Written in Red Page 122

Except it wasn’t night. She and Sam were making the afternoon deliveries, and she didn’t need the lights to see the road.

Shaking, Meg stopped the BOW and put it in park, ignoring Sam’s whining as he tried to climb into her lap and lick her face.

The prickling turned into a harsh buzzing under her skin.

It had been more than a week since her last cut, and that one had been a paper cut, an accident. Maybe that’s why she felt so edgy, so desperate to relieve the prickling.

Maybe that’s why she had just slipped into something that wasn’t quite a vision. Or wasn’t a vision in the same way she had been trained to see them.

This was new, unknown, frightening. This was worse than being distracted by a deer for a few seconds. If she hadn’t remembered when she was driving, would that weird vision have continued until she crashed the BOW?

She’d been driving alone. At night. So whatever this was, it was personal. It was about her. And there was only one way she was going to find out more.

This wasn’t about a physical craving. There wasn’t going to be any euphoria. But she had to find out why she’d reacted so strongly to a road that she’d experienced inside a vision for a few seconds.

Have to wait, she thought, gritting her teeth as she put the BOW in gear. Have to wait until I finish the deliveries and get Sam home.

“Not many packages today,” she told Sam as she drove to the last section of the Chambers. She left him in the BOW while she tucked a couple of items in the delivery boxes outside the fence, but she clipped his leash to the harness when she reached the Hawkgard Complex and let him come with her to the mail room.

Two packages to the Wolfgard Complex, then four boxes of another building-block toy for the Corvine social room. She had no idea what the Crows were building, but based on the comments made by Jenni and Crystal when she saw them in the Market Square, the Crows gathered each evening to work on these constructions and were having a great time.

By the time she reached the Green Complex and parked her BOW in the garage, her emotional need to make the cut was as fierce as her need to relieve the prickling in her skin. She tried to sound and act normal, but Sam’s anxious whines told her plainly enough that the pup knew something was wrong.

And if Sam sensed it before she did anything, she was going to have to avoid Simon until the cut scabbed over. She just didn’t know how to do that when he would be here soon to fetch the puppy.

When they were inside her apartment, she hung up her coat, took off her boots, and smiled at Sam. “I have to use the bathroom. Do you want to change while I’m doing that?”

It didn’t surprise her that he followed her to the bathroom and tried to go in with her instead of going into her bedroom to shift and put on the clothes she had ready for him.

She locked him out, then stripped off her sweater and turtleneck. Taking the razor out of her jeans pocket, she opened it and laid the blade flat on her arm, its back against the previous scar. Then she turned her hand, bringing the honed edge against virgin skin—and pressed down lightly.

The sensation of skin parting, as if it were fleeing from the steel.

Lifting the blade, she placed the razor on the sink and braced for the pain. It flowed up from some dark place inside her while the blood flowed from the wound.

That interior road, just past Erebus’s home. Not much snow on the pavement, but snow falling, heavy and fast. Dark outside, but she couldn’t tell if it was early evening or late night. A sound like a motor mated to hornets. Driving alone in the dark at a reckless speed, no lights to give away her position. That sound closing around her. And behind her, Sam howling in terror.

But safe. This time, he was safe.

Coming out of the prophecy, Meg braced herself against the sink and swallowed the need to scream from the pain. So much worse than that little cut on her finger. Maybe even worse than the cuts that had shown her the Courtyard and Simon Wolfgard.

At least the prickling under her skin had stopped. She had gotten that much relief from the cut.

Gasping and crying, she washed the cut before putting on antiseptic cream and taping a thick pad over it, hoping to hide the smell of blood. Then she cleaned the razor and made sure she wiped the sink. As a last step, she used the toilet, not sure how long scents could be picked up by a Wolf nose.

She put on the turtleneck, careful not to pull the bandage, then the sweater, and left the bathroom. She expected to find Sam dressed, more or less, and waiting for her in the kitchen with his list of desired snacks. She found him still in Wolf form, huddled by her front door. He looked at her and whined but wouldn’t come to her, wouldn’t move away from the door.

Uneasy, she didn’t push him. She brought him a couple of puppy cookies, which he refused to eat. He just huddled by the door, shivering.

She knew the moment Simon started up the stairs to her front door. Sam alternated howling and clawing at her door.

“Get out of the way, Sam,” she said. “I can’t open the door with you standing there.”

As soon as the door was open, he bolted out of her apartment and down the stairs, racing past Simon.

“He’s upset,” she said. She tried to shut the door in Simon’s face, but she wasn’t fast enough. He didn’t force his way in, didn’t make any demands, but she was sure that the flickers of red in his eyes and the way he sniffed the air meant he knew exactly why Sam was upset.

Returning to the kitchen, she poured a glass of orange juice. Then she sat at the table and waited for whatever Simon was going to do.

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