Nightshade Page 82

When I didn’t start shrieking at him, he relaxed.

“You know, he wasn’t nearly as shocked as I thought he would be.”

“Well, he reads a lot.” I pulled the excuse out of thin air. “I think he’s more open to the fantastic possibilities of the world than most humans.”

Ansel brightened, bobbing his head. “Yeah, he lent me Sandman; it’s awesome.”

I collapsed back onto my pillows. “I don’t want to hear about comics. Did you tell Bryn about this?”



“Okay, fine, yeah. But can you blame us?” He stretched out on the bed. “It’s not our fault, Calla. We both had a lot of questions after we went with Ren into Haldis. We know you were there, and there was another wolf’s scent too.”

I didn’t respond and he wormed closer. “Bryn and I have been wanting to talk to you about this since we went to the cave, but it almost seems like you’re avoiding us. She thought it might be better if I talked to you alone.”

“About the cave?” I asked. “I didn’t mean for you guys to get in trouble with Ren.”

“Not just that,” he said. “With all the time you’re spending with Shay and the fact that he acts like part of our pack these days, we’ve been thinking something happened with you guys. Did it?”

I remained silent. My heart picked up speed.

Ansel became quiet. Then he expelled a long breath.

“When I heard about the fight today, some things fell into place. I mean, I don’t know Ren well, but I’m good at reading people. He’s not as confident as he puts on—especially when it comes to you.”

I turned to look at him, startled. Ren not confident?

When he caught my surprised expression, he nodded. “It’s true. Ren may be territorial, but he’s also smart. He wouldn’t have gone after Shay like that, in the middle of class and all, unless he thought there was the chance—” Ansel broke off, as if it was too painful for him to finish the thought.

“Unless he thought what?” I frowned; my heart was beating at a breakneck pace.

Ansel’s voice dropped to a whisper; he watched me closely as he spoke. “That you might actually be in love with Shay.”

My heart galloped right off the cliff it had been racing toward and I couldn’t breathe. I closed my eyes. Am I?


I could barely hear him over the roaring in my ears.

“Did you turn him?”

I sat up, nails digging into a pillow, shredding cotton.

“It would make sense.” Ansel’s voice had grown soft, and he traced a slow pattern on the coverlet with his fingers. “You wanted Shay to be one of us so you don’t have to be with Ren. He was the other wolf in the cave, wasn’t he?”

I didn’t know what to say or do. The truth? More lies? I didn’t want Ansel and Bryn mixed up in this. They’d already tried to protect me by lying to Ren. If they knowingly betrayed the Keepers, I couldn’t imagine what it might cost them.

I shook my head furiously, fear for his safety pulling the lie from my lips. “No. That is not what’s going on. You know that was just a lone wolf. I was in the cave by myself. I’m sorry you had to find out that way. I should’ve talked to you sooner. And thanked you. For not saying anything. Bryn too.”

“Why were you in there?” he asked, doubt lingering in his eyes. “What kind of stunt were you trying to pull?”

“I know it was dumb,” I mumbled. “I was just curious when I patrolled alone. I decided to sneak in—but I ran when I smelled the spider.”

He shuddered. “I would have run too. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

“I haven’t either,” I murmured, lost in memories of the fight, Haldis, Shay.

“You really should have told us.” Ansel frowned. “Ren was pissed off. He’s a good alpha. He wants us to work together.”

“I know,” I said.

“Don’t you trust us?” Ansel asked. “I know a lot has changed because of the new pack, but we’re still your friends. We wouldn’t let you down, Calla.”

“I’m sorry, An,” I said, hesitating before I spoke again. “Why did you think I turned Shay? I mean besides smelling the other wolf in the cave.”

Ansel raised his gray eyes to meet mine, his irises hard as flint. “Because I would have run away with Bryn if anyone told me I couldn’t be with her. If she weren’t a Guardian, I would’ve turned her, and I would’ve run for the rest of my life to keep her by my side.”

I looked at him for a long moment and then nodded slowly. He loves her. That’s what love is. It must be.

“Thanks for not yelling at me for saying that.” He offered me a sad smile.

I nodded again, unable to push words past the lump in my throat.

“I wish you would tell me how you feel, Cal,” he said. “I just want to help. Shay and Ren are both good guys; I’m not judging you either way. You have to follow your heart.”

I winced. “It’s not that simple.”

“Sure it is,” he said with a frustrated huff. “God, Calla, don’t you love anything?”

I stared at the bed. Maybe I don’t. I’m only trying to be strong. What if being an alpha means I can’t love anyone?

When I looked at him again and he saw the bright sheen of tears reflected back at him, he cringed.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. That was a horrible thing to say.”

I smiled weakly. “I love you, little brother.” I reached out, pulling him into my arms.

He nestled his head against my neck and I stroked the tousled mess of his sand brown hair. I wanted to tell him everything. I felt so alone. But I couldn’t risk it. I was desperate to keep my pack out of this mess as long as I could.

“And I love our packmates,” I murmured, trying out the words, feeling their truth, their strength. “Promise me, An. No matter what happens, you’ll be strong. I need you to protect Bryn, to protect the pack.”

He tensed. “What are you talking about?”

“I wish I could tell you,” I whispered. “But it’s too risky. There’s too much I don’t know right now. Please just promise me.”

He nodded, his hair brushing against my chin. “I love you too.”

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