Vendetta(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 4)(19) by Connie Suttle
"You trust them. I can't trust anyone," Ashe muttered, ducking his head.
"You can trust them not to let that information go any farther," Weldon said. "Trust us that much at least. In the meantime, let's go talk to the Packmaster in Boulder. If he or his Second knew or suspected what Beesley was doing, then I want to know. You can see the sense in that, can't you?"
"Don't need somebody who can ignore that kind of crime anywhere near a position of power," Ashe grumbled. He still had visions of deaths in his head and none had been merciful.
"Ashe, you're really smart. Sometimes we forget that," Winkler placed an arm around Ashe's shoulders. "Help us out, son."
"Good. Great. Load up and let's get to Boulder," Weldon ordered. Halfway there they pulled over to get the Grand Master a cup of coffee. All of them slid into a booth at the truck stop restaurant and ordered drinks. Ashe, refusing to look at the others, idly played with his soft drink cup when their order came.
"Lissa told a funny story once," Winkler said, causing Ashe to lift his head. He'd been staring at his glass of juice, tuning out the conversation around him. "She said that she and her human husband went to a restaurant in San Francisco on vacation. The waiter brought a huge, live lobster out on a tray for everybody to stare at. Her husband felt sorry for the lobster and shouted 'Let my people go,' in front of a large crowd. They were asked to leave by the staff."
Ashe blinked at Winkler and then laughed. "Kid, I'm sorry," Winkler apologized. "Maybe we should talk more often. I'll tell you things, you can tell me things. We'll leave out the middleman. Don't be upset with Marco. He was following orders. I don't control Sali. You'll have to work that out yourself."
"I won't trust them again." Ashe had gone from smiling to sullen in the space of a blink. Winkler sighed.
"Come on, kid. Let's get some air," Trajan said, pulling Ashe from the booth at the coffee shop. Trace followed as they walked outside. The air was thinner where they were, Ashe realized. Cooler, too. Mountains surrounded them and Ashe saw bits of white on the tallest peaks.
"Trajan, Trace," Ashe looked from one werewolf brother to the other before grasping arms and hopping them to one of the peaks.
"Holy crap," Trajan turned in a circle, standing in knee-deep snow. "Ashe, send mindspeech to Winkler and tell him we'll be back in a minute."
Winkler, we're on the side of a mountain, Ashe couldn't keep the amused exultation from his mental voice. Trajan says we'll be back in a minute. Maybe I should let 'em walk back.
"Ashe!" Trace shouted, just before Ashe was pelted with a huge snowball. Ashe scooped up snow and launched one back, causing Trace to duck and laugh. The second one came swiftly on the first's heels, smacking Trace in the ear. Trajan's cell rang.
"Boss?" Trajan answered the call. Ashe and Trace both listened to the conversation as Winkler growled at his Second for allowing himself to be hauled to the top of a mountain.
"Not his fault," Ashe called out.
"Not Marco's fault either," Winkler replied. "Let's declare a truce. I'll stop chewing on Trajan if you'll agree to stop blaming Marco."
"I'll put the blame on Sali and I still won't speak to Marco."
"Kid, we'll work this out. I promise. Finish your snowball fight and then join the rest of us mortals." Winkler ended the call. Trajan no sooner had his cell put away before Trace lobbed a snowball at him. Clumps of snow were still dropping off clothing and melting from shoes when Ashe transported both werewolves back to the restaurant. Winkler was glad to see that Ashe landed them between vehicles so they wouldn't be seen.
"Done with the rebellious activities?" Trajan tousled Ashe's hair.
"Till the next time," Ashe grinned. Trajan pulled Ashe into a tight hug.
"Why am I not comforted?" Weldon sighed piously. Winkler laughed.
* * *
"I will not renew the marriage," Wlodek snapped at Aedan. The sun had set a bare hour earlier, he was plagued with rogues in Paris and Amsterdam and here was Aedan Evans asking for his marriage to be renewed, although he promised to take up his work for the Council again.
"May I have a reason, Honored One?" Aedan asked respectfully.
"Because I do not wish it," Wlodek replied coldly. "Charles has information on the nest in Amsterdam. Go now—the jet is waiting at Heathrow. Do not ask me again."
"Very well," Aedan dipped his head and left Wlodek's study quickly.
* * *
"Wlodek is sending me to Amsterdam," Aedan tossed clothing into a bag.
"Then I'm coming with you," Adele said, gripping Aedan's arm anxiously.
"Adele, these are vampires I'm chasing, and criminal vampires in addition to that."
"I can track anything from overhead," Adele pointed out. Aedan looked into his wife's eyes. She would always be his wife, he didn't care what Wlodek said or did. He just didn't want to upset her with Wlodek's statement. "You can come if you promise to only go out in daylight," Aedan offered his solution.
"I promise," Adele agreed. "I can order room service if I'm hungry after dark."
"We'll be staying at a safe house."
"Then I'll stock snacks or something."
"That's fine. It may have a small kitchen. Some of them do. It will certainly have a refrigerator, stocked with bagged blood."
* * *
The flight crew didn't want Adele on the jet, but Aedan growled at the younger vampires, who stood aside eventually and allowed it. "I'm surprised these things are as luxurious as this," Adele ran a hand over soft leather and settled into the comfortable seat.
"Wlodek travels with the fleet now and then," Aedan leaned back and stared ahead at the vampire attendant.
"I see," Adele replied. She knew not to add anything to that—her words would likely be reported to the Head of the Council as soon as they landed anyway. She didn't want to give the Council any fuel to harm Aedan.
"My love," Aedan turned before leaning in to kiss Adele.
Ashe was surprised to see that Matt Michaels and two agents had arrived already at a building located on the outskirts of Boulder. There wasn't anything to distinguish this particular brick and stone building from others nearby. Two men waited in the lobby as they walked inside, reading magazines from a table located between seats. Ashe realized that both were quite nervous and jerked to attention as soon as Weldon and Winkler appeared.
"Grand Master," the brown-haired werewolf dipped his head respectfully to Weldon Harper. Ashe wondered what his scent told the Grand Master.
"Dan," Weldon didn't give anything away to the Boulder Packmaster. "This is William Winkler," Weldon nodded toward Winkler.
"I remember; Dan Garber," he introduced himself and held his hand out to Winkler, who shook it briefly. Dan Garber was more than six feet tall. Ashe was taller but the Boulder Packmaster had at least fifty pounds on Ashe, who was still on the thin side. Garber was dressed in a suit somewhat out of date but it fit. His dark eyes watched the Grand Master and Winkler warily. "This is my Second, Keith Simpson," the Boulder Packmaster made introductions. The Second had nearly black hair, hazel eyes and thinning lips. Ashe thought Garber's Second looked older than his Packmaster.
Trajan and Trace stood behind Winkler while introductions were made; Matt Michaels stood back while Weldon and Winkler spoke with the two who ran the Boulder Pack. "This way," Matt led everyone toward a room down a hall moments later.
"Who's the kid?" Ashe heard Dan Garber whisper to Weldon Harper. Ashe hadn't minded that he'd been left out of the introductions. This was Pack business. He wished he were a million miles away. He didn't want to know the truth of what he already suspected. Not after Dexter Beesley.
"Winkler's ward—a shapeshifter," Weldon replied. "I asked for him." Trajan's hand dropped on Ashe's shoulder and kept him moving down the hall tiled in marble. The room Matt Michaels led them toward was located at the back of the two-story building. He flipped the light switch as he walked inside. A conference room was revealed when Ashe walked in, flanked by Trajan and Trace. A wide table was centered in the windowless room, with two chairs positioned on the far side of the lengthy table. Six chairs were on the opposite side, near the door.
Matt Michaels' guards walked in last and took positions on either side of the door. They didn't bother to hide the fact that they were armed, either. Weldon sat near the center of the six chairs while Dan and Keith took the two seats on the far side, facing the Grand Master. Winkler and Matt Michaels took the seats beside Weldon while Trace and Trajan sat beside Winkler. Winkler's Second patted the empty chair next to him and nodded to Ashe. Ashe sat next to Trajan without a word.
"You know Dexter Beesley was executed three nights ago," Weldon began. "We discovered he was guilty of unspeakable crimes and responsible for the disappearances of at least fifteen young girls from this area over the past twenty years or so. Now, when he joined your Pack, did he petition the Pack here in Boulder? I don't have those records in my files."
"An oversight, Grand Master. He came highly recommended from the Casper Pack, and none of those girls disappeared from the school where he worked." The Boulder Packmaster's eyes didn't quite meet the Grand Master's.
"You told me that over the phone. It's too bad the Casper Packmaster has died since then and the Pack dissolved. I'm having trouble finding any of those former Packmembers. Do you have any idea why that is?" Weldon watched carefully as Dan Garber worked to meet his gaze. Ashe's skin itched.
"I know it was hard with Dexter Beesley," Weldon turned to Ashe. "But I want you to put your hands on our Packmaster here and tell me what you see."
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