Nightshade Page 48

I tripped over my own feet when I caught site of Sabine—smiling. She had taken a seat next to Mason and Neville. Mason was demonstrating some questionable uses for a banana, and all three of them burst into fits of laughter.

“Hey Cal,” Ansel said when I sat beside him. “Wanna trade an apple for an orange? You took the last one before I packed my lunch.”


He immediately began digging in my lunch bag.

“You feeling better, Cal?” Bryn asked. “You seemed really out of it in first period.”

“Uh-huh.” I snatched my oatmeal cookie back from Ansel. “I just didn’t sleep well. I’m fine.”

When Ren approached our tables, I angrily pulled my sandwich from the paper bag, trying to remember what my appetite was. I’d taken a single bite of roast beef when I heard a familiar voice.

“Hey guys.” It sounded like Shay was right behind me. “I wondered if I might join you.”

The bite of sandwich caught in my throat. My eyes watered as I coughed. Ansel slammed me on the back until I could breathe again.

I cleared my throat, turning to face him. Don’t, Shay. Don’t do this. You don’t understand what it means.

“Are you okay?” His tone was serious, but his eyes were laughing.

“You want to sit with us?” As each word of the question left my mouth, my disbelief rose. I had no idea what he was playing at.

“Yes. If that’s all right.”

Conversation at the table had ceased. All the young wolves stared silently at the human boy who was either brave or crazy enough to step into their social space. I glanced toward the Keepers’ tables across the cafeteria. Sure enough, Logan had pushed his sunglasses up on his forehead to watch the exchange. A lazy but somewhat interested expression hovered in his eyes.

“Of course.”

I blinked at the speed with which Ren had covered the space between himself and Shay.

“We’ve all been wanting to get to know you better, Shay. Please join us.”

We have?

Ren slid into the chair on the other side of me, pulling my lunch bag in front of him. One corner of his mouth curved into a smile.

“Calla, would you mind giving up your seat so Shay can sit here?”

Shay frowned. “I’m sure I can find a chair to bring over.”

“That’s not necessary.” Ren’s voice was icy; he kept his eyes on me.

I wasn’t sure what was happening, but I didn’t want to push him any further when it came to Shay. If I had to stand through lunch, so be it. I shoved my chair in Shay’s direction.

Fingers circled my wrist. My head whipped around to see Ren’s eyes dancing with dark mirth while he drew me toward him like he was reeling in a prize catch.

“So what’s for lunch?” He pulled me onto his lap.

“I really could get another chair.” I could hear the fury in Shay’s words.

Ren’s charcoal irises glowed with a challenge, and I was determined to meet it.

“No.” I fought to keep my voice steady. “This will be fine.”

“It really doesn’t look very . . . comfortable.”

I turned and saw Shay’s jaw twitch as he watched the alpha’s arms slide around my waist.

“Oh, I’m finding it very comfortable,” Ren purred. My cheeks ignited when his lips brushed my neck. “Aren’t you, Lily?”

Shay cringed at the sound of Ren’s nickname for me. It took all of my will not to crack the alpha across the jaw. He was simply being cruel.

“It’s fine.”

I glared at Bryn, who was fluttering her eyelashes at me. Ansel had a foolish grin plastered on his face.

“Awww, look at that. It’s just the most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.” Mason dropped his chin into his hands. “What have you two been up to when the rest of us aren’t around? Naughty, naughty.”

Dax eyed us, a growl of pleasure rumbling in his chest. Fey winked at him and licked her lips. Nev looked up from the notebook he was scribbling in, raised an eyebrow, then went back to writing.

Bryn and Ansel were both making faces at me. Even Sabine giggled. Cosette glanced at her but fidgeted in her seat and couldn’t manage a smile. Defeated, I leaned back against Ren, whose arms tightened around me, making me think about how low his hands were on my waist, the way his touch lit fires in places that, until recently, I’d hardly been aware of. Then I caught sight of the pain etched on Shay’s face.

“Shut up, Mason.”

I snatched the orange from my lunch and whipped it at him. He laughed as he caught it in midair.

“Don’t mind us, Shay.” Mason flashed him a smile. “We’re just a bunch of wild animals.”

“No joke.” Dax flexed his arms.

A nervous titter rolled through the pack, but Shay smiled at Mason. “I’ve noticed, but some of you are more well mannered than others.”

He glared at Ren, who returned the look with equal malice. Dax stopped smiling and Fey’s lips curled back. I shot her a warning glare when I saw her sharp canines. She gave me hard, steel gray eyes but flattened her lips to hide her teeth.

“Well, this will be interesting.” Mason pulled something silver from his pocket and tossed it to Shay. When Shay opened his palm, a Hershey’s Kiss rested in his hand.

Mason winked at him. “Welcome to the table, man. I hope you survive.”

“I think I’ll manage.” He turned the silver-wrapped chocolate in his fingers. “Thanks for this. There’s nothing quite like a really good kiss.”

His mouth crinkled in a smile and he cast me a sidelong glance, making my toes curl.

“You’ve got that right.” Mason laughed, leaning back in his chair. “Now, then, for introductions . . .”

He grabbed Nev’s hand, stopping him from writing. “Do it.”

“Do what?” Nev asked, looking irritated at the interruption.

“The limerick.” Mason grinned.

“No way.” Nev scooted his chair back.

“Come on,” Mason said. “It’s great.”

“There’s a limerick?” Shay looked at Nev.

“It’s not any good.” Nev jerked his hand free.

“Nev’s a poet.” Mason pulled the notebook out of Nev’s hands. He kept it out of Nev’s reach while the other boy grabbed for it. “This is his collection. Shall we read it?”

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