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doesn't prove that there is no greater meaning. Burell's death convinces me more than ever that there is meaning, there is a design."

"How can you believe that? How can you believe in a god that would kill her to fulfill some abstract purpose?"

She laid a hand on his knee. "Burell has been in agony for the last four years. She wanted to see me through my training, and so she did, traveling to the convocation when she knew the horrible cost it would exact. That she died now, rather than hanging on through more months of pain, I see as an act of mercy. That she died saving us, I believe, gave her great satisfaction. That she had the strength to reach us, to use her powers one last time, reveals our capacity to transcend our limitations."

He bit out the words. "And if she had died in an accident, saving no one, what would that show? That she lacked the capacity to transcend her limitations?"

"No, Galen. No. I don't pretend to understand it all, but I believe God works through patterns, patterns that intersect with other patterns, patterns that occur in different variations. And I believe one of these patterns is to provide opportunities for transcendence."

Galen found his voice control uncertain. He lowered his head, unwilling to speak.

"You could just admit I'm right. I always am, except for the times when I'm not." She leaned forward, resting her forehead against his.

Galen felt his mouth turn up in a slight smile. "You were right about Cadmus. He was ready to defend that hotel to the death."

"A man of great loyalty."

Galen remembered Mary Stein, the woman whose fortune he had told, who kept marrying men who didn't love her. Isabelle had said the universe sent Mary that sort of man so she would recognize her own problem. And that the universe had
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