Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(10) by Connie Suttle
"Very nice, Wildrif. What may I give you as a reward?" Baltis smiled at the quarter-blood seer.
"New shoes, my King?" Wildrif nodded hopefully to Baltis. "These are worn through the soles." Wildrif moaned pitifully, staring down at the offending boots.
"Very well. Raze," Baltis called out to one of his newly appointed Destroyers, "Get the seer shoes and clothing." Baltis waved both away with a flick of his wrist and went back to studying the map Wildrif had given him, the army base circled in red upon it.
* * *
"I dislike the heat in Texas this time of year." Gavin seldom complained about anything, but he didn't like this assignment. Nevertheless, the Honored One had instructed him and Anthony to go. Gavin also had a list of rogue vampires, with their last known location in the U.S. on his tablet. He used to take a laptop on his travels, but the tablet replaced it and was much easier to carry.
"Anthony, are you ready?" Gavin called out. They were to fly to New York first, spend the day sleeping there in a safe house and go on to Texas the following evening.
"I'm ready." Tony peered around Gavin Montegue's bedroom door. Both lived in a manor house decorated in Louis XIV style. Many of the furnishings were antiques from that era. It wasn't Gavin's favorite era by any means, but his cousin René, who was Anthony's sire, had loved the period. René had died not long after Tony's turning, leaving the manor to his cousin and his only remaining vampire child.
"Who should we go after first?" Tony walked in and lifted Gavin's tablet, scrolling through the information.
"I thought Rydley Huntington," Gavin muttered. Rydley was a mere three hundred years old and had always been reckless, in Gavin's opinion. Rydley was now bilking humans out of millions, posing as a wealthy investor. He'd killed a few humans, too, who'd attempted to pull away from his schemes. "He's currently in Georgia, if those records are correct."
"How recent is this information?" Tony asked.
"Last sighting two days ago, according to Charles. Charles also says that there is a rumor that Rydley may be dealing arms and ammunition—to the right buyers, of course."
"That's frightening. Do you think he has contacts with terrorists?" Tony tossed the tablet onto Gavin's bed with a sigh. Before his turning, Tony had been Director of the Joint NSA and Homeland Security Department. He was well aware of the implications, should vampires become involved in terrorist activities. "I don't know what to think about working with that kid." Tony voiced one of his concerns aloud.
"Anthony, we have been instructed to do so. Therefore, we will work with him. Should he refuse to obey, compulsion will be placed. It will be a simple remedy." Gavin's dark eyes narrowed as he stowed the tablet in an outside pocket of his leather carry-on.
"We'll have to place compulsion for daylight hours anyway."
"Very true. I have no desire to have him turn to mist or get away in some other fashion. I had hopes that Wlodek would send Aedan with us, but that was not to be. I have no desire to work with a young one, Anthony," Gavin's whisper was almost a growl. "I have no patience for this."
* * *
"Hey, Ashe. What's shakin'?" Marco pulled up a deck chair and sat beside Ashe on Winkler's deck.
"Last-minute studying for the GED." Ashe held up the large, paperback study guide. "Test is Tuesday. Just in time for the vampires to arrive."
"The two the Council is sending?"
"Know who they are?"
"Tony Hancock and his surrogate sire, Gavin Montegue."
"Did Winkler tell you who they were?"
"Nope. He knows both of 'em, though."
"What do you think they'll be doing—besides hauling you around on weekends and telling you what to do?" Marco blinked dark eyes at Ashe, who'd gone back to reading the study guide.
"That's pretty much it. They won't trust me, that's for sure. Just like I won't trust them. Maybe we can meet somewhere in the middle." Ashe shut the study guide and dropped it on the deck beside his lounge chair. "Marco, so many things are happening, right now. So many things I need to take care of, and all of it is a big, fat headache." Ashe rubbed the space between his eyebrows to prove the point.
"Anything you can talk about?" Marco leaned back in his chair and stared at the gulf waters.
"No. Marco, it's best if you don't know."
"Want to talk about last night?"
"I did what I could, so Jeremy's parents wouldn't suffer. I'm sorry if you and the others are scared witless, now."
"I hear Josiah Dunnigan won't be a problem anymore. Or Eudora and Fergus."
"That doesn't mean Zeke Tanner won't send somebody else. And we still didn't get the leak from Star Cove."
"Take down one problem and two more appear, huh?"
"Marco, did you actually read some Greek mythology? You continuously surprise me." Ashe turned his head and grinned at Marco, handing the werewolf his first real smile in days.
"I may have read a little," Marco shrugged with an answering grin.
"Marco," Ashe was serious again, "why did Sali abstain last night? Is this the way it'll be from now on? He'll refuse to support me in any way?"
"I don't know why he did that, unless he was worried about what Dad might say afterward. Dad voted against you taking the execution, too."
"Yeah, I guess that could be a problem. For those folks who still have a dad."
"Ashe, you still have people who care about you."
"I know. It's just not the same."
"Cori's good. Talked to her this morning after I hauled my ass out of bed. Star Cove was pretty quiet, last night."
"I'd have settled for quiet."
"Yep. Look, Ashe, executions, they're never fun. They're necessary, though. If it hadn't been for stupid Chump and Wormy, Hayes would still be here."
"I know. They were aiming for Winkler, just like those others who were killed last night."
"Zeke Tanner has a lot to answer for."
* * *
"Buck, I don't know." Adele blinked at Buck, then dropped her eyes to the small velvet box he held. The box was open and a large diamond winked in the afternoon light. "It's just so sudden. I don't know what to say." Adele turned away.
"Adele, you know how I feel about you. Worried about you last night, too." Buck didn't say what else worried him. He'd seen what Ashe had done, and it frightened him. Buck wondered how many Star Cove residents might remember what happened after night fell and the vampires walked through the community.
"I want to, Buck. I do. Will you give me a little time? Maybe another month? I might be ready then."
"I'll save this, then." Buck closed the small box with a quiet snap and pocketed it. "If you change your mind and want it sooner," he didn't finish.
"I'll let you know."
* * *
I paid your speeding ticket. Here's the receipt, the email read. Sali stared at the email before clicking the attachment, showing that the ticket had been paid by credit card. Sighing, Sali toggled back to the email. Ashe hadn't written anything except the terse notice that the ticket had been taken care of. Sali went to the next email in his inbox. It was from Dori.
Sali, it's just not working between us. I don't want to date anymore, Dori's message read. Sali wanted to fling his monitor through the bedroom window. Growling, he rose and paced like a restless wolf through his bedroom for several minutes before sitting down and sending a reply.
Thanks for breaking up with me on the Internet, his fingers tapped out a quick message. That's so classy, Dorilou. What did your Ocelot do last night? Play with a ball of string? Sali went to the first insult he could think of, knowing it would make Dori spittingly angry. Hitting send before he could change his mind, Sali rose and paced again. His first reaction after sending the email was to text Ashe and discuss the breakup. Sali reminded himself that he couldn't—he'd ruined things with Ashe. Told too many of Ashe's secrets to those who probably didn't need to know them. Realized after a bit that he might have placed Ashe in danger by doing so. And then he'd abstained on the vote to allow Ashe to take Jeremy's execution. He hadn't supported his friend.
"Damn," Sali muttered, raking fingers through thick, black hair. He'd not only managed to lose his best friend, he'd alienated him, too. School would start in two days and he no longer had a best friend or a girlfriend. Things had certainly taken a turn for the increasingly bad and appeared to be speeding downhill at an accelerated rate. Kicking his desk chair angrily, Sali snatched up his car keys, rushed out of his bedroom and headed for the front door.
* * *
"Any problems during your full-moon change last night?" Bear Wright asked as he drove Lewis Sharpe to the Corpus Christi Airport.
"You've got a real problem with coyotes on the island," Lewis muttered. "I spent half the night getting chased by those suckers."
"I'll let Winkler know—maybe his wolves will help solve that problem," Bear grinned.
"That would be outstanding," Lewis muttered. "If there are any smaller shifters, they could end up getting hurt," he added. "Just drop me off at the gate; I can handle things from there. I wish I could stay for that meeting you're having, though."
"Maybe you can make it back if we can convince the shifters to come together. I'd appreciate your vote on the matter." Bear pulled a card from his shirt pocket and passed it to Lewis. "We need to band together. A lot of us can't make a stand against the vamps and wolves if they decide to hunt us again."
"Yeah. Understood." Lewis turned his gaze to the passenger-side window and the rest of the trip was made in silence.
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