Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(25) by Connie Suttle
"Nathan, I hope you realize how ludicrous that sounds."
"I find it ludicrous that Dawn Smith stabbed Adele. They've always been good friends."
"I find this difficult to grasp as well. The darts are in my safe, and I hope we can get the poison analyzed. Several of my Pack are out tracking Dawn, but she must have planned this attack carefully. Her scent disappeared outside the gate."
"Has anyone informed her son?"
"I haven't called," Marcus shook his head. "Do you think she'll contact him, or go there first? Should we pay him a visit?"
"Worth a try," Nathan muttered.
"Want to come with me?" Marcus pulled keys from his pocket.
"Yes. Aedan would expect it of me."
* * *
Randy woke from a sound sleep at the pounding on his door. "All right, keep your shirt on," Randy muttered as he quickly pulled on jeans and headed for the front door. The pounding continued as he knocked a foot against the sofa leg on his way to answer the door.
"Marcus? Nathan?" Randy blinked in the brightness of the porch light as he swung his apartment door open.
"Randall, have you heard from your mother?" Nathan pushed past Randy and entered the apartment, sniffing as he went.
"Mom? No. Why?"
"Let's go inside," Marcus gestured with a hand. Randy stepped back to allow the Star Cove Packmaster in his home.
"Your phone, where is it?" Nathan asked.
"On the table. I turned it off before I went to bed," Randy replied, moving to the small kitchen and switching on the light.
Nathan turned the phone on and scrolled through messages. "Nothing," he handed the phone to Marcus, who thumbed through the messages before nodding.
"What's going on? Why are you looking for Mom? Isn't she at home?" Randy looked from Marcus to Nathan curiously.
"She stabbed Adele Evans earlier this evening, before running away as werewolf," Nathan said evenly. "If we find her, I'm afraid she will be questioned before facing werewolf justice."
"What?" Randy stared at Nathan in alarm. Werewolf justice meant one thing in a homicide or attempted homicide—death.
"You will return to Star Cove with us. If we have to place compulsion to keep you from warning your mother, we will do so. We will also place compulsion for you to reveal your mother's whereabouts, if that is known to you." Marcus' voice became a growl. Randy backed against the small island in his kitchen.
"But," he began.
"Randall, your mother attempted murder tonight, against someone we thought she cared for. We will find her and learn the truth of this. You will not interfere." Compulsion lay thick in Nathan's words.
* * *
Ashe couldn't sleep, so he pulled a book off a shelf and carried it to his bed. The Return of the King always made him feel better, somehow. He opened the book to a favorite chapter, and an envelope dropped out.
"What's this?" Ashe lifted the envelope with unsteady fingers. He was the only one who touched his books, and he certainly hadn't placed an envelope inside. The stationery was expensive, in a pale, cream color. Ashe lifted the flap, which wasn't sealed, and drew the single sheet of matching paper out.
You're welcome was written in lovely, handwritten script across the top.
"Did you sleep at all, kid?" Trajan sat beside Ashe at breakfast the following morning. It was Saturday, and most people might be sleeping in or thinking about how to spend their weekend. Ashe only wanted to see his mother. To make sure she was all right—even if she failed to recognize him as her son.
"Not much. I read a book," Ashe replied.
"Young man, you should take better care of yourself," Flossie Thompson admonished before setting a bowl of oatmeal and a plate holding three link sausages in front of Ashe. "Want milk or juice, hon?"
"Milk," Ashe said, spooning brown sugar into his oatmeal. "Aren't you supposed to be off today, Mrs. Thompson?"
"I was, but Mr. Winkler called and asked me to do breakfast and lunch today. He explained what happened last night to Amos and me, so of course we'll help out."
"Thank you, Mrs. Thompson," Ashe nodded. "This is a better breakfast than a bowl of cold cereal."
"It is. Cold cereal is for late-night binges. Isn't it?" She smiled at Ashe.
"I always like it for that," Trajan laughed.
"Yeah." Ashe agreed. Trajan reached over and ruffled Ashe's hair.
* * *
Ashe was escorted to Star Cove by Ace, Trajan and Winkler. Winkler was in a grim mood, so Ashe didn't ask questions. He wanted to know when Andy's funeral might be. He wanted to know what was happening with Peyton Miller. Most of all, he wanted to know who'd hurt his mother and how Adele survived the ordeal. If Mr. Winkler knew anything, he wasn't sharing.
"She's sleeping." Sharon O'Neill met them at the door after Winkler parked his SUV in the Evans' driveway. Ashe stared at the dried blood on the carpet as he walked through the front door.
"That belongs to the Elemaiya," Winkler whispered. Ashe nodded and swallowed with difficulty.
"What did they do with them?" Ashe asked softly.
"Shirley's wolves picked them up, too."
Ashe didn't reply; he nodded instead. Mostly the house looked the same, except for the bloodstains on the foyer carpet and those on the stairs leading to the bedrooms. "There's a werewolf-owned carpet store in San Antonio. They're on their way," Trajan murmured next to Ashe's ear. "We'll have this out of here and new carpet laid before the day's out."
"Ashe, it's good to see you," Sharon O'Neill smiled at him. "You, too, Ace. Heard you had a bit of excitement your way last night as well."
"We did, Mrs. O'Neill," Ace nodded respectfully. "Is Wynn all right?"
"Wynnie's fine. She's probably having breakfast if you want to go visit."
"Go ahead," Winkler gave permission. Ace was through the door as fast as possible without appearing disrespectful.
* * *
Adele woke when her bedroom door creaked open. She was surprised to see Sharon O'Neill, closely followed by Winkler, Trajan and Ashe.
"Honey, where have you been?" Tears slipped down Adele's cheeks as she held her arms out to Ashe.
Ashe was beside her on the bed in seconds while Adele held him as tightly as she could. "Mom, what happened?" Ashe mumbled as he hugged her and wept.
"Honey," Adele let him go and leaned back to look at her son's face, "Dawn Smith showed up right after I got home from work last night. I thought she needed something. She stabbed me with something sharp and ran away. I can't explain any of this."
"Mr. Winkler," Ashe turned to Winkler and Trajan. "Dawn Smith is Zeke Tanner's informant. No, I don't have any of my stuff back yet," Ashe held up a hand. "I've known this for maybe a couple of weeks. Might have suspected before then, but suddenly it all came together. She was supposed to get caught with Josiah Dunnigan, but she punked out on him during the full moon."
"And you're telling us this now?" Winkler wanted to growl. He didn't.
"Because of Randy," Ashe hung his head. "Randy's always gotten a bad deal from the werewolf community. His dad died. I didn't want to take his mom away, too, unless she got caught in the act. I was hoping she'd finally turned things around, when she didn't participate in Dunnigan's attempt at murder. If I get my ability back, she's toast." Ashe clenched a hand in anger.
"Randy's here in the community, with a guard," Winkler sighed. "He's at his mother's house. Marcus has extra guards around the community, but Dawn probably won't be back. She'll face werewolf justice if we find her."
"Randy will lose his job," Ashe muttered, unclenching his hand.
"I'll have a state senator call the newspaper's owner. He'll still have a job when this is over. If he wants it."
"Yeah." Ashe knew Randy would likely get as far away as he could if the werewolves executed his mother.
"Mrs. Evans, Buck was wounded last night. He asked about you, first thing," Trajan said gently.
"That's awful." Adele brushed wisps of hair from her face with a sigh. "I was thinking about telling him it wasn't going to work. Ashe, do you know where your father is? I want to talk to him."
"Dad?" Ashe's voice was nearly a squeak. "Mom, I don't know where he is. He might not answer if we try to call."
"We have to try, honey." Adele brushed fingers down Ashe's cheek. "I want things the way they were, and I won't accept no as an answer from your father."
"Then we'll give it a try," Ashe nodded.
"Adele, are you hungry? It's past breakfast time already," Sharon O'Neill asked quietly.
"I have to get to work," Adele sat up.
"No, I've called the restaurant. Your assistant manager is coming in. She'll handle the restaurant this weekend, until you're well enough to go back to work." Winkler nodded to Adele. "The restaurant will be fine."
"Thank you," Adele nodded and ducked her head. "I'm still shaky, but it'll go away."
"Dr. Slater will be by later this morning," Sharon said. "I'll go downstairs and make some eggs and toast."
* * *
"Sal?" Ashe blinked in surprise when Sali walked into the kitchen later, followed by Jeff and Larry. "I thought you were under house arrest."
"Dad let me off for good behavior," Sali grinned. "He asked us," Sali indicated Jeff and Larry with a finger, "to help guard the community. Everybody was briefed this morning about last night. At least on what we know so far."
"I heard they're holding Randy in his mom's house," Ashe said. "Want a soda?"
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