Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(32) by Connie Suttle
"I'll be in the weight room in the morning, I promise," Wayne sounded out of breath.
"Hey, slow down a little more," Wynter called out. Ashe slowed his stride and soon he was running alongside Wynter, who was very pretty, with black hair and nearly black eyes. Ashe thought the twins favored their father quite a bit.
"So, one more year in college, huh?" Ashe asked conversationally.
"Yeah. One more year of marketing and business. Dad has a PR firm, but he wants me to keep an eye on things for him. I think he's got somebody in mind for me, too, but I keep telling him that I won't marry anybody unless I like them."
"You haven't met him yet? That sounds odd." Ashe watched Wynter as she concentrated on her running, long black hair tied in a ponytail and swinging as she ran.
"It's not odd. He had somebody picked out for Aunt Whitney, too. Only she eloped with Sam Sheridan. I hear there was quite a bit of growling and snarling over that."
"I don't think Winkler would be happy if somebody foiled his plans," Ashe grinned.
"You have no idea," Wynter rolled her eyes in exasperation. "So I promised my dad I'd at least meet the guy and then tell him exactly what I thought of his choice."
"I got grounded the last time I talked back to my dad," Ashe muttered.
"I was seventeen when I told Dad that. I was grounded for a week." Wynter smiled.
"What about your grandparents? Are these your mother's folks or your dad's?"
"Mom's mother and her second husband. Davis is no relation, but he's the best grandfather. Dad's parents are both dead."
"That's too bad. I don't have any grandparents. I always wondered what it would be like to have some." As soon as Ashe made the statement, he remembered the email he'd gotten from the one claiming to be his grandfather. He wondered still whether he should believe what he'd received or if, as the message had indicated, he shouldn't trust it at all. Shaking himself a little, Ashe came back to the present. "I didn't see Trace when we came in last night."
"He didn't come in. Trace was visiting his friend Eric," Wynter said. "Eric came down for the weekend, so they rented a condo down the beach."
Ashe blinked for a few moments. "Trace is gay?"
"Yes. Does that bother you?"
"Does Eric treat him well?"
"Yes. He's werewolf, too. They're a small minority, but they do exist."
"As long as Eric cares about Trace, I have no problem with that. Trace is a good guy." Ashe nodded determinedly.
"Is it just Trace you don't have a problem with?" Wynter asked.
"Nope. People are people. They love other people. What difference does it make? Dad told me a few years back, when he explained about the birds and the bees, that everybody deserves love and respect. He says there are g*y vampires and shapeshifters. He didn't know about the wolves, but he figured there had to be some."
"I might like to meet your dad sometime," Wynter said. "I've only met a few vampires—Anthony Hancock, now Anthony Rockland. Dalroy and Rhett."
"Yeah? Well, you'd probably like Nathan Anderson, too. He's more laid back than my dad, I think. If something makes my dad angry, he's angry right away. Nathan thinks about it for a little while before making a decision. Probably a good thing, since he's Cori and Dori's dad."
"So, Wynter let the cat out of the bag," Trace sat next to Ashe on the sofa after dinner.
"Is it supposed to make me feel different about you?" Ashe blinked at the taller werewolf.
"I hope not." Trace grinned and ruffled Ashe's hair.
"Did you have a hard time in school because of it?" Ashe asked.
"You have no idea," Trace nodded. "And then to find out I was werewolf on top of that? Trajan and my parents kept me from going crazy."
"Are your parents still alive?"
"Yeah. Still live between Waco and Fort Worth. Still grow peaches, pears and pecan trees, plus a few other things. I followed Jason around as soon as I could walk, I think. He's like my second dad."
"Discussing the joys of youth?" Tony Hancock walked in. Ashe stared at him for a moment before everything shifted. Just as before, when he'd seen Winkler and the woman, the air around Ashe seemed to shift and shimmer. He saw Tony with a blond man nearly the same height. The blond man appeared to be teaching Tony something, gesturing with his hands while they both sat in a study decorated in French period furniture. The desk was ornately carved and gilded. Louis XIV came to Ashe's mind as he stared at the image before him.
"Ashe—Ashe? Buddy, where are you?" Trace was shaking Ashe as he came back to the present.
"Wow." Ashe held his head in confusion.
"What happened? Did you have another vision?" Winkler was in the room quickly and kneeling next to Ashe.
"I saw Tony and a blond man. I think the blond man was telling Tony something." Ashe looked past Winkler at Tony Hancock. "I saw you in a room filled with French furniture. The blond man was sitting at a gilded, antique desk. I think it was Louis XIV or something."
"You saw that?" Tony had a cell phone in his hand faster than Ashe could follow the movement.
"Who was it?" Ashe asked as Tony dialed a number. Ashe heard it ringing. Someone picked up immediately.
"Honored One, Ashe Evans just had a vision of me—and René—in the past. He described René's study accurately."
"Has the boy had any other visions?" Ashe recognized that voice. Wlodek, Head of the Vampire Council, had come to Cloud Chief three years earlier to attend Old Harold's funeral. Ashe hadn't known who it was until the ancient vampire had driven away with his vampire chauffeur.
"He's had one—of me around twenty-four years ago. It was nothing, just something I was thinking about at the time. Someone's memories must trigger it." Winkler stood up, nodding at Tony. He knew Wlodek could hear his words easily.
"Take the boy from the room," Wlodek ordered.
"But," Ashe looked from Winkler to Tony.
"Come on, let's go find Trajan and Marco," Trace pulled Ashe off the sofa and led him from the room.
"He's out of hearing range," Winkler nodded to Tony.
"What else has the boy been doing that I should know about?" Wlodek sounded angry.
"Honored One, that child probably wouldn't tell anyone—he's very tight-lipped. At his father's insistence, of course," Winkler said.
"Of course. Aedan is the same way."
"Honored One, I understand that there is more information to be had than what was handed to the boy," Winkler went on.
"Yes." Wlodek's voice was guarded.
"Then I think you should search through the rest of it, to see if there is anything there regarding something—or someone—called Ir'Indicti."
"Will you spell that for me, please? And how did you learn of this?"
"The information came from a quarter-blood Elemaiya who Matt Michaels picked up at Tanner's game preserve. The man seems insane, but he can predict things better than anyone I've ever seen. Matt let me talk to him earlier today. He gave me the spelling of the term, but he wouldn't tell me anything else."
"And where is this person now? What is his name?" Wlodek asked calmly. Winkler knew enough of Wlodek to know he was more dangerous this way.
"His name is Wildrif and he's in the federal maximum security facility in Colorado."
"Ah. Well. Do you know if he is Dark or Bright Elemaiya?"
"He says Dark."
"I see. I will research this, as you ask. If I find anything useful, I will let you know." Wlodek ended the call.
"Wildrif will be dead in a week, won't he?" Winkler watched Tony pocket his cell phone.
"Most likely. Don't try to stop it," Tony said. "If the enemies of the Council learn of his existence, they'll get him out of prison and make him vampire. We had a hard time cleaning out their nest of Dark Elemaiya-turned-vampires the last time. We only turn the Bright Ones. At least they're not homicidal when they wake as vampire."
"I remember—I was there when the army of Dark Elemaiya vampires tried to kill all of us," Winkler huffed. "I know all about the misters, the mindspeakers and the shapeshifter vampires, all bent on destruction. Where we differ is how they were destroyed."
"I know what's in the official records the Council keeps," Tony slapped Winkler on the back. "We don't deal in fantasy, like you do."
"Tony, if it makes you feel better, then believe anything you like." Winkler stalked from the room.
"Come on, wimp. Get those weights up," Trajan grinned as he put Wayne through his paces on the weight bench. "Your dad can do twice that—easy."
"Seriously? Dad can do six hundred?" Wayne hissed out a breath. Ashe watched, leaning against the wall of the weight room. Marco was spotting Wayne—it wouldn't do to let the boss's son get smacked by three hundred pounds. Ashe had worked his way up to one-seventy-five. Now he was determined to do better than that.
"Yep. Your old man can do six hundred, easy," Winkler stalked into the room, acting like a caged wolf. "Come on, get off that bench. I need to work off a little steam."
Trajan put more weight on the bar; Winkler stretched first and then got on the bench. Ashe was completely impressed when Winkler did four hundred to start, and then Trajan added more weight until the six-hundred mark was reached. Ashe reminded himself that this was the Dallas Packmaster, with one of the largest Packs in the U.S. The Grand Master depended upon him just as much as his official Second; his son, Daryl Harper.
"Okay, I'll work harder," Wayne grumbled when Winkler rose from the weight bench.
"Good. I'm going into town for a Dilly Bar. Anybody want to come?" Winkler grinned. Ashe, Trajan, Trace and Marco loaded into Winkler's SUV. Winkler drove, which was unusual. Trajan or one of the others usually did. Ashe loaded into the back seat with Trace and Marco; Trajan sat in the front with Winkler. Gene, Gabe and Tony stayed behind with Wynter and Wayne.
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