Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(12) by Connie Suttle
"Who should I notify?"
"Matt Michaels. His people can move the fastest."
"What about the last paragraph here?" Calhoun dangled the paper by a corner. "It says there may be more coming, to prove we can trust the source."
"I'll wait to see what more coming actually means. These three names are good, but I'd need something better than that to make the source unimpeachable, in my opinion. Get with Matt Michaels, hand him the names and see if he can make arrests. If this information is wrong, well," Curt shrugged.
"We let Matt Michaels take the fall for it," Calhoun grinned.
"He's just too squeaky clean," Curt agreed. "Keep me posted with texts—the meeting I have on the hill may take all day."
"Of course, sir."
* * *
"Nervous?" Trace glanced at Ashe as they drove toward Beeville. Coastal Bend College was their destination for the test, and they'd left Port Aransas in plenty of time.
"Yes and no," Ashe sighed. "I know," he held up a hand as Trace started to reply. "That's not much of an answer. I have mixed feelings about this, Trace. I can't explain why, right now, but I do."
"You think you won't pass?"
"I can pass." Ashe hunched his shoulders. "No worries about passing."
"Winkler already pulled strings to get you enrolled at the University of Texas. He knows the College President."
"Yeah." Ashe looked out the passenger window.
"Kid, what's wrong?"
"Trace, ask me that question in a few weeks. Okay?"
"You're starting to scare me, Ashe."
"You think I'm not already there?" Ashe turned and blinked at Trace.
"Let's get through today, and we'll let tomorrow take care of itself," Trace muttered, turning onto Charco Road. Ashe saw the college sign near a parking lot, which was already filling up.
"Good thing we left early," Ashe sighed.
* * *
"What are you wearing tomorrow?" Wynn flopped onto Dori's bed. Dori had been restless and out of sorts all morning, calling Wynn right after breakfast and asking if she wanted to do anything on their last day of summer vacation.
"No idea. Maybe I should have waited to break up with Sali. At least he has a car and could take us somewhere," Dori grumped, dropping onto the floor in a cross-legged position. "I still have enough money to buy new shoes."
"Ace is out of town," Wynn nodded. "I miss him when he's gone. I know not to be a pest," she held up a hand at Dori's lifted eyebrow. "I don't call or text. We agreed that he'd let me know when he wasn't working. We talk, then."
"At least he's a mature werewolf." Dori frowned. "Unlike Sali, who resorts to childish insults at the first opportunity." Dori still hadn't shown Sali's last message to Wynn. The insult was too embarrassing.
"What do you think tomorrow will be like? Ashe won't be there. Hayes is gone. Larry and Jeff are still not talking to anybody, and Sali's back to being a jerk." Wynn examined her blue toenail polish with a critical eye. She'd have to redo it before classes started in the morning. "I'd really like to get my bangs trimmed," she added. "I wonder if Mom will let me borrow the car."
"We can ask, but if we don't have somebody with us," Dori said. "Marcus laid down the law after Hayes got killed. I still don't understand what happened to Jeremy. Sali told me that Micah took Chad's execution," her voice dropped to a whisper. "But he wouldn't talk about Jeremy."
"Well," Wynn scraped off blue toenail polish with a fingernail, "Ace told me. He said Marco told Cori, too, so I'm surprised she didn't tell you."
"Tell me what? I haven't really seen Cori lately; she's been busy moving into her dorm room."
"Ashe did it. Ace wouldn't explain how."
"It was that scary?" Dori blinked at Wynn in confusion.
"No. He said it was—unusual. That's all."
"That describes Ashe. Completely. He's unusual." Dori got up and wandered to her bedroom window. "I still want to go out today, but Mom's with Cori, hauling a load of stuff for her dorm room in the car. Dad's asleep and nobody else we know is available to ask."
"Yeah. Ace wouldn't like it if we're not guarded. I hate being cooped up here."
"Cori says Ashe is taking the GED today. You know he'll pass it."
"He'll pass it," Wynn agreed. "Do you ever get the feeling that Ashe not only passed us by, but he did it at warp speed?"
"It's scary. I remember when he was a laughingstock, because he couldn't turn. Now, he's working for Mr. Winkler and about to start college. Two years ahead of us."
"I can't believe Sali and Ashe aren't friends anymore. I thought they'd stick together always."
"Things change," Dori nodded. "Let's go outside. Maybe we can find somebody to give us a ride." Wynn slid off the bed and followed Dori out the door.
* * *
"Amos, how are you?" Bear Wright shook Amos Thompson's hand and then stood aside to allow the buffalo shapeshifter inside his home.
"Bear, we haven't talked in a while," Amos nodded.
"You're right. Not since your brother Alex disappeared all those years ago." Bear led the way to his kitchen, where he offered Amos Thompson a seat at his kitchen island. "Want coffee?"
"I still miss Alex," Bear said, dumping coffee in the coffeemaker. "He and I, we put up a hell of a fight for the Marines in Dubya Dubya Two. You went off and joined the army, so you missed it."
"Our parents said they couldn't face losing both of us, so we went in separate directions. Thought it gave us a better chance."
"Yeah. Not easy to deal with, knowing Alex survived the war, only to fall into somebody's trap later on. I always suspected the Tanner bunch, but there was never any proof."
"I'd just like a body to bury, if there is one," Amos sighed. Bear set a fresh cup of coffee in front of his old friend. "I was hoping somebody coming to your meeting might know what happened to Alex. He was in Arizona when he disappeared."
"Hard to believe it's been thirty years," Bear agreed, pouring a cup of coffee for himself. "That gives me an idea, though. If we set up a network so shifters can put up names of missing friends or family members and allow the rest of the shifter community to take a look, then some of them may know what happened."
"I was hoping we could ask, at least," Amos sipped his coffee.
"I think it's a good idea. As soon as we can set a date, we may have more shifters together in one place than we've ever had before. I have copies of the werewolf and the vamp rules—don't ask how I got the vamp part, but I think we can cobble something together to protect the community using those as guidelines."
"We need it," Amos said. "Have, for a long time. We needed leverage back in the day, when we were nothing but target practice for werewolves and vamps. That prejudice still exists. More than most think."
"I know. The Grand Master and I are friends and have been for a long time. He understands, but that doesn't go for all the wolves."
"That prejudice may not go away in our lifetimes," Amos sagely agreed.
* * *
"Jasper, call out the dogs," Matt said. "We may have leads on those three who blew up the courthouse in South Carolina."
"Are you kidding me?" Jasper, a werewolf and Matt's assistant, grinned at his boss. "Nobody had anything on those guys."
"I have names," Matt waved a printed page at Jasper. "All three of them have petty crimes in their background, and now we have addresses, thanks to an unnamed source. It's enough to make arrests, and if we can pull confessions out of them, well, so much the better."
"Gonna get one of the vamps on this if we can make the collar?"
"You bet." Matt flashed Jasper a wide grin. "Why are you still standing there? Get going."
* * *
Ashe deliberately got a few questions wrong. Things were going well, too, until he got to the essay question. "Describe the qualities of a good parent," stared back at him. Ashe sighed. He dithered. Finally, steeling himself, he began to write.
* * *
"How did it go?" Trace asked as he and Ashe walked toward the SUV.
"Fine," Ashe mumbled. "I passed."
"Kid, you worry me at times." Trace hit the fob button to unlock the van and slid onto the driver's seat. Ashe climbed in slowly on the passenger side.
"I'm worried about the vamps coming in tonight."
"Mr. Winkler will be back by then. He knows both of them."
"Classes start at UTA next week. Homework," Trace grinned, attempting to lighten the mood.
"Want new school clothes?"
"To go with the ton of stuff Mr. Winkler bought for me at Banana Republic?"
"Maybe." Ashe smiled.
"Steak, seafood or something else?"
"Kid, you just said the magic word." Trace steered away from the college and headed toward Corpus Christi.
* * *
"Thanks for giving us a ride, Mrs. Smith." Dori sat in the front seat of Dawn Smith's late-model sedan. Wynn climbed into the back seat after letting her mother know that she and Dori were riding to Corpus Christi with Randy's mother.
"It's no trouble, girls. I was going to the mall anyway—Randy needs new shirts for work."
"He's such a good writer," Wynn offered. "I read some of his articles online that he wrote for the Chicago paper."
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