Shiver, page 37part #1 of The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series
I kept waiting for this to feel wrong, his body pressed up against mine, but I just felt so alive that my heart hammered with the thrill of it. This, Sam and me, this was my real life. The life where I went to school and waited up for my parents and listened to Rachel vent about her siblings—that felt like a pale dream in comparison. Those were just things I had done while waiting for Sam. Outside, distant and mournful, wolves began to howl, and a few seconds later, the phone rang again, notes stepping down the scale, a strange, digital echo of the wolves.
I didn’t realize my mistake until I held it to my ear.
“Sam. ” The voice at the other end was unfamiliar. Stupid me. I had taken Sam’s phone from the nightstand, not mine. I debated for two seconds how to respond. I contemplated snapping the phone shut, but I couldn’t do that.
“No,” I replied. “Not Sam. ”
The voice was pleasant, but I heard an edge beneath his words. “I’m sorry. I must’ve dialed wrong. ”
“No,” I said, before he could hang up. “This is Sam’s phone. ”
There was a long, heavy pause, and then: “Oh. ” Another pause. “You’re the girl, aren’t you? The girl who was in my house?”
I tried to think of what I might gain by denying it and drew a blank. “Yes. ”
“Do you have a name?”
He gave a short laugh that was completely without humor but not unpleasant. “I think I like you. I’m Beck. ”
“That makes sense. ” I turned my face away from Sam, who was still breathing heavily, my voice muffled by his arms over his head. “What did you do to piss him off?”
Again the short laugh. “He’s still angry with me?”
I considered how to answer. “Not now. He’s sleeping. Can I give him a message?” I stared at Beck’s number on the phone, trying to remember it.
There was another long pause, so long that I thought Beck had hung up, and then he breathed out audibly. “One of his…friends has been hurt. Do you think you could wake him?”
One of the other wolves. It had to be. I ducked down into the covers. “Oh—of course. Of course I will. ”
I put the phone down and gently moved Sam’s arm so that I could see his ear and the side of his face. “Sam, wake up. Phone. It’s important. ”
He turned his head so that I could see that his yellow eye was already open. “Put it on speaker. ”
I did, resting it on my belly so that the camera’s face lit a small blue circle on my tank top.
“What’s going on?” Sam slid up onto one elbow, made a face when he felt the cold, and jerked the blankets up around us, making a tent around the phone.
“Someone attacked Paul. He’s a mess, ripped to shreds. ”
Sam’s mouth made a little o. I don’t think he was thinking about what his face looked like—his eyes were far away, with his pack. Finally, he said, “Could you—have you—is he still bleeding? Was he human?”
“Human. I tried to ask him who did it—so I could kill them. I thought…Sam, I really thought I was going to be calling you to tell you he died. It was that bad. But I think it’s closing up now. But the thing is, it was all these little bites, all over, on his neck and on his wrists and his belly, it was as if—”
“—as if someone knew how to kill him,” Sam finished.
“It was a wolf who did it,” Beck said. “We got that much out of him. ”
“One of your new ones?” Sam snarled, with surprising force.
“Could it have been?”
“Sam. No. They’re inside. ”
Sam’s body was still tense beside me, and I mulled over possible meanings for that phrase: One of your new ones. Was Jack not the only new one?
“Will you come?” Beck asked. “Can you? Is it too cold?”
“I don’t know. ” I knew from the twist of Sam’s mouth that he was only answering the first question. Whatever it was that had distanced him from Beck, it was powerful.
Beck’s voice changed, softer, younger, more vulnerable. “Please don’t be angry with me still, Sam. I can’t stand it. ”
Sam turned his face away from the phone.
“Sam,” Beck said softly.
I felt Sam shudder next to me, and he closed his eyes.
“Are you still there?”
I looked at Sam, but he still didn’t speak. I couldn’t help it—I felt sorry for Beck. “I am,” I said.
There was a long pause, completely devoid of static or crackling, and I thought Beck had hung up. But then he asked, in a careful way, “How much do you know about Sam, girl-without-a-name?”
Pause. Then: “I’d like to meet you. ”
Sam reached out and snapped the phone shut. The light of the display vanished, leaving us in the dark beneath the covers.
CHAPTER FORTY-SIX • GRACE
My parents didn’t even know. The morning after Sam and I—spent the night together, it seemed like the biggest thing on my mind was that my parents had no idea. I guessed that was normal. I guessed feeling a little guilty was normal. I guessed feeling giddy was normal. It was as if I had thought all along I was a complete picture, and Sam had revealed that I was a puzzle, and had taken me apart into pieces and put me back together again. I was acutely aware of each distinct emotion, all fitting together tightly.
Sam was quiet, too, letting me drive, holding my right hand in both of his while I drove with the other. I would’ve given a million dollars to know what he was thinking.
“What do you want to do this afternoon?” I asked, finally.
He looked out the window, fingers rubbing the back of my hand. The world outside looked dry, papery. Waiting for snow. “Anything with you. ”
He looked over at me and grinned. It was a funny, lopsided grin. I think maybe he was feeling as giddy as I was. “Yes, anything, as long as you’re there. ”
“I want to meet Beck,” I said.
There. It was out. It had been one of the puzzle pieces stuck in my head ever since I’d picked up the phone.
Sam didn’t say anything. His eyes were on the school, probably figuring that if he waited just a few minutes, he could deposit me on the sidewalk and avoid discussion. But instead he sighed as if he was incredibly tired. “God, Grace. Why?”
“He’s practically your father, Sam. I want to know everything about you. It can’t be that hard to understand. ”
“You just want everything in its place. ” Sam’s eyes followed the knots of students slowly making their way across the parking lot. I avoided finding a parking place. “You just want to perform magical matchmaking on me and him, so that you can feel like everything’s in its place again. ”
“If you’re trying to irritate me by saying that, you won’t. I already know it’s true. ”
Sam was silent while I circled the lot another time, and finally, he groaned. “Grace, I hate this. I hate confrontation. ”
“There won’t be confrontation. He wants to see you. ”
“You don’t know everything that’s going on. There’s awful stuff going on. There’ll be confrontation, if I have any principles left. Hard to imagine after last night. ”
I found a parking place in a hurry, one on the farthest end of the lot so that I could face him without curious eyes watching us on the way to the sidewalk. “Are you feeling guilty?”
“No. Maybe. A little. I feel…uneasy. ”
“We used protection,” I said.
Sam didn’t look at me. “Not that. I just—I just—I just hope it was the right time. ”
“It was the right time. ”
He looked away. “Only thing I wonder, is…did you have s—make love—to me to get back at your parents?”
I just stared at him. Then I grabbed my backpack from the backseat. I was suddenly furious, ears and cheeks hot, and I didn’t know why.
Sam didn’t look back at me. It was like the side of the school was fascinating to him. So fascinating he couldn’t look me in the eyes while he accused me of using him. A new wave of anger washed over me.
“Do you have such crap self-esteem that you think I wouldn’t want you just for you?” I pushed open the door and slid out; Sam winced at the air that came in, though it couldn’t have been cold enough to hurt him. “Way to ruin it. Just—way to ruin it. ”
I started to slam the door, but he reached far across the seat to keep the door from shutting all the way. “Wait. Grace, wait. ”
“I don’t want to let you go like this. ” His eyes were pleading with me, their absolute saddest. I looked at the goose bumps raising on his arms, and the slight tremble of his shoulders in the cold draft. And he had me. No matter how angry I was, we both knew what could happen while I was in school. I hated that. The fear. I hated it.
“I’m sorry I said it,” Sam blurted out, rushing to get out words before I left. “You’re right. I just couldn’t believe something—someone—so good could happen to me. Don’t go mad, Grace. Please don’t go mad. ”
I closed my eyes. For a brief moment I wished with all my heart that he was just a normal boy, so that I could storm away with my pride and indignation. But he wasn’t. He was as fragile as a butterfly in autumn, waiting to be destroyed by the first frost. So I swallowed my anger, a bitter mouthful, and opened the door a bit more. “I don’t want you to ever think something like that again, Sam Roth. ”
He closed his eyes just a little bit when I said his name, lashes hiding his yellow irises for a second, and then he reached out and touched my cheek. “I’m sorry. ”
I caught his hand and tangled his fingers in mine, fixing my gaze on his face. “How do you think Beck would feel if you went away mad?”
Sam laughed, a humorless, self-deprecating laugh that reminded me of Beck’s on the phone the night before, and dropped his eyes from mine. He knew I had his number. He pulled his fingers away. “We’ll go. Fine, we’ll go. ”
I was about to leave, but I stopped. “Why are you angry at Beck, Sam? Why are you so mad at him when I’ve never seen you angry at your real parents?”
Sam’s face told me he hadn’t asked himself this question before, and it took him a long time to answer. “Because Beck—Beck didn’t have to do what he did. My parents did. They thought I was a monster. They were afraid. It wasn’t calculated. ”
His face was full of pain and uncertainty. I stepped up into the car and kissed him gently. I didn’t know what to say to him, so I just kissed him again, got my backpack, and went into the gray day.
When I looked back over my shoulder, he was still sitting there, gaze silent and lupine. The last thing I saw was his eyes half-closed against the breeze, black hair tousled, reminding me for some reason of the first night I’d ever seen him.