“If Marle doesn’t have Hunter then where is he?” Brie demands.
“Harvey has him.”
Hope blooms in my chest and I find the strength to speak: “Yagher didn’t bring him to Marle?”
“Apparently not, and Marle’s not too happy about it” Grant says as he dials another number. I recognize Yagher’s voice when he answers.
It isn’t easy watching Grant confess his disloyalty; his skin is pale and sweat beads on his forehead. Unlike the previous call, there is no shouting on the other end of the line. I’m not sure if this is a sign that Yagher is taking it well, or perhaps the opposite.
While Grant offers the exchange and dodges the fine details there is a knock at the door. Grant continues in a quieter voice while Brie opens the door to let in a tall, older woman in purple scrubs and a white coat. She waits patiently inside the door until Grant finishes. He looks up at her and she nods.
“Hunter is fine.” Grant says this to me after hanging up, his eyes locked with my own, “When you have the stone call him and give him the location – it’s the Ukranian Hall on Seventh and Hurst. We’ve used it for meetings before and Caelen should be familiar with it.”
“Yagher will be alone?” I ask.
Grant looks at the ceiling in frustration, “No. He’s bringing his father after all — apparently Harvey won’t exclude him when it involves the stone. They’ll be accompanied by another family member to match our numbers.”
“I thought four of you were going?” Brie points out.
“They don’t need to know about Caelen.” Grant grins, and I hope it means he thinks our plan will work. He looks to the woman by the door, “Time to go?”
“All ready for you,” she opens the door and comes to fetch his gurney. Brie moves to follow them.
“See you on the other side,” he says as he passes me.
Back in the waiting room Mirena and Victor sit side by side, facing away from me and whispering to one another. I cross my arms, rubbing them against the chill I feel watching them. I’ve almost grown accustomed to Mirena’s presence, but I don’t think I’ll ever acclimate to the man who looks so much like his blood-thirsty son. I interrupt their private discussion to fill them in on the plan.
“Harvey Yagher is a coward,” Victor sneers, “Unable to act without his father approving his every move.”
Mirena and I both tried to convince Victor that his presence was unnecessary for the negotiations, but when he gleaned our plans from Mirena he insisted on coming. I wish he had stayed home but, like Marle, he’s not the kind of person who lets others tell him what he can and cannot do.
I ignore the comment and sit in the aisle of seats across from them, picking up a magazine so that I don’t get dragged into their conversation. They continue whispering; apparently my participation wasn’t necessary or wanted anyway. Fine with me. I flip through the colourful pages, briefly taking in the words and images only to forget them seconds later.
More than half an hour passes before Victor speaks to me again: “It seems you have a visitor.”
I glance around me until I recognize a short figure standing by the waiting room door. I rush over and embrace him tightly.
“You’re a brave lass,” Mr. Harris whispers in my ear, “I’m sorry it’s come to this.”
“I’ll be okay,” I assure him without letting go. An insipid little voice tells me I’m lying, but I ignore it, focusing instead on the warmth of his arms around me. “How did you get away? How did you know where we were?”
“Caelen told me, of course. I managed to sneak away, at least for a short time. I wanted to give this to you myself,” he reaches into the front pocket of his heavy wool coat and pulls out a gorgeous silver watch with a face of mother-of-pearl. He places it gently in my hand and I hold it up to admire the delicate twisting links of its band.
“And it has one hell of a protection spell on it. Whatever magic they throw at you lass, it won’t get past that.” He smiles proudly, but I notice the deepening lines around his eyes and mouth. He looks thinner than last I saw him. I wonder how long he’s been making this for, how much it’s taken out of him.
“Thank you,” is all I manage to say.
“I have to get back before they catch on…” He hesitates, fiddling with the argyle scarf around his neck. “But there’s one more thing. When this is all over, however it ends, I wanted to let you know that I have some property. And some inheritance. If you need a place to go, well, I don’t have a whole lot longer on this earth and I wouldn’t mind having some company at the end. It’s a big place, a farm up north, so we wouldn’t be tripping over each other or anything…”
“Of course.” I’ve broken my promise not to cry and I can feel my lip tremble as I try to speak, “We’ll come get you when we’re finished.”
He nods and embraces me one more time before hobbling away, out of the waiting room. I put the watch on my left wrist under the cuff of my coat and manage to wipe away the tears before the tall woman in the white coat enters the room.
“Selene?” she asks and I nod, “I’m Dr. Beth Hill.”
She shakes my hand and I feel something round and smooth slip into it, the size of a marble.
“Grant’s surgery is going well, he should be in recovery shortly.”
She turns and walks away. I slip my hand into my coat pocket, depositing the stone there. I look at Mirena and Victor before pulling out my phone to call Yagher. Our conversation is brief and to the point. I tell him the address of the hall and he promises to meet us there with Hunter.
“He’s… he’s okay? Right?” My voice trembles and I notice Mirena glaring at me, clearly unimpressed that I’ve revealed my weakness to the enemy. I couldn’t give less of a fuck right now.
“Ask him for yourself,” Yagher says and I hear some shuffling as he passes the phone.
“Hi Selene,” the deep voice is unmistakeable. I inhale sharply and he assures me that he’s okay. Yagher doesn’t give him time to say anything else.
“I’ll see you in an hour. And Selene,” he says before I can hang up, his voice sullen and even a little hesitant, “I’m sorry things turned out like this.”
“Me too,” I say before hanging up. I wonder what it would be like if things were different – whether the three of us would be friends meeting for drinks instead of making bargains for each other’s lives. I quickly dismiss the idea, grounding myself in the dangerous necessity of the present. If it were just Yagher I might believe in an honest exchange, the awkward tension between us the worst danger in the room. But with Marle coming and Victor too… I feel like a leaf in a windstorm, directed by powers far greater than my own. I can’t afford to dwell about the trials awaiting me.