Written in Red Page 155

CHAPTER 27

The special messenger swore when the property fell through the ice. Still had a chance to retrieve her. If he could drive off the bitch standing on the bank, his men could cross the bridge and . . .

Two more women suddenly appeared. One of the women leaped from the bank, smashing through the ice while black smoke flowed across the creek toward the hole. The white-haired woman who was dressed like something out of a creepy novel screamed, and then the one standing next to her screamed. And then he couldn’t see anything because it was snowing so hard, and that snow was whipped by such a savage wind, he couldn’t even see his own hand. As he fought his way back up the incline to his snowmobile, he heard tree limbs snapping around him.

What were those bitches?

No chance to recover the property now. Good thing the benefactor had made a subsidiary deal for the Wolf pup with the Sparkletown bigwig who had hired Asia Crane.

Had Asia tried to double-cross all of them when she went after the pup by herself? He didn’t know and, at this point, he didn’t care. He just hoped the pup’s acquisition would be profitable enough to make this job worthwhile.

He crawled the remaining distance toward the barely visible lights of two snowmobiles.

“Report!” he yelled, fighting to gain his feet.

He tripped over one man whose head was almost twisted off the shoulders. Where was the other member of his team? Fucking coward must have run off.

Or was taken?

Lightning tore the sky, closely followed by thunder that shook the ground.

When he reached his snowmobile, he took a moment to recall where he needed to go in order to escape from this place. Then he roared across the bridge.

Fuck this assignment and this f**king city. As soon as he handed over the pup and got paid, he was getting back to civilization. And he hoped his balls fell off if he ever took another assignment that involved the f**king Others.

* * *

Cold. So cold. Already impossible to breathe.

Suddenly, Meg’s hands felt the sting of bitter cold air. She tried to grab for something, anything. She thought she felt fur, but she couldn’t hold on.

Cold. So cold.

She slipped back into the dark.

* * *

<Meg!>

Simon clamped his teeth around her forearm firmly enough to hold her. When Vlad flung her toward the surface, Simon felt her fingers in his fur as she tried to grab him. But she hadn’t been strong enough to hold on.

The ground rumbled beneath him, shaking him off his slippery perch just enough that Meg’s head went under the water again. He hauled on her arm, pulling her back up while Blair grabbed for anything he could without ripping her skin with his teeth and claws.

Vlad was doing his best to keep her where they could reach her, but as smoke he couldn’t help her, and in human form he risked being swept under the ice. Even Water was trying to get Meg to safety, but she didn’t know how—none of them knew how—to help a human.

Shifting to a between form that kept the Wolf head and teeth but gave him the fur-covered body of a man, he finally got his fingers through a belt loop in her jeans and pulled her up the bank.

<Meg!> Smelling blood, he noticed the gash in her chin. He licked off the blood, licked and licked to clean the wound. <Meg!>

Lightning flashed. Thunder rumbled.

<We don’t know human medicine,> Blair said. <How do we fix her?>

<We take her to a human bodywalker. Hospital,> Simon replied. She was so cold. If she were a Wolf, he would know what to do. But she wasn’t a Wolf, she was Meg, and he didn’t know what to do except take her to the humans who could fix her.

He squinted at the blinding snow, hunching over Meg to give her some protection. How were they supposed to reach a hospital?

Jester was suddenly in front of him, holding out blankets. Then Winter placed a freezing hand on his shoulder and said, “I’ll drive you to the human place.”

Wrapping Meg in one blanket, he carried her to the sleigh and climbed into the backseat. He settled on one side of her while Jester pressed against her on the other side, tucking the second blanket around all of them as best he could.

Simon stared at Blair, his enforcer, and Vlad, who was Erebus Sanguinati’s most trusted weapon. <The Elementals gave the intruders a backhanded slap, and that storm will slow their attempt to escape. Find them. Don’t let any of our enemies get out of the Courtyard.>

Blair howled the Song of Battle and took off. Vlad gave him a nod, shifted to smoke, and followed his own trail.

Air leaped into the front seat beside Winter, who looked back at Simon. Despite his own fury, it took all the courage he had not to whimper at what he saw in her eyes.

“Run, my boys. Run!” Winter shouted to Thunder and Lightning. “Run for our Meg. AND LET THE STORM FLY!”

She screamed, and Air screamed.

Simon held on to Meg, licking the leaking wound on her chin as the Elementals unleashed their rage on the city of Lakeside. And he wondered if the hospital with its human healers would still be there by the time the sleigh arrived.

* * *

Monty and Louis were a couple of blocks from the intersection of Chestnut and Main when the new storm came out of nowhere and hit Lakeside with an insane fury.

Fog rolled so thick through the streets, they couldn’t see anything but the taillights of the car ahead of them—and half the time they couldn’t even see those. Mist followed fog, creating a thin glaze of ice on the street, and what fell on the windows defied the wipers’ ability to keep the glass clear. Snow fell heavy and fast, and the traffic that had been making slow but steady progress was instantly bogged down. Tires spun on the ice, and the wind was a battering force that slammed some of smaller cars into other vehicles as funnels appeared and disappeared, ripping a door off a car and flinging it through the window of a nearby building. Postal boxes were torn off their concrete platforms, becoming another hazard for motorists and pedestrians alike. Even people, knocked off their feet by the wind, were flung into the fog-filled streets, invisible to drivers. Lightning flashes came so fast, they reminded Monty of strobe lights, and the thunder that followed each flash rattled buildings and shattered windows.

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