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And as they talked and circled, he understood that his own kind now included Meg.

* * *

Asia pulled her car into the delivery area in front of the Liaison’s Office.

“Thanks for giving me a ride,” Darrell Adams said. He fiddled with the door handle but didn’t open the door. Instead he glanced toward the wall lined with Crows.

Freaking spies. She knew Darrell wanted to give her a kiss, knew he wanted to do a lot more. She’d had dinner with him a couple of times now. Didn’t take much to prime his conversational pump, but despite working at the consulate, his well of information was pretty shallow. Okay, he was a human working for the terra indigene, so it figured they wouldn’t tell him anything important. Still, he was a different way into the Courtyard. Problem was, if she was going to keep him interested and sufficiently agreeable to granting her a tiny little favor, she was going to have to give him sex. Not that she minded using sex as part of a job, but the men she’d slept with up until now had social clout. On the other hand, she needed to send her backers some fresh information soon.

But those black-feathered freaks were watching, and giving someone a ride on a snowy day wasn’t as interesting to report as giving someone sloppy tongue.

“Guess I’d better go in,” Darrell said.

“Guess so,” Asia agreed. “You take care.” She didn’t offer to give him a ride home. She wasn’t about to let him into her apartment, and she didn’t want an awkward scene if he invited her up to his. Besides, as soon as he went inside, she wanted to pop in to see Meg—and hopefully get another look at that Wolf pup.

Before Darrell reached the consulate door and she shut off her car, a patrol car came out of the access way between the buildings, and she was right in its path. Her car wasn’t unusual, but it was parked in the lot often enough that someone might notice it.

So she gave the men in the car a brilliant smile and a cheery wave before she headed for the exit. And she didn’t breathe easy until she was driving away and was certain the police had turned in the other direction.

* * *

When Simon picked up Sam, his nephew was back to being furry. Blair had brought Meg’s BOW to the office. Since she planned to shop in the Market Square during her midday break, he took the BOW and drove back to the Green Complex.

Parking in a visitor’s space, he carried Sam across the road, then let the pup lift a leg before they went inside.

He closed the apartment door and locked it.

Being locked in fear for two years made a difference in a lot of ways, but for both their sakes, he couldn’t let it make a difference in the most important ways. Not when Elliot had called to tell him Lakeside’s mayor was still whining about the police’s inability to apprehend the dangerous thief who looked like Meg Corbyn. Not when someone had brought an unknown sickness to the western part of Thaisia. Not when it was so vital to their own well-being that he remain the leader of this Courtyard.

Which meant nothing and no one could be allowed to challenge or undermine his leadership in any way.

It was the cocky way Sam held his head, so sure he was going to get anything he wanted from now on, that snapped Simon’s temper. He was on the pup in a heartbeat, pushing him to the floor before rolling him on his back. One hand pressed down on Sam’s chest while he leaned over the youngster, his fangs growing, his eyes fixed on the vulnerable throat.

<I am the leader, not you,> Simon snarled. <I give the orders, not you. I let you get away with disobeying me this morning, but not again. Not again, Sam. If you won’t obey because you’re living here, you’ll have to live with Elliot in the Wolfgard Complex. If you still can’t obey, you’ll be sent to live with a pack beyond the Courtyard.>

Sam shifted to boy. Simon pressed harder on the chest and brought his fangs closer to that vulnerable throat.

“Why can’t I stay with Meg?” Sam whined. “I wanna stay with Meg.”

“You are a Wolf. Meg is human. There are many things you need to learn that she can’t teach you. And you don’t get to choose.” Simon waited, but the boy offered no defiance. “You need to be with other Wolves again. You need to learn again.”

Tears filled Sam’s eyes. “Meg?”

“Meg will be the reward for good behavior.” He was pretty sure that would put him in the wrong with Meg, but he wasn’t going to worry about that. Meg, too, needed to learn. She hadn’t seen an adult Wolf. He would have to change that.

As soon as Simon released Sam, the boy shifted to pup and darted into his cage.

That, too, was going to change.

But as he heated up food for both of them, he wondered if he was trying to take away Sam’s adventure buddy because he truly believed it was best for Sam and Meg, or if he was doing it because he felt excluded.


On Watersday, Simon put the cash drawer in the register and opened HGR for business. He wasn’t in the best frame of mind to deal with customers, but paperwork wouldn’t have distracted him from thinking about what he was going to do when Meg closed the office for the midday break.

Yesterday had been sunny, and the city plows had cleared Lakeside’s main roads as well as the residential streets. So today all the humans were out and about, as if Windsday night’s storm had closed them in for a week instead of slowing them down for forty-eight hours at the most. The Courtyard’s customer parking lot was full. There were humans working out at Run & Thump, including the Ruthie, who was Officer Kowalski’s mate. Most of the tables at A Little Bite were full, and now that HGR was open, he anticipated many of those customers would be coming through the connecting door to shop or browse or just have a reason to be somewhere that wasn’t home for a little while longer.

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