Shadowed(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 2)(34) by Connie Suttle
"I'll have the gold ready when the children are handed over," Diamond promised. Josiah smiled.
* * *
Vince turned the key in the post office box he'd rented—the money he'd been promised should be waiting. He'd handed over one last piece of information to Wildrif, and Wildrif informed him when the money would arrive. With shaking fingers, Vince withdrew the envelope from the small box; it was the only item he'd received since renting it more than two months earlier.
Wildrif had been correct all the way through, Vince realized. Wildrif said that the opportunity would present itself so the six half-blood children might be moved in with the seventh one in Cloud Chief. Wildrif knew that Pierce would contact Vince—Vince had known Pierce from years earlier, under another name, of course. I want all the eggs in one basket, Wildrif had joked with Vince. Vince didn't get the joke until days later. Now, Vince would get the payoff and walk away from his job with no regrets. He didn't care who might come in as Director now. He could take his retirement and go where he pleased.
"Where's the check?" Vince pulled a slip of paper from the envelope, but there was no accompanying cashier's check. "What the?" Vince opened the note to read.
Surprise, the note said, even as he was hit from behind and taken down.
* * *
"Director Jennings told us to pack up." Edward shaded his eyes against bright Oklahoma sunlight. Ashe and Sali had gone to visit Edward, Ashe's old, lime-green Frisbee in hand. Keith and Bryce came along as soon as they saw Ashe, Sali and Edward in the field outside the mobile homes, tossing the Frisbee around. Sali had gone to wolf as usual, and Keith laughed every time Sali leapt in the air to catch the flying disk.
"So, how much more do you have to pack?" Ashe asked when Steven Pendley walked out with a small tub of sodas in ice for the boys.
"We're almost done," Steven replied. "Macy and Luanne are with Dori and Wynn today. I really hate to move away from here," he added.
"Dad and I don't want to go," Edward grumbled.
"We don't want you to leave, either," Ashe said. "All of you. Sali and I talked about that on the way over."
"Director Jennings hinted that we might be split up," Bryce sipped his cola. "I don't want that. Macy, Luanne and Edward feel like part of the family, now."
Ashe noticed that none of them had mentioned Philip. Ashe drew a heavy breath at the thought of Philip. Likely, he was feeling Luanne's absence greatly—after all, he was seeking revenge against Chump and Wormy's attack on her when he'd burned their house down. Philip had chosen an ill-advised method of expressing his opinion about Chad and Jeremy's punishment. The Booth home was being rebuilt, too—many community residents had pitched in; building supplies and lumber had been purchased and the frame was already up. Roger and Toby, the extra werewolves that Winkler had brought up, were providing guard duty at night so Aedan and Nathan could work on the Booth home while awake.
"You have no idea where you might go? There's no way to keep in touch?" Ashe toed the ground. Sali sat on the grass beside Ashe, his tongue lolling from his mouth as he followed the conversation, still in wolf form.
"Director Jennings won't allow it," Steven Pendley sighed.
You're a quarter child, aren't you? Ashe sent to Steven Pendley.
Yes. That was a very good guess, Ashe. And I have mindspeech. I only discovered that when we met you, Edward's father replied. That makes Edward more than half Elemaiyan. I don't know what this will mean for him eventually. I have to worry about keeping him safe for now.
I hope you can tell me about them, someday. The Elemaiya, I mean, Ashe said, sipping his soda.
I hope we live to tell you, Ashe, Steven Pendley replied.
* * *
"Director, I'm afraid I have bad news," the Captain of a local police precinct in Silver Spring, Maryland informed Bill Jennings over the phone. "We've located your assistant—his body was found in Chesapeake Bay, near Cape St. Claire. Looks pretty bad, sir. If I didn't know better, I'd say he'd been chewed on by animals."
Bill went cold at the news. "Send the body to the forensics specialists at the FBI, please," Bill said. "Did you find any personal effects?"
"His wallet, but the money is missing. Credit cards are still there with his identification. I don't think this was a robbery, sir. I get the idea that the killer knew who he was."
"And likely who he worked for," Bill muttered. "Get the body to the FBI as quickly as possible. I have some investigations to make. If Vince was killed for information, we may all be in danger."
"Understood," the Captain agreed. "I'll send word when the body is delivered."
"Thank you, Captain." Bill hung up. "Vince, what have you done?" Bill whispered, raking a hand through his hair.
* * *
"You'd better hope they don't tie the two incidents together," Josiah hissed at Trina over the phone. "I got a call from my contact, here, and he's ready to take everybody apart. The body was found, and found quick. What the hell were you thinking, letting somebody else do this?" Josiah raked fingers through his thick, brown hair.
"I had to work late," Trina snipped at Josiah. "And you said it had to be done in a certain place at a certain time. I trust the person who did this for me, so stop complaining. The human's dead. Wasn't that your goal?"
"You mucked this up. You owe me and I won't forget," Josiah snapped and ended the call.
* * *
"We have to move them a night early," Bill Jennings was on the phone with Winkler. He stood at the airport, ready to board a flight to Oklahoma City. He had assignments sorted out already—Vince never had that information, so it was still safe.
"I'll make sure Trace, Jason, Roger and Toby are ready," Winkler said. "I'll be there as well, and I'll inform Marcus and the vampires so we can prepare for the move."
"We'll move the families first—we can haul belongings later. Have them take one small bag each and we'll get them to the airport. I'll have private jets there to take them away. The trucks will come in at the time we originally arranged."
"I'll take care of things from this end, Director," Winkler promised.
"Thanks. At this point, I don't know whether to curse Vince or mourn his death."
"We'll investigate, Director. Let's just sort out the families first."
* * *
"Are you capable of fireblasts?" Wildrif contacted the warlock by phone to ask the question.
"I and one other. Will we need them?" The warlock was puzzled over why they might be needed.
"Just in case," Wildrif shrugged. "Get those kids out at all costs, and meet at the designated location. Someone will take the kids off your hands and hand over the rest of the money."
"Good enough," the warlock agreed and ended the call.
* * *
"We have to leave tomorrow?" Edward looked up from the video game that he, Ashe and Sali were playing. Bryce and Keith sat behind them, waiting their turn.
"I'm afraid so," Winkler said. "Something happened and the Director thinks it's for the best. Pack one small bag to take with you; trucks will come later to gather your other things."
"So much for having a party before we go," Bryce grumbled.
"I'm sorry, son. The Director just wants all of you to be safe," Winkler apologized.
"Yeah. I get that," Bryce sighed.
"We can have popcorn, sodas and watch movies tonight," Steven Pendley suggested.
"Sounds good," Ashe said. "Can we help?"
* * *
Ashe was getting ready for bed later when Ren appeared inside his bedroom. "Ashe," Ren began uncomfortably, "I have to say good-bye, tonight. I can't come back."
"What?" Ashe was in the middle of reaching for pajamas when Ren made his admission. "But you can't just leave. You're my friend. I don't want to lose all my new friends at once."
"I do not wish to leave you behind, either, friend Ashe. But I must. The half-blood children are leaving, and they are the ones I am studying. My father and my uncle will not allow me to return."
"But," Ashe argued.
"I know. I feel the same," Ren studied his feet. Ashe looked at Ren's feet as well, noticing for perhaps the first time that the tall blue youth wore sandals made of woven fibers.
"Ren, we haven't had enough time together," Ashe mumbled. "I want to be your friend—always."
"Then we will remain friends always, Ashe. I will remember you as long as I live."
"Same here," Ashe said.
"I must go." Ren disappeared.
"Damn," Ashe muttered.
* * *
"We can't even give them snacks to take with them," Adele said as she, Ashe and Aedan walked through the field behind their home the following evening. Director Jennings had arranged to move the families as soon as the vampires were awake. Winkler, Trace, Jason and the other two wolves were already helping the families load into several black SUVs that the Director had sent to collect them.
"This is so messed up," Ashe said softly. His skin was itching, just as it had been when he'd known his mother was in trouble. "Dad, they shouldn't be going."
"Son, the Director is calling the shots. We cannot interfere."
"But Dad," Ashe breathed, scratching at his arms.
"They have as much protection as anyone can give them. And Mr. Winkler and his wolves are going with them, just in case."
"Dude," Sali trotted up, leaving Marcus and Denise behind. "This is so messed up," Sali echoed Ashe's words as he stared at drivers and agents loading bags into cargo areas. Edward handed his backpack to an agent, who tossed it in with his father's bag.
"Come on, Sali. We have to say good-bye," Ashe trotted toward the SUV before Edward could climb inside.
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