Written in Red Page 41

“All right, Simon, you made your point,” Elliot said. “If we finally have a Liaison who will do the work we pay for, I’ll try to show more tolerance.”

“Appreciate it.”

“Has Blair met her yet?”

Simon nodded. “And didn’t bite her.”

“That’s something. I’ll be out tonight for a dinner—a guest of the mayor. I’ll have my mobile phone if you need me.”

“Enjoy your evening.”

“That will depend on the menu. If it’s beef, it will be a tolerable meal. If it’s chicken . . .” Elliot shuddered. “What is the point of chicken?”

“Eggs?”

Elliot waved a hand dismissively. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

As soon as Elliot drove away, Sam began pawing at Simon’s leg, trying to jump into his arms.

“You need to work your legs,” Simon told the pup, making him walk back to the apartment. But he picked up Sam before opening the door, grabbed a towel from the basket in the entryway, and dried off feet and fur.

As soon as he was free, Sam raced to the safety of his cage.

Determined not to let his disappointment show, Simon went into the kitchen, hung up the towel on a peg near the back door, and made dinner for himself and Sam. Then he turned on one of the movies Sam used to love watching, settled in the living room with food and a book, and gave his nephew as much comfort and company as the pup would accept.

* * *

Meg opened the journal she had found at the General Store. She labeled the first page Books, skipped a page, then labeled the next one Music. She skipped another page, put the date at the top of the page, and stopped.

What was she supposed to write? Dear Diary, I didn’t get eaten today. That was true, but it didn’t really say much. Or maybe it said everything that needed to be said.

She still wasn’t sure if humans didn’t stay long in jobs at the Courtyard because they quit or because they didn’t survive dealing with the Others. Except for Lorne, who ran the Three Ps, and Elizabeth Bennefeld, the therapist who was available at the Good Hands Massage Parlor a couple afternoons each week, Merri Lee was the longest-employed human in the Courtyard, and she had been working at A Little Bite for just over a year. Sure, employees were considered not edible, but that didn’t mean anything if the person did something the Others considered a betrayal.

What would the Others consider a betrayal? Certainly a physical act against them would count, but what about a lie that didn’t have anything to do with them? Would that be seen as betrayal?

In the end, afraid that privacy was still an illusion, she avoided mentioning names or what parts of the Courtyard she had visited while making deliveries, but she did mention attending the Quiet Mind exercise class, which was held on the second floor of Run & Thump, and visiting the Courtyard library.

She had found three of the books Winter had requested and two for herself before running into Merri Lee, who had talked her into trying the Quiet Mind class, then went with her to a couple of stores to select an exercise mat and workout clothes.

She was making friends, developing a routine that could become a satisfying life for however long it lasted. If she just remembered to stop at the grocery store to pick up food for the evening meals, she would be all set. As it was, she scrounged what was left of the food Tess had brought, too tired to go back out once she staggered up to her apartment.

Now, muscles loosened from a hot shower and adequately fed, she tucked herself into bed with one of the books, content to read while cars rolled by and people’s voices carried in the still air as they headed home.

She heard Wolves howling, but she wasn’t sure how close they were to this part of the Courtyard. How far did the sound travel? The library had computers that could access information through the telephone lines. Maybe she could find information about the animal wolf that would help her understand the terra indigene Wolf.

She tensed when she heard a heavy footfall near her door, but she let out a sigh of relief when that was followed by the rattle of keys in the door across from hers. She had passed Henry in the Market Square that afternoon, and he had mentioned that he would be staying in one of the other efficiency apartments tonight because he wanted to remain close to his studio.

Picking up her journal, she made a note to herself to look up sculpture and totems when she had a chance to use the computer at the library.

Henry’s door opened and closed. Cars crunched by. Meg got up to make a cup of chamomile tea, then went back to bed and kept reading, slightly scandalized by the story—and more scandalized by the fact that no one had stopped her from taking out the book.

Then there were no sounds of cars, no people heading home.

Meg looked at the clock and reluctantly closed the book. She got up long enough to put her mug in the sink and go to the bathroom. Tomorrow was a rest day, and the Liaison’s Office and most of the Courtyard stores were closed. Hopefully that didn’t include the grocery store. Apples for the ponies on Moonsday? She would need to cut them just before the ponies arrived. Otherwise the chunks would turn brown from the air. She knew that from training images. The girls had spent an entire week one year looking at captioned pictures of different kinds of fruit, from fresh to rotted. In a prophecy, seeing fruit that had been rotting for a specific number of days could indicate the time a person had been missing . . . or dead.

Meg let out a gusty sigh. Maybe her kind always saw the world as images that could be recalled to create a whole picture for someone else. Or maybe it was the way she had been trained to think and learn. Jean hadn’t used the standard images all the time, but she had been unusual, difficult. Different.

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