Beatrice looked from me to Dichall. “There’s a Pomeranian you can talk to outside.”
“Beatrice!” I felt like my grin was going to push my whiskers out. “I’m going to have a litter!”
Beatrice’s single, brown eyebrow rose. “That’s wonderful! You just found out?”
“Yes!” I took Dichall’s paw in mine.
“Okay, well, come on…”
“But I can’t go—I’m going to give birth in like 20 days.”
Beatrice turned back and looked at me for a moment. “I’m sorry, Eve, but parental leave only starts a few days before the litter is due. You’ll have to talk to Murine Resources and fill out a form. But for now, I’m sorry, we can’t spare you.”
I stared at her in shock for a moment.
“Come on, you two, Gretchen is already outside with the dog and it’s freezing.” Beatrice turned and walked out.
I was too stunned to do anything but follow her.
I stepped outside onto the lawn of Parliament Hill with Dichall right behind me. A gust of wind nearly blew us away—we held on to the wall, and then I wrapped my cloak around myself more tightly. In front of us was Gretchen, and a Pomeranian dog towering over us.
I’d seen pictures, but never one of these creatures in the flesh. It looked like its fox-red fur stuck straight out of a smaller central body, like a firework exploding. The dog looked down at us. He had only one eye.
“This,” Gretchen gestured up to his face, “is Waffles Ribeye.”
Dichall walked forward and put his hands on her shoulders. “Gretchen, we have wonderful news. Eve and I are going to have a litter!”
Gretchen’s jaw dropped and she let out a squeal. She hugged me, then Dichall, then me again. “That’s wunderbar!”
“I just found myself starting to make a nest for the pups, and Dichall noticed it, so yeah, I’m pregnant.” I was beaming again.
The dog tilted his head. “Uh…”
Gretchen looked out into the white sky wistfully. “You’re going to have beautiful pups. I can’t wait to meet them!”
“Look, I’m very happy for you all, but I’m here about something important and I’m freezing my nose off out here!” The dog stomped his feet into the snow.
“Ja, ja,” Gretchen waved at him dismissively, still looking at me and Dichall. “Have you thought about names?”
“No,” Dichall put his arm around me. “We figured it out about two minutes ago before Beatrice walked in. We haven’t had any time to even think about—“
Waffles Ribeye stuck his snout into the air and started howling, loudly. There were a few humans, tourists on the Hill even in this frigid weather, and howling was what they were hearing. We heard that, but also “Listen to meeeeee!”
“All right, all right, calm down.” Dichall, ever the diplomat, released me and approached Waffles. “We’re ready to listen. No need to cause a scene.”
The dog harrumphed and shook himself, the tags on his collar rattling. A pet, not a stray. Waffles cleared his throat. “My human has gone missing. One of my humans. A little girl named Vivian.”
Missing? I’d expected some run-of-the-mill faerie trouble. “That’s terrible! How long has she been gone?”
“Several days now. She just was out playing and then she was gone.”
“The parents must be worried sick!” This struck me more than it would have before I knew I was going to have kids soon.
“They called the police; they’ve been searching all over the place. Nobody can find her.”
Gretchen sidled up to me for warmth. “But you’re here at the Micean Council, so you must suspect some supernatural involvement?”
Waffles nodded. “I was talking to a dark-eyed junco about it and she said that the woods near my house was a geopattern.”
Gretchen shivered up against my arm. “The bird said `geopattern?’ You’re sure?”
“Said that maybe Vivian was in another world.” The dog looked away, obviously very distressed.
Gretchen turned to me and Dichall and lowered her voice. “This is very serious. We need to talk to Gregory Bookkeeper.”