Written in Red Page 60

“There’s trouble in the western Courtyards,” Simon said. As they walked, he told Elliot about the phone calls, the attacks, and the deaths. “Select Courtyard leaders might be meeting in the Midwest Region to discuss this new threat.”

Elliot frowned. “This . . . disease. It’s contagious?”

Simon shook his head. “It’s not a disease. It wears off like a drug in a few hours. There are two pieces of foulness trickling into small human settlements, and our bodywalkers can’t find the source of either of them.”

“You’re going to represent the Northeast Region?”

“If the meeting is called, I’ll be the one to go for the Courtyards in this part of Thaisia.”

A brief, uncomfortable silence. Then Elliot said, “What about Sam? I’ll take care of him. You know that. But I will not have him in a cage.”

“The cage is for his protection.” An old argument. In his terror and grief after seeing his mother killed, Sam had gone on a binge of self-destructive behavior no amount of pack discipline could stop. After the second time the pup had come too close to killing himself, Simon had gotten the cage, intending to get rid of it as soon as the pup settled down. But by the time he could trust Sam to be alone, the pup had decided the cage was the only safe place, and getting him to come out for even a few minutes at a time had become a daily battle.

As much as Elliot loved Sam and still mourned the loss of Daphne, it was a battle the older Wolf refused to endure. And the sight of Sam in a cage upset everyone in the Wolfgard complex, especially the other pups.

“Henry will look after him. Or Vlad.”

“How long will you be gone?”

“A few days. Maybe a week.” He didn’t want to consider what could happen in a week—or who might not be in the Courtyard when he returned. “Try to get along with Meg, all right? She’s the first Liaison we’ve had in a long time who actually does the work, and that includes making deliveries to the Chambers.”

Elliot looked uncomfortable at the reminder that Erebus Sanguinati approved of their new Liaison. “Well, I will say this for her. She’s the first monkey who bothered to walk the few steps between buildings and deliver the consulate’s mail personally so that I receive correspondence in a timely manner.”

Having that much settled, they finished the walk to the Green Complex in easy silence. The black sedan was waiting in a visitor’s parking space.

Elliot opened the door, then paused. “By the way, the mayor called me to whine about a dangerous thief and about a rumor that she may be hiding in the Courtyard, even posing as our Liaison, and it was vitally important that the property that was taken be returned to its owner.”

Simon twitched. Should he tell Elliot about Meg? The decision the Business Association had made not to tell anyone that Meg was a blood prophet was sound—and it had taken a threat from Tess to get Jenni Crowgard’s promise not to share that information with anyone, including the other Crows. But maybe knowing would help Elliot deal with the monkeys who chattered in his ear?

“What did you tell him?” Simon asked, knowing his hesitation had given Elliot a clue that he had reasons for wanting to hold on to their new Liaison besides her ability to sort mail and deliver packages.

Elliot bared his teeth in a smile. “I told him our Liaison didn’t have the backbone to be dangerous or the intelligence to be a successful thief.”

“That will do.” Not a compliment to Meg, but the kind of answer that the human government could find useful. Then something occurred to him. “How did the mayor know that Meg looked like the woman on the wanted poster? Only a handful of police have seen her, and the deliverymen would have no reason to know about the poster.”

“The mayor said he received an anonymous tip,” Elliot said.

“Male or female?”

“He didn’t say.”

How would Asia Crane have seen one of those posters? She wasn’t above causing mischief for the person who had the job she claimed she wanted. Or was it someone else? Someone who might be able to charm information out of a policeman. Or someone who worked for the Others and had earned some degree of trust.

Something else he would discuss with Henry, Vlad, and Tess, especially if he had to leave for that meeting.

Simon watched Elliot drive off to the Wolfgard Complex before crossing the road and going to his apartment. Sam’s greeting ended as soon as Simon opened the cage door and reached for the pup.

Ignoring the whimpers, he hauled Sam out of the cage and took him outside. As usual, as soon as Sam’s feet touched the ground, he tried to bolt for the apartment.

Growling, Simon turned to give chase. Having to use the damned cage scraped at him as much as it did Elliot, but what were they supposed to do—let the pup die?

What will you do if he starts growing again, if he ever matures into a full-grown Wolf and still needs a cage?

He’d taken a couple of steps after the pup when Sam slid to a stop and headed away from their door, sniffing the ground with an interest he hadn’t shown in much too long.

Intrigued, Simon joined the pup and bent low to see if he could pick up whatever scent Sam found so interesting.

Meg.

As he straightened up, he saw her coming through the archway that led to the garages and parking area behind the complex. She had carry bags in both hands and was puffing a bit.

One way or another, he was going to make sure she got more exercise—even if he had to chase her like a bunny.

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