Vision in Silver Page 37

Lizzy took a bite of her sandwich before pressing the toast and grilled cheese against the spot where Boo Bear’s mouth would be. When she raised the sandwich to take another bite, Meg tried to ignore the toast crumbs and dollop of cheese clinging to the fur.

“It was okay,” Lizzy said. “Boo Bear was scared for a while because there was a bad man on the train. But the Wolf police chased him away.”

Meg blinked. “The what?”

While sandwiches were devoured, the story of Nathan scaring off the bad man segued to Sam talking about the Wolf Team movie he’d watched recently. At first Meg wondered if the story would be too scary for a human Lizzy’s age. After all, watching those movies scared her. However, after a few minutes of listening to the two children arguing about who was stronger—the Wolf Team or a group of girls who sounded more like tiny Elementals than young humans with special powers—Meg wasn’t sure if the term “bloodthirsty” should be applied to the youngster who preferred eating his meat raw.

*   *   *

He had his mobile phone, house keys, wallet, and police ID. Since he couldn’t figure out what he’d left at the Courtyard that needed to be retrieved so urgently, Monty focused on his partner.

“What are you and Ruth going to do?” Monty asked, referring to the forced move from the new apartment.

“Store some of our stuff with my folks and some in Ruthie’s parents’ house. And hope we can find another place quickly,” Kowalski replied. “Narrow-minded, shortsighted . . .” He stopped.

Monty waited a beat. “Are you talking about your soon-to-be-ex-landlord or your parents?”

Kowalski didn’t reply until they stopped at a traffic light. “My folks will help because we’re family and that’s what families do. But they aren’t happy about why I’m being shown the door. When my brother said he wouldn’t want to live in the same building with Wolf lovers, my parents didn’t say a thing. That amounts to tacit agreement. And with all the news about troubled girls committing suicide, and with the terra indigene being blamed for so many of those halfway houses closing because the administrators were afraid to keep them open, well, that’s another reason not to side with monsters, no matter what they look like. And then having the surviving girls taken to undisclosed locations . . . There can only be one reason for that, right?”

“Most people aren’t going to want to admit that the monsters in this case not only look human but are human.” Monty hesitated but decided he needed to ask, needed to know. “Karl, do you want a transfer?”

Kowalski made the left turn on to Main Street, then turned again to pull into the Courtyard’s delivery area.

“No, sir, I don’t,” he said. “And Ruthie doesn’t want to walk away from her job in the Courtyard. We both believe that if push comes to shove, the kind of interaction we have with the Others now could help Lakeside remain a human-controlled city instead of turning into a cage like Talulah Falls. So we’ll stick.”

“And hope that your parents will come around to your way of thinking?”

“That’s not likely. But they haven’t said—yet—that they won’t be at Ruthie’s and my wedding next month.”

Monty heard the bitter resignation in his partner’s voice and regretted the rift growing in families. What would happen in the city if the allure of the Humans First and Last movement caused a rift between police officers? Would stations polarize to the point where you couldn’t count on your own for assistance?

“Come on,” Monty said as he opened his door. “Let’s find out what ruffled Wolfgard’s fur.”

They used the back door at Howling Good Reads. Nothing unusual in the stock room, except a noticeable lack of stock. But there was a crowd at the archway leading into A Little Bite.

Simon, Nathan, and Blair turned to look at him. Simon handed a pencil and pad of paper to Nathan, then moved away from the door, tipping his head to indicate Monty should follow.

“Something of interest?” Monty asked.

“The Lizzy,” Simon replied.

He must have heard wrong. “Lizzy and her mother are here? My Lizzy?”

“No, the Lizzy and Boo Bear are here.”

He felt the blood drain out of his head. “What about her mother? Where is Elayne?”

“That’s a good question, Lieutenant.” Simon studied him. “Is it usual for a pup that young to travel alone? We wouldn’t do it, but . . .”

“Of course it isn’t usual,” Monty snapped. He heard a soft growl and wasn’t sure if the warning came from Nathan or Blair. “No,” he said, struggling to bring his voice back to calm courtesy while his heart pounded. Lizzy here alone? How? Why? “She’s only seven years old. A girl that age wouldn’t be, shouldn’t be, traveling alone. Did she say anything about her mother?”

Simon looked grim. “No. But there’s some blood on Boo Bear, and it doesn’t smell like the Lizzy.”

Gods above and below. “Where . . . ?”

“She’s in A Little Bite having a snack with Sam and Meg.”

“She’s not hurt?”

“No.” Something in Wolfgard’s eyes. “No” wasn’t a lie, but it didn’t fill in the whole truth.

“Can I ask?” Kowalski stepped up to join them. “How did Lizzy end up here in the Courtyard?”

“Nathan was on the same train. When he realized there weren’t any adults with her, he . . . guarded . . . her and brought her here.”

His little girl had needed a guard. Would he have received a different kind of phone call if a Wolf hadn’t been on the train? How life circled around. He’d been transferred to Lakeside because he had killed a man in order to protect a girl who was a Wolf. And now a Wolf had come to the aid of his own little girl.

He would make a special visit to the Universal Temple and light an extra candle for Mikhos, the guardian spirit who watched over policemen, firefighters, and medical personnel. And, it seemed, watched over their families too.

“I want to see her,” Monty said.

“Go ahead.”

Bland words that made him stop and consider. He wanted to see Lizzy and needed the reassurance that she was all right, but he wondered why three grown Wolves were crowding around an archway instead of going into the coffee shop and taking a seat at another table.

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