Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(3) by Connie Suttle
"All right, Mr. Winkler. It'll only take a few more minutes." Ashe knew Winkler was feeling the approaching full moon, just like the other wolves. Andy had growled at somebody earlier, and that wasn't like Winkler's trusted assistant. Ashe placed the computer and monitor in a box, the power cords, battery backup and surge protectors in another.
The files he was working went into a third box. Andy wanted those to go with them on the first trip. Ashe knew now he was working on investigations Matt Michaels had turned over to Winkler. Ashe misted the first box out, followed quickly by the second and third while Winkler watched from the doorway, a cup of coffee in his hand.
"Does this mean you're done now?" Winkler asked dryly when Ashe showed up again after the last box.
"Yeah. Let's get the hell out of Dodge," Ashe quipped, walking toward the door this time. Winkler grinned and tousled Ashe's hair before following him out.
"The Grand Master and Thomas Williams will be here tomorrow afternoon," Winkler said as they walked to the van parked in the driveway. "Kids will fly down from Dallas tonight," he added.
"The Grand Master wants to talk to the prisoners?" Ashe asked.
"Yep. Thomas will likely come with him. He's a good friend of Weldon's, as was his dad. Thomas, Sr. gave his life to protect the Grand Master around thirty years ago. Weldon won't ever forget that."
* * *
"Mr. Winkler, how much control do you have right now?" Ashe asked. They stood inside Winkler's suite of rooms, watching while new furniture was delivered and placed. Winkler's new cook and house staff had arrived already to supervise.
"As good as can be expected," Winkler said softly.
"How good would you be around, let's say, a shapeshifter who becomes a deer?" Winkler, who'd been watching while a massive bed frame was put together, jerked around to face Ashe.
"Kid, is this gonna give me a headache?" Winkler asked.
"Probably." Ashe hunched his shoulders uncomfortably. "He says his name is Lewis Sharpe, from Russellville, Arkansas. Chad and Jeremy kidnapped him to throw a wrench into the works come Sunday night. He's down in the hidden room in the basement."
"Things can't help but happen around you, can they?" Winkler pulled out his cell and called Alvin "Bear" Wright.
"Principal Wright here," Bear answered.
"Bear, we have one of yours over here; perhaps you should intercede on his behalf since he was kidnapped by a werewolf and a shapeshifter."
"I'll come get you, Mr. Wright," Ashe offered, knowing the shapeshifting Principal would hear.
"Good," Bear said and hung up.
"I'll go out in the hall," Ashe said. "Meet me downstairs?"
"I'll bring Trajan," Winkler nodded.
"No more than that—I'm not sure a deer feels that comfortable around wolves," Ashe muttered.
"Not sure I would, either," Winkler acknowledged dryly. "We'll be there waiting." Ashe made sure nobody was there to see before he relocated to Bear Wright's front door and rang the doorbell.
"What have you been up to, young one?" Bear asked when he answered the door, hauling a freshly laundered knit shirt over his head. Ashe found himself liking the bear shapeshifter more and more as time went by. There wasn't anything formal or stiff about Bear Wright.
"Mr. Wright, Chad and Jeremy kidnapped a shapeshifter from Russellville, Arkansas," Ashe explained when Bear's head popped into the neck of the shirt and the fabric settled over his muscled torso. "And I may need your help come Sunday night."
"Kid, I'll do what I can," Bear nodded. "Let's go talk to this shifter."
"Ready?" Ashe asked the moment he landed Bear in Winkler's basement.
"Waitin' on you—what took so long?" Trajan teased.
"I'll remember you said that the next time you want to go somewhere," Ashe said. "We'll try not to freak out Mr. Sharpe."
Mr. Sharpe did freak anyway, jumping when Ashe reappeared with three others. Lewis had a bath towel wrapped around himself while the dryer hummed in the background. He was sipping a soda and watching television when he was startled by visitors.
"Son, these are friends," Bear Wright said immediately, nodding toward Winkler and Trajan. "We've got those two miscreants who took you locked up; we just didn't think to ask them if there was any other criminal activity committed beyond the murder of a young werewolf here in Texas."
"They killed somebody? I'm not surprised," Lewis reached out a hand to shake with Bear. He could tell by scent that the Star Cove Principal was a shapeshifter, just as he knew that Winkler and Trajan were werewolves.
"This is William Winkler and his Second, Trajan Gibson," Bear finished the introductions.
"As in Winkler Security William Winkler?" Lewis held out his hand. "Damn. Never figured you were a wolf. I'm a deputy for the Russellville Sheriff's department. At least I was, till those two shot me with a tranquilizer gun and locked me in a cage, somewhere."
"About six miles from here, in Shirley Walker's cotton fields," Ashe nodded in the proper direction. "I figure they hauled him here on one of their trips and left him in that bomb shelter. He was about to starve when I found him."
"What were they planning to do with you?" Bear asked.
"They said a distraction on the full moon. That's all I know," Lewis replied with a shrug. "Is there any chance I can borrow a phone? I have people to call."
"Hold on a little," Winkler raised a hand while he pulled his cell out of a pocket with the other. In seconds, he had Matt Michaels on the line. "Matt, we need to run a little interference for a missing deputy from Russellville, Arkansas," Winkler said when Matt answered.
"I heard about that," Matt said, tapping on his laptop. "You have him?"
"We do, now. The kid found him in an old bunker not far from here. Tranquilized and kidnapped by those two we have locked up."
"I'll call the Arkansas Bureau. We'll take care of it," Matt said. "He'll have his job back and no questions asked."
"Tell them he'll be in touch come Monday," Winkler said. "Trajan, get Trace on the phone and have him pick up some clothes for Deputy Sharpe."
"Dude, isn't Arkansas one of the worst places to be a deer shapeshifter?" Ashe asked softly. Lewis Sharpe barked a laugh.
* * *
"Mr. Tanner, we have to do it on the full moon. Our target is moving into the fortress today—two weeks ahead of schedule, according to my informant."
"Then I hope your informant is prepared to help," Zeke Tanner growled. Josiah hadn't wanted to make the call; he knew Zeke would be more out of sorts than usual this close to the full moon. He just didn't want his head snapped off by the rogue werewolf.
"My informant will most certainly be ready to go," Josiah did a bit of growling himself.
"Good. I want a call, first thing Monday," Zeke said and hung up. Josiah ended the call with a sigh; he had last minute plans to make.
* * *
Ashe eyed his new bedroom furniture critically, trying to decide if he liked everything where it was. "I want the bed here," he said, gesturing with his hands. "So I can see the water when I wake up in the morning."
The set was moved before the mattress and box spring were placed. Ashe gave a thumbs-up to the furniture delivery crew. The mattress was settled on the bed and Ashe pulled the new comforter and sheets from his closet to make it up. His clothes and other belongings had arrived an hour earlier. Lewis had gone home with Bear Wright to talk over his kidnapping with the Star Cove Principal. Ashe knew Bear also wanted to discuss organizing the shapeshifter community with the Arkansas deputy.
Ashe pulled his cell out the moment it rang. "Randy?"
"Ashe, meet us at Pasquale's," Randy said. "About fifteen minutes. Can you make that?"
"Sure," Ashe replied.
* * *
"Mr. Winkler, Trajan, I'm meeting Randy at Pasquale's," Ashe announced as he walked into the spacious kitchen. Winkler's new cook, a werewolf named Craig, was busy preparing a meal for the others while familiarizing himself with the new kitchen. He looked up from his work when Ashe entered.
"Be home by eleven," Winkler said, sipping a mixed drink Craig handed to the Dallas Packmaster.
"Will do, boss," Ashe nodded and walked out, disappearing before he reached the front door.
* * *
"What's up with the kid?" Craig asked as he handed a plate of appetizers to Trajan and Winkler.
"Don't upset him; his parents have pretty much abandoned him," Winkler said. "I'm his legal guardian, so treat him just like one of my kids."
"He's a talented shapeshifter," Trajan added, pulling two crab cakes onto a plate. "I wouldn't get on his bad side, if I were you."
"Why? What can a shapeshifter do to a werewolf?" Craig asked, snorting derisively.
"Fry you, to start with," Trajan said.
"You're such a kidder," Craig said and went back to his cooking.
* * *
"Ashe, this is Sara." Randy couldn't stop the helpless grin from spreading across his face. Sara, perky and smiling, with short, red hair curling riotously due to the beach humidity, took Ashe's hand when he held it out. Ashe stiffened and went completely still.
"Ashe? Ashe, what's wrong?" It took Randy nearly a minute to get Ashe's attention again. Sara had stared at Ashe, her smile disappearing the moment Ashe had taken her hand. Ashe blinked and let Sara's hand go.
"I'm sorry about your dad," Ashe said. "Really sorry. Please, sit down. I'll be all right in a minute." Randy watched, concerned, as both Sara and Ashe sat at the table, Ashe rubbing his forehead as if he had a headache. Sara appeared frightened.
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