"I'm hungry." Lily declared, as if she hadn't been gone eleven long years. "she reached up and curled her tiny hand into Deborah's and stepped out of the police cruiser.
Constable Reed came around the front of the car and took his hat off. "Ma'am, I understand how unusual this must seem--"
"You understand?" Deborah snapped, turning to face the constable. "Tell me what you understand." She glared at the officer, and he seemed to dwindle in front of her. "Perhaps you understand how cruel this a joke this is. Perhaps you understand how this could be construed as maliciousness on the part of the police department. I'm sure the press would love to hear this. So, you tell me. Come on."
"Ma'am--" Constable Reed said, and there was a touch of iron in his voice. He'd lowered his voice to a baritone whisper, thick with sibilance, "Mrs. Samson--"
Reed wicked his fingers before Deborah, interrupting her train of thought. "Shut. Up." he said, his voice rife with malevolence.
Deborah stood, her jaw agape.
"Mrs Samson. This is how it's going to be. You are going to take Lily inside. You are going to hold on to her very tightly and let her grow up to become the beautiful woman she will be. You will not question this turn of fate. for the moment you ask too many questions, she will be lost to you forever. I can answer some of your questions, if you will let me tell my tale. But I'd rather not do that on your front lawn."
Then came the inevitable request. "May I come in?
Deborah's mouth snapped shut. Her eyes burned with tears barely withheld as she glanced between Reed and Lily. Slowly, she nodded.
Inside the kitchen, , Lily turned around in a circle, her eyes wide. "This isn't my kitchen." she said, wonderingly. "They changed the kitchen, Reedren, They changed everything!"
Reed knelt down before the little girl and laid a hand on her shoulder. "Remember, we talked about this. Some things will be different. A lot of time has passed. But your mommy and daddy love you very much and they prayed for you to come back to them. To them, you were gone a very long time."
Constable Reed stood and leaned against the counter. He regarded Deborah with a cool, calculating expression. "Where shall I start?" he asked.
"Why did you bring her back?" Deborah asked tentatively.
Reed sighed. "Politics. Summer has made some bad decisions, and in order not to lose face, some of the changelings needed to be set free. Or Winter would gain too much power."
Deborah scrunched her face up in confusion. "What the hell are you talking about?"