Written in Red Page 101

“Who . . . ?” Meg came into view and stared at the boy. “Ah . . . Sam? It’s cold. You should put on some clothes.”

The boy looked down at himself. Then he looked at Meg and grinned. “Don’t need clothes. I have fur!”

And he did. He also had four legs and a tail when he darted past her and out of sight.

Meg looked a little wobbly when she approached the counter.

“A new development?” Monty asked, staring at the doorway. He’d seen one of them change from Wolf to child once before. Then, like now, seeing how fast they could shift made his heart race.

“Very new,” Meg said. “I haven’t sorted out the rules yet. Or even figured out if there are rules.”

He looked at her face and felt a hard anger, but he kept his voice soft. “And that? Is that also a new development?”

She sighed. “It was a misunderstanding. It won’t happen again.”

“Are you sure?”

Simon Wolfgard stepped into the Private doorway. “I’m sure.”

He didn’t touch Meg, but he used his hips and shoulders to crowd her into stepping aside, ensuring he was the one standing directly in front of Monty.

“Mr. Wolfgard,” Monty said. “I was hoping to have a word with you if you have a minute.”

A long look. What did Wolfgard see? An enemy? A rival? Maybe an ally?

Noises coming from the next room, like someone jumping and huffing with the effort.

Meg started to turn to see what was going on, but Simon shook his head.

“HGR isn’t open yet,” Simon said. “But Tess just made some coffee.” He looked at Meg. “Yours is on the sorting table, along with a cup of hot chocolate and some muffins.” He raised his voice. “The muffins and hot chocolate can only be eaten by a boy wearing clothes.”

A yip followed by the click of toenails on floor.

“Is there some kind of rule for when Sam should be a boy and when he’s a Wolf?” Meg asked.

“A Wolf lifts his leg and yellows up snow. A boy has to use the toilet,” Simon replied.

“And that will work?”

“Only if he needs to pee.”

Monty coughed loudly to cover up the chuckle.

“Have your officer bring the car around to the back,” Simon said. “We cleared a lot of the snow, but not having the car parked in front of Meg’s office will make it easier for the delivery trucks. I’ll wait for you at the back entrance to A Little Bite.”

“Ms. Corbyn.” Monty tipped his head and left. When he pushed the door open and looked back, Simon Wolfgard was staring at him—and there was nothing friendly in those amber eyes.

Hurrying to the patrol car, he instructed Kowalski to drive around back.

Thinking of that stare, he wondered if there would be another “misunderstanding” that would end with Meg Corbyn carrying another bruise.

* * *

As soon as Montgomery was out of sight, Simon turned on Meg. “Has that monkey been bothering you?”

Bunny eyes, all startled by the unexpected.

“No,” Meg stammered.

“He makes you nervous.” He smelled that on her.

“I—” She hesitated. “When I see the police, it’s hard to remember that I can’t be taken away, that they won’t make me go back. . . .”

He snarled. Couldn’t help himself. “They won’t take you away. What else? He was angry. He has no right to be angry with you.”

Another hesitation. Then she lifted a hand toward the left side of her face. “Does this make you angry?”

“Yes!”

“It made him angry too.”

It took effort, but he took a step back. Montgomery was angry about the bruise? A reaction that matched his own. That was good. That was something he understood about the human.

“Lieutenant Montgomery is waiting for you,” Meg said.

“You called the store. To talk to me.”

“To tell you the deliverymen have seen the bruise and some of them might call the police to report it.”

“Humans do that?”

“Sometimes.”

And sometimes they didn’t. That was the unspoken truth he saw in her gray eyes. He studied her face and the weird hair that had a line of black near the scalp.

“Mr. Wolfgard?”

A creak of the floor above him. <Nathan?>

<Here.>

<Keep watch.>

“I’ll be back for Sam at lunchtime,” he told Meg.

Then he left, passing Sam as he went to the back door. The boy’s clothes weren’t buttoned right, but he’d let Meg deal with that, since he and Sam would have something else to deal with once he got the pup back home.

As he walked up to A Little Bite’s back door, he noticed how Officer Kowalski had parked the patrol car so that it was pointed out, and the police wouldn’t lose any time turning around when they wanted to leave.

Montgomery watched him, a lot of things going unspoken behind those dark eyes. Seemed like a lot of things weren’t being said today.

He led them into the shop. Tess’s hair was still green, but now there were brown streaks showing, which meant she was getting calmer. She gave them all coffee and a plate of pastries that, even warmed up, tasted a little stale. Not that any of them commented on that. You either ate what Tess offered or you didn’t.

He and Montgomery circled each other using polite words as they realized neither had much to tell the other. But listening to what was said under the spoken words, Simon understood that Montgomery had more interest in keeping the peace than he did. His only interest was in keeping his own kind safe by whatever means necessary.

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