Written in Red Page 108

She thought about what she’d just said. “Simon,” she whispered. “No company who does business with the Courtyard would have sent that package.”

* * *

Simon didn’t need to see her pale to know what she was thinking.


He leaped into the front room and vaulted over the counter. Grabbing the box, he ran to the door, shoving it open with a shoulder. Then he took a few steps away from the office to give himself some room and threw the box.

It flew over most of the delivery area and landed close to the street entrance. Skidding on the remaining layer of snow, the box finally came to a stop at the edge of the sidewalk, almost tipping into the street.

Pedestrians stumbled back. Drivers honked their car horns and swerved when they saw the box sliding into their path.

Then people caught sight of him and started screaming. Some simply turned and ran. Others bolted into traffic and narrowly avoided being hit.

The consulate door was flung open. Elliot, looking pale, shouted, “Simon! You’re between forms!”

He didn’t respond. Instead he lifted his head and howled a Song of Battle.

The Crows exploded off the stone wall, cawing their warnings.

He howled again. Answering howls came from the Market Square, from the Utility Complex, and, a few seconds later, from the Wolfgard Complex. Crows and Hawks and even some Owls were in flight, spreading the warning, sounding a call to battle.

And the Wolves continued to howl.

<Simon.> Elliot’s voice sounded more controlled but still shocked.

<Call the police. Call Montgomery. Tell him to come here now.>

Elliot went inside the consulate.

Had to get control. Had to get out of sight and shift to one form or another.

He wanted to be Wolf. The Courtyard—and Meg—needed him to wear the human skin for a while. And he needed to find out what happened to that van and the intruder.

As he turned to go back inside, he noticed the Bear tracks.

<Henry?> he called.

<I have the intruder. I will deal with this. You take care of Meg.>

Only a foolish leader challenged an angry Grizzly without good reason.

He headed for the front door, then caught sight of Vlad in the access way that led to the Market Square and the rest of the Courtyard. Changing direction, he reached the Sanguinati and continued on to the back of the building.

“What happened?” Vlad asked. “I locked HGR’s door and put Ferus on guard in front of it. No one is leaving until we have answers. Tess has locked everyone in too.”

“A monkey touched Meg,” Simon growled. “Tried to take Meg.”

“Is she hurt?”

He didn’t think she was hurt, but he knew something that needed to be done before anyone else saw her. “Wait. Tell Tess to meet us out here. The police are coming.”

“Human law doesn’t apply here,” Vlad said coolly.

“No, it doesn’t. But we’re going to let the police deal with whatever is in the box the intruder brought into the office.”

He went into the office through the back door, then stopped. Meg was still in the sorting room. In a few more minutes, there would be Crows and cops all over this part of the Courtyard. And there would be Sanguinati and Wolves. He hoped the girls at the lake would be content with a report from Jester.

It took effort to shift to fully human. Human wasn’t as useful as Wolf.

He got back most of the way. He had a mantle of fur across his shoulders that ran down part of his back and chest, and he couldn’t get his canines down to human size.

It would have to do. He pulled on his jeans and the lightweight sweater he’d been wearing when he first came in. Going to the back room’s bins, he pulled out the gray sweatshirt he kept there and went into the sorting room.

Meg leaned against the counter, her arms wrapped around herself.

“Was it a bomb?” she asked.

“Don’t know. The police will figure that out. Here.” He held out the sweatshirt. “Going to be a lot of people around soon, and the police will want to talk to you.” She looked pale, and it bothered him. “If you put this on, no one will see the scars.”

She pulled off the sweater and put on the sweatshirt over the one-sleeved turtleneck.

The sweatshirt was big on her and she looked ridiculous. He liked it. And he liked that she was wearing something that carried his scent.

“Stay here,” he said. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

She looked toward the back room. “I’m cold. I was going to make some peppermint tea.”

He nodded. He was going to have his meeting outside anyway. “That’s fine. Just stay in the building.” Taking the sweater and the torn sleeve, he went into the back room. Pushing his feet into his boots, he stepped outside.

Vlad and Nyx were there. So was Tess, whose hair was coils of red with streaks of black.

“Meg is fine,” Simon said.

Tess looked at the sweater he held in one hand and the torn-off sleeve in the other. “That doesn’t look like she’s fine.”

“She is,” he snarled.

“Why did this man try to take Meg?” Nyx asked.

“Henry will find out, and then we’ll all know.”

A dozen Crows sounded an alarm at the same time Simon heard sirens coming toward the Courtyard from several directions.

<Many monkeys,> Jake told him moments later. <Know some faces, but not all.>

“The police are here,” he said.

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