Written in Red Page 46

“I guess there isn’t anything of interest here this morning,” she said coldly.

“Then you should go,” he replied. “Although . . .” He vaulted over the counter, went to the other side of the display, picked up a book, and held it out. “You might find this one interesting.”

It was one of the horror books written by a terra indigene. The cover was black with the open mouth of a Wolf just before it took a bite out of its enemy. Or maybe it was the second bite, since there was a little blood on the teeth.

Asia forgot everything she knew about Wolves and bolted out the door.

He watched her run toward the parking lot and decided two things: one, she couldn’t run worth a damn in those clothes, and two, on her, he found the fear scent agreeable.

* * *

Monty adjusted the collar of his overcoat with one hand while he knocked on his captain’s doorway.

“Come in, Lieutenant,” Captain Burke said, waving him in while most of his attention remained on the sheet of paper he was studying. “Are you getting settled in all right?”

“Yes, sir. Thank you for asking.”

Yesterday he’d gone to the temple near his apartment building and had found some peace and fellowship there. Then he called Elayne in the hope of talking to Lizzy, and got stonewalled. Lizzy had never been allowed to go over to a friend’s house before the midday meal on the day of rest and meditation. He didn’t think Elayne would change that rule, but if she had, it was only to deny him some time to talk to his little girl. Until that phone call he’d still thought of himself as Elayne’s lover, despite the current estrangement, but she made it clear she was looking for someone whose social standing would erase the “stain” he’d put on all their lives.

And that told him plainly enough that his chances of talking to Lizzy, let alone having her come to visit during her summer vacation, had gone from slim to none.

“A couple of calls about Wolf sightings yesterday,” Burke said. “You can hear them howling for miles, so people are used to that, but having Wolves gather in the Courtyard parking lot during the day is unusual.”

“I’ll check it out,” Monty said.

Burke nodded, then turned the paper he’d been studying so Monty could see it. “Your priority is the Courtyard, but keep your eyes open for this individual while you’re on patrol. Somebody wants this thief caught and the stolen items returned in a hurry, and has the clout to pull strings with the Northeast Region governor. And the governor pulled our mayor’s strings, and you know how it tumbles down from there.”

Monty stared at the Most Wanted poster and felt the blood drain from his head.

May all the gods above and below have mercy on us.

“I’m going to get copies of this made and distributed, and—”

“You can’t.”

Burke folded his hands and gave Monty a smile that was full of friendly menace. “You’re telling your captain what he can or can’t do?”

Monty pointed to the face on the poster, noting the way his hand trembled. He was sure Burke noticed that too. “That’s the new Liaison at the Lakeside Courtyard. I met her the other day.” Being wanted for the theft of something that would have somebody leaning on the governor for its return could explain why Meg Corbyn had been so nervous when he’d met her. She hadn’t been worried about working with the Wolves; she’d been worried about being recognized by him.

“Are you sure, Lieutenant?” Burke asked quietly.

Monty nodded. “The hair looks darker here . . .” A bad dye job would explain the weird orange color. “But that’s her.”

“You’ve met Simon Wolfgard. Do you think he’d hand her over to you?”

Human law didn’t apply in the Courtyards—or anywhere beyond the land the humans had been allowed to lease from the terra indigene in order to have farms and cities—and it never applied to the Others. But Simon Wolfgard ran a business and had no tolerance for thieves. Would that make a difference?

“I can stall putting out copies of this poster,” Burke said, “but I’m sure every police station received it and every other captain is going to be handing out copies to his men. So if I’m going to be the only captain defying a direct order from the mayor to apprehend this woman, you’d better give me a reason I can take to His Honor.”

“I’d like to make a copy of this and take it to Mr. Wolfgard,” Monty said. “I’ll show it to him and let him decide.”

“Just remember, that woman is the only one who knows where the stolen property is hidden. We need a live person, not a DLU. Make sure he understands that.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Get your copy made and keep me informed.”

Monty took the poster, made his copy, and returned the original to Burke. When he finished, he found Kowalski leaning a hip against his desk.

“We’re going to the bookstore,” Monty said.

“Going to ask about the Wolf sightings?” Kowalski asked.

Monty carefully folded the Most Wanted poster into quarters and tucked it in the pocket of his sports jacket. “Something like that.”

As they drove to Howling Good Reads, Monty considered various ways to approach Simon Wolfgard with this information. He didn’t know if there was a way to get the result the mayor and governor wanted, but he did know one thing: if the Others chose not to cooperate, that Most Wanted poster could be as dangerous to the humans in Lakeside as barrels of poison were to another city a couple generations ago.

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