Bumble(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 1)(23) by Connie Suttle
"Boys, come on," Adele stood in the doorway, keys in hand.
"Mom?" Ashe looked at his mother as he walked toward her.
"Ashe, no questions," Adele lifted a hand to hold him off. "I have to talk to your father and Radomir tonight. I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't say anything. Sali, will you ask your father to call Aedan tonight after sundown?" Adele's voice was weary and troubled.
"Sure, Mrs. Evans," Sali nodded.
"Good. Come on. Let's lock up and get out of here."
Ashe itched to know what Randy Smith's mother had said. If he'd been there alone, he'd have misted inside his mother's office and listened. Now, he might never know what prompted the visit. And the missing button bothered him. He still had it in the drawer of his bedside table. Wondering whether he should take it to his father, Ashe remained silent on the drive home.
"Sali, thank you for your help today," Adele said as Sali climbed out of the truck in front of his house. "I'll buy your lunch Saturday if you want to come in with Ashe and me."
"Sure. Can we go to Betsy's?" Sali loved Betsy's fried chicken.
"I'll buy at Betsy's," Adele promised. Sali waved at Ashe and went to the front door, letting himself in. Adele sighed as she watched Sali disappear. Ashe examined his mother's face; her expression was shuttered. He remained silent.
"Honey, will you go downstairs and read or do your homework?" Ashe's mother asked when his father and Radomir appeared in the kitchen. The sun had disappeared below the horizon a few minutes earlier and Ashe heard his father's footsteps on the stairs.
"Sure, Mom." Ashe stopped cleaning countertops and went downstairs, closing the middle door behind him. Knowing his father could hear his footsteps and the bedroom door closing, Ashe went through the motions, turning to mist immediately and flying through both doors to get back upstairs.
"She walked into the shop?" Ashe arrived in the kitchen as invisible mist while his father asked the question.
"Yes. She's been in Oklahoma City, hoping the investigation into Terry's death will yield results. So far there hasn't been anything; the Chief Medical Examiner's office hasn't released their final report and now that Megan Lindley is dead, she wanted to come and sniff around for herself," Adele shook her head in confusion.
"Have the authorities come to any conclusions?" Radomir asked.
"Nothing yet. They're still examining the girl's body."
"What did she want?" Aedan turned back to Dawn Smith's visit.
"She wanted to know where the letter was and if the Pack has made a decision on Randy. I told her I didn't know anything about it. She knows the Pack doesn't hand out that information." Adele was clearly upset.
"Did she say anything else about the letter?"
"No. She said she didn't know anything about it until someone from Cloud Chief contacted her. When I asked who it was that called her, she wouldn't tell me."
"Did she say what Terry was doing here?" Aedan asked.
"He came to plead Randy's case with Marcus. He just never made it."
"Did anyone know he was coming?"
"I didn't ask her that." Adele heaved a sigh. "I'm sorry, Aedan, I was just so shocked that she walked into the shop, I couldn't think straight."
"Mrs. Evans, do not concern yourself over that, we will get to the bottom of this," Radomir assured her. "Your husband used to be a fine Enforcer for the Council. Wlodek still holds hope that he will return soon."
If Ashe could gasp as mist, he might have at Radomir's statement. His dad, an Enforcer?
"Aedan has promised he won't as long as I live," Adele said stiffly, rising from her seat at the kitchen table. Ashe realized that Radomir knew that, somehow. Radomir was looking to the time when Adele would die, as all shifters did. If nothing happened, his father would live past that.
"I did not intend to upset you, Mrs. Evans," Radomir apologized.
"Oh, don't worry," Adele tossed up a hand. "Do you think I haven't thought of that, over and over again? That Aedan will live on when I'm dead?" Adele flung open the door to the stairs and walked through it, slamming it behind her. Ashe scooted through it, rushing toward his bedroom and materializing there, listening as his mother made her angry way downward.
* * *
Ashe was fingering the gold button later when his father knocked on his bedroom door. Hastily Ashe shoved the button into the drawer of his nightstand and shut it before sliding off the bed to answer the knock. "Dad?" he asked, looking up at his father's shuttered features.
"Son, I want you to keep quiet about Mrs. Smith's visit earlier," Aedan said, taking Ashe's arm and leading him into the small bedroom. It always seemed smaller when his dad was inside it.
"I will, Dad." Ashe sat on his bed and scooted forward until his back rested against the headboard.
"Radomir and I spoke to Marcus. He says there's no need to worry the others with this. He knows Dawn was here, attempting to get information on her husband's death."
"Yeah." Ashe nodded, ducking his head. He knew he ought to pull the button out of the drawer and give it to his father. He ought to. He just didn't. He wanted to ask his father about being an Enforcer for the Council, too, but couldn't. His parents held so many secrets. Now, Ashe had secrets of his own.
* * *
Sali must have gotten a similar talk from Marcus, because he didn't mention Dawn Smith's visit either. Ashe figured Sali might be about to burst over it, but held the information inside. Ashe blew out a sigh in Transformational Arts, picked up clothing as usual and went on to the next class. What Ashe knew that Sali didn't, though, was that someone from Cloud Chief had contacted Randy Smith's mother.
When Terry Smith had come to Cordell, someone had killed him. Ashe wondered if it hadn't been a carefully laid trap. What he couldn't fathom, however, was why Terry Smith had been shot when James and Pat's hearts had somehow exploded. If the killer was capable of that sort of thing, why hadn't they done it to Terry Smith?
"Come on, you're always slow to get to lunch," Sali dragged Ashe along the tiled hallway of Cloud Chief Combined, nearly running over a second-grader, who scooted out of the way at the last second.
* * *
Ashe's mother turned on the small television sitting on a corner of the kitchen counter. Ashe listened as she switched the channel to one of the news stations out of Oklahoma City. "Police fear they are dealing with a mass murderer in St. Louis," the newscaster announced. "Four children are reported dead, another is listed as missing," he added.
"That's awful," Adele sighed at the report, which depicted photographs of murdered children. "I was hoping to get something on that girl who was killed. Megan—the one Marco knew. I heard they're not releasing the body to her parents yet." She got up and turned off the television.
"Does Radomir have any way to check on that stuff? Or Mr. Winkler?" Ashe asked. "You said Mr. Winkler ran a security company. What about the werewolves in Oklahoma City?"
"I think Marcus and Mr. Winkler are already pulling those strings, but we may not get complete information from them."
"Because it's Pack business." Ashe stared at his plate. Adele had cooked chicken for dinner.
"You have to understand that they're only trying to protect themselves."
"But it isn't only werewolves that are dying, Mom."
"I understand that, honey. That's why Radomir is here."
"Mom, did Dad and Radomir talk to Old Harold before he died?"
"They didn't. Radomir was holding off because he knew it would offend Old Harold if they questioned him. He wanted to gather as much information as he could before going to him. If Harold knew anything, we'll never know it."
"Do they know anything more than they did, Mom? Do they?"
"They have some information. They're not sharing all of it," Adele didn't sound as if she appreciated that. Ashe understood completely.
"I wish it would all go away," Ashe muttered glumly.
"So do I. And I have to stay in town late tomorrow to get the tax papers back from the accountant. April fifteenth is Thursday."
"Is it that late already?" Surprise showed on Ashe's face. The school year was nearly over—only a month was left. "Mom, will Marco bring Sali and me in again tomorrow afternoon?" Ashe worried about his mother staying late in Cordell, especially if she were going to be there alone.
"Denise will take you home with her. I'll manage, stop worrying."
"Mom, somebody is killing people. You don't have anybody in the store with you."
"Hon, I have customers all day long this time of year. I won't be alone." Adele ruffled Ashe's hair, her brown eyes smiling at him.
"Mom," Ashe moaned in despair. Why did adults have to be so difficult at times?
"Denise will feed you dinner and you can stay with Sali until I come home. I should be home around sunset. It shouldn't take much longer than that to get the taxes sorted out. The accountant wants to go over a few things but that's all."
"Please be careful," Ashe muttered as he rose to go do homework.
"Your dad says exactly the same."
* * *
"Whatcha gonna do, empty, when you're human?" Chad Daniels growled at Ashe as they stood in the hall outside Transformational Arts. Chad, like many werewolves, had dark hair and brown eyes. Chad's sneer, however, was almost a permanent fixture, he wore it so often. Ashe, closely followed by a growling Sali, brushed past the older boy and slipped inside the classroom. Chad always made sure Mrs. Rocklin wasn't anywhere near when he threw insults at Ashe.
"Pig," Wynn snapped at Chad before working her way around the seventeen-year-old werewolf.
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