Vision in Silver Page 63

“I’ll help them load the bakery boxes and the cooler, Lieutenant,” Burke said. “Why don’t you pack what you’ll need for a few more days?”

“And don’t forget to take out the waste in the kitchen,” Simon said. “In a couple more days, even other humans will be able to smell it.”

They went out. Blair opened the minivan so that Nathan could get out of sight while Simon walked across the street with Burke to fetch the food.

“The food in the cooler should be put in a fridge as soon as you get back to the Courtyard,” Burke said as they walked back to the minivan.

Something in Burke’s voice reminded Simon of an annoyed Grizzly.

“When Wolves are hunting, they’ll follow the scent of prey a long time,” Simon said. “You didn’t think the predators would follow the Lizzy?”

“They’re not after Lizzy,” Burke growled as he and Simon placed the bakery boxes and cooler on the floor behind the front passenger’s seat. “They’re after the jewels. And these people have already killed a woman and broken into a police officer’s apartment because of those jewels.”

“Can’t you keep Boo Bear in the cage?” Just saying the word cage made Simon’s canines lengthen, but he tried not to make any other shifts.

“Arrest the bear as a jewel thief?” Burke sounded amused.

Not making fun of me, Simon decided. Just amused by the idea. Still, it was an opportunity to ask questions. And if Burke wouldn’t tell him, he’d just ask Kowalski or Debany why it was amusing.

“On TV shows, the police have a cage for evidence,” Simon said. “Doesn’t your police station have a cage like that?”

“It does.” Burke no longer looked amused. “But I think those jewels need to be tucked away in an undisclosed location until we find out where they came from—and who wants them back. Whoever killed Elayne Borden shouldn’t profit from it.”

Simon studied the police captain. Then he took out his mobile phone and called Jester Coyotegard, someone who delighted in mischief.

“Pony Barn,” Jester said.

“It’s Simon. If you wanted to keep a bag of jewels away from bad humans but didn’t want them to know you kept the jewels, what would you do?”

“Go to Sparkles and Junk and replace the jewels with sparklies that are about the same size and color,” Jester replied promptly. “Of course, if I was planning to give the real jewels back to someone in the future, I wouldn’t leave them with the Crows.”

Good point. “Thanks, Jester.” Simon ended the call and looked at Burke. “Maybe, after the Lizzy is asleep, someone could drive Boo Bear to the Courtyard to visit his kin. And maybe that someone could pick him up again before the Lizzy is awake.”

“Maybe someone could,” Burke said, smiling. He stepped away from the minivan. “Thanks for all your help.”

As soon as Simon got in and closed the door, Blair backed the minivan out of the driveway and drove back to the Courtyard.

He’d had enough, and all Simon wanted now was to get out of this skin. But as they pulled into the Courtyard’s Main Street entrance, Meg rushed out of the Liaison’s Office.

“Is Nathan with you?” she asked, sounding breathless. “I haven’t been able to find him anywhere.”

“He’s in the back,” Blair said.

“Can I talk to him?”

Simon turned enough to look in the back of the van. <Nathan? Up to you.>

Nathan sighed, but he stood up. <You have to open the door and move the boxes.>

Simon made room for the Wolf to hop out of the minivan. He watched Meg go back into the office with Nathan. Then he sighed, closed the doors, and said to Blair, “I’ll meet you at A Little Bite.”

He walked down the access way and over to the coffee shop’s back door, resigned to being human a while longer. He might as well check in with Vlad after talking to Tess.

There were plenty of things he still needed to do before going home. So no one would think he was waiting around to find out why Meg wanted to talk to Nathan.

*   *   *

Meg let Nathan out the back door of the Liaison’s Office and watched him hustle over to the back door of Howling Good Reads.

Reporting to Simon, naturally.

After closing the door, she went into the bathroom to wash her face.

Anger. Wariness. Distrust. She didn’t have any training images to identify emotions on a Wolf’s face, but she spent enough time around Nathan that she could interpret his expressions.

Had the cut been unnecessary? Everyone else thought so.

Meg turned on the taps, splashed water on her face, then remained bent over the sink.

The pins-and-needles feeling was irritating, often painful. But it was a kind of dowsing rod that had been evolving since she’d come to the Courtyard. So maybe if she had walked away . . .

No. No, no, no. There had been danger for someone at the Pony Barn. That painful buzz had been a warning about an enemy. . . .

Meg clenched her teeth against the sudden buzz that filled both her arms. She jerked upright and saw her face in the mirror above the sink.

The buzz faded.

Meg stared at her reflection.

“It was me,” she whispered. “I was the enemy.”

She took a step back from the sink, laid a hand over the bandage at her waist, and thought about what Merri Lee had said: And then Meg, the Trailblazer, should think about what you would want other blood prophets to learn from what happened today.

“No one else has the right to decide if or when we cut our skin, but if we don’t learn to interpret the warning signs that tell us if we really need to cut, we can become the enslavers as well as the enslaved. We can become our own enemy.”

That was the second lesson Meg, the Trailblazer, had learned today. The first lesson—the harder, more important lesson—was that she wasn’t the only one who was hurt when she cut.

*   *   *

Simon came around the desk when Nathan appeared in HGR’s office doorway.

“That didn’t take long.”

Nathan approached him slowly, reluctantly. Not typical behavior for the enforcer—unless he’d done something wrong.

Simon leaned over the other Wolf, but he didn’t have to lean far to catch the scent. “Why do you smell like Meg?” he demanded.

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