Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(22) by Connie Suttle
"Good. I'm not telling him," Marcie said. "I'll let Jason know, but that's it," she added.
"I'll send somebody else to stay with Ace and Gene," Winkler nodded. I'll call Nathan and Aedan when the sun sets. We all need to be on guard in case these things got past the shields those witches put up."
"Jack's been outside the community several times, so they could have picked up a signal then," Marcie was wiping tears. "Keep them away from us, please. I don't want any of them near me or my sons."
"We'll do our best, Marcie. Jason's tough and Gene and Ace are two of my best. I'll send Nick over, he's good, too. Just stay calm, all right?"
"Yeah. Thank you, Mr. Winkler."
"Good call, Ashe," Winkler said, once they'd loaded into the van. "Now, Trajan, what do you think we should do with these?" Winkler held up the small plastic bag, which contained the locating chips.
"I have an idea," Trajan grinned.
"Dude, that's just nasty," Ashe said when Trajan returned to the coffee shop after using a strong adhesive to glue the chips to the underside of a police cruiser parked outside.
"We'll let Pruitt argue with the kind officers driving that car—if he catches up with them and wants to," Trajan shrugged.
"My contact said to give this to the boy," Wlodek's eldest vampire child handed a small volume over. Wlodek, black-haired and black-eyed, was born Greek nearly three thousand years earlier. His eldest living vampire child, sitting across from him now, was Roman at birth and more than two thousand years of age.
"This looks new," Wlodek observed, taking the book.
"It is a translation, so I had the loose papers bound and covered."
"Then express my gratitude when you see him next."
"I will. He also said to exercise caution, and not to play with fire."
"More vague warnings? I am not surprised." Wlodek turned the book over in his hands.
"You know he can't interfere. Not directly. He says it's part of a larger volume, and that this is the most he could give."
"I understand." Wlodek sighed.
"He also says that Radomir should not be punished. He acted honorably, and you will see that for what it is one day."
"Shall I let him have my seat as Head of the Council as well? He desires to make my decisions for me?"
"No, father. I think he wishes to keep you from making a terrible mistake."
"Very well. I will look through this first, and then hand it over to the boy."
"Good. Is there anything else?" Piercing blue eyes twinkled and white teeth flashed in a brief but brilliant smile at the Head of the Council.
"No, child. Thank you for doing this so swiftly."
"You are welcome, father."
"Nick is headed to Star Cove to provide extra protection for Jackson and Dusty," Marco said the following morning over breakfast. Ashe recalled that it was Tuesday, July first. The full moon was eleven days away.
"Trajan says that Jack hasn’t turned yet," Ashe said, rotating an arm to loosen up his right shoulder. Winkler's Second had made him do extra reps in the weight room before sending him out for a run with Marco and Trace. Trajan had then disappeared into Winkler's office for a private breakfast meeting.
Ashe realized that Trajan had a serious job as Winkler's Second, but he couldn't help but like the tall werewolf or his younger brother, Trace. He also liked Jason Landers, Jackson's stepfather, very much. The old cowboy was more than one hundred fifty years old and treated everyone with a courtesy that Ashe didn't see in many people.
"You think he might turn this time?"
"Maybe," Ashe always hedged his bets. "Tell Ace and Jason to be careful, okay?"
"Werewolves aren't in the habit of saying be careful to fellow werewolves, but I'll see what I can do," Marco grinned, biting into a piece of crispy bacon.
"All tough guys," Ashe nodded.
"Darn tough," Gabe and Spencer, werewolf brothers, wandered in from guard duty and sat at the breakfast table, helping themselves to the food laid out. Ashe liked both werewolves, and decided he appreciated the fact that gruff and grumble Orville had been asked to tend the store in Cordell instead of coming to the Gulf Coast. Orville hadn't liked Ashe from the beginning.
"Here's your assignment for today, courtesy of Matt Michaels, our friend in Washington," Winkler handed over a few pieces of paper. "And he warns you that this information is secret," Winkler grinned.
"Okay, I'll look through it," Ashe agreed, walking into his office. Ashe was shocked to see Congressman Jack Howard's name on the papers, with a suspected offshore bank account. "Wow," Ashe breathed, eyebrows lifting as he booted up the computer.
"Mr. Winkler, just tell Mr. Michaels that I was particularly motivated on this one," Ashe handed over the paperwork two hours later, complete with passwords and codes to a bank account in the Cayman Islands. The esteemed congressman had millions stashed away and hidden, according to the records. Ashe didn't know what else the congressman had, but regular deposits from a business in South America had shown up.
"Ashe, you're beginning to frighten me," Winkler grinned, belying his words.
"Mr. Winkler, I would never do anything like this on my own, unless it was necessary to save a life. You have to believe me when I say that," Ashe said.
"And that I will believe," Winkler said, raising his cell and punching a number on speed dial. He motioned for Ashe to sit while the call went through. "Matt?" Winkler said when the phone was answered. Ashe heard the Director's voice quite clearly. It made him wonder if he knew that the former Director-turned vampire, Anthony Hancock, was staying with Winkler. Winkler gave information on Congressman Howard over the phone and Mr. Michaels was pulling information up on his own computer.
"Got it," Matt Michaels was laughing. "I'll get a team on it now. Our congressman may go down faster than he ever thought possible. I'll keep you posted. Tell that kid I owe him." The phone went dead.
"I'm thinking about taking college courses," Adele pushed the information she'd printed off the computer toward Denise and Sharon.
"Marine biology?" Denise lifted an eyebrow and handed the sheet of paper to Sharon.
"Ashe will be off to college or doing something else in two years," Adele sighed. "I can open another business or do this. I still haven't decided."
"Marcie's looking for something to do; she says Jack wants to find another Pack after he turns eighteen," Denise pointed out. "I think she and Jason liked running your store in Cordell."
"Yeah. But there's plenty of those businesses in this area already," Adele said, sipping coffee. "Ashe and I were looking at opening a small bookshop on the beach in Port A. If I buy another business, that's what I'll probably do."
"Jonas and I will likely buy another farm when Wynn graduates and goes off to college," Sharon said, handing the flyer back to Adele. "It's what we know best, and it hides us well enough when we turn." Sharon turned to a palomino mare and Jonas became an eagle. Wynn's unicorn came from her mother's side of the family. A great-great-great grandmother had also been a unicorn, but they were so rare as to be the myth everyone believed. If Obediah Tanner and Jack Howard had succeeded, then there might not have been a legacy to pass down to another child, someday.
"Where does Jack want to go?" Adele asked. Jack had just finished eleventh grade in Phoenix and would be a senior when school started again.
"No idea. Marcie says at times he appears confident and seems to know what he wants. At others, he looks haunted. Now, I've got a good guess as to why that is, but I won't spread that rumor until I know for sure," Denise said. "Marcie and Jason are taking Jackson to Corpus Christi to buy clothes. He barely got out of Phoenix with a suitcase and a duffle bag. Ace and that other one, Nick? Is that his name? Are going too."
"How are Sali and Dori doing in Shirley Walker's groves?" Adele asked.
"Fine, when they're not in trouble horsing around. I think they got into a fruit fight with Jeff, Hayes and Larry. Jennifer Campbell was mortified when Larry's pay was docked for destroying peaches."
"After all those years of Wynn and Dori fighting with Sali, now she's dating him," Sharon O'Neill shook her head. Adele sighed again, and this time it was for Ashe.
"Come on, quicken your pace," Trace and Marco had Ashe running along the beach again before dinner. "You just sit in a chair all day. You'll shrivel up, man," Trace grinned. They'd run a mile down the beach, now they were nearly back to the beach house. Ashe felt a buzzing in his head and jerked to a stop.
"What's that?" Trace and Marco had stopped beside him. Ashe had seen something on the deck of the beach house, just before he'd heard the whine.
"Bullets!" Trace snapped. "Marco, move!" Trace and Marco took off at top speed for Winkler's deck. Several things were moving there, Ashe just couldn't make them out. He heard shouting, though, and then saw Trajan forcing his body through the glass doors at the back of the house, a rifle in his hands. Another whine and Trajan was knocked backward.
"No!" Ashe shouted, and then somehow, in some way, without ever turning to mist or becoming the bumblebee bat, Ashe was on Winkler's deck and gathering Trajan into his mist. Be careful! He shouted mentally to Marco and Trace, who were still running toward the deck. Ashe had arrived in a blink. Three men in sand-colored camouflage were on the deck, assault rifles in their hands. The bullets that now flew through the broken panes of patio doors flew straight through Ashe's mist. One of the assailants went down. Trace, as a huge black wolf, hit another of the attackers viciously, nearly biting through an arm and forcing the man to drop his gun. The other was now aiming at Trace when Marco hit him as a wolf so gray he was nearly black. Only a patch of white at his throat told Ashe it was Marco.
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