Written in Red Page 81

There had been no further news from the West Coast, no confirmation of how many people in Jerzy had been killed last week, no information about why a pack of young men had attacked the Others and started the fight that escalated into a slaughter. And despite having a patrol car waiting at the train station whenever an eastbound train pulled in, there had been no sign of Simon Wolfgard.

Preferring to avoid more dealings with Vladimir Sanguinati, Monty had decided to approach the Liaison. He didn’t think Meg Corbyn could—or would—tell him anything, but he wanted to remind her that he was there to help.

As he opened the office door, one of the Crows fluttered over the stone wall, while another went winging off, no doubt to tell someone that he was there.

There was that flash of fear in Meg Corbyn’s gray eyes when she saw him, quickly followed by an effort to hide that fear. He wondered if she would ever look at him and not be afraid that he was going to take her back to whatever she had run away from. But why would she still be afraid? Didn’t she know that the Others wouldn’t tolerate her being apprehended?

“Good morning, Lieutenant Montgomery. Is there something I can do for you?”

Reaching the counter, Monty smiled and shook his head. “No, ma’am. I just dropped by to see if there was anything we can do for you.”

“Oh.” She looked at the catalog on the counter, as if searching for the correct response among the merchandise.

Since she wasn’t looking at him, he focused on the room beyond the Private door, which she had left open. A back wall with slots and shelves. A box of sugar lumps sitting on a big table in the middle of the room. And a gray puppy standing in the doorway, its lips peeled back to reveal a mouth full of healthy teeth.

Not a dog puppy, Monty thought when the animal snarled at him. A Wolf pup.

Meg jerked at the sound. After staring at the Wolf, she looked at Monty and said, “This is Sam. He’s helping me for a few days.” Then she looked at the youngster. “Sam, this is Lieutenant Montgomery. He’s a police officer.” Back to him. “He’s young. I’m not sure he knows what a police officer is.”

When did the Others start shifting into human form? Was that pup also a boy? Whose boy?

He didn’t need three guesses to figure that out, but it made him wonder what other duties Simon Wolfgard might require from his Liaison.

“Maybe the bookstore has one of those ‘this is’ books,” Monty said. “I don’t recall the actual name, but the gist of the books is to help children identify things. Like, ‘This is a cat. This is a car. This is a mouse. This is a moose.’”

There was a queer look in her eyes, and her fair skin paled. “I remember those kinds of books,” she whispered. “I didn’t know other children were taught that way.”

He’d been thinking of all the evenings he sat with Lizzy, reading those books to her, and how excited she had been when they went to the children’s zoo and she could identify the goat, chicken, and bunny. But looking at Meg, he doubted she had the same kind of warm memories about those books.

“Thank you. That’s a good suggestion,” she said. “If HGR doesn’t carry children’s books, maybe the Courtyard library does.”

Time to leave. He glanced at the catalog, which was open to a selection of dog beds, and noticed she had circled one. He took a moment to gauge the pup, then tipped his head to look at her choice.

“I’d go with the medium-sized bed, not the small,” he said.

“But he is small,” Meg protested. She paused. “At least, I think he’s small. I haven’t seen a full-grown Wolf yet.”

He smiled, but he wondered why she hadn’t seen a Wolf yet. “Take my word for it. Sam is already bigger than what people consider a small dog.”

“Oh. Well, that’s good to know.”

“You have a good day, Ms. Corbyn.”

“You too.”

When he stepped out of the office, he caught sight of Kowalski’s expression. Looking to the right, he saw the Grizzly who was standing on the other side of the wall, watching him. In those first moments, his lungs refused to breathe and his bowels turned to water.

“Good day, Mr. Beargard,” he said quietly. Then he walked over to the patrol car and got in.

“We okay to leave?” Kowalski asked, still keeping an eye on the Grizzly.

“Yes. Let’s go,” Monty replied.

Henry Beargard watched them until they pulled into traffic.

“A guy from the consulate came out as soon as you went into the Liaison’s Office,” Kowalski said. “Mainly wanted to know what we were doing there. Told him it was a courtesy call.”

“Which it was.”

“The guy was in my line of sight, so when I first saw the Grizzly, I thought it was one of those carvings, until the bear turned his head and watched you talking to the Liaison.” Kowalski braked carefully as they came up to a red traffic light. “Never saw one of the Bears before. Can’t say I’m anxious to see another one.” A pause when the light changed and they started moving again. “Do you think he could have gotten over that wall?”

Could have gotten over it or gone through it. Not finding any comfort in that certainty, Monty didn’t answer the question.

* * *

Meg called the Pet Palace and placed her order with the shop’s manager since the salesperson who answered the phone didn’t want the responsibility of charging anything to the Courtyard. Receiving a promise that the bowls and bed would be delivered the following morning, she considered her next call.

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