I looked back and forth between him and Dex, desperately wanting an explanation but not daring to ask. Dex was leaning heavily on the table, his head hung in dejection. His long yellow hair hid his face when he slouched like that, but I knew that he was not happy. Finally, he sighed and stood up. Reaching inside his jacket, he pulled a vial of yellow liquid out and uncorked it before tipping it back and swallowing it in one gulp.
“Urgh," he said with a shudder. “I am never going to get used to that taste."
“I hope you never have to," Mr. Wrogan said. “That was a very brave thing you did, Dexter."
Dex shrugged nonchalantly, his emotions skillfully hidden behind a mask of apathy once again. “It was the least I could do."
“I disagree," Victor said from behind me. “I don't think you could have done anything stupider if you had tried."
Dex managed a weak smile. “You know me, Vickie. Always doing the best I can."
“I will have to begin preparations for the hunt immediately," Mr. Wrogan said, and then turned to me. “But first I have to decide what to do with you and Kimberly."
“She can't go back to being a lone wolf," Dex asserted immediately. “And Kimberly needs somebody to take care of her."
I sat silently, listening to them discuss my and Kimberly's future without daring to interrupt. That seemed to be happening a lot lately.
“Of course not," Mr. Wrogan agreed. “We will have to find them a pack."
“There are a few of them around where she lives," Dex said. “We just have to find which one she would fit in best with."
“I will see to that," Victor volunteered suddenly, and then nodded politely to Mr. Wrogan. “With your permission, sir."
Mr. Wrogan arched his eyebrow in surprise. “What interest do you have in this, Victor?"
“The Silverblood experiments are my department," he answered, his face as impassive as ever. “Therefore, I take it upon myself to right the wrongs we have caused."
“I'm not sure that's a good idea, sir," Dex protested, obviously thinking the same thing as me. If Victor was so eagerly volunteering for something like this, he couldn't have a good reason for doing so. Unfortunately, Mr. Wrogan ignored the blonde wizard.
“Very well, Victor," he consented. “I entrust this task to you."
Victor bowed his head sharply. “Thank you, sir. I will go and begin working on it immediately."
Without another word, he left the meeting room, shutting the door behind him.
“Dexter," Mr. Wrogan said, “please take Amber and Kimberly back to their room."
Our room? I thought as Dex bowed his head to him as well. They were letting her stay with me?
“Amber," the gigantic man said, turning to look at me now. I lowered my head so I was looking at the polished wood of the table. “Amber, look at me."
Immediately obedient, I did as he said.
“I am going to let Kimberly stay with you," he said. “You will need to take care of her."
I nodded energetically, accepting his orders without a second thought. He looked at Kimberly with sad eyes, and then back at me.
“She will be confused, and scared. I need you to be there to explain things and comfort her."
“I will," I replied, but immediately regretted it. Though Mr. Wrogan showed no signs of anger, I knew I had stepped out of line. I had spoken without permission. A pit formed in my stomach, sure that I was about to be punished somehow, and I shrank back into my seat.
Mr. Wrogan's eyes narrowed, and he sighed, shaking his head. “I wish I could do something about your submissiveness. There are werewolves out there that would use that as a weakness. Then again, you're almost as new to all this as Kimberly. Perhaps it's for the best that you allow someone else to take control for a while."
I nodded again. For some reason I couldn't quite understand, the idea of somebody else telling me what to do sounded wonderful. After all, everything I'd done so far had ended horribly, right?
“Very well, then it is settled," Mr. Wrogan said, getting up from the table again. He took a long step towards me, and held his hand out. “I don't know if I will ever see you again, Amber, but I wish you only the best in life."
I shook his hand, and with a dramatic swish of his furry coat, he left me alone with Dex and Kimberly.
“All right," Dex said, clapping his hands together. “Let's get you two back to your room."
I got up wordlessly and went to the chair where Kimberly was still trying to make herself disappear.
“Hey," I said softly, kneeling down so we were at eye level. “You okay?"
She refused to answer. She sat with her face buried in her knees, sobbing.
“Kimberly?" I said again. “Kimmy?"
“Don't call me that!" she said suddenly, still not looking up at me.
“What?" I asked, halfway surprised that she had spoken to me at all.
“Only my mommy and daddy can call me Kimmy!" she said, and finally turned to glare at me with angry eyes. They had gone back to their normal shade of blue, but I couldn't forget the haunting yellow they had been the night before.
“Kimberly," I tried again, “we need to go. You'll be staying with me for a while, okay?"
“Why can't I go home?" she demanded, the tears still spilling down her cheeks.
“I'll… I'll explain it to you when we get back to our room, okay?" I said. My blood ran cold at the thought of the conversation I was going to have with her.
She still didn't move. I tried to think of something I could say that would calm her down, even a little bit, but nothing came to mind. What could I possibly tell her that would make this seem any less terrifying?
“There are monsters here," she said at last, so quietly that even I could barely hear her.
I nodded. “I know, but they won't hurt you. Stay close to me, and I'll keep you safe."
This finally seemed to get her attention. With slow reluctance, she reached out and took the hand I offered her. As she stepped down off the chair and allowed me to lead her to the door, a shadow crept over my mind.
Would I be able to keep that promise?
NEXT TIME: Victor doing something nice? I think a pig just flew past my head. But before Amber worries about that, she needs to have a little chat with Dex...