Nightshade Page 61

I started to giggle. “That would be ridiculous.”

“Ridiculously dashing.” He grinned. Even the bikers around the bar were laughing now, morphing their hardened faces from Sid Vicious to Santa Claus.

I leaned into the warmth of Shay’s body. When he held me close, I could actually believe everything would be okay. I wondered if he knew how happy he could make me, despite my constant fears about the future. Regret suddenly constricted my chest, cutting off my laughs. Seeing me lip-locked with Ren earlier must have hurt Shay so much. He deserved better, more than I could ever offer him.

“So you’re not angry with me?” I asked as he made me pirouette like a ballerina.

“About what?” he asked. “You aren’t the bigoted one. Fey and Dax can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.”

He didn’t see the kiss.

Cool relief spilled through me, followed by a nip of guilt.

Why don’t I want him to know? Hiding the truth isn’t fair.

Nothing could change what lay ahead for Ren and me. Shay needed to understand that more than anyone. But looking at his smile, the warmth in his eyes, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything more about the kiss.

“I think you’d better share this brilliant plan of yours with Nev,” I said. “I wouldn’t want him to think we’re mocking him.”

“Nev’s got a great sense of humor,” Shay replied, dipping me again. “I think he’ll get it.”

“If you’re sure.” I glanced at the stage. Shay seemed to be right. Though Nev looked a bit thrown, he was also grinning from ear to ear.

“You know, if I kissed you at the end of this number, it would be a real showstopper,” Shay said, keeping me tipped upside down.

I couldn’t stop my smile at his devilish grin. “If you kiss me now, Ren will kill you.”

“All’s fair in love and war,” he said. “And at least I’d die happy.”

“You’re terrible.” I dug my nails into his shoulder. “Pick me up again!”

“I just don’t want to disappoint our audience,” he said.

“They’ll have to live with disappointment, then.” I was getting woozy from all the blood rushing into my head. “I’ve been very clear about what will happen if you kiss me again. I think you’d miss your hand.”

He lifted me upright only to dip me low again on the other side. “Do you solve all your problems with threats of violence?”


“Liar.” My head was spinning when he set me on my feet, but my body felt light as air.

I broke down into a fit of giggles as Shay began to polka. Neville shook his head, but he was laughing too. The music stopped; Nev said something to the rest of the band I couldn’t hear, but in the next moment they broke out a punk-rock cover of “Roll Out the Barrel.”

Shay turned us in circles, faster and faster. “I told you it would work!”

I collapsed against him, dizzy but ecstatic, resting my cheek on his shoulder. Then I caught sight of Ren. He stood just inside the door, eyes fixed on us. He was so still he could have been carved from stone.

I pulled out of Shay’s arms. “I think the show’s over.”

“Great,” he muttered, following my gaze. “Go talk to him.”

“I’m sorry,” I said as I took unsteady steps away from him, still unbalanced from all the twirls and dips.

“I know you have to.” His smile was flat. “I’ll go hang out with Mason and Ansel, see if anyone wants to know where I got my badass polka moves.”

I started to turn toward Ren, but my stomach lurched violently. He crossed the dance floor, his scowl making my own temper flare. I hadn’t done anything wrong. I thought about the drive home, our new house, the union, suddenly wanting to do nothing that Ren had asked of me.

“What was that all about?” Ren snarled.

“We were just trying to break the tension.” I kept my own voice steady, waving toward our tables, where the pack sat laughing. “It was a joke. Behold our success.”

“Could you have thought of a way to settle them that didn’t involve having Shay’s hands all over you?”

“It wasn’t like that,” I snapped. I wish it had been like that.

“Fine,” he said, taking my arm. “Try not to do that again. I don’t like to see another man touch you.”

Another man? Ren had pointedly been referring to Shay as “that kid” since we’d first met him. Jealousy really was eating at the alpha.

“Of course, Ren.” I shook him off. “But if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve had enough of this for tonight.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m leaving,” I said. “I did what you asked. The pack is happy. Now I just want to get out of here.”

“Don’t be like that.” Ren sighed, tucking a lock of hair behind my ear. It only made me feel like a child, and I swatted his hand away.

“I wasn’t trying to come down on you.” He tried again. “You’re right, that kid bugs me. I don’t like feeling jealous. It’s not your fault.”

He seemed sincere, but I was too angry to let it go. And there it was again, “that kid”—only now he was scolding me like a little girl too.

“Thanks for being honest,” I said. “But I don’t want to stay. Please don’t make me.”

I knew he could and I hated it.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“I’m going to the woods. Where wolves belong at night.” I flashed a sharp-toothed smile at him. “Maybe I hear the moon calling.”

“I’d like you to stay with me,” he said slowly. “But I’m not going to force you.”

“Great.” I walked away before he could speak again.

I slammed my way out of the bar, breaking a chair that I kicked a little too hard. Outside, cold night air bit my skin, taking long pulls of tension out of my limbs. Fey and Dax were still standing in the parking lot, heads close together, speaking in low tones.

Dax looked surprised and annoyed. “Did Ren send you out to give us another round of scolding?” he asked, flexing his broad shoulders as he faced me.

“I have nothing to say to either of you,” I snapped, walking past them and then breaking into a run. I shifted forms and plunged into the forest without looking back at the Burnout.

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