“Sure. My tree was attacked by squirrels and mutant hedgehogs. I need to make some adjustments.”
He scowled. “I should arrest you for disturbing the peace and trespassing.”
Juniper gulped the sweet, salty drink the EMT handed her and was able to sit up. “I bought the park from the city. I have the deed, so it’s not trespassing.”
“I’d like to see this deed.”
“Sure. Please bring me my pack.” She nodded to the tree, which the emergency personnel and assorted gawkers were giving a wide berth. “She’ll behave.”
He looked doubtful, but approached the door. The warning snort inside made him pause.
“Twix, come here,” Juniper called, summoning the animal. He’d never let the soldier in without her.
The crowd moved back warily as he walked out of the tree. Black Adders weren’t known to cotton to strangers.
The Lt brought her pack. She rummaged in it and found the deed so he could look at it. “I’m surprised Fire and Rescue was called out for Bramble Burn.”
“You grow a tree as tall as a skyscraper and set it on fire. It could be seen for miles, and you’re surprised anyone noticed?” he said dryly. “Sheer curiosity would have gotten us called out, if nothing else.”
“That’s me, drama queen.” Juniper tried to sit up. Spots danced before her eyes and she quickly lay back. She felt like puking.
“Your blood pressure is low,” the medic reported. “We need to take you to the hospital for observation.”
“Nope, too expensive. I’ll be fine tomorrow.” Juniper struggled to sit up, but the medic placed a hand on her shoulder and pointed to the smoldering tree. Smoking corpses littered the ground around it, and splintered holes gaped in the hollow trunk. “Were you planning to stay in that?”
Juniper sighed in defeat. There was no way she could patch it up, not tonight, but a hospital stay was out of the question. “I just need some sugar and some sleep. Any chance you could drop me at a hotel on the way back?”
Lt. Bjorn exchanged a look with the medic. “Look, we have room in the station. You can bunk there tonight. We have medics on staff who can keep an eye on you.” At her doubtful look, he added, “Or I could arrest you and toss you a cell for a few hours. There won’t be charges, but you’ll get some sleep without becoming a chipmunk snack.”
Not much of a choice, and she was weak as wet paper. “Fine. I accept your hospitality. Appreciate it.”
“My pleasure. Now I won’t have to come back for your body later.” He left to help with cleanup.