Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(12) by Connie Suttle
"He tried to kill you," Ashe sighed, uncrossing his arms and flexing his fingers.
"And Nathan and Radomir."
"Yeah. And now, nobody can know what I am and I have to hide."
"We have to keep you safe. I know these things don't sit well with you, but we made a commitment when we said we wanted children. If that means keeping you hidden, then that's our job."
"That sounds like jail to me." Ashe picked at a worn spot on the left knee of his jeans.
"Do a good job for Mr. Winkler, Son," Aedan didn't respond to Ashe's statement. Instead, he rose and stretched. "It could lead to something better someday." Aedan walked out of Ashe's bedroom, closing the door behind him.
Saturday might have been one of the worst days Ashe had ever been forced to endure. Marco took Cori (who'd just come from college in Oklahoma), Sali, Wynn, Dori and a pack of others to the beach in Port Aransas. Ashe wanted to go so badly he could taste it, and he'd be flying to Dallas on Monday night. He hadn't gotten to stick a toe into gulf water yet, and he was likely going to spend the summer away from his new home.
"Honey, I'll take you shopping in Corpus tomorrow. You can buy new clothes for your birthday and we'll go to the bookstore afterward," Adele stuck her head out the patio door. Ashe was sitting in a lawn chair on the back deck, staring at the tall, wooden fence that blocked the nearest housing addition from view.
"Okay," Ashe's voice failed to conceal how depressed he was.
"It's over tomorrow. We'll go out and have a good time."
"Yeah." Ashe sounded listless, even to his own ears. Had he hoped to get a car for his birthday? He knew he wouldn't get one now. His dad wouldn't allow that. Ashe couldn't drive around like the others. He'd come to the conclusion that nobody would let him out on his own. He was going to be secluded and guarded for the rest of his life. The talk the night before had cleared the air somewhat, but Aedan hadn't given Ashe much hope that he'd be allowed freedom like Sali and the others.
"Ashe, I can't say that I know exactly how you feel," his mother came to sit in the chair beside him. "Because I never had to worry about most of those things. Right now, we just want to see you reach adulthood alive and in one piece. You'll have to humor us a little, honey."
"Mom, I can't live in a vacuum the rest of my life. You might as well shoot me now," Ashe muttered.
"I hope things are better for you when you get to Dallas. Your father is worried."
"I am, too. Does that mean I can't have any fun? Ever?"
"We could still have a party tomorrow night."
"I don't want one. I just want to go to the beach with the others. Or to the movies or out to dinner without a parent. It's not that I don't love you," Ashe was quick to say. "But it's different."
"I know." Adele stared at her lap. "I don’t know what to do, Ashe. I truly don't." Adele rose and went inside the house.
"He's miserable." Adele said. Aedan had just climbed out of the storm shelter inside the garage. "He wanted to go to the beach or to the movies with the others and he's cooped up in the house. I know you grounded him, Aedan, but if you decide to do that three days before his birthday ever again without consulting me, you and I will have a little chat afterward." Adele stalked away from her husband.
Of course, it was raining on his birthday. Of course. Ashe watched as the world outside his bedroom window drowned in a pouring rain. "Gloomy. Dreadful. Dismal. Melancholic. Ominous." Ashe muttered a litany of words that fit the day and his life. Still grumbling, he stepped inside the shower. Dressing afterward, he muttered more words. "Miserable. Disconsolate. Depressed." Ashe combed back his brown, slightly curly hair.
"Happy Birthday, honey." Adele dropped an envelope beside Ashe as he sat at the kitchen island, crunching away on cereal squares.
"Thanks," Ashe sighed, hoping his mother wouldn't think him ungrateful.
"Aren't you going to open it?" His mother went to find something for breakfast. Ashe slipped the card from the envelope. The card was very nice, signed by his mother and father. The gift card that slipped out was nice, too—a hefty amount from a major electronics store.
"We thought you might like a laptop, since you're going to Dallas for the summer," Adele smiled. Ashe stared at the gift card. It would buy a laptop, a carrying case and perhaps a few extras, too.
"Mom—uh, thanks," Ashe was almost speechless. A car would have made him truly speechless, but this was pretty good.
"And take a look at this," Adele turned on the small television in the kitchen, tuning it to one of the continuous news programs. "It'll be on in a few minutes; they recycle the stories every half hour or so," she pulled the pancake mix out of the pantry and began to put ingredients together for breakfast. Ashe watched the news, most of which he'd heard already, until it came to what he considered the article.
"Congressman Jack Howard was rescued today after a hunting accident in Colorado," the news anchor said while an inset video showed the congressman being helped off a helicopter by two rescue workers. "One of the two bodyguards hunting with him at the time was accidentally killed in the same incident. The three men were caught in a rockslide while tracking elk," the newscaster went on. "Many questions have been raised over the congressman's hunting elk out of season." The article ended there.
"Hmmph," Ashe muttered. "Congressman Jack Howard shot his own man."
"He did?" Adele turned to Ashe, a shocked look on her face.
"After I dumped him in the dirt when he was about to shoot Wynn," Ashe nodded. "He jumped up and just started shooting at everything. I saw another man fall off his horse. I figure that's the one who got killed."
"Ashe, you knocked the Congressman off his horse?" Adele was aghast.
"He was about to shoot Wynn. What did you want me to do?"
"Did he see you?"
"He didn't see a thing. Neither did the other guy. He was the one who grazed Wynn. You know—the game preserve owner?"
"Marcus says the Grand Master took care of that one himself," Adele sat down again, pancakes forgotten.
"I'll make breakfast for you, you look pale," Ashe got up and started making pancakes.
"I like this one," Ashe pointed to a laptop at the electronics store. They'd gone there first. The sales clerk was telling Ashe what it would do, but Ashe already knew that. He picked out a case for it next, plus a few extras. The mall was next, for clothing.
"I like these," Ashe turned in front of the mirror, looking at the black jeans he'd tried on.
"Those look good," Adele agreed. "How about three pairs of those, and four of the denim?"
"Sounds good," Ashe said. A few shirts went into the pile of clothing on the clerk's desk, with packages of socks and underwear.
"You're growing out of everything," Adele said, smiling up at her son. Ashe slipped two pairs of cargo pants into the pile. His mother shrugged and allowed it.
"Where would you like to get lunch?" She asked after loading bags into the car.
"Seafood?" Ashe asked. This was a coastal town, after all. Seafood should be everywhere.
"Let's go to Port A," Adele suggested. That's what the locals called Port Aransas. The small town was mostly a fishing village, but tourists came for the beaches and condos that lined the highway throughout the barrier island. It was also where Adele wanted to put her bookstore.
Victoria's Restaurant was the one Ashe picked—it was right on the water and boats passed by on their way to the gulf. Ashe had grouper for lunch while his mother had locally caught shrimp.
"This is really good," Adele bit into a butterfly shrimp.
"Mine, too," Ashe said. They'd served his grouper with a brown butter sauce that he liked very much. They drove through town afterward, looking for space that might be suitable for a bookstore. They found two spots, one next to a souvenir shop, the other beside a restaurant.
"I think I like the one by the restaurant better," Adele said, writing down the realtor's phone number.
"Yeah. Tourists who come to the other location will be inside the souvenir shop instead," Ashe agreed.
"I was thinking the same thing," Adele said. "Let's go take a peek at the water." The beach was two blocks away and driving was allowed on the sandy expanse. They passed all sorts of vehicles as they made their way down the public beach in Port Aransas.
"Look, Mom, that's incredible." The sun had peeked from behind the rain clouds earlier, and now tourists were putting up umbrellas and laying their beach towels on the sand. Ashe saw people his age running into the water with Boogie Boards while younger children played in the sand or waded in shallow water. Tiny birds raced this way and that on stick-like legs, calling out in piping voices while searching for food.
"I hear they have a marine biology program at the college in Corpus Christi," Adele said, watching the birds.
"That sounds interesting."
"I agree. If I hadn't gotten my degree in business, I might have gone into that or veterinary science," his mother sighed.
"Either would be a good choice," Ashe agreed, craning his neck to watch three people flying kites in the sea breeze, the long, multicolored tails floating in the wind.
"Let's go back on the ferry," Adele grinned. It would be a longer journey backtracking through Corpus Christi.
"Yeah. I've never been on a ferry before," Ashe grinned back. That's how they ended up parking the car on the ferryboat, which held twenty vehicles. Adele shut off the engine and she and Ashe climbed out and stood at the rail while the ferry swished through the water to the other side. Seagulls called out and brown pelicans flew past as the salt-scented wind blew Ashe's hair askew. "Look—dolphins," Ashe's voice was reverent when he saw dolphins swimming beside the ferry. "Mom, this is so cool."
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