Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(27) by Connie Suttle
"I recognize you now," the doctor shook hands with Bill. "Let us know when you want your agent transferred, and I'll make arrangements."
"Thank you. Nick and I are friends from way back, so I want him to pull through this. What can you tell us about his condition?" Bill searched the physician's face for any clues regarding Agent Lawford's actual circumstances.
"Can't say for sure at the moment," the doctor shook his head. Ashe noticed his nametag read Like. This was Doctor Like? Ashe forcefully pressed his lips together to keep a smile from surfacing. "My name is Melvin Like, in case you need to get in touch," the doctor handed a card to Director Jennings. Ashe turned his head and worked to squash the snicker.
Why do you find this humorous? Ren, who'd remained silent for several minutes, chose that moment to ask a question.
His name, Ashe coughed to cover the laugh that bubbled to the surface.
Ah. Like. Adverb, preposition, adjective, noun, Ren went through a list of potential uses for the physician's last name.
How do you say it if you don't like him? Ashe coughed a second time while a slow smile spread across Ren's face until it became a full-blown grin.
Yes—should you say you dislike Like? I like that, Ren's mental wisecrack almost forced Ashe from his chair as he stifled laughter.
"Is he all right?" The doctor was now staring at Ashe.
"He's fine." Winkler hauled Ashe upright by his shirt collar, setting him on his feet easily. Ashe schooled his face, forcing a blank expression. Ren gave a gleeful, mental snort at Ashe's predicament.
"One of my agents will remain here. Please inform him when Agent Lawford is moved from the emergency room. I want a guard placed nearby for protection." Bill nodded to the doctor. Winkler shoved Ashe toward the door and they swept out, one of the guards falling in at the rear of the procession.
"Kid, I almost laughed, too," Winkler grinned at Ashe as they followed Director Jennings to a black Lincoln Towne Car parked in the hospital's small parking lot. Ashe sat in the front passenger seat while Winkler drove, since the Dallas Packmaster was more familiar with the area than Director Jennings' bodyguard.
"I never can spot the entrance," Bill muttered as Winkler drove through the small gate into the community of Cloud Chief.
"Meant to be that way. Only the ones with a little extra can see it," Winkler said, slowing down to drive over the graveled road that ran through the hidden community.
"Dad's home," Ashe whispered as Winkler drove into the Evans' driveway and parked. Aedan was outside the house, talking with Nathan, Marcus and Adele.
"Bad news, Mr. Winkler," Aedan sighed as Winkler stepped out of the vehicle. "We almost had the culprit, until he got in a couple of shots." Aedan handed two bullets to the Dallas Packmaster. "He hit me twice, knocking me down. Managed to get in his car and drive away while I was picking bullets out of my chest."
"Dad!" Ashe rushed to his father's side. "You okay?"
"I'm fine, son. That gun carried a bit of a kick; otherwise, I'd have been on him. Trace and Jason did their best, but even they can't catch a speeding car."
"These are from Agent Lawford's nine millimeter," Director Jennings carefully examined the bullets Winkler handed to him. "May we come in to discuss our fugitive?" Bill asked politely.
Ashe was sent to his room while the adults remained upstairs. Adele was serving drinks and snacks as Ashe clumped downstairs. Ashe? An unfamiliar voice sounded in Ashe's mind, causing him to halt at the base of the stairs.
Who? Ashe sent out.
It's me—Edward. I just found out yesterday I could do this. We didn't start looking until Mr. DeLuca asked us, and then we started trying. Luanne has mindspeech, too. Macy and Keith don't—not that we could tell, anyway, and Philip is just too stubborn to try. Ashe, what is going on? Did they catch whoever killed Lizzie?
We tried, Edward. But he got away. Ashe was afraid to tell Edward that there was more than one killer on the loose. Edward sounded frightened, and Ashe didn't want to scare the older teen more than he was already. Ashe continued walking toward his bedroom, finding Ren sitting on the bed once he was inside.
Have you tried to do anything else? Like shapeshift? Ashe asked, attempting to calm Edward down.
We don't know how to do anything like that. Keith mentioned it since you can do it, but we have no idea what we're doing.
I'm pretty sure Elizabeth could turn to mist—that's how she got away from Cloud Chief without the wolves knowing. She should have told someone. Maybe you guys could have talked her out of leaving. Ashe was still upset over her death, although Elizabeth hadn't been the easiest person to deal with.
Luanne blames herself. She stayed home that day instead of coming to visit. I don't know how Luanne does it, but everybody feels better around her. Ashe agreed with Edward—he'd noticed the same thing about Luanne.
Luanne? Ashe included Edward in his sending to the teen girl.
Ashe? You can do this too? Luanne was surprised.
Yeah. Luanne, don't blame yourself for Elizabeth's death. It's not your fault. You, too, Edward. We have some of the best and strongest people here in Cloud Chief, and a mister can get right past all of them. Ashe realized he should take his own advice.
What's a mister? Edward asked.
Hold on, I'll be right there, Ashe sent and cut off communication. "I'm going to visit Edward," Ashe informed Ren. "Want to come?"
"Of course. I've been listening to your conversation through Edward. I can't hear your mindspeech unless you direct it to me. Part of the unreadable thing, you know."
"Want me to mist you, or do you want to get yourself there?"
"Please, take me as mist. I may never get the opportunity again, once this period of study is over." Ren stood, prepared to go with Ashe. Ashe obliged and in seconds, he was inside Edward's bedroom. Luanne was there with Edward, waiting.
"Wow," Edward's mouth was almost a perfect O as Ashe appeared from nothing.
"I turn to mist and get around that way," Ashe admitted. "See?" He went invisible again, causing Luanne to gasp.
"You mean Liz found out she could do that, and used it to leave us?" Luanne was upset.
"I'm pretty sure," Ashe said.
Correct, Ren silently supplied.
"In fact, I'm sure of it," Ashe added. "Did they tell you she went to a dress shop in Cordell first, before asking someone to drive her out of town? She would have been better off misting to her destination, but she probably didn't know enough about it to realize that."
"So, if you get the urge to leave Cloud Chief, make sure you tell somebody. We're not dealing with amateurs that want to kill us," Ashe went on. "These people have one goal in mind, never forget that. They want us dead."
* * *
"This is the one we're chasing now." Bill Jennings handed over photographs to Marcus, Winkler, Aedan and Nathan. "I don't know what the boy's mother told him about his father, but this one went as bad as it is possible to go." Depicted in the photographs was a dark-haired man with green eyes and a scar on his upper lip. "If Ashe hadn't reported the scar, it never would have occurred to me that this one might be here, committing these crimes. We've all believed he was far away and no longer cared what happened to his son."
"You don't believe the boy has any idea?" Winkler lifted his gaze to the Director.
"Doubt it. I have no idea what he thinks at this point." Bill's white hair shone in the light of the pendant lamp that hung over the kitchen table.
"Are you going to tell him—and his mother?" Marcus asked.
"I'd prefer not, at this point. We won't, either, unless we have no choice. He walked away from her and into a life of crime, leaving his son behind. It will only terrify the family more if they learn of this new threat."
"I agree," Aedan nodded. "The others shouldn't know, either. Ashe knows not to say anything—he wants to protect those children as much as any of us. I'll have a talk with him anyway, just as a precaution."
"Good. Alex and I have hotel reservations in Clinton. The hotel isn't far from the hospital, and we'll escort Agent Lawford to Oklahoma City tomorrow as quickly as it can be arranged. We'll make sure he's placed in the same hospital as the Scott woman, so my agents can easily guard both rooms."
"Want a wolf or two to help?" Winkler asked. "Marcus can send one of his tonight, and I'll get some of mine up here tomorrow, if you want."
"Do it," Bill sighed. "I hate to impose, but we've all seen what this one is capable of doing." He stuffed the photographs inside a folder and handed them off to his agent bodyguard.
"I'll get Ben Billings," Marcus dialed his cell and spoke rapidly to Principal Billings when the older werewolf answered the phone.
"Dad, there's no way I'd say anything about that man. They have enough to worry about as it is." Aedan hadn't given Ashe the name of the hunted man, just that he had connections to one of the families and warned Ashe not to say anything to anyone about it. "But there's something you need to know—you, Mr. Winkler and Marcus," Ashe blinked at his father. "Edward sent mindspeech to me a little while ago. He says he and Luanne both have it, but he said that Macy and Keith don't seem to. They can't get Philip to even try."
"That could be a good and a bad thing," Aedan said softly. "What if those creatures attempt to contact them? Try to convince them to leave, as the girl did."
"They've never tried to contact me. Or if they did, it didn't get past the barrier. Why would they try with the others?"
"I don't know. We'll think on this and I'll have a talk with Mr. Winkler. It's past your bedtime, now. Get in bed, son, and we'll sort this out later."
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