Bumble(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 1)(31) by Connie Suttle
"The gun used to kill Terry Smith and Megan Lindley was found in the back of her van, with her fingerprints on it. My contact in Oklahoma City called a few minutes ago to let me know," Winkler said.
"I don't believe for even a moment that she was capable of this." Radomir sounded sure. "I think this is a way to placate the authorities, leading them to believe they have the person responsible."
"Marcus doesn't see it that way," Winkler said. "Georgia Daniels' husband died six years ago in a challenge, and Marcus thinks she went crazy. We've had to use one of the decoy houses outside the property as her home," he added. Citizens in Cloud Chief had a post office box to receive mail, and their license listed an address outside Cloud Chief as a street address. It was necessary to protect the community.
"This needs to be kept quiet," Radomir observed.
"I've already contacted the Grand Master; he feels the same. He's ordered Marcus and his family to keep it quiet while we investigate."
"But if someone else is involved, how did they convince Georgia Daniels to do this?" Aedan asked. "And what will be done with her son?"
"I'll take Trace and do some questioning tomorrow—Marcus asked Micah and Greta to take Chad in for the night and break the news to him. They'll keep him out of school until this is resolved." Winkler shook his head.
"Are they still planning to execute the Smith boy?" Radomir asked.
"They are, but they have to find him first. The Grand Master has sent two trackers but they haven't located the boy."
"Did his mother ever call you?" Aedan asked.
"No." Winkler sounded disappointed. "I'll let you know what I learn from the Daniels boy tomorrow night. Will you keep an eye on Billings and let me know when he returns?"
"Of course," Radomir agreed.
Ashe, hovering over their heads as mist, zoomed away.
"I've already called Principal Billings and told him that you're staying home today," Adele told Ashe when she woke him Tuesday morning. "He said he'd hand your assignments to Dori and she can bring them. Sali is staying home today as well. Your father says not to discuss the accident with anyone."
"I know," Ashe slid off the bed and searched for clothing. "Want me to make breakfast? I can do scrambled eggs and toast."
"That sounds really good. I'll meet you upstairs."
"Dude, you know how to cook?" Sali and Denise were at the door just as Ashe was scraping a pile of scrambled eggs onto two plates.
"Your confidence in my culinary skills is lacking," Ashe grinned. "Want some? I can make more."
"Sure." Sali settled into a seat at the table while his mother rolled her eyes at his seemingly insatiable appetite.
"How about you, Mrs. DeLuca?" Ashe pulled more eggs from the fridge.
"I'm not hungry, Ashe, we ate breakfast half an hour ago."
"Mom, I'm a growing boy," Sali whined, dipping into eggs and toast while Adele gave him a bright smile before eating her own breakfast. Denise DeLuca accepted a cup of coffee from Ashe before he sat down to eat.
"Dude, my Aunt Marcie is leaving Uncle Dom early," Sali whispered as he and Ashe walked downstairs later. "Your black eye looks better."
"Yeah, it's purple, green, brown and yellow now," Ashe said. “At least I can see out of it. What do you mean, your aunt is leaving your uncle early?"
"A lot of werewolf marriages are arranged, dude. The males outnumber the females six to one, so not every male werewolf will get to marry a female werewolf. Didn't your mom and dad tell you about that? Female vampires are nearly nonexistent. Dad told me that, too. Anyway, Grampa Sal had Aunt Marcie marry his Second, Dominic Pruitt, who's Packmaster in Phoenix now. 'Course she told him she was leaving him when Cousin Jackson turned eighteen, right after Uncle Dom challenged Grampa Sal and won. Cousin Jackson is fourteen, now, and Cousin Dustin is seventeen. Two kids is the rule, dude, before the Grand Master will allow a divorce. Then the female werewolf is allowed to pick her next mate."
"Dude, do you know how messed up that sounds?" Ashe shook his head. He only knew a little about how the Pack dealt with marriage. "And your uncle challenged your grampa? That sounds awkward."
"I heard Aunt Marcie was really mad at him. He didn't tell her what he was planning. Mom said Grampa was old, but she still gets upset about it, too."
"Did you ever meet your grampa?"
"Mom says I was a baby when he saw me, so I don't remember it." Sali shivered. "Grampa Salidar is the one I'm named after."
"I know werewolves do things differently. I sure hope you don't want the Pack someday."
"Nah. You think I want to deal with some of those guys? They complain to Dad all the time."
"So, your Aunt Marcie is leaving your Uncle Dom, four years earlier than she planned? Where is she going?"
"She's coming here. Mom says Aunt Marcie will be here sometime Saturday, so she wants to invite people over. Dad said the Cloud Chief Pack will consider her request to join."
"What about your cousins? Cloud Chief will be a big let-down after Phoenix."
"They won't be coming," Sali mumbled. "If the female leaves, the father gets the kids. Werewolf tradition. It's an incentive for the mothers to stay until the kids graduate high school."
"Dude, that is seriously messed up." Ashe flopped against the headboard of his bed.
"Mom and Dad asked to be together, so it wasn't arranged so much. Now, Mom's worried that Marco will think she's going to leave him, too, and that's not the case."
"But Marco's nearly eighteen. You're the one who might be affected most. If it did happen," Ashe amended. He liked Sali's mom and worried that things might not be as stable as he thought.
"Yeah, but Marco's been hit twice," Sali worried a hole in one of his socks.
"Your mom isn't planning to leave, is she?" Ashe voiced his fears aloud.
"Nope. She talked to Marco and me right after she talked to Aunt Marcie. Marco's in a bad mood anyway, so I don't think anybody is getting through to him."
"He was okay when we had the cookout."
"But now he's depressed again. They're having Megan's funeral tomorrow and Marco's still mad that he can't go."
"What if there was a way?" Ashe traced a pattern in his comforter, decorated with green, blue and brown rectangles.
"Dad said he could stay home, but that's all he said," Sali hunched his shoulders.
"But what if there is a way?" Ashe persisted.
"He'll be seen. That's what Dad is trying to avoid."
"And if he isn't seen?" Ashe's comment, made with head bowed as he traced a blue rectangle this time, had Sali drawing in a sharp breath.
"You're kidding," Sali gasped. "You can't." He was skeptical immediately.
"Mom told me I was staying home again tomorrow," Ashe said. "Want to go ask Marco if he can get away for an hour or so?" Ashe felt scared and excited at the same time.
"Dude, I don't know," Sali backed up a little, staring at Ashe in disbelief coupled with a healthy bit of fear.
"Come on, try it for five seconds. If you don't like it, I'll put you down."
"Fine," Sali shivered with fear and anticipation, as if Ashe were about to ask him to leap off a tall bridge with only a slender bungee cord attached to his feet.
"All right," Ashe grinned triumphantly and became mist. Once that was accomplished, he touched his mist to Sali, who also became mist. See, nothing there, Ashe said silently to his friend as they hovered before the mirror atop Ashe's dresser. No image of either boy was reflected in the glass. Ashe let Sali go and Sali reappeared immediately, staggering to remain upright in the floor.
"Dude," Sali whispered reverently, his dark eyes blinking at Ashe in something akin to worship, "I heard you!"
"What?" Ashe became corporeal, staring at Sali in surprise. "What did you hear?"
"You said see, nothing there," Sali replied, grinning hugely. "That was amazing! I could see and hear! Let's go tell Marco."
"He has to promise to keep his mouth shut," Ashe warned, shaking himself. He had mindspeech after all. He had both rare vampire gifts.
"If you take him tomorrow, I think he'd do just about anything," Sali observed.
"Then let's go." Ashe became mist again, gathered Sali up and went straight through the ceiling, through the kitchen floor past his mother, right through the attic and out the roof. Arriving at Sali's home bare moments later, Ashe zipped right past Winkler and Marcus in the DeLucas' kitchen and straight into the hall, where Ashe dropped Sali before changing back to himself. Sali knocked softly on Marco's bedroom door.
"What do you want?" Marco's muffled voice was surly.
"Marco, I think I have the answer to your problem," Sali said softly, leaning against his brother's door.
"What?" Marco almost flung his bedroom door open, halting in half swing when he saw Ashe standing there with his younger brother. "When did you get here?" he demanded.
"Just now," Ashe said. "And we can always leave, if you don't want to go into Cordell with me tomorrow."
"And just how are you going to get me there?" Marco's words were snarled.
"Dude, we're supposed to be at Ashe's house right now, and we may not have much time. Let us in and we'll explain," Sali whispered, his black eyes begging his brother to hear him out. Ashe got the idea that Sali wasn't allowed inside Marco's room very often.
"And this was my idea," Ashe said. "So Sali isn't to blame for any of this."
"Get in," Marco stood aside to allow both boys inside his room. Ashe took in the rumpled bed, scattered clothing and books piled on the dresser. It was an older version of Sali's room. Ashe wasn't about to say that to Sali, though. He bore enough pressure as Marco's younger brother. Marco shut the door and Ashe and Sali moved uncomfortably into the space between Marco's bed and dresser.
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