Bumble(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 1)(30) by Connie Suttle
"Your father is not going to like this," Adele drove Ashe home as soon as he could sit up without feeling dizzy.
"I know." Ashe hung his head. "I should have kept my mouth shut."
"How long has he been taunting you?"
"Probably three weeks or so. Jeremy, too."
"Those two have no business acting like that," Adele huffed.
"It's just a black eye, Mom. I'll get over it. I should have just let it go."
"We'll put more ice on that when we get home, and we'll postpone the trip into Clinton."
"Mom, my face will get better. My toes hurt all the time." Ashe knew he was whining when the words came out of his mouth.
"Then I won't cancel," Adele said. "We'll get Sali from school this afternoon and go on." Ashe's face hurt when he smiled, but he smiled anyway.
Ashe thought about going through the box of essays he'd stolen from Principal Billings' attic, but his face throbbed so much his mother gave him aspirin and told him to lie down. Ashe fell asleep, waking only when his mother knocked on the bedroom door, telling him it was time to pick up Sali and Denise and head toward Clinton.
Clinton was much larger than Cordell and had two department stores. The variety in number and type of restaurants was also an enticement to Sali, who loved Chinese food. Cordell didn't have a Chinese restaurant.
"Sali, I promise I'll get plenty of egg rolls," Denise said as they climbed out of the SUV. Adele had borrowed Aedan's vehicle for the trip; it was more comfortable and had storage in the back for purchases.
Ashe tried on athletic shoes first. "Dude, I like the blue ones," Sali was pressing his choice.
"I like the brown pair," Ashe turned his foot this way and that in the mirror. He was trying on a men's size eight, a full size larger than his old shoes.
"Try these on," Sali urged, shoving two boxes in Ashe's arms.
"I like these," Ashe said, still looking at the shoes on his feet.
"Honey, those are on sale, so we could get a second pair if you want," Adele said.
"But what if I grow out of these, too?" Ashe blinked at his mother.
"Good point, we'll just take those," she agreed. They went to buy jeans and two pairs of cargo pants after Ashe settled on the shoes he wanted.
"Dude, you'll be taller than your dad if you don't watch out," Sali said as Adele checked the waist and length of the pants Ashe tried on before going to look for more. Denise searched through a nearby sales rack for shirts Marco might wear.
"These are good," Ashe looked in the mirror. "Uh, Sali, I see Principal Billings back there in sporting goods with Georgia Daniels." Ashe had caught a reflection of the two adult werewolves in the mirror.
"What?" Sali swiveled to look quickly. "What is she doing here with him?"
"That explains why Chad and Jeremy were saying that Billings was on their side," Ashe hissed. His mother was coming back so he pulled Sali around again.
"Mom, can I get three pairs of jeans and three pairs of cargo pants?" Adele had said four pairs of jeans and two pairs of cargo pants. Ashe was pleading his case, ignoring the Principal for the moment.
"All right," Adele sighed, giving in.
"Dude, your eye is turning green and purple. Do you need a shirt to match?" Sali teased. Ashe examined his bruised right eye in the mirror.
"I think I'll wear yellow tomorrow," Ashe grinned at his reflection.
"That's quite a shiner there, young man," the man at the register remarked as he rang up Ashe's purchases.
"He got it in the school cafeteria," Sali smiled as the clerk scanned clothing tags.
"I had a difference of opinion with a larger adversary," Ashe shrugged.
"I had a few of those too, when I was in school." The man grinned, bagged up the clothing and passed the bags to Ashe and Sali.
"Now, Chinese food," Sali was grinning as they made their way toward the SUV. They had just gotten to the vehicle and Adele hit the button on the fob to unlock the doors when Ashe heard the noise.
"Move!" he shouted, shoving Sali and his mother out of the way. Denise, walking around the front of the car to the other side, was out of the way already when the minivan slammed into the side of Aedan's SUV. Ashe shoved his mother and Sali so hard to push them out of the way they all fell in a heap across the concrete median separating rows of parking spaces. Glass shattered, tires squealed and the impact as the racing vehicle collided with their SUV could be heard from blocks away. The SUV had been shoved halfway down the empty row of spaces and the minivan that hit it was crumpled like an accordion.
"Ashe? Ashe?" Adele was nearly hysterical as she reached for her son, while Denise pulled Sali from the pile and checked him over. People ran toward the scene of the accident to help while others used cell phones to call for an ambulance and the police.
"I'm okay Mom," Ashe said, sitting up and gazing at the two wrecked vehicles. Adele hugged him tightly anyway. Ashe felt shaky, Adele wept and Denise held onto Sali, although he attempted (unsuccessfully) to wriggle away from her grip.
"Mom," Ashe patted Adele's shoulder; she was shaking and too frightened to let him go at the moment. "Mom," Ashe repeated, "I think we need to get Dad here as soon as possible." Ashe had his eye on the western horizon—the sun was slipping below it, leaving them in early twilight.
"Honey, why?" Adele held him away from her.
"Because that's Georgia Daniels' minivan," Ashe replied, nodding toward the vehicle that had crashed into theirs.
* * *
Aedan and Radomir arrived quickly, with Marcus and Marco in Marcus' van. Sali and Ashe waited in a small room at the Clinton Police Department later while Adele and Denise answered questions about the incident. Ashe, hearing every word said, learned from another officer working in an office down the hall that Georgia Daniels hadn't survived the accident. What worried Ashe, however, was that she was the only one inside the minivan. Ashe relayed that information to Sali, whose face went pale.
"But," Sali said.
"Hush. We can tell our dads later," Ashe whispered. Sali nodded, his eyes wide. Aedan had slipped into the room earlier to be with Adele, and Ashe knew his father had likely employed compulsion to remain there.
"No, I don't think we need to go to the hospital; my son managed to push us out of the way before the crash," Adele told the officer as they walked out of his office. Ashe noticed the officer's nametag read Goodwin.
"Then he has good reflexes," the officer nodded. "Do you have your bags and things?" Ashe and Sali had unwittingly held onto the shopping bags as they went tumbling.
"I think so. Thank you, Officer Goodwin."
"Call me Eddie," he said, smiling and offering his hand. Ashe knew he was completely ignoring Aedan Evans, because Aedan had likely told him to do so. Adele and Denise shook hands with the officer while Aedan watched both women carefully. Ashe and Sali followed them out the door of the Clinton Police station, surprised to find Winkler, Jason and Trace waiting outside, standing around Mr. Winkler's van and talking with Radomir, Marcus and Marco.
"I'm hungry," Sali complained as he crawled inside Marcus' van.
"We can get something on the way home," Marcus sighed and climbed into the driver's seat. Trace loaded in with Sali and the others while Aedan, Adele and Ashe climbed into Winkler's van with Radomir and Jason.
"Are you hungry too, son?" Aedan sat on one side of Ashe, his mother on the other. Jason had climbed into the third set of seats. "That's quite the black eye," Aedan added, a slight smile quirking his lips.
"I'm a little hungry," Ashe admitted. "Mrs. Daniels is dead, Dad."
"I know," Aedan sighed wearily. Right then, Ashe wished he had mindspeech, that other rare gift that vampires sometimes had. He'd be telling his dad about seeing Mrs. Daniels with Principal Billings as Winkler drove.
"Will a burger do?" Winkler asked. The Sonic drive-in was the only thing open at the moment. The questioning had taken more than two hours and the other restaurants were closed.
"Yeah. And tater tots," Ashe's appetite was waking up. Adele hugged her son and kissed his cheek.
* * *
"Ashe, you should get in bed," Adele said later as they walked into the house.
"I know. Dad, can I talk to you for a minute?" Ashe asked, looking up at his father. Winkler had dropped Ashe, his parents and Radomir off at the house before driving toward Marcus and Denise's home.
"What is it, son?" Aedan sat down at the kitchen table. Radomir leaned against the kitchen counter, his arms crossed over his chest.
"I'm going to bed. Ashe, brush your teeth and go to bed too, when you're done," Adele went through the middle door, closing it behind her.
"Dad," Ashe listened while his mother's footsteps faded down the stairs, "Dad," he said again. "I saw Georgia Daniels in Greerson's Department Store while I was trying on clothes. Sali saw her too."
"You think she was watching your mother?"
"I don't know. She wasn't looking at us when I saw her."
"This is confusing, son," Aedan pinched the space above his nose. Ashe knew the gesture was a sign of frustration from his father, who'd never had a headache since becoming vampire.
"Yeah. But Mrs. Daniels wasn't alone." Ashe's statement caused his father's head to jerk upward.
"Who?" he snapped, gray eyes going red and boring into Ashe's blue.
"Principal Billings," Ashe whispered.
* * *
"What did you find?" Winkler was waiting for Aedan and Radomir to return from a quick reconnaissance mission.
"Car isn't back yet," Aedan replied. "We didn't get too close to the house in case he's looking for scent."
"I know how Marcus feels about this," Winkler said. "And I've got more information on the Daniels woman."
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