Bumble(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 1)(32) by Connie Suttle
"Marco, I can get you into Cordell and inside the church tomorrow, but you have to promise you'll never tell that we went or how it was done," Ashe mumbled, staring at his feet. He'd worn his new shoes; they didn't pinch his toes.
"I don't think that's possible, but go ahead. Tell me how you plan to do this." Marco flopped onto his bed, prepared to be unimpressed.
"All right. Sali, do you want to be the guinea pig?" Ashe turned to his friend.
"Sure. Let's show him impossible," Sali wore a smug smile as he studied his older brother. Ashe nodded, went right to mist and had Sali drawn into his mist and invisible in only a second or two. Marco was backing up on his bed, his feet pushing the bedspread into a puddle as he scrabbled with his feet and hands.
"What the," Marco didn't finish his statement. He stared, hard, as Ashe and Sali became visible again.
"Mom and Dad don't know yet," Ashe said. "You can't tell, Marco, or I'll be in trouble for sure. I found out I could do this on the last full moon. If I come for you right at two tomorrow afternoon, I'll take you to the Prairie Harvest Baptist Church and we'll find somewhere to sit so nobody will see us. We have to come right back after the service, though. If Mom finds me gone, I'll be in hot water for sure."
"Yeah. I know that feeling. You don't feel weird doing this?" Marco slid to the edge of the bed as he asked Sali about riding with Ashe as mist.
"Dude, its flying. Weightless flying. And you can see and hear everything while you're with Ashe. And Ashe can talk to you while he's taking you. In here." Sali tapped his temple.
"I don't know how this is possible," Marco stared at Ashe.
"Dad says there are some really rare vampires who can turn to mist and mindspeak. I think that's all it is, Marco. I get this from Dad, somehow. I'll be here tomorrow at two unless something happens. Be ready to go."
"I'll be ready." Marco still seemed stunned but nodded at Ashe anyway.
"Ready?" Ashe turned to Sali.
"Ready," Sali grinned. Ashe went to mist, turned Sali to mist as well and scooted right through the roof.
"Dude, that is an awesome talent," Sali sighed as Ashe dropped his friend on his bedroom floor moments later. "We should have timed it," Sali added.
"Yeah. I had to be going around sixty or seventy when I caught up with Mom's truck on the highway," Ashe said, flopping onto the bed with a sigh.
"And it was just speeding along without a driver?" Sali asked.
"Dude, that's just weird. You think somebody started driving and then jumped out?"
"Had to. I guess. How else could it have happened?"
"No idea. Have you started writing your essay yet?"
"Are you kidding? I'm stumped. I don't have a single good idea." Ashe chewed thoughtfully on his lip.
"Me either. And I really want a cell phone."
"A cell phone would be nice." Ashe agreed completely. "But we have to write the essay first, and then it has to be better than anybody else's. Wait—we have a whole box of essays to look through." Ashe stared at Sali.
"Yeah." Sali hauled the box that Ashe had stolen from Principal Billings' attic out of Ashe's closet. Ashe jerked the lid off and lifted out half the papers inside. "I'll take this half, you take the other half. See what you can find, dude."
"Here's Marco's," Sali snickered after a minute of reading. He slapped that one on the bed for future scrutiny and went back to looking.
"If you find Randy Smith's, let me know," Ashe sorted quickly through his pile.
"Not here," Sali had gone through his stack—twice.
"Not here, either," Ashe said, confused. "Here are the other two winners, and a receipt from the post office," Ashe held up copies of the second and third-place essays. The winning essays were clipped together, with copies of two delivery receipts. Ashe pulled those off and stared at them. "Dang," he said nervously.
"What? What is it?"
"What's the Grand Master's name?" Ashe showed Sali one of the receipts.
"Oh." Sali was shocked. "They send the winners to the Grand Master?"
"And to the Vampire Council, I think. This is an address in London," Ashe flipped the other one down so Sali could see. "I don't know who Charles Hoffman is, but I'll bet it's an alias for the Head of the Council or something. I don't know why these essays would go to London for any other reason."
"Dude, that's scary. Those guys are reading our essays?" Sali stared at Ashe.
"Only the winners, but still. And why isn't Randy Smith's essay here?" Ashe flipped through the clipped papers, just to make sure he hadn't missed anything. "Nope, not here," he confirmed. "Where is it?"
"Man, this is weird," Sali said, lifting Marco's essay to read.
"Sali, we have to take this back to Principal Billings' attic. Read that quick and we'll take it back. We sure as heck don't want to get caught using somebody else's ideas if the Grand Master and the Head of the Council are going to read them."
"All right," Sali grumped. Half an hour later, Ashe and Sali dumped the box inside Principal Billings' attic and zoomed back to Ashe's home.
"Sali, it's time to go," Denise DeLuca called out shortly after they returned.
"Be there in a minute," Sali yelled. "Gotta go, dude. Let me know how it goes tomorrow and I'll get your homework assignments," Sali said as both boys walked out of Ashe's bedroom.
* * *
"I'll be writing on my essay for a while, call if you need help with dinner later," Ashe said the following afternoon. He'd helped do laundry and clean the house before lunch. Now he was heading toward his bedroom to prepare for the trip into Cordell with Marco.
"All right, honey. I may nap for a while," Adele said. Ashe knew she still wasn't feeling as well as she should, but was afraid to say anything. More than anything, Ashe wanted to find the one or ones who'd done this and hand them straight to his father and Radomir. His father had once been an Enforcer and Radomir still worked for the Council. They'd know what to do with someone like that.
"Okay, Mom." Ashe walked inside his bedroom and shut the door. Just in case, he dressed a little better before misting to Marco's bedroom inside the DeLuca home. Marco was dressed nicely and ready to go when Ashe arrived, his dark hair combed neatly and face freshly shaven.
"Are you ready for this?" Ashe asked.
"Yeah," Marco blew out a sigh. "Let's go." Ashe turned to mist, gathered Marco up and flew toward Cordell.
The Prairie Harvest Baptist Church in Cordell was a sturdy brick building located just off Main Street. Once he was inside, Ashe looked around for a suitable place where he might set Marco down. Marco shouldn’t have to remain mist, but he couldn’t be seen. A small balcony stretched across the back wall, high enough so they'd be out of sight for the duration of the service. Currently the balcony was filled with paint cans, tools and other items; parts of the church were undergoing renovation.
This is perfect; Ashe sent the message to Marco, setting him down behind the balcony railing. If Marco sat down on a small step stool left there by workmen, then he could remain hidden during the service. Unfortunately, the stool was the only place available to sit; the remaining space was cluttered with supplies.
Marco sat and looked about him, contemplating Ashe's dilemma. "What are you going to do?" he hissed at the air around him.
Don't freak, Ashe mentally told Marco before turning to the bumblebee bat. Ashe's clothing dropped, covering a stack of paint cans. The tiny bat flapped in front of Marco's nose, causing Marco to stare in shock before clapping a hand over his mouth to cover a snicker.
It's not that funny, Ashe grumped.
"Ashe, this is so you," Marco whispered, still struggling not to laugh. "Think about it—your dad's a vampire. Why wouldn't you be a bat?"
Could have been a bigger bat, was all Ashe would say before settling onto Marco's shirt. Clinging tightly to the top of Marco's shirt pocket, Ashe folded his tiny wings and made himself as comfortable as possible while they waited for the service to begin. Ashe pretended not to notice when Marco wiped a tear away. All of Megan's classmates and half the town had shown up for the funeral.
Ready to go? Ashe asked silently as the service ended.
"Yeah," Marco said softly.
Will you grab my clothes?
"Only for you, dude." Marco picked up Ashe's clothing; Ashe turned from bat to mist and hauled Marco toward Cloud Chief.
"Thanks, Ashe," Marco said when Ashe dropped Sali's older brother inside his bedroom later. "I won't forget this." Ashe had remained mist, choosing not to materialize na**d inside Marco's bedroom.
You're welcome, Ashe replied. Marco held out Ashe's clothes, Ashe turned them to mist and zoomed away.
Once he was inside his bedroom and dressed again, Ashe spent another hour fretting over an essay he hadn't started. Finally giving up the effort, Ashe clumped upstairs to the kitchen. "We're having stew?" he asked. The scent of it filled the kitchen.
"Yes. I thought you might like some, and we haven't had any for ages," his mother smiled at him. Ashe liked stew, because his mother made cornbread to go with it.
"I called down the stairs earlier, didn't you hear me?" Adele said as Ashe settled on a chair at the table.
Working to keep his breathing even, Ashe apologized. "Sorry, mom. I fell asleep for a while." He hated lying to his mother, but he also had no desire to be caught or to let his parents find out he'd been hiding things from them.
"That's all right, hon. I know you were still in the house," Adele said. Ashe hugged himself and stared at the wall.
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