Spells Page 89

Laurel nodded numbly. ’’Okay,’’ she said softly. ’’I\ll tell you.’’

Shar watched Laurel leave the glade and climb into her car after she had finished telling him about Barnes. She\d answered all his questions.

All the ones she knew the answers to, anyway.

Shar waited, standing still against the tree until her car its yellow signal blinking annoyingly turned onto the highway.

’’You can come out now, Tam,’’ he said.

Tamani stepped out from behind a tree, his eyes fixed on Laurel\s departing car.

’’Thank you for staying put even though you almost didn\ ,’’ he added wryly.

Tamani just shrugged.

’’She wouldn\ have told me as much with you around. She needed to think you were gone. Now she\s really told us everything.’’

’’She didn\ have much of a choice,’’ Tamani said, his voice flat. ’’Not with the way you were interrogating her.’’ He paused for a few seconds. ’’You were pretty hard on her, Shar.’’

’’You\ve seen me be hard on someone, Tam. That wasn\ hard.’’

’’Yeah, but ’’

’’She needed to hear it, Tamani,’’ Shar said sharply. ’’She may be your duty, but the gate is mine. She needs to know how serious this is.’’

Tamani tightened his jaw but didn\ argue.

’’I\m sorry I made her cry,’’ Shar said grudgingly.

’’So are we agreed on what needs to be done next?’’

Shar nodded.

Tamani smiled.

’’It\ll take months, Tamani. This is a huge endeavor you\ e undertaking.’’

’’I know.’’

’’And she did come here to say good-bye.’’

’’I know,’’ he said, his voice soft. He turned now, to look at Shar. ’’But you\ll watch her? You\ll make sure she\s safe?’’

’’I promise.’’ He paused. ’’I\ll assign more sentries to her house. If Barnes could get the whole crew away from her house last night, then there weren\ enough. I\ll make sure there\s enough next time.’’

’’Will there be a next time?’’

Shar nodded. ’’I\m sure of it. Barnes was a twig, maybe a branch, but weeds like this grow from the roots. I\m not too proud to admit that I\m afraid of what we\ e not seeing.’’ He glanced at Tamani. ’’If I weren\ so sure, I wouldn\ let you do this at all.’’

They gazed up the path, toward the empty cabin with its overgrown yard and aging exterior.

’’You ready for this?’’ Shar asked.

’’Yeah,’’ Tamani said, a grin spreading across his face. ’’Oh, yeah.’’

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