Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(7) by Connie Suttle
"I know that, too. Marco, I love you. I do. I just ask you to remember that Ashe was my friend before we ever went out. He's kept secrets—my secrets—for a long time. I owe him. And he's never made a big deal out of keeping the community alive. Do you think we'd have lived through that attack by Tanner and his Elemaiya? If Ashe hadn't been with us, they'd have taken Dori and the others straight to Mexico, after killing just about everybody here. That doesn't include what he did for me when Jeremy, well, you know."
"I know. Cori, look. I'll watch out for Ashe as much as I can, but I'm not always the most tactful person or the best person in this sort of thing. Dad and I aren't speaking much and Ashe is in the middle of that."
"I think we need to wait a few days before we start that conversation. Dad had a fit when he found out your dad doesn't trust Ashe anymore. He went off somewhere, probably to call Aedan. Aedan made him, you know. Aedan is my dad's sire. We didn't know until Aedan told Adele and Ashe just before he left. Daddy told us right after, since Aedan had already let the information out. Marco, Daddy owes Ashe, too. I don't know what that might mean now or in the future, but he does."
"I hope it means he might stand with Ashe if any of those other three get any ideas," Marco growled.
"Marco, that's scary."
"Yeah. But if he stands with Ashe, don't you think that they can take down just about anybody?"
"I didn't think about that. Ashe called me back from death. I was almost gone and he changed that. He neutralized the poison and made it so I could come back. If he can do that, what else might he be able to do?"
"You know I love you. I owe Ashe in ways I can't begin to explain. And yes, somebody who can do that might be able to do almost anything."
"I wish you were here right now," Cori moaned.
"If I hadn't upset Ashe this morning, I could be there in a blink. I'll see you tomorrow, Cori. I have to get back to work." Marco said good-bye and hung up.
* * *
"Ace is worried about me. We'll be out in different places tonight," Wynn said. She and Dori had settled on the deck behind the O'Neill's house. Both had swimsuits on, but neither thought to get in the pool. The last time they'd gotten in, Hayes had played volleyball with them.
"What are we gonna do without Hayes?" Dori brought up the subject. "Larry and Jeff won't talk to anybody, they're so depressed. And Hayes' parents haven't come out of the house since the funeral. I don't know what they'll do for the full moon."
"Stupid Chump and Wormy." Wynn used Ashe's derogatory nicknames for both boys.
"We could be dead too. Cori almost was," Dori muttered. "If Ashe hadn't come."
"We haven't treated Ashe very well, have we?" Wynn stared at her best friend.
"Sali needs a good kick," Dori agreed. "Just because Marcus decides to get prejudiced, all of a sudden."
"Sali's still alive because of Hayes and Ashe," Wynn said. "Marcus can stuff it."
"Don't say that too loud," Dori rose and looked around, making sure no one else was in the adjoining yards. "Wynn, Marcus is still the Packmaster and he's officially in charge. We don't need him having somebody spy on us, too."
"You don't think Sali would do that, do you?" Wynn stared at Dori.
"I'm thinking about breaking up with him," Dori whispered. "I'm afraid to say anything around him now, and that's not good. You're supposed to be able to share stuff with your steady, don't you think? I'm afraid he'll take anything I say about Mom and Dad to his parents, and I sure don't want that."
"You think?" Wynn's eyes widened.
"Yeah. When we started dating, I said a few things. Now I'm worried."
"Then if you're thinking about it, do it quick. But not today. Full moon," Wynn pointed out.
"Yeah. Maybe tomorrow. Definitely before Wednesday; we're supposed to start school, then."
"Yeah. Without Ashe and without Hayes. Dori, you dumped Ashe. Will he still be friends with us, you think?"
"He'll always be friends with Cori. So maybe he'll put all that in the past. Didn't we have a good time that day we went out to eat and to the beach?"
"Yeah. I nearly forgot about that since, well, the other stuff happened." Wynn traced her finger down the arm of her deck chair.
"Maybe we could ask him to go out with us sometime, after I break up with Sal."
"Ace may want to come."
"Then I'll ask Cori to go. Come on, let's go inside and get something to drink."
* * *
"I expect you to be in place and waiting," Josiah Dunnigan informed his accomplice over the phone. He kept in contact with his spy by cell phone, because there was a chance someone might be watching if they were to meet in person.
Josiah was getting odd rumblings in the area. Rumblings of things that were impossible or nearly so. Nevertheless, those rumors existed. His accomplice had even informed him of some of those rumors, shortly before they seemed to be forgotten completely. Josiah knew there were vampires in Star Cove. Worried about that, actually, until his accomplice stated that they were charged with guarding the shifters. Josiah breathed a relieved sigh and made his plans. "Just be there, all right," he demanded and hung up before there was a reply.
Ashe had gone over the map of the terrain around the run area twice with Winkler, Trajan, Bear Wright, the Grand Master and Thomas Williams. "He'll be here," he pointed to a small stand of trees and mesquite. The thicket lay near a clearing, where the Pack would race past. "He thinks his accomplice will cause a distraction, but that won't be the case," Ashe sighed.
If Chad and Jeremy had succeeded with their plan, then there truly would have been a distraction—in the form of a deer shapeshifter, thrust into the midst of a Pack on a moonlit night. Poor Lewis Sharpe would have been torn apart in his weakened condition, and eaten before anyone realized he was a shapeshifter. That would have given Chad and Jeremy ample time to carry out their plan and shoot Winkler and Trajan with poisoned darts.
"Kid, are you up for the executions tonight? I don't know who Marcus has asked to do them." Winkler turned dark eyes on Ashe, who lifted his eyes to stare at his guardian.
"I can relocate for a minute if I need to."
"Is that what you call it?"
"It's what it's called on that paper Hancock gave me," Ashe pointed out.
"I forgot about that," Winkler sighed. "I still have my copy in the safe." Ashe shrugged at Winkler's comment.
"Anyway," Ashe went on, "I'll be there with Principal Wright behind me, and the Grand Master and Mr. Williams when the time comes. Don't worry, our culprit won't get far."
* * *
"Kid, you didn't eat breakfast and I never saw you at lunchtime," Winkler pointed out later when Craig set out a light meal two hours before sunset. Ashe felt queasy as he stared at the roast beef subs Craig had laid out buffet style, with chips and baked beans.
"Yeah. I ought to eat something, I guess," Ashe agreed and took the smallest sandwich he could find. He wasn't touching the beans; his stomach was tied in knots as it was. He felt something stirring, altering the conditions once more, but he didn't want to upset Winkler or deviate from the plan. Things would go as they would, one way or another. He had one other he might call on, and if he hurried, then he might have things in place before everything fell apart.
* * *
"I heard you were planning the takedown, and I know Zeke is hunting us. You have to include Eudora and me so he'll call off his trackers. Otherwise, we're as good as dead."
"I'm not sharing the money with you," Josiah growled at Fergus Haskell over the phone. "You can help if you want, but Zeke will decide for himself if that's enough to keep his trackers away. He said they were tailing you."
"Look, all we want to do is try to make this right with Zeke. He won't stop hunting us until we're dead if we don't make this right with him," Fergus begged. "We're pulling into Corpus now. Where can we meet and coordinate?"
"I was about to have dinner so I can focus on what needs to be done later," Josiah pointed out. "Meet me at Darrin's Steak House—it's on Padre Island Drive on the south side. You can't miss it."
"We'll be there in less than half an hour," Fergus said and hung up.
"Yeah, you can be the bait," Josiah muttered and pocketed his cell.
* * *
"You don't sound surprised that I called," Ashe was the one who sounded surprised.
"Let's just say that I had a visit—from a tall, brown-haired man," Kyle Williams, Corpus Christi's only resident vampire, informed Ashe after answering his cell.
"You know Griffin?" Ashe almost squeaked the name.
"Yes. Actually, my sire knows Griffin better than anyone I know. I've only seen him a few times over the past eighty-six years, but I do know him. He said to help out if I could. What do you need, young one?"
"I need backup, because things have just gotten a little more complicated than I originally thought. I'll come get you. Did Griffin tell you that was all right?"
"He said you had unusual methods, and that I could trust you."
"I can keep you hidden until the time is right, but you'll have to work fast; we've got three areas to cover now, instead of the original one. At least your two will be closer together."
"I'll do what I can," Kyle replied. "When are you coming?"
"I'm here, now." Ashe stood inside Kyle's underground bunker, his cell phone in his hand. "Don't worry, I'll get you back home afterward and your location is safe with me." Ashe explained with mindspeech what was needed while he ferried Kyle to the werewolf running area outside Star Cove.
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