Vendetta(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 4)(10) by Connie Suttle
"He already is; I hear him talking to Nathan," Ashe said.
* * *
"I got a good feel for the restaurant tonight," Adele told Ashe's father when they met him outside the house; they'd walked around to get home. "The lobster was really good, too."
"I'm glad you enjoyed it," Aedan slipped an arm around Adele's shoulders. "Walk with me for a little tonight, my love."
Ashe walked into the house, watching as his parents strolled down the street, their arms around one another.
* * *
"We got a hit on the kid's email," Matt Michaels was on the phone the moment Winkler walked inside his temporary home.
"Did you get anything?"
"Oh, we got something, all right. I forwarded it to you. I'll wait while you get into it and we'll talk."
"Trajan, Trace, take a walk," Winkler jerked his head at his Second and chief of bodyguards. Both of them hurried from the house. Winkler settled in with his laptop and pulled up a private email account. He opened the message Matt forwarded immediately.
Hello, I am Ashe's grandfather, the message began. This message is for you and not my grandson. Never fear, you will not trace this sending. The boy must be protected. The Bright Queen and Dark King are only now learning what he is, and his life may be forfeit if they can devise a way to take it. Guard him closely if you value your lives and your planet—R.
Winkler cursed, then slammed his fist on the desk in anger and frustration before cursing again.
"I feel the same way," Matt Michaels offered dryly. "And that Wildrif nut? He's probably with those homicidal idiots now, telling them anything they want to know."
"We need to find them. I don't look forward to doing it a second time, but it probably needs to be done. In secret, if at all possible."
"I know. I want to get Ezekiel Tanner out of the way, too. He's still out there, according to Jack Howard."
"I'll be in D.C. next week, Matt. I'll bring the boy with me. We'll do some questioning, too. I want to find out as much as I can about Wildrif and the Elemaiya Tanner dealt with."
"Sounds good. I look forward to your visit."
Winkler ended the call with a heavy sigh. "Can things get any worse?" he mumbled to himself before going to find Trajan and Trace.
* * *
"The source says his father guards the community and his son is never far away," Baltis said. "Therefore, we will gather a few of our own and go after his father very soon. Wildrif will tell us where the father is and we will go after him. I suspect that they may move the child to keep him away from the others. They surely know he has been our target all along."
"That sounds logical, my King," the guard bowed low before Baltis. "Let me know when you wish to strike and we will go at a moment's notice."
"I depend upon you to do so." Baltis waved the guard away. "I must think for a while. Bring Wildrif to me tomorrow. The later, the better."
"Of course, my King."
* * *
Adele was frightened when the courier knocked on the door early Saturday morning. Signing for the letter with shaking hands, she closed the door quickly and leaned against it. Thankful that she didn't have to make breakfast for Winkler's crew, she reread the return address before making her way into the kitchen. A postal box in London was listed as the sender. Adele knew what that meant. The Council had sent something for Aedan. Shoving it inside a drawer when she heard Ashe walking downstairs, Adele put on a brave face and began preparing breakfast.
"What do you have planned today, honey?" Adele asked as she put a plate of eggs and toast in front of him.
"I was going to take one of those practice exams online and see how I did on it," Ashe said. "And then do some studying."
"That sounds good. Are you sure Sali doesn't have something going?"
"He probably does," Ashe replied glumly. "But I don't know about it. Sali and Wynn broke up," he added.
"I heard from Sharon," Adele said. "But they fought each other through so much of their lives, I'm not really surprised."
"Yeah. But I think Dori may take Wynn's place soon. She likes Sali."
"Hon, I'm sorry."
"Don't be. I think we were doomed from the start. It was nice while it lasted, though."
"I can barely remember being that young," Adele sighed. "Ashe, I was already a hundred years old when I met your father. That was more than fifty years ago."
Ashe sat, stunned, his fork halfway to his mouth. "You're a hundred and fifty?" his voice squeaked in an embarrassing manner.
"Yes, hon. I'm that old. And no matter what happens, I'll always love you and your father. Don't ever forget that."
"When did you go to college?" Ashe whispered.
"I graduated just before I met your father. Going to London was what I'd saved for, back then. We met and that was that."
"You've been married for fifty years?"
"We were married by the Head of the Council. For a fifty-year period, that could be renewed afterward. Unless something happened."
"What do you mean, unless something happened?"
"Your father was an Enforcer for the Council. Wlodek said that if there were an emergency, your father could be called back into service. I'm worried, now. I got this from them this morning. Special courier."
"So they won't renew?" Ashe stared at the letter in his mother's hands. She'd pulled it from a kitchen drawer.
"I didn't intend to show you this, but you're old enough to know," Adele said. "According to the Council, our marriage expired six days ago. If this isn't a renewal, then your father will have to go back to London."
"He won't be my dad anymore?" Ashe felt like crying. Was struggling not to.
"He'll always be your dad. I'll always be your mother. No matter what." Adele was weeping now.
"Mom, don't cry," Ashe was up and hugging his mother. He didn't know what to do or who to call for help with this. He sent mindspeech to the first person who came to mind—Winkler.
Winkler walked into the house moments later, Buck right behind him. "Come, sit down, Adele, we'll get this sorted out," Buck led Ashe's mother to a barstool and settled her on it. "Ashe, get a cool wet cloth for me, please?" Ashe went to do as asked, quickly handing a damp kitchen towel to Buck.
"Ashe, let's go out back," Winkler led Ashe toward the patio doors and the deck beyond. "Now, what happened?" He asked. Ashe explained about the fifty years and the unopened letter. Winkler swore.
* * *
"Wlodek's doing this to pull the boy to him," Weldon said when Winkler called later. Buck, Trajan and Trace had taken Adele and Ashe to the beach for a walk after Adele calmed down. "He can't turn him until he's eighteen, but this could serve to force Adele and Ashe to go to London, just so they can see Aedan once in a while. Wlodek will have that boy placed under compulsion before you can blink, and ready to come when called if he needs him."
"Then we'll have to work faster here," Winkler said. "I don't want to force that boy into anything. Matt wants him too, as soon as he's of age. The boy should get to make up his own mind."
"I agree. I'm sure we could work something out among all of us. Offer to pay for special assignments and such. If he were older, I'd send him back to Mexico with Grady and Clayton. I think Ashe could get Zeke Tanner for us easily."
"Lissa could have. She was older and not susceptible to compulsion. Poor Ashe, he won't know what hit him if Wlodek gets his claws in that boy."
"You saw what he did to Lissa."
"Wlodek has a lot to answer for," Winkler agreed. "But he wasn't the one who got Lissa killed. Her father did that."
"I still don't understand that." Weldon had no idea how anyone could set their child against an enemy that they knew quite well would kill her.
"Neither do I. She's beyond anyone's reach, now. Ashe—we have to watch over him. He's so young, still."
"I agree. But this is a delicate situation. Wlodek and the Council may think they're entitled to Ashe. They're wrong, but we still have to tread carefully. We can't allow the truce between the races to fail because we disagree over this."
"I know. If we resume the war with the vampires, we'll all die. Grand Master, I have to go—the candidates for the Principal's position are waiting at the airport. I'll call back when a decision is made."
"Good enough. Let's put some thought into this. If Ashe goes to London, we'll likely never see him again except as vampire."
"Yeah." Winkler ended the call and walked out of the house, nodding to Ace and Andy, who waited outside. They climbed into the van with him, Ace driving. Trajan, Trace and Buck were still with Ashe and Adele.
* * *
"Mom, what are we going to do if they make Dad go to London?"
"Honey, that's complicated," Adele said. Trajan, Trace and Buck walked around them, giving them enough space to have a conversation while guarding them. Ashe and his mother had arms about one another as they strolled slowly down a deserted stretch of beach.
"Can't we go to London with him?"
"We could, but that's the complicated part, Ashe. Your father still has a home outside London—he's kept it all these years and has somebody taking care of it. Think of it this way—Enforcers are always busy. You'll likely get to see him just as much here as there. In an entire year, he might have two weeks when he's free to do as he likes. Even then, he'll be on call. Your father and I have talked about this in the past, Ashe. When he was willing to answer questions. Radomir went straight from Cloud Chief to the Council to make his report and then went right out on another assignment. That's the way it works."
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