Written in Red Page 136

She smelled of pain and a strange kind of arousal that made him want to sniff between her legs. And she smelled of blood and the medicine Tess had put on the cut. He wanted to sniff that too, wanted to get rid of the human medicine and clean the wound as a Wolf would.

But Meg was human, so human medicine was best for her.

“I know you’re not sleeping,” he whispered. “You can’t fool someone who has listened to you sleep.”

“Are you saying I snore?” she asked, her eyes still closed.

“No.” He considered. “I don’t think so. But I know when you sleep.”

She swallowed. Such a bitable throat, so soft yet firm.

No, he thought, pressing his forehead against her arm. Meg is not bitable. He raised his head and studied the gray eyes that now looked back at him. “I’m the leader. You should have called me. Even if you wanted Tess to be there instead of a Wolf, you should have told me first.”

“I knew there was something wrong. Didn’t want anything bad to happen while I was arguing with you.”

It was a valid point. Not that he would tell her that.

He touched her hair. Still weird in color and funnier-looking with the black roots. When it grew out, he might actually miss the orange hair.

He wasn’t going to tell her that either.

“I’ll watch for deliveries,” he said. “You rest. There is food. You want to eat?”

“Not yet.” Her eyes closed, then fluttered open again. “Is Nathan angry with me?”

“Yes. If you lock him out again, he’ll bite you.”

The briefest smile. “Bet he won’t if I tell him he can have all the cookies.”

He watched her, listened to her, and knew she was truly asleep. He kissed her forehead and found the act pleasing for its own sake. And, he admitted as he licked his lips, it was enjoyable for other reasons. Meg wasn’t bitable, but he really did like the taste of her.

He traded places with Nathan. While he watched Jester fill the mail baskets and explain to the ponies why there wasn’t a treat, he dialed the number that would bring Crispin James Montgomery back to the Courtyard.

* * *

Monty realized Kowalski had been talking to him only when silence suddenly filled the patrol car.

“I’m sorry, Karl. I wasn’t listening. Have some things on my mind.”

“Like why we’re being called this time?” Kowalski asked. “Kind of strange to be told something is urgent and then be given a specific time to show up.”

“That’s part of it.” Another part was Captain Burke informing him that the mayor was grumbling about how many resources were being used on behalf of the Others when they didn’t feel inclined to return any favors. Burke suspected His Honor was floating the idea of Humans First and Last as his potential campaign platform.

Let me worry about the mayor, Lieutenant. You just remember that all roads travel into the woods.

In other words, remaining on good terms with the terra indigene was more important than human politics.

They pulled into the delivery area for the Liaison’s Office. Monty drew in a breath. Closed sign on the door, but he could see someone at the counter.

Someone who wasn’t Meg Corbyn.

“Come in with me, Karl.” Not his usual request, but this time he wanted backup with him instead of waiting in the car.

As they walked up to the door, Simon Wolfgard approached from the other side. He turned the lock and opened the door.

“Is Ms. Corbyn taking the day off?” Monty asked as they all walked up to the front counter.

“Midday break,” Simon replied. “She’ll be back for the afternoon deliveries.” He didn’t sound happy about that.

The door into the next room was wide-open. The room itself didn’t interest Monty, but the wheelchair parked next to a big table did.

“Ms. Corbyn seems to be accident prone all of a sudden,” he said softly. Would Meg be there for the afternoon deliveries, or would the Others have a different excuse for her absence?

Simon turned, looked at the wheelchair, and snarled. “She hurt her leg this morning. She says she doesn’t need the wheelchair, but that’s what is used when humans are injured. Isn’t it?”

Monty wasn’t sure if that was a question or a demand to confirm the answer the Wolf wanted. “Wheelchairs aren’t used for minor injuries, unless a person can’t walk for some reason.”

“Well, we don’t want her to walk on that leg today.” Then Wolfgard seemed to pull back, as if the admission that the Others were actually trying to take care of a human revealed too much. “That’s not why I called you. Meg . . . We suspect there is something wrong with the sugar lumps that were in the back room. The Liaison usually gives the ponies sugar on Moonsday as a treat, but she had a feeling something was wrong. Some of us believe the sugar was poisoned, but we don’t have a way of testing it.”

Monty put the pieces together and filled in the unspoken piece: Meg, the cassandra sangue, had cut herself and saw poison in the sugar. Simon wasn’t going to acknowledge that his Liaison was a blood prophet, but that explained his over-the-top solution to dealing with what should be a minor injury.

“Where are the sugar lumps now?” he asked.

“In the back room. We packed the box in another box,” Simon replied. “You can bring your car around to the back door so you don’t have to carry it far.”

What did she see besides poison that made you this wary? Monty wondered. He looked at Kowalski. “Bring the car around to the back door.”

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