Written in Red Page 53

“I drive just fine,” Meg snapped.

“Considering you don’t know how.” He pulled out of the parking space and sent the BOW flying down the road at a speed she wouldn’t have considered.

Folding her arms, she stared out the side window and muttered, “Bad Wolf.”

His only response was to burst out laughing.

* * *

Monty followed the man named John up the stairs and down a hallway to the door that had OFFICE painted in black letters on frosted glass. John knocked, swung open the door, and retreated.

“Come in, Lieutenant,” Simon said, rising from the chair behind an executive’s desk made of a dark wood.

The quick glance he allowed himself before giving the Wolf his complete attention gave him the impression of a typical office—desk with phone, computer, trays for paperwork; a large calendar that also served as a blotter and a protection for the wood. There were filing cabinets along one wall, and a lack of anything personal—no photographs or even framed prints—but some men preferred an austere work environment, so that wasn’t altogether out of the ordinary. The only thing in the room that wasn’t typical of a human businessman’s office was the pile of pillows and blankets in one corner.

“I appreciate you responding so promptly,” Simon said.

“Frankly, Mr. Wolfgard, I’m surprised you asked for me at all,” Monty replied. Something about those amber eyes. They were more feral now than they had been this morning, if that was possible.

“I talked to the members of the Business Association, and we all agree that while the woman in the wanted poster bears a strong resemblance to our Liaison, they are not the same person.”

Monty opened his mouth to disagree, then realized there was no point. Wolfgard knew perfectly well Meg Corbyn was the woman on the wanted poster.

“Furthermore,” Simon continued, “it seems the police are not the only ones who have made that mistake. Late Watersday night, someone tried to break in to the efficiency apartments we keep over the seamstress/tailor’s shop. He only got as far as breaking the lock on the outside door and climbing the stairs before being scared off by Henry Beargard.”

“You’re sure it was one man?” Monty asked.

“There might have been another waiting in the vehicle, but Henry smelled only one intruder.”

While Wolfgard’s form didn’t change, he wasn’t making any pretense now at passing for human.

“You didn’t report the attempted break-in,” Monty said, shoving his hands in his overcoat pockets to hide the trembling.

“I’m reporting it now. A broken lock wasn’t sufficient reason to trouble our friends in the police, but if it was an attempt to take our Liaison against her will, then it deserves everyone’s attention. We have, of course, taken precautions. Meg Corbyn is now residing in the Green Complex, where safe access is only possible by prior arrangement. I live there. So does Vladimir Sanguinati and Henry Beargard.”

Message understood. No one who tried to reach Meg Corbyn when she was asleep or otherwise vulnerable would survive.

“I’m sure Ms. Corbyn appreciates your interest in her well-being,” Monty said.

Simon barked out a laugh. “Not enough to notice.” Then his face took on that feral look that was terrible to see on an otherwise human face. “Human law doesn’t apply in the Courtyard, Lieutenant. No matter what anyone else thinks, Meg Corbyn is ours now—and we protect our own. You make sure you send that message back to whoever made the poster.”

“Do you know why someone is making so much effort to find her?”

“It doesn’t matter anymore.”

One other angle to try. “If the items that were stolen were returned, I don’t think Ms. Corbyn would be of interest to—”

Flickers of red in Wolfgard’s amber eyes. When he spoke, Monty didn’t think Simon was even aware of the way his voice snarled, “Meg is ours.”

Another message there—and a sudden suspicion that he might be dealing with something far more delicate and dangerous than he’d realized.

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Wolfgard.” It was hard to do, but he turned his back on the Wolf and walked out of the office, closing the door behind him.

He didn’t get all the way down the stairs when the howl came from the floor above him.

He nodded to the pale young woman behind the counter and walked out of Howling Good Reads—and noticed how many people who had been browsing in the front of the store looked up and then headed for the checkout counter.

Kowalski was waiting for him when he slid into the passenger’s side of the patrol car. On the other side of the snow-shrunk parking lot was a van with FALLACARO LOCK & KEY painted on the sides.

“Anything?” he asked as he adjusted his seat belt.

Kowalski tipped his head toward the three men crowded around a glass door. “Break-in the other night. Broken lock. Intruder didn’t get far enough to enter any of the apartments and take anything. Chris Fallacaro runs this side of the business. His father is semiretired, which I took to mean has some prejudice against the Others and doesn’t take these particular service calls.”

“Does Mr. Fallacaro do any of the residential locks in the Courtyard?”

Kowalski shook his head. “He’s teaching a couple of the Others about replacing locks, and they’ve got their own key-cutting machine set up in their Utilities Complex. I had a chance to talk to him for a minute before the Others showed up. He says they don’t quibble about a bill, pay in cash, and outside of crowding him to watch what he’s doing and sniffing him—which can be unnerving because they can tell if he’s been with his girlfriend or what his mother served for dinner the previous night—there’s nothing hard about working with them.”

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