Nightshade Page 78

My blood turned cold as her eyes moved over my tearstained face and then gazed at Shay, who returned her glare with a steady calm. He rose, clearing his throat, and stood just in front of me to shield me from her view.

“I’m sorry, Nurse Flynn. We had a fight. She’s going to Blood Moon with someone I don’t care for, but I handled the situation poorly. I owe Calla an apology.”

I blinked in amazement at his smooth lie.

The nurse’s lips parted in a smile that revealed her delight in our mutual agony.

“Ah yes, unrequited love is such a torturous thing. No wonder you despise Renier. That kiss I witnessed him bestow on this girl was quite stirring indeed. The passion of youth is just so . . . delicious.”

The blood drained from my cheeks as I watched Shay take in her words. Flynn’s smile widened when she saw the tense, throbbing vein in his neck.

Fear gripped me. Don’t change, Shay. Please don’t change.

She strode forward until she stood face-to-face with him, running a long-nailed finger along his cheek, down his throat, and then her entire hand trailed over his chest and abdomen. I stifled a gasp as she hooked her finger in the waist of his jeans and jerked him close so there was barely space for air to move between their bodies.

“Don’t worry, my handsome, golden boy. There’s still good work left for you in this place.”

He remained stone still while she turned to face me. “Logan will hear of this, Calla. A lady of your stature should use more discretion.”

She released him and strode from the commons.

Shay let out an explosive breath. “She’s not just the school nurse, is she?”

I shook my head. “No. I’m not sure what she is. Sabine once referred to her as a spellwarder, but I don’t know what that means.”

I walked to his side and he stiffened. “You never told me that he kissed you.”

“I also never told Ren that you kissed me.” I sighed. “What do you want me to say? Do you really want to have the fight you just told Flynn we were having?”

“No.” A quiet laugh escaped his throat. “Maybe later.”

“Fair enough.”

He turned to face me, his eyes worried but kind. “What do you want to do?”

I shook my head. “I have no idea. I can’t just leave my pack.”

“But you can’t stay here,” he countered.

“Shay, who are the Searchers?” I had more questions now than I’d ever had in my life.

“I don’t know.” He walked across the room, kicking chairs out of his way. “It’s clear they allied with the Guardians who revolted way back when and they helped Ren’s mother; both times they paid the price for plotting against the Keepers, but I haven’t figured out exactly who the Searchers really are or what they’re after.

“But I don’t think they’re your enemies, Cal,” he said. “They’re the Keepers’ enemies, not yours.”

“Right now I’m not sure that means anything.” I shuddered. “I’ve killed a Searcher. The Keepers’ enemies have always been mine. Maybe it’s too late for anything else.”

“It’s never too late.” He brought his fist down on a table. It splintered under his hand. “There must be answers in that book! I need to figure out the last section. It seems to indicate mutability, change. I think it’s the key.”

I could see the shadow of his wolf form swirling around him like a cloak.

“We’ll keep trying.” I put my hand on his chest, smelling the way his wolf scent mixed with his sweat. “You need to breathe, Shay. Push back the wolf. You’re too close to changing.”

“I don’t know how to stop it,” he growled.

“Just breathe.” I laid my head against his neck, waiting for both our hearts to slow. “Today and tomorrow. I’ll come to your house and work with you.” His hand stroked up and down my spine.

Why can’t it always be like this? Just us. Nothing else to shatter this stillness.

“And after that? What about the union?” His question made my chest ache.

“I don’t know.” I didn’t feel like I knew anything anymore.

I steeled myself as I walked into Organic Chemistry, angry, frustrated, wanting desperately to control some aspect of my life. My new and terrifying knowledge about the Guardians and Keepers changed every feeling I’d ever held about my place in the world. Knowing what had happened to Ren’s mother, how we’d all been lied to, I couldn’t bear the thought of hours alone with him before the union. How can I hide the truth from him? I didn’t think I’d be strong enough.

“Review session today,” Ren said, indicating the notes that lay before him. “Ms. Foris is feeling benevolent, or else she doesn’t want to lose any more lab equipment to your fury.”

He grinned at me and I wondered if I’d be able to go through with my plan after all. Then I remembered his teeth digging into my neck.

“Ren, I have to change our date tomorrow night.”

“How so?”

I laced my fingers together so he wouldn’t see them tremble. “I can’t have dinner and go early to the ball with you. There won’t be enough time.”

He turned to face me, eyes wary. “What do you mean there won’t be enough time? Our time is whatever we want it to be.”

“Bryn is really excited about helping me get ready. It’s a girly-girl thing that she’s pretty invested in. My mom too—you know how she gets.” I produced a weary sigh. “I just think it’s going to cut too much into the time we could be at the dance with the others.”

“You want to just go to the union with the rest of the pack?” His fingers curled around his notebook, slowly tearing the paper.

It took all my will not to cringe as I spoke, flailing for a legitimate excuse. “Can I just meet you there? You live all the way on the other side of the mountain, so it’s out of your way to come pick me up, and I’m supposed to work at the library with Shay after school anyway.”

Ren’s lips drew back. “You’re meeting him right before the union? Instead of going to dinner with me?”

I made my tone as plaintive as I could. “I’m sorry, but Logan said I have to keep the boy happy and he was pretty devastated when I turned down his invitation to go to the ball. I thought if I agreed to spend time with him beforehand, it would keep the peace a little better.”

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