Nightshade Page 4

“But you are, Calla.” She smiled. “My beautiful lily.”

“It’s just a name, Mom.” I began to gather up my clothes. “Not who I am.”

“It is who you are.” I started at the warning note in her voice. “Stop doing that. It’s not necessary.”

My hands froze on the T-shirt I’d grabbed. She waited until I placed the half-folded shirt back on the coverlet. I started to say something, but my mother held up a silencing hand.

“The new pack forms next month. You’ll be the alpha female.”

“I know that.” I fought off the urge to throw dirty socks at her. “I’ve known that since I was five.”

“And now it’s time for you to start acting like it,” she said. “Lumine is worried.”

“Yeah, I know. Finesse. She wants finesse.” I wanted to gag.

“And Emile is concerned about what Renier wants,” she said.

“What Ren wants?” I said, wincing at the shrillness of my voice.

My mother lifted one of my bras from the bed. It was plain white cotton—the only kind I owned.

“We need to think about preparations. Do you wear any decent lingerie?”

The burning in my cheeks began again. I wondered if excessive blushing could cause permanent discoloration.

“I don’t want to talk about this.”

She ignored me, muttering under her breath as she sorted my things into piles, which, since she’d ordered me to stop folding, I could only presume were “acceptable” and “to be discarded.”

“He’s an alpha male and the most popular boy at your school. At least by all accounts I’m privy to.” Her tone became wistful. “I’m sure he’s accustomed to certain attentions from girls. When your time arrives, you must be ready to please him.”

I swallowed sour bile before I could speak again.

“Mom, I’m an alpha too, remember?” I said. “Ren needs me to be a pack leader. Wants me to be a warrior, not the captain of the cheerleading squad.”

“Renier needs you to act like a mate. Just because you’re a warrior doesn’t mean you can’t be enticing.” The sharpness of her tone cut me.

“Cal’s right, Mom.” My brother’s voice piped in. “Ren doesn’t want a cheerleader. He’s already dated them all for the last four years. He’s probably bored as hell. At least big sis will keep him on his toes.”

I turned to see Ansel leaning against the door frame. His eyes swept over the room.

“Whoa, Hurricane Naomi strikes, leaving no survivors.”

“Ansel,” my mother snapped, hands on her hips. “Please give your sister and me some privacy.”

“Sorry, Mom.” Ansel continued to grin. “But Barrett and Sasha are downstairs waiting for you to go with them on night patrol.”

Her eyelids fluttered in surprise. “Is it that late already?”

Ansel shrugged. When she turned away, he winked at me. I covered my mouth to hide my smile.

She sighed. “Calla, I’m serious about this. I put some new clothes in your closet and I expect you to start wearing them.”

I opened my mouth to object, but she cut me off.

“New clothes starting tomorrow or I’ll get rid of all your T-shirts and ripped jeans. End of discussion.”

She rose and swept from the room, her skirt swirling around her calves as she moved. When I heard her steps on the staircase, I groaned and flipped over on the bed. The mound of T-shirts offered a convenient place to bury my head. I was tempted to shift into wolf form and rip the bed apart. But that would get me grounded for sure. Plus I liked my bed, and at the moment it was one of the few things that my mother wasn’t threatening to toss out.

The mattress creaked. I propped myself up on my elbows and looked at Ansel. He perched on the corner of the bed.

“Another heartwarming mother-daughter bonding session?”

“You know it.” I rolled onto my back.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

“Yeah.” I put my hands on my temples, attempting to massage the new throbbing pain away.

“So—” Ansel began. I turned to look at him. My brother’s teasing smile had vanished.

“So what?”

“About Ren . . .” His voice thickened.

“Spit it out, An.”

“Do you like him? I mean for real?” he blurted.

I collapsed back onto the bed. My arms covered my eyes, blotting out the light.

“Not you too.”

He crawled toward me.

“It’s just,” he said. “If you don’t want to be with him, you shouldn’t be.”

Beneath my arms my eyes snapped open. For a moment I couldn’t breathe.

“We could run away. I’d stay with you,” Ansel finished in a voice almost too low to hear.

I sat bolt upright.

“Ansel,” I whispered. “Don’t ever say anything like that. You don’t know what . . . Just drop it, okay?”

He fiddled with the coverlet. “I want you to be happy. You seemed so mad at Mom.”

“I am mad at Mom, but that’s Mom, not Ren.” I wound my fingers through the long waves that spilled over my shoulders and thought about shaving my head.

“So you’re okay with it? With being Ren’s mate?”

“Yeah. I’m okay with it.” I reached out, ruffling his sand brown hair. “Besides, you’ll be in the new pack. So will Bryn, Mason, and Fey. With you guys at my back, we’ll keep Ren in line.”

“No doubt.” He grinned.

“And don’t breathe a word about running away to anyone. An, that’s way out of line. When did you become such a free thinker anyway?” My eyes narrowed.

He bared sharpened canines at me. “I’m your brother, right?”

“So your traitorous nature is my fault?” I smacked him on the chest.

“Everything I need to know I learned from Cal.”

He stood up and began jumping on the bed. I bounced close to the edge and then rolled off, landing easily on the balls of my feet. I grabbed the edge of the coverlet and gave it a sharp jerk. Ansel fell laughing onto his back and bounced once on the mattress before he lay still.

“I’m serious, Ansel. Not a word.”

“Don’t worry, sis. I’m not stupid. I would never betray the Keepers,” he said. “Unless you asked me to . . . alpha.”

Prev Next
Romance | Vampires | Fantasy | Billionaire | Werewolves | Zombies