Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(6) by Connie Suttle
"Of course, Honored One. Would you like for me to call the Grand Master as well?"
"No, I'll do it myself."
"As you say, Honored One." Charles whisked out of Wlodek's office.
"Aedan, go home. Pick up your next assignment from Charles before you leave."
"I will, Honored One." Aedan dipped his head to the Vampire Council's highest-ranking member and walked out of the spacious office swiftly. Wlodek released the sigh he'd been holding before lifting the phone and punching in the Grand Master's number.
* * *
"Honored One, the child has school to consider," Weldon spoke as diplomatically as he could to the Head of the Vampire Council. "He is sixteen, as you recall. If you wish to utilize him in tracking your rogues, then I demand equal time. I have rogues as well, and not enough trackers to hunt them. Have you truly thought this through? He's still a child. We could exhaust him at best, kill him at worst. He has no experience or training in this area, while those he goes against are, in most cases, much older, more devious and certainly more experienced."
"I intended to send two of mine to guide him," Wlodek had been neatly backed into a corner.
"And I could provide some training, but honestly, how much free time will he have? His guardian is demanding he pass the GED and then take nine hours of college courses, in addition to working part-time to cover the cost of his educational expenses." Weldon had chosen to fabricate that part, but he didn't want Wlodek to know that Winkler had volunteered to pay for everything as long as Ashe kept his part of their bargain.
"I can help with expenses, if he assists in taking down rogues," Wlodek almost growled. Once again, Wlodek wanted to curse over Aedan's refusal to support his son. The subject of support was a glitch—a hole in the agreement Aedan had signed with the Vampire Council in order to have a child. Nowhere did it say that he was obligated to provide for the child. At the time, it had been understood. Aedan had obviously read the agreement and discovered the flaw. Now, Wlodek had little legal ground to stand on and potential enmity and possible war with the werewolves if he didn't cooperate. He considered punishment for Aedan, and then recalled that Ashe had shown up immediately when Aedan had been in danger before. Wlodek heaved a mental sigh.
"I will speak with Winkler. I think perhaps one or two weekends per month might be utilized for your purposes, Honored One, as long as it does not interfere with full moons or other important activities." Weldon winked at Winkler, who sat across from him in Winkler's private study. Thomas Williams was also listening from a seat nearby. Wlodek believed that Weldon was at his home in North Dakota.
"If that is what I can get, then it will have to be enough. I will speak with you soon regarding this arrangement?" Wlodek's voice was even, displaying no emotion.
"Absolutely, Honored One. Soon—after the full moon."
"Of course." Wlodek hung up.
Winkler burst out laughing. Thomas Williams grinned. It wasn't often that Weldon had such a strong upper hand against Wlodek of the vampires. Ashe, who'd hovered overhead as mist, was satisfied with what he'd heard and relocated to his old house in Star Cove. Someone had told his mother he wasn't hers—Wlodek had mentioned it when he'd first spoken with Weldon. Someday, that person might regret that they'd interfered. Meanwhile, Ashe materialized inside his old bedroom in Star Cove and studied the shelves of books. He still had clothing and a few other belongings there. If he gathered all of it into his mist, he could get it in one trip.
* * *
"Kid?" Winkler knocked lightly on the door before letting himself inside Ashe's new bedroom. What greeted his eyes had the Dallas Packmaster raising both eyebrows. Piles of books were everywhere on Ashe's floor while clothing and other belongings were scattered across his bed. Ashe was busy shelving books inside his small library.
"Got everything out of the old house," Ashe said without turning toward Winkler. "Hope you don't mind."
"Kid, this is your home. Of course you can bring your stuff."
"I was wondering, too, Mr. Winkler, if you'd ask my mom for the paperwork from when I was born. You know, the birth certificates, the donated egg thing, the vampire scientist thing—all of that? It's in my dad's old safe. I doubt she remembers it's there, but we ought to ask. I think I want it," Ashe turned blue eyes toward Winkler's nearly black ones.
"I'll ask," Winkler raked fingers through black hair. "But I can't promise anything. I think she's, well," Winkler didn't have to finish.
"Unstable, you mean, where I'm concerned?" Ashe asked softly. "Yeah. I got that already."
"Ashe, you're a good kid. One of the best I've ever met. You didn't deserve any of this," Winkler said, just as softly. "And I know we haven't been the best where you're concerned, either, but Trajan, Trace and I, well, you're part of us, now."
"I know. Someday, I think I'd like to see Trajan and Trace's parents. They sound nice."
"They are. Maybe we can invite them down, or send you home with Trace some weekend. I can't have both Trace and Trajan gone at the same time, but one of them can go with you."
"I think I'd like that, Mr. Winkler. Just to be someplace normal for a little while."
"Yeah. Kid, you haven't forgotten that your GED exam is Tuesday, have you?"
"No, Mr. Winkler. I think I can pass it, but I'll study a little more on Monday, when things aren't so unsettled."
"Still ready to go tomorrow night?"
"Yeah. But be prepared to only get one. Things are solidifying against the other one. For now. But don't worry, we'll get the leak eventually. I can promise you that." Ashe shoved books onto the shelf harder than warranted.
"Kid, I trust you. I just hope we get them before they do any major damage."
"Yep. Mr. Winkler," Ashe gazed steadily at his guardian.
"Be ready for the shock when it comes." Ashe's eyes had darkened and filled with stars.
"Kid, get some sleep, okay?" Winkler could only stare at those star-filled eyes for a few moments before looking away. It was as if they laid anything bare they looked upon, and Winkler wasn't sure he was prepared for his soul to be stripped and exposed.
"I will," Ashe replied and went back to shelving books.
* * *
"Ashe?" Marco watched as Ashe settled himself at the huge breakfast bar Sunday morning. Trace, Trajan and Winkler had already eaten and taken themselves to the new weight room to work off a little steam before the full moon.
"Marco," Ashe replied, accepting a plate of food from Craig, the werewolf cook.
"Cori says your mom got upset last night when she came home from work. Thought somebody had robbed the house until she realized it was only your stuff missing. Mr. Winkler explained when she called that he'd let you in to get your things. That wasn't how it happened, was it?"
"I owe Mr. Winkler an apology. I didn't think she remembered that somebody else had that room. I figured she was ignoring it."
"I think it was Buck who sniffed your scent," Marco admitted glumly.
"You had to ruin breakfast, didn't you?" Ashe lifted his plate and dumped it in the sink, turning on the garbage disposal. He stalked out of the kitchen immediately after, leaving a contrite Marco behind.
* * *
"Marco already spilled the beans. And I thought Buck worked for you. Isn't he smart enough to add two and two? Or is it his personal mission to make me miserable?" Ashe muttered when Winkler jogged up beside him. Ashe had taken off at a run down the beach.
"I talked to Buck afterward," Winkler said, keeping pace with Ashe. Ashe knew Trajan and Trace were running at a distance behind him and Winkler, guarding both of them. "He realized he should have kept his mouth shut the moment the words came out of it, but Adele was already walking into the empty bedroom and having a fit. It's the full moon, Ashe, remember? Everybody's tempers are flaring."
"Why should she care? I'm not her kid anymore. She didn't need any of that stuff. I just got it out of her house for her." Ashe was weeping and trying to run ahead of Winkler.
"Let him go." Winkler stopped, allowing Trajan and Trace to catch up with him. "If I could get my hands on Aedan Evans right now," Winkler growled.
"Boss, you'd have to stand in line. I think you're third, right now," Trajan slapped Winkler's shoulder. "Trace and I have a few things to say first, and none of 'em are nice."
* * *
"Cori, I screwed up." Marco spoke with Cori later as he walked the perimeter of the new beach house. He was on guard with Ace at the moment.
"What did you do, Marco?"
"I told Ashe that his mom thought the house was burglarized after his stuff came up missing. I should have kept quiet and let Winkler tell him."
"Marco, what would you do if your mother didn't recognize you anymore?" Cori asked. "Ashe has enough trouble. And you probably said it all wrong."
"I did," Marco winced. "Ashe dumped his breakfast in the sink and walked out. Craig was cussing about ruining good food and wasting his time."
"Did Ashe hear that?"
"Ashe hears everything."
"Yeah. Maybe you should tell Mr. Winkler what Craig said."
"Marco, just do it. We don't need somebody else persecuting Ashe. At least he cleans up after himself, instead of making the cook do it for him."
"I get the idea that Craig just likes to complain. And it could be the full moon. I'll give it a day or two and see if he calms down."
"Fine. But don't let this go too far if he really doesn't like Ashe for some reason. Not every werewolf likes shifters."
"Cori, I know that. That doesn't have a thing to do with me and you."
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