Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(4) by Connie Suttle
"We followed the mutation, my Queen, but we did not have to eliminate him. Someone from the community did so. We were unable to prevent the human death beforehand, however." Emerald bowed low before his Bright Queen.
"Humans are of no consequence. The boy still lives?"
"Yes, my Queen. And he is approaching age." Their spy had informed them only recently that there was one remaining child born of their donated eggs. Friesianna was worried, as Hilbah hadn't handed the mother's token to her before he'd died. The Bright Queen had no information on this one, but she pretended that she did—it wouldn't do to appear weak in front of her subjects.
"Good. We know of his shapeshifting ability and that will be most useful when spying on the others. We will wait a bit, to allow things to settle. Our Dark cousins will not send another assassin until the community becomes complacent again. We will wait as well. Until the next full moon. Security will be lowest at that point and we will take him. He will learn what it is to serve me."
"Of course, my Queen." Emerald bowed low.
"They're going to separate, once the trucks reach I-40, just to make sure nobody follows," Winkler said. The Dallas Packmaster had arrived, bringing several others with him. Ashe stared at the man Winkler identified as the Director for the Joint NSA and Homeland Security Department. This was the man who'd taken Director Jennings' place. Winkler called him Matt, as if he knew him well. Winkler had known the previous Director very well, too, Ashe knew. He wasn't about to bring that up—too many secrets surrounded that information and lives depended upon his silence.
Guards were provided by Winkler Security, and most of those were werewolves, with only a few humans involved. Sali, standing beside Ashe in the Evans' kitchen, told Ashe which ones were actually humans.
"Man, I wish I had your nose," Ashe muttered, thinking how nice it would be to tell by scent exactly who or what might be standing before him. Sali grinned at the compliment.
"Now, as soon as we determine that we're not being followed, we'll head toward the Gulf Coast. Some will go through Houston, some through San Antonio and the smaller trucks will break off at Waco and go through Victoria. They'll come into Winkler Estates on three different days. Take what you need to rough it until your belongings arrive in the trucks." Winkler was addressing at least one representative from each family inside the Evans' kitchen.
"Is everyone ready?" Marcus asked. "Are your bags packed into vehicles? Remember the assigned route and what to watch for?" He gazed around the room at the nodding heads and verbal assents. "Good. Get in contact with Mr. Winkler's team or me if you run into problems."
"I know some of you are stopping in Dallas or Amarillo before going on," Winkler nodded to the DeLucas, who were staying in Dallas and at the O'Neills, who had family in Amarillo. "Make sure you're aware of your surroundings at all times and don't take unnecessary risks."
"Are we ready?" Marcus stood and pulled the keys to his van from a pocket. Everyone nodded at Marcus' question. "Good. Let's load up and drive."
"Ashe, your father will call the moment he rises and gets on the road," Adele said. As a security precaution, Mr. Winkler had advised the community to move things up, so everyone was leaving early Monday morning. He'd informed Marcus and the two vampires the night before, creating a flurry of last minute packing. Now, everything had been loaded into huge vans, doors had been closed and locked and werewolf drivers were waiting.
Ashe still worried about his father and Nathan. Aedan's SUV was left in the garage for the two vampires to drive; everyone else was leaving. "Come on, honey." Adele slipped her hand in the crook of Ashe's arm—the others were already outside. Sali was waiting on Ashe, since the DeLucas planned to spend two days in the Dallas area before driving on to Star Cove.
"Mom, I don't remember the house we had in New Mexico," Ashe said, looking around the Cloud Chief residence for the last time. "I remember this house and the one we had here before that the best. This is where I grew up," he added.
"We'll make a new home in Texas," Adele patted her son's arm. "We will." Ashe walked out of the house with his mother.
"It took a move to convince me to get rid of the old Ford," Adele smiled sadly, as she and Ashe loaded into the new, blue Cadillac. Aedan had picked this one out for his wife and given it to her as a gift.
"Dude, call as soon as you get there. I hear the houses have been assigned already," Sali grinned, slapping the passenger side door.
"I will," Ashe grinned at Sali's excitement. Ashe had gotten a cell phone for his fifteenth birthday, as promised. Sali, whose birthday was a month later, got one as well. Now, both were hoping for cars for their sixteenth birthdays. Ashe's was the twenty-second of June and only a few days away; Sali's was the sixteenth of July.
"Drive safely, Mrs. Evans," Sali called out as Adele pulled away from their Cloud Chief home. Ashe waved before rolling up the window.
"Man, I wish we were already there," Ashe sighed, turning to watch Sali climb into Marcus' van. The van was pulling Denise DeLuca's smaller Honda behind it.
"I'm just glad Jason and Marcie were willing to come and take care of the store until it sells," Adele said. "We had some good times here, didn't we?" She gave Ashe a tremulous smile.
"Yeah. We sure did," Ashe agreed.
Ten hours later, the onboard GPS system announced they were nearing their destination. Ashe and his mother had stopped for lunch and then dinner along the way, making quick stops both times. Now, they were less than two miles away from their new home.
"Who's gonna meet us?" Ashe asked, looking all around him. They'd already traveled stretches of road where water could be seen in the distance. Ashe knew it was the waters between the barrier island and the mainland of Texas, but it was water and gulf water at that. On the map, it didn't look as if their new neighborhood was far from the gulf, but that could be misleading.
"Mr. Winkler's Second, Trajan Gibson, will meet us. You know, Trace's older brother?" Ashe's mother answered his question.
"Yeah. I like Trace," Ashe leaned back in his seat. It was nearly nine and the sun had set, leaving them in twilight. "Look, Mom, there's a sign." A lighted sign, painted brown with white lettering, read Winkler Estates, next right. Ashe sat up straighter in his seat. They were about to see their new home.
"That man looks like Trace," Ashe said, pointing out a man who stood outside the gated community of Star Cove. The man really did look like Trace. Nearly seven feet tall, he was leaning against a guard shack outside a wrought-iron gate. Adele drove up next to the shack and rolled down her window.
"Identification," the tall man grinned. Ashe knew he liked this man immediately. Like Trace, he moved with an easy grace that spelled martial arts training. Trace had explained to Ashe that he and his brother studied and practiced some of the fighting arts.
"Are you Trace's brother?" Adele asked, handing the tall werewolf her drivers' license.
"I am," he said. "You're the first ones here. When I open the gate, take the road to the right and go all the way to the end. The development is in a long U-shape, with houses lined up on both sides and the boat slips in the center. Yours is next to the last one on the right. If you have any problems or questions, call this number. Name's Trajan." He was grinning again as he handed a business card to Adele.
"Thank you, Trajan." Adele smiled. Trajan punched a button on a remote he held in his hand; the spiked iron gate slid back with a minimum of noise and Adele drove through. Ashe was doing his best to make out the houses that lined a long, rectangular channel of water. Boat docks extended into the channel at regular intervals. Each home, lit by a front porch light, had a corresponding boat dock.
"Wow," Ashe breathed as he caught sight of the houses lining the street. No two were alike, which is what he expected in an addition such as this. Some were single story while others had two levels. All of them were landscaped already, with young trees growing in the front yards of most. Built of stucco and painted in different colors, Ashe knew he'd need sunlight to get the colors correct. His mother was looking just as Ashe was, driving slowly down the street on the right-hand side. Across the water channel, more homes lined the opposite side. Enough for all the Cloud Chief community, Ashe imagined.
"Mom," Ashe's voice held awe. The second to last house was two stories tall, with a nice front yard and flowerbeds waiting to be filled. A three-car garage also waited, while a piece of white paper fluttered on the glass storm door, protecting the blue door behind it. Adele drove into the driveway and shut off the engine.
"This is ours?" She was out of the vehicle quickly and walking toward the front door. The paper had the name Evans on it; Ashe saw that over his mother's shoulder.
"Try the door, Mom," Ashe said. Adele opened the storm door and turned the knob. The door swung inward.
"Sali, you won't believe this," Ashe was going from room to room, his cell phone at his ear, talking to Sali and examining the house at the same time. "It has a fireplace, two living rooms, a study, three bedrooms, a media room and a huge kitchen. Oh, and it has a three-car garage."
"But what does ours look like? Ashe you have to go look," Sali pleaded.
"Hold on, let me tell Mom I'm going outside." Ashe waved to his mother, who was touching granite countertops in the kitchen and opening the oven door of a huge chef's range. Adele waved at him; she'd heard Ashe's voice. Ashe walked outside. "Dude, we're the second house from the end on the right side of the boat slips," Ashe said, walking swiftly toward the house on the end. "Here's the paper on the last house. Yep, it has DeLuca on it."
"Go inside," Sali begged. "Tell me what it looks like." Ashe walked into the house.
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