Jack had to admit, living in a house of all girls was frustrating.
After one of Phoenix’s bras had somehow found its way into his laundry pile and he’d caught a glimpse of the chaos that was Chalice’s make up collection, he’d earned a new appreciation for his own separate bathroom.
Now, he stared grimly at the family room TV whose DVR was completely overloaded with episodes of Say Yes to the Dress and Hart of Dixie .
Chalice had complained at first that her boyfriend wasn’t allowed to live with them, but Grandmother Clarissa had used polite, mature terms to explain that Jack and Shay could be trusted to keep all of their clothes on when alone in a room together.
Of course, Jack had thought of Shay that way before—he was a boy after all. But they’d never even discussed that possibility, let alone gotten anywhere close to it.
They hadn’t gotten close to anything lately.
They were rarely ever alone; Shay did her best to make sure of that. Jack didn’t know if she was aware that she was doing it. It seemed like a knee-jerk reaction. Her mind’s way of protecting itself from further harm.
He’d noticed the changes in her almost immediately the first week after they’d left Duskville. He would have to be blind to not have seen them. She’d locked herself in her room and Isobel brought food up to her every day. They’d finally been able to convince her to come out, but she had refused to talk to anyone except for Isobel and Vivienne. Even though she eventually began to talk to him again, she was visibly detached.
As much as Jack tried to deny it, he knew she had loved Matt and that his death had shocked and unsettled her. She was now keeping her distance from Jack for fear of losing him, too.
The door leading to the garage opened and slammed shut. Jack heard footsteps, and then a thud as Lacey dumped her books and laptop down on the kitchen table.
She came out into the family room and flopped down into the couch on the opposite wall. “Did you know that if you shave a tiger, the stripes will also be on their skin?”
“Are you planning on shaving me when I’m shifted?”
That set her off on one of her signature giggle fits. “Of course not. What on earth would I do with all the fur?”
“You could make a coat.”
Lacey stopped laughing and just looked at him. She seemed to be considering it, and Jack was afraid he was going to have to hide all of the razors in the house from her, but then she laughed again. “No. It’s too warm for coats.”
Jack was relieved. “So what classes are you taking?”
“Zoology,” Lacey replied. “Did you know that tigers can roar because of a two-piece bone in their throat?”
She nodded vigorously. “I only have one and that’s why I can’t roar. But I can purr and you can’t.” A soft rumbling came from her throat.
Jack laughed. “I wouldn’t say I’m missing out.”
“Don’t pet me though, or I’ll bite you.”
Jack held his hands up in surrender. “Alright. I won’t.”
“Did you know that a cross between a male lion and a female tiger is a liger, but a cross between a female lion and a male tiger is a tiglon?”
He didn’t bother to tell her that there was no reason for him to know that. It was actually kind of cute how excited she was to brag about her animal knowledge. Her gray eyes stared at him in anticipation as she waited for an answer.
“No, I didn’t.”
“But if you had sex with a lion shapeshifter, your kid wouldn’t be a tiglon shapeshifter. It’d still be a tiger because it passes down through the males. But with Shay, your kid would be a witch. That passes through the females.”
Jack couldn’t help the flush that rose to his cheeks.
“What? I’m telling the truth,” Lacey said defensively. “Or are you just one of those people who are afraid of the word sex? Sex, sex, sex—!”
Jack quickly interrupted Lacey’s rising voice. “It’s not that. Shay and I have been really distant lately.”
“Oh.” The giggly enthusiasm in her face softened to concern.
“She’s still upset over Matt’s death, and I don’t know if she’ll ever really get over it. She thinks it’s her fault because he jumped in the way of the arrow to save her.”
“My sister and I used to have a pet goldfish, but then I took him out of his bowl for a walk, and he died,” Lacey said, her face completely serious. “Love kills.”
A laugh burst from his lips before he could stop it, and he felt ashamed for finding the tale of her goldfish’s death so funny. Lacey didn’t look offended though. She sat up straight and spoke in a matter-of-fact tone.
“I think you should go talk to Shay,” she told him. Then she added, “But not about goldfish. Or sex.”
Jack stood and tossed her the TV remote. “Thank you, Lacey. And I’m sorry about your goldfish.”
“I am, too,” Lacey said. She was already distracted by the TV and didn’t bother to take her eyes off of it as she spoke. “My sister named him Susan.”
Jack laughed again, and then trudged up the stairs.
Shay wasn’t in her room, which was the first place he looked, so he headed to the practice room. He pushed open the door and stopped when he saw Sienna reading from her spell book at the podium.
“Oh, sorry. I was looking for—”
The middle of his sentence dropped off because at that moment he spotted Shay across the room where the door had been hiding her from view, and she was floating three feet above the floor.
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