Marked in Flesh Page 68

Rotten. Wormy.

Meg blinked. No. The card showed a basket of ripe, unblemished apples—a delicious harvest.

The office door opened. She heard Nathan scramble off the Wolf bed to meet the deliveryman at the counter.

Meg dropped the cards and hurried into the front room.

“Hi, Harry.”

“Miz Meg.”

Harry’s voice. Worn. Drawn. “Is something wrong?”

“Got a package here for Miz MacDonald. Says to keep it cool.”


Nathan stood on his hind legs, resting one front paw on the counter.

“Might not be making deliveries much longer.” Harry lowered his voice and leaned toward Meg. “There’s been talk about Everywhere Delivery becoming Everywhere Human Delivery.”

“Arroo?” Nathan asked at the same time Meg said, “What are you going to do?”

“Hand in my notice; that’s what I’ll do,” Harry replied hotly. Then he looked over his shoulder, as if afraid of being overheard. “Course, I don’t know what the wife and I will do without my paycheck, but I’ve also heard talk that if you’re fired for being a Wolf lover, you forfeit your pension, what there is of it. So I would rather resign and get what money I can. But that means you might have some trouble getting deliveries. And something like this”—Harry tapped the box—“might not arrive before it spoils.”

Meg thought about the prophecy card and shivered.


“I’ll tell Mr. Wolfgard what you said.” Meg stepped back from the counter. “Thanks, Harry.”

“You take care.” Harry looked at Nathan. “Both of you.”

Meg pressed both hands against the Private door’s frame and waited until Harry drove away. Then she focused on Nathan, clenching her teeth to keep from biting her tongue to relieve the buzz and burn. “Get Henry.”

Nathan cocked his head.

“Something is wrong with that box.” She didn’t dare unclench her teeth to speak clearly. “Get Henry. Get Tess.”

Nathan howled.

Running through the sorting room and back room, Meg clawed at the back door until she finally got it open and bolted outside.

“Meg?” Pete Denby ran down the stairs from his office and caught her as her legs gave out. He half carried her to the stairs, sat her down, and gently pushed her head between her knees.

“Meg?” Tess’s voice, as sharp as a razor.

“Package. Something bad,” Meg mumbled. “Tongue burning.”

“What does that mean?” Pete asked.

“That means you don’t let her out of your sight.” Tess went into the Liaison’s Office.

“Are you cut?” Pete patted Meg’s shoulder. “Did you see something?”

“Heard a truck. Picked one of those prophecy cards from a deck. Saw rotten apples, but the picture was of a basket of ripe apples.”

“Gods. Okay. How’s your tongue now?”

Meg raised her head. “Better.”

“Because you spoke the warning. Isn’t that how it works?”

“I don’t think someone sent a basket of apples to Theral. The box isn’t big enough.”

Pete pulled his mobile phone from his pocket.

“I’ll be all right.” Who would he be calling anyway?

“Doug? You or Lieutenant Montgomery need to come to the Courtyard ASAP. Suspicious package.” Pete paused, looking at Meg as he listened. “Don’t have the impression we’re dealing with anything explosive.”

Meg shook her head.

“Human law doesn’t apply in the Courtyard,” she said once Pete finished the call.

“Theral is human. The threat is coming from another human. That’s police business.” Pete stood and held out a hand. “You feel well enough to go back inside?”

“I’d rather sit out here for a bit longer, but I would like a glass of water.”

He made a face. “I’m not going to try to explain to Tess that I left you on your own.”

She sighed. She really wanted some water.

Jake flew over the back wall of Henry’s yard, landed near the stairs, and shifted to human. “I will get water for our Meg.”

Pete made a choked sound, and Meg averted her eyes. She was becoming accustomed to these quick shifts from fur or feathers to naked human and back again—as long as it wasn’t Simon. It was different when it was Simon.

“Don’t eat my lunch while you’re looking for the water,” Meg shouted.

Jake didn’t reply, which made her think that half of his reason for helping was being able to poke around the back room for anything a Crow would find interesting. But he returned quickly and handed her the glass of water before shifting back to his Crow form and flying to his favorite spot on the wall.

She heard sirens at the same time she heard a vehicle drive up the access way and suddenly stop. Before she could twist around to see who had arrived, Simon was crouching beside her.


“I’m fine.” That’s as far as she got before Jackson crouched beside Simon, being less subtle about sniffing the air for the scent of blood.

Then Merri Lee ran out of Howling Good Reads’ back door. “Michael says the police were called. There’s trouble? Meg, are you all right?”

“Suspicious package,” Pete said. “Something the police should investigate. Meg had a bit of a reaction to the package and needed some air. No need for alarm.”

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