Vision in Silver Page 67

She looked at Henry, then at Simon, who gave her a Wolfie grin. “Summer room?”

“A screened room to keep out bugs,” Henry said. “A cool place to sleep during hot, muggy weather. Come. It’s time to meet the rest of the diggers.” He started walking, clearly expecting her to follow.

When Simon paw-whacked her butt to get her moving, she hustled to catch up to the Grizzly, glancing back at the Wolf, who looked way too pleased with himself.

She hadn’t experienced hot, muggy weather yet, but Merri Lee and Ruth had told her the kind of clothing she should purchase for Lakeside’s summer. Which reminded her of the other thing she was supposed to ask someone.

“Henry? Should I buy a bathing suit?”

“Why would you need one?”

“Merri Lee wasn’t sure if there was a place to go swimming in the Courtyard. She said I should ask.”

“We have the small lakes and the creeks. In hot weather, plenty of us spend some time in and around the water. The Wolves especially like to swim. So do I.”

“So what do they wear when they go swimming in human form?”

He looked so baffled, she blushed and wished she’d waited to ask Tess about bathing suits and swimming.

Of course, Henry might be baffled because the Others never went swimming in human form. But she didn’t think that was the part of her question that puzzled him.

She hadn’t realized she’d stopped walking until Simon licked the back of her knee. She leaped forward and squealed, “Simon!”

Meg, if we’re going to be working outside today, you can’t wear long pants and long sleeves, Merri Lee had said. You’ll end up with heatstroke or something.

Ruth had partially agreed with Merri Lee, expressing concern about possible scratches as well as sunburn. They compromised on the choice of outfits, which was why Meg wore a pair of shorts, a tank top, and a long-sleeve gauze shirt. The clothing definitely suited the warmer weather. But Meg hadn’t considered the amount of skin now available to be licked—or what the unexpected swipe of a wet tongue would feel like.

Stealth licking, she thought with a sigh. A new game for summer.

Fortunately, the kitchen garden wasn’t that far from the Green Complex, and Vlad was already there with officers Kowalski, Debany, and MacDonald; Ruth, Merri Lee, and Theral; the Denbys; and Lieutenant Montgomery and Lizzy. Even Lorne from the Three Ps had come to help.

The humans eyed the Wolves, who were also there. Meg didn’t think all the Wolfgard had come to help, but there were enough of them. Then the Crows and Hawks arrived.

Would some of them have been in human form if the humans hadn’t been there?

She didn’t know, couldn’t care. This wasn’t a thousand new images, but one moving image full of new experiences. Making a garden. Working with friends. Finding the path that would allow other cassandra sangue to live in the outside world without being overwhelmed.

She wanted to take in as much of this experience as she could before she had to retreat and let mind and body rest.

Meg blew out a breath. Her eyes met Simon’s. This was a new experience for him too.

She smiled at him. “Let’s plant a garden.”

*   *   *

Simon gave them credit for one thing: these humans did know how to work. And humans and terra indigene had experienced each other in a new way as they combined skills to expand the garden.

Kowalski, Debany, MacDonald, and Henry cut the sod for the expanded area. Montgomery and Pete Denby used a tool with curved prongs and a long handle to break up the soil.

The Wolves, of course, used paws and claws to achieve the same results. But Simon noticed Blair sniffing around the garden tools the humans had brought with them and figured Meg would be given a list of tools to order for the Utilities Complex.

“Good thing we had a light rain last night,” Montgomery said as he broke up the soil while Pete stacked the squares of sod that had been cut.

All the other humans stopped and looked at him.

“It didn’t rain last night,” Kowalski finally said.

“Guess it was a localized shower,” Montgomery said.

A laughing grunt from Henry had the humans turning to the Grizzly.

Henry sank the spade into the soil, his movements easy and powerful. “We talked to the girls at the lake yesterday evening and told them we were expanding this garden—and that our Meg wanted to help with the digging and planting the seeds.”

“So it just rained in the Courtyard last night?” MacDonald said.

<That disturbs him.> Puzzled, Simon paused in his digging to study Lawrence MacDonald.

<Yes. I find that interesting.> Henry went back to cutting sod.

Simon glanced at the three children. The Lizzy was still petting the Wolf pups, but the Robert and the Sarah were playing with some of the juvenile Hawks by hitting badminton shuttlecocks into the air for the Hawks to catch and then drop for the next player with a racket to hit back into the air.

Eventually the pups would grow bored with being petted and run over to see what Sam was doing, since he had stayed close to Meg. Eventually the Hawks would tire of the game and fly off to see what else was happening in the Courtyard. Eventually the Crows would find the humans less entertaining and fly off to work on their own garden—the cornfield especially.

And Meg, who had never dug into soil or smelled freshly turned earth, who had never had to be reminded to drink water when she worked outdoors or to put a cream on her skin to avoid sunburn . . . Meg was entranced by everything.

Simon kept a watchful eye on her and listened to the female pack as they talked about the garden and some of the vegetables and herbs they would like to plant. He wasn’t sure any of the terra indigene would care about the herbs. After all, deer was supposed to taste like deer, and you didn’t sprinkle anything on a rabbit before you ate it. But Tess wandered by and expressed an interest in the herbs, so herbs would be planted, along with corn, lettuce, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, beans, peas, and something called zucchini, which Merri Lee said tasted good with tomato sauce and pasta.

“Enough for today,” Henry said as he began to collect the tools that belonged to the Others. “Tess, Vlad, and Jester are saying it’s time to eat.”

A moment’s tension as the humans looked at the Others.

“Is this the picnic?” Meg asked.

“Not quite a picnic, if I understand what humans mean by that word,” Henry replied. “But something we hope you will enjoy.”

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