“There’s a hedge of flowers around the tree,” Mia reported the next day. She was looking out the one-way glass of the windows, and she sounded strained.
Juniper yawned. By the light, it was just after dawn. “Roses and non-suckering blackberries. I haven’t decided what to do for a gate yet, so I just left the gap.”
“You did that in your sleep?”
“It was just before. I needed something to relax me after the bug. You can go look at it if you like; I don’t sense any movement on the ground, but be careful.” She could feel the vibrations through the root network now, and it would come in handy as an early warning system.
She used the bathroom while Mia went out, frowning at the thought of trail mix for breakfast. She needed to go the store and pick up supplies. She was calculating how much she could afford to spend when she felt a disturbance. Two sets of footsteps approached the tree, and a glance out the window showed Mia and Kjetil. He was carrying a paper bag and a thermos, so she let him in. There was a chance he had breakfast in there.
“I brought Danish, bacon, homemade rolls and plum jam. Can I come in?” Kjetil raised his brows enquiringly, for all the world like a casual friend. The Kevlar and rifle slung over his shoulder would have looked out of place, but this was Bramble Burn. Her visitors wouldn’t last long if they weren’t tough.
“I can be bought.” Juniper let him in and allowed him to set up shop at her counter, nearly drooling at the succulent smells. She accepted a paper cup of orange juice, chasing it with coffee. She was thirsty.
He handed her a paper plate as they stood around the counter, since she hadn’t made stools yet. “You look rested.”
“Yep. Gotta run errands, stock up today.” She made a happy sound as she crunched the bacon. She definitely needed to make an ice chest so she could store breakfast stuff. An insulated box with ice on top and cool stuff below, it would work like an old fashioned fridge. While she was at it, she needed a camp stove, too. Who knew when she would get electricity, if ever. The city might be reluctant to run it to Bramble Burn, and she couldn’t afford it yet, anyway. “Nice of you to let Mia babysit me, but you can relax now. I’m going to be fine.”
“You’re welcome. I hear you plan to ring the park with trees.”
“That’s the deal I made when I bought Bramble Burn. The city thought it was a long shot, but that’s why I could afford the land. Stabilizing the park was a condition of the sale.” She’d pointed out that not only was it bringing down the property value in the neighborhood, they’d already spent a fortune trying to stop the expansion. It was a smoking deal for both parties.
“Right. What’s your plan to deal with monsters?”
She frowned, hating to admit reality. “I’m making it up as I go.”