Marked in Flesh Page 57

“Appliances? Yes. But you’d need to get your hands on some loaf pans if I was going to bake bread here.” Nadine pointed to the cookie sheets and muffin pans. “Someone already does some baking?”

“I do when I’m in the mood,” Tess said. “I don’t do enough of it to supply A Little Bite with food.” She hesitated. She should discuss this with the rest of the Business Association first. Then again, Simon had been making a lot of decisions on his own, and this was her shop. “You’re welcome to use the room above the Liaison’s Office until you get yourself sorted out. You can make the food for A Little Bite as your rent. We can sell loaves of bread so that people like the Denbys can make their own sandwiches. Or I can take you over to Meat-n-Greens to have a look at the kitchen there if you want to cook other things.”

Nadine studied the workspace. “How do we get supplies?”

“Make a list of everything you usually ordered for your bakery, and give me a list of tools you would like to have here. I’ll see what I can do about getting them. We may not be able to purchase everything we request, but I think we’ll have enough.” Supplies shouldn’t be a problem. The terra indigene who grew food on humanlike farms between Lake Etu and the Feather Lakes had sent a message that they would sell their crops only to other terra indigene or to Intuit settlements that belonged to the terra indigene. If all the Others throughout Thaisia were making that choice, Tess figured the Lakeside Courtyard could trade fruits and vegetables for Midwest wheat to make flour.

“What about Chris?” Nadine asked.

“Last I heard, the doctors needed more time to work on his broken hand, and he was still at the hospital,” Tess said. “Police officers from the Chestnut Street station are there standing guard. No one will hurt him. One of the girls can drive you over there to visit.”

Nadine nodded. “He should have family there. Chris’s father joined the HFL, so I don’t know if either of his parents will be at the hospital to help him—or will let him come home to heal.”

Simon was right, Tess thought. We keep getting tangled up with more and more of these humans. “We’ll figure out something when he’s ready to leave.”

Nadine sniffed once, then squared her shoulders. “Well, I’m going to warm up that breakfast you kindly made for me and get started on those lists.”

Tess stayed at the counter and let Nadine bustle around in the back.

What would the Humans First and Last movement say when they realized the Courtyard had the only bakery left in the city of Lakeside?


Thaisday, Juin 14

Jackson stepped off the train at Bennett station and wanted to run. A sourness filled the air. Had a sickness spread among the humans here?

<Joe?> Noticing three rough-looking men heading toward him, Jackson stepped closer to the station—and away from the tracks and the wheels of the train. <Joe? Are you there?>

He had called the general store in Prairie Gold and told the Jesse female what time the train was expected to arrive. Had Joe received the message?

Jackson watched the three men and struggled not to shift to a between form that would surely cause panic and, perhaps, provoke other humans into an attack.

“Mr. Wolfgard!”

A human voice. Not Joe’s. Not the voice of anyone Jackson knew.

One of the three men looked back at the sound of the voice. Then he stopped abruptly and slapped the arm of his nearest comrade.

Barely controlled fear rolled off the disembarking humans who had to walk past a column of smoke in order to go into the station.


Jackson walked toward a man dressed in a checked shirt and jeans who was standing beside the smoke. The three rough-looking men stepped out of his way, but one of them said in a low, harsh voice, “Gonna nail your fucking hide to a barn wall, Wolf.”

The smoke took human form when Jackson reached that spot. The Sanguinati smiled, showing a hint of fang. “I’m Tolya. We met at the Lakeside Courtyard.”

Jackson nodded. “I remember you.”

“This is Tobias Walker, the foreman of the Prairie Gold ranch.”

Walker. Same name as the Jesse female.

“Jesse is expecting a package. I’ll check and see if it’s come in.” Tobias looked at Jackson. “Anything in the baggage car that I can pick up for you?”

Jackson held up the carryall. “No. This is all I brought with me.”

“Will you be all right fetching the package on your own?” Tolya eyed the three men who still lingered on the platform.

“I should be fine. Why don’t you wait for me by the truck?” Tobias went inside the station.

“This way.” Tolya led Jackson to the pickup truck.

“Where is Joe?” Jackson asked, dumping his carryall in the pickup bed.

“He is escorting the earth native fuel truck to Prairie Gold,” Tolya replied. “The last fuel shipment didn’t arrive—at least, the allotment of fuel designated for Prairie Gold didn’t arrive—so we made other arrangements.”

We? Jackson wondered, lowering the tailgate when he saw Tobias hurry out of the station carrying a box big enough to fill his arms. Trailing behind were the three rough-looking men who had been on the platform.

After helping Tobias load the box, Jackson said, “I can ride in the back.”

“There is room for the three of us in the cab,” Tolya said with a pleasantness that made it hard for Jackson not to shift to Wolf. “And Tobias feels more comfortable when there is someone between him and me.”

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