Bumble(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 1)(13) by Connie Suttle
His father and Radomir were silent as they drove toward Cordell. Ashe was shocked—he imagined they'd go back to the house. They didn't. Ashe was becoming frightened; where were they going? He didn't find out until Aedan stopped to get gas for the SUV at a truck stop off I-40. Radomir and his father were driving to Santa Fe.
Longing to be in two places at once, Ashe watched his father's SUV pull away from the gas pump, driving toward the exit that would take him toward New Mexico. Turning his mist southward with a mental sigh, Ashe reluctantly headed toward Cloud Chief.
Wishing later that he could have timed his trip from the interstate back to his home, Ashe became himself again inside his bedroom, noting that the clock said eleven-thirty. He'd made good time, no matter how you looked at it.
"Ashe, are you in bed?" his mother tapped on the door ten minutes later.
"Getting into pajamas now," Ashe called out.
At the breakfast table the next morning, Ashe itched to tell Sali what he'd seen and heard the night before, but that would get him into trouble. Ashe felt he might burst with all the secrets he was keeping lately, but there wasn't anything else he could do without getting into serious trouble. Why were his father and Radomir driving to Santa Fe? That made no sense.
Ashe had found his mother reading the note his father left for her the night before when he'd come upstairs for breakfast. Aedan didn't tell her where they'd gone, just that they'd be back on Sunday if possible. If Aedan hadn't said something while pumping gas about how long it was likely to take to get to Santa Fe, Ashe wouldn't have known either. His mother was terribly worried and Ashe couldn't tell her where his father had gone. This had to be about Terry and Randy Smith, Ashe decided. They'd lived in Santa Fe. But what did that have to do with James's death?
"Ashe, will you settle for a bowl of cereal for breakfast?" his mother sounded defeated, just as Aedan had the night before.
"I'll make instant oatmeal for both of us." Ashe went to get the packets out of the pantry and put the water on to boil in the kettle.
"You were supposed to be coming back from Six Flags today," Adele said absently as she drove toward Cordell. "It's funny how things got so messed up, isn't it?"
"Yeah." Ashe muttered. So many lives had changed in the past week. He wondered how many more might be affected before it was over.
The store was busy, just as predicted. Ashe watched the store while his mother had a sandwich inside the tiny kitchen in the back. He knew she was making phone calls while she ate, but he couldn't hear with all the noise from customers and outside traffic. When Adele came out to take over, she sounded more depressed than before. Ashe thought she might have left a message on his dad's cell since he'd be asleep somewhere. At least Ashe hoped his dad was sleeping somewhere. He'd never really worried about his father until now.
"Mom, it'll be all right," Ashe took his mother's hand as they walked toward the truck after closing for the evening.
"Honey," Adele Evans stopped at the edge of the sidewalk where the old Ford was parked, "I wish I could say that for sure. There are so many things you don't know." She pulled him to her and hugged him hard.
"Will I ever know those things?" Ashe, nearly as tall as his mother, searched her eyes with his.
"You seem so grown up most of the time." Adele rested her forehead against his. "Maybe when you're older, you'll know those things." Pulling the truck keys out of her sweater pocket, she unlocked the door. "Get in, Ashe. We'll find something to cook at home."
Dinner was tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Ashe didn't complain; he just had an extra sandwich. He washed up afterward, too, so his mother could lie down—she had a headache. Ashe listened while Adele walked into her bedroom and shut the door.
"Ashe, meet me at the place behind your house where they found James." Sali's voice was soft over the phone. Ashe had gotten the call and as soon as his mother knew it was Sali, she hung up the extension.
"Why?" Ashe was puzzled.
"They're done with it, so we can go poke around."
"Sali, do you think you'll find anything that the others haven't? We're not supposed to go out there." Ashe wasn't sure about this. He'd gone the night before as mist and his father and Radomir hadn't found anything. What could Sali hope to do?
"Just meet me there, okay?" Sali hung up.
"Sali, you're gonna get me killed," Ashe muttered, hitting the off button on the cordless. Nevertheless, Ashe was at the proper spot, waiting for Sali to arrive ten minutes later. He'd misted through the cracks, just as he'd done the night before. Twilight was falling and the light was fading when Sali came trotting up, completely na**d.
"Sorry. Ran most of the way as Wolf," Sali panted an apology.
"Here." Ashe slipped out of his jacket and handed it to Sali, watching while his friend tied the windbreaker around his waist. According to Sali, all werewolves lost their modesty when they began the change. "What are we looking for?" he'd stayed away from the exact spot, electing to lean against a fencepost not far from the actual site while waiting for Sali to appear.
"Anything, dude. Cori is terrified that she'll be accused when she didn't have a thing to do with it," Sali said, walking toward the site. "I can smell it, Ashe. Death. It was here. At least for a while, even though it's fading."
"Sali, I am in awe of your amazing nose," Ashe said truthfully.
"All werewolves have it," Sali said distractedly. He was busily sniffing around.
"I can only use my eyes," Ashe said, and started looking right behind Sali.
"Dude, I can't find anything." Sali kicked at a clump of dirt half an hour later. The sun was now completely down and all Ashe had was fading twilight in which to see anything. That meant he almost didn't catch the tiny glint as the dirt that Sali kicked rolled away.
"What's that?" Ashe jumped toward the rolling ball of dirt, grabbing it before it was lost in six-inch weeds and dead grass.
"Just dirt," Sali said.
"No, I saw something." Ashe turned the lump of dirt over in his hands. "See?" he wiggled the shiny bit of metal that had caught his eye. It broke away from the dried dirt, but Ashe had to rub it between his fingers to discover it was a button.
"Looks like a button from somebody's jacket," Sali carefully examined the small gold disc. Werewolves had good night vision, so he could see it better than Ashe. "Not from anything I've seen Cori or James wear," Sali added.
"It's not big enough for a coat button," Ashe added what he could.
"Let's take it to your house and wash it off," Sali offered.
"Dude, Mom's in bed with a headache and I didn't tell her I was coming. I'll take it home and clean it off. You can come over tomorrow and we'll look at it."
"All right. I think Mom will let me come. Mr. Winkler isn't hard to take care of."
"You gonna see Cori before school starts on Monday?" Ashe asked.
"Doubt it," Sali was kicking dirt again.
"Then I'll talk to her on Monday," Ashe sighed. "Come on, it's dark, dude. Let's go home." The boys split up after a few minutes, and Ashe waited until Sali turned back to wolf pup before retrieving his jacket. Silently he watched as his friend loped away before turning to mist and racing toward the house.
* * *
Aedan wasn't home when Ashe woke on Sunday morning, and he'd been hoping that his father might come in while he was sleeping. Adele seemed listless as she prepared bacon and eggs for breakfast. Ashe didn't like seeing his mother like this. And he wondered if she'd gotten any replies from the numerous messages left on his father's cell. Ashe cleaned up the kitchen while his mother went back to bed.
Sali rang the doorbell outside the garage two hours later. Ashe shouted to his mother that it was Sali; she told him not to make a lot of racket and left him alone. "Mom's not feeling good," Ashe muttered as he led Sali down the steps to the lower level of the house.
"Marco either, and I figure Cori isn't doing all that well." Sali shut the door to Ashe's bedroom behind him.
"Here's the button, but I've been thinking about this. People walk through the field back there all the time. It could belong to anybody." Ashe handed the button to Sali.
"But I've never seen anybody wear anything with gold buttons like this." Sali turned the gold-colored button in his fingers. It had a raised design on it.
"That's a Celtic knot; I looked it up," Ashe said.
"Who'd be wearing that?" Sali frowned at the button in his hand.
"Could be what the designer chose."
"Yeah, but I've never seen a button like this before." Sali handed it back to Ashe.
"Me either, but I don't think I've seen everything that everybody wears in Cloud Chief. Want to take it to your dad?" Ashe asked.
"No, dude. He didn't know I was out last night, and you're right, somebody just dropped this. Keep it." Sali handed it back to Ashe, who slipped it into the top drawer of his bedside table. Neither of them wanted to admit to their parents that they'd disobeyed and gone out to the pasture to look around.
"Wanna play Frisbee?" Sali asked, changing the subject. Ashe knew what that meant; Sali wanted to turn to wolf and go chasing after the neon green Frisbee he had stuffed inside his closet. It bore teeth marks from Sali doing the same thing for the past two years.
"Yeah. I'll tell Mom."
Ashe laughed as Sali leapt high in the air to catch the Frisbee, snapping the edge between his teeth and landing with a semi-graceful roll on the ground. It was a warm, early spring day, the old grass blowing in a slight breeze while new green sprouted beneath it. Ashe hoped a roadrunner or some other potential prey wouldn't pop up—Sali enjoyed the chase, although he usually lost interest if it were a roadrunner. Ashe had no desire to go running after Sali, reminding him that his mother had said to stay in the yard.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online