Nightshade Page 35

“Fine.” He pulled on the leather jacket he had draped over his arm. “I’ll make sure your brother gets back to your house.”

He had already taken several long strides down the hall when I murmured, “Thank you.”

I made my way to the girls’ bathroom and turned scalding hot water on my palms, rinsing caked blood off the now-closed cuts. Steam rose around me as I gripped the sides of the basin. When grief’s attack subsided, I walked slowly back toward the commons, pausing frequently to listen for approaching footsteps or voices. When I neared the double doors, I ducked behind a row of lockers and waited, my forehead pressed against the cool steel.

After what seemed like hours, but I knew had only been minutes, I heard the doors swing open. I peered around the row of lockers and watched Logan walk away in a smooth loping gait. When he’d disappeared around a corner, I left my hiding place. Once through the doors I paused, forcing myself to move with care.

Smoke tendrils twisted through the air, a heady mixture of cloves and tobacco. Mason sat in the center of the room. He leaned forward, his elbow propped on one knee, hand covering his eyes. A slender black cigarette burned in the fingers of his other hand.

I took slow steps forward and Mason lifted his face, smiling wearily. He slouched in the chair and took a drag of his cigarette.

“Hey, Calla.” He tilted his head back, blowing rings of smoke into the air.

I opened my mouth to speak, but my throat closed. Mason watched me inch across the space between us. When I was close enough to touch him, I hesitantly stretched my hand toward his shoulder. I jerked back when he jumped to his feet, stepping out of my reach. He dropped the cigarette and crushed it out with his foot.

“Let’s get out of here.”

He swept past me and through the door so quickly I had to run to catch him.

“Mason.” I at last found my voice.

“Don’t say anything. It’s not worth it.” He stopped in front of his locker, rapidly turning the dial.

“Tell me what happened.”

He swore as he missed a number in the combination and had to start over again. “Nothing happened. Not yet.” The lock clicked and he flung the door open.

I took a deep breath, but my relief was quickly replaced by anger. “What did he want from you?”

A low sound, half laugh, half growl, emerged from his throat. “What do you think? He’s Efron Bane’s son.”

“No.” I closed my eyes, leaning against the locker next to his. “I just can’t accept it.”

He slammed the door shut, turning to face me. “Neither can I, Cal. Logan’s had his eye on me for some time, but I didn’t know if he’d make an issue of it. Now I have my answer.”

“What are you going to do?” I asked, hating Logan and Mason’s inability to disobey him.

He threaded his arm through the strap of his messenger bag, keeping his eyes averted. “I don’t know. But I think I bought myself some time.”


He ran his hands through his hair, pausing to rub his temples. “Logan might be inheriting our pack, but he’s still young . . . and he’s afraid.”

I couldn’t imagine any Keeper being afraid. “Of what?”

“Of his elders, especially his father. I said that if he pushed me, I’d get Ren to tell Efron about it.”

I picked at the scab on my hand, ignoring the stinging it brought to my still-tender skin. “You think that will make a difference?”

“It will,” he said. “This is the one time where the Keepers’ ‘traditions’ might work in my favor.”

“Traditions?” I frowned.

He struck the locker with his fist, leaving a dent. “It’s a nice way of saying ‘bigotry.’ Until he has more power, Logan is still under the close watch of Efron and the other Keepers. Taking our pack on is like a trial for him—to see if he’s worthy of the post. If I keep reminding him of that, I think I can stop him from . . .” He couldn’t finish.

“You have to stop him. You can’t—”

“I won’t.” He finally looked at me. “The Keepers tolerate a variety of tastes, but only in a recreational sense. Logan would never admit to his father or any of the rest of the Keepers that he’s gay.”

I bit my lip. “Mason, why didn’t you tell me?”

“About me and Nev?”

I kept my eyes down. “You don’t trust me.”

He put his hand on my shoulder. “It’s not that, Cal. I do trust you.”

I raised my eyes to his, balking at the sadness I found there.

“But you’re one step away from the Keepers,” he continued. “Who I am, who I love . . . they’d never accept it. Neither would the elders in the pack, not my parents. No one. It would be the end for me and for Nev. And not just for our relationship. It would be the end.”

He seemed so calm, I couldn’t stand it any longer.

“How long can you stall Logan?” I blurted. “How long will you be safe?”

He pulled out his cell phone and sent a quick text. “What makes you think I’m ever safe, Calla?”

“Maybe I could talk to Lumine,” I said.

“Don’t go there, Cal,” he murmured, reaching for my hand. “If you do anything, try to interfere at all, Logan will make an example of you. What good would it do any of us if you were handed over to a wraith? Or to Efron? You don’t have a choice. None of us do. This is who we are. Guardians serve. Right?”

I couldn’t answer, so I just gripped his fingers tighter.

For a moment, his voice trembled. “It isn’t your fault. I’ll be okay.”

Then he pulled his hand from mine and walked away.



Why is this happening? Isn’t becoming the pack’s new alpha supposed to make me stronger?

I wasn’t sure how long I’d been sitting there when I caught the scent of unfurling leaves and clouds heavy with rain.


I looked up. Shay stood a few feet away.

“Are you all right?” he asked, but didn’t come closer.

I shook my head, not trusting my voice, certain if I tried to speak, I’d snarl at him. It wasn’t Shay I was angry with. Not anymore.

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