Target(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 3)(34) by Connie Suttle
Friesianna's tent was always assembled first and her throne placed, even before food was served to hungry children. There were only three of those, now. Of the hundreds of half-Elemaiyan children raised by humans, only forty of those remained. Eight were in the camp. One was still out there and targeted for collection. Rabis sighed and walked toward his tent.
"Hey, what are you guys doing here?" Ashe grinned at Dori, who stood in the doorway to his office, Cori, Sali and Wynn right behind her.
"Winkler invited us over to go to the beach after work." Dori came in and leaned against Ashe's desk. She wore shorts and a tank top. Sali wore his swim trunks and a shirt he left unbuttoned. Wynn wore shorts too, but she had a loose shirt on over her swimsuit top.
"Glad you could come," Winkler was in the doorway now. "Jimmy's cooking homemade pizza when you get back. Marco and Trace will keep you company on the beach. Towels are on the deck as usual. Have fun." Winkler walked away.
"Ashe, get up from there and get into your swim trunks, man," Sali said.
"All right. Why didn't you tell me you were coming?" He leaned in to give Dori a peck on the check, making her blush.
"Winkler said it was a surprise. Said you did something cool," Sali said.
"I do a lot of cool things. To which cool thing are you referring?" Ashe was grinning like a fool and he knew it.
"Something on the news today, I think," Sali said. "We were working. We didn't see it."
"Oh. I'm crushed. The hero goes unsung as usual," Ashe said. Winkler had let him watch the news program earlier, which showed photographs of a Savings and Loan Vice President who'd been arrested for bank fraud and a list of other charges. He'd been slipping hidden fees and interest charges onto bankcard statements and reaping the benefits, hiding the money as bonus payments.
"I'll change and meet you on the deck in five minutes." Ashe herded everyone out of his office and shut the door.
"The bad thing about this is we can't play Frisbee like we usually do," Sali grinned as he smoothed sunscreen on Wynn's back. Ashe had already taken care of Dori. Marco and Cori had walked down the beach a little way. Sali referred to the game he and Ashe preferred to play with the flying disk—Sali catching the Frisbee as werewolf, when Ashe tossed it to him.
"We can do that this weekend," Ashe said, lying back on the beach towel next to Dori. She snuggled against him, making Ashe turn toward her and smile. "I like this," Ashe said and shared his first real kiss with Dori Anderson, lying on a large towel in front of Winkler's huge beach house.
"Grand Master, we've located a compound, and it looks like Zeke Tanner's place," Tracker Clayton Tucker reported on his cell. "If we hadn't had Dalroy and Rhett with us, we'd never have made it. Let's just say there were a few guards trying to stop us."
"I always thought the old bastard was still alive. No doubt he's been working with his brother all this time," Weldon mused. "Please tell me you have Ezekiel in custody." The Grand Master was at home in North Dakota, having a late-night cup of coffee and speaking to his Tracker by cell phone.
"He wasn't here. I understand quite a few headed out with him, wherever he went. Didn't leave that information with anyone here. The vamps already checked."
"Do they know which direction Tanner's bunch took?" Weldon asked.
"Drove east, according to the two who watched them leave. Had three big trucks and an SUV. Nothing uncommon for this area."
"Where the factions are all at war with one another?" Weldon snorted. "They could have gone to attack a rival cartel."
"True. Had weapons, according to the source. Don't know when they plan to come home, either."
"I don't want you staying—all of you could end up dead. I never thought I'd hear myself say that to werewolves and vampires, but that area is too unstable and deaths can be had for very little money. Can you get across the border again tonight? I want you on U.S. soil before morning if possible."
"Yeah, I think we can manage that. Especially if the vamps drive."
"Then give them the keys and hold on. We'll put out a reward on Zeke Tanner and send a bigger force next time. Leave now, Clayton. I trust Grady is also well?"
"Yep. One of the vamps—Rhett? He was grazed by a bullet, but the one who shot him didn't live to tell the tale."
"Dalroy trained him. Dalroy was a Texas Ranger, Clayton. I've not seen many fight like that. Go on, load up and get out of there. We'll work out a strategy for capturing Tanner when you get back. Have those vamps place compulsion that you were never there."
"Already taken care of, boss," Clayton grinned and loaded into the Hummer Dalroy was starting up. "See you in a couple of days." Clayton terminated the call.
"Zeke Tanner's alive, we've confirmed it," Weldon informed Winkler, shortly after he'd let Clayton go. He went on to explain what Clayton and the others had found outside Juarez.
"Not surprised," Winkler said. "Too bad he wasn't home when your Tracker arrived. Dalroy would have gotten him, I think, if nobody else could. He almost took Obediah down, years ago. If the sun hadn't come up, he would have."
"The rather large drawback to being vampire," Weldon observed dryly.
"If they all could do what Lissa did, I'd worry," Winkler agreed. "At least we know we're safe during daylight. If Wlodek could move about during the day, well, that would be flat-out frightening."
"You know he'd be Prime Minister of England if he could walk in the sun."
"There's always that, I suppose. But that might force him to crack a smile now and then."
"That's the frightening part," Weldon said.
"I'm taking Cori out to eat," Marco was dressed nicer than usual when Ashe came out of his office, stretching. He was ready for a run on the beach, but his usual partner had a date.
"What about Trace?" Ashe asked. It was Wednesday, July ninth. Ashe noticed the wolves were getting fidgety over the full moon in two days. "And how does dating figure into the full moon thing?" He lifted an eyebrow at Marco.
"Not a prob, dude," Marco patted Ashe's shoulder. Jingling the keys to one of Winkler's vans, Marco headed for the front door.
"Gotta guard the Winkler, man," Trace grinned when Ashe asked about a run on the beach. "Trajan and Winkler are holed up inside Winkler's suite. How about using that treadmill in the workout room? It doesn't see much use."
"I'll think about it," Ashe yawned wide enough to crack a jaw. He had a hard time covering it with one hand.
"Maybe a nap instead?" Trace suggested.
"I'd really like to have dinner with Mom, I think, but a nap would be okay. Yeah, maybe I'll do that," Ashe nodded.
"See you later, then," Trace walked through the patio doors. He'd come inside for a drink of water before going out to patrol the perimeter of Winkler's beach property. Since Nick's attack, security had been beefed up considerably. Ashe walked up the stairs and into his westward-facing bedroom, closing the door behind him. Brushing his teeth a few minutes later, he checked his appearance in the bathroom mirror before hopping to the new house in Star Cove.
"Mom, I can do this one," Ashe pointed out the Relocation talent on the sheets his mother held. She'd asked him to explain how he'd suddenly appeared on the doorstep, with no car and no accompanying werewolf guard.
"Honey, that's extraordinary." Adele stared at Ashe.
"Well, it was a shock when I found out I could do it."
"I think we should keep this information to ourselves," Adele added. "I'm not sure it would be a good thing if people learned you can do it."
"Yeah. I think so, too.”
"I'll tell your dad. I'm sure he'll want to keep this secret." Adele shoved the sheets into Aedan's desk drawer and locked it again. "Now, what did you want for dinner?"
"I love meatloaf," Ashe said later as he polished off a second helping. "I haven't gotten any since we moved."
"Mr. Winkler might not like it," Adele pointed out. "I'm sure his cook caters to what he wants to eat."
"Jimmy's a pretty good cook," Ashe said. "But he's not my mom."
"Aw, honey, that's so sweet." Ashe hugged his mother when she squeezed his shoulders. "Now, we're going to call Mr. Winkler, and tell him where you are."
"Mom, you just took the fun out of sneaking away," Ashe muttered.
"Honey, he doesn't need to worry that you're just going to disappear; he has a responsibility to keep you safe. We'll tell him you misted over, and I'll drive you back."
"All right." Ashe rose and began loading dishes into the dishwasher while his mother phoned Winkler.
"Yes, I've told him already that he shouldn't disappear like that," Adele agreed over the phone. "I'll bring him back when his father wakes."
"Are you kidding? He misted home?" Trajan rolled his eyes as soon as Winkler ended the call from Adele Evans.
"Went home to have dinner with his mother," Winkler shook his head. "I want you to work him extra hard tomorrow, and I'll find something particularly nasty for him to do afterward. Honestly, I'd have gotten someone to take him home if he wanted to go that badly."
"Son, I want you to show me this." Aedan had driven to the darkened beach, careful to make sure no tourists were nearby to see. The moon, now very close to full, glittered on the gulf water that reached and drew back along the shoreline.
"See that marker, down there?" Ashe pointed to a beach marker roughly a tenth of a mile away. The tall post was white and easily visible in the moonlight.
"I see it," Aedan nodded. Ashe hopped from the spot beside his father to the marker and then back again, the entire process taking less than a second. "If I hadn't seen that, I wouldn't have believed it possible," Aedan sighed, staring at Ashe. "Never let anyone else know of this if you can help it, and only use it in emergencies. Sneaking away for dinner with your mother isn't an emergency. You should apologize to Mr. Winkler as soon as we arrive, and you can expect some sort of punishment, I think. He promised to keep you safe. He can't do that if you run away and he doesn't know where you are."
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