Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(20) by Connie Suttle
Figuring that his mother might check on him soon, Ashe swept through the nearly moonless night, misting through the roof of his home and then through the floor of the kitchen to get to his bedroom underneath. Sure enough, his mother was just about to knock on his door.
"Ashe, are you studying?" Adele asked through the solid wood of his bedroom door.
"Yeah." Ashe opened the door after becoming solid again. His computer showed a page depicting the Civil War in the background.
"If you want a snack before going to bed, let me know," Adele smiled at her son before closing the door again. Ashe knew she was checking to see if he were doing exactly what he had been doing—turning to mist and getting away from the house. Shivering a little over almost getting caught, Ashe sat down at the computer and began making notes on the Battle of Antietam.
* * *
"I overheard some discussion in Principal Billings' office this morning—I think the teachers are beginning to pick their favorite essays and argue their case," Cori set her tray down, brushed long blonde hair back one-handed and plopped down next to Ashe during lunch.
"Hear any names mentioned?" Sali looked up from his tray of spaghetti and meatballs to stare at Cori.
"Not really," Cori hedged, using a knife to quarter the large meatball a cafeteria worker had set atop a mound of spaghetti. "But Mrs. Rocklin and Mr. Dodd are arguing for the same paper. And I heard the word him, so it has to be one of the guys."
"Bet it's Rowdy," Sali muttered dispiritedly. Rowdy Hankins was a senior, an A student and had been accepted into Brown University. Word had it that one of the faculty there was a werewolf just as Rowdy was, and the Grand Master had cleared the way for the studious young wolf.
"Sali, don't get all depressed," Ashe said. "Want my roll?" He pushed his tray across the table toward Sali.
"Sure." Sali grabbed the yeast roll off Ashe's tray and added it to his own. "But a roll doesn't make up for a cell phone," Sali stuffed spaghetti in his mouth.
"Yeah." Ashe began to wind lengthy noodles around his fork. "Man, being grounded sucks rocks."
"Losing the essay contest sucks boulders," Sali offered.
"It sucks in Regolithic proportions," Ashe countered.
"You know, I'm not even going to ask what that means," Cori speared a quarter meatball and ate it. "Marco will be here around the time you two come off your prison sentence."
"Nobody knows the trouble I've seen," Sali sang off-key.
"Maybe we can hook Mr. Thompson up to the bars of your jail cell and bust you out," Ashe laughed.
"Mr. Thompson in a harness? Are you kidding?" Sali grinned at the imagery. "I thought people hooked horses up for that."
"Well, there's no chance of getting Wynn or her mom, so you'll have to settle for a buffalo," Ashe ate another forkful of spaghetti.
"Cause the itty, bitty bat is in jail too," Sali said.
"Hey, now," Ashe pointed his fork at Sali.
"Remind me again whose fault it is that the werewolf and his bat sidekick are in the slammer?"
"Oh, yeah," Ashe said.
"I'd have done the same thing if I could," Cori said. "It was a nice gesture, Ashe. Too bad you got caught."
"Well, confessed," Sali said. "After that cashier at Jerry's got killed. We saw her that afternoon."
"That's what Daddy said," Cori nodded. "Amy always talked to us whenever we went in to buy anything."
"She talked to everybody. Knew everybody, too," Ashe agreed. "That may have gotten her killed."
"That gives me the shivers—that being so friendly gets you dead." Cori shook herself.
"How's Marco?" Ashe changed the subject.
"Ready to take on a werewolf and a shapeshifter," Cori glanced up in time to see Jeremy and Chad staring at Ashe.
"You're dead meat," Chad hissed at Ashe before Mr. Dodd began walking toward Ashe's table. Jeremy hauled Chad away before Mr. Dodd could catch any of the conversation.
"Everything all right here?" Mr. Dodd stood at the end of the cafeteria table, his eyes on Ashe and Cori.
"Yeah. Everything's fine," Ashe shrugged.
"All right." Mr. Dodd moved away to stop a food fight in its infancy between third-graders.
"I guess it's a good thing we're grounded right now. We might have a fight on our hands if we weren't," Sali said, turning to watch Chad and Jeremy sit at a table near the cafeteria windows.
"They're supposed to be grounded too," Cori said. "But Susan Wilkes said she saw them wandering around outside yesterday when Jeremy's mother went into Cordell to run errands."
"Not surprised," Ashe said.
"If they have no conscience about setting somebody's house on fire and nearly killing three people, you know they're not going to stay inside," Sali huffed. "Mom watches me like a hawk, now."
"My mom is a hawk, and she calls or knocks on my bedroom door every half hour," Ashe sighed gloomily, recalling how he'd almost been caught after misting out of the house the night before.
"I heard something else," Cori toyed with her fork.
"What's that?" Ashe and Sali both turned to the pretty, blonde senior.
"That your Aunt Marcie and Mr. Landers had dinner together last night."
"Yeah. I overheard Mom and Aunt Marcie talking about Jason," Sali said. "I think Aunt Marcie likes him a lot. Says he's a gentleman."
"You knew and you didn't tell anybody?" Cori snapped at Sali.
"Hey, now, panther-pants," Sali snorted. "Is it any of your business?"
"Don't call me that." Cori rose in a huff and stalked toward the tray drop.
"Sali, don't pull Cori into your feud with Wynn and Dori," Ashe warned. "Cori is my friend, too."
"Can't help it," Sali muttered, staring at his nearly empty plate. Ashe watched as Cori walked stiff-backed out of the cafeteria before turning back to Sali.
"That's Marco's girlfriend, in case you're forgetting," Ashe added softly.
* * *
"This is more amusing than I initially imagined," Renegar was busily crashing cars in one of Ashe's video games. "It is much better when I know I am not actually damaging anything."
"Like that's possible," Ashe leaned over and stabbed his controller violently, doing his best to compete with Renegar, who was the first real video game competition he'd had in a while.
"It is certainly possible with my kind—we are quite powerful," Ren was moving along with Ashe, trying just as hard to compete. "You are quite good at this—I thought it might be simple to defeat you."
"Thought you'd be bored, huh?" Ashe jerked his hand and more automobiles crashed.
"I'm having fun, too. For the first time in a long time at this," Ashe admitted.
"I like having a friend outside my race," Ren chortled as he crashed several automobiles at once. "This demolition game is quite entertaining."
* * *
Elizabeth waited until her mother was out of the house before searching through Mary Ellen Frasier's purse for a credit card. Elizabeth's father was watching a baseball game on television and oblivious of his daughter's stealthy rustlings. There had to be a dress shop in Cordell—had to be—and Elizabeth was going there just as quickly as her mist would take her.
* * *
"Francis, where is Elizabeth?" Mary Ellen had arrived moments earlier and failed to find her daughter inside the house. Lizzie wasn't outside—there'd been no sign of her and those two werewolves were sitting beneath their tent, watching Edward, Keith and Bryce toss a football in the newly grown prairie grass surrounding their temporary housing. Francis grunted noncommittally before Mary Ellen's words registered, forcing him to look up from his baseball game.
"She's here somewhere—Lizzie never went out the door," Francis rose from his easy chair and cast a worried glance at his wife. "Did you check the windows?"
"All of them. Francis, go get those—men," Mary Ellen couldn't bring herself to say what Trace and Jason were a second time. "The windows and the back door are all locked. She had to walk out the front door." Hysteria found its way into Mary Ellen's words. Francis charged out the door as Mary Ellen screamed Elizabeth's name.
"Got a hit on her mother's credit card here, at Janie's Dress Shop," Nick Lawford directed Trace and Marcus into the dress shop in question. Trace, Jason, Marcus and Micah had all sniffed around the Frasier's mobile home, detecting no fresh scent from Elizabeth. Marcus asked Linda Jansen and Ramona Hill to sit with Mary Ellen; Micah Rocklin stayed in Cloud Chief to keep a close watch on Francis Frasier, who blamed the werewolf guards for allowing his daughter to escape. Marcus contacted Agents Lawford and North, who'd started the wheels of investigation turning immediately. Mary Ellen's credit card was missing from her purse, and a quick check on recent charges led the agents and the accompanying werewolves straight to the only dress shop in the small town of Cordell.
"May I help you?" Jane Scott, owner of Janie's Dress Shop didn't see men inside her business often. Jane, with salt and pepper gray hair, was stylishly dressed in a pale gray suit she sold in the store. She was folding T-shirts for a display when the four men walked inside her shop.
"Ma'am, have you seen this girl?" Agent Lawford held up a recent photograph of Elizabeth Frasier. Jane stopped folding for a moment and squinted at the picture.
"Just this afternoon," Jane nodded. "She spent six hundred dollars here, then stuffed all the clothes she bought inside one of the large tote bags we sell. And then she asked if I would call a taxi for her." Jane snorted at the idea that anyone would think Cordell might have a taxi service.
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