Vision in Silver Page 116

Blowing out a breath, Monty picked up the receiver and made the call.

*   *   *

Simon hung up the phone and turned to Vlad and Tess, whose hair—green with red streaks—was twisting into tight coils.

“Another problem?” Vlad asked.

“Lieutenant Montgomery would like us to talk to an investigator who is visiting Lakeside.”

“Not that Scaffoldon?”

“No,” Simon said. “A different human from something called the Investigative Task Force. See if Stavros has heard of it. Montgomery also asked if we’d seen the book that opens with a gold key.”

“When are they coming?” Tess asked.

“They’re on their way.” He glanced at Vlad, then focused on Tess. No black threads in her hair, which was good, but all the green was swiftly being replaced with red.

She said, “Then it’s time to return the book and show Montgomery and the other humans the truth.”

CHAPTER 55

Moonsday, Maius 28

“Arroo!”

Meg jolted, dropped the stack of mail, and rushed to the front counter. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

Sam grinned at her. “Nothing. I just wanted you to know the police are here.”

Her heart banged in her chest. It banged a little harder when Skippy, catching on that something was happening, rushed to the glass door and looked as if he’d crash through it.

“You could have said the police are here,” she grumbled. “You are in human form. And don’t be standing on the shelf like that.”

“But I can’t see if I don’t stand on it.”

“There’s nothing more to see.” She gave his shirt a tug. “Come help me with the mail. The ponies will be here in a minute.”

“I didn’t see Karl or Michael in the car,” Sam said, following her into the sorting room. “How come they weren’t in the car?”

“I don’t know. Maybe they’re in another car today since Lieutenant Montgomery and Captain Burke have a meeting with Simon.” Why had Simon called to tell her about the meeting? So she would know where to find him? Was the phone call a substitute for a Wolf howl to say, I am here? Did Karl and Michael make similar calls to Ruth and Merri Lee? She would ask when she met the other girls for the Quiet Mind class.

“They had another man in the car. Is he a bad guy?” Sam asked.

“No, he’s a guest.”

“Arooeeooeeoo! Arooeeooeeoo!”

Skippy would keep that up until he forgot why he was howling. Or until he was distracted.

Out of desperation, Meg dug into the sack Tess had given her and came up with a chocolate chip cookie for Sam and a cow-shaped cookie for Skippy. “Go. Eat. Be quiet and let me finish sorting the mail.”

Sam dashed into the front room, opened the go-through, and plopped on the Wolf bed. Skippy rushed to join the boy and get his share of the cookies.

Peace. Well, a crunchy silence. Meg finished sorting the last stack of mail, then pulled the new box of sugar lumps out of her carry sack. Hearing the clomp of pony hooves, she opened the sorting room’s delivery doors—and watched the ponies hustle past her and surround the three men who had been about to enter the consulate.

Snow swirled around the men’s legs as dense fog covered the delivery area.

This wasn’t playful showing off. This was a tipping point.

“Hey, Meg!” Sam called. “Come see! It’s all foggy outside.”

The ponies had never shown interest in an expected visitor before, let alone displayed intimidating behavior. Not knowing what else to do, she went with what had worked before. When in doubt, insist on good manners.

“Avalanche! Fog! Stop showing off and come over here to get your stacks of mail.” She could barely see them. Since the men weren’t screaming or shouting for help, she had to figure Quicksand hadn’t done anything—yet.

A movement at the edge of her vision. Air riding Tornado.

“Air? Is something wrong?”

The Elemental looked at her. “Many things. But not here.”

The snow fell faster and the fog got thicker. No sign of Air and Tornado now, but Meg had the feeling they weren’t that far away. And it was obvious Air wasn’t going to call off the ponies.

Meg raised her voice. “I guess nobody wants a sugar lump today.”

Snow instantly stopped falling. Fog began to dissipate as the ponies, including Tornado, hustled to the delivery door and got in line, with Thunder in his usual lead position.

“Whew,” Meg said. “I was worried that I was going to have to eat all that sugar by myself.” Smiling, she raised a hand in greeting to Lieutenant Montgomery. After a moment’s hesitation, he returned the greeting before he followed Captain Burke and the stranger into the consulate.

Meg filled the baskets with mail, handed out sugar lumps as the special Moonsday treat, and refused to think about anything else until she was in the bathroom washing her hands.

Many things were wrong. But not here.

Maybe that was why, despite the ponies’ behavior, she hadn’t felt even the lightest prickling beneath her skin.

*   *   *

The stranger’s voice and movements hid it well, but he smelled nervous. And wet.

All the humans smelled wet.

Peering through the blinds that covered the conference room’s windows, Simon looked at the mound of melting snow, then at the three men.

<Jake?> he called to the Crow perched on the wall that separated Henry’s yard from the delivery area.

<Avalanche snowed on the humans. Now the ponies are delivering mail for our Meg.>

Feeling a warning swirl of air around his ankles, Simon decided not to ask why the Elementals’ ponies had focused on the humans. He moved back to the table as Captain Burke introduced Agent Greg O’Sullivan of the ITF. Simon, in turn, introduced the other terra indigene who were participating in the meeting: Vlad and Stavros, Blair and Elliot, Henry, and Tess.

O’Sullivan had asked to meet with Stavros, but now that he was in the same room, the man seemed reluctant to get close to the Toland Courtyard’s problem solver. Of course, Stavros had come to the meeting wearing his black-on-black shirt and the suit that had a sheen when the light struck the material in the right way. Like the multicolored sheen of oil on water—or the sheen of a Crow’s wing.

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