Written in Red Page 79

Folding the paper, she reached for the Courtyard’s newsletter, then stopped. Too much information, too much to absorb already today. Besides, distributing that new catalog to the residential complexes had produced a flurry of orders that had arrived that afternoon, so she still had to separate a cartload of packages and contact the complexes to come and pick up their orders.

She locked up promptly at four o’clock, filled the back of the BOW with small packages for the Chambers and the Green Complex, made sure she had her package for Winter, and headed out to make her deliveries.

It still made her nervous to get out of the BOW at any of the mausoleums that housed the Sanguinati—except Mr. Erebus’s home—but she was getting used to the smoke that flowed out of the buildings whenever she stopped the BOW. The Sanguinati in smoke form didn’t flow beyond their fences when she was around, and the ones who remained in human form didn’t speak to her or approach. She always bid them a good afternoon as she tucked packages into the delivery boxes—and always breathed a sigh of relief that none of them wanted to make a meal out of her.

Mr. Erebus, on the other hand, came down the walkway to meet her as she got out of the BOW.

“Your movies arrived,” Meg said, holding up the package. She noticed his fingernails didn’t look as yellow or horny as they had the first time she’d seen him, but maybe that was because she’d been nervous and the doorway had been dark.

“I do enjoy my movies,” he said. “Such a sweet girl to bring them to me.” Then he pointed at the black delivery boxes to indicate she should put his package inside. Even when he came out to meet her, he wouldn’t take a package directly from her hand.

“I’m pleased to do it,” Meg said.

Erebus studied her as she put the rest of the packages inside the delivery boxes. “Vladimir is kind to you?”

The question surprised her. What surprised her more was the feeling that Vlad’s well-being depended on her answer. “Yes, he is. He and Nyx were very helpful this morning.”

“That is good.” He stepped back. “Go finish your work, then enjoy the night.”

“I will.”

As she drove toward the lake, she wondered if that was a warning that she should stay within the Green area of the Courtyard after dark.

Winter was skating on the lake, wearing the same white dress. Meg parked in the same place as the first time she’d visited, pulled a scarf out of the shopping bag, then walked down to the edge of the lake.

The girl gradually joined her.

“It is the Liaison,” Winter said. “Do you skate, Meg?”

“I never learned.”

“Humans wear metal on their feet to glide over ice. I have no need of such things.” Winter tipped her head. “Did you come to collect the library books? We have not finished reading them.”

“No, I’m not here for the books. I brought you this.” Meg held out the scarf.

The girl stiffened, and the eyes that fixed on Meg were filled with an inhuman anger.

“You brought me the color of Summer?”

Staggered by the depth of the anger, Meg looked at the green scarf. “Summer? No. I didn’t think of it as a summer green.”

Winter seemed taller than she’d been a moment ago—and less human. And the air, which had been tolerable that afternoon, suddenly had a bite.

She had insulted the girl. That much she understood. It sounded like Winter and Summer didn’t get along, despite being sisters. Were they sisters?

“When I saw this, I thought of you,” Meg said, hoping to explain.

“Me.” The word was a furious whisper. Snow suddenly whipped around the other side of the lake, a curtain moving toward them.

“Because of this.” Meg unfolded the scarf, revealing the snowflakes that became the white ends and fringe. She struggled to find the right words. “Winter isn’t an absence of color; it has all these shades of white. And then there are the evergreens with their branches tipped with snow, their color an accent for the white. When I saw the scarf at a shop in the Market Square, I thought of you because your dress has shades of white, and the green would be an accent for the dress like the evergreens are for the land.”

The snow on the other side of the lake quieted. Winter studied the land and the trees, then looked at the scarf. “It is the color of the evergreens.” She reached out and rubbed the scarf between her hands. “Soft.”

Meg hardly dared to breathe.

“Kindness,” Winter murmured, taking the scarf and wrapping it around her neck. “So unexpected.”

The eyes that would never be mistaken for human stared at her. “Thank you, Meg.”

“You’re welcome, Winter.” She walked back to the BOW and waved before she got in. The girl didn’t wave back, but as Meg drove away, a second girl glided over the ice and linked hands with Winter.

During the drive back to the Green Complex, Meg noticed how the snow beside the road swirled in the air like skaters twirling over the ice on a lake.

CHAPTER 12

After a long, hot shower and a late breakfast, Meg filled Earthday with chores, Sam, and her first social outing. While her clothes washed, she and Sam walked around the complex. While the clothes dried, she and Sam walked around the complex. By the time she got home and put her clothes away, Sam was sprawled on her bedroom floor, unwilling to move. She had to lug him back to his cage in Simon’s living room.

Then it was time to meet the females who were gathering in the Green’s social room to watch a chick movie. Jenni Crowgard and her sisters were there, along with Julia Hawkgard, Allison Owlgard, and Tess.

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