Nightshade Page 41

“Don’t knock gossip.” I pinched his hand. “It makes the world go round.”

“Too true,” he said, laughing softly. “We can find out what’s in this book. It might be slow, but we’ll be able to pull a translation together.”

“I can’t read it,” I said, twisting my fingers tightly around his. “I’m just too afraid. And I suck at Latin.”

“So you want me to do all the work and just tell you what’s in the book?” Shay said. “Nice try, grasshopper.”

“I can still help,” I said. “While you translate, I’ll do research. Look up secondary materials that you need to understand the history. I can also answer questions about my world, things that might not make sense as you read them.”

He nodded, sliding the Keeper’s text into his backpack. “That would be helpful. But how are you going to manage to keep it quiet? I thought you weren’t supposed to mix with humans.”

I leaned against the headrest. “Well, one of the new orders I just received is to spend more time with you. The exact words were that I should be your ‘de facto bodyguard.’”

His eyes lit up. “That doesn’t sound bad at all.” I stopped his hand when he began moving it up my thigh.

“I still have rules to follow.”

“Your rules, not mine,” he teased before I pushed his fingers onto the seat. “The library is open until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday. As much as I’d like to cut school every day, I’ll probably just work on this from four to eight on those nights. Can you meet me?”

“Yeah. I only have patrol on Sundays.” I chewed on my lip as I committed myself to treason.

“Good. Then that’s our plan.” A devious grin split his face. “It’s going to be fun.”

“Risking our lives is fun?”

“Why not?” he said, opening the passenger door. “I’ll start on this tonight and maybe I’ll have some research questions for you tomorrow.”

“Thanks, Shay.”

“It’s been a pleasure, she-wolf.” He climbed out of the Jeep before I could hit him.


A SHINY BLACK GRAND CHEROKEE WAS parked in our driveway. I frowned, wondering why Ren’s SUV was still at our house. I walked in the front door and heard piano chords in a minor key lilting from the living room. Ren was seated at the kitchen table. He stood as I approached.

“What are you doing here?” The question came out more sharply than I intended; the Bane alpha had never visited my home before.

“I spent some time talking with your brother,” he replied, glancing toward the stairs. “And then I waited for you to come home. Your parents said it would be all right.”

“Why?” I rested my hands on the back of a kitchen chair. “I mean, why are you waiting for me?”

“I wanted to talk with you.”

“About what?”

He looked back at the stairs. “Can we go to your room?”

I bit my lip, suddenly feeling a little dizzy. “I guess. It might be messy.” I envisioned dunes of clothes we’d have to navigate. “Just let me check in with my mom and dad, okay?”

“Of course.”

I rolled my tense shoulders back as I walked to the living room, trying to loosen the muscles.

I had paused in the hall, staying out of sight, when I heard their anxious voices. Something was up.

“The boy’s nearly a man and built like the best sort of warrior,” my father said. “There’s no sense worrying over it. And Calla’s always been a good fighter; she’ll hold her own.”

“Maybe,” my mother replied. “But why the change? Neither of them will expect it. It’s a harsh trial. They’re so young.”

“Only a few years younger than we were, Naomi. The point of the trial is to prove their ability to fight as a pair,” my father said. I heard the clink of glass as he poured himself a drink. “It’s still a kill like any other.”

“It is not.” My mother’s voice shook. “She’s never killed a—”

At the word kill, I dropped my bag. Their voices stopped when it thudded on the hardwood floor.

Great. No sense in hiding now. I kicked my bag toward the kitchen.

When I walked into the living room, my parents looked startled.

“Good evening, Calla,” my mother said, working to compose herself. “We didn’t hear you come in.”

My father leaned back in his leather chair; his eyes were closed, but I knew he was awake. Chopin’s notes trickled around me like a slow-moving stream under a moonless sky.

“Hi.” I clasped my hands behind my back. “Ren and I are going upstairs to chat for a while.”

“That sounds lovely, dear,” my mother said. “Don’t you think that will be nice for Calla, Stephen?”

“Should be fine.” An uncharacteristic smile curved along one corner of my father’s mouth. “Ren is an impressive young man . . . nothing like Emile. That was a pleasant surprise.”

I blinked at him in disbelief. He continued to smile.

“Trust me, Cal. Your life will be much more pleasant than if you’d been mated to Ren’s father.”

“Uh, okay.” I started back toward the kitchen, wishing I knew what they’d been talking about earlier.

“Calla.” My mother’s coaxing voice stopped me. “It is of course perfectly acceptable for Renier to call on you, but remember that you are a lady. Don’t bring shame on yourself by making poor choices.”

“No, of course not.” I kept my eyes on the hardwood floor, thinking about Shay’s kiss and how much more I’d wanted from him.

A sly smile hovered on Ren’s lips when I returned to the kitchen table.

If he heard what Mom said, I’m going to kill her.

“Let’s go, then.” I waved for him to follow me upstairs. “So you talked to Ansel?”

“Mason called me while I was driving your brother home. He wanted to make sure Ansel didn’t get any ideas about vigilante justice.”

I paused in front of my bedroom door.

“Why did he call you?” The news stung; Mason really didn’t trust me.

“You don’t have to be territorial, Lily,” Ren said with a quiet laugh. “He suggested that because you’re Ansel’s sister, the cub might not take your warnings to heart. Besides, I’m the alpha wolf of the pack now. It’s protocol that they come to me first. Even before you.”

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