Nightshade Page 47

Shay gripped the arms of his chair. “I thought the Searchers were trying to destroy the world. Aren’t they the bad guys?”

I nodded, not having any explanations to offer.

He rose, shutting his laptop and picking up his backpack. “I’m sorry, but I need to leave. There’s too much . . .” He shook his head. “I need some time alone. But I’ll be back here tomorrow.”

I stayed still as he moved past me, wanting to go with him.

“And Calla.” He bent down for a moment, whispering into my hair. “I don’t think I’m the only one who’s being lied to.”


SHAY WASN’T IN FIRST PERIOD. A WAVE OF nausea swept over me.

Could the Keepers have done something to him?

I gnawed on my fingernails through my next two classes. When I walked into Organic Chemistry and saw him already seated at his lab station, I had to fight the urge to run across the room to embrace him. His two human lab partners caught sight of me and shrank to the other end of the station. Shay observed their swift retreat from the corner of his eye.

“Do you always have that effect on humans?” he asked, a smile hooking the edge of his lips.

“Usually, yes. All Guardians do. You’re a freak for not being terrified of me.” I leaned against the table, trying to keep my voice even. “Where were you this morning?”

“Worried about me?” His smile broadened. “Your very own freak?”

“Oh, please,” I lied.

“I cut.” He twirled a pencil between his fingers. “I didn’t feel like getting out of bed this morning.”

“I think your attitude about cutting class is a bit cavalier,” I said, annoyed that I’d been working up an ulcer while he slept in.

He lowered his voice, leaning toward me. “Well, according to you, my uncle is some kind of super-powered warlock, and according to Logan, he’s a Regent of this school. What are they gonna do, kick me out?”

“That may be the case, but I’d appreciate a little consideration,” I said. “For all I knew, the Keepers had given you to a wraith for breakfast.”

He frowned. “What’s a wraith?”

A chill ran down my spine. “Never mind. Just call next time, okay?”

“Are you giving me your phone number?” He flashed a teasing grin.

I couldn’t stop my own smile. “I guess I am.”

He pulled out his phone, punching in my number as I rattled it off.

“Want mine?” He raised his eyebrows and watched me, his face hopeful.

“Sure.” I drew out my own phone and entered the number he recited for me.

“Your sweetheart isn’t too happy about this,” Shay said, still smiling.

I looked toward the back of the room. Ren watched us as he leaned casually against the table, holding a pair of scissors. I’d never seen a classroom tool look so dangerous.

“Enjoy your lab,” I murmured, and headed for my usual seat, wanting to kick myself for being so openly friendly with Shay.

By the time I reached our table, Ren had busied himself setting up for the day’s experiment.

“Hey Ren.” I could barely hear myself over my racing pulse. When I looked at him, all I saw was my bed. All I felt was the heat of his body next to mine. All I heard was my shallow breath while his hands moved beneath my dress.

When I tried to fight those memories off, images of Shay took their place. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d betrayed Ren in some unforgivable way. But that very thought provoked my temper, conjuring up images of all the girls who’d happily accepted Ren’s kisses and more. Both impulses converged violently inside me, making it impossible for me to look at him.

But Ren didn’t seem inclined to look at me either.

“Calla.” He greeted me coldly. For the first time I could remember, I missed my much-hated nickname.

Is this what he means by no pressure? Or is he mad I was talking to Shay? God, I’m messing up everything.

I muted the sigh that welled in my chest and began digging for my lab workbook.

“So I see you’ve taken Logan’s orders to heart.” Ren’s growl sounded much closer than I’d expected. When I turned to face him, I almost jumped. He hovered over me, his body only inches from mine.

I shrugged. “Orders are orders.”

“Well, that should make him happy.” He placed one hand on the lab station, shifting his weight uneasily, standing so close my body could have nestled in the curve of his own if I only took another step forward.

I tried to focus on the conversation. “Logan? Yes, I’d imagine he’ll be pleased.”

“I meant Shay.” Ren glared at the front of the room.

My head was suddenly filled with lovely sacred virgins thrown into open graves, screaming as dirt was shoveled onto their still-living bodies. I have to fix this.

I placed my hand on his wrist. His gaze flitted back to me, softer now and curious.

“About the other night—” I am an alpha female. He is my mate. Why is this so hard?

He straightened, stepping away. My stomach knotted as I watched his retreat.

“Ms. Foris said this lab will take up the entire period,” he said. “We need to get started.”

“Ren—” I began, but his obsidian glare stopped me in my tracks.

“Just drop it.”

I strode forward, grasped his elbow, and turned him to face me.

“Listen to me, Ren. Everything is a mess right now and it’s been hard on all of us. Like you’ve said.”

He tried to turn away, but I growled, holding him still. A thin smile broke his stony expression.

“You need to know . . .” My courage faltered for a moment, but I drew a quick breath and plunged on, “That I don’t want you to leave me alone.”

The alpha tensed, eyes wary, as if he was waiting for my next qualifying statement. When none came, he carefully extricated his arm from my fingers. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

We carried out our assigned lab work in uncomfortable silence. By the end of the class I was miserable. Ren left the room without so much as a wave.

When I entered the cafeteria, I found the Haldis pack gathered around our two tables yet again, chattering contentedly. Dax, Fey, and Cosette sat in a group. The large senior gesticulated wildly while the two girls beamed at him. Bryn and Ansel sat close together in quiet conversation, but I was relieved to see that they had managed to curb their love-struck gazes at least a little.

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