Vision in Silver Page 23

“It should have been a training image. But I don’t think the people who owned blood prophets wanted girls to have an image of what happened to the boy babies when they were taken away.” Meg shuddered. “After Sam began shifting to human form, I wondered if I’d ever had a younger brother. In the compounds, there were no boys being trained to see visions. Just girls. How many old sacks do you think they’ll find in the lakes?”

“I don’t know.” He hurt because she was hurting. He wanted to lick her face and find a meaty bone for her to gnaw on. He wanted to entice her into a game so she would think about something else. But he knew from experience that nothing could provide enough distraction to eliminate that kind of hurt.

“Simon? Could we go to the Wolfgard Complex and play with the puppies?”

Maybe there was a distraction that would help. “Sure we can. It would be good to do that.” Tomorrow he would think about human things again. Now he would spend some time with his own kind—and with his friend.

As he and Meg locked the back door of the Liaison’s Office, Vlad approached them from HGR.

“I closed for the day,” Vlad said. “We’re not open for human customers, and any terra indigene who want a book can borrow one from the Market Square Library. And I’ve had enough of—” His mobile phone rang.

“Aren’t you going to answer it?” Meg asked.

“No.” When it stopped ringing Vlad took the phone out of his pocket and shut it off.

“We’re going up to the Wolfgard Complex,” Simon said.

“I have to report to Grandfather Erebus. Why don’t we ride together?” Vlad looked at Meg. “Simon can shift and ride in the back of the BOW. I’ll drive over to the Chambers and then pick you up when you’re ready to go home.”

“I can drive,” Simon said.

“Not tonight,” Vlad said quietly. <Neither of you should drive tonight,> he added. <You don’t look like you can hold the human form much longer, and Meg doesn’t need the mental effort right now.>

Simon nodded. Vlad was right about him not being able to hold the human form much longer. He couldn’t get a measure of Meg’s fatigue, but she crossed the short distance between the office and the garages as if she’d run a long way through deep snow and every step now was an effort to survive.

Since they’d already locked up the office and bookstore, Simon went into the garage that housed one of the BOWs to strip off his clothes and shift. Vlad obligingly stood where he would block Meg’s view. Not that Simon had any inhibitions about a human seeing him naked or shifting, but he was still careful to avoid Meg seeing him naked. He’d made the shift from Wolf to human once without thinking, and her confusion about seeing him as a naked human had almost broken their friendship.

He shook out his fur and waited for Vlad to set his clothes in the back of the BOW. When he jumped in, he made sure his tail was out of the way before the back door closed. Then Vlad and Meg got in the front seats. After Vlad backed out of the garage and stopped long enough to close the garage door, they headed for the Wolfgard Complex.

The BOWs were electric-powered vehicles that were used in the Courtyard. They had two seats and a cargo area that was just big enough for a grown Wolf if he kept his tail tucked. It wasn’t his fault that Meg’s head—and that newly cropped hair—was so close to his muzzle that he couldn’t help but sniff it.

No stinky smells anymore from whatever she had used to dye her hair. Now the hair smelled of the shampoo made by the terra indigene, and it smelled like Meg.

He gave the side of her head a quick lick before she squealed and ducked away from him.

Tasted like Meg. Felt like puppy fuzz.

Too bad he couldn’t hold her down and give her a proper grooming like he used to do with Sam. Could still do with Sam.

When they arrived at the Wolfgard Complex, the pups were outside playing some kind of game with the juvenile Wolves.

Vlad barely had time to stop the BOW before Meg scrambled out of the vehicle.

<Meg!> Sam’s happy arroo was followed by those of other pups as they all crowded around her.

<It’s the Meg!> <Does the Meg have cookies?> <Tug game?> <Chase you!>

<Let me out,> Simon growled at Vlad. Excited pups could easily forget to be careful with Meg.

He almost smacked his head, too impatient to wait for Vlad to lift the back door fully before he leaped out of the BOW.

Then he stopped and watched Meg and Sam. Strong bond between them. Trust and love.

Was Meg’s little brother at the bottom of a lake? Did she really want to know that kind of truth about the humans who had kept her? Did he?

The rest of the Wolfgard who lived in Lakeside came over to where Meg was hugging all the pups, but especially Sam.

<Uncle Simon?> Sam said. <Meg’s eyes are leaking. Is she sick?>

<No, she’s not sick. She’s . . .>

Couldn’t tell the pups what had happened today, especially not Sam, who had seen his mother shot, had been with her as she bled to death. The pup didn’t need to hear about humans killing their young. Instead, Simon howled the Song of Sorrow.

The adult Wolves took up the song. Most of them knew at least some of what had happened. He heard Blair’s voice, and Elliot’s. Then Jane and John and the rest. Then the juveniles and pups. And something else. A voice he’d never heard before.

Meg, kneeling in the grass, one arm around Sam. Meg, howling, adding her voice to the grieving.

When the howling ended, all the pups were pressed around Meg. The pack offering comfort.

Simon watched her as Sam left for a minute and returned with one of the soft ropes, offering the distraction of play. He watched her as she ran around making squeaky noises, pretending to be prey while the pups chased her and the adult Wolves made sure the game didn’t get too rough. He watched as she played tug with Sam.

She had spent most of her life isolated, even when she was surrounded by other humans. Now she was learning as much from the Wolves as she was from the humans about what it meant to have family.

She wasn’t a Wolf. She wasn’t terra indigene. Despite that, Meg was becoming one of them.

CHAPTER 8

Thaisday, Maius 10

“You’ve reached the Borden residence. Leave your name, number, and the purpose of your call.”

Monty hung up without leaving a message. He’d been trying to reach Elayne—or, more to the point, his daughter, Lizzy—since hearing about the abandoned girls and the disposal of cassandra sangue babies. Feeling heartsick, he wanted some assurance, any kind of assurance, that his own little girl was all right. But there had been no answer.

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