Written in Red Page 61

“Meg,” he said, nodding.

“Mr. Wolfgard.”

Calling him Mr. Wolfgard was becoming an effective door she kept slamming in his face, and he didn’t like it. If she kept doing it, thinking of her as a two-legged bunny was going to have more and more appeal.

Then she looked down, smiled, and said, “Hello. Who are you?”

That’s when he remembered the pup, who was halfway hiding between his legs.

Sam gave her his squeaky-door howl of greeting.

When young, terra indigene Wolves didn’t look much different from wolves. As they matured, the differences in size and shape became apparent.

“This is Sam,” Simon said. He didn’t offer an explanation of who Sam was. Meg didn’t seem to notice.

“Hello, Sam.”

The pup grumbled and howled in conversational tones. Still safe between Simon’s legs, he edged forward to sniff at Meg, then jumped back to hide. And all the while, Sam’s body quivered and his tail thumped against Simon’s leg.

Not one of us, but she doesn’t smell like prey either, Simon thought. Doesn’t smell like the kind of humans who had destroyed Sam’s world. Meg was something new, and her scent made the pup forget he was afraid of being outside.

Wasn’t that interesting?

“You need any help getting those up the stairs?” Simon asked.

“No, thank you. The stairs are clear of snow, so I’ll be fine. Besides, this is my second trip. Good evening, Mr. Wolfgard. Bye, Sam.”

He watched her go up the stairs before he took the pup over to the area Sam was using as a dumping spot. The rest of the residents were tolerant because it was Sam and because it was so cold and because the Hawks and Owls didn’t object to the rats and mice that were drawn to the feces. But sooner or later he was going to have to clean up all the poop.

As soon as the pup had done his business, Sam made a dash for the stairs leading up to Meg’s apartment. Simon caught him halfway up and took him inside their own place.

“No,” he said firmly. “I don’t think she wants to play tonight.”

He could picture, too clearly, the two of them romping with Meg in the snow.

“Come on. I’ll give you a good brushing. Girls like a well-groomed Wolf.”

Meg doing the brushing, her fingers deep in his fur.

It was better not to think of that picture either.

Sam got a good brushing and remained fairly calm about having to stay out of the cage while Simon gave it a thorough cleaning—calm enough to venture to the front door by himself and sniff around the entrance.

It was easy enough to figure out what scent the pup was looking for.

And wasn’t that interesting?

CHAPTER 9

Meg bobbled the jar of sweet pickles when something thumped on her kitchen door. Her hands shook as she put the jar on the table, and her heart bounced in her throat. Someone had found her, but she couldn’t seem to move, wasn’t able to run for the front door and escape.

Then the thump was repeated, followed by a growled “Open up, Meg!”

Relief made her dizzy. No one had found her except the annoyed Wolf whose apartment also accessed the common hallway and back staircase.

“Just a minute!” Keys. She needed . . .

A key turned in the lock, but the door was still held shut by the sliding bolt. That resistance was followed by a snarl that made her shiver as she hurried to the door and slid the bolt to an open position.

Simon burst into her kitchen, grabbed her before she could scramble out of reach, and hauled her out to the landing and then through the open doorway into his apartment.

She struggled—an instinctive need to escape from an angry man—until he snapped at her, his teeth so close to the tip of her nose, she wondered if he’d stripped off a layer of skin.

“I don’t have time to play.” His growl rumbled under the words as he pulled her through an empty room, down a hallway, down the stairs, and into his kitchen. “I have to go away for a few days, and I need you to take care of Sam.”

That pins-and-needles feeling filled her arms and hands as soon as he said the words, but she didn’t dare rub her skin and call attention to herself.

“Why are you going away? Where are you going?” It wasn’t just curiosity or concern that made her ask. Simon still had her razor. She’d gritted her teeth for an hour yesterday evening while a craving seemed to eat its way through her chest and belly. Not sure how far blood scent could travel and being sensibly afraid of exciting the predatory nature of her neighbors—especially the vampire, Grizzly, and Wolf—she’d managed to resist using a kitchen knife for a cut. But she wasn’t going to be able to resist much longer.

“It doesn’t concern you,” Simon said. “Just do your work until I get back, and you’ll be fine.” He opened a bottom cupboard, hauled out a bag of dry dog food, and scooped some into a bowl. “This is Sam’s food. I give him a scoop in the morning and another around dinnertime. And he gets fresh water at the same time.”

Staggered by the responsibility he’d just dumped on her, Meg said, “But I don’t know anything about taking care of a puppy!”

“Just give him food and water twice a day.” Simon repeated as he shoved a set of keys into her hand. “Keys for this apartment. If you have any questions, ask Vlad or Henry.”

Meg hurried after him as he strode to the front door and picked up the carryall beside it. “Mr. Wolfgard!”

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