Murder of Crows Page 52

The look in her clear gray eyes was equal parts annoyed and amused. “Blair promised to call when he dropped you off so that I would know when to put the pasta in, and he did.”

“Oh.” He yelped in surprise when the timer buzzed, and that made her laugh.

“Here.” She shut off the heat and handed him two potholders. “Pour the pasta into the colander in the sink. Be careful. It’s boiling water and the pot is heavy.”

It was boiling and it was heavy, and he realized that was the reason she let him do this—to protect her skin. While he followed her directions and transferred the spaghetti to a plate, Meg ladled some of the sauce out of the other pot.

“You’re supposed to have bread and salad and other things with it,” Meg said. “At least that’s how it’s served at the Saucy Plate, but this was all I could do today.”

“It’s a lot,” he said, and meant it. A train ride with five young girls who couldn’t cope with even the smallest personal experience and a severely damaged Jean had shown him how much effort it took for Meg to do simple things without being overwhelmed by the images and stimulation of doing.

He was hungry and wanted to gulp the food, but he ate slowly, appreciating the tastes and the effort. And …

He was sure now that she hadn’t cut herself, but there was a little bit of her flavor woven through the rest of the scents. She had touched the food, and that contact had retained a hint of her. He enjoyed the meal even more because of it.

When they’d eaten enough, they stored the rest of the food and did the dishes together. He worried for a moment that he was acting too human, but he liked the closeness, the company, the companionship.

She didn’t ask about the girls or the compound or Jean until they were sitting on the sofa in her living room. That’s when he gave her the letter Jean had written on the train.

“You got her out,” Meg said, turning the envelope over and over. “You saved her.”

He wasn’t sure of that. He wasn’t sure anyone that scarred and battered could be saved.

“She’s living on Great Island, so you can visit her,” he said. “But not yet. She’s … damaged, Meg, and doesn’t want to see you for a while. That’s why she gave me this letter.”

“She needs to settle into a routine before coping with something else that’s new.” Meg turned the letter over and over. “But I could write to her. I could buy stationery at the Three Ps and send her a letter telling her about my life in the Courtyard. Receiving a letter could be part of the routine.”

“Yes, it could. Meg? I’d really like to get out of this skin.”

“Okay. I picked up a movie to watch tonight. You can watch it with me if you like. It’s a chick movie. Merri Lee said that means girls like it, not that there are small birds in it.”

Since watching a movie about small birds didn’t appeal to him either, he had no objections to a movie without them. While Meg put the movie in the player, he went into her bedroom to strip and shift. He gave himself a good shake—and then wondered if he should offer to vacuum the carpet.

Maybe in the morning.

He returned to the living room and climbed onto the sofa with her.

Either she didn’t find the story interesting or the past few days had exhausted her, because she fell asleep halfway through the movie.

He wasn’t quite sure how she managed to end up halfway on top of him, but he didn’t mind feeling the weight of her or her breath ruffling his fur or being surrounded by the comforting scent of her skin. He didn’t mind it at all.