Nightshade Page 56

Just when I was certain she wouldn’t tell us, she said, “A Searcher. One we’d captured.”

“Oh,” I said. The face of the Searcher I’d fought outside Eden flashed in my mind. I remembered his screams in Efron’s office. Could he still be alive? Would the Keepers drag him out of some secret prison only to throw him at our feet at the ceremony?

A buzzing sound came from my bed. Fey dug under a heap of crinoline until she found my phone. “Should I answer it?”

“Who is it?” I asked.

She glanced at the screen. “Shay.”

The brush stopped mid-stroke. “Who’s Shay?” my mother asked.

“The human kid we’re babysitting for Logan.” Fey tossed the phone to me.

“Mom!” I yelped, barely managing to catch my phone as she jerked a fistful of my hair.

I heard the brush hit the ground, and in the next moment my mother stood before me. Her face was paler than the rumpled sheets on my bed. “The Keepers’ human is calling you? Why?”

“You know about Shay?” The phone was still vibrating in my hand.

“I—” She bent down, picking up the brush. “I may have heard something from Lumine. I didn’t know the boy’s name.”

“What did Lumine say about him?” I watched as she busied herself tidying my nightstand.

“It’s not important.” She didn’t look up. “I didn’t realize you were on familiar terms.”

“Too familiar,” Sabine muttered.

“What do you mean?” My mother looked at her and then at me. “Are you fraternizing with young men other than Ren? That’s shameful!”

I tried to kick Sabine and would have tipped over if Bryn hadn’t caught me.

“Of course she isn’t, Naomi,” Bryn said. “Logan has asked Calla to watch over Shay. Keep him safe.”

My mother’s face went even whiter. “Why would he—”

She fell silent and started to fluff the pillows. I glanced at my buzzing phone, unsure what to do.

“Naomi, didn’t you say we’d have dessert and presents soon?” Bryn asked. “I think we could use a break.”

“Yes, yes!” My mother looked relieved, heading for the door. “I’ve prepared tea and petit fours. We’ll enjoy refreshments in the parlor.”

“Thanks, Bryn,” I whispered as the other girls followed my mother out the door.

She squeezed my arm before running to catch Fey, who turned to her with a frown. “What the hell is a petit four?”

I flipped open the phone. “Hey.”

“Calla.” Shay sounded surprised. “I didn’t think you’d pick up.”

“Yeah.” The sound of my mother giving instructions on the correct placement of china and silver drifted up the stairs. “I only have a couple minutes.”

“This will be quick,” he said. “I think I realized why we can’t find anything useful in the library.”


“Something was bugging me about those alchemy symbols,” he said. “You know the ones in the picture with the cross?”


“So I did some hunting, and that’s not the only place they are.” I heard the rustling of pages. “There’s a triangle on the map. The one I used to get up the mountain. Right on the cave.”

“There’s a triangle on Haldis Cavern?”

“Yes,” he said. “An upside-down triangle cut by a single line.”

“That’s earth,” I said, mentally reviewing the alchemy symbols. “The cave must have something to do with the elemental power of earth.”

“You don’t know what’s in the cave?” Shay asked.

“In the cave?” I repeated. “I assumed it was the place that mattered. The Keepers have always referred to it as a sacred site. You think there’s something inside?”

“I think we should find out.”

“You’re serious?”

“We can’t go back to the library after the Searchers attacked us there,” he said. “You’ve already pointed that out. But we have to try something.”

“I’m not sure.” My mouth went dry. “The cavern is at a high elevation. There will already be a lot of snow up there.”

“I’m a good climber. I’ll manage,” he said. “I know I can do it, Cal.”

“It would have to be on a Sunday, when Bryn and I patrol,” I mused. “Getting rid of Bryn isn’t a problem. She’d jump at the chance to spend the day alone with Ansel. But we might not be able to make the climb quickly enough to get to the cavern and back before the next Nightshade patrol showed up. Well, I could do it . . .”

“Don’t think for a sec that I’ll let you go without me.”

My mother appeared in the doorway, waving a doily at me. “Calla, time for presents and games! Do you need help getting out of your dress? Be careful not to lose any pins.”

“Games?” I felt a little sick.

“Games?” Shay’s laughter crackled in my ear. “Are you having a bridal shower over there? No wonder you wouldn’t tell me what you were doing. You must be miserable.”

I put my hand over the phone. “I’ll be down in a sec, Mom.”

“It’s rude to keep guests waiting,” she said sourly before she disappeared back down the stairs.

“Calla?” Shay said. “Are you there?”

I stared at my reflection, imagining how much fun it would be to shred the dress into the world’s most expensive confetti. “I’m here. Sorry.”

“So when are we going?”

Shay’s eager tone made me want to laugh and cry. Samhain was only a little more than a week away. Once the union took place, there would be no sneaking off with Shay. I wondered if I’d be able to see him at all. “This Sunday. We’re going to the cave this Sunday.”

“In three days?” he said. “Oh, man, I was excited about my brilliant plan. Now I’m just nervous.”

“You should be. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Aren’t you going to tell me about your dress?”

I hung up on him.

“I’m coming, Mom!” I shouted, hopping off the pedestal.

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