Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(9) by Connie Suttle
"Okay." Ashe rose and walked out of Winkler's hotel room.
"Son, we removed the memory that you did anything at all. From everybody except Marcus, Winkler and Marco," Dalroy was coming out of Wynn's room as Ashe walked up. "I know that's a disservice to you, but the Grand Master, Winkler and your father want it that way. You'll be the unsung hero, I'm sorry to say." Dalroy gave Ashe's shoulder a comforting pat. Rhett, the dark-haired vampire, nodded to Ashe and followed when Dalroy moved away. Ashe muttered the same word his father had used earlier.
"Ashe?" Wynn said sleepily as Ashe made his way into her hotel room. Dr. Lang was there and dumping an empty syringe into a medical waste bag before stuffing it inside his med kit.
"You okay, Wynn?"
"She's good. Mr. Winkler got there just in time," Sali said, his eyes slightly unfocused. Ashe breathed a troubled sigh. Not even Sali was allowed to remember.
"Good to see you again, Son," Dr. Lang said, rising to leave. "Don't keep her awake too long, young wolf," he told Sali.
"I won't," Sali grinned. The doctor walked out of the room.
"Thank goodness," Sharon O'Neill rushed into the room, Jonas right behind her. "Wynnie, baby, are you all right?"
"Yeah." Wynn's voice was weak. "Mr. Winkler saved me." Ashe sighed, jerked his head at Sali and headed for the door.
"Ashe, I see this has upset you. But you have to know that Wynn might not be alive if you hadn't been there," Winkler held Ashe back while everyone else exited the jet the following evening. They'd arrived in Corpus Christi just before sunset.
"Yeah? I hear you got all the credit," Ashe muttered, moving away from Winkler's grip on his shoulder. Ashe climbed down the steps of the jet without another word.
"I'm fine, Mom. Stop fussing," Ashe tried to fend his mother off. She'd come to get him; his father hadn't been awake when the jet landed.
"Your father wants to talk to you when you get home," Adele said. "Ashe, this is for your protection, honey."
"Yeah. I keep hearing that word." Ashe watched as Wynn, Sharon and Jonas were loaded into the Anderson's car. Dori had rushed to hug Wynn the moment she'd gotten off the jet. Denise had come to pick up Sali, Marcus and Marco, who would spend a few days with his parents before going back to Dallas. Ashe sighed as he watched them drive away.
"Ashe, you did a good thing," his mother said, touching his arm. "Wynn is alive because of that. Be happy that you could help."
"Mom, she doesn't know who saved her. She thinks Winkler did it. And Sali's all over her, now."
"Is that what this is about?" Adele stared at her son. "I guess it had to happen sometime. Get in the car. Your father is waiting, I'm sure."
Broad-shouldered and dark-haired, the Grand Master stared at one of the captives from Tanner's wildlife preserve. Matthew Michaels, Director of the Joint NSA and Homeland Security Department, had asked the Grand Master to come while they questioned this particular captive.
"He says his name is Wildrif, no last name," Matt told the Grand Master quietly. Weldon Harper, Grand Master of Werewolves, looked Wildrif over. He didn't seem like much. Certainly not a werewolf; he could tell immediately by the scent. Wildrif sat in a steel chair set against a steel desk, his head bowed beneath a spotlight, the bright light shining on hair that could have been blond or brown. It hung long and unkempt about his face. Nothing was remarkable about his features, except the eyes.
"The Grand Master," Wildrif said, lifting his head and staring at Weldon Harper.
"How do you know that?" Weldon growled low.
"I'm a Foreseer," Wildrif's eyes were strange as he turned them to the werewolf. Weldon would have described them as crazy eyes. One was brown, the other pale blue. "I might have been useful, but my kind threw me out anyway. They don't keep the quarter bloods, you know."
Weldon had to work to keep from drawing an audible breath. "They threw you out," he nodded instead. He'd heard this before. Once.
"Yeah. No use for us quarters," Wildrif's giggle was tinged with insanity. "We're not immortal. The halves are, but it doesn't pass to the stinking quarters. But they'd better watch out," he giggled again.
"Why should they watch out?" Weldon asked, puzzled.
"Ir'Indicti. He's here." Wildrif laughed wildly and at length. Even a tranquilizer failed to calm him down.
"That's all he said? Ear-in-dik-tee?" Winkler pronounced the word phonetically back to the Grand Master. He'd phoned Weldon while pacing inside his private study.
"He spilled all kinds of information before that," Weldon grumped. "Told Matt that he could see the future for Tanner. That's one of the reasons Tanner was always ready for inspections and raids; Wildrif informed him. He didn't see us this time, though. I think it's tied up in that word he used. What do you make of it?"
"I'm not about to track the Bright Ones down a second time," Winkler said. "It'll just force them to follow me and hope it leads to the boy. Aedan placed compulsion on those two who came to Cloud Chief before, and they were blank-eyed when we set them outside the boundary and told them to get lost. Someone's leaking information again; I'd bet money on it. As to what Wildrif said, I'm not sure about that. It may or may not be tied up with Ashe. I'm not going to trouble him with this—he's upset with us at the moment, and understandably so. That poor girl would be dead if we hadn't taken him along, and Tanner would have skated, I think."
"Matt's working on what to do with Jack Howard and his two bodyguards," Weldon touched on a different subject.
"What do you think he'll do?"
"No idea, but I saw two of his vampire operatives walk in when I walked out of their office in Santa Fe."
"I can't wait to hear the story," Winkler chuckled dryly.
"We can't have a congressman just up and disappear," Weldon agreed.
"What about Tanner and his bunch?"
"Matt turned them over to me. They'll be taken care of tonight. The official story is they were caught smuggling illegal animals, which is true—we found all sorts of creatures on that preserve. They're also going to have footage of the piles of drugs found on the preserve that were imported from Mexico and South America. The story Matt will release is that Tanner and his bunch have escaped to Mexico and points south. There'll be a halfhearted search and that's it. No need to waste time or money on it. Matt's putting Wildrif in a mental hospital for treatment. I think he's as crazy as they come."
"I understand," Winkler agreed.
"If you get any information on the Ir'Indicti thing, I expect to be informed."
"I'll let you know." Winkler ended the call.
"I realize this feels like a punch in the face," Aedan sat behind his desk and gazed at Ashe. Ashe had followed his father into his father's new study, which was upstairs and overlooked the boat slip between the two rows of houses.
Ashe folded arms across his chest and refused to say anything. "Son," Aedan went on, "this is something you have to learn to live with. You have something special and you're hunted because of it. I have no idea what those creatures would do to you if they find you, but I don't believe it's anything good. This has to remain a secret. You have no idea how much compulsion Nathan and I placed in the beginning, to make the community forget. Now only Marcus, Denise and the Rocklins know, and that's at the Grand Master's discretion. If he told Winkler tomorrow that Marcus and his Second don't need to know, then we'd have to remove those memories as well."
"Marcus was in the military," Ashe turned his head, refusing to look at his father. Everything was turning sour. In the books that lined shelves inside Ashe's new bedroom, the hero might be allowed a bit of satisfaction in a job well done and executed almost flawlessly, in order to save the girl. Now, the girl thought someone else had saved her and Ashe couldn't talk to his best friend about what bothered him. Not only did Sali not remember that Ashe had saved Wynn, he didn't know any longer that Ashe could turn to mist or mindspeak. Ashe might as well be on a tiny, forgotten island in the ocean somewhere. He couldn't even talk to the seagulls on his imaginary island. Too many sharp ears surrounded him.
"I know Marcus was in the military. And I know you're smart enough to figure that out. Don't let that secret get away, Ashe. You're getting a little taste of what it's like to be vampire. We've kept secrets from the moment we woke as vampires."
"And how long ago was that, Dad?" Ashe stood and walked to the window overlooking the boat channel below. "You won't tell me, will you? I don't need to know. I know I can mist and haul an almost-grown unicorn filly out of harm's way, but I sure can't know how old my dad is. Can I? Are we done with the talk, Dad? Are we?" Ashe, angrier than he'd ever been, snapped at his father.
"Son, I won't place compulsion, because that would destroy our trust. You have to stop this, and stop it now. As of this moment, I'm grounding you until your birthday on Sunday. Sali doesn't come over, I take your cell phone and you're confined to the house and the yard." Aedan's eyes were red and Ashe had glimpsed the tips of sharp fangs. His father was almost as angry as Ashe. Right then, Ashe didn't care. Pulling the cell phone from his pocket, he slapped it onto his father's desk and stalked out.
"I'm grounding him for three days, until his birthday," Aedan sighed. He'd found Adele in the kitchen later, attempting to explain how things hadn't gone very well when he'd talked to Ashe. Ashe's bedroom door had slammed shortly after he'd left his father's office. "I hope that's enough time for him to cool off and see sense."
"This is awful. He feels something for Wynn, I think, and now she not only thinks somebody else got her out of that place, but Sali stepped right in and is getting Wynn's attention." Adele didn't often disagree with Aedan over Ashe's punishments, but she understood a little of what her son was feeling right then. "It would be different if Sharon's egg had been used. We know now that wasn't the case. Ashe can date Wynn if he wants."
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