Written in Red Page 98

An area around the back of the Liaison’s Office had been cleared, and there was a path to Howling Good Reads, A Little Bite, and Henry’s yard. After thanking Winter and Air, Meg followed the path to the front of the building.

She didn’t recognize the man wielding the shovel, but since he wasn’t wearing anything over his flannel shirt, she figured he wasn’t human. She was sure of it when he glanced her way and stiffened the moment he saw Sam and the red harness and leash.

For his part, Sam arrooooed a greeting and leaped into the untouched snow.

The Wolf watched the pup for a moment before walking over to Meg and tipping his head in what might have been a greeting.

“I’m Nathan Wolfgard,” he said, some growl under the words as he kept glancing at Sam. “Stayed above stairs last night.”

She looked at the second story of the building. “There are apartments upstairs?” She’d noticed the staircase behind the building and the second-story door, but what was above the office wasn’t any of her business. “You live there?”

He shook his head. “Stayed there. Blair wanted eyes on this part of the Courtyard.”

Why? Not a question she could ask him, but her skin was suddenly prickling so much she wanted to dig her fingernails into it through all the layers of clothing.

“Got a path dug from street to door,” Nathan said. “Not going to get vehicles in or out until our plow comes up from the Utility Complex, but the monkeys can reach the building if they’ve a mind to.” He didn’t look happy about that.

“Thank you for clearing paths to the doors,” Meg said. “Come on, Sam. Shake off the snow. It’s time for me to go to work.”

Sam, now snow crusted and happily panting, gave himself a vigorous shake before following Meg back around the building. She got them both wiped down before she unlocked the front door and flipped the sign to OPEN. The snow along the wall of Henry’s yard looked like a ramp, making her wonder if the snow was packed up the same way on the other side.

Five Crows settled on the wall. They didn’t caw at the Wolf. After watching Nathan through the window, she decided nobody taunted a Wolf who was holding a snow shovel—or one who could pack a mean snowball and fire it at black-feathered targets if the targets became annoying.

She put fresh water in one of Sam’s bowls, poured a little kibble in the other bowl, and made herself a cup of peppermint tea. Leaving Sam to gnaw on the last piece of stag stick, she took her tea and two editions of the Courtyard newsletter to the front counter. It was colder out there than in the sorting room, but she didn’t have anything to sort yet and she wanted to keep an eye on the street.

She saw Nathan head for the back of the building, the shovel over his shoulder. A minute later, she heard the floor creak above her head. Then the quiet, steady sound of voices. Not conversation. After a moment, she concluded that Nathan must be listening to the television or radio while he, too, kept watch out a window.

Was there another reason Blair—and Simon?—wanted eyes on this part of the Courtyard, or was it simply a matter of having someone around if the stores didn’t open today?

Since it wasn’t likely that she would get an answer from any of the Wolves, Meg opened the first newsletter to find out what had been going on in the Courtyard.

* * *

“Got the Utilities gate dug out and closed,” Blair said as he took a seat in the Green social room. “Got the plow out and starting on the business areas. Truck and bucket loader are following. We’ll have to shift the snow to the mounding sites to clear some parking spaces in the lot and clear the area for the consulate and Liaison’s Office. Nathan shoveled a path from street to office. He’ll stay above stairs for a while, unless you want him elsewhere.”

“Have him stay there,” Simon said. Sam shifting to a boy last night and the ruckus this morning had kept his mind occupied. Now he wondered if Blair was being so cautious because of some vague threat that might come from humans or because he wanted to show other residents in the Courtyard that the Wolves were looking after the Liaison properly. Or was Blair trying to avoid any incident that would start a fight between the Wolves and the Sanguinati?

He didn’t have to wonder for long. He just had to watch the Courtyard’s enforcer when Vlad walked into the room and noticed Elliot.

So. The vampires were serious about killing a Wolf.

Jester and Henry walked in together. The Coyote looked a little too gleeful. The Grizzly just looked sleepy.

Tess walked in with her hair coiling and completely green. As soon as she spotted Elliot, broad red streaks appeared along with threads of black.

“There is a new danger to terra indigene and humans alike,” Simon said. He waited until Tess took a seat before continuing. “So far, there have been no reports of strange killings in the eastern part of Thaisia, but there have been several odd deaths or queer attacks in the west. A pack of dogs attacked a pack of Wolves. The dogs were killed, but the Wolves then ran down several deer and savaged them without stopping to feed. In another village, a pack of human males attacked three females and two subordinate males with such violence, the police thought at first it was an animal attack. Three of the prey died during the attack. The other two died in the hospital. There have been more attacks—a double handful in all that occurred over several months. Since more of the attacks were human against human, there was no reason to think it was a sickness that was spreading from the humans to us.”

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