Written in Red Page 156

“Turn on the radio,” Louis said. “Don’t know what good it will do, but I’d like to know what we’re in for.”

Monty turned on the radio.

“. . . blew in out of nowhere. They’re calling it the storm of the century. We’ve had a foot of snow in the past fifteen minutes, and there is no sign of it letting up. Lightning strikes have taken out some power nodes, and several areas of Lakeside are without electricity. Telephones are erratic. Ice is coating the lines, and they’re snapping under the weight. So are tree limbs. Being outside isn’t just hazardous, it’s suicidal. We’re WZAS, but we’re not being a wiseass now, folks. This is big and it’s bad. Get off the streets. Get to some kind of shelter. This is Ann—”

Static. Monty shut off the radio.

A storm that hit the city with insane fury. The radio station might be saying it came out of nowhere, but Monty figured that by now everyone in Lakeside realized where this storm came from. But how many had heard about an explosion in the Courtyard and could even guess why this vengeance was pounding the city?

When it was done, how many of these people would be left to bury their dead and rebuild their lives? How many would try to pick up the pieces without ever knowing why this storm tried to destroy them?

* * *

<Tess.>

<Henry?>

<That Asia Crane is one of the humans who came to harm Meg. Nathan is driving the prey back to the Market Square. Don’t let her escape.>

* * *

The special messenger raced toward the Corvine entrance. The f**king Crows wouldn’t be out in this storm. The wind would snap off their wings. Gods below, nothing should be out in this storm.

But something was standing there. Two of them. In his way.

Female forms caught by the snowmobile’s headlight. One of them was brown, but the other had red hair tipped with yellow and blue. They swung out of his way before he ran them down, but as he passed them, the brown one stomped her foot.

The earth lifted under him, under all that snow, tossing him and the snowmobile into the air. He felt the machine tipping and couldn’t regain the balance. As he came down, he threw himself off the snowmobile to avoid being trapped.

He hit snow that melted under him so fast, he found himself at the bottom of a crater filled with several inches of steaming water. Then the red-haired female leaped into the crater, grabbed his shoulders, mashed her lips against his, and breathed into his mouth.

Fire burned his throat and seared his lungs. Burn holes appeared where the yellow and blue ends of her hair brushed against his parka. Struggling to breathe, he reached for his gun, tried to defend himself. She grabbed his hands, and fire burned through the gloves, turning his hands into torches.

She held on and laughed. Then she released him, sprang out of the crater, and disappeared.

Have to get out. Have to get away.

He was still struggling to draw air into his damaged lungs and pull himself out of the crater when the Wolves found him. And he was still alive when they began to feed.

* * *

Asia rubbed at the snow crusting her eyelashes and looked again.

She’d made it. She’d reached the Market Square. From bits she’d heard, the Others didn’t always lock their doors. She might find something open, might be able to get out of this storm for a little while.

A howl came from somewhere behind her. That freaking Wolf. Why didn’t it have the sense to hole up somewhere?

An answering howl came from somewhere ahead of her.

Gods above and below, another one?

She turned her back to the wind to give herself a chance to take a few full breaths. She couldn’t take shelter in the Market Square. If the Wolves found her there, they would kill her. She had to get to her car. Or maybe she would leave the freaking car and just go to the Stag and Hare to wait out the storm.

With luck, the special messenger had stashed Meg somewhere. And the Wolf pup too. Maybe she wouldn’t get as much money as she’d hoped, but the experience would be invaluable for her TV series and give her an “I’ve seen the real thing” edge no other actress could match.

As soon as she could get out of this city, she would head back to Sparkletown. She would meet with Bigwig, who would be her producer, and then she would spend a couple of days on a beach, baking in the sun until her bones finally thawed.

But before she could do any of that, she had to get out of the Courtyard.

Staying close to the buildings, Asia trudged the length of the employee parking lot to the wall that separated that lot from customer parking. Gasping for breath, she leaned against the wooden door that provided access between the two lots.

Almost out. Almost safe. She could make it.

She kicked snow away from the door in order to pull it open enough to squeeze through. Then she waded through thigh-high snow—and bumped into one of the other cars that was buried in the lot. Fighting her way to the lump of snow that was closest to the street, she let out a giddy laugh as she brushed the snow off the driver’s-side door. She needed to get out of the storm for a few minutes before fighting her way up the street to the Stag and Hare.

“Keys,” she said, pulling off a glove in order to unzip the pocket that held the car keys. With keys in hand, she went to the back of the car and kicked the snow away from the tailpipe to give the exhaust a way to escape. Then she hurried back to the door and opened it. “Going to get out of here. Going to get warm.”

“No. You’re not,” Tess said.

Asia turned and felt something break inside her mind when she looked at the black hair that coiled and moved, looked at the face Tess usually hid behind the human mask. She tried to look away, but she couldn’t make her eyes work, couldn’t do anything but stare at something she didn’t want to see.

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