HER EYES STILL CLOSED, Danielle smiled. It felt so pleasant to have her hair stroked like this. The cool air flowed gently across her face, carrying the pleasant aroma of elderberries and the honey scent of buttonbush—Wait a minute!
Danielle sat up abruptly, nearly smacking her mother’s face with her own.
“Hi, Dani!” she heard her father say enthusiastically, his voice tinged with relief.
“What are you—I mean, when did you—”
Her mother placed a finger gently across Danielle’s lips, indicating clearly that she was being shushed. But the huge smile on her mother’s face told her everything else she really needed to know.
“Honey,” Amy said gently, “we arrived just moments before you passed out.”
Anja’s wet nose smooshed into Danielle’s left hand, insistent that her mistress respond. Danielle smiled wide, reached over and hugged her imposing dog. Anja’s tail, already swishing merrily, picked up its tempo.
“Jah!” Johann barked. “And ’twas a good thing, too, it was! That nasty creature had you pinned down by the looks—”
“Hey, wait a minute!” Danielle cried out, interrupting the brawny farmer. Jumping to her feet so she could see better, she hurriedly scanned the area around the Hudsons’ cabin and surrounding meadow. Anxiety clouded her smudgy face.
“Where are Paign and Mrs. Macy?” she shrieked. “I mean…he didn’t…they’re not…where are they?”
“Honey,” Amy said again, this time gently patting her daughter’s hand, “they’re not here. They’re—”
“Gone,” Peter interrupted. “Gone, Dani. That hybrid thing parted out of here in a hurry when it set eyes on who just dropped in to join your fight.”
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