Destroyer(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 5)(32) by Connie Suttle
"At least she broke up with Buck."
"She told me. As if that has disconnected with her reality in some way."
"I don't get that, Dad. I heard he proposed."
"I heard that, too. From Nathan."
"He's my first—and only—vampire child. You're my son, Ashe. In my heart, you will always be my son, even when I refuse you so Wlodek won't find you so easy to take. He's agreed to approach you honestly in the future, with his offers. Reject vampirism, son. You have no need for it."
"Don't you think I can figure that out on my own?"
"I know you can. We don't give you enough credit for knowing these things. Many of us wouldn't be alive if it weren't for you. I'm concerned—really concerned—about what that drug has done to you, and can only imagine why it was given."
"They mean to have me or kill me, Dad. One way or another. It may be in your best interest to leave me with Mr. Winkler. That'll leave Star Cove out of this mess."
"I don't know what to do, son. You can't trust me, now, but I hope that changes. I'd like to see things the way they were, when you were younger and our lives weren't so complicated."
"They are complicated, and it looks like it may get worse. Cut your losses, Dad. Tell Mom to do the same. I can get Marco to take me back to Winkler's house tonight."
"You moved all your things away. I checked last night."
"There wasn't anything left for me here."
"I'm sorry, son. More sorry than I can say that we've hurt you."
"You can't be near as sorry as I am."
"I'm afraid to ask. Marco says the kid didn't say a word on the drive between Star Cove and here last night."
"Have you heard anything from Aedan or Adele?" Trajan shook his head at Winkler's comment before asking the question that concerned him most.
"Nothing yet. As of now, I'm still the boy's legal guardian and his sole means of support."
"This has to be hard on him, Winkler."
"I know. I don't know what to do about it, either."
"I have a suggestion." Winkler lifted an eyebrow at Trajan's words.
"I know kids in the past have sued for emancipation from their parents."
"Trajan, I'm not sure how to react to that," Winkler said. "If one of my kids suggested that," Winkler shook his head.
"But you didn't walk away from your kids. Sure, Aedan and Adele want him now, but that's confusing the kid. If he declares himself emancipated, then he can stay or go, his choice."
"I don't think this is a good idea," Winkler rubbed his forehead.
"Because everybody wants a piece of him. Walk in there now, and tell him he can make his own decisions from now on. Go on." Trajan gestured with his hands.
"Damn, Traje," Winkler blinked at his Second. "Look, maybe we can compromise. Meet with Aedan and Adele. Say we're all going to lose him eventually if we don't let him have some control over his life."
"That's the best thing I've heard today," Trajan nodded. "Let's go for that and see if it flies."
"I'll send a message to Aedan's cell and see if he replies. I'm worried that Adele won't understand if we present it to her, first. For her, it's like it never happened."
"Yeah. This is a nightmare for the kid."
* * *
"It doesn't matter if you want to pay cash for a room. I still need ID and a credit card for incidentals." The hotel desk clerk wasn't budging on the rules. Dawn wanted to turn and rip his throat out. If she were to accomplish her goal in Chicago, she needed to be as discreet as possible.
"I'll find another hotel." Dawn snatched the money she'd laid on the desk and stalked out of the hotel lobby, leaving a worried desk clerk behind.
* * *
"I was scared. She said she didn't have ID or a credit card. I swear she growled at me, though I know that's not possible." The manager at the third hotel where Dawn attempted to pay cash for a room called the police as soon as Dawn left. "I got a partial number from her license plate. It was a Texas tag and the last three numbers are four-three-six."
"We'll check it out," the officer's voice sounded bored.
* * *
Ashe leaned back against his headboard to read another chapter of The Return of the King, dropping the mysterious envelope on the bed as he did so.
"Wait," Ashe lifted the envelope again—had he imagined that his fingers tingled as he'd touched it? Cautiously he pulled the note from the envelope and unfolded it.
"Huh?" It no longer said you're welcome. Now it said ask.
"Ask what?" Ashe flipped the note around. Nothing was written on it except the word ask. "Okay, first you say you're welcome. For what? Now you're saying ask? This is ridiculous. Griffin says the answer to my problem is around my arm. You say ask. What the hell does that—wait." Ashe pulled the sleeve of his T-shirt up and stared at the medallions circling his left arm.
"This is so dumb," Ashe muttered, fingering one of the medallions. "Okay, tell me, what is it I'm supposed to ask?" His head swam with visions.
* * *
"When did Tony and Gavin leave? Is there a way to get in touch with them?" Ashe skidded into the media room where Winkler, Trajan and Ace were watching a baseball game on the large screen television mounted on the wall.
"Left last night," Winkler said, tapping the remote to mute the sound. "What's the matter?"
"If they catch the vampire they're after, they need to ask a specific question," Ashe sounded breathless.
"What question is that?" Winkler asked, hauling out his cell and selecting a number in his contacts list.
"Gavin needs to ask if their quarry has made anybody vampire lately."
"What?" Winkler exploded, just as Gavin answered the call.
"Gavin, have you captured your quarry?" Winkler asked.
"Yes. He has already been dispatched. Why do you ask?"
"Crap," Ashe dropped to his knees and covered his face with both hands.
"The kid wanted you to ask if your target had turned anybody."
"Too late," Tony's voice could be heard in the background. "Is that a possibility?"
"Yeah," Ashe mumbled. "A terrible possibility."
* * *
"What happened? Did you get your ability back?" Winkler pulled Ashe into the kitchen and offered him a soda while he asked questions.
"Not yet, no," Ashe said. "But I have these." He pulled back his sleeve. "Apparently, if I ask the right questions, I can get answers in the form of images." He tapped one of the medallions.
"What did you see?" Winkler asked.
"A lot of it was a blur, but what I did see was a vampire, and well, it looked like he was," Ashe slumped. It wasn't pretty, what he'd seen.
"Making a turn? Who, kid?"
"Wildrif," Ashe muttered. "Mr. Winkler, he's a seer. He knows stuff. How bad do you think that might be if he becomes vampire?"
"This isn't good," Winkler raked fingers through his hair.
"Do we need to call Gavin back?" Trajan pulled a soda from the fridge and settled on a barstool next to Ashe.
"Yeah. I guess we do." Winkler pulled out his cell again.
"Montegue here," Gavin answered promptly.
"Gavin, do you have information on that prisoner who got away from the maximum security facility in Colorado?" Winkler asked.
"Yes." Gavin only hesitated for a moment.
"The kid seems to think Wildrif may be on his way to becoming vampire."
"This is terrible news. If you are correct, I must contact the Honored One quickly. That one is Dark Elemaiya, and you know what trouble that might be, especially with the talents that one supposedly has."
"Yes, I remember clearly what kind of trouble that might be," Winkler's voice was grim. "I recall the misting, the mindspeech, the shapeshifting, the murderous tendencies—all of it. And as this one has foresight, he could be the worst of all."
"What can we do? Weldon can lend some wolves to the cause, if you need to go hunting."
"I will let you know." Gavin abruptly hung up.
"He didn't like that information," Winkler shoved his cell in a pocket.
* * *
"I'll agree to leave things as they are for now, but that's still my son," Aedan said. "I feel I have much to atone for, where Ashe is concerned."
"He did mention getting a car, but I've already made arrangements to get it for him. The Council paid for his services before he was given the drug."
"What car?" Aedan's interest was immediate.
"A classic car, actually," Winkler admitted. "Said he wanted it mostly for show. I had Loren make the purchase this morning while Ashe was studying. It'll be delivered this weekend."
"I will reimburse you."
"Aedan, I paid seventy thousand for it."
"I don't care. I should have bought one for his birthday. I know how disappointed he was over that."
"We can split it."
"I will pay."
"All right. I'll forward a copy of the invoice."
* * *
"Do you think he's trying to buy his son's affection back?" Trajan asked after Winkler ended the call.
"Maybe. I'm not sure how Ashe will react."
"The kid needed his parents, and they weren't there for him. All Aedan's fault, seems to me."
"Yeah. Look, what are we going to do if the kid is right about Wildrif?"
"That sounds plain scary, boss."
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