Written in Red Page 153

She shoved Sam into Erebus’s arms and stepped back. “I’ll lead the men away from here.”

“No,” Erebus said. “You come in too.”

“Sam won’t be safe if I stay.” She cut off his objections by adding, “I know this.”

She got back in the BOW and took off, shivering from cold and blinking back tears as she drove recklessly down the interior road that would take her to her fate.

* * *

An explosion, Monty thought as he hung up the phone. In the Courtyard. Oh, gods. He grabbed his coat and headed out to commandeer whatever car was available.

When his mobile phone rang, he almost ignored it, but Debany and MacDonald were already on patrol, and they might be calling to report. “Montgomery.”

“Kowalski, here. Ruthie just called. There was an explosion in the Courtyard, maybe more than one, but not near the shops. I’m heading there now. Thought you should know.”

Then the Utilities Complex was probably the target of one of those explosions. “How can you get there?”

“I do some cross-country skiing. I can make it to the Courtyard.”

He understood why Kowalski wanted to get to Ruth, but how were the Others going to respond to any human right now, especially an armed man? “You take care, Karl, and stay in touch.”

“Yes, sir.”

When Monty stepped outside, Louis Gresh was waiting for him.

“I heard,” Louis said. “You’re going to need help. And you’re going to need someone driving who can handle this snow.”

“Thanks,” Monty said as they got in Louis’s car.

“Just doing my part to keep us alive,” Louis replied.

As they reached the intersection of Parkside and Chestnut, they saw the flashing lights of patrol cars and emergency vehicles. Louis shook his head and continued on Chestnut. “We’ll go up Main Street. We’ll have the best chance of getting through that way.”

Monty just nodded—and hoped they got through in time.

* * *

The special messenger and his fourth man caught up to the three he’d sent to chase down the benefactor’s property. They were idling in front of a black wrought-iron fence.

According to the information he’d been given, the damn female was supposed to be physically weak and without the practical knowledge needed to operate machines or drive vehicles. Unless they were following a decoy, which he didn’t believe, the benefactor’s information was out of date.

“Where?” he snapped.

“She left the pup with the old man who lives in that little building,” one man reported. “We saw her turn onto the road up there.” He pointed. “We’ll have no trouble catching her.”

Maybe not, he thought. But there were things happening now that hadn’t shown up during their testing forays—like those snow funnels that appeared out of nowhere and disappeared just as fast. In addition to that, the team that had set fire to the barn wasn’t answering their radios anymore, and the men who came in through the western breach in the fence were talking about the ground shaking and water twisting up into frozen walls, blocking their escape. They were heading for the exit around where the Crows roosted or whatever the f**k Crows did. Trouble was, according to the map Asia Crane had provided, the Wolves were between the western breach and the Corvine gate.

Maybe he should have wondered why the money had been so good for this assignment, but he hadn’t, and none of them would get anything if the property wasn’t reacquired.

He wagged a finger at two of the men. At least Asia Crane’s fumbling had supplied them with a bonus acquisition. “You two get the pup from the old man. We’ll reacquire the property, and then we’ll all get out of here.”

That said, the messenger raced up the road the property had taken.

* * *

Simon and Blair carried Ferus into the bodywalker’s den in the Wolfgard Complex and laid him in the bed of straw she had prepared.

“Bullets,” she growled as she unwrapped the blankets. “Are the monkeys with the guns still alive?”

“No,” Blair replied.

She nodded in satisfaction, then said, “Go. I will do what I can, and Namid will decide if he is to remain with us or become a part of Thaisia.”

They backed out and looked at each other, not sure where they were most needed—until Simon heard Sam’s panicked <Arroooo! Arrooooo! Meg’s gone! Meg’s gone!>

<Sam!> Simon called. <Where are you?>

The pup didn’t answer him, but Vlad did.

* * *

The Sanguinati gathered around Erebus’s home, all smoke and shadows as the two men pushed open the gate and stepped into the Chambers. Sam had stopped trying to escape from Erebus’s arms and now howled and howled as if his puppy heart was broken.

Erebus stood on the threshold, smiling at the prey who were so obliging to bring themselves to the feast.

“Give us the pup, old man,” one of the monkeys said.

“Eh?” Erebus replied, turning his head as if to hear the words better. As if he couldn’t hear a heartbeat anywhere within Sanguinati land.

“Give us the pup if you know what’s good for you.”

“Come, little one,” Erebus whispered, taking a step back. “This is not for you to see.”

“Hey!” one monkey shouted as the two men rushed toward the closing door.

<They are more than prey,> Erebus said, his words rolling through all the Sanguinati. <They are enemies of our Meg, and they are enemies of the Sanguinati. Take them away and punish them.>

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