Vendetta(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 4)(35) by Connie Suttle
"Yeah. Did some studying." Ashe's watch proclaimed it to be Wednesday, August sixth.
"That doesn't get you out of working," Trace tousled Ashe's hair.
"Never thought it would," Ashe yawned again. "But I learned a few things." Ashe stuffed a bite of sausage into his mouth and watched his mother move about the kitchen while he chewed. She barely acknowledged him any longer. Sighing over his vow never to call his father again, Ashe went back to his breakfast. When Winkler and the others rose to leave, Ashe stayed behind for a few moments.
"Mom?" he said, watching Adele pile dishes into the dishwasher.
"Did you say something, dear?" Adele looked up at him, much like she might have looked at Sali or one of the others.
"You told me once you'd always be my mother. I think you meant it at the time." Ashe turned on his heel and nearly ran from the house.
"Dude?" Sali ran up beside Ashe. They barely spoke during their workout sessions before breakfast. Ashe had started watching Ace work with Wynn and the others—Ace was becoming more and more protective of Wynn.
"What, Sali?" Ashe huffed. The weather was muggy, the air thick with moisture from the gulf and the insects were already singing their daily song. Ashe felt like chucking everything and misting to the dunes to allow the gulf breeze to cool him off. He noticed that Nathan had replaced the boat he'd lost nearly a month before, and it looked expensive. Ashe, in a former life, might have asked for a ride. That likely wasn't an option any longer. He hadn't seen Nathan in days.
"Is that all there's gonna be from now on? You snapping at me?" Sali asked.
"Sali, is this my fault?" Ashe stuffed hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts.
"Look Sal, I'd like to go into the past and trust you again. That's not gonna happen. I can't discuss anything with my best friend, or former best friend, because he'll run to his dad and blab."
"Is that what we are? Former best friends?"
"What would you call it, Salidar?" Ashe never called Sali by his first name. Never. Sali jerked back when Ashe said it. "Did I ever tell your dad you used to spy on the pack in that old oak tree outside Cloud Chief? Or tattle about the dozens of other things that would have gotten you grounded at the very least? That answer is no, dude. You're the one who broke faith."
"Ashe, it's not all his fault." Marco had come up silently on both of them.
"No. But the betrayal feels the same." Ashe misted away.
"You spied on the Pack?" Marco stared at Sali with new respect.
"Yeah." Sali hung his head and scuffed the toe of his flip-flop on the pavement.
"Way to go," Marco grinned, slapping Sali on the back. Sali lifted his head and grinned at his brother.
* * *
Winkler gave Ashe half an hour before calling his cell. Surprisingly, Ashe answered right away. "Son, don't you think it's time you came to work?" Winkler asked.
"Yeah. I'll be right there." Winkler barely had time to end the call before Ashe was standing in front of his desk.
"Kid, maybe you should knock or something. That's just scary," Winkler drew attention to Ashe's sudden appearance.
"I will." Ashe turned to go.
"No. Ashe, sit down. Let's talk."
"About Trajan's engagement. I want to know what you think. Trajan is sweating bullets over this, even though he thinks I don't suspect. I know you know things. I want you to tell me what you think and be brutally honest. I picked Trajan for Wynter. They'll be engaged come Saturday unless you give me a reason to call it off. Honestly, I think Trajan would be relieved. I have no idea how Wynter would feel—she likes Trajan well enough and I know he'd take care of her and never mistreat her, but that's not everything."
"Yeah. I already figured that out," Ashe picked at a thread that escaped the hem of his shorts.
"Well, are you going to tell me or what?"
"Mr. Winkler, I really don't want to scare you that much. More than just appearing in front of you, that is."
"Kid, I'm already scared. A little more won't make that much difference."
"Mr. Winkler, look at me. Look me in the eye," Ashe said. Winkler lifted his eyes and watched as Ashe's eyes changed. Became completely blue. Not the normal blue of his eyes, but midnight blue. The blue that surrounds a full moon at night. Stars appeared in their depths. No other white showed. Winkler cursed softly in wonder. "Wynter will not love Trajan, and he deserves that," Ashe said, his voice deepening. "Trajan will provide for her but she will bear her children and leave."
"But who would she love? Tell me that," Winkler begged.
"Trajan said his name once," Ashe went on. "Thomas Williams, Jr.—from the Sacramento Pack." Ashe blinked and the spell was broken. Winkler watched as his eyes became normal again.
"The Sacramento Packmaster?" Winkler stared at Ashe in amazement.
"Yeah. That's the one." Ashe started to rise.
"No. Sit right there. Hold on." Winkler motioned Ashe down again and hit a button on his cell. Ashe heard when the call was answered.
"Winkler?" The voice sounded surprised.
"Thomas, you're not engaged or anything, are you?"
"No. Not many prospects in the area right now," Thomas replied.
"Good. My daughter needs a husband in two years. Would you like to meet her?" Several seconds of quiet met Winkler's straightforward question.
"Well," Thomas Williams found his voice, "When?"
"How about this Saturday? I'll send the jet out to pick you up. You can run with the Pack here. Let your brother take your Pack out on Sunday."
"All right," Thomas agreed. "Call me when you get everything arranged." Thomas hung up.
"You're sure about this?" Winkler looked at Ashe.
"Trajan will be relieved."
"I sure hope so. I don't want him to feel slighted or upset."
"Let's find out." Winkler grinned. "Kid, I don't know what that was, but it really is scary as hell. Trajan!"
* * *
"Boss, this is such a relief." Trajan sighed. Ashe hadn't waited around after Trajan whooped with joy when Winkler gave him the news. He'd scooted straight out of Winkler's office and disappeared inside his bedroom. "Mom always wanted it to be a love match," Trajan added.
"Then you'll have that chance. Ashe said Thomas Williams, so she's getting Thomas Williams."
"Boss, try not to shove him down her throat. Why don't you just casually introduce them and see how that works out?"
"All right, we'll go the politically correct route," Winkler agreed. "You can wear that new suit at the engagement party."
"Suits me," Trajan laughed.
* * *
"They are here—the humans call this Lac Savard. It is in Quebec, in the country of Canada," Parlethis was proud of his newly developed map-reading skills.
"Then let us make arrangements to be there tomorrow evening. That will take them by surprise, I think." Friesianna pretended to study the paper map. Rabis had offered to bring her an electronic version. She'd refused.
"I will bring Prince Beldris to you personally," Parlethis bowed deferentially. Rabis held his breath and counted. He had no desire to display his distaste over Parlethis' obsequiousness. That would court disaster with the Queen. She wasn't listening to Rabis anyway. He wished she'd just let him go. He knew where he'd like to be—somewhere watching his grandchild grow into adulthood and come into his talents.
"I care not if he is dead or alive when you bring him," Friesianna remarked icily. "Just bring him. Perhaps we shall offer the Prince to his brother, in exchange for the Dark crown."
"A fitting reward, my Queen." Rabis wanted to relocate just to get away from the fawning Parlethis.
"Rabis," the Queen snapped, bringing Rabis out of his thoughts. "Show my Captain the most advantageous location to mount our attack," she shook the map at her Foreseer.
"Respectfully, my Queen, one place is no better than another," Rabis replied softly.
* * *
"My contact is ready to go," Josiah spoke to a waiting Ezekiel Tanner. "I'll be nearby, ready to help if necessary. We have things well in hand. William Winkler will be dead and you'll have your trophy soon."
"Don't muck this up, Dunnigan. I'm warning you. You've already lost a good contact to that moth-infested patch of fur. Fail me in this and I'll send someone after you."
"There will be no need for that, I assure you," Josiah was glad he was speaking with Zeke on the phone instead of in person. A werewolf as old and experienced as Ezekiel Tanner could smell fear a mile away, and Josiah was certainly afraid. Josiah worked to keep that emotion from his voice. It made him more determined than ever to take William Winkler down quickly.
"When you get done with that, I could use some help here," Zeke suggested. "Supply problems, you understand."
"But," Josiah sputtered. He wanted his ranch in Wyoming, no strings attached.
"Had you worried, didn't I?" Zeke cackled. "Do this for me and we're done unless you need another favor sometime."
"I appreciate the offer," Josiah lied.
* * *
"School starts in two weeks," Sali grumbled to Dori.
"I'm looking forward to it," she said. Sali leaned against Dori's legs on the Anderson's deck. Dori sat in a deck chair, Sali lounging at her feet and sipping iced tea that Cori made. Cori lay on her stomach on a chaise nearby, dressed in a bikini. "I can't wait to get into college," Dori added.
"Two more years," Cori muttered into the chaise cushion.
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