Written in Red Page 95

Oh, chew a tail and spit out the fur. Sure, the boy could have one if the man was willing to knock on Meg’s door and beg for it.

Right now, he would do a lot more than beg in order to get the cookie Sam wanted.

“I’ll go ask her.” He wrinkled his nose and smiled. “Maybe you should take a bath before you have a treat.”

“I can help Sam,” Elliot said quietly.

Simon rose and stepped back. “Then I’ll get the cookie.” And while he was there, he’d find out if Meg was planning to run away.

Thinking about her dark apartment and wondering whether any of the terra indigene would be welcome tonight, he took the spare set of keys for her apartment before going upstairs to the back hall door.

A quick knock. “Meg?” Another knock, louder. “Meg? It’s Simon. Open the door.” When he didn’t get a response, he used the key, breathing a sigh of relief that she hadn’t used the slide lock as well.

She was sitting at the kitchen table in the dark, her arms wrapped around herself.

“I don’t want company,” she said, not looking at him.

“Too bad.” He reached for the ceiling light’s pull string, then considered the brightness and flipped on the light over the sink. Going back to the table, he looked at her face and couldn’t stop the snarl when he saw the bruise. That explained why Vlad was threatening to go after Elliot.

He leaned down, capturing her chin between thumb and forefinger in order to turn her head and get a better look. He leaned closer, breathing in the scent of her. The smell of sickness lingered on her clothes. Not sure what to do, he gave her cheek a gentle lick.

“Snow,” he said, easing back. “Snow will help.”

“What?”

Her eyes looked bruised. Not physically, which somehow made it worse. “Stay there.” He found a kitchen towel, then went down the back stairs to the outside door. Leaning out enough to reach the snow, he packed a ball of it in the towel and brought it to her. “Put this on your face.”

When she obeyed, he picked up the other kitchen chair and set it down so he could face her.

“I didn’t mean to cause trouble,” she whispered. Tears filled her eyes and rolled down her face. “I wasn’t trying to hurt Sam.”

“I know.” Taking her free hand, he petted the soft skin, that delicate, strange skin that was the gateway to prophecy. “Elliot didn’t understand, and he’s sorry he hurt you. I’m sorry he hurt you.”

“He said . . .” She shuddered.

Simon shook his head. “It doesn’t matter what he said. You’re safe here, Meg. You’re safe with us. I’ll make sure of that.”

She lifted the towel away from her face. “The snow is melting.”

He took the towel and dumped it in the sink. Then he turned to look at her. What was he supposed to do with her? What was proper to do with her? He knew how to deal with human females when they were customers in the store. He knew what to do when they wanted the heat of sex and he was in the mood to provide it. And he knew what to do with prey. But he didn’t know what to do with Meg.

“Do you want food?” he asked, studying her back.

She shook her head.

“Tea?”

Another head shake.

He’d come here to get something for Sam, but that didn’t feel right anymore. And yet how could he disappoint the boy?

Returning to the table, he sat in the chair. The bakery tin was right there in front of him, taunting him. Until she had shown up half frozen and changed some of the rules, it had been so much easier dealing with humans.

“Meg?” he asked softly. “Could I take a cookie for Sam?”

She blinked. Brushed away tears. Then she looked at the bakery tin and frowned. “Those are chocolate chip cookies. Can Wolves eat chocolate?”

It hadn’t occurred to him to wonder. “He shifted, Meg. He’s a boy.” He couldn’t meet her eyes, and he heard his own whine of confusion. “He hasn’t shifted to human since his mother was killed. He hasn’t talked to us in any way since the night Daphne died. He’s been afraid to be outside, and he hurt himself a couple of times. That’s why I had to get the cage. But you changed that. He couldn’t have a cookie as a Wolf, so he shifted to a boy. I couldn’t reach him, but you did—with a leash that isn’t a leash and a cookie.”

“You took care of him and you loved him and you kept him safe,” she said. “Even if it didn’t show, he was learning from you.” She sniffed, then got up and rummaged in the cupboard until she found a small container. After placing a few cookies in the container, she gave him the bakery tin. “Do you have any milk to go with the cookies?”

“I don’t know.”

She opened her fridge and gave him an unopened quart.

The quick glance in her fridge didn’t reassure him that she had enough to eat—especially if they were snowed in tomorrow.

Awkward, this sniffing around a female’s personal life. Awkward, this no longer being sure how far he could push her when he hadn’t hesitated to push before he’d left on that trip. Awkward, because somehow she was starting to matter to him the way his own people mattered.

He backed away. “Thank you.”

“Don’t let him eat all the cookies,” she said. “Even as a boy, it would make him sick.”

Nodding, he let himself out and fled back to his own apartment.

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