Vendetta(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 4)(25) by Connie Suttle
"My Queen, the Ekdi H’Morr says," Rabis wasn't allowed to finish.
"That is not correct—my crown gives me power and authority over all my subjects. It stays where it is. We will deal with this as we deal with any other threat—we will eliminate it. If Baltis had any intelligence, he would do the same. If he is as you say, then he is responsible for the deaths of my Jewels. Find someone to go through the gates. I want as much lion snake poison as we can get. That will kill any Elemaiya."
"Yes, my Queen." Rabis bowed and walked away, dismayed. Lion snakes were the most poisonous of any viper. Death came in a blink if one were bitten. While Elemaiya were immune to many things, lion snake poison would kill them quickly. He worried for the boy and sent up a silent prayer, even as he sought for one who might capture or kill a snake that dwelt on a faraway world.
* * *
"May I speak?" The questioning of Jack Howard had been long and tedious, most of it dealing with his misuse of public funds and his connections to illegal foreign businesses and concerns. Little was said regarding his hunting on Obediah Tanner's game preserve. Now the former Congressman wanted to ask questions.
"What is it, Jack?" One of the Congressional representatives asked, weariness evident in his voice.
"Is that the boy those things were after?" He pointed to Ashe.
"What things?" The representative said.
"You know—those things. Those creatures. I can't remember what they called themselves."
"We're done," Matt announced. "He's hallucinating now. Jasper, get him out of here." Matt called one of his werewolf guards, who came to cuff Jack Howard. He and two others led Howard from the room.
"You're a shapeshifter?" Jack Howard's attorney grasped Ashe's arm before he could move away.
"Yeah." Ashe didn't want to elaborate past that.
"And you can lay compulsion." The attorney had sandy-brown hair, light-brown eyes and a wry smile.
"He's one of the vampire-shifter kids," Winkler came to stand behind Ashe, causing the attorney to drop his hand.
"One of those," the man shifted his briefcase. "I should have guessed. I know vampire DNA will destroy a human if they're not turned, but shifter DNA is another matter, isn't it? I heard they shut the program down."
"That's what I heard, too. I suppose you'd have to contact the Council to get the truth of it." Winkler was doing his best to pull Ashe away and out of the room.
"Not going that route," the attorney grimaced. "Anybody with any sense would stay as far away from that as possible. Kid, what's your animal?" he asked one last question.
"He's a bat," Winkler grinned and hauled Ashe out the door.
* * *
"As soon as they're awake, have one of our vamp agents contact me," Matt ordered after extricating himself from the congressional representatives. "I have to plant one more suggestion on Jack Howard before he goes to trial. We don't need him pointing a finger at the kid. That could bring up too many questions we don't want to answer."
"Right, boss." Jasper nodded and pulled out his cell.
* * *
"Ashe, you can't tell a former member of Congress to quack like a duck," Winkler sighed. "Not in a formal setting like that. Understand?" Ashe was packing his bag the following morning after breakfast so they could make the trip to the airport and fly home.
Winkler had already held a conversation with Matt Michaels while Trajan took Ashe for breakfast downstairs. Matt hadn't gotten anything out of the humans who'd survived the attack two evenings before—they'd been hired muscle and nothing more. Weldon was doing his best to investigate Trina, but that could take time. No good explanation could be found for her attempt to kill Winkler and the others. Winkler was glad to be putting D.C. behind him; the trip had turned sour in many ways.
"The quacking was epic," Trajan whispered to Ashe, loud enough for Winkler to hear. Winkler rolled his eyes and walked through the connecting door to see to his own bags.
* * *
"I’ve only been Grand Master for fifty-two years," Weldon reminded Winkler later. Winkler had stepped behind the pilot's cabin to take a call from the Grand Master. "Records before then were spotty if they existed at all," Weldon said. "We don't have anything on where Trina came from originally; all I have is the record where she married into the D.C. Pack. Her husband, the Second, challenged and was taken down. She hasn't married again. Had a nursing degree and worked for one of our physicians there."
"But something set her off. She knew you called her employer. She had to know you'd come after her if she were implicated in any way." Winkler pinched the bridge of his nose.
"That's what concerns me. This wasn't just her—I'd bet my ranch on it. Since she's dead and the humans don't know anything, we may not find the truth of this."
"And that concerns me," Winkler said. "Look, if we come up with anything on our end, I’ll get back with you." Winkler hung up and moved toward his seat—they were scheduled to land at the Corpus Christi airport in less than an hour.
* * *
Josiah cursed, then kicked the chest that held the television in his hotel room, causing the appliance to rock dangerously. His contact in D.C. was dead, Winkler was still alive and his reward money remained tantalizingly out of reach. When he'd gotten the initial call from Trina, the circumstances had sounded too good to be true. Winkler was easily within his grasp, as was the Dallas Second and two others. Then the drug injection had been refused—that would have taken care of the boy. Trina called afterward and told him that, but when he ordered her to gather a few wolves and humans willing to commit murder for the right amount of money, things had gone wrong.
Josiah didn't have information on how Trina and the others were killed—his contact couldn't get it. Now he was back to the original plan. That plan had to be put into motion before Winkler's beach house was completed—he had it on good authority that breaching the beach house would be next to impossible. According to his sources, Josiah had less than a month.
* * *
"Chad, of course you’ll be reinstated with the Pack," Marcus sat at the kitchen island across from his visitor. Since Chad and Jeremy had transferred to Corpus Christi University, they'd arranged to move their belongings into an empty house near Jeremy's parents. They'd driven their rented van to Star Cove the day before. Now, Chad had to ask Marcus for a spot in the Star Cove Pack if he expected to run with them come the full moon.
"I just wanted to make sure things were cool," Chad said, staring into his cup of coffee instead of looking Marcus in the eye. Keeping one's eyes lowered was often the reaction of a submissive werewolf to his Alpha.
"I do expect you to try and get along with everyone in the community. We have three new vampires—they came in late last night. I want everyone to introduce themselves when the vamps wake—they're here to beef up security around the community—they’ll be trading nights off so Nathan won't be pushed to the limit like he and Aedan were before."
"Too bad the Council recalled Aedan." Chad's words were hollow and tinged with sarcasm. Marcus noted it but made no comment, studying the twenty-year-old werewolf instead. Chad had his mother's dark hair and hazel eyes. His facial features belonged to his father, though. Marcus never forgot that Chad's father, Hollis Daniels, had challenged—and lost.
Marcus had attempted to talk Hollis out of the challenge—Chad had been eight at the time and Marcus didn't like leaving families without one of the parents. Hollis hadn't liked the fact that vampires were part of their paranormal community. Therefore, he'd challenged Marcus. It was a mistake. Marcus sighed at the memory and put it out of his mind.
"Chad, I have work to do—I’m buying a shop in Aransas Pass to set up my locksmith business again. Sit here until you finish your drink. If you need anything, ask Denise." Marcus rose and walked out of the house. Chad didn't say anything as he watched Marcus leave.
* * *
"What's your college major?" Bear Wright was moving things into the office set aside for the Principal. Jeremy Booth had come to talk for some reason.
"Psychology," Jeremy said. "But I’m still getting basics out of the way."
"And you’ve gone for two years?"
"I see. How do you like it?" Bear hefted a box of files onto a shelf inside a tiny storage closet.
"Planning to hang up a shingle when you're done with your PhD?" Bear lifted another box of files.
"I hadn't thought that far ahead," Jeremy admitted.
"What were you going to do after graduation, then?"
"Don't know. Maybe get a job on a local fishing boat or join the Navy. Mom and Dad are paying for school, so I’ll get that out of the way before I look for a job."
"Why didn't you go for history instead of psychology? I saw you had decent marks in Dodd's classes."
"Mr. Dodd was pretty cool. He made history interesting. But the classes in college? Boring."
"I always thought that some teachers should have found something else to occupy their time, and some that went into other fields should have been teachers. Some people just have the knack for it. Others couldn't care less."
"I heard you were thinking about trying to organize the shapeshifter community." Jeremy said what he'd come to say.
"Ah. Finally the truth." Bear shifted the boxes of files on the shelf to fit another in. He'd dressed in a checkered shirt with sleeves rolled back, his bushy, light-brown hair was more disheveled than normal and his jeans were frayed around the hems. Star Cove's new Principal had come prepared for physical activity. Jeremy found it unattractive. Principal Billings had never dressed that way.
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