Written in Red Page 40

He didn’t need a ride, but maybe he could coax Sam to spend a little more time outside if he got home while it was still light. And if Blair was unhappy with Meg for some reason, it was better to know before blood was spilled. “Thanks.”

Neither spoke until they were headed for the Green Complex. Then Blair said casually, “The Liaison. Think we could wash her in the same solution we use for youngsters who get skunked?”

Simon barked out a laugh. Then he considered the appeal of doing just that—and the consequences—and reluctantly shook his head.

Blair sighed. “Didn’t think so.” A pause. “Elliot might want to have words with you. The delivery trucks backed up for a couple of minutes while the drivers waited for her to return, and his shiny black car couldn’t get around them.”

“He doesn’t care about the shiny black car.”

“No, but he does care about maintaining status in a way the monkeys understand, and I don’t think having to wait for your human to open the door for afternoon deliveries is going to encourage him to tolerate her.”

“She’s doing her job.”

“And causing trouble.”

Simon growled—and noticed the way the other Wolf’s lips twitched in amusement.

Blair didn’t say another thing until he pulled up at the Green Complex. Then he looked straight ahead. “It’s still deer season, so there will be some bow hunters in the park for a couple more weeks.”

“So?” Simon opened the passenger’s door and got out.

“If she doesn’t wear a hat, the Liaison won’t need the orange vest hunters use to keep from shooting each other.”

Simon closed the BOW’s door a little harder than necessary, but he still heard Blair laughing as the Wolf drove away.

Fishing out his keys, Simon walked to his apartment. The Green Complex apartments were a mix of sizes that shared common walls and accommodated the different species of terra indigene who chose to live there. Some were more like two-story town houses, while smaller apartments were contained on a single floor. Like the other residential complexes, the Green was U-shaped, with the connecting section containing the mail room, laundry area, and a social room on the second floor where movies were played on the big-screen television and a couple of tables provided an area to play board games the Others had converted from the human versions of those games.

The moment his key slid into the front door lock, he heard the squeaky-door sound that was Sam’s howl.

His big living room had a carpet and a sofa, a couple of lamps, a television and movie disc player, a low table with storage baskets, and the cage where Sam lived.

Sam was all wagging tail and happy-puppy greeting—until Simon opened the cage door. Then the youngster huddled in the back of the cage, whimpering.

Simon held out his hand. “Come on, Sam. It’s still light outside. We’ll be safe. Come outside for a pee and a poop.”

When the pup continued to shake and whimper, Simon reached in and hauled him out, ignoring Sam’s attempts to bite him and escape. They did this several times a day—had been doing it since Daphne was killed and Simon became Sam’s guardian. Sam was terrified of outside because outside was where his mother had died right in front of him.

Sam had stopped growing that night, hadn’t continued his development the way pups should. They had no way of knowing what had happened to his human form because he hadn’t shifted in two years.

Simon couldn’t imagine being stuck in one skin his whole life, unable to shift. And he didn’t want to imagine what it felt like to be so afraid that he could no longer make that choice.

He took the struggling pup outside and firmly closed the apartment door.

“A pee and a poop,” he said, walking over to a potted tree that was part of a central garden area. He put Sam down and placed himself between the pup and the apartment. They weren’t going in until Sam obeyed, but it broke his heart a little more every time they did this, and the fangs of his hatred for the men responsible grew a little longer.

Someday, he promised himself as Sam took care of business.

Sam was trembling and on the verge of panic from being outside for so long when the shiny black sedan pulled up in front of the complex. The back door opened and Elliot Wolfgard stepped out. Like Daphne and Sam, Elliot had gray eyes instead of amber, but it was a cold gray that suited the stern expression that was usually worn on the human face.

Now the stern expression shifted into a warm smile as Elliot came forward with open arms. “Hello, Sam.” He crouched in the snow to rub the pup’s ears and ruffle his fur. “How’s our boy?” He looked up at Simon when he asked the question.

Simon shrugged to say same as always.

Elliot’s smile dimmed as he rose. “You should tell the Liaison to wear a watch if she can’t get back to work on time without one.”

“Actually, she was making deliveries in the Courtyard, not dawdling for her own amusement,” Simon replied with just enough tooth to remind Elliot who was dominant.

“I stand corrected,” Elliot said after a moment. “I should have known that she was attending to her duties. The Crows are such gossips and find her entertaining, if the number of them gathering to watch the office is any indication. I prefer not to deal with them, but my staff would have heard if we had cause to complain about her.”

“She doesn’t like mice for snacks. That makes her peculiar—at least according to the Owls.”

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