Nightshade Page 68

He wasn’t alone. In addition to the wraiths that swirled behind his shoulders, Logan and Lumine sat on the couch. Why are they all here? I tried to think about anything but turning Shay, not wanting them to sense my fear.

“I’ve been following orders.” I glanced at Logan, who nodded. “Like you asked.”

“Yes, so I’ve heard,” he said. “Our Ren thinks you’ve taken your orders a little too seriously.”

Am I going to have to give up time with Shay because Ren is jealous? “If I misunderstood—” I began.

“No, no. I know you’re the soul of innocence, dear Calla.” Logan laughed. “Ren’s hackles raise at the thought of any other male getting near you. But that’s who he is, nothing more. Keep up the good work with our boy.”

“Yes, Logan,” I murmured.

“Here we are,” my mother chirped, carrying a silver tray loaded with a tea service and miniature scones. “Welcome home, Calla. You’ll notice we have guests. Your father is out on patrol, of course.”

I nodded. My mother poured the tea. Maybe they hadn’t figured out their spider had been killed after all. But if they weren’t here to punish me, what was this visit about?

A car door slammed outside.

“That makes our company,” Lumine said, selecting a porcelain cup. More company?

There was a knock at the door.

“Calla, would you please get that while I serve tea?” I watched my mother’s nervous movements with growing anxiety. Who else could be coming?

I went to the door, letting it swing open to reveal two men. One I knew well, the other I’d only heard talk of. Talk that hadn’t been favorable.

“This must be Calla.” Ren’s father took his time looking me up and down. “Well, at least they aren’t giving you a horse face for a mate, boy. She’s not half bad, is she?”

I couldn’t help it; I snarled at him, showing my teeth.

He laughed, glancing at Ren. “And she’s got spirit. That’s good. Breaking her in will be all the more fun.”

Ren didn’t respond, keeping his eyes on our doormat. Emile Laroche shoved past me into the living room, taking in his surroundings like he was casing our house. It was a good thing my father was on patrol. I was trying so hard not to gape at the elder Bane alpha that I barely noticed when Ren came to my side, kissing my forehead in greeting.

“Nice to see you,” he murmured, taking my hand.

I mumbled my hello, still staring at Ren’s father. I’d never met Emile Laroche; until the recent melding of the young wolves, Nightshades and Banes had stayed clear of each other. The Bane alpha bore little resemblance to his son. Where Ren was strong but lithe, Emile was squat and broad, thick muscles straining against his clothes. Unlike Ren’s dark hair and eyes, Emile’s hair resembled matted straw, his eyes the pale blue of a frozen stream.

“Naomi!” Emile barked, grinning at my mother. “You’re a sight for sore eyes.”

“Emile.” Naomi kept her eyes downcast. “Can I offer you something to drink?”

“Something stronger than that,” he said, pointing at the tea.

“Of course.” She hurried toward the kitchen.

“For me as well,” Efron called after her before smiling at Emile. “Good man.”

“You’re welcome.” Emile leaned against the wall near Efron. “Good evening, mistress, young master.”

“Thank you for coming, Emile,” Lumine said, stirring her tea. “I know a meeting like this is somewhat unprecedented.”

My mother returned with drinks for Emile and Efron. She glanced around the room, pursing her lips. “I’ll get more chairs.”

“Aren’t you going to sit on my lap?” Emile said, downing his drink in one gulp. I stared at him, but Efron laughed heartily while Logan snickered. Lumine’s mouth turned down, disapproving, but she continued to sip her tea.

“I’ll just bring the bottle,” my mother murmured when Emile thrust his empty glass at her, and went back to the kitchen.

I helped her carry the kitchen chairs into the living room, settling near Ren and wondering what the hell was going on.

“It’s a shame Stephen isn’t here,” Lumine began.

“Yeah, a damn shame.” Emile snorted, lounging in his seat. “It’s been a few years since we’ve had a good fight.”

“Easy, friend,” Efron said. “We need both packs on this. You’ll have to set your prejudices aside for the time being.”

“What’s happened?” Naomi asked, handing Emile a bottle of scotch.

“We think something has gone wrong up at Haldis,” Lumine said. “We may have delayed putting the new pack out too long.”

I fixed my expression into what I hoped was a blank stare while horror curled at the base of my spine. They do know!

“We haven’t seen anything on patrols,” Naomi said.

“The problem occurred within the cavern itself,” Lumine continued. “One of the last lines of defense may have been taken out, but we can’t be certain without an investigation. Logan?”

But they don’t know everything. How soon will they put all the pieces together?

Logan turned to Ren and me. “You won’t be going to school tomorrow. I need the new pack to check out the area around the cavern and just inside the entrance. Don’t venture too far inside—you’ll know if you’ve disturbed her.”

“Her?” I repeated, trying to mask my astonishment.

“Unlike you, this beast is something of a pet.” Logan smiled. “A very deadly pet that keeps the cave protected. Should anything slip past our faithful Guardians, that is.”

“Will it attack us?” Ren asked.

“Without a doubt,” Logan said. “That’s why you make your observations and report back to me. She doesn’t leave her lair. If you see her alive, just go; she won’t pursue you beyond the mouth of the cave. If something has happened to her, we must find out how. Split your group. Send a few wolves to check the cave. The others should examine the perimeter to find out who or what has been near Haldis. We need to know if the Searchers have gotten close.”

“What is she?” Ren asked. His grip on my hand had tightened.

“I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise,” Logan said. “She’s quite spectacular.”

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