Chapter 22

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As it turned out, it was quicker for Dietrich to hire a public carriage than wait for Thea, Raymond, and Nadine to arrive. I think he was hoping to find an Arachnicab since they provided a much smoother ride. But he found the carriage first, and we didn’t have time to wait.  

Through the transceiver, Thea and I arranged for them to go straight to Lucy Davies’ and meet us. Our carriage rattled along the still-wet streets, and I couldn’t take my eyes off Delphine’s unmoving form, cradled by Dietrich who attempted to shield her from the worst bumps. He and I didn’t speak much, only to ask each other “How are you doing?” and try to assure the other that we were all right. 

Of course we weren’t all right—he had no shirt and multiple cuts and scrapes. I had a nice set of alligator tooth imprints in my leg. The bleeding seemed to have slowed, but every movement of the carriage sent new spasms through me. I’d been through worse, different kinds of pain. I knew how to keep it from overwhelming me. In the past, I’d retreat to my Quiet World. But this time, I focused on Delphine and Dietrich—determined to stay present in this world no matter how much it hurt.

It took another twenty minutes to reach Lucy Davies’ house. When we arrived, Dietrich gently pulled a wallet from the pocket of his coat still wrapped around Delphine so that he could pay the carriage driver. He also gave the man the address of the Alchemy Empire Theater.

“If you speak with Master Cyrus Fenrey there, he will arrange to have your carriage cleaned from our injuries. We greatly appreciate your aid to us, and so will he.” Dietrich spoke to the driver as if the man were practically an aristocrat. 

I was proud of Dietrich. Getting blood and river water cleaned from the carriage would cost the driver a bit of money that he probably didn’t have. Most people would have considered this the driver’s concern, but Dietrich had a way of caring about everyone from the unconscious girl in his arms to the lowly driver trying to make a living. 

When Lucy met us in her entryway, she took one look at the three of us and immediately started rolling up her sleeves. “Good lord in heaven, you look as if you’ve just walked off the battlefield.”

“We rather have, I’m afraid,” Dietrich said. 

The stabbing ache in my leg had only gotten worse during the walk from the carriage, up the steps, and into the healer’s house. Now that we were here, it was as if my body had decided enough was enough. My legs buckled, and I fell to the floor. 

“Minx!” Dietrich turned, but with his arms full of Delphine, there was nothing he could do to help me. 

“I’m fine,” I told him, cradling my injured limb. “Take care of her, and come back for me. I’m not going anywhere.”

Lucy gave me a piercing glance but then led Dietrich and Delphine off to her exam room. I scooted back against the wall, leaned my head on the plaster surface, and tried to relax. A trio of hot tears escaped from my eyes, but other than that, I refused to fall apart. We were safe now. Delphine would be all right. And I would be too, once someone had a chance to see to my leg. I was just grateful to still be in possession of it. It could easily have been an alligator’s dinner. 

A few minutes later, Dietrich returned, along with a woman whose light blue dress and white apron identified her as a healer’s assistant. 

“How is Delphine?” I studied their faces, hoping for reassurance.

“Lu is with her,” Dietrich said. “It’s going to be awhile.” He crouched next to me and slid his arms underneath me.

“I can walk,” I protested.

“Oh, clearly you can.” He lifted me, and I put my arm around his neck, hoping I wasn’t hitting any scrapes or bruises. This carrying bit was becoming a habit with the boys in my life. Much more of it, and my feet would start acting like two spoiled princesses—demanding foot rubs, hot mineral baths, fragrant oils. No more boots, no more wool stockings. And definitely no more alligators. 

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