Vision in Silver Page 56

Burke and Montgomery looked shocked—and sufficiently afraid.

Vlad smiled. “Or, rather than burning down all the bakeries, we can redirect the food grown in terra indigene settlements and offer it only to human businesses that will honor the agreements they make with us. That would cut the food supply coming into this city.” He looked at Simon. “Perhaps we can build our own little bakery and hire someone to make what we need.”

“Steve Ferryman said the bakeries in Ferryman’s Landing would sell to us,” Simon said. “And we will need to adjust supply allotments for Ferryman’s Landing anyway to accommodate the Wolf cookies they’re already making. Redirecting the food is more practical than burning down buildings.” But he would give some thought to asking Fire to visit that one bakery.

“Would you be willing to try one more Lakeside bakery?” Montgomery asked. “There’s a place on Market Street that I frequent. I’ll talk to the owner and see if she would be interested in supplying items for your coffee shop.”

Simon hesitated. None of the Courtyard’s stores were going to be open to the general public anymore, but the coffee shop would still be a useful learning experience for the terra indigene who didn’t have access to such a place—or a chance to interact with humans like Meg’s pack.

“All right,” he said. “One more. If that doesn’t work, we’ll give our business to Ferryman’s Landing—and give them the extra supplies as well.”

“We’ll do that now,” Burke said. “The lieutenant needs to stop by his apartment and check his mail anyway.”

<One more thing after the humans are gone,> Tess said to Simon and Vlad.

“I’ll tell Jester that Meg and the Lizzy should come back now,” Simon told Montgomery. “You can wait for her at the medical office.”

“Do you mind if I take a quick look around the bookstore?” Burke asked.

“Go ahead.” He watched the men go through the archway before turning to Tess. “What?”

“Even if that food had been good, I wouldn’t have placed another order with that bakery,” Tess said.

“Why?” Vlad asked.

Black threads appeared in her hair. “Because Jake Crowgard noticed an HFL decal on the delivery van’s back window.”

CHAPTER 24

Watersday, Maius 12

“Why can’t I ride a pony?” Lizzy whined.

Such an annoying sound. If she ever whined like that, Meg hoped Simon bit her. Really hard.

But Wolves whined too. Why didn’t it bother her when they did it?

“Because the Courtyard’s ponies aren’t riding ponies,” Meg said for the third time. Her skin prickled every time Lizzy asked to ride a pony, making her feel odd, overwhelmed. She had to make Lizzy understand that, in the Courtyard, puppies were supposed to obey adults, and no meant no. But what more could she do? What more could she say?

When she’d first met the ponies, she hadn’t wanted to ride them, and it hadn’t occurred to her when she offered to take Lizzy to the Pony Barn that the girl would want to—or be so persistent about getting her own way.

And the ponies, who had been curious enough about the small human to allow Lizzy to pet their noses, now wore their grumpiest faces as they trotted away.

“We have to go back to the Market Square,” Meg said. Had anyone heard her? Had she spoken out loud?

Jester Coyotegard growled at Lizzy. “Meg said no, and being the one who looks after the ponies, I’m saying no. So that’s the end of it, pup.”

“That’s not fair!” Lizzy stamped her foot. “Grandma Borden would let me ride a pony!”

Lizzy’s voice changed the pins-and-needles feeling into a painful buzz. Meg dug her fingers into her side just above the waistband of her jeans, scratching at her skin through the T-shirt. Needed to think. Couldn’t think, not with Lizzy’s voice buzzing in her ears. Too much. Too much! Had to . . . what?

“Typical human,” a female voice said. “Grant them one thing and they always want more.”

Meg stared at the Elemental whose red hair was tipped with yellow and blue, at the female face that could never pass for human. But sometimes danger could hide quietly . . . and so easily.

“Meg?” Nathan’s voice.

Nathan. In danger?

The buzz turned into an agony she needed to tear out of her skin before it ate her alive.

Have to stay in control, she thought. Have to . . .

She pulled the silver razor out of her pocket.

*   *   *

“Meg!” Nathan snarled, grabbing the hand that held the closed razor. “Meg, what’s wrong?” Should he have sensed something? Distracted by the Lizzy, had he missed a sign that Meg would cut?

“I want to ride a pony!” Lizzy shrieked.

He released Meg, whirled around and snapped at Lizzy, his teeth just missing her nose and shocking the girl into silence. Then he grabbed Meg again, trapping the hand with the razor and pulling her other hand away from her side.

“Has the little human hurt our Meg?” Fire asked, looking at Meg and then at the Lizzy.

<Jane!> Nathan called. <Come to the Pony Barn. Meg needs help. Hurry!> More to the point, he needed help.

“Let me go!” Meg struggled to free herself. “Need to cut. Need to.”

“Meg?” Now the Lizzy sounded scared.

<I’ll take the pup back to her sire,> Jester said. The Coyote grabbed the girl, stuffed her into Meg’s BOW, and drove off.

“Too much,” Meg cried. “Too much danger! I have to cut. I have to cut now.”

“You cut a couple of days ago,” Nathan protested. “It’s too soon.”

“Have to,” she panted. “Lizzy. Have to.”

He wasn’t supposed to be around her when she was bleeding. None of the Wolves were supposed to be around her. Cassandra sangue blood was an almost irresistible temptation, as well as a drug humans called feel-good. Simon had learned that the hard way when he licked one of Meg’s cuts and suffered an overdose, becoming so passive he’d been helpless for hours.

“Meg,” Nathan growled. “Meg!” If he kept holding her, he would end up hurting her. If he let go, she would make the cut when she was acting crazy, and that might kill her.

Meg cried out as if she were in terrible pain. What if she was? What if not letting her cut was damaging her in some way he didn’t understand?

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