Ivy’s fingers curled over his. “Who are we going to see?”
“A man named Samuel Rain.”
• • •
ALMOST out of her skin with hope, Ivy waited while Vasic teleported to the location for which he’d been given visual coordinates. He’d refused to take her with him until he’d verified it was safe; the man had a protective streak a mile and a half wide. “I like that about him,” she whispered to Rabbit, who was sulking in his basket because he’d realized they were going somewhere and leaving him behind again.
Even a treat hadn’t appeased him.
Ivy knelt to rub his belly. “I promise we’ll go for a walk after. And Vasic’s going to drop you off at Central Command with Aden, so you won’t be alone.” She’d just stood back up when Vasic reappeared.
“Rabbit,” he said, and the dog scrambled to them. Vasic touched his hand to Ivy’s lower back. “I think your pet will be welcome at our destination.”
“Our pet.” Ivy smiled, aware of Rabbit standing motionless beside Vasic. Their smart little dog had learned about ’porting and didn’t so much as move a muscle until they were standing on the velvet green of a manicured lawn devoid of any hint of snow.
That lawn lay behind a sprawling and graceful home painted a rich, creamy white. It held hints of plantation-style architecture but had entire walls formed of glass—natural light would flood the interior on sunny days such as today. With its wide doors open to the lawn, the green space appeared an extension of the home.
Outdoor furniture dotted the grass, the seating arrangements comfortable, but the lawn was clearly only one part of the grounds. Several paths disappeared behind hedges and natural-appearing clusters of trees; they broke up the gently undulating landscape so it was impossible to tell how extensive the grounds actually were. Ivy had the feeling any guess she made would be a gross underestimation. She couldn’t hear the sound of a single vehicle, much less see any other indication of civilization nearby.
The temperature and foliage didn’t tell her much about the location, except that it was in the same hemisphere as New York, but more temperate. While the area was free of snow, she did still need the coat she’d put on over jeans and her white cowl-neck sweater—though that would no doubt change as the sun rose higher in the sky.
Despite the cold, people sat quietly in the seating areas, some in groups, several alone. All were dressed in ordinary civilian clothes. A few were reading, others stared out into space, one rocked back and forth . . . but no one was actually isolated. Men and women she assumed were caretakers moved quietly from person to person, group to group, never intruding, but always there should one of the patients have a need.
Ivy also noted the touches—on the shoulder, on the arm. “Anchoring,” she said aloud. “The touches are to remind the patients of the here and now.”
“Probable,” Vasic answered, “given that the majority are apt to be F-Psy.”
Foreseers, Ivy remembered, were at high risk of falling forever into the visions created by their extraordinary gift.
One of the caretakers came toward Ivy and Vasic. She wore a simple gray pantsuit paired with a pale yellow shirt, her golden brown hair in a single tidy braid, and her skin a warm caramel shade. There was a sense of calm responsibility to her that made Ivy believe the woman was in charge of the entire complex.
“I’m Clara Alvarez,” she said on reaching them. “I manage Haven. Anthony told me to expect you.”
Vasic’s fingers brushed Ivy’s hip. “I’m Vasic, and this is Ivy.” A nod toward where their dog was sniffing at Clara’s shoes. “And that is Rabbit.”
The woman leaned down to pet Rabbit with hands gloved in thin black. Ivy had seen gloves like that before. Frowning, she tried to remember where. The gloves . . .
She must be a former J-Psy, Vasic replied.
Of course. Ivy had caught glimpses of Justice Psy while she’d lived in Washington with her parents. She didn’t know why Js wore the gloves, but she assumed it had something to do with deteriorating mental shields. Clara, however, didn’t appear stressed in any way, a tranquility to her that was soothing against Ivy’s senses.
“If you’ll follow me,” she said now, and stood to lead them down a pathway to the left. “Samuel prefers to sit in the rose garden, even with the plants not much more than sticks at this time of year.”
As they walked, she said, “I’ll introduce you, then leave. Whether he chooses to speak or not is up to him—he’s been largely silent since waking from the coma.” Stopping beside a weathered pine table on which sat a small red toolbox, she looked at Vasic. “This is the personal and somewhat idiosyncratically stocked toolbox we recovered from Samuel’s home. He hasn’t touched it though we leave it in his quarters, but you should store the image so you can retrieve it, just in case.”
“I have a lock.”
“Don’t push him,” Clara continued once they began to walk again. “It may be that he no longer has the capability or the knowledge you need.” She stopped, held their gazes with warm brown eyes that were deadly serious. “He was a brilliant, gifted man, you understand. If he’s lost that and is aware of the loss, he may simply choose not to face that part of his life. It is his right.”
“You’re very protective.” Ivy felt a deep sense of respect toward the other woman. “Are you close to him?”
“There is no romantic relationship. My husband would take issue.” With that startling and rather wry comment, Clara began to walk again. “But I see in Samuel something that resonates.