Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(6) by Connie Suttle
"He and Nathan are fine. They thought they were being followed, so they found a different route. I'm sure they'll be here an hour or two after nightfall."
Ashe was gulping orange juice when his cell phone rang. Sali's picture appeared on Ashe's cell. "Dude, it's barely seven-thirty," Ashe shook his head and answered the call. It wasn't Sali.
"Ashe, this is Winkler," the voice on the other end said. "Wynn has been kidnapped in Amarillo and we need your help."
"Uh," Ashe looked up at his mother, who'd heard the conversation. Her hearing was sharp, just not as sharp as Aedan's or Ashe's.
"How? When?" Adele hurried to Ashe's side.
"Sometime last night," Winkler replied. He'd heard Adele's voice and responded to her question. "They grabbed Wynn's cousin Andrea too, but Andrea was found later at a convenience store, tied up in the back of an old car. She'd been drugged and was still groggy but okay. There wasn't any trace found of Wynn. If I'm right about this, I think Wynn was the target all along. Ashe, I need what you can do to get her back. The O'Neills are about to go crazy and we have to hurry or Wynn might not make it back."
"This is my son, Mr. Winkler," Adele wiped tears away.
"I know, Mrs. Evans. I'll do my best to see he's safe."
"Where does he need to go?" Adele asked.
"We're on my private jet, twenty minutes away from Corpus Christi Airport. Can you get Ashe there as quickly as possible? We're flying straight to Amarillo from there."
"I will." Adele closed the phone while another tear slipped down a cheek. "Honey, get your suitcase," she told Ashe.
"I'll be okay, Mom," Ashe dragged his suitcase toward the garage minutes later. He hadn't unpacked yet, so he'd dressed quickly, brushed his teeth and ran a comb through his hair before hauling the bag from his new bedroom and loading it into the trunk of the Cadillac.
"Your father and Nathan may come if you're gone very long," Adele said, climbing into the car and pulling it out of the garage. Ashe, who sat beside her, shivered. Wynn was in trouble and he itched to get to Amarillo.
"Mom, why would somebody in Amarillo snatch Wynn?" His blue eyes searched his mother's face for clues. "How would they know she was even there?"
"Honey, you have to consider what she is," Adele said. "And somebody could have let it slip, including her cousin. No more questions. See if you can load directions to the Corpus Christi Airport into that gadget."
Ashe had the GPS navigation system programmed after only a minute or two and they were on their way.
"Wow, this is Winkler's jet?" Ashe was impressed at the size of the private aircraft Winkler apparently owned. Winkler walked down the steps of the jet as soon as Ashe and his mother pulled onto the strip where the private planes landed.
"Go, honey. An extra minute could save Wynn's life," his mother hugged him before urging him toward Winkler, who now waited at the bottom of the jet's steps.
"Mom, be careful. Call me when Dad gets in," he waved behind him and loped toward the jet, dragging his rolling suitcase behind him.
"I'll take this," Winkler grabbed Ashe's bag. "Go on up, I'll be right behind you," Winkler instructed. Ashe ran up the steps and stared when he stepped onto the jet. Marcus, Marco, Sali and six other werewolves waited. Ashe was shocked by how many Dallas Packmembers Winkler was bringing with him. It made him wonder how serious the situation really was.
"Dude," Sali hissed when Ashe settled into the comfortable seat beside him and fastened his seat belt, "Winkler thinks something weird is going on."
"You're almost too purty to put out in the scrub," the man pawed at Wynn, who was too terrified to squeak. She'd been snatched, drugged and hauled off to some windowless hole. Wynn lay on a concrete slab floor, her wrists and ankles cuffed and chained to the cinderblock walls. Her nearly white hair was matted around her face and she'd been sick twice already. Two men had grumbled about cleaning up the mess. This one, shaggy-haired and foul-breathed, was pawing at her after he left a tray of food on the floor, just outside her reach.
"None of that," a voice commanded from the door. "Place the tray closer and get away. We don't want her weak and wasted. The boss wants a good hunt out of this; his client is paying top dollar."
Wynn's head jerked up at the other man's words, her sky-blue eyes searching for some way to identify him. The sun shone behind the man, placing him in shadow; she couldn't see his face. He wasn't close enough for her to scent either, in her present state; the manacles on her wrists and ankles prevented her from shifting. If she did shift, the thick steel could break bones. That would leave her completely helpless. More than she was already, she amended mentally. Did her parents have the slightest idea where she was? What had they done with Andrea? Wynn and her cousin had been snatched while walking to a convenience store for a soft drink.
"What did you do with my cousin?" Wynn whispered. Her throat was dry; they hadn't brought anything to drink until now.
"Don't you worry your purty head about your cousin. She's not your concern." Foul-breath was grinning at her. Wynn knew he was werewolf, but this was a kind of werewolf she'd never met; this one was cruel and callous.
"Get out," the man in the doorway commanded. Foul breath moved to obey.
"I'll be back to pick up the tray," he grinned. Wynn wanted to gag.
"Ashe, I'll be blunt," Winkler settled into the seat across the aisle. At first, he'd sat closer to the front, talking with Marcus and two other werewolves. Now he was sitting beside Ashe. "There's a game preserve south of Amarillo. A wealthy werewolf who has been a thorn in the Grand Master's side for a long time owns it. He isn't an official Packmaster, but he runs his own Pack. Rumor has it that any wolf that's gone afoul of the law, human and otherwise, runs straight to him." Ashe stared at Winkler. Winkler was giving him information? That was unheard of. And it was Pack business, too, which made it all the more surprising.
"His name is Obediah Tanner and the game preserve is his cover. During the day, tourists go through the public portions of his ranch, snapping pictures of exotic animals and feeding the zebras and giraffes. What he secretly does on certain nights, though, is bring hunters in to a closed off section of his ranch. Those hunters pay a great deal of money to hunt things. Not just animals, but humans and shapeshifters, too, if he can get them. We haven't been able to prove anything up to this point; he's very clever and careful. I figure there are plenty of stuffed tigers and elephants in hunters' game rooms because of Obediah Tanner. The rarer the animal, the bigger the payday for Tanner. That means that Wynn would be the rarest of the rare, Ashe. I don’t know that there's another living unicorn right now."
Ashe was stunned. Sali, who'd heard it before, still growled at Ashe's side. "Somebody's paying to kill Wynn?" Ashe whispered.
"I think so, as does the Grand Master. He's sending most of the Lubbock Pack in that direction, in case we need backup."
"Isn't there a Pack in Amarillo?" Ashe asked, still feeling numb.
"There is," Winkler nodded, his dark eyes troubled at the admission. "But we fear there may be a leak somewhere within that Pack. That's why I'm going instead of allowing the local Packs to handle this. Weldon knows the Packmaster from Lubbock very well and trusts him. This will be a fast hit, Ashe. We figure they won't hold Wynn very long; it's too dangerous. People will be looking for her. That's where you come in. You'll have to go in as mist. Whatever you do, don't let any of them see you. The fewer who know of that talent, the safer you'll remain. Got it?"
"Yeah." Ashe sat back in his seat, blinking. Wynn's life—if she was still alive—might lie in his hands.
"Good to see you, buddy," Marco sat in the row of seats in front of Winkler and reached back to slap Ashe's knee. Ashe managed a smile for Marco. They hadn't seen much of Sali's older brother since he'd gone off to college and started working for Winkler. Sali said that Trajan had been teaching Marco Karate and Jiu Jitsu.
"Ashe, we'll get this done." Winkler stood, patted Ashe's shoulder and walked toward the front of the jet.
"We've got some good wolves with us," Marco took over Winkler's vacated seat. "Don't worry; it'll be as safe as we can make it."
"This doesn't sound like a quick hit, this looks like a war," Ashe whispered to Sali as they stood on the private airport tarmac in Amarillo. Ashe was watching as sturdy, sealed crates and plastic tubs were unloaded from the belly of the jet. "Those have to be weapons, dude," Ashe hissed.
Sali's eyes turned toward Ashe. "They only let me come since you were coming," Sali said. "Dad wanted to leave me behind anyway."
"Sal, don't worry about it. You're here, now. We'll get Wynn back. They just need to get me somewhere near that game preserve." Ashe clenched his fists.
"Mom, what's happening?" Dori was in tears. Lavonna and Adele had spent the day trying to calm Dori down. Adele wondered if they shouldn't ask for a physician. At times, Dori turned to ocelot and hurled herself at a wall inside her bedroom, yowling and spitting. At other times, Dori was human and weeping. Lavonna almost wished that Denise DeLuca hadn't called. Now, Ashe was in the Texas panhandle, helping the others look for Wynn.
"Honey, Denise promised to keep us updated, but so far there hasn't been any news." It was late afternoon and Dori was terrified.
"We can't expect things to happen this quickly; they have to locate Wynn first," Adele soothed. "But they'll find her. Mr. Winkler is in the security business, honey. If anybody has the talent and resources available, he does."
"But they don't have Daddy and Mr. Evans with them," Dori wept. "Don't they need to be there?"
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