Home > Etched in Bone (The Others #5)(14)

Etched in Bone (The Others #5)(14)
Author: Anne Bishop

“If you don’t need me, I’ll clean these brushes,” Eve said.

Simon moved away from the door and the freshly painted walls. The paint wasn’t overwhelmingly stinky since the women had opened the windows, but he didn’t want to be in the apartment longer than necessary.

“Well now,” Twyla said when they were alone. “I wanted to talk to you about that. I was wondering if any of the efficiency apartments above the seamstress/tailor’s shop are available.”

He studied the older woman, confused. “Don’t you want to live with your pack?”

She smiled, showing him the denture teeth—something he still wanted someone to explain. “When an adult Wolf gets tired of having puppies chewing on her tail, what does she do?”

“She gets up and leaves.”

“Exactly. I love my children and grandchildren, but I don’t want to be around them every minute of the day.”

He couldn’t picture Lieutenant Montgomery pestering Miss Twyla enough to get nipped, but he’d seen the Sierra sometimes revert to juvenile behavior around her mother, despite having two pups of her own.

“These apartments all have porches and real kitchens,” he pointed out.

“And an extra bedroom that I don’t need.” The smile she gave him now didn’t show teeth, but it was warmer somehow. “I’ll be spending plenty of time over at Crispin’s apartment, looking after Lizzy when he’s working. But he needs time on his own with his daughter, and she needs time with him. And Sierra needs to stand on her own without me being a crutch. An efficiency apartment lets me be close by if I’m needed but not right on top of my children. Not much housekeeping with a small place, and I’m happy about that. And there is the Market Square. Plenty of places there to sit and enjoy an evening. I can select a book from the library, pick up a meal at Meat-n-Greens, and spend an hour reading outside.”

She could do all those things if she lived in one of these apartments, but she seemed certain she wanted a small den.

That meant all the efficiency apartments would be full, since one was going to be the classroom for the human pups, Henry still wanted to keep the one he used when he worked late in his studio and didn’t want to go back to the Green Complex, and they’d agreed to let Chris Fallacaro have one since he didn’t want to live with Nadine, despite her being a relative.

Which left him with the problem of what to do with Emily Faire, the young Intuit woman they had hired to work part-time as a nurse practitioner in the Market Square medical office. Now that Dr. Lorenzo was away from Lakeside so much, doing his work for the task force that was gathering information about the cassandra sangue, they needed someone trustworthy to look after Meg when she made a cut. The Business Association had intended to let the Emily use one of the efficiency apartments; now they would need to find another place for her to live. There were rooms above the social center, but those had been used for sexual liaisons and didn’t have anything beyond a bed, a lamp, and a table. The terra indigene had been clearing out those rooms, using the frames from the single beds to provide beds for the human children—although the parents of those children insisted on purchasing new box springs and mattresses. Since any scents on the mattresses had faded to the point that even the Wolves couldn’t pick up anything, it was doubtful human noses could either, but it had been important to the adult humans, so the Business Association had made the extra purchases.

<Simon?> Vlad called, using the terra indigene form of communication. <We need you at Howling Good Reads.>

<Problem?>

<Looks like it. Officer Debany is upset. Something about a letter from his sister.>

“I have to go,” Simon told Twyla. “You can use the efficiency apartment that Meg had when she first came to the Courtyard. You know which one that is?”

“The only one unoccupied?” Twyla replied.

“Yes.” He hurried down the stairs and out the door. He hesitated at the curb and considered if he should walk up to the light at the corner or just dash across the street. Crowfield Avenue had enough traffic at this time of day to make going up to the light prudent, so he did. Then he hurried to Howling Good Reads to find Blair and Vlad facing Michael Debany.

Vlad glanced at Simon, then gestured toward Debany. “There is a concern.”

<Which makes no sense,> Blair added.

“What’s the problem?” Simon asked, focusing on Debany, who was in uniform. Which included a gun. Fortunately for the human, he was waving a piece of paper and not the gun.

“The problem is my sister, Bee.”

“Barbara Ellen,” Vlad clarified. “Went to Bennett as the vet-in-training to take care of the small animals that were found in the houses.”

“She’s been away from home barely a month, and she says she’s moving in with some guy named Buddy,” Debany said. Normally an even-tempered male, he sounded snappish.

Simon pondered the information, trying to sort out why this was a problem. “Don’t you want your sister to find a mate and have puppies?”

“Someday. Not now. And not with a guy she hasn’t mentioned to anyone in the family until now. What do we know about him? What does he do for a living? Where did he come from?”

“Do you need to know these things because you can’t give him a good sniff and decide if you like him?”

“I need to know because she’s my kid sister and she’s living in a town hundreds of miles away in a different region of Thaisia so I can’t even call her to find out what’s going on. I need to know because I’m a cop and I’ve seen the bad things that can happen to vulnerable young women. And because Bee shouldn’t be shacking up with a guy.”

   
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