Written in Red Page 157

She sagged and would have slid to the ground if Tess hadn’t grabbed her arm to keep her upright.

She couldn’t feel that arm, and her legs weren’t working right. And beads of sweat trickled down the inside of her skull. She could feel them trickling and tickling inside of the bone.

That wasn’t right.

Tess eased her into the driver’s seat, lifting her legs and positioning them so that all she had to do was shift her foot to the gas pedal. Her hands were gently placed in her lap. Leaning in, Tess tossed the keys onto the passenger’s seat. Asia could see them out of the corner of her eye, but she couldn’t turn her head to look at them, couldn’t lift her hand to reach for them. Couldn’t do anything except feel the relentless, terrible thing that was happening inside her body.

It was raining inside her skull.

“Wha . . .”

Fingers turned her head so she could look at that terrible face with its terrible smile.

“Wha . . . are . . . you?”

Tess stared at her, then breathed in deep and sighed as if she’d just tasted something wonderful. “You monkeys have no word for what I am.”

Her face was turned again so her eyes stared out the windshield that showed her nothing but snow. The car door closed.

Asia’s mind continued to break. Her body continued to break. Nerves finally screamed their warnings of pain, but she couldn’t move, couldn’t speak.

And inside her skull, it continued to rain.

* * *

Tess squeezed through the door at the back of the parking lot, then pushed it closed.

In ancient times, there had been a name for her kind. But the naming attracted the named, so the word was said to be cursed. As races and languages changed, the symbol of the word, still recognized in the primal part of the human mind, was never translated into newer languages. Which was why, beyond a few whispered myths, even the rest of the terra indigene no longer knew about Namid’s most ferocious predator.

Long ago, there had been a word for her kind. Then, as now, it meant “harvester of life.”

CHAPTER 28

A car was stuck in the intersection, blocking traffic in every direction.

“No,” Louis said as a man got out of that car and walked away. “No. You can’t do that.”

Monty watched the man and instinctively braced himself. “Louis, he’s trying to run from something.”

Lightning struck the intersection, thunder shook everything on the street, and a gust of wind shoved the car out of the intersection as a sleigh raced by, heading for the hospital.

“Follow the sleigh.” Monty’s heart slammed against his chest. He could think of one person in the Courtyard who, if injured, would need human help. And if Meg Corbyn was in that sleigh, everyone in the hospital was at risk if the terra indigene reacted badly.

As if the blizzard wasn’t a bad enough reaction.

Louis didn’t ask questions. He turned right on Main Street and went after the sleigh, driving down a street that was suddenly cleared of all obstacles.

As they approached Lakeside Hospital, Monty pointed and said, “There.”

Nodding, Louis started to make the turn into the emergency-care entrance.

The sleigh was parked right in front of the emergency-care doors. The horses—one black and one white—tossed their heads and stamped their feet. Lightning cracked the sky while thunder shook the car right off the pavement. It ended up packed against the snow mounded beside the emergency-care entrance.

“Damn it,” Louis said softly, looking at the wall of snow against the driver’s side of the car. “You need backup?”

Monty pushed his door open. “Don’t know. You get the car out of the way of the ambulances first.”

“Right.”

Monty struggled to walk up the slight incline to the emergency-care doors, keeping his head down in an effort to see—and breathe. Whiteout conditions. Killer wind chill. And there, suddenly standing between him and the doors, were two females.

Not human, he thought as they watched him approach. Not Other in the way the shifters and vampires were Other. Elementals. He swallowed fear and refused to think about which ones he was dealing with.

“I’m Lieutenant Montgomery. I’m a friend of Ms. Corbyn.” Maybe that was stretching the truth, but right now he’d stretch the truth until it broke if it got him inside so he could find out what happened.

“Our Meg is inside,” the white-haired one said.

“She’s hurt?”

“Yes.”

He heard the rage in her voice, her hatred for the human race.

“I would like to help.”

She stared at him with those inhuman eyes. Then she stepped aside. “Tell the monkeys that this storm will not end until Simon Wolfgard says our Meg will get well.”

Monty bolted inside, intending to grab anyone who might know where Meg Corbyn could be found. Seeing a nurse, he reached for his badge. Before he could say anything, he heard a yip, a startled yell, and an enraged voice roaring, “She needs human medicine, so we brought her here. Now fix her!”

Monty ran toward the commotion. He slammed into a fur-covered but otherwise naked Simon Wolfgard, breaking the Wolf’s clawed hold on a pale but angry doctor.

“Mr. Wolfgard!” Monty shouted. “Simon!”

Something wrong with the eyes, Monty thought. More than being neither human nor Wolf in form.

Someone whimpered nearby. He glanced at another terra indigene who was crouched on the floor, cradling a blanket-wrapped Meg Corbyn.

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