Written in Red Page 73

This was the Sam he remembered before Daphne was killed—an exuberant pup. How could a piece of leather that should have offended make so much difference? Why did it make so much difference?

Sam was digging at something in the snow, and Meg was watching Sam. So neither of them saw Blair standing at the entrance to the complex, his mouth hanging open as he stared at the leash and harness.

“Henry,” Vlad said.

“I see him.”

Before Meg and Sam noticed him, Blair stepped out of sight. Not gone, no, but watching as Sam took a running leap and disappeared in a drift.

He howled that squeaky-door sound that couldn’t be mistaken for any other Wolf. Meg laughed and took a step back. “Climb, Sam. Climb! We are adventure buddies scaling the mighty snow!” She pulled, and Sam climbed until he got out of the drift. He shook himself off and looked at Meg, tail wagging, tongue hanging out in a grin.

“Time for dinner?” she asked the pup.

His answer was to set off at a brisk pace, pulling her along behind him.

When Meg and Sam were inside Simon’s apartment, Vlad watched Blair reappear at the entrance, looking wary. That harness and leash would infuriate all the Wolves in the Courtyard. Without Simon’s presence, Blair, as the Courtyard’s main enforcer, would either defend Meg or let the other Wolves have her for this offense. Which would bring the Wolves into conflict with the Sanguinati, because Grandfather Erebus was entertained by the Liaison and her courtesies, and he had made it clear that Meg was under his protection until he said otherwise.

Blair looked at them, nodded, and walked away.

“What do you think?” Vlad asked.

“See what you can find in the books or the computer about adventurers and ropes. See if you can find out why Meg did this.”

“I can look. Or I can just ask her.”

“Or you can just ask her.” A thoughtful pause. “She does not think like other humans, and she does not think like us. She is something new, something little known and not understood. But she found a way to quiet Sam’s fear, and that should not be forgotten.”

No, that shouldn’t be forgotten, which was something he would point out to Blair.

Henry blew out a breath. “Come. There is pizza and a movie. What was chosen for the entertainment?”

Vlad smiled, revealing the Sanguinati fangs. “Night of the Wolf.”


Her coat dangling from one arm, Meg rushed back into Simon’s living room and shrieked, “Sam! What are you doing? Stop that! Stop!”

The pup continued chewing at the cage and pushing his little paws against the wires so hard that it looked like his toes had elongated into furry fingers that were trying to reach the latch.

She banged the cage with the flat of her hand, startling him enough to take a step back.

“Stop that!” she scolded. “You’re going to break a tooth or cut your paws. What’s wrong with you?”

He talked at her. She threw her hands up in exasperation.

“You have food. You have water. You already ate the cookies, and we had a quick walk. I have to go to work now. If I’m late again, Elliot Wolfgard will bite me, and I bet he bites hard.”

Sam lifted his muzzle and wailed.

Meg stared at him and wondered what happened to the sweet puppy she had brushed yesterday evening, the puppy who had snuggled on the couch with her while she watched a television program. He’d been fine about going into the cage when she said it was time for bed. He hadn’t made a fuss about her going back to her own apartment. And he’d been fine when she came over this morning—until she tried to leave.

“You can’t go to work with me,” Meg said. “You’d be bored, and I can’t be playing with you. You stay home all the time when Simon goes to work.”

Sam howled.

“I can come back during my lunch break for a walk.”

Sam howled.

If she left, would he stop howling? If she left, would he still be howling when she got back? How much longer before Vlad or Henry or Tess started pounding on the door to find out what was wrong? Or was this something Sam did every morning and the residents were used to it?

Maybe they were, but she wasn’t.

“All right!” she yelled. She opened the cage door. “Out! Out out out. Wait for me by the door.”

Sam rushed out of the cage and busied himself trying to tug harness and leash off the coat peg by the front door.

Meg grabbed his food and water bowls and hurried to the kitchen. Finding a clean, empty coffee can with a lid in one of the bottom cupboards, she filled it with kibble and threw a few cookies on top, poured the water down the sink and dried the bowl, then grabbed one of the big carry sacks hanging from a peg and filled it with Sam’s things. A moment’s thought about snow and puppies had her running upstairs to snag a bath towel from the linen closet.

“I’m late, I’m late, I’m late,” she muttered as she ran down the stairs. She stuffed Sam into the harness, ignoring his complaints because she didn’t smooth all of his fur in the right direction. “I’ll fix it after we get to the office.”

Pup, purse, her carry sack, Sam’s carry sack. The towel over one arm, the leash looped around her wrist. Juggling everything, she opened the door, fumbling for the keys in her pocket. Just as she pulled them out, Sam jerked on the leash, yanking her off balance.

She dropped the keys—and an olive-skinned hand caught them before they hit the ground.

“Need a hand?” Vlad said, smiling at her.

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