Written in Red Page 127

Putting the empty vial back in the coat pocket, she replaced the box of sugar, picked up her flashlight, and went into the next room.

Not much to look at. Who could stand working in such a boring room day after day? There wasn’t even a stack of mail that would give her a few names she didn’t know from the bookstore and coffee shop.

She opened a cupboard and found boxes of dog cookies. For a moment, she regretted using all those crystals on the sugar, then realized it was just as well she hadn’t been able to give in to impulse. If anything happened to a Wolf, it could be seen as an act of war. But she had never heard of Others named Ponygard, which meant the stupid ponies were just animals. They would be a distraction, a way to stir things up, nothing but collateral damage in the overall scheme.

Opening a drawer under the counter, she stared at a sheet of paper for a long moment. Then her heart bumped with excitement. She had found a map of the Courtyard. Gates, roads, buildings—everything the extraction team would need.

Payday!

Pulling Darrell’s shirt over her hand, Asia picked up the map with two fingers and put it on the big table. Then she took out her camera . . . and swore under her breath.

A flashlight and the flash on the camera weren’t going to do it. If she wanted pictures that would be useful, she was going to have to turn on the lights, just for a minute.

No curtains on the window. Nothing she could use quickly to block the light.

Stop stalling, she thought as she waved the flashlight over the walls until she found the light switch. The faster you take the pictures, the faster you can get out of here.

Flipping on the lights, she hurried back to the table and took several shots of the map as the full page, then several more in zoom mode to provide more details. She put the camera in the coat pocket and the map in the drawer, flipped off the lights—and heard an Owl hoot.

Damn, f**k, shit. Was one of them perched on the wall next to the office? Or, worse, perched on the railing of the stairs she needed to climb?

She crept to the back room, put on her boots, opened the outside door, and listened hard. No feathers rustling overhead, no more hooting.

Slipping out the door, she locked it, then turned off the flashlight. Her foot was on the first stair when she thought about the empty vial in her pocket. According to Bigwig, the police presence and the speed in which they responded to anything involving the Others were unusual. That meant an empty vial could be as good as a confession if they found it on her.

Taking the vial out of the coat pocket, she walked a few feet from the stairs and shoved the vial into a snowbank as far as she could. Then she pushed the snow around to cover the hole, brushed off the coat sleeve, and hurried up the stairs.

Stripping out of Darrell’s clothes, she took the clothes she’d worn that evening into the bathroom, along with her overnight case. She had taken a shower with Darrell as part of the foreplay, using the soap and shampoo the Others insisted their employees use. Now she gave her clothes and body a light spritz of the floral scent the Others associated with Asia Crane because she always wore that scent when she went into Howling Good Reads or A Little Bite.

And that scent wasn’t in the Liaison’s Office.

She put everything away and slipped into bed, grateful for the trapped body heat. Darrell was still in a heavy sleep and didn’t do more than grunt and turn away from her when she tried to ease her cold body closer to his warm one.

An hour passed. Then two. She thought about that vial hidden in the snow, where it would hopefully remain until spring. She thought about the camera and the incriminating photos on the camera’s storage card. She thought about how to sever her relationship with Darrell.

She thought about what Asia Crane, SI, would do.

She slipped back out of bed, got dressed, gathered her things, and left. She didn’t give her car enough time to warm up, and she didn’t brush enough snow off the back window before she drove out of the Courtyard. It was late, and there was hardly any traffic. That didn’t mean a cop wouldn’t tag her.

She drove another block before she pulled over and properly cleaned off all the windows. Then she dug her mobile phone out of her overnight case and made a call, but it wasn’t to Bigwig.

“Hello?”

“I need one of your special messengers. Someone who can print some pictures and can also take more personal instructions.”

“He can be at your residence in thirty minutes.”

“I should be back by then.”

Asia ended the call, tucked the phone back in the overnight case, and drove to her apartment. She had chosen the university district because it was close enough to the Courtyard but not one of the neighborhoods that rubbed against the land controlled by the Others. It wasn’t likely that any of them had seen her, except when she visited the stores, so they wouldn’t know where she lived.

It was now very important that they didn’t know where she lived.

When she got home, she barely had time to turn on a couple of lights before there was a soft knock at the door.

The same special messenger who had delivered her present.

“You have something for me?” he asked after he closed the door.

She shucked off her coat and took the camera out of the interior pocket. “I have pictures that can’t be seen by anyone working in a photo shop.”

He waggled the black case he was carrying. “And I have a private way of printing photos.” He walked over to her dining table and began setting up.

She watched him hook up a miniature printing center. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Must cost a bundle.”

Prev Next