Marked in Flesh Page 24

The visions the three of them saw seemed to intertwine, but were they seeing the same things? She and Jean and Hope had come from the same compound, had been taught the same images, so they had that much in common when they described their visions. But now their lives were so different. Jean lived on a farm. Hope lived in a terra indigene settlement in the Northwest. And she lived in the Lakeside Courtyard. Each of them was absorbing new images every day, but not the same images. That was true of all the girls who had been freed from benevolent ownership. Would the younger girls, growing up without that rigid training, be able to communicate at all when they saw the visions of prophecy? Would it matter?

Meg clenched her teeth as the skin over her entire head suddenly filled with that pins-and-needles feeling.

It would matter. Maybe not here, maybe not right now, but it would matter.

So how could girls living outside the compounds achieve the same kind of image consistency in order to communicate with one another?

She needed to find another, already available, source for images. Wasn’t that part of her job as the Trailblazer, to help the other blood prophets find the tools they needed to survive?

The prickling beneath her skin faded. Going to the doorway between the back room and sorting room, she hollered, “Nathan? I’m going to the Three Ps. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”


Yes, it was unusual for her to leave the office during her work hours, but if another delivery arrived, Nathan—and Jake Crowgard, who was perched on the wall between Henry’s yard and the delivery area—would let her know.

She hurried out the back door and across the access way. She’d been inside the Three Ps only once and had been overwhelmed by the amount of paper products Lorne Kates managed to carry in the small shop. She kept her eyes focused on the counter and rushed toward it as Lorne came out from behind the chest-high wall panels that separated the computers and printers from the retail part of the shop.

“Morning, Meg.”

“Good morning.” She braced her hands on the counter.

“You all right?”

Meg nodded. “I’d like some postcards.”

“Do you want to take a look at what I have in the spin rack?” Lorne asked.

“No. I need sets of pictures, images. If I see Talulah Falls in a vision and need to convey that I’m seeing that particular waterfall, I want another cassandra sangue to pick up the same image so she knows exactly what I mean.”

“Haven’t you been creating a binder of images to help identify things in your visions?”

“The binders are too big.” As soon as she said it, she knew it was true. Binders would be useful for collecting images that appealed to each girl, but the blood prophets needed something else for the consistent images, something about the size of a postcard.

Why was she so certain of that? Had she seen something during a cut, or heard about something that she couldn’t recall?

They both turned toward the door when they heard the howl.

“Someone is looking for you,” Lorne said. “I’ll pull one of each postcard and drop them off at the Liaison’s Office. After you look them over, you keep the ones you want and give back the rest. All right?”

“Yes. Thanks, Lorne.” Huffing out an annoyed breath when Nathan howled again, Meg rushed across the access way but stuttered to a stop when she saw Blair Wolfgard leaning against the office’s back door, waiting for her.

Blair was the dominant enforcer in the Courtyard and didn’t have much use for humans. To be fair, she was pretty sure she’d caused him a considerable amount of trouble since she started working, and living, among the terra indigene. So there was always the possibility that Blair would forget—or ignore—the “don’t bite Meg” rule.

“You caused a commotion at your place this morning,” he said.

“I had a bad dream, and I sort of fell on top of Simon.” How many times did she have to say it?

“What was the dream?”

“I don’t remember.”

Blair’s amber Wolf eyes studied her. “You would tell me if I needed to keep watch for something, wouldn’t you?”

“I would. And I will. But there’s nothing to tell you now.”

He opened the back door and stepped aside to let her enter.

“Meg!” Lorne hurried over to her, casting a nervous glance at Blair. “Take a look at these. And here’s a catalog from the place that prints the postcards. Keep it awhile. You can make up a list of the images you want me to order for you.”

Meg took the postcards and catalog. “Thanks.”

With another glance at Blair, Lorne bolted across the access way and back to the safety of his own shop.

“I’m going back to work now,” Meg said.

But the enforcer’s eyes were focused on the second floor of Howling Good Reads and the Wolf standing at the window. Blair walked away without saying a word.

Shivering even though the day was turning warm, Meg went inside the office and laid out the postcards on the sorting room table.

Common images for blood prophets living in different parts of Thaisia. But these weren’t the pictures she and Jean and Hope needed. These were scenic and pretty, and prophecy was rarely about things that were pretty. If that wasn’t true, blood prophets wouldn’t need the euphoria to veil what they saw and cloud their memories.

She had lied about the dream because Simon, Vlad, and the rest of her friends would be upset if she told them about the part she remembered.

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