Written in Red Page 83

Of course, he wouldn’t stay in the back room with his chewy, so she began sorting the mail while she studiously ignored what Sam was holding between his paws and gnawing with such pleasure.

* * *

Vlad looked up from the invoices he was sorting and studied the Wolf in the doorway. “Something wrong?”

Blair came in and took a seat on the other side of the desk. “Boone says he’s not going to store special meat in the shop anymore because he doesn’t want to get into trouble with Henry now and with Simon when the Wolfgard returns.”

“Why is Boone worried about getting into trouble?”

“Because Meg asked if he had any special meat.”

Vlad’s mouth fell open. “Meg?”

“Boone says he’ll get in trouble if he doesn’t sell it to her when she asks for it, but he’ll get into more trouble if she buys some and then finds out what it is. He can’t sell what he doesn’t have, so he’s not going to have it.”

“Meg?” Vlad said again. He couldn’t decide if he was intrigued or disturbed by this information.

“Turns out she was looking for a treat for Sam.” Blair’s lips twitched in a hint of a smile. “From the sounds he was making when he called me, I’m guessing the Hawk is going to stress molt a few feathers before the day is done.”

Vlad laughed out loud.

Blair pushed out of the chair. “Course, he also brought pieces of a stag stick for Sam.”

“Stop,” Vlad pleaded, laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe. “No, wait. Did Meg know what it was?”

“She does now. I did tell Boone he should continue delivering a little meat for Sam.” A pause. “Simon called. He’ll be back on Windsday.”

Still trying to catch his breath, Vlad waved a hand to acknowledge he’d heard.

“Doesn’t sound like he got any answers,” Blair said.

Sobering, Vlad nodded. “We’ll all talk when he gets back.” Once Blair left the office and he was sure the Wolf was out of hearing, he added, “About a lot of things.”

* * *

Meg stared at the back door of Howling Good Reads. Bringing a Wolf into the store wasn’t a problem; she’d heard that one or two Others were usually in animal form to provide store security. No, the problem was how they would react to Sam’s harness and leash—and whether she would be breaking some unspoken rule by bringing a young terra indigene into a store frequented by humans.

Leaving Sam in the office had not been an option after she considered how much trouble he could get into on his own. So here she was, dithering at the door.

The wooden gate at the back of Henry’s yard opened. The Beargard studied both of them for a long moment before he looked at HGR’s back door. Stepping up to her, he took the leash.

“Come on, Sam. You play with me for a while. The sooner Meg takes care of her chores, the sooner you can both eat.”

This was Henry, and Sam would be safe with the Grizzly, but Meg didn’t feel easy about other people holding the leash and having control over Sam, and she especially didn’t like the pup accepting that other people could hold the leash.

Her uneasiness must have shown on her face, because Henry said, “We’ll be fine, Meg. Do your chores.”

She looked at Sam. “It would be better if you stayed with Henry. Okay?”

She didn’t wait for an answer. She went into HGR and hurried through the stockroom. But she didn’t make it into the public part of the store before she heard that squeaky-door howl—Sam’s protest at being left behind.

Already feeling guilty about leaving him, she let out her own squeak when Sam’s howl was answered by a deeper howl somewhere in the store. She hesitated. Then curiosity pushed her into the store proper.

Maybe she would see her first grown Wolf.

Apparently, she wasn’t the only one engaged in Wolf spotting after hearing that howl. All the customers she passed were looking for something that wasn’t on the shelves, but she reached the front of the store without seeing one of the terra indigene in Wolf form. She did find John Wolfgard, who took her to the children’s section. He seemed too cheerful to be a Wolf, and she wondered if customers who dealt with him were relieved or disappointed by that.

Called away by another customer, he left her browsing the picture books and “this is” books. She chose a couple of the “this is” books and a book of children’s stories. Not sure how long she’d been browsing, and wanting a chance to look for a book for herself, she hurried out of the children’s section and headed for the front of the store where she’d seen a display of books, and almost ran into the man blocking the way.

He was about Simon’s age, with a lean face and body, but his hair was a blend of gray and black, and his gray eyes held the least illusion of humanity of any shifter she’d seen in the Courtyard so far. He wore jeans, a white sweater, and a scarred, black leather jacket. There was no doubt in her mind that he was the Wolf who had answered Sam’s howl.

He didn’t move out of the way so much as shift position enough for her to squeeze past him. When she did, he leaned in and sniffed her with no subtlety whatsoever. Then he sneezed.

Meg didn’t bother to sigh about another Wolf who was going to complain about her stinky hair—which didn’t smell anymore, thank you very much.

Even John’s smile faltered when he noticed how the other Wolf followed her to the front of the store, but he rang up her purchases—including a novel that she grabbed from the display table to prove she could buy a book for herself—and put them in the carry bag she’d brought with her.

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