Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(6) by Connie Suttle
"Cool," Edward breathed. "Dad, this is so cool!" Edward went racing toward the house they'd been assigned.
"It's cool," Steven smiled tentatively at Jason.
* * *
"Lizzie, the furniture and everything is new. What is there to complain about?" Francis Frasier leveled a look at his daughter.
"Daddy, this is nowhere. Do you see that field out there? It leads nowhere!" Elizabeth flung out an arm helplessly.
"I need to take a pill," Mary Ellen spilled her purse onto the kitchen counter, searching for a Valium.
* * *
"Dude, you can see all the houses from here," Sali whispered as he and Ashe stood on the deck behind the Evans home.
"Yeah. Good thing they put in a big storm shelter—those double-wide mobile homes won't last five seconds in a tornado," Ashe grumped.
"They look okay—like regular houses," Sali tilted his head to examine the mobile homes. "If you like rectangles," he added.
"Wow, geometry did sink in," Ashe bumped Sali's shoulder with his own.
"Werewolves don't need geometry," Sali side-kicked Ashe.
"Planning on living in the woods?" Ashe teased. "Where will you hook up your computer? I don't think pines have electrical outlets."
"They've evolved. They're the new, improved pines," Sali declared.
"Yeah, Wi-Fi pines. You think there's an app for that?" Ashe grinned as they watched the new arrivals unload suitcases from vans.
"With special docks for MP-3 players," Sali agreed.
"Well, I've heard of singing pines," Ashe said.
"But these could be blasting disco," Sali observed.
"Sounds like a good way to scare off your dinner," Ashe said. "I hear rabbits and deer hate disco." Both boys watched as one of the new arrivals began walking in their direction.
"What's his name?" Sali asked quietly before the boy arrived.
"I think that's Edward," Ashe said. "He's okay."
"Hello," Edward said shyly, once he stood in front of Ashe and Sali. "I'm Edward. Edward Pendley." His dark-brown hair was slightly curly and fine, lifting in the Oklahoma breeze as he gazed curiously at Ashe and Sali with hazel eyes. Freckles littered his face and moved just a bit as he grinned shyly.
"I'm Ashe and this is Sali—Salidar DeLuca," Ashe introduced Sali.
"Hi," Sali said.
"Are you like Ashe?" Edward shaded the afternoon sun from his eyes as he looked Sali over.
"Nah. I don't think anybody is like Ashe," Sali grinned. "I'm a werewolf. My dad's the Packmaster for Cloud Chief."
"Really? You turn into a wolf? That is seriously cool," Edward sighed. "I now live in the best comic book ever."
"Talking with the local fauna, Eddie?" Philip walked up and stared impolitely at Sali and Ashe.
"Better than talking with the flora," Sali said, bristling at Philip's rudeness.
"Yeah, you don't want to talk to the plants—the pines play disco," Ashe said, sending Sali into a snorting fit of laughter.
"Really?" Edward was ready to believe anything.
"Nah, we're just teasing," Ashe said. "Want to come inside the house for a soda?"
"Uh," Edward glanced behind to see if his father was looking.
"I'll tell him," Ashe said, sending mindspeech.
* * *
Steven Pendley nearly dropped the suitcase he carried when Ashe's voice sounded inside his head. Edward is coming to my house for a soda. He'll be back in a little while. By the way, the mindspeech is a secret. I think you can keep secrets.
"What is it?" Trace set another bag down inside the Pendley's temporary home.
"Nothing. Just had a thought, that's all," Steven set about unpacking.
* * *
Ashe and Sali hadn't intended for Philip to come along, but he did. All four boys sat at the kitchen island and drank sodas, finishing off the tortilla chips that Sali opened two days before to make nachos.
"So, is this all there is—a kitchen, garage and a sun room?" Philip looked around him.
"That's all there is," Sali nodded sagely. "Above ground."
"My dad's a vampire, remember?" Ashe said, crunching on a chip.
"Can I see the rest?" Edward was nearly vibrating with excitement.
"I have to get permission from my dad, first," Ashe said. "He wants to know everyone that I invite over."
"What does it matter? He's dead right now anyway," Philip said.
"Were you born rude or have you cultivated that attitude?" Ashe slid off his barstool, angry in a blink.
"Philip!" Jackie Raymond walked into Ashe's home, searching for her son.
"It's the truth, Mom."
"You don't have any idea what the truth is. Come with me, I need your help unpacking." Philip grumbled as he followed his mother out of Ashe's home.
"Ignore him, all the others do," Edward said softly. "He's gloom and doom all the time."
"He's rude with 'tude," Sali agreed.
"Hey, no more rhyming in this house," Ashe tossed a tortilla chip at Sali, who ducked it easily. "Dude, we should get back to your new house before your dad wonders what happened to you," he said, turning to Edward.
"All right." Edward took his soda bottle with him and he, Ashe and Sali walked along to Edward's temporary home.
"Dad, this is Sali. You've met Ashe already," Edward introduced his new friends.
"Need help, Mr. Pendley?" Ashe offered.
"That bag over there has a few photographs and things in it. Want to unpack those?" Steven Pendley asked, searching through the fridge for something to drink. "Good, they got a few sodas." Pulling a cola from a box, he popped the tab and drank while Sali, Ashe and Edward unloaded framed photographs of Edward when he was small, posing with a pretty, red-haired woman.
"That's my mom—I don't remember her," Edward said, tapping the photograph Ashe held. "She died when I was three. In a car crash."
"Sorry, dude," Ashe said. He didn't say that his own mother had almost been killed the same way a year before.
"It's okay," Edward shrugged. "She was on the wrong side of the car when the ambulance came," he whispered to Ashe. "Buckled in. Nobody in the driver's seat." He cut his eyes toward his father. "Dad gets upset if I talk about it." Ashe glanced quickly at Steven Pendley, who was drinking his soda and staring through the living-room window at the prairie beyond.
"Dude, we need to talk soon," Ashe whispered back.
* * *
Cordell Mayor Jim Taylor was terrified. The man threatening him had taken him by surprise, knocking him out as he'd walked from the barn toward his house earlier in the evening. Now that Jim was conscious inside his kitchen, his assailant was asking strange questions. "Tell me!" The black-haired man demanded, gripping Jim's shirt tightly in a fist. "What did you see?" Jim Taylor saw the scar on the man's upper lip, his face was so close.
"S-six big mobile homes," Jim stuttered, flattening himself against the wall in his kitchen. "I-I didn't see them myself. Heard about it fr-from s-somebody who lives on highway f-fifty-four."
"Where are those mobile homes now?"
"D-don't know. Didn't say where they w-went."
"And the name of the person who did see them?" The name barely left Mayor Taylor's mouth before he died.
Ashe wanted to talk to his mother about Edward and the way Edward's mother had died, but he'd never admitted to either parent that he'd been involved in saving Adele Evans from a dangerously weaving truck while she lay unconscious on the passenger seat. Ashe had driven the old Ford home from west of Cordell, terrified the entire time. If he told his parents about that now, he'd be grounded forever. Judiciously deciding to keep it secret, Ashe set plates on the kitchen island. His mother had brought home takeout from Betsy's again—Cordell Feed and Seed was so busy, Adele was too exhausted to cook.
"Chicken and dumplings, with two pieces of cornbread, as usual," Adele smiled at her son and sat down on a barstool to eat her own meal.
"I'd like you to meet one of the new kids," Ashe said. "He's sixteen but shorter than Sali. He has pointed ears. And freckles."
"Pointed ears? Really?" Adele dipped mashed potatoes onto her plate—she'd ordered pork chops with potatoes and gravy.
"Yeah. One of the others has pointed ears, too—I think her name is Macy. She covers them up with long hair, though."
"Do you think it makes them feel different?" Adele's brown eyes watched Ashe, prepared to weigh his answer.
"Don't know," Ashe ate chicken and dumplings for a while. "Edward—I think he's homeschooled. His dad said something about homework when Sali and I left. Edward wanted to explore a little."
"Where did he live before?" Adele asked, curious.
"Edward says they lived in Missouri until his mom died, and then they moved to Memphis. That's where they were until Director Jennings relocated the families."
"Director Jennings is getting old," Adele said. "He's done a lot for the country, though."
"Mr. Winkler says Mr. Jennings is about to retire."
"I hope they find somebody good to take his place."
"Yeah. He took over after Anthony Hancock got killed." Ashe admired Anthony Hancock; the previous Director was a national hero and died in the line of duty. Ashe had written a history paper about him.
"How are the newcomers fitting in?" Aedan Evans walked through the middle door and came to sit next to Adele.
"Some better than others," Ashe said, taking his plate to the dishwasher. "There's one kid who's really rude. His name is Philip."
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