“I’m already a target,” she argued. “Let’s face it. And Grace chose me to protect it. ‘Keep it close,’ she said. Maybe the best way to do that is to hide it in plain sight.”
Dan and Fiske gave her a questioning look. “How?” Dan asked.
Amy looked out the window at the black sky, the hard points of the stars, the dusting of golden lights on the lower slopes of the mountain. “Well,” she said, “this is Switzerland, after all….”
The snow had started last night and had been falling all day. Finally, it had snowed on a school day. Even the hardy city of Boston had come to a halt. Schools and businesses were closed. The wind had howled all night, pushing the snow into deep drifts.
Amy looked out her bedroom window. Grace’s beautiful meadow was an expanse of white. Every tree and shrub was heavy with snow, the branches bent, scraping the ground as though they were bowing to applause for looking so beautiful.
Dusk was falling fast, the way it did in Massachusetts. She could smell something cooking downstairs. Fiske had promised a feast since they were snowed in.
She looked down at the watch on her wrist. Almost time for dinner. Her fingers trailed over the expensive Swiss timepiece. Each second ticked in a tiny, precise movement. Before heading home, they’d gone to the best watchmaker in Geneva.
The ring was now part of her, a gold circle for the black-faced watch.
She had protected the ring, and she would keep it safe.
They’d defeated the Vespers. Erasmus had passed a message to Fiske that they’d gone underground again … for now.
There was evidence that Casper Wyoming had escaped the fate of his companion. He was still out there.
She’d learned so much on the trip. The most important thing was this: She and Dan didn’t know enough. They had almost died twice on that mountain, once because they’d made the wrong decision and once because they had overestimated their strength.
There had been too much luck involved in their success and too little skill.
They needed to be faster, smarter, better. They needed to know more. They needed to be good at more things. They needed to train. She remembered her burning muscles and lungs on that mountain, the feeling that her body couldn’t do what she needed it to do.
That could never happen again.
Tonight, after dinner, she would tell Fiske, Nellie, and Dan what she’d been thinking about Grace’s mansion.
She remembered how Dan had scoffed at Grace’s note in the Swiss bank. He was right: Grace had never been sentimental. Renovating the house so that it looked exactly like it had when she was alive — it didn’t make sense. Grace wouldn’t approve of that. She’d snort at their foolishness.
They had to throw out all those plans Fiske had worked so hard on. They’d have to re-make Grace’s mansion as theirs. A home, yes. But also a place to learn. A place to train. A place to get ready.
Amy felt the contours of the watch face, the ring that encircled the passage of time. She remembered Dan’s face in the cable car, the thoughts crowding his head that only she could read. The serum. He had thought about it. It was racing around in her brother’s head, and he must never, ever, be tempted by it again. He had to become strong without the serum. They both did.
They would need strength and skills and technology and training. Whatever they didn’t know could be used against them. She would make it a game for Dan. She wouldn’t tell him all her fears. She would give him as many more years of his childhood as she could.
But the reckoning would come. The Vespers were out there. And the next time they met, Amy vowed, she and Dan would be ready.
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