Written in Red Page 160

When Lorenzo left, Simon stretched out his neck again, still wanting to get rid of those bandages and the medicine smell under them. With a quiet grumble, he licked her arm instead.

Her fingers flexed, burrowed into his fur.

<Meg?>

“Don’t tell Simon about spinning the BOW,” she mumbled.

He lifted his head. <Meg?>

But she was asleep again.

Nowhere to go. Nothing he could do while she was here. Settling his head on her shoulder, he closed his eyes and slept.

CHAPTER 29

Vlad studied the ash that drifted off the two bodies. The last two enemies had been in sight of the Corvine entrance, had almost escaped. Riding their machines, they might have gotten out if they’d met up with anyone but Fire.

Suddenly aware that the swooshing sound he’d been hearing for the past minute had stopped, he looked toward the open gate. The figure hesitated, then came forward, moving slowly on skis.

“Mr. Sanguinati? It’s Officer Kowalski. I work with Lieutenant Montgomery.”

He recognized the voice, but he still felt suspicious. “Do humans ski during storms?”

“No, sir, not by choice. But I heard about the explosion in the Courtyard and was coming to see if I could help when I got caught in the blizzard. My mobile phone is still working, and I got a call through to the station. The lieutenant’s teams are heading for the hospital. Protection for Ms. Corbyn while she’s there.”

Still trying to work out if there was another message under the words, Vlad looked toward the Wolfgard part of the Courtyard as howls filled the air.

“Problem?” Kowalski asked.

“One of the Wolves died.”

“In the storm?”

“He was shot by the intruders.”

“I’m sorry.”

And Kowalski was genuinely sorry, Vlad realized. He looked at the two snowmobiles that Fire had left untouched. “Do you know how to work these machines?”

“I’ve ridden on them a few times, so I know enough to drive one.”

“Then you will show me, and we’ll use the machines to reach the hospital.”

* * *

Picking up the steaming mug of tea, Henry walked over to the windows of his studio. Nothing he wanted to see out there. Not tonight. Terra indigene had died today, and some humans had died in the storm that was the Elementals’ response to those deaths—and to the harm done to Meg.

The intruders had also died, and that was good.

Now they would see if the humans would resume their wary peace with the terra indigene or if there would be war. He hoped the humans would show some sense. It had been many years since the terra indigene had crushed a human city. If it came to that here, he would regret the deaths of some of these people.

Shaking his head, Henry sipped his tea. No point stirring up the bees if you weren’t looking for honey.

On his way back to this part of the Courtyard, he’d found Nathan, exhausted and half frozen, still trying to chase after that Asia. But Tess had dealt with Asia Crane, so Henry shifted from spirit bear to Grizzly and broke the trail for the Wolf right up to the back door of the efficiency apartments. The girls had put Nathan’s paws in warm water to melt the ice clumped between his pads, had patted him dry with towels, and given him food and water. Now Nathan and John were curled up in the apartment, asleep, while the girls were at A Little Bite, making food and hot drinks. And Lorne, with Henry’s permission, was in the social center, letting the stranded use the toilets and rest in a warm place for a while.

Last winter they would have stood behind their locked doors and watched the humans die. But things had changed around the Lakeside Courtyard, and those changes held promise for all of Namid’s children. So he hoped the human government would be wise enough not to choose war.

* * *

Meg woke slowly, feeling a rattle and burn in her chest.

White room. The hated and feared bed. And a figure at the end of the bed.

“No,” she moaned. Had it been a dream, a delusion?

“Meg?” The figure leaped toward her, his weird-shaped hands coming down on either side of her head. “Stay awake, Meg. Stay awake!”

A face out of nightmares, out of visions of dark water and terrible cold. Then the fur receded and she recognized him. “S-Simon?”

Red flickered in his amber eyes and he snarled at her. “If you ever scare me like this again, I will eat you!” Then he pressed his forehead against her arm and whined.

Not a dream? She had reached the Courtyard, had been building the life that had swum through the dark dreams? “Where are we?”

“Hospital.” He raised his head and snarled again. “You stupid female. You fell through the ice and cut your chin!”

He paced, he panted, he snarled and whined. He threatened to eat her a half dozen times. But when he howled, all kinds of people ran into the room.

Terror filled her when she saw the man in the white coat—the same kind of coat that had been worn by the Walking Names—but Lieutenant Montgomery was the next person into the room, followed by Vladimir Sanguinati.

“Ms. Corbyn, I’m Dr. Lorenzo,” the white coat said. “You’re awake, and that’s welcome news.” He slanted a glance at Simon. “Although hospitals are supposed to be quiet zones, even when there is good news.”

Simon just growled at the doctor.

“I want to leave,” Meg said, desperate to get away from the bed and the room that felt too much like the compound, like a cage.

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