Written in Red Page 77

Henry studied her. “You heard a Wolf howling. Are you sure it was Sam?”

“Does any other Wolf howl sound like Sam’s?”

“No.” Henry thought for a moment. “Why would you have a vision about Sam? He could not have asked you to see anything.”

“No, but he was the only person with me when I got the paper cut.” Meg shivered. “Who are those men? Why do they want Sam?”

With Henry standing in the middle of the room, she didn’t have room to pace.

“I’m so useless!” she cried. “I see this, but I can’t tell you where it will happen or when or why!”

Henry held up her notebook. “I need to talk to some of the others. May I take this? I will return it.”

“Okay. Yes. What about Sam?”

“Vlad will take Sam home. He has been here long enough for one day.”

“But . . .”

The back door opened and Vlad walked in, giving Henry a questioning look. Then he glanced at her hands and stiffened.

Something passed between Grizzly and vampire that neither shared with her. Vlad slipped into the sorting room while Henry fetched her coat from the peg on the wall.

“Come with me,” Henry said.

“My purse is in the sorting room, and my keys are in it.”

Before she had both boots on, Vlad opened the door enough to hand her purse to Henry, and used one of his feet to block Sam’s attempts to join her.

“Where are we going?” she asked when she and Henry stepped outside.

“Not far.”

He led her to the yard behind his shop. A narrow path ran down the center of it to his studio door, which wasn’t locked. Big windows filled the back wall on either side of the door, providing light. The sides of the studio were the building’s brick walls. The floor was wood chips—or was covered in a layer of wood chips so thick she wasn’t sure what the floor was supposed to be. The room felt warmer than outside, but not warm enough that she wanted to give up her coat, and Henry didn’t indicate she should remove her boots.

He pointed to a bench. She sat down, wondering why she was there. Besides several pieces of wood and a cart filled with tools, there was a storage cabinet with a granite top and a round carved table that held a music player.

Henry stripped off his own coat and hung it on a peg before plugging in an electric kettle that sat on the cabinet. While the water heated, he placed her notebook on one of the cabinet’s shelves, then selected a music disc and put it in the player. A few minutes later, he handed her a mug, turned on the music, and began working on the piece of wood in the center of the room.

The scent of peppermint rose from the mug. Not sure what he wanted from her, she cupped her hands around the mug for warmth and watched him as he coaxed a shape from the wood. The music, a blend of drums and rattles and something like a flute, flowed in the air, and the sound of Henry working seemed to blend with the rest.

“I like the music,” Meg said. “What is it?”

He looked at her and smiled. “Earth-native music. When humans invented the music players and the discs that held sounds so that songs and stories could be shared by many, we saw the value of those things and arranged to record the music of our people.”

“Do you like human music?”

“Some.” Henry caressed the wood. “But not here. Not when I touch the wood and listen to what it wants to become.”

Meg studied the rough shape that seemed to be leaping out of the block of wood. “It’s a fish.”

He nodded. “A salmon.”

When she said nothing more, he picked up his tools and began working again. She watched the salmon emerge from the wood, its body a graceful curve. Not finished, to be sure, but not unformed.

She hoped she would still be there to see it when it was done.

The music ended. Her mug was empty. Taking it from her, Henry said, “The pain is quieter now. Eat some food. Rest a little more before you return to your work.”

She stood. “Thank you for letting me sit here. I’m sorry I couldn’t be more helpful.”

“You gave us warning. That is help. As for the rest, you are welcome to come here and let your spirit touch the wood.”

Now that the pain had dulled, she was hungry for more than the usual soup and sandwich she could get at A Little Bite, so she walked over to Meat-n-Greens, the restaurant in the Market Square. Training images told her this wasn’t a high-end restaurant—the tablecloths were the kind that could be wiped down instead of cloth that needed to be laundered—but the menu listed everything from appetizers to full dinners. She ordered a small steak with mashed potatoes and peas, savoring the experience of making a choice.

When she got back to the office, she found a container of soup and a wrapped sandwich in the little fridge, and her lidded mug filled with fresh coffee.

“Don’t have to wonder about dinner,” she said as she picked up the copies of the Lakeside News and the Courtyard’s newsletter that someone had left on the back table. She took them and her coffee into the sorting room, then opened the office for the afternoon deliveries.

* * *

Henry, Vlad, Blair, and Tess gathered in the Business Association’s meeting room.

Henry set the notebook on the table. “This is Meg’s. I think whatever else is written here is private, but she offered these words for all of us to see.”

None of them spoke as they read Meg’s record of the vision, but Blair began growling.

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