Nightshade Page 64


“Shay, you need to get off the mountain. If anyone finds you up here, they’ll kill you.”

“I’m not going to let you die in this cave,” he snapped.

“You don’t have a choice. There’s nothing you can do.” The pain that racked my muscles began to subside but gave way to a creeping numbness all the more terrifying.

“Yes. There is.” I tried to focus on Shay; even through the fog of sickness his fierce tone startled me.

He shrugged off his jacket, pulling his sweater over his head and ripping off his white T-shirt.

“What are you doing?”

“You have to turn me, Calla,” Shay said. “Hurry, before I lose my nerve.”

He shivered and I knew it was as much from fear as the chilly air.


“We don’t have time to argue.” He repositioned himself so my head was cradled against his neck. My body had grown so cold that his warm, bare skin felt like it was searing my own flesh. “Make it so my blood can heal you.”

“You’re insane,” I murmured. “I can’t do this. It doesn’t matter what happens to me. Leave now. Just make a run for it. You’ll be okay.”

“Yeah, right. If you die, I’m as good as dead,” he argued. “You know that. I need your help.”

“I haven’t ever turned anyone,” I said. “It could go badly.”

“Come on,” he snapped. “A bite and an incantation, that’s what you said. How hard can it be?”

He cupped the nape of my neck, pressing my face into his shoulder.

“Please, Calla.”

The scent of his skin, crisp and sharp as a glacial pool, wrapped around me and cleared the haze of my mind. My flesh suddenly shrieked with renewed pain, desperate for healing. I dug my nails into his bare chest, drawing blood. He tensed but didn’t pull away. My canines sharpened. Shay gripped my shoulders and molded my body against him. He gasped when his hands dug into fur, his arms around a white wolf. I sank my teeth into his shoulder. He drew a sharp breath. His muscles tightened, but he remained still.

Blood gushed from the deep punctures in Shay’s flesh. He moaned and his eyes rolled back. He swayed a bit as he clung to me. I shifted into human form, raised my trembling arm to my mouth, and bit into the soft skin. I pressed my wound against his parted lips. My strength was sapped; I could barely hold myself upright. I struggled to keep my mind clear and my body from shaking as I chanted in an ever-weakening voice.

“Bellator silvae servi. Warrior of the forest, I, the alpha, call on thee to serve in this time of need.” The cave floor seemed to be rolling beneath me. Shay’s face blurred and contorted as I tried to focus on him, hoping I’d gotten the incantation right.

A ripple of energy passed through Shay. His arms dropped from my waist and he fell back against the cave floor. He became very still, drew a shuddering breath, and in the next moment his entire body convulsed. He screamed.

No longer able to control my limbs, I dropped to the ground alongside him, trembling and fighting to remain conscious. Muscles quivering, he twisted and writhed next to me. His face contorted as he was slowly divided from one essence into two. Once only human, Shay’s being parted into wolf and mortal: two selves, fully Guardian.

Another minute passed, and then another. My eyes were open, but I couldn’t see anything or move. Breathing had become difficult; dark waters rose up to swallow me. The silence of oblivion pooled in the cave.

It’s too late. I let my heavy eyelids close.

A quiet whimper echoed in the blackness. Fur brushed against my skin; nails scraped on the stone floor.

My lips parted and I tried to speak. No sound would come.

Something warm and soft pressed against my open mouth. Hot liquid trickled along my tongue, gathering, pouring into my throat. It had a sweet bite, like wild honey.

Pack blood.

“Drink, Calla,” Shay whispered. “You have to swallow or you’ll choke.”

I forced the muscles of my throat into action, struggling to get the blood down.

“That’s it,” he said, stroking my hair. “Don’t forget to breathe.”

After a few painful swallows I could drink steadily. Sensation returned to my limbs. First came the pain, but it slowly ebbed. My vision cleared and the cave stopped vibrating beneath me. I pushed his arm away and sat up.

He clamped down on his punctured skin. “Is that enough?”

“I think so,” I said. “Take a look.”

I lifted my shirt again and he nodded. “Yeah. It’s definitely healing up.”

He swallowed, looking away. “Not pretty to look at yet, though.”

I quickly pulled my shirt down. “If the healing has started, I’ll be fine.”


“Are you okay?” I inched closer to him, peering at his face.

“Yeah.” He rolled his neck back and forth. “It hurt. A lot. But I feel okay now.” He frowned briefly. “Different, though. I think I like it.”

“You are different. You’re a Guardian.”

He shifted and a gold-brown-furred wolf blinked at me with moss green eyes, wagging his tail. Then Shay was smiling at me.

“So how do I look as a wolf? Good? Badass?” he asked. “How strong am I now?”

“Oh God.” My heart skipped a beat. “This is very bad. This is a disaster.”

“Why?” His smile vanished. “Don’t you think I can cut it?”

“That’s not it, Shay,” I said. “I can’t believe I did this. What was I thinking?”

“You weren’t thinking,” he said. “You were dying. We didn’t have a choice.”

“I might as well have died. Now I’m dead for sure.” Not one wolf in Haldis Cavern, but two. Me and this strange, new wolf.

“No,” he said. “You’re not dead. But you would be if you hadn’t turned me.”

“Your wolf scent will be all over the cavern now too, Shay. How are we going to hide it?” I stared at him. “What I did is forbidden . . . twice! I can’t be here, and turning you should have been out of the question!” I thought about the spider carcass, my blood pouring over the floor—there was nothing I could do to erase the evidence.

He offered me a lopsided smile. “Just add it to your list of things you weren’t supposed to do but did anyway. It’s starting to get long.”

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