Written in Red Page 117

Harry pursed his lips and made a peculiar sound with his teeth. Then he huffed out a breath. “The Crows out there are good for warning you about trouble, but they don’t have the muscle to take care of trouble once it gets through the door.” He rapped his knuckles on the counter. “You take care, Miz Meg.”

He left, giving Nathan a brisk nod on his way out.

The rest of the morning went along much the same way. There was a knee-jerk reaction when a deliveryman walked in and spotted Nathan. Most said something along the lines of, “You got a new helper? What happened to the Crow?” Meg took this to mean that dealing with a Crow might be peculiar, but it was much preferred to dealing with something that weighed as much as you did and growled at you.

Only one deliveryman refused to come inside once he spotted Nathan, and that was the man who had paid too much attention to Sam and the harness the pup was wearing. She ended up calling Lorne at the Three Ps to run over from his shop and take the packages, because Nathan blocked the door, preventing her from going outside while that particular man was there.

After the mail was delivered, Meg checked her list against the previous week’s. She looked at Nathan, who was sniffing around the front room in a way that made her hope he knew the difference between a counter and a tree.

“That’s the last of the regular morning deliveries,” she said, hoping she sounded bright rather than demented. “I’m going to be working in the sorting room for a while. You want to go outside for a few minutes and stretch your legs?”

He didn’t respond, so she went into the sorting room to deal with the mail and other deliveries. A minute later, she heard the Crows. When she peeked through the doorway, she saw Nathan outside, moving back and forth in the delivery area, nose to the ground. Then he raised his head and howled.

“Well, that will help traffic,” she muttered as answering howls penetrated the building from several directions.

We are here.

That was always the message. But she had the feeling people wouldn’t have to go into Howling Good Reads anymore to catch sight of a Wolf.

* * *

<Nathan?> Simon called. He looked out his office window while he listened to the Wolves who responded to Nathan’s howl. <Where are you?> That first howl hadn’t been muffled by enough walls or glass.

<Outside.>

<You’re supposed to be inside, guarding Meg.>

<The Meg said to go outside.>

<You don’t take orders from Meg.>

<She’ll feel easier about me being in the office if she thinks I do.>

Nathan had a point. Meg’s peculiar reaction to seeing a Wolf in the office kept scratching at him. Most humans who had seen one Wolf didn’t get upset about seeing another one, as long as it wasn’t attacking someone. At least, that was true of the customers who came into Howling Good Reads. To them, a Wolf was a Wolf was a Wolf. On the other hand, he liked that he wasn’t interchangeable with the rest of the Wolfgard and that Meg knew him on sight, even the first time she’d seen him as Wolf.

He spotted Nathan when the other Wolf rounded a corner to sniff around the back of the office.

<Anything?> Simon asked.

<No scents that shouldn’t be here,> Nathan replied, lifting a leg to yellow up some snow.

It took a little too much effort to stop himself from running over to the office and marking his territory. Not that he should consider the Liaison’s Office as being more his territory than the rest of the Courtyard.

He shifted his feet and whined softly.

Have to stay human and do my own work—and trust Nathan to do his.

He heard the Crows, watched Nathan head for the back door and slip inside the office.

<Delivery?> he asked the Crows.

<A female,> was the reply. <We know her face.>

A familiar female who would go into the office to talk to Meg. Someone who wasn’t terra indigene. The Crows would have said if the female was Other. That narrowed the possibilities. But Heather was downstairs, shelving stock. Merri Lee wasn’t scheduled to work at A Little Bite until lunchtime. The Ruthie? Maybe, but he didn’t remember seeing her around the store in the mornings, and she usually spent time at Run & Thump later in the day. Which left Asia Crane.

Simon pictured Asia alone with Meg—and snarled. No reason. Asia hadn’t done anything except be too pushy about wanting the Liaison’s job and wanting him to take her for a walk on the wild side. But she didn’t seem that interested in either of those things anymore.

And if she was, she wasn’t saying anything to him.

<Nathan? Stay close to Meg.>

He didn’t get a response and didn’t expect one. Going back to his desk, Simon looked at the telephone. With Elliot at the consulate, there were five Wolves in this part of the Courtyard, but only two were in Wolf form—Nathan and Ferus, who was on duty at HGR. It wouldn’t hurt to have a couple more Wolves close by, especially because he’d promised Sam that the pup could spend the afternoon with Meg.

Maybe he should mention that to Meg?

He picked up the phone, but he didn’t call Meg. Instead, he called Blair and arranged for an increase in the Wolfgard presence in the Liaison’s part of the Courtyard.

* * *

Asia strolled up to the Liaison’s Office, hot chocolate in hand. On previous dates with Darrell, she had hinted that Simon might be a wee bit jealous about the time she was spending with another man. Now that plans had changed, she wanted everyone in the Courtyard to know she was Darrell’s girlfriend.

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