You’re trying to kill me from prolonged Sabine exposure, aren’t you?”

“Just say hello. Then shut up and dance.”

“Deal.” She shook her red hair so that it fanned around her shoulders, making her look like a lioness.

The dance floor gleamed, shimmering colors running across the black surface like it was a pool of oil. Bodies pulsed, pressed together, in rhythm with the throbbing bass line that shook the entire club. A sleek silver bar extended along the far side of the room. Dark velvet couches ringed the dance floor.

Professional dancers, scantily clad and wielding whips, writhed on platforms scattered throughout the room. Broad, leathery wings sprouted from some of the dancers’ backs. Given Efron’s reputation, I couldn’t be sure if they were part of the dominatrix costumes or the real thing.

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