Written in Red Page 125

And some items would earn a person a one-way trip into the wild country. No prison. Nothing so kind. Just a long ride into the Others’ territory, and then you were set loose with no food, no water, no shoes.

There was no record of anyone surviving that particular punishment.

Her new benefactor, as she’d begun to think of Meg’s owner, might be able to pull enough strings to keep himself safe from the penalties for having any of these items, but she was under no illusion that he would be that protective of her. And she had no doubt Bigwig and his group of backers would distance themselves from her if she was caught with any of the prison-worthy drugs, let alone the one that carried an automatic death penalty. So it was in her own best interest to use that last vial as soon as possible.

And she knew just how it would do her the most good.

* * *

“You know what I would really like to do?” Asia said to Darrell as she drove down the access way and parked her car behind the Liaison’s Office. There it was protected from potential thieves and out of sight of patrol cars who might take too much notice of a car left in the Courtyard parking lot overnight. On Sunsday, the car being in the lot had been her excuse to leave. Tonight, having it tucked away meant Darrell was the only one who knew for sure she had come back to the Courtyard with him.

“I’ve got a pretty good idea,” Darrell replied with a grin that looked a tiny bit off, just a little mean.

“Before that.” She turned off the car’s headlights and could barely make out the shape of the man in the other seat.

If any of the Courtyard businesses had outdoor lights by their back doors, no one had remembered to turn them on—not even the one she knew was at the top of the stairs she would be climbing shortly. Was a light too much courtesy to show a human, or had the Others assumed Darrell would take care of it?

That thought made her wonder if there would be clean sheets on the bed, and if anyone else had used the room yesterday.

“What do you want to do?” Darrell asked, that hint of mean gone as if it had never been there.

She leaned toward him, found the zipper on his trousers, and tugged it down an inch. “Take a little drive.”

“A drive?” His voice rose, almost cracking as she pulled the zipper down another inch. “Where?”

“To the Green Complex and back.”

His hand clamped over hers. She didn’t think his panting was solely due to lust.

“Asia, are you crazy?”

“Humans are allowed in the Green area.”

“Only if they have a pass! And even then it’s risky once you’re away from the Market Square.”

“But you do have a pass,” she said, putting a heavy dose of honey in the words while her fingers worked his zipper down another inch. She had slipped a few flakes of gone over wolf into his last drink at the Saucy Plate, just to see what would happen. And so far, the answer was nothing at all. Maybe she had used it a little too sparingly. “And I want to be the kind of woman who is brave enough to do something a little risky. Like spend the whole night with a man,” she finished as she tried to move her hand away from his zipper.

His hand tightened on hers almost painfully before he let her go. Withdrawing her hand, she sat primly, her eyes looking straight ahead.

“I just thought we could have a little adventure before . . .” She moved her body to convey embarrassment. “I wanted to do something special for you tonight. Something like that girl was doing in the movie we watched the last time. That you wanted me to do but I couldn’t. I even bought a book. You know. One of those manuals. Went to a bookstore clear across the city to buy it. But I guess you don’t want . . .”

He gulped air, and she knew she had him.

“We aren’t getting out of the car,” he said, a tremor in his voice.

“Oh, no,” she agreed. “That would be too risky.”

“We can’t take your car,” he said after a moment. “They don’t use cars like this inside the Courtyard. We’d be spotted a minute after we got past the Market Square. But anyone could be driving a BOW up to the Green Complex for a visit.”

Good to know, Asia thought. “Then what should we do?”

“Wait here. I need to get a key from the consulate.”

After Darrell left the car, she counted to twenty before she opened her door and got out. She unbuttoned her coat and reached for the camera she had hidden in an interior pocket. Then she looked around. No point trying to get photos of this area. Even the camera’s flash wouldn’t give her anything useful.

Darrell returned, puffing as if he’d run a marathon. Or had been running from a pack of Wolves.

“I’m not sure which BOW might be available, but the key fits any of them,” he said.

Also good to know, Asia thought as she watched him open and close the door of an empty garage slot.

“Here’s one.” He waved at her to join him.

She took her keys and locked her car. Her overnight case—and the special accessories—were in the trunk. She wasn’t planning to wear any of the clothes, so it didn’t matter if they were stiff from cold. And the powders in the vials wouldn’t freeze.

Hurrying across the snowy pavement, she slipped into the BOW’s passenger’s seat. She wondered whether the thing had a motor and hoped it had a heater.

It had both, more or less.

She clenched her teeth while Darrell backed out of the garage, then spent time closing the garage door.

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