Nightshade Page 75

“These are the Keepers’ records of the Guardian packs.”

“Really?” His eyebrows shot up.

I nodded, taking the book from his hands and reshelving it.

“Close this up and lock it again.”

“Don’t you want to read these?” he asked. “This is your history.”

“I know this history,” I said. “And it will only make us argue.”


“Because the entries aren’t just about what’s happened to the packs,” I said. “They’re mostly about how the packs have been formed, who their masters will be, and the decisions the Keepers have made in the past about mates.”

“About mates?” His eyes flitted to the lowest shelf. “You mean one of those books details the way you and Ren were matched up.”

“Yes,” I said. “And all the other pairings that were made in the pack’s history. It is a family tree, among other things.”

His gaze stayed on the books, fingers twitching.

“Just leave it, Shay.”


“There isn’t anything you can do about it,” I said. “You’ll only get angry. Now close the case.”

He muttered something under his breath, but he closed the bookcase and locked it.

“Do you have another order for me, O great alpha?”

“Don’t be a jerk.” I waved my hand at the floor-to-ceiling books that filled the library. “We have enough work to do without you turning our research sessions into a soap opera.”

“A soap opera?” He stared at me and then darted forward, wrapping his arms around me. I could feel his body shaking.


It took me another minute to realize he was laughing. A smile pulled at my lips and I began to laugh too. Tears dripped along my cheeks, my belly began to ache, but my smile widened. We lay side by side, the sound of our laughter bouncing off the stone floor and echoing through the immense space of Rowan Estate’s library.

Before Shay, I’d never laughed like this, so giddy and free, my body shaking with joy instead of anger. But even as I let the laughs lift me up, I couldn’t help wondering if the union meant he’d soon be gone and with him the chance of ever feeling this way again.


A STARTLED CLUSTER OF PIGEONS DROPPED from the eaves above the stained glass windows. At the sudden rustle of wings and ripple of shadows against the colored glass, I jumped up, knocking my chair over.

Shay yawned, stretching. “Calla, you need to stop freaking out every time there’s a noise.”

“I’m just being cautious.” I picked up the chair, waiting for my heart to slow.

“It’s fine for us to be here.” He turned a page. “I’d say my suggestion was brilliant if we’d actually found something useful.”

I scanned the index of Sign and Symbols in Human Culture. “It is getting a little frustrating. Not one of the crosses I’ve read about sounds like your tattoo.”

We both looked at the stacks of books strewn up and down the table. Nothing. We’re finding nothing. This is useless. Frustrated and exhausted, I folded my arms, letting my forehead rest against them.

“I think we’re back to square one.” Shay slammed a massive art history text shut.

“And where exactly is square one?” I turned to look at him.

“Translating the book.” He pushed the art book aside, pulling The War of All Against All back in front of him.

“You’re probably right about the book.” I rolled my head back and forth, working out the kinks in my neck. “But maybe you should skip ahead.”

“Huh?” He was already flipping through the pages.

“Instead of the beginning, look at the end,” I said. “You said the woman sang to you the last lines of the text and then sang ‘Here rests Haldis.’ So, maybe it’s the final section of the book we should read and not the beginning. You said it was the shortest anyway, so at least it will go faster.”

“That’s not a bad idea,” he said, opening the book from its back cover.

I went back to staring at woodcuts of medieval crosses on the page that lay open before me. Shay cleared his throat. I looked up, but his eyes were fixed on the Keeper’s text.

“So there was something I wanted to ask you.”

I frowned at the artificially casual note in his voice. “Yeah?”

“I’ve overheard a lot of talk at school recently about this thing called Blood Moon.” He picked up the Latin dictionary, fiddling with its pages but not really looking at it. “I guess it’s only a few days away now.”

“Yep.” Don’t go there, Shay. Please. Please.

“What’s it all about?” He leaned back in his chair.

“Oh,” I said with a measure of relief. “Um, let’s see. It’s called the Blood Moon Ball, but everyone just says Blood Moon for short. It’s kind of a weird event, like a Halloween party mashed up with a cotillion. The parents of the human boarders come in for the event before they drag their kids back home for fall break. There’s always a chamber orchestra, lots of booze, and they don’t ID anyone. It’s ridiculous but generally fun. If you’re connected to the school, student or parent, you’re invited. The adults tend to drink a lot, talk about their stock portfolios, and write checks to the school. The students also drink a lot and dance in fancy clothes they’ll never wear again.”

“Why is it called Blood Moon?” he asked.

I flexed my fingers like talons. “Because it’s held on the first full moon after the harvest moon. That moon is called the blood moon.”

He stood up and walked to the window, watching leaves drop like rain. “But why blood?”

“Because the full moon gives the best light for hunting at this time of year.” My limbs twitched at the thought of a hunt. “It’s the time of the Great Hunt. The blood moon is also known as the hunter’s moon. This year it’s on October thirty-first. It’s late for blood moon, but that’s when it will happen.”

He turned to look at me. “Wouldn’t it be easier to just call it a Halloween ball? Or do your masters object to stashes of mini- candy bars?”

My mind stuck on the image of Logan trick-or-treating for a second; I wondered what he would dress as. “No. It’s Samhain, remember. Halloween isn’t the real holiday. The Keepers are suckers for the old ways, their traditions. So it’s the Blood Moon Ball; it always has been.” As soon as I mentioned traditions, my stomach cramped.

Prev Next