Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(31) by Connie Suttle
"I won't get to go on a hunt for another year," Sali muttered glumly. Ashe judiciously remained silent and barely blinked when Elizabeth Frasier's ghost slipped through the kitchen window and stood near the sink, staring at him.
"Salidar, your time will come," Adele smiled at the young werewolf.
"Mom says the same thing," Sali grumped.
"A mountain lion could be dangerous, Sal," Ashe pointed out, and then lifted an eyebrow in surprise when Elizabeth's ghost nodded in agreement.
* * *
"But what will I get out of this?" Vince grumbled. He stood in line outside a deli in Silver Spring, Maryland, waiting to get inside and grab a sandwich for lunch. Wildrif had promised a lot of money after Director Jennings retired. After all, everyone was aware that a new Director meant a new staff, and Vince had worked for Director Jennings for nearly fifteen years. He was resentful that he might lose his job or receive a demotion when a new Director took over.
"I'll arrange payment. A half million if you keep funneling information in the same direction," Wildrif replied. "I told you there would be substantial money involved."
"A million would be better," Vince pointed out.
"You'll have to do more than you're doing for that kind of cash," Wildrif laughed and hung up.
* * *
Diamond was ready to strangle Hilbah. The seer was worthless and Diamond had no idea why Friesianna kept him at her side, dispensing information. Hilbah couldn't find his own shoes on a good day.
"You should be able to see the Destroyers, as close as they are," Diamond growled. "My medallion is groaning from being within a hundred clicks." Diamond grasped Hilbah's silk robe in his fist, bringing the seer's face on a level with his own.
"But something is interfering," Hilbah squeaked.
"Bah." Diamond shoved Hilbah away. They'd been forced to inhabit an abandoned cellar outside the small town of Cordell and the shelter was ancient, the walls cracked, steps broken, and with spiders and crickets inhabiting it before Diamond sent them scurrying with a blast of power. Ruby, Diamond's brother, stared distastefully at the brackish water standing in a corner of their claustrophobic, darkened refuge, expecting a snake to emerge at any moment.
"Brother, we both know the only talent Hilbah has is flattering the Queen," Ruby said, keeping his eyes on the small pool of water.
"I'll keep looking for them," Hilbah backed away from Diamond a second time. Both he and Diamond jumped as Ruby leveled a blast at the water moccasin snake that crawled from the standing water.
Ashe and Sali watched from a distance as Director Jennings' arson investigators moved through the burned rubble of the Booth home. Cori and Marco walked up beside them and Cori offered a soda to each of the boys. Ashe gave Cori a grin before turning the cap on the orange soda she'd given him and drinking.
"Have they found anything yet?" Marco wore cargo shorts, sunglasses and no shirt. Winkler's Second, Trajan, was forcing Marco to work out and run every morning, so Marco was more muscular than he'd ever been.
"Nah. Not yet, anyway," Sali replied. Jonas O'Neill and Frank Dodd had come to help, but their assistance hadn't been needed. Now, both men stood beneath a shade tree nearby, watching the two investigators sift through burned remains of household items.
"Heard from Hayes that Chump and Wormy may be up and around," Marco grinned. Cori slipped an arm around Marco's waist and he bent his head to drop a kiss on her hair.
"Hey, no PDA," Sali grumped. "I'm blinded by syrupy affection, now."
"You wouldn't know syrupy affection if it jumped up and kissed your butt," Marco flipped Sali's ear.
"Marco, if you're going to wrestle your brother, I want to stand over here," Cori moved away to stand beside Ashe.
"We're not wrestling; the tapeworm would lose," Marco tried to flip Sali's ear a second time, but Sali jumped aside too quickly for Marco to land a second hit.
"I wish we could find out what's going on with Chad and Jeremy," Cori whispered beside Ashe. She knew that Ashe's exceptional hearing would pick up her words. Ashe stared at Cori for a moment.
"There might be," he mumbled, loud enough for Cori to hear.
"Marco, stop fooling around with Sali and let's take a walk," Cori moved to link an arm with Marco's. Ashe pulled Sali along, and soon all four were walking toward Cori's home, a quarter mile away.
"They're not looking," Marco turned to peer over his shoulder. Ashe took the opportunity to turn his three companions to mist before blazing toward Pat Roberts' old house.
* * *
"Mom, we only meant to go into Cordell. We didn't burn down the house," Jeremy growled over a large bowl of breakfast cereal. Chad, seated across the small kitchen table, was eating his own bowl of flakes and not talking. "It's that kid's fault—Philip or whatever. We just asked him to set off the fireworks. We had nothing to do with the fire. Why would we burn all our stuff?"
"Jeremy Alan Booth, you'd better be telling us the truth," Diane Booth was as angry as Ashe had ever seen her. He and his companions hovered in a nearby corner as mist, watching the exchange between Jeremy and his mother. Neil Booth sat at one end of the table, listening and watching both boys carefully.
"Do you think he was retaliating after that family's mobile home burned?" Neil finally spoke, his words thoughtful and deliberate. Ashe found himself wondering why Jeremy couldn't be more like his dad, even as he mentally nodded.
It made sense—all those kids liked Luanne. A lot. And Philip had asked to ride with her on the trip from Dallas. They all relaxed around Luanne. She had something the others didn't. And for Chad and Jeremy to be responsible for her house burning down, well, the others were likely still angry about that, only Philip's anger might be more volatile. Arson, after all, was a serious crime in the human world and had Chad and Jeremy been judged by human authorities, likely jail time would have been handed out instead of house arrest.
We've heard enough, Ashe sent to his passengers and sped through the roof of Pat Roberts' old house. He didn't stop until they all stood on the back deck outside his home.
"You think this was retaliation?" Cori flopped into a lawn chair. Marco sat on the deck beside her chair to listen while Cori absently ran fingers through his dark hair. Ashe ignored the affection and hoped Sali would, too.
"It makes sense." Ashe flopped on the deck, too, allowing Sali to have the other lawn chair.
"I don't know how you turn everything to mist and still hold onto your soda," Cori toed Ashe's knee with a sandal.
"I'm talented," Ashe grinned. "But you can't tell Mom or Dad what we did. I'll get grounded again."
"My lips are sealed," Cori grinned back.
* * *
"How much?" The warlock schooled his face. He'd dabbled in the less than white arts, now and then. And for the right price, he'd go farther than that.
"Fifty thousand," Obediah Tanner said, pouring out a drink for his guest. "Seventy-five, if you bring your friends." Obediah trusted Wildrif's judgment in this, deciding that Wildrif would only contact the willing and talented enough, who would also settle for the money offered. "And no questions asked," Obediah added, handing the glass of whiskey over.
"And it's to take down a boundary and pick up a few kids?" the warlock asked his second question.
"Yep. Think you can do that?"
"Absolutely. Half up front," the warlock said, sipping his drink.
"A third up front and my guards stay at a designated location outside. Bring the kids to them and the rest of the money is yours. We have business to do with other clients after that," Obediah countered. "When you get the money, you vanish. Is that clear?"
"Completely," the warlock agreed dryly.
* * *
"You know what he looks like?" Wildrif spoke over the phone.
"Yeah. I know what he looks like. I've tailed him twice and he doesn't even realize he's being followed," Trina Lucas, a werewolf and a nurse for a clinic in the Washington, D.C. area, replied. She was a friend of Josiah's, and Josiah had given her name to Wildrif as someone who might be able to take Vince down as soon as all necessary information had been gleaned from Director Jennings' assistant.
"Make it look like an accident, or maybe mauled by an animal," Wildrif said. "Josiah will make it up to you."
"He'd better," Trina said and ended the call.
* * *
"So, you asked Philip Raymond to set off fireworks?" Nathan placed compulsion while Marcus, Winkler, Aedan and Director Jennings looked on. The arson investigators had pinpointed the cause of the fire earlier, and identified the accelerant. Neither Chad nor Jeremy knew anything about the house fire. Both agreed in their story regarding Philip Raymond and the box of fireworks, however.
"How did you get the fireworks to him?" Nathan asked. Marcus leaned against a kitchen wall in Pat Roberts' old house, growling softly as Chad explained that he and Jeremy had sneaked out when Diane Booth had left the house to run errands in Cordell. They'd left the box of fireworks in tall weeds behind the O'Neill's tool shed.
"The Raymond kid must have been keeping tabs on all the guards," Winkler whispered to Aedan as Nathan continued questioning Chad and Jeremy. Aedan nodded at Winkler's observation. If the kid was smart enough, there were gaps in even the best of guarding jobs he, Nathan and the werewolves could do. After all, there were only two guards on duty most of the time. Aedan and Nathan had the entire community to guard at night. Granted they were fast and could run from one end of the community to the other in very little time, but they were at opposite ends at times, leaving a window of time for Philip to escape his home and sneak away if he were so minded.
"You don't think that kid can mist, like Ashe and Elizabeth, do you?" Winkler went on softly.
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