Nightshade Page 66

“Well, we need to figure that out later. Right now we have to get back down the mountain before the next patrol comes out.” I threaded my arm through his, pulling him back out of the chamber.

“Will they track us?” he asked.

“Not likely,” I said. “Now that you’re a Guardian, they won’t recognize the scent. They’ll think it’s a normal wolf that strayed into this range.”


When we reached the mouth of the cave, I shifted into wolf form; Shay followed suit. He shook his ruff and gazed at me, eyes questioning.

Come on, it’s time to run. I playfully nipped at his shoulder.

He barked and jumped away; his ears flicked as he gazed at me. He whimpered, pawing the snow.

I watched him for a moment and then understood. If you need to talk, focus your thought and send it toward me.

His tentative response quietly entered my mind.


My tongue lolled out in a wolf grin before I spun around, bounding away from the cavern into the cover of trees. I glanced back once to be certain he followed and saw Shay close at my heels. We burst into the forest, plunging through the deep, fresh powder. We sped down the hill as though we had wings, leaping over icefalls, churning snow in our wake. It was as though we traveled backward through time, from winter to fall, as we streaked down the mountain.

I feel like I could run forever. Shay’s awed voice rang in my mind.

I yipped and put on another burst of speed, reveling in the power of my limbs.

Night cloaked the base of the mountain when we arrived at Shay’s truck. Silver wisps of cloud barely veiled bright moonlight, which shone down in ghostly beams through the pine trees.

He shifted forms and headed for his Ford Ranger, shoving his hand into his coat pocket to rummage for the keys. The keys jangled in his hands when he turned, watching me. I shifted into human form and walked up to him.

“Can I give you a ride home?” he asked.

I gazed up at the moon, swallowing a sigh when I remembered Ren’s invitation to cull the local deer population. “I’d rather run. All our time in the library has kept me indoors too much.”

Shay smiled. “Yeah. That was incredible. You must want to be outside all the time.”

“I’m glad you liked it.” I moved closer to him. Despite the change, he still had the same scent I’d come to love, the smell of new leaves striking a sharp contrast to the heady incense of the autumn night. “I didn’t thank you for saving my life.”

“Well, you saved me twice, so I’m still one behind you.” He laughed. “But I don’t know that I’m looking to even the score. I’d rather you didn’t almost die again, if you can help it.”

“That makes two of us.” I lifted my eyes to his. He was watching my face, his green irises swimming with moonlight. He reached out and stroked my cheek.

“Do you want to go home?” I caught his fingers in mine, letting my face press against his palm, taking in his scent again, shivering with excitement that I had an entire world to share with him. “Are you tired?”

“Not really. I’m pretty wired from all of this.”

My lips curved into a wicked grin. “Are you hungry?”


STOP WHINING; YOU’RE EIGHTEEN YEARS old and you keep acting like a puppy.

Though my complaint carried a teasing note, the irritated edge behind it was real. The focus required by the hunt made me tense.

It’s not my fault. His plaintive reply came back. I’ve never had a tail before. I can’t figure out what exactly it’s supposed to do. It’s so distracting.

I halted on the top of a ridge, eyes tracking over the broad meadow before us. The small group of deer I’d scented grazed a half mile below us, upwind and completely unaware of our presence, their brown coats transformed to slate gray in the moonlight.

You’ll need to figure it out now if you want to do this. My snapping thought raced toward him.

He loped up beside me and then dropped to his haunches, his tongue lolling out in a wolf grin. I’ll be fine.

We’ll see about that. I lifted my muzzle, testing the air again. Do you remember what I taught you? A deer is different from rabbits. We need to coordinate the attack to take one down.

The brown wolf, whose thick fur glinted with golden streaks, pawed at the snow-covered ground, clearly irritated by my patronizing tone. Yeah, I know. I get the hamstring, you take the throat.

Right. My gaze moved back over the herd. The yearling on the far right. That’s the one we’ll separate for the kill.

He took a step forward, making his own assessment. It’s a little scrawny, isn’t it?

There are only two of us, Shay. We don’t need a fully grown deer. We just ate that rabbit. How hungry are you anyway?

He threw me a reproachful glare. So long as you’re not implying that I can’t take down a buck.

I flicked my ears irritably. It’s not a competition; we’re just trying to get some food.

He bared his teeth, dancing in a playful circle beside me. If it’s not a competition, then why are you critiquing my wolf skills?

I’m not critiquing, I’m teaching. I turned to watch him weave slowly around me.

Could I get a gold star once in a while, Miss Tor? He darted forward, nipping at my shoulder.

Shut up. I snapped at him, but he jumped out of my reach.

He cocked his head at me, filling his eyes with shock and sorrow.

I sniffed the air disdainfully. You’re impossible.

Awww, you love it. He stretched his front legs.

I attempted to bare my teeth at him, but my effort rapidly devolved into a wolf grin. Come on, Mowgli. Let’s go kill Bambi.

He sent a haughty laugh into my mind. You do realize you just mixed Disney metaphors, right? Disney metaphors. Wow, Calla, now I’m just sad for you.

I pivoted and began a stealthy descent along the ridgeline. Shay followed close behind; his careful foot pads matched my own silent steps as we wove through the trees. We stalked through the shadowed cover of pines that encircled the small glen. The deer remained ignorant of our presence, striking at the snowdrifts with their hooves in search of buried roughage.

Ready? I didn’t look back at Shay as I sent the thought to him.


I lunged from the forest. The startled deer scattered. I focused on the yearling, driving it away from its companions. I nipped at the terrified animal, turning it sharply left. Shay darted in from behind me. With a sudden burst of speed he launched into the air, sinking his teeth into its hamstring. The deer cried out and faltered. Crimson blood poured into the snow as the yearling futilely struggled to continue its flight despite the crippling wound. Focused on the golden brown wolf, the deer failed to see me dart past. The yearling’s next cry died in a gurgle as my teeth tore through its throat. Hot copper liquid filled my mouth and I clamped my jaw down more ferociously. The young deer shuddered, dropping to the earth.

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