Written in Red Page 62

He turned and looked at her. The prickling under her skin turned into a harsh buzz that filled her legs as well as her arms.

Something bad has happened. Something very bad.

“What about taking Sam outside?” she asked, forcing her voice and body to imitate calm, a skill she had learned out of necessity. No matter what the Walking Names had said about professional manners and being clinical while handling female bodies, when girls struggled against being strapped down for a cut, it provoked some of them into doing . . . things . . . after the cut and prophecy in order to relieve their own response to the girls’ distress. And as long as no usable skin was damaged, the Controller chose not to see what his people were doing. After all, some experiences provided richer details to the visions—especially the darker visions.

To her surprise—and relief—Simon responded to her calm manner by calming down.

He shook his head. “If Sam got away from you, he could get hurt before you could catch up to him. He’ll have to do his business in the cage. I’ll clean it up when I get back.”

The whole apartment would stink of poop if the cage wasn’t cleaned for a few days.

A horn beeped.

Simon reached for the carryall.

“Mr. Wolfgard.” When he looked at her again, she lifted her chin. “You have something that belongs to me.”

He didn’t do anything except straighten up and face her, but she felt the underlying menace. Anyone seeing him now would know he wasn’t human. Because of that, she felt certain this was one time she couldn’t afford to back down. If she did, something in him would force her to remain submissive.

“You don’t need it,” he said.

“That’s not for you to decide. But you’re right—I don’t need it. A kitchen knife will do just as well, but mistakes happen more often when the blade doesn’t have a familiar weight and the sharpest edge.”

It wasn’t a bluff. Most girls who used some other kind of sharp edge when they couldn’t get their hands on the proper razor ended up ruined in one way or another if they didn’t end up dead.

He stared at her, red flickers in his eyes. Then he bared his teeth, and she watched in disbelief as his canines lengthened and then returned to almost human size.

The Wolf was definitely too close to the surface this morning.

Saying nothing, he reached into the pocket of his jeans, pulled out the silver razor, and handed it to her.

Someone outside laid on the horn.

Simon grabbed his carryall and went out the front door, not bothering to close it behind him.

Meg rushed out after him and watched him get into a small passenger van. She couldn’t see who was driving, but it looked like there were a couple more people in the back seats.

When the van drove off, she remembered she was outside and it was cold. But when she turned to go back inside, a fierce need to cut washed over her. Remembering the euphoria produced a flutter through her pelvis, that delicious pull of arousal.

One cut for a good cause. Something bad had happened. Something that was taking Simon away from the Courtyard. One cut might tell him so much.

Meg went inside, closed the door, and then leaned against it as she opened the razor.

One cut to help Simon and get rid of that awful buzzing under her skin. But with no idea of why he left, what should she focus on? Prophesies became too general if the cassandra sangue wasn’t focused on someone or something specific. Even a photograph wasn’t usually enough because the prophecy could be about the person who took the photo, not the subject in the photo. That was why the Controller’s clients had to be in the same room as the prophet in order for her visions to be about the right person.

As she raised her left arm and studied the skin on her forearm and hand, she heard a whimper. She walked into the living room and studied the pup in the cage. He was huddled in the back corner, looking scared.

A prophet needed someone to listen to the prophecy, needed to speak the words in order to feel euphoria from a cut. Swallowing the words and enduring the pain was how she had remembered the visions that had shown her how to escape.

Was she brave enough to suffer like that again?

Simon was gone, but there was still someone who could listen. Except the pup wouldn’t be able to tell her what was said, and she wouldn’t remember enough for the cut to be useful for anything but some physical relief.

Caw caw caw

Meg jolted at the sound of the Crows leaving. Gods above and below, she was going to be late for work!

Flustered, she closed the razor and tucked it into her pocket. She fetched the bowl of puppy food that Simon had left in the kitchen and put it in the cage. Then she locked the front door and bolted up the stairs to the back hallway and her own kitchen, locking doors as she went. The beef slices and jar of sweet pickles were shoved into the refrigerator. She’d return during her lunch break to check on Sam and put everything away properly.

A last look around to make sure everything was turned on or off as it should be. Then she grabbed her coat and the bag of apples for the ponies, stuffed her feet into her boots, and locked her door. Rushing down the stairs, she ran to the garage that held her BOW.

It wasn’t until she was driving toward the Liaison’s Office that she realized Simon hadn’t told her what to do if the Wolf pup shifted into a boy.

* * *

Simon waited until they reached the Utilities Complex before he turned his head and looked at Nathan Wolfgard and Marie Hawkgard, who were sitting in the back of the van. “You going somewhere?”

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