Vision in Silver Page 73

Simon grabbed her and hustled her to the back room.

“Is she all right?” Vlad asked, rushing to join them.

“I’m fine,” she said, shaking her hands. “The prickling is fading again, so there must be something about the flower arrangement that is causing the reaction. The flowers came from a company called Blooming Blossoms. They’ve never delivered here before.” She stopped, thought.

“Meg?” Simon said sharply. “You turned pale.”

“Delivery for Theral,” she whispered. “The flowers are for Theral.”

Vlad slipped out of the back room. She heard him pick up the phone and say, “Come to the Liaison’s Office.” Pause. “Fuck waiting for someone to watch the cash register. Get over here now.”

Meg blinked at him when he returned to the back room. “You swore at Merri Lee?”

“How did you know I was talking to Merri Lee?” he asked.

“She told me she was working the checkout counter at HGR this morning, so it had to be her, and you said . . . something bad.”

Vlad rocked back on his heels. “It seemed appropriate. Should I apologize?”

“At any other time, you would have yelled at her for leaving the cash register unattended, so, yes, you should apologize.” Meg wasn’t sure if a human employer would have apologized, but if she’d been yelled at unfairly, she would want an apology.

Vlad sighed.

Merri Lee arrived at a run. So did Tess, whose brown hair had green and red streaks and was starting to curl. The rumbling voice in the front of the office announced Henry’s arrival.

“What’s wrong?” Tess demanded.

“Something to do with flowers,” Simon replied. “But we don’t know why they’re causing trouble.”

Determined to find an answer, Meg headed for the front room with Merri Lee on her heels and the three terra indigene close behind. But she stopped before she reached the Private doorway and wrapped her arms around her herself, wanting to claw and claw until she could reach the buzzing.

Meg backed away from the door. Merri Lee slipped past her and stepped up to the front counter.

“Nathan says it doesn’t smell like anything but flowers and a little bit like the human who carried it in and someone else,” Simon said.

“Probably the deliveryman and the florist.” Merri Lee studied the flowers. “Nice arrangement of seasonal flowers. I don’t see anything here that looks strange or dangerous, although I suppose most flowers could be dangerous if someone tried to eat them.”

“Where’s Skippy?” Meg asked.

Nathan and Simon sighed, but it was a valid question. Skippy was willing to eat anything that looked or smelled vaguely edible—and other things as well.

Merri Lee turned the vase. “There’s no card.”

“That’s unusual?” Tess asked.

Merri Lee nodded.

Meg rubbed her arms, edged close enough to the doorway to see what was happening, and looked at Merri Lee. “The deliveryman said they were for Theral.”

“You both smell afraid,” Simon said. “Why?”

Merri Lee hesitated. “You know why Theral is living in Lakeside with her cousin’s family, and why Officer MacDonald escorts her to work and home again?”

Simon nodded. “Montgomery said she ran away from a mate who hurt her.”

“His name is Jack Fillmore. He could have sent the flowers just to confirm where to find her.”

“The deliveryman called Nathan a dog,” Meg said. “And he was annoyed that the office was busy.”

“What did he look like?” Merri Lee asked, then held up her hand. “Wait. I’ll call Michael and ask him to have a quiet word with Lawrence. Maybe the MacDonalds have a picture of Jack Fillmore. The rest of the family might have tossed out the photos, but I’ll bet Lawrence kept one in case the police need it.”

“Theral thought she would be safe here,” Meg said, then added silently, Like me.

“She is safe,” Simon growled. “Is Montgomery still at the efficiency apartment?”

“No,” Merri Lee said. “He had to go to the station. Lizzy is taking the bookstore field trip with the Wolf pups. Eve Denby said Lizzy could spend the day with Robert and Sarah, but Lieutenant Montgomery doesn’t want her to leave the Courtyard without him.”

“Sensible,” Henry rumbled.

“We need to know more, but Henry and I have to leave for the meeting with Steve Ferryman,” Simon said. He studied Meg. “Is that all right?”

“I’m fine.” She retreated into the sorting room, moving to the other side of the table. That far away from the flowers, the prickling was nothing more than a mild annoyance.

Simon followed her.

“I’m fine,” she said again. “You go to your meeting.” She waited to see if there might be some kind of prophetic response to the words.

Nothing.

“Okay,” he said after studying her. “Henry will take the flowers over to the consulate so they won’t bother you. Vlad is calling the police.”

“Human law doesn’t apply in the Courtyard.”

“No, but the threat isn’t in the Courtyard. Besides, Officer MacDonald is family to Theral, so the police will know anyway and want answers.”

She nodded. Then she gave him a wobbly smile. “I didn’t cut.”

“That’s good.” He hesitated, shifting from one foot to the other.

“You shouldn’t keep Henry waiting.”

But he still hesitated. Then he sighed and walked out of the office.

“You sure you’re okay?” Merri Lee asked quietly after Nathan curled up on his bed and the rest of the terra indigene had returned to their own work. “I’ll stay if you need me.”

“I’m okay.”

Meg thought for a moment. Simon was a Wolf, and human rules didn’t always apply because even when he looked human, he didn’t think like a human. And yet . . .

“He seemed . . . disappointed . . . when he left. Simon, I mean.”

Merri Lee leaned on the sorting table. “When Michael and I are together and one of us has to leave, we kiss good-bye. Maybe Simon would have liked the Wolf equivalent.”

Meg frowned at her friend. “I’m not going to lick his face.”

Merri Lee laughed. “Okay, but if he’s in human form, I think a kiss on the cheek would give the same message.”

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