Marked in Flesh Page 55

“What happened to those men?”

“Went over the fence into the next property. Or so I’m assuming.”

He hadn’t heard gunshots. At least Burke hadn’t shot any of them.

Monty’s mobile phone rang. “Montgomery.”

“Lieutenant, it’s Kowalski. We found Chris Fallacaro. He was at the university precinct, brought in with a handful of other young men who were fighting. I talked to Captain Wheatley. He’s of the opinion that Fallacaro was the victim of an attack and wasn’t doing much fighting to defend himself after someone broke his left hand with a hammer.”

“What stopped the fight?”

“The kid with the hammer raised it above his head for another swing . . . and was struck by lightning. He’s heading for the morgue.”

Gods above and below, Monty thought.

“Fallacaro has made a statement and is on his way to Lakeside Hospital. Do you want me and Debany to meet him there and stay with him?”

“Wait a moment.” Monty relayed the information to Burke.

“That’s a plan,” Burke said. “They can head out now. Shady will keep an eye on things. I’ll call Captain Wheatley with an update as soon as we get back to the Courtyard.”

They heard the explosion and watched a fireball rise from a building two blocks away.

“Let’s go,” Burke said quietly as a second building exploded. Then a third. And a fourth.

Lightning struck nearby, and the boom of thunder, sounding more like giant hooves striking the ground, made Monty’s skin crawl.

“Let’s go,” Burke said again.

Monty returned to Nadine’s car and followed Burke’s flashing blue light back to the Courtyard as a punishing rain struck the northern part of the city, putting out the fires and flooding the streets.

• • •

“What do you think?” Eve Denby asked.

Henry looked around the room above the Liaison’s Office—a room that had occasionally been used for sex with a human—and wondered what he was supposed to think. More, he wondered why he’d been chosen to provide the answer. Then he looked at Ruthie, Theral, and Eve. They must have considered the members of the Business Association and had decided he was the most approachable right now.

Tess had slipped away from the Courtyard. No one was sure where she was, but he was certain a few members of the Humans First and Last movement were going to die of a mysterious plague that had already struck humans in the city a couple of times over the past few months. Simon had gone off to consider a simple yet difficult question: was Lakeside worth saving, and if it was, how much could their Courtyard save? Vlad and Blair were coordinating the defense of the Courtyard and its property. Wolves were patrolling the boundaries of the Courtyard and guarding the three gates that provided the easiest access. The Sanguinati were guarding the Market Square and the buildings on Crowfield Avenue, making sure no one attacked the Denbys’ apartment or threatened the children. The Crows and Hawks were maintaining a lookout around the buildings, while the Owls glided along the fence line, looking for intruders. Nathan, Erebus, and the Shady Burke were in Meat-n-Greens with Meg and Merri Lee.

And that left him to provide an answer to a question he didn’t understand.

“This isn’t much different from a hotel room,” Ruthie explained. “It has its own bathroom. We gave the room a quick dust and vacuum and put clean sheets on the bed—not that we thought the ones on it had been used, but . . .” She stopped, then plowed through the thorny words. “Ms. Fallacaro is going to need a place to stay, at least for tonight. She would be alone at a regular hotel.”

“And no one who has been targeted is going to want to be alone,” Eve added.

Now he understood. “You want permission for her to stay here?”

They nodded.

“And we wondered if someone could check on Lorne,” Ruthie said. “He said he would be here for the concert, but he didn’t show up, and he’s not answering his home phone or mobile phone. He doesn’t live far from here.”

“We will try to find him,” Henry promised. He would talk to Vlad about finding Elizabeth Bennefeld and Dominic Lorenzo, the other two humans who provided services to Courtyard residents. “Anything else?”

“Do you have any storage space we humans could use?” Eve asked. “We need to stock up on what we don’t want to do without.”

“I’ll talk to Simon.” Human settlements in the wild country were often cut off from supply towns during the winter months and stocked up on many things. He was pleased to hear these females preparing for the same kind of isolation.

He walked out of the room. Catching the sound of cars driving up the access way, he hurried down the stairs behind the Liaison’s Office, his hands shifting to the more useful paws and claws of a Grizzly. But these weren’t intruders. He didn’t recognize the car that had most of its windows smashed, but Lieutenant Montgomery was driving it, and Captain Burke was driving the black car.

Henry followed the cars. Burke pulled into the employee parking lot, but Montgomery drove to the spaces where delivery trucks parked for the Market Square. As soon as he parked the car, Montgomery hurried around to the other side and helped a woman out of the car. Wolves approached the Market Square, then turned away when Simon and Vlad stepped out of the library, along with Elliot.

“Is there anyone in the medical office who could take a look at Ms. Fallacaro?” Montgomery asked when Simon walked up to him.

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