Home > Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5)(13)

Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5)(13)
Author: Patricia Briggs

Through the double doors that led to the inner sanctum, I could hear a baby crying - a sad, tired, miserable sound. I wrinkled my nose at the pervading sour-sharp smell of hospital disinfectant, and winced at the increase in both decibels and scent as I marched through the doors.

A nurse scribbling on a clipboard glanced up at my entrance, and the official look on her face warmed into a relieved smile. I knew her face but not her name.

"Mercy," she said, having no trouble with mine. "So Doc Cornick finally called you to take him home, did he? About time. I told him he should have gone home hours ago - but he's pretty stubborn, and a doctor outranks a nurse." She made it sound like she didn't think that should be the proper order of things.

I was afraid to speak because I might thrust a hole into whatever house of cards Samuel had constructed to explain why he had to go home early. Finally, I managed a neutral, "He's better at helping people than asking for help."

She grinned. "Isn't that just like a man? Probably hated to admit he trashed that car of his. I swear he loved it like it was a woman."

I think I just stared at her - her words made no sense to me.

Trashed his car? Did she mean he had a wreck? Samuel had a wreck? I couldn't picture it. Some werewolves had trouble driving because they could be a little distractible. But not Samuel.

I needed to get to Samuel before I said something stupid.

"I better - "

"He's just lucky he didn't get hurt worse," she said, and turned her eyes back to whatever she was writing. Apparently she could carry on a conversation at the same time, because she continued. "Did he tell you how close he came? The policeman who brought him in said that he almost fell into the water - and that's the Vernita bridge, you know, the one on Twenty-four out in the Hanford Reach? He'd have died if he made it over - it's a long way down to the river."

What the heck had Samuel been doing all the way out at the bridge on the old highway north of Hanford? That was clear on the other side of the Tri-Cities and then some, and nowhere near any possible route between our house and the hospital. Maybe he'd been running out in the Reach, where people were scarce and ground squirrels plentiful. Just because he hadn't told me that he was going out hunting didn't mean he hadn't. I wasn't his keeper.

"He didn't say anything about danger to him," I told her truthfully and followed it with a small lie designed to lead her into telling me more details. "I thought it was just the car."

"That's Doc Cornick," she snorted. "He wouldn't let us do anything other than get the glass out of his skin - but just from the way he's moving, you can tell he did something to his ribs. And he's limping, too."

"Sounds like it was worse than he told me," I commented, feeling sick to my stomach.

"He went all the way through the windshield and was hanging on to the hood of the car. Jack - that's the policeman - Jack said he thought that Samuel was going to fall off the hood before he could get there. The wreck must have dazed Doc because he was crawling the wrong way - if Jack hadn't stopped him, he'd have gone over."

And then I understood exactly what had happened.

"Honey? Honey? Are you okay? Here, sit down."

She'd pulled out a chair when I wasn't watching and held it behind me. My ears were ringing, my head was down between my knees, and her hand was on my back.

And for a moment, I was fourteen again, hearing Bran tell me what I'd already known - Bryan, my foster father, was dead - his body had been found in the river. He'd killed himself after his mate, my foster mother, had died.

Werewolves are too tough to die easily, so there aren't many ways for a werewolf to commit suicide. Since the French Revolution pretty much unpopularized the guillotine in the eighteenth century, self-decapitation just isn't all that easy.

Silver bullets have some difficulties, too. Silver is harder than lead, and the bullets sometimes blow right through and leave the wolf sick, in pain, and alive. Silver shot works a little better, but unless rigged just right, it can take a long time to die. If some busybody comes along and picks all the shot out - well, there's all that pain for nothing.

The most popular choice is death by werewolf. But that wouldn't be an option for Samuel. Very few wolves would take up his challenge - and those that would . . . Let me just say I wouldn't want to see a fight between Samuel and Adam. Even odds aren't what suicidal people are looking for.

Drowning is the next most popular choice. Werewolves can't swim; their bodies are too dense - and even a werewolf needs to breathe.

I even knew why he'd chosen the location he had. The Columbia is the biggest river in the area, more than a mile wide and deep, but the three biggest bridges over it - the Blue Bridge, the suspension bridge, and the interstate bridge - all have two heavy-duty guardrails. There is also a fair bit of traffic on those, even in the middle of the night. Someone is sure to see you go over and attempt a rescue. It takes a few minutes to drown.

The bridge he'd chosen instead was not as heavily traveled and had been built before bridges were designed so that even morons would have a hard time driving off of them. The river is narrower at that point - which means deeper and faster - and the drop-off is . . . impressive.

I could see it, Samuel on the nose of the car and the police officer running up. It had been sheer dumb luck that the only other vehicle on the road was a police car. If it had been an ordinary bystander, he might have been too fearful of his own safety to attempt a rescue, and would have let Samuel drown. But a policeman might just follow him in and try to rescue him. Might put his life at risk for Samuel.

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