Nightshade Page 79

He paled, eyes flashing as though a cold, silver fire had been ignited within them.

“He asked you to be his date for Blood Moon?” Each word was so low I could barely hear what he said.

I realized my incredible miscalculation a moment too late. My bones seemed to hollow and then fill with ice. Ren had pushed away from our lab station and was at the front of the room before I could open my mouth to answer. I heard the crash and shrieks from students around the class as I turned.

The stool that Shay had been perched on rolled away from his lab station. Ren leaned into Shay, pinning him against the tabletop. I couldn’t hear his words, but I saw the alpha’s lips moving rapidly as he bent over Shay. His two human lab partners were huddled in the corner of their station, crouched low to the ground as if trying to avoid attracting Ren’s attention. But they stared at Shay with wide eyes, seeing his strength, sensing the dangerous animal that lurked beneath his skin. They knew. If I didn’t do something immediately, they wouldn’t be the only ones.

Ms. Foris stood by her desk, paralyzed by terror. Her hand covered her mouth, eyes bulging, as her chemistry lab devolved into a battle arena. A few human students bolted from the room. The Keepers exchanged worried glances, leaning across their tables and whispering to one another.

I ran toward the station. My breath faltered when I saw how close Ren was to losing control. His wolf form, dark gray, hovered like an aura all around him. His sharpened canines flashed as he gripped Shay’s shoulders, holding him down. Shay’s fingers dug into Ren’s upper arms; he didn’t look afraid, only outraged. The shadow of his wolf self slid over the table, stretching the length of his body. I held my breath, hoping Ren was blinded by rage enough not to notice. It was only a matter of seconds before they would both be wolves tearing at each other’s throats.

“Ren, no!” I lunged forward, wrapping my arms around his chest. It took all my strength to pry him from Shay.

Shay leapt to his feet, his fists clenched. His lips curled back and I saw the glint of his sharpening canines. I sucked in a quick breath, desperately shaking my head at him. If he lost control and shifted into his wolf form, we were done for.

“Do not move,” I hissed. “You have to calm down.” His muscles twitched and his neck bulged, but he remained in place. I watched him struggle to hold back his fury.

I turned Ren in my arms, keeping his body locked against mine. His heart beat at a tremendous pace, and a steady, menacing growl rumbled in his throat.

“Please, Ren. Logan, you have to remember Logan.” I pulled him tighter against me, pressing my cheek against the hard muscles of his chest.

Ren snarled once before going still. I felt his breath ease, his heartbeat slow.

“Let go, Lily.” It was only the sound of my nickname that convinced me his fury had ebbed.

I released my locked arms from his body. My muscles shrieked in painful protest; I’d gripped the alpha so fiercely that every fiber ached as they slowly unwound.

Ren looked down at me, his dark eyes resigned. The slightest tug lifted one corner of his lips into a smile. Without looking at Shay again, he walked swiftly from the classroom.

I drew a long, shuddering breath.

“What a nice guy,” Shay said.

Suddenly I was furious with him. This was all his fault. My world had made sense until I’d saved his life. Now everything was falling apart.

The slap made a sharp cracking sound. His eyes widened; his fingers touched the bright red print of my hand that had appeared on his cheek. Without speaking, I turned and followed the path of Ren’s flight from our class.

I found no sign of him in the halls, nor was he in the commons or cafeteria. It appeared that he’d abandoned school. Shaken and sorrowful, I wandered to my locker with the faint hope that he might reappear to join our pack for lunch. When I reached my destination, I found a folded note shoved between the vents of the steel door. I bit my lip as I opened it. It was clear how angry he had still been from the hard press of the pen against the page; he’d nearly torn the paper as he wrote.

Calla. I won’t be around today or tomorrow. I’ll see you at the union.

I dropped into a cross-legged position and leaned against the cool steel, remaining there until the bell rang. I dragged myself to the cafeteria without bothering to collect my lunch from my locker.

Lunch had gone on without disruption for about ten minutes when Ansel frowned and glanced around the table.

“Hey, where’s Ren? And Shay?”

My mood had been so dark I hadn’t noticed that both boys were missing. The rest of the pack shifted in their seats, suddenly uneasy, as they also took in the absence of their alpha and our regular human companion. I looked around the cafeteria. Shay wasn’t among the humans. The Keepers had bunched into a tight circle, heads bowed and close to one another, though I didn’t see Logan in their midst. The young Keepers had been acting strangely since Logan and Efron went to investigate Haldis. The acrid scent of their anxiety filled my nostrils whenever I passed them in the halls or my classes.

Not finding Shay anywhere in the room, I glanced at Ren’s packmates, expecting that he would have called Dax to fill him in on the incident in chemistry. But the hulking senior’s expression was as blank as those of the other wolves around the table.

“There was a problem,” I said quietly. “They got into an argument in class this morning.”

“About what?” Ansel frowned.

I fought a rising, hot discomfort in my chest and throat.

A low whistle sounded from across the table.

“Damn.” Mason leaned forward, his lips flat and drawn. “So that finally happened, eh?”

Dax glanced from Mason to me, laughing as he reached into his pocket. “Well, it’s about time. I owe you ten bucks, man, he made it a lot longer than I guessed.”

“Hang on.” Mason grinned, looking at me. “Did Shay lose any fingers? Or an arm?”

I shook my head.

“You owe me twenty, Dax.” Mason stretched his hand toward the now-glowering senior. “Your alpha has more self-restraint than you thought.”

“No way, that’s just what I said I would do if it were me, not what I thought Ren would do. The bet was ten.” Dax pulled a crumpled bill from his jeans, slapping it into Mason’s palm.

Fey ran her fingers through Dax’s cropped hair. “Too bad. I thought you’d win.”

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