Nightshade Page 31

I glanced at the clock. Our lab period was nearly over. I moved over to the sink and began to dump out liquids from our beakers.

“So, Ren.” I winced at Ashley’s smoky tone. “I know it’s over a month away, but there’s bound to be a line of girls waiting to ask you to Blood Moon.”

My teeth ground together. I wiped out one beaker with a paper towel and grabbed another.

“We had such a great time at prom last year.” Ashley’s wistful sigh buried barb-like into my neck. “And we haven’t hung out in a while. Would you like to go with me?”

“Sorry, Ash,” he said. “I’m spoken for.”

“You already have a date for the ball?” Her shrill voice was a little too loud.


I heard Ashley shuffle her feet. “Well, who is it?” she whined.


The beaker in my hand shattered. I swore as glass shards buried in my palm.

Ren was instantly at my side. “Come on, Cal. What did that beaker ever do to you?”

I shook my head, still cursing, and began to pull clear, razor-edged bits of glass from my skin.

“Are you okay?” Ashley managed to sound concerned as she leaned over our lab station. “Oh my God. There’s so much blood.”

Despite the pain in my hand, I smiled when she turned green and fled.

“I’ll get the first aid kit.” Ren left the station, returning a moment later with a red-cross-emblazoned white box.

“I told Ms. Foris it wasn’t bad. If she saw your hand, she’d try to send you to the hospital for stitches.”

I stuck my gushing hand under the stream of water from the faucet.

“Make sure you get all the pieces. The wounds will close fast, and you don’t want glass trapped under your skin. I had that happen once; it hurts like hell.”

“Thanks,” I replied wryly. “I think I can manage.”

He handed me a paper towel when I withdrew my hand from under the faucet. I checked the gashes for remaining shards and then pressed the towel against my palm.

“How did you break the beaker?” Ren leaned against the table, frowning at me. “I’d say you don’t know your own strength. But you most definitely do.”

“I heard some shocking news.” I extended my uninjured hand toward him, expecting that he’d hand me the gauze.

“Let me.” He took my marred palm in his fingers and began to dress the wounds. “What news?” he asked, gently taping squares of filmy cotton to my palm.

“That I have a date for the Blood Moon Ball.” I tried to sound offended but was distracted by the soft touch of his fingers on my skin. “I didn’t realize you were telling people we’re dating.”

He examined my bandaged hand and then stood up. “Yeah. It seemed like the appropriate response at the moment. It’s not like I can send wedding invitations out to all my exes. Anyway, it will get the word out so I won’t have to be turning girls down for the next three weeks.”

I snorted. “You think more girls are going to ask you?”

He looked up at me, smiling. I pulled my eyes from his teasing face and glared at the floor.

Of course they would.

He walked to the trash can. When he returned to our lab station, where I stood with my hands on my hips, he abruptly tensed.

“Calla, did you honestly think I’d still be dating other girls between now and the union?”

I turned away, no longer able to meet his eyes. “I have no idea.”

“Well,” he growled, “I’m not.”

He began to put our supplies into the cabinet, slamming the wooden door shut with such force that I jumped.

“I’m sorry to lay such a heavy burden on you,” I said, clenching my fists and wincing as my injured palm throbbed.

“What are you talking about?” His head whipped around.

A loud clearing of someone’s throat turned my gaze from Ren to the end of our station. Shay stood there, eyes burning with blatant dislike as they settled on my lab partner.

“Excuse me, Ren.” He spoke through clenched teeth. “Would you mind if I spoke to Calla alone?”

Ren moved toward Shay, looking him slowly up and down. When the other boy squared his shoulders, I could see the Bane alpha fighting not to laugh. “That’s really up to Calla.”

Shay glanced at me; the angry cut of his mouth dissolved into a grimace. I shifted uneasily, looking from Ren to Shay.

Ren suddenly grabbed his bag. “No problem. She’s all yours.”

My heart lurched. “No, wait!” I said, catching his hand in mine.

The alpha stilled as I turned toward Shay.

“You and I have nothing to discuss.” I watched my words cut him like the broken glass that had sliced my own palm.

Shay’s fists balled up when I drew Ren’s arm around my waist.

“Walk me to lunch?” The bell rang as the words passed my lips.

“Of course.” He guided me away from our station, leaving Shay fuming at the table.

When we were out of the classroom, Ren glanced at me. “What was that all about?”

I felt a twinge of disappointment when he dropped his hand from my waist.

“Nothing.” I had to fight not to tremble as I formed the lie. “He’s just a little starstruck after the ‘muggers’ attacked us on Friday. Been hovering around me too much.”

“Is he bothering you?” he asked.

“Come on, Ren.” I lightened my tone. “He’s the Keepers’ boy; you can’t bully him. Besides, you know I can kick his ass just as easily as you could. He’s a little annoying, but it’s no big deal.

“Anyway . . .” My heart picked up speed. I still didn’t trust Shay’s desire to get closer to me, but I couldn’t deny that I enjoyed his attention. “He’ll get the right idea now that the word’s out that we’re dating.”

Ren pulled up, catching my upper arms in a gentle grasp. “You’re going to start calling me your boyfriend?”

“If you think it’s a good idea.”

“If I think it’s a good idea?” He ruffled his hair with one hand. “I just don’t get you, Lily.”

When we arrived in the cafeteria, our packmates had already congregated at our usual tables. Seven young wolves laughed at Neville, who stood on top of a chair singing “If I Were a Rich Man” at the top of his lungs. He was dressed in his regular open-mike-poetry all-black ensemble, making it one of the most bizarre scenes I’d ever laid eyes on.

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