Nightshade Page 76

“And everyone goes? Not just the humans?” He sounded more nervous now.

I nodded and eyed him warily, suspicious of his changing tone. “It’s a good party. Everyone goes. Blood Moon and prom are pretty much the only events that the entire student body socializes at together. I think they exist only to give the humans some marker of normalcy at our school.”

He drummed out a quick rhythm on the tabletop, and then his words tumbled out. “So, I know it’s really short notice, but I hope you’ll forgive me for being a guy and not thinking about this stuff in advance. Would you like to go with me?”

My stomach toppled into my shoes. This was exactly what I’d been afraid of.

“Calla?” I didn’t want to look at him. “Are you going to answer me?”

“I can’t,” I said quietly, glancing at him.

He leaned against the table, his mouth cutting into an unfriendly smile. “Why not?”

“I’ll be with Ren. I’m going to Blood Moon with him, but only for an hour or two. That’s the same night as our union.” I concentrated on the page in front of me. “Just drop it.”

“I can’t take the union seriously, Cal,” he snapped. “You and your wolf prince mated for all eternity because somebody else says it’s the way things have to be. It’s bullshit and you know it. And Ren doesn’t even realize how lucky he is to have you; he’s too busy screwing all the other girls at school.”

“He is not! Would you lay off Ren for once?” I sat up, glaring at him. “You’ve been hanging out with us almost every day and he’s been perfectly respectful, despite what you pulled at Burnout and the puppy eyes you constantly throw at me.”

“Puppy eyes?!” Shay blurted, and lurched to his feet. He shoved his chair aside, slamming books into his backpack.

“Shay.” I wrapped my arms around my waist, feeling sick again.

“At least I know how you really feel about me.” His voice shook as he jerked at the zipper of the bag.

Then I was on my feet, my hand covering his. “Stop, please. That’s not how I—” My voice choked off; I knew that sentence was impossible to complete.

“Not how you what?” He grasped my hand, pulling me close. His other hand cupped my face and his thumb stroked my cheek, sending curls of heat beneath my skin. I pulled back and fled to my chair, shaking my head.

“Please don’t. I can’t.”

I swore as I swept away hot trickling tears from my cheeks. I didn’t know what was wrong with me; I never used to cry and now I was constantly fighting off tears.

“Calla.” When I looked up at him, I saw how horrified he was that I was crying. “God, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

We returned to our work in strained silence. Shay put in earbuds, blasting music so loud I heard the scream of guitars from where I sat.

The sky behind the stained glass windows was ink black when Shay abruptly pulled the earbuds out. I looked up at him questioningly.

“The union is the night of Samhain?” he asked. “The same night as the ball?”

“Come on, Shay.” I rubbed my temples. “I really can’t talk about this anymore.”

“No, it’s not about you.” He gestured to the Keeper’s text. “It’s about the date.”

“Yes, the union will happen at Samhain,” I replied with a frown. “October thirty-first.”

The furrow of his brow deepened. “And why is it then?”

“Well, it’s one of the eight Sabbats—the days of power for the Keepers,” I said. “Samhain is one of the strongest Sabbats.”

He tapped his fingers on the pages. “When the veil between the worlds thins. I remember you saying that.”

I nodded and he looked back at his notes; his expression grew worried.

“What is it?”

“It’s kind of ironic. There’s a ritual involving the Scion that is supposed to happen the night of Samhain. I’m not sure what exactly it is, but it seems to be the event that this whole section, Praenuntiatio volubilis, is focused on. There’s a word I’m having trouble with; it means ‘gift’ or something similar. The context it’s in is really strange.”

“Gift?” I repeated.

“Or something,” he said, turning back to the dictionary. “Whatever it means, the Scion is connected to your holiday.”

“It’s not really my holiday, Shay, it’s just the day the Keepers picked for the union,” I said. “You’re saying their book describes you being there too?”

“Well, that’s the thing. What I’m reading here doesn’t seem like it’s about a union. I’m not sure what it is,” he said. “A lot about two worlds and darkness. And there are several references to the Scion. It mentions some kind of gathering that has to do with this ‘gift,’ but I’m having trouble making sense of it.”

“So how do we figure out what it means?” I asked.

“Maybe you need to dump the search for my tattoo and read more about Samhain, find out what other kinds of rites might take place other than your much-anticipated union.”

“Ren said something interesting about Samhain last week,” I said.

He glanced at me. “So we’re sharing information with Ren now?”

“Not about our . . . project; I’m just trying to find out more about the Sabbat myself,” I replied. I felt like I was going into the ceremony blindfolded and I hated it. “Anyway, he said that it’s a dangerous time. That the spirit world is unpredictable because it’s more powerful when the veil thins.”

“How does Ren know anything about that?” he grumbled.

“Lay off, Shay,” I snapped. “His mother was killed by Searchers during an attack that happened on Samhain. That’s why he knows.”

“Oh. Sorry.” He tapped his pen on the table. “Searchers killed Ren’s mother?”


“How old was he?”

“It was on his first birthday,” I said.

“Man, that sucks,” he said. “Though it does explain a lot about him.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing,” he said quickly, getting up from the table and heading for the stacks. “We should get back to work.”

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