Vision in Silver Page 89

“You should make Simon Wolfgard aware of this.” Burke sighed. “It’s so seductively easy to think that using the cassandra sangue’s pronouncements will make the bad things go away, that we’ll be forewarned about anything and everything and will avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it’s not always true.”

“No, sir. It’s not always true.”

Monty met up with Kowalski in the parking lot. The younger man glanced at the newspaper, then got in the car, saying nothing.

“You saw the article?” Monty asked.

Kowalski nodded. “Heather’s family had been pressuring her to quit her job, had threatened to disown her if she didn’t quit. If she’d still been working at Howling Good Reads, she wouldn’t have been in that store, and she’d still be alive.”

“You don’t know that,” Monty said gently. Since Kowalski was feeling the same kind of pressure from his own family to distance himself from the Others, Monty didn’t offer platitudes. But he wondered exactly what was said before Meg saw that vision.

CHAPTER 43

Firesday, Maius 18

At least she had stopped crying.

Simon didn’t mind when Meg cried on him during a movie. Well, he minded but he accepted that this was typical of human females, and she shook off feeling bad once the movie ended. But this was something else, a deeper pain, as if she’d swallowed a splinter of bone that was tearing her up inside.

“It’s my fault,” she said.

He’d lost count of the number of times she had said that since Nathan howled that something was wrong with Meg. “How could it be your fault? You weren’t there. You didn’t hurt Heather.”

“I gave her the wrong advice, told her the wrong thing,” Meg cried. “That’s why she died.”

“She died because a human turned rabid and attacked other humans who were shopping in that store.” Had someone gotten hold of a dose of gone over wolf? Something he would ask Lieutenant Montgomery.

“That day we were all doing research to locate the compound where I’d been kept, Heather was upset because her family was going to disown her if she continued to work at Howling Good Reads. I remember thinking, What will happen to Heather if she makes the wrong choice? I must have hit my hand at the same time I was thinking that because I had a vision about Heather. There were magazines scattered around her, covered in blood. I saw a date. Not the current issue.” She frowned. “Not even the current year. But what I saw had to be wrong. I must have mixed up the numbers.”

“Is that all you saw? Magazines scattered around Heather?”

“You sell some magazines at HGR, so I thought . . . There was so much blood, I thought it meant she was going to die in the store if she stayed.”

There hadn’t been many details about how Heather died, but the newspaper article hadn’t mentioned anything about magazines. Something else to ask Montgomery. And whether Meg mixed up a date hardly mattered now.

“Meg?” Simon moved until he was right next to her, then rested his forearms on the sorting table, matching her position. “Would that store have had magazines?”

She blinked at him. “What?”

“That store Heather was in. Would it have magazines?”

“I don’t know.” She had that look in her eyes that meant she was reviewing her training images to see if she could find a match. Then she shook her head. “I don’t know.”

“Heather was a bunny,” he said gently. “She was nice for a human, and a good worker, but she was afraid of us in a way that Merri Lee and Ruthie aren’t. Vlad and I recognized the signs and knew she wasn’t going to stay much longer, even before the terra indigene leaders came here for that meeting. Even before you had that vision.”

“But if she had stayed a little longer . . .”

“She would have been driven out of her pack, and when she left HGR, maybe they wouldn’t have taken her back, and she would have been alone.”

“But alive.”

“Would she?” He touched her hand. “Maybe Heather did avoid the death you saw because she quit when she did. She was with her family, and that’s what she wanted. If they hadn’t gone to that store on that day, or if they had been delayed, or if Heather had decided to stay home and do some chores, she would have been reading about someone else who was killed in that attack. You can’t know about what you don’t see, Meg.”

Meg sighed. “You’re right. I couldn’t know. And I can’t make a cut to see what might happen every time a friend has to make a choice.”

“No, you can’t.” He ran a hand over her head and gave her a light scritch behind one ear. “You feeling better now?”

“A little.” She gave him a wry look. “Better enough that I won’t put another knot in Nathan’s tail.”

<I was concerned,> Nathan said from the front room.

<And rightly so,> Simon replied. <But Meg looks embarrassed, like a squirrel who fell out of a tree and is trying to pretend she intended to do that.>

With a huff of annoyance, Nathan went back to the Wolf bed.

“I’m fine,” Meg said. “I don’t want my friends to get hurt, and it’s hard knowing that what I saw wasn’t enough to save Heather when I was able to save the ponies and Sam. And maybe she did live longer than she would have if she’d continued working at HGR.”

And maybe she died much sooner, Simon thought.

CHAPTER 44

Firesday, Maius 18

Not only had Jackson returned her drawing of the Wolf song; he and Grace framed it and hung it in her room. They brought her more paper and more pencils in different colors. They spent time telling her that this shade of green was grass and that shade was tree that shed its leaves when Autumn walked the land and that shade was pine. They described, as best they could, the shades of water, but they knew water as shallow and sun warmed versus the coolness of a deep pool, not the color of the water.

She listened, soaking up what they said and wondering what was outside her room. Jackson and Grace weren’t the only Wolves here. She knew that from the song. But she wasn’t brave enough to ask if she could leave her room.

She thought about her new keepers. They refused to call her cs821. Once each day, they asked if she had chosen a name. They didn’t punish her for not choosing. They fed her, cleaned her clothes, made sure she had what she needed to wash herself and use the toilet. And they seemed pleased that she liked to draw.

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