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

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

He leaned toward the spoon and sniffed. Then he ate the offering.

Meg held her breath, not sure if he would spit out the yogurt or swallow it.

He swallowed. Then he looked at the other food she’d brought down. “Why would you eat that when you could eat slices of bison?”

Since she couldn’t honestly say she liked the taste of bison, she didn’t see much difference. “Merri Lee and Ruth said yogurt is good for a person’s innards, especially a girl’s innards.”

“Glad I’m not a girl,” he muttered as he put a couple of bison slices on a plate before considering the rest of the available food.

Meg took another spoonful of yogurt before closing the container. There. She’d taken care of her innards for the day. She ate half the berries, then pushed the bowl toward Simon. She half hoped he’d refuse the offer, saying he had plenty of bison to eat, but he happily accepted his share of the berries without a word, leaving her to nibble on a slice of sharp cheese.

“You’re not eating,” Simon said a few minutes later.

“I’ve had enough for now.” Which was true since she intended to dash over to A Little Bite before work and see what Nadine Fallacaro and Tess had available at the Courtyard’s coffee shop.

They took the remaining food up to her apartment and washed the dishes before Simon went to his apartment to get dressed for work.

Meg stared at the clothes in her closet and considered what might be appropriate office wear for the person who was the Human Liaison and what was a practical way to dress on a hot, muggy day. She chose a pair of dark green shorts, a short-sleeve, rosy peach blouse, and a pair of sandals that looked nice and felt great.

After checking that the book she was currently reading was in her carry sack, Meg locked the front door of her apartment and went down the outside stairs to wait for Simon.

• • •

Lieutenant Crispin James Montgomery turned his head to look at Investigative Task Force Agent Greg O’Sullivan, who was sitting in the backseat of the patrol car. When O’Sullivan looked pointedly at the third man in the car, Monty turned his attention to his partner, Officer Karl Kowalski, who was driving them to a meeting with the new acting mayor and commissioner of police.

Kowalski was a vigorous man in his late twenties. A dedicated police officer, he believed that the best way to help the humans in Lakeside was to have a good working relationship with the terra indigene—a belief that had caused some personal problems with a landlord as well as creating a rift between Karl and his parents and brother.

But after the slaughter of humans in some Midwest and Northwest towns in retaliation for the slaughter of the Wolfgard in those same areas; after the storms that raged across the continent of Thaisia and slammed into Lakeside; after the humans saw the briefest terrifying glimpse of the terra indigene who lived in, and guarded, the wild country, Monty wondered if Kowalski still believed there was any hope of humans’ surviving the force and fury of the Elementals and the terra indigene who were known as Namid’s teeth and claws.

And he wondered what he would do if Kowalski and Michael Debany, the other officer on his team, wanted to work on another team or even transfer to another police station in Lakeside.

“Are you all right?” Monty asked. Was it pointless to ask with O’Sullivan in the car? The agent was doing his best to create a dialogue with Simon Wolfgard and the other members of the Courtyard’s Business Association, but no one knew him well enough yet to consider him a personal friend.

Kowalski stopped behind a bus that was taking on passengers instead of changing lanes to go around. If they stayed behind the bus and waited at every stop, they would be late for the meeting.

Out of the corner of his eye, Monty saw O’Sullivan cover the watch on his left wrist, a silent message: we can be late for the meeting.

In looks, Monty and O’Sullivan were opposites. Greg O’Sullivan was in his early thirties. He had green eyes that were always filled with sharp intelligence, and his short dark hair was starting to thin at the top. On the job, he had a burning intensity and a face that made Monty think of a warrior who had chosen an austere life.

Monty, on the other hand, was the oldest of the three men, even though he wasn’t forty yet. He had dark skin, brown eyes, and short, curly black hair already showing some gray—and not all the lines on his face came from laughter. Not anymore.

“I took a bike ride in the Courtyard this morning and ended up playing a game of chase with some of the Wolves,” Kowalski said. “I was the designated prey.”

O’Sullivan leaned forward. “Are you all right?”

Kowalski glanced in the rearview mirror, then swung around the bus when it signaled at the next stop. “More of a workout than I’d intended to take with it being so muggy. The Wolves didn’t hurt me, if that’s what you’re asking. Didn’t even try.”

Monty and O’Sullivan waited.

“It was a game to them, and somehow I had signaled willingness to play. But, gods, seeing them around the Market Square . . . It’s not that you forget how big they are, but I didn’t really translate what their size means when they’re hunting. When I saw them racing toward me, my instincts kicked in and I tried to outrun them. Couldn’t, of course.”

“Do you know what you did to join the game?” Monty asked quietly.

Kowalski focused on the traffic for a minute. “Simon said the girls stop and ask if they can help instead of accepting the invitation to play, so it could be as simple as me speeding up instead of stopping.”

   
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