Written in Red Page 126

“If an Owl spots the open door, it will sound the alarm,” Darrell said as he drove out of the Courtyard’s business district.

“Oh. I’m glad you thought of that.” They were still in sight of the business district when she spotted a yellow tube of light next to the road. “What’s that?”

“Solar light,” Darrell replied. “The Others put them at forks in the roads. The Green Complex is on the outer ring.”

“Where does the left-hand fork lead?”

“The interior of the Courtyard. Or maybe it goes to the Corvine gate. I don’t know.”

He sounded too nervous, so she stopped asking questions.

There were no streetlights, so there was damn little to see and no landmarks she could describe to someone else. As far as she could tell, there was a whole lot of nothing in the Courtyard until they reached the Green Complex, where Simon Wolfgard lived. When Darrell backed into one of the visitor’s parking spaces across the road from the complex, Asia swallowed her disappointment. It was just a U-shaped apartment building that didn’t even have symmetry to give it a finished look. This is where the members of the Business Association, the movers and shakers among the terra indigene, lived?

Plenty of lights here. Plenty of Others at home?

“Humans are so much better at this stuff,” Asia said.

“What stuff?”

“Buildings and cars and everything.”

Nodding, Darrell made a disparaging sound. “They think they’re living fancy because they have running water and central heating and don’t have to take a shit in the woods if they don’t want to.”

Such language from Darrell? Asia studied him with more interest. Where had that spark of anger come from? “I thought you liked working at the consulate.”

“Working for a consulate looks good on a résumé,” he replied. “And with the credit at the Market Square that employees get on top of the wages, I’m paid almost twice as much by working for the consulate as I would receive from an equivalent position in human government. But this is just a stepping-stone, a way to something better.”

Which was the real Darrell Adams: the sexually inept milquetoast she had slept with the other night, or this angry man who probably spent his evenings fantasizing about putting a bullet through Elliot Wolfgard’s brain?

“You hate them, don’t you?” she asked.

Just as Darrell was about to reply, Vladimir Sanguinati stepped out of one of the apartments. The vampire glanced their way and paused, then seemed to focus on them too much for her liking.

“Have you seen enough?” Darrell asked, his bravado deflating as the vampire walked toward them. He put the BOW in gear and drove away, spinning the tires in his effort to put some distance between them and the Green Complex before Vlad got close enough to identify them.

She hadn’t seen enough. She still didn’t know which apartment belonged to Meg Corbyn and which belonged to Simon Wolfgard. But at least she had some of the information the special messenger would need.

And she needed to think about how a substance called gone over wolf had changed milquetoast to angry man, even if the change had lasted only a minute or two. A lot of things could be achieved in a minute or two if they were the right minutes. It might be worth another experiment, depending on whether she had to accept another date.

For now, she needed to finish this evening’s plans. So when they got back to the room, she was going to give Darrell the kind of sex he didn’t have balls enough to even dream about.

* * *

Asia watched Darrell for another minute before she slipped out of bed. There had been just enough gone over wolf left in his system to make him interesting once he got aroused, but twice was more than enough. The knockout drops would keep him under for at least an hour, and that was plenty of time.

She put on Darrell’s trousers, cinching them with a belt she had bought yesterday so that the scents of all the other people who had touched it in the store would still be fairly fresh. She put on his shirt, even his socks. She put on his winter coat. Pulling the wool cap out of one pocket, she tucked her hair under it. She transferred her camera and a small flashlight from her coat to his, then put on her own boots, because she didn’t want to risk a fall.

Her hand hovered above her overnight case. There were all kinds of ways this could go wrong. But when she succeeded, the payoff was going to be sweet enough to make her the hottest star in Sparkletown.

She selected a vial and slipped it into the coat pocket. Taking the keys off the bedside table, she let herself out of the room and made her way to the back door of the Liaison’s Office.

Three keys on the ring. One was for the room they were using. One was for the other abovestairs room. And the third . . .

Yes! Asia thought as she opened the office’s back door. She removed the boots, then twisted her feet to press Darrell’s scent into the floor. She took out the flashlight, turned it on, and looked around.

Typical back room of an office. A table and two chairs, the pseudokitchen with its mini fridge and counters. A washroom, and a storage area full of bins of clothes, some clean and some just this side of ripe.

Nothing in the fridge that was useful to her plans. But in the cupboard under the counter, she found what she was looking for: a partially used box of sugar lumps.

Wishing she could turn on a light, Asia put the flashlight on the floor and took the vial out of her pocket. The crystals didn’t look any different from sugar crystals, and from what she’d learned about this stuff, it didn’t taste much different either, which is why it was so effective and the penalties for using it were so high. She tapped crystals over the top layer of sugar lumps, then gently shook the box to coat more of the lumps. She continued doing that until she poured the last crystals over the sugar.

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