Vision in Silver Page 42

“Probably.”

“Return it to her. Return the razors to the girls who had them.”

“They’ll cut themselves.”

“They’ll cut anyway.” She kept walking, kept moving. “So many things will cut skin, but those razors were designed for it.”

“She doesn’t want to die.”

“Neither do I.” Meg stopped and looked at Simon. He couldn’t quite pass for human anymore. “Neither do I, but I want to be the one who makes the choice.”

He started walking, a fast pace, as if he wanted to run away from the words.

She ran to catch up to him, then had to run every few steps to keep up with him.

“Simon . . . ,” she panted.

He slowed but didn’t stop.

The terra indigene had agreed that it was her choice, but they didn’t like the cutting. To them, fresh blood meant a wound, and in the wild country, a wound could be fatal. Add in the fact that cassandra sangue blood acted like a drug, and she understood why the Others weren’t easy about her cutting. Being thrust in the position of taking care of a girl they didn’t know—and who didn’t know them—would make everything harder for all of them.

“Tell Jackson to give her a room that contains as little as possible. Give her time to rest.” Meg thought about the girl called cs821. “Maybe leave one thing that has colors. She liked colors. She would describe training images first by their color and then by their shape.”

“I’ll tell him.”

They returned to the Green Complex in silence. Simon hurried into his own apartment and came out again a minute later. He shook out his fur and ran off, needing something she couldn’t give.

Sighing, Meg looked up at her apartment. She felt exhausted and restless, hungry and too listless to bother with food.

“Have you eaten?” asked a voice in the shadows beneath her stairs. Vlad stepped into the fading light, his form still shifting from smoke to human. “We picked up a couple of pizzas from Hot Crust. Tess made a salad. We’re gathering in the social room to watch movies.”

“Which movies?” Meg asked.

“Does it matter?”

She preferred being able to hide behind Simon during a movie’s scary bits—and most terra indigene movies had scary bits. “I guess not.”

“Then join us.” Vlad smiled. “I’ll tell Simon where to find you when he finishes his run.” He studied her. “Or I can bring you some food if you’d prefer to be alone.”

Did she want to be alone? Did she need to be alone?

“I’ll join you for the first movie,” Meg said.

His smiled widened, showing a bit of fang. “Come on, then. Let’s get the pizza while it’s still warm.”

As she and Vlad walked to the side of the Green Complex that held the mail room, laundry room, and social room, Meg heard a wolf howling. She thought he sounded lonely.

*   *   *

The efficiency apartments had shower stalls instead of bathtubs. After many assurances that he would be able to cope with her hair if she got it wet—and equal insistence on Lizzy’s part that she could wash herself and would be careful on the slippy floor—Monty left his little girl to shower by herself. While he listened for any sign of distress or, gods forbid, a slip and injury, he unpacked her suitcase, hanging up a few things in the closet and putting the rest in half the drawers in the dresser.

A temporary arrangement until they had more information about what happened to Elayne. A practical choice, since, as Kowalski pointed out, the Courtyard was closer to the Chestnut Street station than Monty’s apartment, and it was a safe haven for his little girl, because who would think to look for her here?

Monty picked up Lizzy’s folded pajamas and felt something the size of a small book. Unfolding the pajamas, he stared at the pink diary sprinkled with gold stars. It had a latch and a tiny keyhole. He tried the latch, confirming that the diary was locked. A quick feel through the suitcase didn’t turn up a key.

He rubbed his thumb over the stars. A diary? What would a seven-year-old write about? School? Friends? Please, gods, no confessions about a crush on a boy. Not yet.

Before he could wonder too much about the contents, Lizzy yelled, “Daddy! Make the water turn off!”

Monty stuffed the diary in the drawer with Lizzy’s underwear and hurried to make the water turn off.

CHAPTER 17

Watersday, Maius 12

At seven a.m., Douglas Burke gave the phone his typical fierce-friendly smile and waited until the third ring before picking up.

“Chestnut Street station, Captain Burke speaking.”

“Captain,” Vladimir Sanguinati said smoothly. “Do you have a minute to talk?”

“Of course.”

It was a disappointment, but not a surprise, that the Sanguinati had gotten back to him before the Toland police called to inquire about a missing child.

There were a few reasons why Elayne Borden had sent her child to Lakeside, allowing the girl to travel several hundred miles alone. According to the verbal report he’d received from Officer Kowalski, Lizzy had said her mother was hurt in the belly. Acute intestinal distress could account for Elayne looking hurt or being in pain. It could also account for her decision to send the child to Monty while she sought medical help—especially if she was in enough pain that she wasn’t thinking clearly. Or, considering what had been found in the stuffed bear, maybe she was thinking clearly and realized she couldn’t trust anyone but Monty where Lizzy was concerned.

Or she could have put the child on a train without a backward glance so that she could go off with her new, socially prominent lover unencumbered.

He didn’t think Elayne was that cold or callous where Lizzy was concerned, or that any of his speculations were accurate, but they were arguments he could make if anyone asked why he hadn’t called the Toland police after Lizzy arrived in Lakeside.

Had Monty called anyone in Elayne’s family yet? He didn’t think so, but he would check.

“Did your kinsmen hear anything on the news about a woman being injured or taken ill at the train station yesterday?” Burke asked. The Wolves had talked about dried blood on Lizzy’s bear, but the truth was, the patch of fur that had brushed against some blood was so small, the blood could have come from a fresh cut on someone’s hand, a moment’s jostle while people were boarding the train. A human would have overlooked it. Humans had overlooked it. If that hadn’t been the case, a conductor or someone on the train would have questioned the child about a bloody bear and the absence of an adult.

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