Vision in Silver Page 64

<She cried on me,> Nathan said. <I couldn’t understand most of what she said, but she cried until my fur was wet.> He sounded baffled and upset.

“I guess she feels bad about making a cut and scaring you. Scaring all of us.”

Nathan said nothing for a moment. Then, <There’s nothing in my fur, is there?>

Simon gave the other Wolf a careful look. “No boogers.”

<Good. I hate washing boogers out of fur.>

“Who doesn’t? What comes out of human noses is disgusting.” Simon sat on the floor, his back against the desk. Nathan sat next to him. “Do you want Blair to assign someone else as the watch Wolf for the Human Liaison’s Office?”

<No. Watching the humans is interesting, and I like Meg. But we need rules about the razor. Today . . . That was wrong. Meg was wrong, and the Lizzy was wrong. It wasn’t fair that I couldn’t nip either one of them when they both deserved it.>

“I know.” Simon closed his eyes and waited until he sensed the tension draining out of both of them. “Do you still think it’s a good idea to have some of the Addirondak Wolves visit the Courtyard? We’ve got humans doing work for us who don’t know how to behave, but we can’t attack them and drive them off like we would an enemy.”

<If it hadn’t pushed Meg into cutting, the Lizzy’s mistake would have been annoying but nothing more. And our pups make mistakes too.>

Of course, who could say how long it might have been before anyone discovered the jewels inside Boo Bear if Skippy and Sam hadn’t pulled off an arm and a leg? That had started some of the trouble. Then again, Burke and Montgomery wouldn’t have known why the Lizzy was in danger if the jewels hadn’t been found.

Simon climbed to his feet. “Go home. Go run. Tomorrow is Earthday, and we’ll pretend humans don’t exist.”

<Except Meg.>

“Except Meg.”

Nathan rose, shook out his fur, and left.

Simon shut down the computer, turned off the lights, and felt like a weight had lifted off him as he walked out of Howling Good Reads. He couldn’t shake off everything human. He wouldn’t shake off Meg, who waited for him at the back door of the Liaison’s Office, her eyes all puffy and skin all blotchy.

He ran a hand over her short black hair and gave her a scritch behind the ear.

“Simon?” she said in a small voice. “Can we go home?”

“Sure. Let me get the BOW.”

He found one of the bakery boxes in the back of the BOW. Since he didn’t think Meg had eaten much today, he welcomed Tess’s thoughtfulness.

As he backed the BOW out of the garage and waited for Meg to shut the garage door, he glanced toward the efficiency apartments, then shook his head.

He’d had enough. They’d all had enough. The Owlgard would keep watch tonight, but for the rest of this day, Lieutenant Montgomery would have to take care of the Lizzy on his own.

CHAPTER 29

Watersday, Maius 12

While Monty had been at his apartment dealing with the break-in, and Ruth Stuart had been watching Lizzy, his team had brought a mattress from one of the other efficiency apartments so that he wouldn’t have to spend another night in a sleeping bag on the hard floor. They’d brought enough food for him and Lizzy for the next couple of days. And someone had selected five movies that he hoped would be suitable for a seven-year-old human girl.

Distractions. Diversions. Care.

Monty sat in the stuffed chair and put his arms around Lizzy when she settled on his lap.

She looked at him with those big eyes. “I just wanted to ride a pony.”

Why was she so stuck on that? Of course, he wasn’t sure he could explain to a child how dangerous the ponies were when they shrugged off that harmless-looking form.

“Grandma Borden would have let me,” Lizzy said.

He knew what to say about that. “I don’t think Grandma Borden would have allowed you to ride a pony. She would have said they were smelly and you’d get dirty.”

But the woman might have raised a fuss because someone had denied her granddaughter, and denying a Borden anything was not acceptable. Fortunately, the family didn’t have the wealth or status to live up to their pretensions.

“And Grandma Twyla would have called you on being discourteous and making a fuss when Miss Meg had already told you the ponies were special and weren’t for riding.”

“But—”

“No, Lizzy.”

She pouted, and he noted the calculating look in her eyes, as if she was waiting to see what effect it would have.

Lizzy hadn’t done that a few months ago. She hadn’t been like that before he’d been transferred to Lakeside and had to leave her—had to leave both of them—because Elayne had refused to come with him.

But Elayne had been like that. Funny how he’d never allowed himself to see it. Oh, Elayne was far more subtle about it when she wanted to get her own way, but when the behavior was presented in a child’s broad strokes, he couldn’t deny that Lizzy was mimicking her mother.

Have to tell her, he thought. “Lizzy . . . You were very brave to ride the train by yourself and find me. Some bad people were looking for you and Mommy, and she did the right thing, having you ride the train without her.”

“Will Mommy be here soon?”

“No, baby.” Tears stung Monty’s eyes. “No. Mommy was hurt very badly and . . . she died. She can’t be with us anymore.”

Lizzy put her head on his shoulder. “Is Miss Meg going to die because I was bad?”

“No. Miss Meg will be fine in a couple of days.” How could he put this to her without scaring her too much? “One of the bad men followed you to Lakeside, so we need to stay in the Courtyard for a while.”

Her head came up. “What about Boo Bear?”

“He’s with Captain Burke. He’s helping the police with the investigation. He misses you, but he’s being very brave. Like you.”

She nodded, settling down again.

Did she understand? Maybe she understood as much as she could handle. Maybe it would be easier being in a place that held no reminders?

Gods, did he even have a photograph of Elayne so that Lizzy would have something?

“You’ll be safe in the Courtyard,” he said. “But staying here means brushing off your good manners and minding the grown-ups who are looking after you when I can’t be here.” He looked at her, his darling girl. “Do you know the difference between human police and Wolf police?”

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