Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(23) by Connie Suttle
* * *
It hadn't taken much to knock the woman unconscious. She slumped in the passenger seat, oblivious of her surroundings as her stolen car sped through the twisting roads leading to Lake Altus. The driver couldn't help but curse softly and angrily at what he'd learned from Jane Scott. The card she'd handed over almost made him kill her immediately—Homeland Security was printed plainly across the top with a seasoned agent's name listed below. He'd had to travel stealthily through Cordell and the surrounding communities since he'd killed the cashier from the local supermarket.
Too many things didn't make sense anymore, and now he'd be blamed for the girl's death east of Clinton, although he'd been nowhere near. The only information he'd gotten was that she'd suffered a brain injury. This bitch, though, and anyone else who thought to stand between him and his objective, well, they'd die too.
Shoving the car into park as he slid to a stop at the boat ramp, he carefully exited the vehicle, taking care not to touch any part of it with exposed skin. He flexed large hands encased in gloves before reaching inside the car and placing it in gear. Walking away swiftly, he heard the satisfying splash as the car hit the lake and floated in. Eventually the engine died as it was drowned in water.
* * *
Going down, Ashe shouted to his passengers when he spotted the top of the red car as it slowly sank into Lake Altus. The car was nearly submerged and Ashe, hoping he wasn't too late already, plunged his mist through the roof of the vehicle with no thought for himself or his passengers.
Jane's head was beneath the lake's surface and Ashe cried out in fear and despair, even as he lifted her limp body inside his mist and sped away. He was flying toward Clinton Regional Hospital as fast as he could go, terrified the woman might already be dead.
* * *
"We'll have to medi-flight her to Oklahoma City," the emergency room physician informed Aedan and Agent North. Ashe and Ren sat in the waiting room while his father and Agent North talked to the doctor right outside. Ashe heard every word as it was explained that the head wound and near drowning might have serious consequences and Jane Scott could have permanent damage—if she woke at all.
"I'll notify Oklahoma City officials and she'll have a guard outside her room," Agent North pulled his cell from a pocket to make the call.
I have never experienced anything so exciting in my life, Ren sounded jubilant inside Ashe's mind.
Dude, she could die or suffer brain damage. Don't you care about that?
I see that you do. My father says that we cannot involve ourselves in the brief lives of mortals.
I think your father is wrong. A life is a life. I don't care how long it lasts or doesn't last. A really good person might live a very short life, while a terrible jerk could live forever. Ashe rose to pace inside the small hospital waiting room. A television mumbled in the corner, but Ashe and Ren ignored it while they waited and talked.
Ah. Ren didn't elaborate.
"Ashe," Aedan stood in the doorway. "Son, Agent Lawford is going to wait for the helicopter and escort the woman to Oklahoma City. He thanks you for your efforts. We might not have located her otherwise."
"Yeah." Ashe blew out a sigh as he walked toward his father. "Ready to go home?"
"Your mother is on her way. We'll drive home in a more conventional manner. I know it doesn't frighten you to travel the way you do, but I'm not used to it and not likely to ever get that way."
"Sorry, Dad." Ashe flopped onto a plastic chair and hung his head, his hands draped limply over his knees. He hadn't thought about his passengers as he'd blazed through the night, and the dive through the top of a car and into darkened lake water had to be frightening. He'd been focused on one thing and one thing only—saving a life. Ren had listened to Aedan's words carefully and then watched Ashe's reaction with interest.
"Ashe, there's no reason to feel shame. That's not what I meant. It's just that I'm usually going somewhere under my own power. This is different from anything I've ever known and I have to get used to it."
Ashe hunched thin shoulders at his father's comment. He knew he was different; nobody had to tell him that. He doesn't like relinquishing control, Ren silently offered.
I'm the cuckoo's child, Ashe muttered mentally. My parents have no idea what was dropped into their nest to raise. And the sad thing is, I don't know what I am, either. Just like Elizabeth, who died this afternoon. Maybe that doesn't bother you or your race, Ren, but it sure as heck bothers me.
I was born knowing what I am. I am attempting to understand what it would be like if that were not true.
Let me know when you discover how frustrating it is. Aedan watched as his son rose abruptly from his seat and began pacing again.
"Son, it's nothing to be upset over. You did a good deed tonight. The best of deeds, perhaps. Fretting will not solve anything."
"Yeah? Tell that to Elizabeth Frasier." Furious in the space of a moment, Ashe turned to mist and blazed toward his Cloud Chief home, leaving a puzzled Larentii child and a cursing father behind.
"Adele, I upset him—more than he was already. Somehow, he feels responsible for that girl's death. And then I may as well have called him a freak." Aedan spoke as he drove his SUV home after Adele had arrived at the hospital.
"We can't allow this kind of behavior. I don't care if he did go straight home." Adele called the house as soon as she'd learned that Ashe had disappeared. Ashe had sullenly answered the phone.
"Then we will determine his punishment and let him know what it is when this grounding period is over."
"All right. Aedan, what are we going to do?"
"We'll think on it for the next few days."
* * *
"Baltis has managed to kill this one." Friesianna handed the girl's chip to Hilbah. "Did you realize how close his Destroyers might be?"
"My Queen, something obscures my sight in that area. Yes, I felt the Destroyers as soon as they attacked, but my vision came much too late." Hilbah wanted to cower before Friesianna, but forced himself to remain upright.
"Call Diamond and his brothers. You will accompany Diamond and another of my Jewels. You will personally escort the remaining children to me."
"As you wish it, my Queen." Hilbah bowed respectfully and quite low, backing away from Friesianna's cold glare.
* * *
"Dude, what were you thinking?" Sali stared at Ashe during lunch the following Monday. "You get even more punishment?"
"Mom and Dad won't even say what it is. They'll tell me Friday when the grounding is over." Ashe pushed meatloaf around his lunch tray.
"This is the worst," Sali mumbled hopelessly. "You know what Friday is, too—last day of school. Awards Assembly is Friday night, dude."
"Yeah. And we still won't get a cell phone." The winner of the essay contest was always announced at the end of the assembly. All of Cloud Chief's parents attended, while the night was guarded by werewolves who had no children attending school. At least until the Awards Assembly was over. Ashe shoved his lunch tray toward Sali, who gladly accepted it and dug in.
Throughout the last week of school, amid finals and anxious, last minute studying, rumors leapt from student to student concerning who might win the essay contest. Many students argued that Rowdy Hankins would win. Ashe knew Cori had started that rumor after hearing what she had in Principal Billings' office. Ashe slumped through his exams. Elizabeth Frasier's death and Jane Scott's kidnapping weighed on his shoulders more than additional punishment. He'd asked about Jane Scott's condition, but his parents refused to tell him anything. No information could be found on the Internet, either, so he hoped she was still alive. Ren had also failed to appear during the week, making Ashe wonder if the blue-skinned youth might be gone for good. Despite Ren's attitude toward mortals, Ashe realized he missed the strange Larentii youth.
"It's over." Sali heaved a grateful sigh as they handed in History papers and textbooks on Friday, May twenty-second.
"Until next fall," Ashe pointed out.
"You had to point that out, didn't you? What do they say about the bearer of bad news?" Sali poked at Ashe.
"Are you referring to killing the messenger?"
"Seems a little harsh," Sali said, jumping away when Ashe attempted to flip Sali's ear.
"You brought it up."
"Sure—ridicule the messenger."
"A more fitting punishment, don't you think?"
"Depends on the level of ridicule. Insulting your shoes isn't as bad as trashing your mama."
"Hey, now." Ashe pointed a finger at Sali.
"See?" Sali said. "Definite levels of ridicule. You don't care if I say your shoes suck. The bat would fly into my oatmeal and do a little bat dance if I insulted your mom."
"Or worse. I could put little bat prints on your underwear and make sure all of it hung from the school flagpole."
"You're not out the door, yet," Principal Billings' voice growled behind them. "I've given summer detention before." Ashe gaped at Sali while Sali turned a shocked stare toward Ashe. Both boys walked toward Cloud Chief Combined's double-doored entrance as quickly as possible.
* * *
Ashe spared a glance for Sali as he, Aedan and Adele found seats across the temporary aisle in the school cafeteria. Tables had been cleared away and folding chairs had been lined up in neat rows to accommodate students and parents. As usual, the junior high class awards went to ninth graders, while the advanced awards were handed to senior students. And then it was time to announce the winners of the essay contest. An expectant hush fell as Principal Billings strode stiffly and purposely to the podium to make the announcement. Tapping three sealed envelopes against the oak surface of the podium, Principal Billings scanned the crowd. If Ashe hadn't known better, he'd have said the sturdily built werewolf was furious.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online