Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(12) by Connie Suttle
"Wynnie, are you sure you want to do that?" Ashe used the nickname that most people were afraid to use—Sharon called her daughter by that name but Wynn usually got upset if anyone else did.
"I will," Wynn seemed determined. "They have to understand that we're not all like Chad and Jeremy. Stupid twits," she muttered.
"Look, why don't we meet at Ashe's house in an hour?" Hayes suggested. Jeff and Larry nodded in agreement.
"All right," Wynn said. "Let's go, Dori." Dori followed Wynn toward the front doors of the school. Ashe watched both girls walk down the polished tile hallway that separated classrooms at Cloud Chief Combined.
"You're sure about this?" Ashe turned back to Hayes, Larry and Jeff.
"We have to do something," Jeff said. He, Larry and Hayes were best friends, much like Ashe and Sali, but occasionally the three boys came to Sali's house—they seldom visited Ashe. All of them enjoyed playing video games, but generally hated playing Ashe. If he concentrated on the game, Ashe was very hard to beat. The others liked to win once in a while, so they played mostly with Sali.
"I'll offer some of my books to Luanne; Trace said this morning that all her books got burned," Ashe sighed, nodding to the three boys. "Meet at my house in an hour and we'll go." Hayes, Larry and Jeff, their athletic shoes squeaking on the polished tile, walked quickly toward the school entrance.
"Sali, I know I'll get in trouble if Mom and Dad find out, but we can't go empty-handed. Want to mist into Cordell and buy snacks?" Ashe gazed hopefully at his friend.
"Yeah. Let's go," Sali breathed, excited to be sneaking away from the community. Ashe, making sure nobody else was inside the deserted school, became mist. Pulling Sali into his mist, he blazed toward his home to raid his allowance stash before racing invisibly to the nearby town of Cordell.
Waiting patiently while a man wearing a studded leather jacket purchased a few items ahead of them, Ashe totaled snack items in his head. Sali had been more than generous, dumping multiple bags of chips and cookies into their basket.
"Having a party, boys?" The woman at the register rang up the sale. The pile of cookies, snacks and soft drinks traveled along the conveyor belt while Ashe and Sali watched the cashier scan all of it. Ashe pulled a handful of bills from his pocket to pay—he barely had enough to cover everything.
"Yeah, we're inviting friends over," Ashe agreed, handing money to the cashier. Sali was already gathering up bags of purchased snacks.
"Haven't I seen you at Cordell Feed and Seed?" The woman asked, her brown eyes kind as she handed change back.
"My mom owns it," Ashe said. Cordell was small enough that everyone knew everybody else.
"You're Adele's son. Now I recognize you," the woman placed hands on ample h*ps as she smiled at Ashe and Sali. "Well, have fun."
"We will. Thanks," Ashe lifted what Sali couldn't carry and they walked through the door of Jerry's Super Saver Market and Bakery.
"Come on," Ashe nodded toward the opposite side of the grocery store—cars were parked where Sali was walking. They had to find a good place for Ashe to turn to mist.
"Here," Ashe hissed, walking between the brick wall of the store and the two large dumpsters behind it. Turning himself, Sali and everything they carried to mist, Ashe flew toward Cloud Chief.
* * *
"Luanne, I'm really sorry about your house," Ashe apologized later. Luanne and her parents were visiting with Macy, Ramona and Rocky Hill, having walked from Old Harold's house to the mobile homes parked in the field behind Ashe's home. "We're inviting everyone over to Edward's house—his father gave permission. We've got video games and I've got a list of books from my library that you're welcome to borrow if you want."
"Plus we have snacks and sodas," Sali nodded enthusiastically behind Ashe.
"Mom?" Luanne blinked at Linda Jansen, asking permission. They'd spent the previous night huddled inside Old Harold's underground home, wondering what would become of them. Now, several members of the Cloud Chief community had brought clothing and household items, and these children were asking them over to play games and have fun.
"I think it's all right," Linda nodded. "We might be over after a while; I'd like to talk with Macy's parents a little longer."
"Go with Luanne, Macy," Ramona agreed. "Have some fun. We haven't seen a lot of that lately."
Macy and Luanne followed Ashe and Sali out of the house. "We just wanted you to know that we're not like Chump and Wormy. Trust me, they'll be punished," Ashe said to Luanne as they walked through the field toward Edward's mobile home.
"Having a get-together?" Jason and Trace were assigned to guard during the day, so they were well aware that something was going on at Edward's home.
"Hey, Trace. Hello, Mr. Landers," Ashe nodded to both werewolves. "We wanted to get to know everybody, and Hayes always looks for an excuse to play video games," Ashe grinned. And we wanted them to know we're not all arsonists, he added mentally, causing Trace to snicker.
"Have a good time. If you need anything, just call," Trace waved them on.
"Will do," Sali said.
* * *
"This is Wynn and this is Dori," Ashe introduced both girls to Macy and Luanne. "And this is Hayes, Larry and Jeff," he added. Hayes and Jeff were already deep into a video game with Bryce and Keith. Larry watched the action while Philip sat nearby, engrossed in the game and unusually quiet. Edward, crunching away on cheese puffs, grinned at Ashe. The only one refusing to have a good time was Elizabeth, who sat on a corner of the Pendley's sofa, sipping a soda and gazing sourly at Hayes and Jeff.
"Luanne, I think Wynn wants to show you her animal," Ashe said as Wynn gave Ashe a suggestive jerk of her head. "And you have to realize that Wynn won't do this for just anybody."
"What is it?" Luanne asked, giving Wynn a puzzled look.
"It'll be a surprise," Wynn said shyly.
"Edward, can we borrow your bathroom?" Ashe asked.
"Sure. Need anything?" Edward slid off his barstool and came to stand next to Sali, offering the bag of cheese puffs to the young werewolf. Sali grabbed a handful and began crunching.
"No. But we'll have a surprise for everyone in just a couple of minutes."
Dori followed Wynn toward the bathroom—she'd have to take Wynn's clothing, after all.
"How sturdy is the floor?" Sali stopped eating long enough to ask.
"Why do you need to know?" Edward asked curiously.
"You'll see. Just wait out here," Ashe directed. He, Sali, Luanne, Macy and Edward waited at the edge of the hallway that led to the mobile home's main bathroom. Wynn and Dori walked inside the small room and shut the door.
"I think you might like this," Ashe turned to tell Luanne when she and Macy, staring down the hall as the bathroom door opened again, gasped in amazement, their eyes widening in surprise. Macy, coming back to herself, squealed and clapped her hands.
"Oh, my gosh," Luanne whispered.
* * *
"There are unicorns?" Elizabeth rose from her seat to stare at Wynn, whose horn shone nearly golden in the afternoon light, her white coat glowing. Delicate hooves stepped carefully across Edward's living-room carpet. Blue eyes gazed at the assembled teens, who stared helplessly spellbound at her.
"Don't touch—it's just like somebody trying to touch you—without your clothes on," Dori warned as Bryce held out a hand.
"How many are there?" Elizabeth's voice was filled with awe. Ashe was surprised—of all of them, Elizabeth and Philip were the most jaded.
"Wynn is the only known unicorn in the United States. We're not sure about Europe—she may be the only one living on the planet."
"That is awesome," Luanne breathed. Edward's father, Steven, had already sent a message on his walkie-talkie to other parents, who were now crowding into the Pendley's living room. They stared, too.
"This is Wynn—Wynn O'Neill," Ashe introduced Wynn's unicorn to the gathered parents. "Her mother is a palomino mare; her father is a bald eagle."
"I become an ocelot," Dori said. "I'm Dori Anderson. My Mother is a lioness and my sister Cori is a panther. You've seen Ashe's bat; Larry is a bobcat and the rest here are werewolves."
"We've lived among humans all our lives," Hayes had abandoned his video game as soon as Wynn walked in as the unicorn. "Ashe's mom owns a store in Cordell. Not all of us are like those two last night, just as all humans aren't alike. Packmaster DeLuca will make sure those two are punished. In the meantime, we'd like to be friends. If that's all right with you."
"This is the coolest thing ever," Bryce said, still staring at Wynn. His half-brother Keith nodded in silent agreement.
"I think Wynn wants to change back," Ashe said softly. Dori followed Wynn into the bathroom again while the Pendley home burst into conversation.
"It's a secret we guard with our lives," Hayes said. "Can you imagine what might happen if word got out about what we are? Some people will want to kill us. That's why we stay hidden."
"But there are some officials that are aware?" Rocky Hill asked. "The Director, for example?"
"Yeah. Some people know, and they're sworn to secrecy," Ashe agreed. "I heard that a few of our kind work for National Security, keeping all of us safe."
"Has your community ever been discovered?" Steven Pendley asked.
"When one of us showed them the way in, and that problem was eliminated last year," Marcus DeLuca walked into the house. "We're guarding against that happening again," he added. "The Grand Master has handed out punishment to the werewolf boy, and the school administrators have decided what will happen with the shapeshifter. Since both boys live in the same home, the punishments will be served together." Marcus now had the attention of everyone inside the home as Wynn and Dori walked out of the bathroom to join the crowd.
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