Nightshade Page 45

I jotted the phrase down amid the scattered triangles on my notebook page.

“What comes before the proverb?”

“More nonsense.” His frustration trickled out with the reply. “There are two lines set apart from the text at the very end of the book. The last line is the proverb and the other is ‘may the Scion bear the cross.’”

“May the Scion bear the cross. The cross is the anchor of life,” I murmured, then looked at Shay and saw comprehension dawning in his eyes even as a chilling wave poured down my spine.

“What does Scion mean, Shay?” I whispered.

His Adam’s apple moved up and down as he swallowed. “It means ‘descendant.’”

“Descendant of whom?” I was right, he is someone.

“It isn’t specific; it can be a descendant of anyone. Sometimes it’s used to mean ‘heir.’”

“Shay—” I reached for his shoulder, hoping to turn him. I was afraid to touch him, but I wanted to look at the tattoo again.

“No,” he said sharply. He pulled away from my hand, pacing toward the tall bookshelves that surrounded us.

I jumped up. “That has to be you. You bear the cross. It’s on your neck. You’re the Scion.”

“No, no, no.” He backed away as I approached him. “This is all—it’s some kind of trick. Or sick joke.” His face was drawn. He glared at me accusingly.

“I have a tattoo I can’t see. My uncle isn’t a person, but a witch. And now I’m some special descendant who is mentioned in a book that was transcribed hundreds of years before I was born? I don’t think so.”

When I realized he was about to bolt, I did the only thing I could imagine would stop him.

“Shay.” The razor-sharp edge in my voice locked him in place.

In that instant I leapt forward, shifting into a wolf in midair, and knocked him onto the floor. My forepaws dug into his chest, pinning him to the ground. I shifted back into human form.

“You may wish I was lying, but you’re looking at a girl who can turn into a wolf whenever she wants. Remember?” I brushed his cheek with my fingers, too aware of the way my body melted against him. I closed my eyes, taking in his scent, the heat of his body.

Shay reached up and wrapped his arms around my neck. One hand cupped the back of my head. He pulled me toward him. Before I could react, his lips were on mine.

The kiss started slowly, a sweet, tentative searching. The soft touch of his mouth mesmerized me. I parted my lips for him, letting desire draw me down.

Shay’s kiss deepened; his hand ran along my back, tracing the length of my braid, sliding beneath my shirt to stroke my skin. I felt like I was drinking sunlight. My fingers moved from his chest to his neck and stroked the line of his jaw. I pressed into him, wanting to know more of the mysteries he pulled so easily from my body. More of this freedom, this wildness.

Shay grasped my hips and in a swift motion turned us, pinning me to the floor. His hands moved beneath my shirt, his body pressing hard against mine. I could smell his rising desire mixing with my own, our feverish need infusing the air like lightning about to strike. Instead of being pulled down into him, I was rising up, legs wrapping around him. His fingers moved carefully, tracing my curves, lingering in places that stole my breath, binding me to him and yet setting me free. My own gasp of pleasure against his mouth brought the world hurtling back.

The room spun as I pulled out of his embrace, stumbling toward the table. My heart rammed against my ribs, insistent and painful.

I can’t do this, I can’t. But I wanted to. More than anything.

He scrambled to his feet, smiling at me. The warm light was in his eyes again.

“What’s wrong?”

I stomped angrily back to my chair without speaking, hating myself, my body still aching from when I’d wrenched free of Shay.

“Oh, right.” His smile flattened. “Kissing rules and your impending nuptials. When is that happening again?”

“Samhain.” My heart cramped when I thought about how close it was.

“So—what?” He tried to sound out the word. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”

I crumpled a piece of paper and threw it at him. “For someone whose name most people would read as SEE-MUSS, that’s pretty pathetic.”

He picked up my notebook missile, tossing it in the nearest wastebasket. “Just because I have an Irish name doesn’t make me an expert in all old languages.”

“You’re pretty good at Latin,” I countered.

“Which is why I don’t have time to learn all the others,” he said.

“Fair enough,” I said. “Samhain. SOW-WHEN.”

“Okay, Samhain.” He pronounced it correctly. “Your wedding day. So when is it?”

“October thirty-first.”

“Halloween?” He scowled. “How romantic.”

“Halloween doesn’t matter. Samhain does.” I threw him a warning glare, which he ignored.

“And it’s a big deal because . . .” He waved his hand to mimic smoke rising in the air.

“The Keepers can renew their powers that night. The veil between the worlds is thinnest at Samhain.”

Shay’s hand dropped. “What worlds?”

“This one and the nether.”

“Sounds scary.” He grabbed a pen and jotted some notes, but I saw his fingers shaking. I wondered if it was from actual fear or if his body was still taut with frustrated desire like mine.

“It probably is,” I agreed. “Luckily the Guardians just patrol the perimeter. I’ve never had to see what they do.”

I suddenly felt queasy.

“Whoa.” Shay peered at me. “You’re all green. What’s up?”

I gripped the edge of the table, wishing the dizziness would subside. “I’ll have to see it this year.”

He leaned forward. “Why?”

“The ceremony is different this time.” My nails took a thin peel of varnish off the table. “Because they picked that night for the union, I’ll be there.”

“Do you know what it involves?” His own face had whitened.

“No,” I said. “The ritual of the union is a secret. I don’t know much about it at all.”

“Sucks for you,” he muttered. “Like everything else about this.”

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