Nightshade Page 88

I barked at Shay again, wishing I could shout at him. Why isn’t he shifting into wolf form? I needed help in this fight.

Shay’s gaze locked on the severed hand that I’d dropped from my jaws. He darted forward and grabbed the shadow whip. He pivoted, the long cord swirling in the air and then lashing across Flynn’s chest. She screamed again. Her eyes bulged as she turned toward her unexpected assailant.

His cool, determined stare seemed to unnerve her even more than his skill with the filched weapon. The whip’s length snaked back toward him and then flew out again, this time wrapping around her upper arm above the still-bleeding stump where her hand had been. She shrieked, clawing at the coiled shadow that latched leech-like onto her biceps.

Shay clenched his jaw, giving the whip a sharp jerk. Flynn lost her balance and tumbled to the ground. I flew at her. My fangs sank into her neck, tearing through soft flesh. There was a brief gurgling in her throat, a wisp of smoke rose from her parted lips, and then she was still. I backed off and shifted forms.

Shay stood in silence, staring at the corpse. I hurried to his side and gripped his arm.

“Are you okay?”

He nodded. “What was she?”

“That’s a succubus, but a real one, not one of your uncle’s statues. She’s a netherworld creature that can be summoned by the Keepers, like wraiths. But incubi and succubi are more closely related to mortals—we can still kill them.” I glanced at Flynn’s unmoving form. “Obviously.”

I shuddered in disgust. “They feed on emotion; that’s why she was always so eager to make us squirm. I should have known.”

Shay uncoiled the end of the whip from her arm. “And what do wraiths feed on?”

“Pain,” I replied, glancing at the whip in his hand. “Indiana Jones, huh?”

He smiled, nodding as he coiled up its length.

“Good role model. Bring that with you; I’m afraid we might need it.”

I touched his face, relieved that he hadn’t been hurt. “Why didn’t you change form?”

“I thought I wasn’t supposed to,” he said.

“I didn’t realize I needed to point out that if we are attacked by a fire-breathing bitch, you can change forms.” I punched him on the arm.

“Check, fire-breathing bitches make Shay a wolf boy.” He shook the whip at me. “I have more practice using these than my teeth anyway.”

“Right.” The Guardians’ cries still floated toward the moon. How long would they call before they came looking for me? “We have to get out of here. Before they realize what’s happened.”

“But we can’t outrun them, can we? Even as wolves?” He followed my glance toward the flickering torches.

“We have to try,” I said, starting to walk away.

“Wait.” Shay clasped my arm, turning me toward him. “Calla, you know, right?”

“Know what?” I asked, caught in the mystery of his eyes.

“That I love you too.”

With tears stinging the corners of my eyes, I shifted into wolf form, licking Shay’s fingers once before I darted into the woods.


WE WOVE THROUGH THE MAZE OF PINE TREES. The woods thinned; spears of moonlight created columns of ghostly light that split the darkness.

Shay ran so close his fur brushed against mine. Where are we going?

Where is Haldis? And the book? My ears flicked back and forth. The chorus of howls had stopped, allowing a terrifying quiet to settle upon the forest.

My house. I heard the fear in his reply. We have to get them, don’t we?

They’re the only clues we have left. I wished the forest would come back to life, reassuring me with its usual sounds. But there was nothing, just emptiness. Plus the Keepers want them, which means we need to take them as far away as we can.

Far away where? he asked. Where will we go?

I don’t know. The world had turned upside down; I had no answers. Anywhere but here.

I can live with that. Here isn’t working out so well for me.

I nipped his flank playfully, grateful for his attempt at humor. Even after facing tonight’s horror, he was still trying to lighten my heart.

Did we lose them? Shay leapt over a fallen log. I don’t hear the howling anymore.

My inner smile faded at his reminder that the night forest remained silent, sending a chill scurrying beneath my fur.

Just keep running.

Out of the corner of my eye I caught a brief, shadowy movement. Uncertain of what I’d seen, I put on a fresh burst of speed. Snow churned up around me as I raced toward the opening in the trees ahead.

Calla! Shay’s cry of alarm sounded in my mind as a massive shape loomed from the forest, crashing into me.

All breath was forced from my lungs as I tumbled through the deep powder. My attacker and I rolled over and over until I found myself on my back, pinned down. In the next moment Ren’s human face hovered over me.

Startled and utterly bewildered by the sight of the alpha, still dressed in his tuxedo, tie hanging loose and shirt rumpled, I shifted into human form and stared back at him.

His fingers dug into my shoulders as he continued to hold me down. His words tumbled out, broken and fearful.

“I’ve been sent to kill you, Calla. To kill you and bring Shay back. Why am I here to kill you?”

“Ren.” My own voice quaked. “Let me explain. I can explain.”

Before I could speak again, a low growl sounded nearby. In his wolf form, Shay stalked toward us, his pale green eyes locked on Ren, baring razor-sharp fangs. Ren’s brow furrowed as he stared at the wolf. His eyes widened and his face paled. I tensed, expecting him to shift instantly and fall on Shay. But he didn’t. Instead he jumped to his feet, backing away from me. His eyes moved from my face to the new wolf.

“You turned him.” Ren’s voice cracked.

He stumbled backward as if he’d been blinded and fell against the thick trunk of a pine tree, his fingers tearing at the bark.

Shay hunched low, ready to strike. I rolled onto my feet and darted in front of him, blocking his path to Ren.

“No, Shay! Don’t!” I said. “I need to talk to Ren alone. Please.”

Then a boy stood before me again. “No way.” Shay was still looking past me, eyes locked on Ren, fangs catching the pale moonlight as he glared at the alpha.

“It will be all right. Just a few minutes, I promise.” I pointed in the direction I wanted him to run. “Now go.”

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