Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(5) by Connie Suttle
Director Jennings' statement brought another spate of overlapping conversations—Ashe even heard a bit of profanity—before the Director restored calm.
"You're saying that my dad isn't my dad?" a girl asked tearfully.
No, your father is your father. You are a half-human, half-Elemaiyan child. Ashe, will you come up here, please?"
Ashe rose reluctantly and walked unsteadily toward Director Jennings, turning to face the crowd when he arrived. "Ashe is what you are," the Director stated. "With a few differences, I think. Ashe, tell them about your parents."
"My mother is a shapeshifter," Ashe began nervously, his blue eyes betraying a bit of concern over spilling his parents' secrets to humans. His first admission caused a ripple of murmurs throughout the room. "My father—my dad—is a vampire." The room exploded.
"That has to be a lie," a mother stood and pointed a finger at Ashe.
"No, ma'am, not a lie," Ashe shook his head, nearly quaking before the disbelieving crowd.
"Ashe is also a shapeshifter," Winkler, who'd leaned against the wall beside the television screen, straightened and came to stand beside Ashe. "Show them, Ashe, what you are." Ashe gulped anxiously before allowing his clothing to drop. Fluttering and hovering as the bat, his audience sat in stunned silence for seconds before riotous discussion began. People pointed at him and spoke in incredulous whispers to others. It made him uncomfortable. Once conversation died down a little, Ashe flapped toward Trace and Jason at the back of the room.
Now what? Ashe sent to Trace as he dipped and bobbed before the tall werewolf's face. Without a blink, Trace snatched Ashe's tiny bat from the air and tucked him onto the top of his shirt pocket. Thanks, Ashe said mentally, folding his wings and getting comfortable on Trace's shirt.
"No problem, kid," Trace said softly, grinning.
"We are moving you to a special, paranormal community in Oklahoma," Winkler informed the crowd while attempting to hide a smile. He'd witnessed Trace's quick grasp of Ashe's tiny bat. "It is inhabited by shapeshifters, vampires and werewolves."
* * *
"Just when I think my life can't get more messed up than it is," Philip grumbled as he climbed into a van with his mother.
"Director Jennings assures me it is safe," his mother hissed, climbing onto the back seat with her son.
"Why can't we ride with Luanne?" Philip muttered.
"For safety," the agent in the passenger seat turned and said. "It'll take four hours or more to get there. We'd prefer not to make any unscheduled stops on the way." He turned back in his seat, accepting no argument from Philip.
* * *
"Mom, this can't be happening," Luanne Jansen shook her head in confusion as she huddled in the back seat of a van between her parents.
"Honey, don't worry about it," Linda Jansen soothed. "This is to throw those people off our trail. Director Jennings says we'll leave at the end of summer and go somewhere else—somewhere normal." The driver cleared his throat, causing Linda Jansen to fall silent.
"I think our driver is one of them," Luanne whispered.
"He is and can hear better than you ever will," the driver retorted, backing up to allow the lead van through. Luanne gripped her father's arm, suddenly terrified.
* * *
"That bat was so cool," sixteen-year-old Edward Pendley loaded into a van behind his father. "Dad, do you think I might be able to do that? I'm half, too."
"Son, I don't know," Steven Pendley replied distractedly. "Talk to that boy—he may know."
"I will," Edward declared and clicked the lap belt around him. "Do we still have to finish our lessons?"
"If you want to graduate, you do."
"Darn." Edward had always been homeschooled—his mother died shortly after he'd turned three and with pointed ears, his father had little hope that his son wouldn't be ridiculed at a public school. Using the insurance money from his wife's death, Steven Pendley had worked evening jobs and schooled his son at home. Now they both knew the source of what Edward's doctors had thought a slight deformity; Edward had inherited his pointed ears from another race.
* * *
"Mom, I want to go shopping," Elizabeth Frasier pouted, her arms crossed angrily over her chest. "I haven't gotten new clothes in forever." She'd watched enviously as they'd passed shopping center after shopping center on their way through Dallas the day before. Now they were leaving all of it behind.
"Lizzie, hush, this is hard enough for your mother as it is," Francis Frasier helped his daughter into a van. Mary Ellen Frasier attempted to control the shaking in her hands, but wasn't having much success. "Come on, hon, get in. We'll be all right," Francis did his best to calm his frightened wife. Elizabeth wasn't helping, whining about shopping when she should be worried for her safety. Francis sighed over the whole thing and climbed into the van after his wife and fifteen-year-old daughter.
* * *
Sixteen-year-old Keith Caldwell stared out the window as the van drove away from the huge mansion. A Denton, Texas, city limit sign blurred past as the vehicle drove northward toward Oklahoma. Keith thought of himself as practical and still had trouble believing what he'd been shown and told earlier. Another race? That had to be a trick of some sort. Leaning back in his seat, he convinced himself that he was part of an experiment—the government was testing the effects of stress on teens or something. That had to be it. His half-brother, Bryce, sat in the third row of seats in the van. Older by two years, Bryce had cast puzzled glances at Keith after they'd received the information earlier. Keith took one look at his parents' faces—Jeanine and Michael Caldwell appeared pale and worried. Leaning against the locked door of the van, Keith closed his eyes to sleep during the trip.
* * *
Macy Hill gripped both her parents' hands as they sat in the back of a van speeding toward Oklahoma. Of all six children, she'd been closest to capture—if the car full of drunken college students hadn't hit one of the men trying to take her, she'd be gone already. Her job at a pizza parlor in Athens, Georgia, kept her out late on weekends. One Saturday evening six months earlier, she'd been walking toward her car when the two had attempted to abduct her.
Thinking at first that she was tired and failed to notice their approach, she now knew they might have used other means to come at her unawares. Four male college students in an ancient Buick had driven through the small parking lot and run one of the men down. Except they probably weren't men. Macy had rushed inside the pizzeria to phone the police and her parents.
Although the police arrived quickly, there was no sign of either abductor at the scene. Only four college students and a dented car remained in the parking lot. Macy and her parents had been relocated immediately. Now, she sat in the back of a van between her mother Ramona and her father Rocky, both parents holding her hands and doing their best to comfort her. Macy felt alienated—from everything. Her world had just turned inside out and she was lost.
* * *
"Well, we've stocked the basics plus a few extras," Greta Rocklin stared at the last of six pantries. She, Denise DeLuca and Sharon O'Neill had gone shopping for the human families, buying what every family would need—flour, sugar, coffee—the things they always stocked in their homes. Pads of paper lay on kitchen counters for lists of other necessities. No computers were allowed in any of the temporary homes—Director Jennings had forbidden that type of communication, along with landlines and cell phones. There would be no contact with the outside world for nearly three months.
"They should be here anytime," Denise checked her watch. "Mr. Winkler called Marcus and said they left four hours ago."
"Are we supposed to invite them to dinner or what? There's spaghetti and that sort of thing, but we'll have to get someone to run to the store after they tell us what they need," Sharon sounded worried.
"Billings isn't happy," Denise admitted reluctantly. "I thought he and Marcus were going to go after each other's throats. This isn't the best time for this to be happening—the day before a full Moon."
"Aedan and Nathan will have to watch them tomorrow night just to make sure they stay indoors," Greta agreed. "I know they'll place compulsion when they leave, too, but what about while they're here? This could turn out so badly," she stared at her hands. "If those kids become curious and get anywhere near a couple of people, we could have trouble."
"Let's hope that doesn't happen. Somebody will have to warn them to stay away from certain individuals," Sharon nodded.
* * *
"This is it? Man, this is the middle of nowhere, Philip snapped angrily as the van pulled through the barrier separating Cloud Chief from the human world.
"Philip," the agent turned in his seat for the second time after listening to Philip's complaints for four hours, "this is to save your life. Do you want to live or not?"
* * *
"They're all double-wides," Steven Pendley, Edward's father, sighed at the six prefab houses spaced ten yards apart in an Oklahoma field.
"They're tied down as well as they can be and there's a new storm shelter between the third and fourth houses," Jason came to stand beside Steven. "The women did a little grocery shopping for you, but there's paper on the counter to make a list for other needs. We'll bring dinner for everyone tonight, but get those lists back to Trace soon if you want to eat after that. We'll have a meeting over dinner to give you the dos and don'ts. Tomorrow is the full Moon, so it goes without saying that you need to stay indoors. The vampires will be standing guard, just in case."
"Are we in danger on full Moons?" Edward now stood beside his father, staring up at Jason curiously.
"Not unless you jump between a werewolf and what he's hunting," Jason grinned.
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