Written in Red Page 96

Sam was sitting at the kitchen table, explaining about safety lines to Elliot, who was listening as if every word was desperately important. The words dried up as soon as Simon put the bakery tin on the table.

“One,” Simon said firmly. He poured a glass of milk for each of them and opened the tin.

Sam took small bites, savoring the taste while he eyed the bakery tin until Simon put the lid back on, confirming that one meant one.

“The Wolf cookies are good, but these are better,” Sam said.

“Wolf cookies?” Elliot asked.

Sam nodded. “Meg got them special for me.”

<What are Wolf cookies?> Elliot asked Simon.

He shrugged. Something else he needed to find out.

Sam yawned.

“Long day for all of us,” Simon said.

Sam struggled to sit up. “I’m not tired. Meg would let me watch a movie.”

<Is Meg going to be the stick he tries to use on us from now on?> Elliot asked.

<Only until I find out what Meg really allowed him to do,> Simon replied. “All right. Go pick out a movie.”

Wobbling. Using the walls for support. But still holding on to a shape that had been a recent discovery before fear had frozen Sam into Wolf form.

Simon drained his glass, then finished off Sam’s glass of milk. “Roads to the Wolfgard Complex aren’t passable. You should stay here.”

“All right.” Elliot hesitated. “I’d rather not stay in this form.”

He wanted to shed the human skin too. “We’ll wait until Sam is asleep.”

It didn’t take long. Tucked on the couch, wrapped in a blanket to protect that small, shivering body, Sam was asleep five minutes into the movie. Simon checked the doors, turned off lights, and made sure everything was secure. By the time he returned to the living room, Elliot had already shifted.

Leaving the movie on, Simon stripped off his clothes. Then he shifted and settled beside Elliot on the living room floor. If the floor wasn’t as warm or comfortable as the beds upstairs, the boy sleeping on the couch provided a different, and deeper, contentment.

CHAPTER 14

“But I wanna go with Meg!”

As he toweled himself dry, Simon gave his nephew a hard stare and had a totally inappropriate wish that for one more day, he could chuck the puppy in the cage instead of dealing with a wobbly boy who was more stranger than family and was acting annoyingly human.

“You can’t go with Meg today,” he said firmly. He felt like he’d been saying the same words from the moment Sam woke up. “You’re going to stay here with Elliot while I go to this meeting.”

“But who’s gonna be Meg’s adventure buddy if I’m not there?”

“Someone else will have to be her adventure buddy.” Preoccupied with the personal hygiene checklist he followed when he had to deal with humans, he didn’t realize how badly he’d erred until Sam gave him a tear-filled, horrified look.

“But I’m her adventure buddy. She said I was!” Sam wailed.

Before Simon could reach for the boy, Sam stepped back from the bathroom doorway and darted out of Simon’s bedroom.

Wobbly legs. Stairs.

Springing into the bedroom, Simon grabbed the jeans he’d laid out on the bed and ran into the hall. When he didn’t see Sam on the stairs, he pulled on the jeans, then tried to zip and button while he rushed after the boy, expecting to find Sam hiding in the living room or in the kitchen, whining at Elliot about not being allowed to go with Meg.

But when Simon got down the stairs, the front door was open, Sam’s clothes were strewn all over the floor, the damn leash was gone, and there was evidence in the foot-deep fresh snow of a bounding puppy making his escape.

Simon leaped out the door and snarled when his bare feet sank into snow. A few steps gave him a clear view of Meg’s porch—and Sam standing on his hind legs, his forelegs shifted into furry arms that could reach the doorbell, and his front paws changed just enough to have fingers that could press the doorbell And press it and press it.

“Shit. Fuck. Damn damn damn.” Swearwords were one of the best things humans had invented, Simon thought as he took the stairs in leaps. He was almost within reach when the door opened and Sam bolted inside, the red leash trailing after him.

Meg stood in the doorway, trying to scrunch herself into the bathrobe that didn’t cover her lower legs. At another time, he would have given those legs a better look—just to check the visible skin for scars. Now, with Sam all furry and talking back at him and Meg looking like a bunny who had been dodging a Hawk, only to run smack into a Wolf, he did what he figured was the polite human thing to do and kept his eyes on her face.

Didn’t stop him from grabbing her hand before she regained enough of her wits to shut the door in his face.

“Meg.”

“Mr. Wolfgard, what . . . ?”

“Can you watch Sam for a while? I have a meeting this morning. I’ll pick him up at lunchtime. But this morning, you can be adventure buddies.”

“But . . . I was getting in the shower,” Meg protested weakly. She shivered. “I have to go to work.”

“Then the two of you can be adventure buddies at the office. Just don’t get buried in the snow.” A weak effort at humor, since that was a possibility.

<That’s why we have the safety line!>

He was so startled to have Sam communicate with him in the terra indigene way after so long a silence, he squeezed Meg’s hand hard enough to make her yip.

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