Home > Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)(11)

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)(11)
Marissa Meyer

She glanced over her shoulder to see whether Wolf was still listening. His eyes were glued to the screen, his brow set, as silent and brooding as usual. When he said nothing, she cleared her throat and clicked to a new tab. “As far as the finances are concerned, Michelle Benoit did own the land outright, and these bank statements show that the property and business taxes continue to be automatically deducted. I’ll set up payments to go through to the labor android rentals too. She missed last month’s payment, but I’ll make it up, and it looks like she’s been a loyal customer long enough the missed payment didn’t interrupt their work.” She enlarged a grainy photo. “This satellite imagery is from thirty-six hours ago and shows the full team of androids and two human foremen working this crop.” She shrugged and turned to face Wolf. “The bills are being paid, the animals are being tended, and the crops are being managed. Any accounts that were expecting regular deliveries are probably annoyed at Scarlet’s absence, but that’s the worst of it right now. I estimate it can go on being self-sustaining for … oh, another two to three months.”

Wolf didn’t take his forlorn stare from the satellite image. “She loves that farm.”

“And it will be there waiting for her when we get her back.” Cress sounded as optimistic as she could. She wanted to add that Scarlet was going to be fine, that every day they were getting closer to rescuing her—but she bit her tongue. The words had been tossed around so much lately they were beginning to lose their meaning, even to her.

The truth was that no one had any idea if Scarlet was still alive, or what shape they would find her in. Wolf knew that better than anyone.

“Is there anything else you want me to look up?”

He began to shake his head, but stopped. His eyes flashed to her, sharp with curiosity.

Cress gulped. Though she’d warmed to Wolf during her time aboard the ship, he still sort of terrified her.

“Can you find information about people on Luna?”

Her shoulders sank with an apology. “If I could have found out about her by now, I—”

“Not Scarlet,” he said, his voice rough when he said her name. “I’ve been wondering about my parents.”

She blinked. Parents? She had never imagined Wolf with parents. The idea of this hulking man having once been a dependent child didn’t fit. In fact, she couldn’t imagine any of the queen’s soldiers having parents, having once been children, having once been loved. But of course they had—once.

“Oh. Right,” she stammered, smoothing down the skirt of the worn cotton dress she’d taken from the satellite, what felt like ages ago. Though she’d spent a day wearing one of the military uniforms found in her crew quarters, a lifetime spent barefoot and in simple dresses had made the clothes feel heavy and cumbersome. Plus, all of the pants were way too long on her. “Do you think you might see them? When we’re on Luna?”

“It’s not a priority.” He said it like a military general, but his expression carried more emotion than his voice. “But I wouldn’t mind knowing if they’re still alive. Maybe seeing them again, someday.” His jaw flexed. “I was twelve when I was taken away. They must think I’m dead. Or a monster.”

The statement resonated through her body, leaving her chest vibrating. For sixteen years, her father had thought she was dead too, while she’d been told that her parents had willingly sacrificed her to Luna’s shell infanticide. She’d barely been reunited with her father before he died of letumosis, in the labs at New Beijing Palace. She’d tried to mourn his death, but mostly she mourned the idea of having a father at all and the loss of all the time they should have had to get to know each other.

She still thought of him as Dr. Erland, the odd, curmudgeonly old man who had started the cyborg draft in the Eastern Commonwealth. Who had dealt in shell trafficking in Africa.

He was also the man who helped Cinder escape from prison.

So many things he’d done—some good, some terrible. And all, Cinder had told her, because he was determined to end Levana’s rule.

To avenge his daughter. To avenge her.

“Cress?”

She jolted. “Sorry. I don’t … I can’t access Luna’s databases from here. But once we’re on Luna—”

“Never mind. It doesn’t matter.” Wolf leaned against the cockpit wall and clawed his hands into his unkempt hair. He looked like he was on the verge of a meltdown, but that was his normal look these days. “Scarlet’s the priority. The only priority.”

Cress considered mentioning that overthrowing Levana and crowning Cinder as queen were decent-size priorities too, but she dared not.

“Have you mentioned your parents to Cinder?”

He cocked his head. “Why?”

“I don’t know. She mentioned not having any allies on Luna … how it would be useful to have more connections. Maybe they would help us?”

His gaze darkened, both thoughtful and annoyed. “It would put them in danger.”

“I think Cinder might intend to put a lot of people in danger.” Cress worried at her lower lip, then sighed. “Is there anything else you need?”

“For time to move faster.”

Cress wilted. “I meant more like … food, or something. When did you last eat?”

Wolf’s shoulders hunched closer to his ears, and the guilty expression was all the answer she needed. She’d heard rumors of his insatiable appetite and the high-octane metabolism that kept him always fidgeting, always moving. She’d hardly seen any of that since coming aboard the ship, and she could tell that Cinder, in particular, was worried about him. Only when they were discussing strategies for Cinder’s revolution did he seem rejuvenated—his fists flexing and tightening like the fighter he was meant to be.

“All right. I’m going to make you a sandwich.” Standing, Cress gathered her courage, along with her most demanding voice, and planted a hand on her hip. “And you are going to eat it without argument. You need to keep up your strength if you’re going to be of any use to us, and Scarlet.”

Wolf raised an eyebrow at her newfound gumption.

Cress flushed. “Or … at least eat some canned fruit or something.”

His expression softened. “A sandwich sounds good. With … tomatoes, if we have any left. Please.”

“Of course.” Drawing in a deep breath, she grabbed her portscreen and headed toward the galley.

“Cress?”

She paused and turned back, but Wolf was looking at the floor, his arms crossed. He looked about as awkward as she usually felt.

“Thank you.”

Her heart expanded, ballooning with sympathy for him. Words of comfort sprang to her tongue—She’ll be all right. Scarlet will be all right—but Cress stuffed them back down.

“You’re welcome,” she said, before turning into the corridor.

She had nearly reached the galley when she heard Thorne call her name. She paused and backtracked to the last door, left slightly ajar, and pressed it open. The captain’s quarters were the largest of the crew cabins and the only room that didn’t have bunks. Though Cress had been inside plenty of times to help him with the eyedrop solution Dr. Erland made in order to repair Thorne’s damaged optical nerve, she never lingered long. Even with the door wide open, the room felt too intimate, too personal. There was a huge map of Earth on one wall, filled with Thorne’s handwritten notes and markers indicating the places he’d been and the places he wanted to go, along with a dozen to-scale models of different spaceships scattered across the captain’s desk, including a prominent one of a 214 Rampion. The bed was never made.

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