Vision in Silver Page 77

Opinionated. That was another word for this female. He’d bet she’d expressed a lot more opinions to her employers than the female pack did to him. Of course, her former employers most likely didn’t have a good set of fangs between them.

“The young prophets cannot continue to live in the bed-and-breakfast,” Ming said. “Even after simplifying their rooms as your Meg suggested, the place is too busy for them.”

“And Lara and Margaret need to make a living,” Steve said. “The village has been paying for the girls’ board, but we can’t do that forever either.”

“You can’t cut them for profit,” Simon growled.

“Of course not!” Steve scraped his fingers through his hair. “But our village doesn’t have a lot of resources to spare.”

Simon sat up straighter. The Lakeside Courtyard had plenty of money. Pam Ireland could be hired by the Courtyard’s Business Association but work for Steve Ferryman as the blood prophets’ caretaker. And she could meet with Dr. Lorenzo at the Market Square medical office to talk about the girls and decide what would be put into his task force reports.

Yes, that could work for all of them.

“You have some ideas?” Henry’s question to Ming pulled Simon back into the immediate discussion.

The Black Bear nodded. “The terra indigene have talked among ourselves, and we’ve talked with the Intuit leaders. We will give thirty acres to build a home for the cassandra sangue.”

“Thirty acres?” Simon said, surprised. “What are five young girls going to do with thirty acres? They don’t know how to hunt or fish or even dig to plant food.”

“We’ll build housing, starting with just what we need but planning for a total of a hundred girls living on the campus,” Steve said.

“Campus.” Simon bared his teeth—and realized his canines weren’t close to human size when Pam’s eyes widened. “Is that another way of saying compound?”

“No. Well, yes, in a way.” Steve blew out a breath. “Not a place with walls and locked doors. We’re not talking about anything like that. But a place where the cassandra sangue can live and receive schooling. A place that will be more like a private school, but will have walking trails and water. Gardens where they can grow some of their own food and have an active connection with the world. A small farm with a couple of dairy cows and a handful of chickens that the girls can help take care of. Maybe a goat or two. And Jerry Sledgeman said he’d talk to the Liveryman family about donating a couple of ponies.”

“Hopefully many of the girls will be able to move beyond the campus and work in a small community like Ferryman’s Landing when they reach adulthood,” Pam said. “But I think you have to prepare for the fact that some of those girls will never be stable enough to live outside of a supervised facility.”

“And some will die, regardless of what anyone tries to do to help them,” Henry finished, nodding.

“You have the workers who can build this campus?” Simon asked. What would Meg say about blood prophets being moved from one kind of confined place to another? Would it feel confined? Thirty acres wasn’t much to a Wolf. On the other hand, the three hundred acres that made up the Lakeside Courtyard was surrounded by a fence that defined the boundaries. Did Meg feel confined?

Something to ask her this evening.

“We have the workers,” Steve replied. “We have an architect working to design the buildings—clean lines with an eye to blending privacy with protection. Not as basic a design as the houses the Simple Life folk prefer, but more in keeping with the rest of Ferryman’s Landing.”

When Steve hesitated, Ming said, “What the Intuits and the Great Island terra indigene don’t have is money to buy lumber and pipes and the other things that go into making human dens.”

<That is something to discuss among us,> Simon said, glancing at Pam.

<The girls like her,> Ming said. <I think Steve would like to put her in charge of the campus once it is built.>

<Has she met Jean?>

<We have told her about Jean, and Steve went to the Gardner farm to tell Jean about Pam Ireland. But they have not met. Jean is not ready.>

Simon turned toward Pam. “You’re hired to work with the girls living in Ferryman’s Landing. Now go away.”

She blinked at him several times before looking at Steve, who nodded and said, “Thanks, Pam. We’ll talk more as soon as I’m done here.”

She left the room in a controlled hurry.

“That was rude,” Steve said.

“No,” Simon corrected. “Threatening to eat her if she didn’t leave would have been rude, since employees are not edible. But decisions need to be made, and she isn’t part of that.”

“River Road Community,” Henry rumbled, cutting off anything Steve might have said. “Simon had to deal with other things these past two days, so Vlad and I have talked to the terra indigene who have heard about that land.”

Simon looked at the Grizzly. So did Ming and Steve.

“There are some Sanguinati living in one of the houses,” Steve said cautiously. “When I went with a crew to check out the houses and make a list of what would be needed, they came out to investigate and said you’d given them permission.”

“We did,” Simon said. “And Erebus Sanguinati has also given them permission. Tell me about the houses.”

“Not in bad shape,” Steve said. “Need some basic care and all of them could use a few repairs. The industrial building would need significant work to convert into something we could use—once someone figures out how it will be used.”

“The main concern, for us, is that humans who manage to escape from Talulah Falls might try to claim those houses and that land,” Ming said.

“Which is why we need to get more than a handful of juvenile vampires into those houses,” Simon said.

“What kind of humans did you have in mind?” Steve asked.

“A mixed community. Intuits, the humans the HFL movement calls Wolf lovers, and terra indigene.” Simon studied the other four males. “Right now, Talulah Falls is a dangerous place.”

“The Crowgard have told me the terra indigene who have taken the duty of keeping that city under control have said they are separating the useful humans from the meat. And most of what is in the city is meat,” Ming said.

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