Vision in Silver Page 121

Leo was sweating, and he was trying to look around without being obvious about it.

Three guesses why he really wanted to see Lizzy.

Mother called. I shouldn’t have answered, not when I was so angry and scared. She started in on me, with her cold criticism, and I lashed out, screaming that I knew everything about the underhanded deals and I was going to tell the whole fucking world that Nicholas Scratch was a liar and a thief and I could prove it.

Then I hung up and realized what I’d done. She would tell Leo. Of course she would. And Leo would have to make the problem go away in order to stay in Nicholas’s trusted circle.

And he would need to make the problem go away in order to get his hands on Lizzy and retrieve the jewels he’s hidden in Boo Bear.

I won’t let that happen because he’ll hand her over to Mother. Let Mother raise Lizzy? Never.

Can’t trust the police. I’ve seen too many of them at Nicholas’s speeches and events. Can’t trust anyone. Except Monty. Have to get to Monty. He’ll know what to do.

CHAPTER 57

Moonsday, Maius 28

With Lizzy safely asleep in the efficiency apartment’s single bed, Monty sat on the closed toilet and read the entries Elayne had made in the pink diary with gold stars. Had the look of the diary been a cunning choice on her part or an unconscious return to the girl she had been?

O’Sullivan was right: the entries were a rant, a cry of unhappiness with a couple of bits of information that would have been dismissed. Nothing worth dying for.

If that farming association hadn’t made a grab for more profit by jacking up prices and claiming a shortage of crops too soon, no one would have known until there really was a shortage. Maybe that hadn’t been their idea. Maybe that had been the decision of the HFL, who wanted to stir up trouble and generate more followers for their cause. What better way to stir things up than to tell people they were going to go hungry because animals controlled the land?

On the way back to the station, Captain Burke had speculated that the terra indigene wouldn’t block the transport for foodstuffs completely from one region of Thaisia to another, but he suspected there would be strict limits from now on about the size of the truck that could be used to transport food, strict limits about the quantity that could be shipped by any train. And shipping anything by water . . . There were already reports of ships adrift on one of the Great Lakes, minus crew and cargo.

And the ships trying to cross the oceans? Vlad Sanguinati had walked them to their car after the meeting and had said, too casually, “The Sharkgard and Orcasgard will be watching from now on, and they will report any ships that have committed a breach of trust.” When O’Sullivan had asked who they would report to, Vlad had smiled. “Think of the Atlantik as Lake Etu’s big sister.”

An Elemental who could command the power of an ocean? Monty shuddered at the thought of it—and felt a dreadful curiosity about what she might look like.

Setting the diary on the bathroom floor, he unfolded the single sheet of paper that he’d found between two pages that had been partially glued together.

Monty,

It’s too late for a lot of things, at least between you and me. I’ve had some time to think, and I understand some things now.

My mother never loved me. She loved the potential I represented, what social doors my achievements might open for her. I was some kind of scorecard in a way that Leo never was. I just never saw it clearly until now.

I don’t remember my father, don’t remember a time when he lived with us. I don’t even know where he lives, but I think Mother goes to visit him occasionally—her naughty secret. I don’t remember his voice, and thinking about how you read to Lizzy every night, I realized she will never say that. Your voice, your presence in her life . . . I took that away from her, telling myself it wasn’t important.

I’m trying to be careful, trying to move quickly without seeming to do anything unusual. But now that I’ve kicked Nicholas out of the apartment, Leo has been checking up on me. And after I pulled the suitcases out of the storage bin, Lizzy has been beyond excited, even though I haven’t told her anything except we’re going to visit you and it has to be a secret from everyone, including her grandma and Uncle Leo. But I think Leo suspects I’m planning to run. So we have to run tomorrow.

I have a lot of regrets about the choices I’ve made in my life. But, Monty, my biggest regret is that I didn’t move to Lakeside with you when you asked me to.

Elayne

Monty folded the paper and tucked it in his shirt pocket as tears ran down his face.

Elayne had been an accommodation for Leo and Celia Borden, a stalking horse that had provided a reason for why someone like Leo Borden would be rubbing shoulders with a man like Nicholas Scratch.

It wasn’t his case, wasn’t his jurisdiction. There was no proof beyond the entry in the diary that Leo had a reason to go after Elayne and knife her in the train station. There was no proof that he put a bag of jewels in Lizzy’s bear.

Nicholas Scratch didn’t know how much Elayne really knew about the shipments to Cel-Romano or the jewels that were supposed to be the payment for those goods, so anything that might inconvenience the HFL movement had to be destroyed or retrieved. But Scratch hadn’t counted on the reaction of the terra indigene. Since the man hadn’t cared about Lizzy, why would the Others? A big miscalculation on his part.

Monty scrubbed his face with his hands.

He’d never be able to prove that Leo had killed Elayne, and he didn’t think Felix Scaffoldon was going to try very hard to solve the case, not when Nicholas Scratch was going to be doing plenty of damage control once the HFL’s involvement in the food shortages was revealed. He didn’t doubt Scratch would spin it to at least neutralize the damage to the HFL. But having a member accused of murder? No.

Monty picked up the diary and got to his feet, feeling the weight of the world on his shoulders. Then he went into the living area and looked at Lizzy, fast asleep and hugging her new friend.

Henry Beargard had carved the wood for the head, paws, and feet, which were sewn to the jeans and plaid shirt that the Courtyard’s seamstress had made. A stern-faced bear. A warrior rather than a cuddly friend. As much a weapon as a toy.

Lizzy had named it Grr Bear, a name Monty thought quite appropriate.

A few hours ago, Simon Wolfgard had told him—told all of them at that meeting—that the terra indigene were considering the extinction of the humans living in Thaisia. Yet those same beings had made a special toy for his little girl, understanding what she had lost.

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