Home > Etched in Bone (The Others #5)(7)

Etched in Bone (The Others #5)(7)
Author: Anne Bishop

Silence. Then Nathan acknowledged the words with a soft arroo and went back to the Wolf bed under one of the big windows in the front room.

Meg smiled. Twyla Montgomery was Lieutenant Montgomery’s mother. A thin woman with dark skin that was beginning to sag with age, brown eyes that usually looked kind, and short, curly hair that was more tarnished silver than black. But Twyla also had a no-nonsense attitude and didn’t take sass from anyone—a trait that made the Wolves keenly interested in observing her from a safe distance.

“Mr. Simon came into A Little Bite grumbling about yogurt and girl innards and how you don’t like bison,” Twyla said. “I thought he might have some kind of brain fever and was talking nonsense, but Miss Tess said you must not have eaten enough for breakfast, so she made an egg salad sandwich and a bit more for you.” A pause. “You skimping on food, girl?”

“No, ma’am. I didn’t eat much at home because I planned to pick up something when I got to work.” When Twyla stared at her, Meg added, “I really don’t like the taste of bison.”

“I tried a slice the other day and can’t say it appealed to me either. But I suspect if it was a choice between eating bison and going hungry, I’d like it just fine—and so would you.”

Meg nodded. “If that was the choice, Simon might learn to like yogurt.”

Twyla laughed. “You think so?”

Meg imagined being given a plate of rolled bison slices dipped in yogurt. Shuddering, she wondered if you could make a salad out of grass.

Twyla tapped a finger just above the three cards on the table. “What’s this about? Or can’t you say?”

“These are fortune-telling cards, but I call them prophecy cards. I’m trying to see if some of the cassandra sangue can use them to reveal prophecy instead of making a cut.” A thousand cuts. It was said that was all a blood prophet had before the cut that killed her or drove her insane. Since most prophets didn’t survive past their thirty-fifth birthday, Meg, at twenty-four, felt highly motivated to find an alternative to the razor.

“What do these tell you?” Twyla asked.

“I’m not sure. I asked what was going to happen to my friends in the Courtyard. These cards were the answer.” Meg waited until the older woman came around to her side of the table. She pointed to each card. “Subject, action, result.”

Twyla frowned at the train/bus/car card. “Does that mean travel or the transportation itself?”

“Could mean either. It was drawn as the subject, so that should mean the thing itself, but it could mean that one of these forms of transportation is bringing someone or something to Lakeside. The explosion, being the action card, could mean a ‘call the bomb squad’ kind of explosion or an emotionally explosive conflict between groups of people. So maybe a group of people traveling to Lakeside are going to cause some kind of trouble for the Courtyard. I’m getting pretty good at finding the cards that answer the question, but Merri Lee and I are still working on correctly interpreting them.”

As she watched Twyla study the cards, the skin between her shoulder blades began to prickle.

“What does the question mark mean?” Twyla asked, sounding troubled.

“Future undecided. That was the same answer I drew when I asked about the city of Lakeside this morning.” Meg studied the older woman. “You know what the cards mean, don’t you?”

“I have a thought, but nothing I’d want to share. Not just yet.” Twyla walked toward the back room.

“Thanks for bringing the food,” Meg said.

Twyla turned to look at her. “You’re welcome. Don’t you be skimping on food. There’s no need for that.”

Meg heard the back door of the office close. Then she reached over her shoulder and scratched at her back. She liked Twyla Montgomery, and even the Others offered the older woman a trust they rarely gave someone they’d known for such a short time. That was the reason Meg felt uneasy now.

She just hoped Miss Twyla decided to share her thoughts about the cards before something bad happened.

• • •

Twyla polished the desks at the consulate—the building in the Courtyard that was the domain of Elliot Wolfgard. He was the Courtyard’s public face, the terra indigene who talked to the mayor and the city council members, who attended political events, and who talked to the press. It hadn’t taken her long to realize that Elliot might be the urbane spokesWolf for the Courtyard, but Simon was the real leader.

“It never took the other humans this long to clean the desks,” Elliot said.

Twyla jerked upright in surprise and turned to face him. She hadn’t heard him come down from his office on the second floor.

At first glance, he could pass for the CEO of a successful company: expensive suits, thinning hair that was cut by someone who probably charged more than she usually made in a week, lean body that spoke of hours in a fitness place. Yes, he could pass for one, and she would bet plenty of CEOs and politicians had made the mistake of thinking that looking like them meant he thought like them. But the amber eyes belonged to a Wolf, and even if humans sometimes overlooked what he was, she was certain Elliot never did.

“I can see they didn’t take that long to clean in here, which is why it’s taking me longer than usual to give it a proper cleaning now,” she replied.

Elliot studied her. She was getting used to that. The Crows who worked in the Market Square had more questions than a houseful of small children, and at least one of them joined her whenever she went into a store to buy anything, wanting to know why she chose one thing over another. The Wolves studied her, studied all the humans who were allowed some access to the stores in the Courtyard, but she noticed they watched her and Nadine Fallacaro and Katherine Debany, Officer Debany’s mother, more than the younger women who were Meg Corbyn’s female pack.

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