Vision in Silver Page 28

Nathan stepped into the aisle and snarled loudly. His fangs lengthened to Wolf size, and his amber eyes flickered with red, the sign of anger. Fur sprang up on his chest and shoulders. Fur covered his hands. His fingers shortened, and his fingernails changed to the sharp Wolf nails that would be more useful in a fight.

A woman sitting near the front of the car looked back at Nathan, sprang out of her seat, and ran from the car. A moment later, a conductor and security guard rushed in.

“What’s going on?” the conductor asked.

The security guard’s hand hovered over the gun still in its holster.

“Keep this male away from the child,” Nathan snarled.

“There’s just been a misunderstanding,” the man said.

“He stinks of lust.” That had been the scent the man had been trying to hide beneath the stinky cologne. “If you won’t keep him away from her, I will.”

No doubt in anyone’s mind how he would keep the man away.

The conductor stepped forward. “Honey, do you know this man?”

The girl shook her head and held the fake bear in front of her like a shield.

“Sir, come with us,” the security guard said tightly. Ignoring the man’s protests, the guard led him away.

Nathan didn’t know, or care, where they took the man, but the conductor and security guard knew enough about the terra indigene not to try to walk the man past him.

He stood for a minute, struggling to shift back to looking human enough so the rest of the passengers in the car wouldn’t panic. Then, instead of resuming his own seat, he sat down next to the child.

“I’m Nathan Wolfgard.” He waited a beat while she stared at him. “Who are you?”

“I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

That sounded like as good a rule as “Don’t tease a skunk,” but it wasn’t helpful now. “I’m not a stranger; I’m like the Wolf police.” He was pleased he’d thought of that as a way to explain being an enforcer for a Courtyard.

Of course, human police didn’t tend to eat wrongdoers.

“Oh.” She thought for a moment. “I’m Lizzy. And this is Boo Bear. He’s my bestest friend.” She thrust the fake bear close to Nathan’s face.

He jerked his head back and took shallow breaths through his mouth.

Boo Bear needed a bath.

But . . .

Nathan leaned forward and sniffed the bear. Smears of old food around the nose. Peanut butter? Something human smelling that had dried crusty around the ears, as if she’d used the bear to wipe her nose. And then, on the bear’s haunch . . .

Blood. Dried now, but the matted fur smelled of blood. If it hadn’t been for the man’s stinky cologne masking other smells, he would have caught the scent of blood before now.

Nathan took another delicate sniff. Not the girl’s blood. The crusty around Boo Bear’s ears smelled like her, but the blood didn’t.

Nathan eased back, watching her as intensely as she watched him.

“Where’s your . . . mother?” Took him a moment to remember the human word.

Lizzy lifted her shoulders in an exaggerated shrug and pulled Boo Bear close again.

“Did she come on the train with you?”

Head shake.

He didn’t like that answer. He didn’t like it at all. A pup shouldn’t be traveling alone. But she had a ticket. In fact, she must have had two tickets. Otherwise, the conductor wouldn’t have put two LAK strips over the seats.

So. No mother on the train. “Where’s your father?” Nathan asked.

Now she perked up. “My daddy is a policeman. He lives in Lakeside.”

Nathan studied her. “What is your daddy’s name?”

“Crispin James Montgomery. If you’re Wolf police, do you know my daddy?”

Nathan watched the conductor enter the car and slowly walk its length. The man didn’t stop when he reached their seats, didn’t ask any questions, but Nathan had a feeling the conductor and security guard would be walking through the cars a lot during this trip. He’d flushed out one human predator for them, but there could be more, and the guard’s presence would keep the young protected.

Boo Bear’s nose poked Nathan in the arm.

“Do you know my daddy?” Lizzy asked.

“Yeah. I do.” And I have a feeling he’s not expecting you.

CHAPTER 11

Firesday, Maius 11

Simon stared at the two stinky children who stood between Pete and Eve Denby. Not an unclean kind of stinky; more that there were so many smells covering them he couldn’t identify them. Not without a closer, and more thorough, sniff that would have the parents snarling at him.

Not that he would blame Pete and Eve for snarling. All the humans who had returned to work this morning were pretending he hadn’t been “bite all humans” angry yesterday, but they were as wary of him as they’d been before Meg started working in the Courtyard.

He wondered if there was a way human males said they were sorry about something without saying they were sorry. Because he wasn’t sorry about being angry. All the terra indigene were angry about the blood prophet pups being killed. But he was sorry that he’d tried to bite Ruthie and Merri Lee, who weren’t the kind of humans who would drown puppies or kittens . . . or babies.

Neither were Pete and Eve Denby, who had shown courage by coming here—and a confidence that their pups would be safe with the Others.

Which brought him back to the children, who looked as if they were waiting for him to sprout fur and grow fangs.

Irritating whelps. As soon as Pete and Eve were gone, he’d chuck them outside.

Caw, caw.

And having them outside would make it easier for curious terra indigene to observe them.

“This is our son, Robert, and our daughter, Sarah,” Pete said. “Children, this is Mr. Wolfgard. He runs the bookstore.”

“Can you really turn into a wolf?” Robert asked.

“I’m always a Wolf,” Simon replied. “Sometimes I shift to look human.”

“Can you, like, get furry and stuff?”

Before he could decide if he wanted to answer that—and what did a young human mean by “stuff”?—there was a thump and a yelp at the back of the store. Then Ruthie hurried toward him, looking mussed and agitated, which was odd because she was usually a well-groomed female.

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