Written in Red Page 145

<Do you see?> Nathan demanded. <Make her go home.>

Meg was restless and rubbing her skin? Was she feeling the prickling that indicated a potential vision, or was the storm making her uneasy, like the rest of them? He didn’t care why she was restless. He was getting her away from this part of the Courtyard.

“You’re closing up now,” Simon said, blocking the Private doorway and not giving her room to maneuver.

“I’m trying to do exactly that. It would be easier if I didn’t have as much help,” Meg replied, sounding like she was ready to bite someone.

Nathan whined and gave Simon a pleading look.

It was embarrassing to hear one of the Courtyard’s best enforcers whine like a puppy.

“I checked with all the delivery services who usually come by on Watersday afternoon,” Meg said. “Most of them didn’t have any deliveries for the Courtyard today, and the ones that did, I told them delivery on Moonsday is fine. Besides, Harry from Everywhere Delivery called a couple of minutes ago to tell me a driving ban has just been issued for the entire city. No unnecessary travel. So I’m almost ready to go.”

“But . . . ?” He could read her well enough now to know there was something more.

She took a deep breath and blew it out. “Two things. The BOW’s charge was low when I got back from lunch. I’m not sure it has enough charge for the drive home, and I’m not sure I can drive in snow this deep.”

“You’re not driving. Jester should be here with a pony in a few minutes.”

Meg brightened. “We’re riding in the sleigh?”

He shook his head. “Only the Elementals drive the sleigh. Jester is bringing the sled. It’s big enough to fit you and Nathan. I’ll take the BOW back to the Green Complex. If it doesn’t make it, I’ll shift and go the rest of the way home in Wolf form.” No protest from her. Probably because she wanted to ride in the sled. “What’s the other thing?”

Now she looked uneasy, as if she were about to stomp on his tail. “Merri Lee takes a bus to work.” She turned enough to look at the snow falling and falling and falling.

Simon relaxed, pleased that he’d anticipated this. “She’s not going home. Neither is Heather. They can pick up some food at Meat-n-Greens or the grocery store, and they’ll stay in the efficiency apartments tonight. I’m going to talk to Lorne and see if he wants to stay. Marie Hawkgard is staying to keep watch, and Julia will also be in the efficiencies.”

She opened her mouth, and he expected her to say she would stay with her friends in the too-exposed part of the Courtyard. But as she looked at him, all the color bled out of her face.

“I need to get home,” she said quietly. “Tonight I need to get home.”

“That’s why Jester is coming with the pony sled.” Simon studied her face. Why did she look so pale, so scared? “Meg?”

She shook her head. “I need to go to the toilet.”

Worried about what she might do in that room, he snarled, “Meg?”

“I can’t just lift a leg like you do, so I have to pee before going out in the cold,” she snapped at him.

He took a step back, letting her pass. But he also gave her a quick sniff. Nathan was right; there wasn’t any fresh blood scent on her.

He opened the go-through for Nathan. “Wait for her by the back door. I’ll lock up.”

He fetched the keys from the drawer in the sorting room and used the go-through. Nathan had told him that Meg usually wiped the floor after the last delivery because it got slippery from the snow brought in on the deliverymen’s boots. She hadn’t done that, which made vaulting over the counter a good way to slip and break a leg or, at best, take a bad fall.

As he flipped the sign to CLOSED, a hooded figure in a green and white parka hurried up to the door. He considered ignoring the human and locking up, but he’d seen that same parka walking out of the Courtyard a few minutes ago.

Pulling the door open, he growled, “What?” before he recognized the Ruthie, who looked like she was trying not to cry.

“Mr. Wolfgard,” she said, sounding breathless. “I’m glad I caught you before everything closed up. My car is in your parking lot.”

“That’s sensible.” It would be out of the way, and the adolescent Wolves could have fun digging it out tomorrow.

“But there is a car stuck in the parking lot’s entrance. The driver isn’t in the vehicle, and I can’t get around it.”

He followed the trail of her words and realized he had come to a different conclusion than she had. “You’re staying. Go around to the back door of Howling Good Reads. I’ll meet you in a couple of minutes.”

“But . . .”

“Go to the back door,” he snapped. “It’s time to find shelter, not go running in the snow.”

After a hesitation, she nodded. “Thank you.”

He watched until he was sure she was headed toward the back of the building instead of being foolish and plunging into the storm. Like Meg had done the first night she came to the Courtyard. What was wrong with human females that they didn’t have sense to find shelter?

Of course, if Meg had taken shelter somewhere else instead of stumbling along until she came to the Courtyard, she might not have found them, and he might never have known her. So maybe Namid was wise to make human females do foolish things.

<We are gone,> Nathan said. <Jester is taking Meg to her den. I will wait for you there.>

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