Written in Red Page 144

Swearing vigorously, Asia slammed out of the car. Piece of shit. She had told the rental company she needed a car that could handle snow, and they had assured her this one could under most conditions.

Most conditions, my ass, she thought as she reached in for the pack of supplies on the backseat. After pulling out the hammer axe, she slipped the pack’s straps over her shoulders, then made her way to the back wall of the parking lot.

She tried the wooden door in the wall first, hoping the Others hadn’t bothered to lock it. No such luck. But there was mounded snow that rose to the top of the wall. That would be easy to climb.

Using the hammer axe, she hauled herself up the mound, then got a leg over the wall and lowered herself to the snow piled on the other side. This side of the parking lot hadn’t been cleared all day, and the cars in it weren’t going anywhere for a while. She was going to leave a trail, but she couldn’t worry about that.

She studied the padlock that secured the wooden door that provided access between the two lots, and swore. Had to find the key for the padlock. She wasn’t getting out the way she got in, not with that pup in tow.

She slipped one arm out of the pack as she considered the one-story brick building that formed the parking lot’s right-hand boundary. A garage door and a regular door. She tried the regular door first. When it opened, she slipped into a garage full of snow-removal equipment and gardening tools. Basically, a groundskeeper’s shed.

Closing the door most of the way in case any of the Others were out in this weather, Asia pulled a small flashlight out of her coat pocket and swung the light along the wall next to the door. She grinned fiercely when she spotted the key rack. The last key in the row was on a loop of string and had the word PADLOCK written above it.

Taking the key, she hurried out and opened the padlock, then tossed it over the wall to ensure a quick exit. She put the key back in its spot, then checked the other keys. One was labeled BOW.

Yes! she thought as she pocketed the key. Darrell had said one key fit all the BOWs, so all she had to do was find one of those little vehicles.

The opposite wall of the maintenance garage had a reverse setup of doors. She made her way to the other regular door, then turned off the flashlight and opened the door just enough to peer out and confirm that these were the garages she’d seen when she’d spent the night with Darrell.

The messenger had moved up the timetable when it became clear the storm was worse than anticipated and had hit the city faster than originally reported. The only problem with the new timetable was that Meg hadn’t closed the office yet. When the messenger and his men created the distractions that would pull Simon Wolfgard and the rest of the Others to various parts of the Courtyard, Meg had to be tucked into her apartment at the Green Complex, all safe and snug and easy to grab.

Pushing up the sleeves of her parka and sweater the necessary inch, Asia checked the luminous dial of her watch. Only three thirty in the afternoon, but it was already dark because of the storm. That would work to their advantage.

She jerked back, shutting the door almost all the way as the back door of Howling Good Reads opened and she heard Simon say, “Tell her to wait. I’ll be back in a minute.”

She watched him stride toward the Liaison’s Office, and she saw him stop as something caught his attention. He remained still for a moment, then continued to the office’s back door.

Checking her watch again, Asia settled down to wait.

* * *

As soon as Simon walked into the office’s back room, he could feel Nathan’s restless energy and hear Meg’s voice. She was talking to someone, but he didn’t think it was the Wolf.

<Nathan?> he called.

<I want to go home,> Nathan said, sounding edgy. <We should go home.>

<You might not get as far as the Wolfgard Complex, but we are leaving this part of the Courtyard.>

<Good. We need to den.>

They certainly did need to get home and settle in. He had closed HGR half an hour ago, and Tess had done the same at A Little Bite, but he was still chewing over what to do with their human employees, especially the ones Meg considered friends. He couldn’t just chuck them out the door to find their way home. Not when he could look out HGR’s windows and see the traffic gridlock that had already formed and was going to get worse.

A couple months ago, he would have closed the store and not given Merri Lee and Heather another thought. They were humans who were not edible because they were useful, and that’s all they were to the terra indigene. But somehow they had become Meg’s human pack, so now they were borderline members of the Courtyard and, therefore, under his protection.

He didn’t like thinking of humans like that. He didn’t like it at all.

Well, he would deal with Merri Lee and Heather. But first he had to deal with Meg. And that meant dealing with Nathan.

<What’s wrong with you?> he asked as he walked through the sorting room. Meg was at the front counter with her back to him. Nathan had his forelegs on the counter and looked grumpy, which wasn’t a good way for a guard to look when there wasn’t anything nearby he could catch and eat.

<Her!> Nathan replied. <She is restless and keeps rubbing her skin like she has fleas. I tried to sniff her for blood, and she smacked me.> Growling softly, he looked at Meg and lifted a paw.

“That’s not a problem,” Meg said to someone on the phone, absently pushing Nathan away when he tried to slap the phone to disconnect the call. “Delivery on Moonsday will be fine. You be careful driving out there. Thanks. You too.” She hung up and shook a finger at the watch Wolf. Then she noticed Simon and blushed.

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