The Savage Grace Page 1

Loading...

FULL CIRCLE

He knew me too well.

Read the writing on my heart.

He knew exactly what it would take—

For me to embrace this savagery.

“However will you choose?” he asks. “You let me go, and I will kill him.”

I lift the gun. Train it at his heart. “I’ve made my decision.”

He does not falter. Doesn’t even blink. “All you have to do is want to kill me, and you’ll lose yourself.”

“I know,” I say.

I squeeze back on the trigger. A silver bullet explodes from the chamber.

I have no regrets.…

Chapter One

HOWL

FRIDAY NIGHT

You need to do something, gracie.

My eyes squinted involuntarily at my phone’s screen, illuminated too bright in the dark of my bedroom. I’d been staring at the black void between my bed and my ceiling for so long it was hard to focus my vision—and my mind—on the incoming text.

I blinked several times and read the message again: You need to do something, gracie. He’s going to get himself in real trouble if he doesn’t stop.

I wish I could say that I’d been asleep when the howling started. I knew it was the white wolf without being able to see him. The high, mournful wolf’s cry that filled my bedroom now sounded like he was just outside my window—but I knew it came from deep in the forest. He was venturing farther away.

Away from me.

Away from who he used to be.

I’d rolled over and sat up in my bed when the howls started only a few minutes before. I knew it was just after two a.m. without even needing to glance at the dim red numbers of my alarm clock. I’d been willing myself not to check the time every few minutes, not to count down how many hours of rest I could still get before morning—if I could just fall asleep in the first place.

The problem is, it’s hard to fall asleep when deep down there’s a part of you that desperately doesn’t want to ever again.

Because sleep brought on dreams of Daniel. The Daniel I remembered. Dreams so wonderful and tangible that the second I woke up and realized they were just that—dreams—the terribleness of reality came crashing in on me all over again. I didn’t know if my sanity could handle it one more time.

Dad and Gabriel had sent me home around eleven o’clock, claiming I needed to get a handle on my sleep debt during the weekend before I was expected to go back to school on Monday. But I think they really sent me away because neither of them could bear to look me in the eye as the hours—days—of searching through book after book on werewolf folklore, shape-shifters mythology, and even scripture, went by and we’d still found nothing.

Nothing at all that could help us change Daniel back.

It had been six nights since the terrible one Daniel and I had spent imprisoned in the Shadow Kings’ warehouse, knowing our deaths would most likely play out in the morning. It had been five days since Daniel had somehow miraculously turned into the great white wolf in order to save me from Caleb’s rabid wolf pack. I’d escaped a horrific fate that day—but Daniel hadn’t. He’d been trapped in a prison of bone and fur and claws ever since. Stuck in the body of the white wolf.

I could tell with each unuseful page that was turned that Dad and Gabriel believed more and more that Daniel was going to be stuck forever. And it didn’t bode well that he seemed to be more the white wolf than he was Daniel with each passing moment.

The first few days after Daniel transformed, he’d followed me everywhere—which meant I pretty much couldn’t go anywhere, but at least he’d been with me, and I could see him in the white wolf’s deep brown eyes.

But two days ago, he’d gotten skittish, and then he’d started to wander away. Into the woods mostly. For a few hours at a time, returning to my backyard when I called for him. But then today my calls had gone unbidden, and he hadn’t come back at all.

The forest is claiming him, a harsh voice whispered in my head.

I shook it off, not letting the demon wolf inside of me feed off my doubt. I didn’t have the patience for mind games tonight.

Daniel’s howling grew louder from the woods, and my heart ached for him. For us. I’d wondered if his howls were as loud to anyone else, or if my superhearing was just acting up again—that was until the cell phone on my nightstand buzzed with the text from Dad.

Huh. Dad. Texting. I’ll never get used to that.

I rubbed my eyes. My sight shifted from my superhuman night vision back to normal a couple of times before I was able to focus on the screen of my phone again. I pecked out a response to Dad’s text about my needing to do something.

Me: I know. Are you still at the parish? How loud is it there?

Dad had taken to staying at the parish most nights this past week. Besides doing research, he and Gabriel alternated watching over my brother Jude in his small cell-like den in the parish’s basement.

The question as to what to do with Jude had been our first item of business when we’d brought him back from the warehouse with us. I think everyone was surprised when I suggested that we lock him up in the storage cage in the parish basement for observation until we could figure out what exactly was going on inside his head. My brother had been on the run for the last ten months, and he’d eventually joined Caleb’s gang of paranormal teens—the same pack that had tried to kill Daniel and me. Jude had been the one who had led the Shadow Kings right to us.

In the end, he’d surrendered. Begged to come back with us. But relieved as I was to know finally that Jude was safe—I wasn’t ready to let him come home. Not until we were sure of his motivations. Not until I knew whether my brother was the one who had returned with us, and not just one of Caleb’s death dogs.

As surprised as the others had been when I suggested keeping Jude under lock and key for the time being, I was shocked that Dad and Gabriel actually agreed. Only April had protested, but her vote hadn’t counted for much.

She hadn’t seen the way Jude had stood by and let Caleb try to destroy me.…

A new text from Dad interrupted my thoughts: Yes, still at the parish. The howling is quite loud here.

That wasn’t the answer I was hoping for. The parish was several blocks away. If Daniel’s howling was still loud there, that meant the whole town could hear it, too.

Dad: He’s going to get himself killed.

I know, I typed, my fingers shaking a bit. Rose Crest had a history of “wild dog” attacks—and unearthly howling from the woods surrounding the town would be enough to get people talking. And what they’d talk about were all those rumors about the Markham Street Monster. Rumors that weren’t really rumors at all. And then talking would lead to action.…

Next