Written in Red Page 129

“What about that Asia Crane?” Vlad asked.

“She was with Darrell and she never left the vehicle. I’m not sure we can call that trespassing,” Simon said. Especially since Vlad let her leave the Courtyard last night. “She’s banned from the Courtyard, starting now. And that includes the stores, even HGR and A Little Bite.” The relief that he had a reason to keep her far away from Meg was so sharp, it almost hurt.

If Meg got mad at him for banning Asia, he would accept it. He would. For a little while, anyway.

“All right,” Vlad said. “I’ll inform Grandfather of the Wolfgard’s decision. You talk to Elliot.”

When Vlad left, Simon stretched his neck and shoulders, feeling the pop of tight muscles loosening. That done, he called Elliot, then sat down and worked out the wording for the flyers Lorne would make for him as soon as the Three Ps opened.

* * *

Vlad flowed under the door of Elliot’s office, a patch of smoke moving over the carpet, keeping close to the wall. He didn’t care that Elliot saw him enter and knew he was going to listen to the Wolf deal with the human. He just didn’t want Darrell to notice he was there.

While there was no doubt that the human would be dismissed from his job at the consulate, there was no certainty he would get out of the Courtyard, despite the short distance between the consulate’s door and the delivery area’s street entrance.

No matter how fast a human could run, the Sanguinati could move faster. And per Erebus’s orders, unless Vlad was convinced that Darrell had done nothing more than act foolishly because of a woman, the man wouldn’t get past Nyx when he bolted for the presumed safety of the human-controlled land.

“Mr. Wolfgard?” Darrell said as he fiddled with the knot in his tie. “You wanted to see me?”

“Yes,” Elliot replied, his voice smoothing into a sound that gave nothing away. “Do you know why?”

“No, sir. But . . . someone emptied my desk and put some of my personal items in a box.”

“No, we put all of your personal items in the box. The rest of the items in the desk actually belong to the consulate. Now you’ll hand over the keys you were given, as well as your pass to the Market Square.”

“But . . . why?”

“You’re being dismissed for a breach of trust.”

Rapid breathing. Pulse spiking. Face turning pale. And even with all those acknowledgments, the fool still tried to deny what the Others knew.

“I didn’t,” Darrell said.

“I hope for your sake that the breach begins and ends with you taking that female to the Green Complex. I hope you understand what will happen if you become indiscreet about what you’ve seen or heard in the consulate.”

“Sir, I think I’ve done a good job here,” Darrell began.

“You did. I was pleased with your work. But you broke the trust we had given you, and now you have to go. However, before I let you leave this room, I need one answer: What were you looking for in the Liaison’s Office?”

“I wasn’t in the office,” Darrell protested. “I was in the abovestairs room I was told I could use last night. I was with my . . . friend . . . until I woke up this morning.”

“So you were never in the office?” Elliot asked, his voice still smooth.

“Sure, I was in the office. Went to pick up the consulate mail a few times.”

“Why?”

“Why?”

“Yes,” Elliot said patiently. “Why? You’ve never done that before.”

Darrell squirmed in the chair. “I wasn’t comfortable being around the other Liaisons. But Meg is a pleasant girl, and she always has the mail bundled in an orderly manner. I just thought picking it up would be a friendly gesture.”

And a way to set up Meg as the next potential friend if Asia Crane didn’t work out? Vlad wondered.

“Whose idea was it to go to the Green Complex?” Elliot asked. “Your pass doesn’t extend beyond our business district without permission, and your guest didn’t have permission to go anywhere last night except the designated room for your . . . social interaction.”

“She wanted to see it, as an adventure.”

“See what? It was late. It was dark.”

“I think she wanted to see where Simon Wolfgard lives.” Darrell hung his head and talked to his tie. “She said she wasn’t interested in him anymore, but I think she is. I think she pretended . . .”

<That’s enough, Elliot,> Vlad said. <I’ll inform Grandfather that this monkey tried to impress the female and is nothing worse than a fool. Since that Asia is being banned from the Courtyard, the explanation will satisfy him.>

Leaving Elliot to finish the dismissal, Vlad flowed under the door, shifting to human form when he was in the hallway. When he got outside, he stopped long enough to tell Nyx that Darrell was allowed to leave the Courtyard intact. Then he walked down the access way between the buildings and stopped behind the Liaison’s Office.

The truck from Fallacaro Lock & Key was already there, and Chris Fallacaro was working on the office’s back door. Blair was watching him, which was probably why it was taking the human so long to change a lock. Having youngsters watching in order to learn was one thing. Having the Courtyard’s primary enforcer watching was something else altogether.

And there was Meg, pulling up and looking confused because the truck and Blair’s BOW effectively blocked her ability to park her own vehicle.

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