Written in Red Page 103

Cabin fever, humans called it. A phrase that made no sense to the terra indigene. When there was a storm, you slept or stayed quiet somewhere that was dry and warm. When the storm stopped, you went out to hunt and play. There was no need to be frantic about it. Wanting to do one and then the other was wisdom Namid imparted to all her creatures.

Most of her creatures anyway.

Not that he cared. The humans would end up buying a book or one of the limited number of magazines the store carried, and then they would be gone, out in the shock of the cold, heading for the next place where they would flock for a while before eventually returning to their roosts.

John approached the checkout counter, a worried look on his normally cheerful face. “Morning, Simon. I saw Sam at the Wolfgard Complex. Is everything all right?”

“He’s playing with some of the other pups this morning.”

“As a pup?”

Ah, that was the reason for the worry. The Wolves had been told that Sam had finally shifted to human, but most hadn’t seen the boy, hadn’t had a chance to identify by sight or scent who Sam was in his other skin.

“Probably,” Simon replied, keeping his voice mild. “He was supposed to stay human for half the morning, but I think he wore out Elliot’s patience by the time they were done with breakfast, and he received permission to shift.” He couldn’t blame Elliot for making that choice. Letting Sam shift back to Wolf was easier than listening to the continual Meg did it this way and Meg doesn’t do that.

Meg was now the yardstick by which they were supposed to measure all things human. Of course, the boy had also campaigned for Meg to go with him to puppy school because there were things she didn’t know.

Simon didn’t think Meg really wanted to know how to eviscerate a rabbit. He could be wrong about that, but he just couldn’t picture Meg pouncing on a bunny and ripping it open with her teeth.

Maybe if he tried harder to picture it?

“Looks like there’s a gaggle of college girls next door,” John said. “Do you want me to add more stock to the quick-buy table up here or shift and do security?”

He caught the scent of two other Wolves before he saw them. When they reached the front of the store, Nathan was in human form, and Ferus approached as a Wolf.

Simon watched Ferus take the corner spot that gave the Wolf on watch a clear view of the door and the whole front area of the store. Since he or Vlad were usually in the store when it was open, they typically didn’t have more than one Wolf as added security. It was Ferus’s turn to be the watch Wolf, so why was Nathan with him? “Is Blair expecting trouble?”

Nathan shook his head. “Henry said there should be a box of books here for our library. He wants to work with the wood this morning, and I wasn’t doing anything particular, so I told him I’d pick up the box and take it over to the Market Square.” He grinned at Simon. “Besides, tomorrow is Earthday, and I’m looking for some quiet. If I help with setting out the new books, I get first pick.”

“You could always buy one,” John said.

Nathan just laughed.

Since Nathan’s presence gave him an extra enforcer in this part of the Courtyard, Simon didn’t see any reason not to use the Wolf. “Before you pick up the box, step in at Run and Thump and the social center. Check the upstairs rooms; get a look at everyone who’s there today. The Ruthie was there when I looked in the window. She’s mated to one of the police. Keep an eye on her. We gave him—and her—a pass to shop in the Market Square. She knows the rules, but that doesn’t mean someone won’t try to slip in with her if she decides to shop before going home.”

“I’ll look in, let everyone see the Wolves are watching. Marie is keeping watch from above, but most humans don’t think about the Hawks when they try to do something stupid.”

Most humans didn’t think about the Crows either, or how effectively they could sound an alarm that could travel all over the Courtyard faster than most humans could cause trouble.

Nathan walked out the front door. John went into the back room to fetch some books. And Simon watched the first customers enter HGR from A Little Bite. He tried not to snarl when he noticed Asia Crane among those customers. He didn’t have the right temper to deal with Asia this morning and hoped she would buy a book and go away.

“Hello, handsome,” she said as she sidled up to the counter. “Haven’t seen you in a while. You been hiding from me?”

Another scent on her. Something familiar, but it was faint enough and not familiar enough to be instantly recognizable. He wanted to lean over the counter and get a better sniff, but she might mistake that for interest in her br**sts, which was usually followed by an invitation to have sex. Since he wasn’t interested in br**sts or sex, he chose a different way of finding out what he wanted to know.

<Ferus. Come here and find out who she’s been rubbing against.>

“Looking for something in particular, Asia?” Simon asked.

She leaned on the counter, giving him a clear view down her sweater. “Did you have something in mind?”

She let out a very satisfying squeal and almost leaped high enough to land on the counter when Ferus shoved his muzzle between her legs.

<The Darrell is on her coat but not in her sex place,> Ferus reported. Then he sneezed and went back to his spot in the corner.

“Freaking f**k!” Asia shouted. “What was that?”

Simon took his glasses out of their case and put them on. “Curiosity. At least he didn’t find anything he wanted to bite.” He bared his teeth in a smile and raised his voice. “Kind of crowded in here today. Lots of people looking to stock up on books in case we get another storm. Can my assistant help you find something?”

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