Nightshade Page 73

“Sometimes I blast music from my room and open the door so it fills up the halls,” he said. “It helps a little.”

We turned down a long corridor. Floor-to-ceiling portraits of life-sized figures hung from the walls at regularly spaced intervals. I glanced at one and froze. A man was suspended in a black void, face contorted by agony, his tormentors obscured by the dark hues of the canvas. I looked at the painting on the opposite wall. It was similar, but featured a woman.

“Can we walk faster?” I muttered.

“Sorry,” Shay said. “I should have warned you about the paintings. Bosque’s taste in art tends toward the morbid.”

“No kidding.” I kept my eyes on the floor as we walked forward. “What are they anyway?”

“I don’t know,” he said. “I thought they might be portraits of the martyrs, but they don’t have labels, and the forms of torment don’t correspond with those of any of the Christian martyrs I know about.”

“So he just likes pictures of people suffering?”

“Maybe,” he replied. “Lots of art is about suffering and death, though. Bosque’s paintings aren’t any different than stuff you see in museums.”

“I guess.”

He turned sharply to the right and I hurried after him down a side hall. When I came around the next corner, I almost collided with a man. A beautiful man with broad, leathery wings. I shouted in surprise, dropping to the floor as I shifted forms, baring my fangs.

“What is it, Cal?” Shay frowned, seemingly oblivious to the menace a few feet from where he stood.

I stalked past him, eyeing the tall winged creature that held a spear aloft in one hand, its point aimed straight at us. The incubus stood immobile, paused mid-action, ready to release its weapon.

“It’s a statue.” Shay laughed. “You’re growling at a sculpture.”

I inched forward, sniffing the marble foot of the incubus. Shay was still laughing when I shifted forms and glared at him.

“You could have warned me that there were sculptures of incubi in the house.”

“There are tons of sculptures in this house. I don’t think you can go more than fifty feet without running into one. There are even more in the gardens.”

“Are they all like this one?” I eyed the statue.

“Lots of them,” he said. “Some of them are winged women, not men, but all of them have weapons like this one. Some of them are animals—well, mythological creatures, not real animals.”

I shuddered.

“Why did it scare you?” he said. “I thought you were worried about wraiths.”

“There are other things to worry about besides wraiths,” I murmured.

“Are you saying that this statue is modeled on something real?” He reached out, touching the tip of the incubus’s wing.


He jerked his hand back. “Damn.”

“So where are we going on this tour anyway?” I asked, wanting to get away from the statue.

“I thought I’d show you my room.” He smiled shyly. “It’s at the end of this hallway.”

He led me down the hall, pausing in front of the last door on the right.

“Well?” I waited for him to open the door.

“I was just trying to remember the last time I cleaned my room,” he said.

“Bosque’s staff doesn’t do that for you?” I poked him in the side and grinned.

He shook his head. “They would, but I asked them not to. I’d rather not have strangers rummaging around my things.”

“Especially when you’re reading a forbidden book as a bedtime story?”

“Well, that too.” He smiled, opening the door.

Shay’s room was halfway between messy and clean. The bed was piled with books, and a couple of discarded sweaters hung from a wooden chair. The Keeper’s text lay open on an antique writing desk. Haldis rested beside the book, giving off a muted glow in the afternoon light. But you could see the floor, and there weren’t any precariously tipping mountains of dirty clothes, which was more than I could say for my own room.

Shay glanced around. “Not too bad.”

“For me this would qualify as a major improvement,” I said.

“Well, it’s good to know I’m not offending any obsessive cleaning standards you keep hidden.”

When I laughed, he stepped closer, running a hand through his hair.

“So . . .” he murmured.

The air in the room suddenly felt electric. I was all too aware that Shay and I were alone in his bedroom. Get a grip, Cal. Can you control your hormones for five minutes?

I cast my eyes around the room, unnerved and desperate to break the tension. As much as I wanted Shay to touch me, my fight with Ren had made me less willing to take risks. My gaze fell on a large steamer trunk half hidden by a pair of jeans.

“What’s this?” I walked over to it.

“Nothing, really,” he said, following me. “Just stuff I’ve collected and carted around with me over the years.”

I threw him a mischievous smile. “I don’t believe you.”

“Hey!” He didn’t grab my arm quickly enough to stop me when I knelt beside the trunk and flipped open the latch, lifting the heavy lid.

I began to laugh immediately. “It’s all comics.”

“Well, yeah.” He bent down, straightening the stacks. “But they’re really good comics, and some are very rare.”

I browsed through a few. As I lifted one stack, my fingers brushed against something soft. I frowned, pushed aside the comics, and buried my fingers in the plush material. I drew my hand from the trunk and saw that my fist clasped a fine wool blanket.

Shay cleared his throat. “My mother made that for me.”

“I remember.” I trailed my fingers along the soft cable weave. “It’s the only thing you have of hers.”

He pulled the blanket from my hands.

“Is something wrong?” I asked, worried I’d offended him by picking it up.

“I don’t know,” he murmured. “That’s weird.”


“The blanket,” he said. “It’s like . . . I think it smells different. But I don’t even have it close to my nose.”

“Oh.” I began to nod. “It doesn’t smell different. You’re different. And your sense of smell is much more keen. That will heighten your sense perceptions.”

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