"Mrs. Samson." he said. "Lily is of Verano's blood."
Deborah shook her head. "You're saying some fairy bi--hag took my daughter because she might be Lilly's great-great-grand-daughter?"
Reedren nodded. "Well, that doesn't make any sense." Deborah shrugged a little too strongly. "Why didn't she send for Doug?" She paused for a moment, her eyes widening in realization, "Or me?"
Reedren lowered his head and closed his eyes, a deep sadness shrouding his features. "Mrs. Samson...." Deborah felt the blood drain from her face and her fingers spasmed briefly, sending the coffee-cup to the floor. "Oh God. It's me, isn't it?"
Reedren nodded. "Lilly's strong enough. You and your husband are probably both of Verano's line. But there are others. With any luck, it'll be a generation or two before any of the other hunters come looking."
"Other hunters?" Deborah asked, then leaned back against the counter and closed her eyes. "It was you, wasn't it?" Deborah said, and opened her eyes again, rage barely restrained. "You took Lilly."
Reedren nodded again, and Deborah launched herself at him. She beat her fists against his chest, raked her fingernails across his face and stomped on his booted toes. But Reedren did nothing. Even as Lilly cried out in confusion and fear.
Eventually, Deborah stopped and crouched down, engulfing Lilly in a hug as if she was loathe to ever let her child go again.
"Your daughter has a way about her..." Reedren said, pulling a white hankerchief from is pocket. He dabbed at the furrows on his face and frowned at the scarlet blood on the white. "Hunters work from instinct. Once I'd brought her to Verano, I knew it was wrong. It took me several days to find her unattended. My Queen will have me executed for this, should she ever learn of it."
"He saved me, Mommy." Lilly puleld away briefly, and lay a hand on Deborah's cheek, touching the tracks of her mothers' tears. "He let me ride on a Unicorn! and he smells much better than Curltusk."
"C-curl-tusk?" Deborah asked.
Lilly made an exxagerated frown."He's big and green and he smells funny. And his tusks go right over his head."
Deborah glanced up at Reedren. "He's a troll. What did you expect?" then, after a moment, he shrugged. "He's a babysitter."
After another awkward moment, Reedren ventured, "Do you want me to stay until your husband returns?"