Nightshade Page 53

I caught the scent a moment before something flickered on the edge of my vision.

“Calla!” Shay shouted, but I’d heard the buzz of the crossbow bolt and tipped over my chair. The bolt lodged in a book spine on the shelf that had been level with my chest a moment earlier. I sprawled on the floor, rolling just in time to see the Searcher taking aim again.

“No!” Shay shouted, jumping on the table and launching himself at the stranger. The Searcher grunted when Shay slammed against him, their entangled bodies tumbling along the floor.

“Shay, don’t! Just get out of here!” I shifted into wolf form, muscles tensed.

“Over here, wolf girl.” I turned to see another Searcher emerge from the stacks, a sword grasped in each hand. The blades flashed as they whirled in a lethal flurry of strokes.

I glanced toward Shay, still locked in combat, and then back at my new adversary. Both of the Searchers were young men, no more than twenty-five, and they seemed to be alone. Even so, they looked deadly: hardened faces, rough with shadows from lack of shaving, tangled nests of hair, and a feverish desperation in their eyes. I backed against the bookcase, snarling.

Shay struggled with the other Searcher. They wrestled on the floor, each straining for the advantage. The Searcher muttered unintelligibly, gritting his teeth as he attempted to overpower Shay, but he didn’t reach for a weapon.

“Come on, kid,” he hissed. “Ease off. I’m not going to hurt you. Just give me a chance to explain. Connor, get over here and give me a hand!”

Shay responded with a fist to the Searcher’s jaw. And then another to his face.

“I’m serious, kid.” The stranger spit blood, voice thick and suddenly nasal, and I guessed Shay had broken his nose. “We’re here to help you.”

“Stop messing around, Ethan, there’s no time to get chatty. Fight back. One blow to the head won’t kill him.” Connor took his eyes off me for a second and I threw myself forward, sliding along the wooden floor beneath the sweep of the sharp blades.

Connor swore, turning to track me, but I raced around the table toward Shay. Ethan threw his arm up so that my jaws locked around his biceps instead of his throat. He shrieked, trying to rip his arm from my mouth, but I dug my fangs in deeper and pulled against him. Shay leapt to his feet and dashed around the other side of the bookcase.

“Get off him, bitch!” Connor shouted.

I jumped away from Ethan when Connor lunged at us. His momentum brought him down hard on top of his companion. Ethan yelled, but the sound cut off as breath whooshed from his lungs.

“Run, Calla!” Shay cried. I bolted to the side and an avalanche of books crashed down on the two Searchers. A rush of air passed through my fur as the shelves smashed against the floor, inches from my body.

I looked up to see Shay standing in front of the next row of stacks. I shifted forms, darted to him, and shook my head when I caught sight of the smirk on his face.

“Are you hurt?” My eyes flicked over him.

“What? No kiss?” He pointed at the motionless pile of books, wood, and Searchers. “I’m a hero.”

“You’re impossible,” I said.

“Just trying to prove I’m as worthy as your wolf boy,” he said. “Let’s get the book and get the hell out of here.”

Shay took two leaps across the jumble, swept the Keeper’s book into his backpack, hooked his arm through the strap of my bag, and hurried back to me.

I gazed at the rubble of books and saw limbs peeking out; one of the Searchers’ fingers twitched.

“I really should kill them,” I murmured.

“I don’t think that would be a great idea,” Shay said, jerking his thumb toward the main area of the library. “We’re about to have an audience.”

“There was a horrible noise a moment ago. It came from back here.” A startled patron appeared from around the corner with the reference librarian in tow.

“Oh my God!” The patron dropped his reading glasses. “Is someone trapped underneath all that?”

“Call 911! Did you two see what happened?” The librarian clutched at her chest and I worried she might be having a heart attack. “Do you know who it is?”

The patron had pulled out a phone but stared at the mound of paperbacks and hardcovers in mute disbelief. The librarian snatched the cell from his hand and began punching buttons and muttering. No heart attack, just a drama queen.

“No, ma’am,” Shay said in a serious voice, offering wide, innocent eyes. “We just needed a quiet place to study. It didn’t work out so well.”

I couldn’t stop the smile that pulled at my mouth when I grabbed his hand and we ran from the library.


BLOOD MOON. SAMHAIN. BLOOD MOON. Samhain. I made my way to class, unable to think of anything else. They were so close now, and I felt less certain than ever about both.

When I walked into Organic Chemistry, Ren flashed a broad smile.


I couldn’t resist the challenge in his eyes. I aimed a kick at his shin, and he darted out of the way.

As we set up the lab, I glanced at the alpha. “Ren, what do you know about Samhain?”

He put on an overly thoughtful expression and wandered toward me. “Let’s see, it is my birthday and yours. But of course, you already know that.”

I blushed when he stepped behind me, encircling my waist with his arms.

His lips brushed against my ear. “I believe the answer that will not get me in trouble with you is: the happiest day of my life. Or something along those lines. Definitely not the end of my carefree days or when I get a ball and chain. Hmmm, I’m just realizing that I’m going to have to buy you birthday and anniversary presents at the same time. What a pain.”

“Oh, please.” I pushed him off with sharp jabs of my elbows.

His smile remained impish as he sidled back to the table and began to measure tea leaves. I flipped open my workbook.

“So we’re extracting the caffeine from tea?”

“Looks like.” He pulled out a set of scales.

I handed him a beaker and toyed with the pleats of my skirt. The folds kept rippling against my knees in a distracting way. It was one of Naomi’s additions to my wardrobe. I quickly decided that I hated it.

“I was being serious. Samhain. Do you know anything about the rites?”

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