Vision in Silver Page 46

“Humans First and Last is a seductive idea. To have everything you need and also not be afraid of what’s out there because it isn’t out there anymore.”

Burke snorted. “You lived in a small town in the Midwest. How many terra indigene did you interact with?”

“You still know they’re out there.”

“You know there are human muggers and rapists and killers out there too. But you still leave your house and go to work. Eve is out running errands. The kids are in school. Some of the people you see in courtrooms are far more dangerous to your family than a Hawk soaring overhead looking for his dinner or a Crow perched in a tree, curious about something it spotted in your yard.”

Pete gave him a crooked smile. “It’s still a seductive idea.”

“The first humans and the last humans,” Burke said grimly. “The last humans in a city, in a region, on a continent? In the world?”

“That’s not what Humans First and Last means.”

Burke came around the desk and indicated that Pete should precede him out of the office.

But Pete stopped at the doorway and studied him. “That’s not what it means.”

“I think the meaning depends on whether you’re human or one of the terra indigene.”

CHAPTER 18

Watersday, Maius 12

Monty jackknifed to a sitting position, his heart pounding as he tried to shake off the dream that had scared him out of a fitful sleep.

Hearing the toilet flush and water running in the sink, he ran his hands over his head and tried to steady his breathing.

Safe. His little girl was safe. But Elayne . . .

He dreamed Boo Bear had shifted into a terra indigene Grizzly who wanted the bag of jewels for some weird dream-logic reason, and Elayne wouldn’t give it up. They struggled, she got slashed in the belly, and the Grizzly grabbed the bag and swallowed it, turning back into Boo Bear before Lizzy came out of the stall and saw him for what he truly was—a killer hiding behind the mask of something she trusted.

Or someone she trusted?

Gods, Monty thought as he got up and looked at his mobile phone. He should have called Elayne’s mother or her brother, Leo. Burke didn’t want him to make any calls, but surely it wouldn’t hurt to turn on his phone and check for messages.

As he reached for the phone, someone knocked on the apartment’s door—a quiet yet urgent sound.

Monty glanced toward the kitchen. No gun safe in the efficiency apartment, so he’d put his weapon on the highest shelf in the kitchen. Now it felt so very far away.

But who would know he was here? And who could get into the building without raising an alarm from the terra indigene on watch?

He unlocked the door and opened it.

“Morning, Lieutenant,” Kowalski said.

A look in Karl’s eyes, confirmation of what he’d figured out for himself, even if only in a dream.

“Elayne’s dead, isn’t she?” he asked.

Kowalski hesitated. Then he nodded. “I’m sorry, Lieutenant.”

Monty felt a stab of grief. “Me too. Things were . . . strained . . . between us these past few months, but we were a family up to that point. She was the mother of my child.”

“I know.” Kowalski shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “Toland police called this morning. Captain Burke will be here soon. He wants you to keep your mobile phone turned off until he talks to you.”

Burke wanting him to stay unavailable after the Toland police called made Monty uneasy. “Any message on the answering machine at my place?”

“No, sir.”

Monty looked toward the bathroom. Water was still running? What was the girl doing in there?

“Well. I’d better get dressed. Call the captain and tell him there’s no reason for him to come to the Courtyard. Lizzy and I can meet him at the station.”

“He said you should stay here.”

“Call him.”

“Yes, sir. Lieutenant? If there’s anything Ruthie and I can do, you only have to ask.”

“You’ve done plenty already, but I’ll keep it in mind.” Monty forced his lips into a smile. “Thank you.”

As he closed the door, he heard the water shut off. Then Lizzy came into the living area, dressed in her pajamas. Looking at her bare feet, he noticed that her toenails were painted the shade of red that Elayne had preferred.

Odd thing to do if you were running away from something or someone. Then again, Elayne hadn’t been home the night he called—the night before she’d gone to the train station. Where had she and Lizzy stayed? Had painting nails been a way to pass the time and distract a young girl?

He and Lizzy would go to the Chestnut Street station and make a formal statement. After that, he had to consider the practicalities of having her here. He had a one-bedroom apartment, and his rent had been based on one occupant. With the price of water being what it was, his landlord was bound to raise the rent since Lizzy wouldn’t be a guest who was staying for a few days. Sure, he could squeeze enough out of his paycheck to pay the extra rent, especially since he’d now have the money he’d been sending Elayne for child support. Sure, he could give his little girl the bedroom and sleep on the couch, but that was a temporary arrangement, just like staying in this efficiency apartment was a temporary arrangement.

“Daddy?”

How long had he’d been staring at her, lost in his own thoughts?

Monty kissed her forehead. “Morning, Lizzy girl. Did you sleep well?”

She nodded, but she looked toward the bed, where Boo Bear should have been.

“You hungry?” Monty asked, wanting to avoid her questions for a little while longer. Wanting to avoid telling her about Elayne a little while longer. “Let’s see what Officer Karl and Miss Ruth left for us.”

There were eggs in the fridge, as well as bread, milk, butter, and a small jar of grape jelly. The box of cereal in the cupboard wasn’t the sort that would tempt a child. Wouldn’t even tempt him. So he scrambled four of the eggs and toasted the bread. And since he didn’t find any coffee, they both had a glass of milk.

Why make coffee up here when you could go downstairs for Tess’s brew? Would she be open at this hour?

“Can you watch TV or read a book while I take a shower?” he asked as he quickly washed the dishes.

“Okay. Are we going to work?”

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