Vision in Silver Page 58

<All right,> Simon replied. He hesitated before adding, <Henry will deal with Meg.>

<Good. Right now, I really want to bite her. And that idiot police pup too.>

<Once Meg is with Dr. Lorenzo, come to HGR and help me with Nathan.>

Simon looked at Henry. “Maybe it was a mistake to let humans into the Courtyard. If the Lizzy hadn’t gone to the Pony Barn with Meg, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“Maybe,” Henry said. “But we all agreed to try something that hasn’t been done before. We are all learning, and that means there will be mistakes. This time, it is Meg who made the mistake, and she must understand what she has done. Go tend Nathan, and let’s hope today has not completely soured his willingness to work with humans.”

CHAPTER 25

Watersday, Maius 12

“She’ll be fine,” Ruth said, giving Monty a strained smile. “We’ll watch a movie or read a book until you get back.”

Monty studied her. “Karl told you?”

“Yes.” She glanced at Lizzy, who was sitting in the stuffed chair with her arms wrapped around her legs. “Does Lizzy know?”

Monty shook his head. So much had already happened this morning, there hadn’t been the right time to tell his little girl that her mother was dead. And he needed time to consider the questions she might ask. Could they both have gotten away if she hadn’t lost track of time in the bathroom, playing her silly game with Boo Bear? Would Elayne have died if Lizzy hadn’t answered the phone in the hotel room, confirming their location?

He didn’t have answers. Would never have answers. But he needed some kind of answer so that Lizzy wouldn’t carry guilt as well as grief.

He walked over to the chair and crouched, resting a hand on Lizzy’s feet.

“I just wanted to ride a pony,” she whimpered, breaking his heart with those big eyes swimming with tears.

“I know, Lizzy girl, I know. But those aren’t ponies people can ride, and you should have respected Miss Meg when she told you that.”

“Did Miss Meg get hurt because I didn’t listen?”

How to explain a blood prophet’s addiction to cutting? How to tell his little girl that Meg’s new cut was, in some way, her doing? How to say that without Lizzy confusing Meg’s cutting with Elayne being stabbed—and dying?

At least the Others had taken the child away before Meg made the cut. But based on the reaction of the Wolves, this had not been a typical cut, and Meg’s life had been at risk.

“Miss Meg is a special kind of girl,” he said carefully. “And she can get hurt when something is more upsetting than she can handle.”

“Nathan doesn’t like me anymore.”

Probably true, but he said, “We’ll see. We’ll have time to talk later about all the scary things that have happened. But right now, Miss Ruth is going to look after you while I take care of something with Captain Burke. Is that okay?”

Lizzy nodded.

He wanted to stay with his little girl. She needed him. But he had to balance that need against the welfare of the entire city of Lakeside. So he had to get the bakery issue settled before the Others settled it in their own way.

He kissed Lizzy’s forehead, then nodded to Ruth as he left the efficiency apartment to join his captain.

*   *   *

Sitting on the bench in Henry’s studio, Meg stared at the fur on the back of the Grizzly’s hands. The studio didn’t feel peaceful the way it usually did. And the Bear in human form didn’t look peaceful. He looked big and powerful . . . and angry.

“I had to cut.” She hoped Henry would understand since Simon wouldn’t talk to her. She hoped someone would understand and help her understand, because the pain that had overwhelmed her had been too much to keep inside herself.

“Had to.” Nodding, Henry wandered around his studio, looking at the sculptures in various stages of creation. “Had to cut when you were out of control because you’re too stupid to try to understand what is around you without cutting?”

She stared at him, shocked. “Henry . . .”

“We’ve seen enough of these cuts since you came to live with us to know you have warnings, those prickles that tell you something is wrong.” Henry towered over her. “You must have had those prickles at the Pony Barn, but you didn’t tell Nathan so that he would know something was wrong, didn’t walk away from the Pony Barn to see if the prickles would fade. Isn’t that what you’ve done before to determine if a cut was necessary?”

“Yes, but—”

“Instead you stayed, trying to talk to a cub who thought she should get her own way. You stayed when you had already said everything there was to say about her riding the ponies.”

“But Lizzy is in danger!” Meg protested.

“Who among us didn’t already know that?” he replied with a curtness that wounded her. She expected Simon to snap and snarl at her, but not Henry.

“And Nathan was in danger too!”

“Because of you and the Lizzy!” Henry roared. “You put a Wolf who thought you were a friend in the position of being around fresh blood you know is a danger to him. Did you know Nathan had to make the cut? You were so out of control, he had to make the cut to stop you from slashing your belly open.”

Meg froze, shocked so deeply she could barely breathe. She remembered Nathan howling, so much misery in the sound. “No,” she whispered. “No, I didn’t do that.”

“You did,” Henry growled. “Fire helped hold you down, and that experience has sharpened her feelings about humans in general and the Lizzy in particular.”

“But it was worth it,” Meg insisted. What she had seen had to be worth all this hurt she’d caused to beings she cared about.

Henry pulled a piece of paper wrapped around her folding razor out of his pocket. He tossed both into her lap. “Was this worth the distress you caused?”

She unrolled the paper and stared at the words.

Happy mask

Angry face

Ice chest

Heart

Rotting meat

“There must have been more.” She watched her hands shake.

“No. That was all you said.”

“Maybe . . . maybe the cut wasn’t long enough or deep enough.” The cut felt long enough and deep enough.

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