Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(14) by Connie Suttle
"I don't care what it looks like, I can drive," Ashe grinned. Sali had examined Ashe's photograph on the new license, turning it upside down at one point and telling Ashe it didn't look a thing like him. "You have to pass yours next, dude," Ashe poked at Sali.
"Mom, he's touching me," Sali complained good-naturedly.
"Two bags are enough, Mom," Ashe said later as his mother helped him pack. Adele worried that he wouldn't have enough clothing for the summer. Ashe felt bad that they were leaving before his father was up, but Winkler's jet was waiting for him and Marco. "Give Dad a hug, okay?" He'd spent the afternoon packing while Sali watched.
"Your ride's here," Marco walked into Ashe's bedroom as the last bag was zipped up. Marcus was waiting outside in his van—he'd offered to drop them off at the airport. Sali couldn't hide his envy as bags were loaded in and Ashe climbed into the van with Marco.
"Call when you get there," Adele said, trying to hold back tears.
"I will. I'll be okay, I promise." Ashe closed the door, then waved at Sali and his mother while Marcus pulled away.
"Man, that was hard," Ashe mumbled.
"Always is," Marco said, looking at Ashe over the back of his seat.
The trip was uneventful and they landed in Dallas less than two hours later. Winkler and two other werewolves were at the airport to meet Ashe and Marco.
Ashe recognized Trajan right away. He didn't know the other wolf.
"This is Gene Powell," Winkler introduced him. Gene offered his hand and Ashe took it. "Shapeshifter, huh?" Gene said, nodding to Ashe.
"He's cute when he shifts," Marco teased, holding his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.
"No kidding?" Gene said. Ashe went pink.
"Hey, now," Trajan elbowed Marco. "You don't haze the new help right away; you wait till they don't suspect anything and then do it." Ashe followed the others to a Winkler Security van waiting near the jet, wondering just what it was he'd gotten into.
"This room is yours," Winkler showed Ashe into a spacious bedroom on the third floor of his three-story mansion located between Denton and Dallas. The house was secluded on a four-acre tract, with a high concrete and stucco wall surrounding it. Ashe dumped his bags on the bed and looked around.
"You'll get up at six, work out for an hour with Trajan and Marco, shower, eat breakfast and then come to my office down on the first floor. We'll talk then about what I want from you," Winkler grinned. "Hungry?"
"A little," Ashe admitted.
"Good. Let's go raid the kitchen. Anything is up for grabs unless the cook puts a note on it," Winkler said. Ashe followed Winkler down the stairs to the first floor.
Two of the largest stainless-steel refrigerators Ashe had ever seen hummed in the kitchen. "The cook comes in around five to start cooking for the day. The guard switches at six-thirty, so breakfast starts at six. There are three shifts of guards and it might be a good idea to get to know all of them in case you need to go in or out."
Ashe nodded while Winkler started piling containers of ham, turkey and salami in his arms. Winkler grabbed the mustard and mayonnaise and then went looking for bread. Ashe had a sandwich and soft drink with Winkler, all while listening as Winkler described the guards and informed him that Marco and three others slept in the detached guesthouse. Trajan and a few other werewolves had rooms inside the house.
"You'll get weekends off unless we need you for something," Winkler said. "You'll get paid every two weeks, but that'll go into an account your mother set up for you at a bank in Corpus Christi. Don't worry, I'll see that you have spending money," Winkler grinned. "Come on, let's get you to bed." Ashe stuck his dishes inside the dishwasher before following Winkler upstairs. Later, he settled into bed, watching television for a while—the bedroom had a TV plus a docking station/alarm clock for his MP-3 player. Ashe sighed, shut off the television and closed his eyes.
"Uh, okay." Ashe watched Trajan lift weights.
"Come on, you don't want to be a string bean forever, do you?" Trajan set the heavy weights down and pulled Ashe toward a lifting bench. "We'll start you out light and you can work your way up," he said. Ashe was flat on his back on the bench after stretching to Trajan's specifications. He worked with weights for half an hour before Trajan sent him out to the grounds to run laps with Marco.
"You do this every day?" Ashe huffed beside Marco.
"When I'm here. Trajan was an athlete in school. You don't get away with much around him."
"Uh-huh." Ashe shook his head. "How far do you run every morning?"
"Around three miles, I think," Marco replied. "You'll get in shape pretty quick. You're used to walking around Cloud Chief."
"I sort of miss it, even though the gulf is nice," Ashe said.
"Tough to let the old place go," Marco agreed.
"Had enough?" Trajan slapped Ashe on the back when he and Marco came in panting after the run. Ashe just nodded. He was too winded to speak.
"Don't forget to stretch again before getting in the shower," Trajan called out behind Ashe, who was heading toward the stairs as fast as his rubbery legs would take him. Ashe showered, dressed and went to breakfast.
"You the kid?" A gruff old werewolf examined Ashe from head to heels.
"I guess," Ashe said, piling bacon onto a plate. Breakfast was served buffet style and everybody helped themselves.
"Don't get in the way," the werewolf growled and moved away from Ashe.
"Okaaay," Ashe muttered.
"Mr. Winkler?" Ashe knocked on Winkler's office door after breakfast.
"Come on in," Winkler said, pointing to a chair in front of a huge desk. Ashe stared at a large photograph hanging on the wall behind Winkler's desk. It showed Winkler, sitting beside a beautiful woman with strawberry blonde hair. In the photograph, Winkler was smiling at her.
"Taken twenty-four years ago," Winkler said, turning to look at the photograph.
"Who is that?" Ashe asked.
"The love of my life," Winkler said. "She's dead now."
"Sorry," Ashe mumbled.
"Maybe I'll tell you about that, someday. Someday. Now, let's get down to business."
Ashe was led to a computer in an adjoining room and given the name and address of a bank. "Tell me everything you can about this bank by five o'clock," Winkler grinned and walked out again. Ashe began by pulling up the website for the bank.
"So, what can you tell me?" Winkler poked his head in the door a few minutes after five.
Ashe held out a piece of paper to Winkler. "I got the name of the President right off, and then went looking into his stuff. I got these numbers after hacking into his personal account," Ashe grinned. "I saw an information page where the birthdates for his kids kept switching around. Some listed month, day and year, others listed day, month and year, and the last ones listed year first and then month and day. These last ones got me into some sort of system inside the bank."
"You're kidding," Winkler whistled and went to sit at the computer. He plugged the numbers in, just as Ashe had, and sure enough, he got through. "Ashe, if you'd known what to do, you could have transferred bank funds to another account," Winkler said. "And it only took you eight hours to do it."
"Knew I shoulda set up that offshore account," Ashe joked.
"If you want, you can grab a drink and get in the pool out back," Winkler said, lifting his cell phone from a pocket. "I have to make a couple of calls."
"Okay," Ashe nodded and walked out of the room.
A handful of werewolves lounged around the pool when Ashe walked onto the patio. A tub filled with beer, ice and soft drinks was sitting next to a potted palm. "Any water in there?" Ashe asked as he went digging through the ice.
"Yeah. Keep digging," the wolf sitting closest to the tub said. Ashe kept digging and did find a bottle of water. "You the shapeshifter kid?" The wolf asked.
"Yeah. I guess I am," Ashe replied.
"Name's Grady," the man held out his hand.
"Uh," Ashe wiped his cold, wet hand on his jeans before taking it. Grady laughed. "My name is Ashe," he said, shaking Grady's hand.
"Well, Ashe, don't take any crap offa any of these guys. You let them bully you around and that's all you'll get." Grady sipped his beer. Ashe nodded and went to find a seat elsewhere. Ashe drank his bottled water quietly and watched the others. Six wolves sat around the pool, including Grady. Grady had reddish-brown hair and muddy brown eyes. The werewolf squinted in the sunlight while enjoying his drink and watching the others. Two of the remaining five looked like brothers, both with dark hair and gray eyes. They talked quietly in a shady spot at the end of a loop in the pool.
Winkler had spent a lot of money on the pool, Ashe figured; it was irregularly shaped, with palms, tropical plants and flowers surrounding the flagstone border. Ashe didn't listen to the conversation the brothers were having—that wouldn't be polite. Instead, his eyes wandered to the last three, who were lined up in lounge chairs. Those three were as different as they could possibly be. One had hair nearly as black as Winkler's, with dark eyes and a heavy forehead. The thick, bushy eyebrows set at an angle lent an ominous look to his face. The nose and mouth were certainly overshadowed by the brow and facial hair. The one sitting to his right was shorter, perhaps five-six or seven. He also had nearly white hair, which was an anomaly in werewolves and his silvery blue eyes watched the others surreptitiously. The last werewolf was brown-haired, brown-eyed and wouldn't stand out in any crowd.
They all sat up straighter when Winkler walked through, however. Ashe figured it was the respect the Dallas Packmaster was due. Winkler came right to Ashe and sat in the empty chair beside him. "Kid, you just scared the hell out of a bank president," he grinned. "I'm sending a crew in tomorrow to get his system upgraded and change all his codes. I don't think he'll be using his daughter's birthdays for security codes anymore. And I told him to change the password to his personal computer more often." Winkler slapped Ashe on the knee. "Good work. Better than I expected. Dinner's at seven-thirty." Winkler rose and walked back in the house. Ashe shrank down in his chair as all six werewolves stared at him.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online