Written in Red Page 147

“Do you want to come in?” she asked.

His answer was to choose a spot on the latticework side of her porch where he had some protection from the snow and wind—and where anyone coming up the stairs wouldn’t see him before he saw them.

He lay down and gave her an “Idiot, aren’t you going to close the door?” look. So she closed the door, shrugged out of her wet winter clothes, and hung them in the bathroom to drip.

She put the food in the refrigerator and cupboards, and wondered if anyone would think to check for edibles before they all spoiled.

The prophecies and visions didn’t work the same in the outside world as they had in the compound. Her own experiences, her own memories provided context. That was why, when she saw Simon standing in the Private doorway, she had slipped into that weird kind of vision that didn’t require cutting.

Fur. And teeth. And terrible cold. Then flashes of the remembered images from the visions she had seen about the Courtyard. A storm. Men dressed in black. A sound like motors and hornets. The interior road near Erebus Sanguinati’s home. Sam howling in terror. A white room with that narrow bed. And Simon Wolfgard.

She shifted the images this way and that like puzzle pieces, changing the sequence and searching for clues. She could save Sam. If she followed one sequence of images, she could do that much. After that? She wasn’t going to give in. She wasn’t going to hand over her body like it was someone else’s property. She would fight as hard as she could for as long as she could. The only thing she would gain from fighting was her own sense of being a person instead of a thing, because the end would be the same.

This was the beginning of the prophecy she’d seen about herself.

This was the night she was going to die.

CHAPTER 25

Slow and steady, Monty thought as the cab did a crawl and slide down Whitetail Road. Slow and steady.

Every time they reached a traffic light, he listened to the zzzzzeeeeeeeee of tires spinning as the cars tried to get enough traction to move through the intersection and keep going. When they finally reached the Chestnut Street intersection and it was clear they were going to wait through several changes of the traffic light before the cab would be able to make the turn, Monty said, “I’ll get out here,” and paid the driver.

“I think we’ll get through this storm all right,” the cabby said as Monty got out. “It looks like the snow is letting up.”

* * *

Asia listened to the putt putt brrmmm of a BOW growling its way through snow. Then she called the special messenger.

“Simon Wolfgard is headed for the Green Complex. Your benefactor’s property should be there already. Looks like some employees are staying overnight in the apartments above the shops, but there’s no one in the business part of the Courtyard who will interfere with you.”

“We’re all in position. The Stag and Hare is still open and crowded. You can blend in there. As soon as we’ve reacquired the property, we’ll be heading out of the city. I’ll call you.”

Maybe he would call her. She had a feeling she might be conveniently left behind. That was fine. The messenger and his men were just the diversion she needed to acquire the pup and get out of the Courtyard before the Others knew what happened.

She waited another minute, then left the maintenance garage and hurried to the garage that held the BOW Darrell had driven last week.

That space was empty, but when she opened the next door, that garage contained a BOW. She unhooked the vehicle from its power source and got in. The BOW grumbled when she turned the key, but the engine turned over. She located the controls for the lights and wipers. When she turned on the lights, she noticed the power bar showed a thirty-percent charge.

She couldn’t remember how much charge the BOW had used the night Darrell had driven to the Green Complex, and that annoyed her. Asia Crane, SI, would remember that kind of detail from just a glance at the dashboard.

It’ll be enough to get me there and back, Asia thought as she turned off the lights and backed out of the garage. After all, I’m not the one breaking the trail.

Muscling the BOW into the tracks left by Simon’s vehicle, Asia headed for the Green Complex and the bit of fur that was going to make Bigwig and the other backers piles of money and make her a very famous woman.

* * *

A gust of wind playfully pushed the BOW. Simon growled, not sure if that gust was simply weather or if it was Air amusing herself. Either way, the direction had shifted, which meant the storm was curling around the city instead of continuing to slam through it. That softening had to be Winter’s doing, with help from Air. It was still a good day to get home and stay home, and with tomorrow being Earthday, clearing the delivery area and the parking lot could be done leisurely. And he liked the idea of Wolves digging out the cars stuck in their lot. That would be more fun than being in human form and shoveling.

Maybe they could let the ponies . . . ? No, he wasn’t ready to encourage the ponies to reveal their true nature and abilities by clearing the snow in the places where humans could see them. But inside the Courtyard was another matter. Tornado, Cyclone, and Twister were not small forces, but they could work smaller for play. He could tell by the way the road had been cleared that Jester had hitched one of them to the pony sled so that Meg would be able to get home. And Blair had noticed short snow funnels that moved along the Courtyard’s interior roads at the speed of a trotting pony. The three ponies were pleased because they didn’t get to use their natures often in this part of Thaisia, and Blair was pleased because he wasn’t using time or fuel to plow the roads.

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