Vision in Silver Page 47

He looked into those big dark eyes and felt his heart stutter, sure that no man had ever loved a child more. And sure no child should face what Lizzy would have to face today. “Yes. We’re going to sit down with Captain Burke, and you’re going to tell him everything you remember about going to the train station and riding the train to Lakeside.”

“Then we can get Boo Bear?”

Monty dried his hands and hung up the dish towel. “No, honey. Boo Bear has to stay at the station to help the police.” And between the jewels hidden inside the bear and the blood on the bear, it wasn’t likely that Boo Bear was ever coming back.

He’d avoid telling her that bit of truth for as long as possible.

“If we don’t have Boo Bear to protect us, can the Wolf police come with us? Nathan has big teeth. Even bigger than Boo Bear’s.”

Ah, damn. “Honey . . .”

“Please, Daddy.”

Defeated, he said, “I’ll ask.” Then he retreated to the bathroom before Lizzy could think of something else she needed in order to give her statement.

CHAPTER 19

Watersday, Maius 12

Do not bite the messenger. If you bite him, he won’t work for you. Do not bite the messenger.

Sitting in the Business Association’s meeting room with Vlad, Henry, and Tess, Simon refocused his attention on Pete Denby and the excruciating list of papers that needed to be filled in or signed or some other such thing in order to purchase a building.

Why couldn’t they just give the human female a bag of money and then pee on the building so that everyone would know it was theirs?

This was one of the reasons a few terra indigene went through a human-centric education that exceeded what anyone wanted to know about the clever meat. But even having that education wasn’t sufficient for enduring such an irritating process.

“Title search. House inspection,” Pete said. “Those have to be done. Since you’re paying cash, we might be able to push the paperwork through and close the deal by the end of the month.”

“We could inspect the house ourselves,” Simon said. “Give it a good sniff.”

“You still need the paperwork. And from a legal standpoint, a good sniff just isn’t sufficient.”

Simon sighed. He’d rather be out with Meg, doing whatever she was doing.

“You get the papers we need,” Henry told Pete. “Then we will give the human the money and claim the house.”

“About that.” Pete smelled nervous. “When you say you’ll pay cash . . .”

“We will fill a bag with the correct amount of money,” Vlad said.

“You will not give Mrs. Tremaine a sack of money,” Pete said with a snap in his voice that made Simon growl . . . and annoyed Tess enough that her brown hair acquired broad red streaks and began to coil.

Pete raised both hands, a placating gesture. Not as submissive as exposing his throat, but sufficient that Simon didn’t feel a need to enforce his role as the Courtyard’s leader.

“We will do this the human way and give the woman money for her house,” Henry rumbled.

“Yes,” Pete said quickly. “I wasn’t indicating that you wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, buy the house in the human way. But . . .” He studied the four of them. “This money will provide Mrs. Tremaine with food and shelter for the rest of her life. It’s a lot of money. Giving it to her in a bag will leave her vulnerable to thieves. They might hurt her, even kill her if she tried to fight them. It’s not the proper way to buy a house, even when you’re paying in cash.”

“Then what do you suggest?” Vlad asked.

“I saw some kind of bank in the Market Square. It’s a legitimate bank?”

“Yes,” Simon said. Then he paused, uncertain. No one had ever asked that question before, but a bank was a bank. Wasn’t it? “The Business Association also has accounts at a human bank located in the Bird Park Plaza.”

“That’s good.” Looking relieved, Pete made notes. “That’s a regional bank, so there should be a branch in Hubb NE, which is where Mrs. Tremaine is going. If she also uses that bank, you can take money from your account and she can deposit it into hers. Safe and easy. Or we’ll get a cashier’s check. That would be even better.” He looked up from his note making. “Do you have enough money in those accounts to cover the costs of buying the house? The purchase price and the fees?”

<Fees?> Henry asked, looking at the other terra indigene.

“We should have enough,” Vlad said. “But we’ll make a deposit next week to take care of anything unexpected. What about the other two buildings?”

Pete frowned. “The owner tried to double his price once he realized the Courtyard was interested in the buildings. I told him you weren’t in a hurry to acquire the properties and would be willing to wait until the bank foreclosed and put the buildings up for auction. He’s behind on the mortgage payments,” he explained when the Others stared at him. “He doesn’t live in either building. It’s rental property that’s supposed to generate income, but he has no tenants. The last people in the buildings are packing up. And frankly, once it’s known that you own the building in between those two, it’s not likely he’s going to get any tenants. I made him an offer that matched his asking price, and I told him you were willing to pay cash. And I made sure the real estate representative also heard the offer.”

<He has done much in a short amount of time,> Henry said.

<We wouldn’t have known to do half of it,> Vlad said. <Pete Denby is being fair to the humans in making these bargains, but he’s also being fair to us.>

Tess had made no comments, but Simon noticed her hair was now a wavy brown, which meant she was no longer angry.

“We’re agreed,” he said. “We’ll buy that house and pay the human in the way you suggested.”

Pete made another note. “I’ll get the paperwork started on Moonsday. Oh. One other thing. Mrs. Tremaine is moving into a smaller place and is leaving a fair amount of her furniture behind. She said she’d call a couple of people who have tables at the stall market to cart the stuff away, but you might want to take a look before she does that. Personally, I think some of it is junk, but Eve thought a few things could be spruced up and look quite nice. It’s available for the asking, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to look.”

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