Written in Red Page 115

As he reached the road, Allison hooted a greeting and glided past him on her way home. Lights were on in Vlad’s apartment, which meant the vampire had returned from his evening in the Chambers.

No unfamiliar scents. No sign of danger.

For tonight anyway, they were all safe.

Satisfied, Simon trotted back to his apartment and the boy who was waiting for a story.

* * *

“Hello?”

“The messenger you hired to retrieve your property got careless. The Wolves got him before the police did.”

“Who is this?”

“Someone who has a better chance of helping you reacquire your property—for the right fee.”

“How did you get this number?”

“Like I said, your messenger was careless.” A pause. “And I thought it might be inconvenient if the police found this number when they searched the man’s apartment.”

“There are several messengers looking for my property. Which one got careless?”

“The one in Lakeside.”

“Are you sure you’ve found my property? Describe her.”

A hesitation. “Short, delicate, has gray eyes.”

Silence. Then, “How long will it take you to retrieve her?”

“A few weeks.”

“Unacceptable. Too much profit will be lost in that amount of time.”

“Your property is stashed in a very inconvenient place.”

“I can help with that by providing some muscle and accessories.”

“I prefer to rely on my own accessories, but the muscle will come in handy.”

Another silence. “I’ll give you a week to come up with some useful information that will assist me in reacquiring my property. If you prove to be a valid source, we’ll discuss fees and bonuses.”

Click.

* * *

Asia listened to empty air for a few seconds, then hung up the phone and watched her hands shake. She’d pulled it off, made the contact, sounded like a pro who reacquired property every day. Sounded like someone who wouldn’t flinch about reacquiring living property when it was necessary.

So no-looks Meg wasn’t just the thief; she was the stolen property? Someone worth enough that several people had been hired to find the feeb?

“If Asia Crane, SI, had this information, what would she think?” Asia muttered.

She picked up the phone and called Bigwig. “What kind of person could be stolen property?” she asked as soon as he answered the phone.

A crackling excitement filled the phone line. “We’ve picked up a couple of whispers that a blood prophet wandered off,” he said. “Men have been searching the Northeast Region for some sign of her. You think you’ve found her?”

Asia’s thoughts spun so fast, she could barely think at all. Meg was a cassandra sangue? No wonder White Van had tried to grab her. No wonder someone had pressured the Lakeside government to help find her. That skin must be worth thousands and thousands of dollars. Maybe even a million!

And it was surrounded by fangs, claws, and beaks that could render it useless.

“Do you think you’ve found her?” Bigwig asked again.

“I don’t know. Maybe.” Asia hesitated, trying to figure out who would give her the best offer for her help. “Someone tried to abduct the Courtyard’s Liaison today, so I’m going to have to be careful about asking questions.”

“You think she’s there? In the Courtyard?” A pause. “Yes. Yes, that makes sense. The mayor has been quite frustrated by the lack of progress the police have made with regard to the thief I told you about. So the prophet and thief are one and the same.”

Have to decide now, Asia thought. Gamble on someone who might make good on his offer, or stick with the men who can guarantee I’ll have a show that lasts enough seasons to make me a very rich woman? “Yes, I think they are.”

“Even if we can’t find the original owner, there are others who—”

“I already found him.” There was a weight to the silence that followed her words, so she pushed on. “I did some investigating and searched the apartment of the would-be abductor. I found a phone number. I got off the phone with the interested party just before I called you. He’s sending in his own people, but we’ll receive a finder’s fee and some compensation for continued assistance.”

“I guess you do want to star in your own TV show.”

She grinned. “I guess I really do.” After promising to give him daily updates, she hung up and moved around her apartment, unable to relax.

Something in his tone of voice. A lack of confidence that hadn’t been there until she told him she’d already made contact with the man she assumed was Meg’s Controller.

Had Bigwig hoped to sell Meg to the highest bidder? Or had he hoped to tuck the feeb away somewhere, to be used exclusively by his chosen few?

Didn’t matter now. The hired muscle was heading for Lakeside. Time to change her focus. And that meant Darrell was going to get lucky after all.

And her luck was changing too. Bigwig and the other backers might be unhappy about a blood prophet slipping through their fingers, but she would bring them something even better: a small, furry bargaining chip.

CHAPTER 17

When Meg stepped into the office’s front room on Moonsday morning, she found a Wolf staring at her from the other side of the counter. A glance at the go-through confirmed the slide locks were still in place. That didn’t instill any feeling of safety, especially when the Wolf stood on his hind legs and plopped his forelegs on the counter in much the same way a man would rest his forearms.

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