Vendetta(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 4)(37) by Connie Suttle
"Get back, you'll get hit!" Cori shouted as Jeremy attempted to get close. When he didn't back away, Cori grabbed his arm to pull him back. Jeremy flung Cori's arm away, nearly knocking her to the ground.
"Hey!" Dori shouted. In a blink Dori had changed, lunging at Jeremy in ocelot form. Cori shouted at her sister, Wynn screamed, Hayes and Jeff attempted to separate Chad and Sali only to be rebuffed and Jeremy, angry and desperate to help Chad, ran to the trunk of his mother's car and pulled out both tranquilizer guns.
* * *
Ashe watched as Buck, Winkler's werewolf contractor, walked in and began talking with Adele. Then Ashe blinked and stiffened. First, because Buck leaned down and kissed his mother, and second because he knew there was trouble. "You have to come," Ashe whispered and pulled all three werewolves away from the table, disappearing amid shouts and screams from the other patrons. Buck, jerking around, guessed what had happened.
"Adele, we have to get Marcus," Buck said and hauled out his cell.
* * *
"Dori!" Cori shouted when she saw the two guns in Jeremy's hands. Dori was hissing and spitting at Jeremy as he raised the first gun and pointed it at Sali. He had to wait—Sali and Chad were locked together, Chad still fighting for any advantage over Sali. Sali, four years younger than Chad, was tougher and more determined. He growled as he shoved Chad to the ground, preparing to follow and deliver more blows. When the two young werewolves separated, Jeremy lifted the gun. Dori's ocelot leapt at him, clawing his arm and locking her teeth in his wrist. Cursing, Jeremy knocked her away with the butt of the gun and aimed at the spitting ocelot.
"No!" Cori screamed and sprang toward Dori, attempting to snatch her sister away. Jeremy fired the gun, hitting Cori in the side with the poisoned dart as she dropped to cover Dori's body. The moment Cori fell, Jeremy jerked around and fired at Sali.
Wynn couldn't stop screaming. Cori was convulsing on the ground and Hayes, who'd stepped between Jeremy and Sali, was doing the same. Jeremy stood, staring at the ones he'd shot with poisoned darts while Sali shoved Chad away and dropped to his knees beside Hayes. Jeff tilted his head back and howled in grief. Humans nearby were beginning to walk in their direction. "No," Jeremy whispered, dropping the guns and running down the beach. Chad was soon behind him. Ashe, Winkler, Trace and Trajan appeared at that moment. Frightened by the scene before him, Ashe glanced from Hayes to Cori, moaned softly and dropped to his knees beside Cori's convulsing body.
"Trajan, Trace, go!" Winkler jerked his head toward the fleeing Chad and Jeremy. Both werewolves took off at a run.
"Ashe, please," Wynn held onto Dori, who was still in ocelot form. Ashe placed his hands on Cori, looked up at Wynn with stars in his eyes and blinked.
* * *
"What the hell happened?" Marcus demanded. Buck rounded up several patrons who'd seen Ashe disappear with Winkler and the others.
"That boy and the others just—vanished," Adele whispered.
"Adele, that boy is your son," Marcus snapped. "What the hell was he doing?"
"No idea," Buck said. "But we need somebody to tell these folks they didn't see anything."
"Get names and numbers; sunset isn't for another four hours," Marcus growled. "Tell them to go home and not discuss it until they're contacted by the authorities. All right?" Marcus pulled his cell out and dialed Winkler's number. Adele and Buck both listened when Winkler answered.
* * *
"Cori?" Cori stared around her. All was muted light. It felt comfortable, wherever she was. She was weightless. Happy. Had no desire to leave. She recognized the voice, though. Ashe.
"Cori, I neutralized the poison," Ashe said gently. "But you have to decide to come back. Come back with me now, all right?"
"But," Cori said. Something else was pulling on her.
"Cori, Marco is waiting. He'll be hurt and upset if you don't come back," Ashe coaxed. "Come on, Cori. We've been friends for a long time. Come back with me now so I won't have to tell Marco I lost you."
"But I'm not lost," Cori said.
"Cori, come on, pretty girl. Come home with me."
"Oh, all right," Cori turned away from the beckoning light. Somehow, without even being there with her, Ashe pulled her away.
"Hayes is dead," Jeff wept as Cori opened her eyes to stare up at Ashe. How had she gotten flat on her back on the hot sand? Confused, she blinked at Ashe, who seemed to have deep blue eyes with stars in them. Dori, wrapped in a beach towel, was hovering nearby, wiping tears away while Wynn held onto her. Jeff was crying for some reason and Sali stalked past, growling.
"Did he say Hayes is dead?" Cori attempted to sit up. Ashe, whose eyes went from darkest blue to normal in a blink, helped her.
"Cori, Jeremy shot both of you. I didn't have time to help Hayes." Ashe sounded upset about that. The afternoon sun blazed down on all of them and seagulls rode the breeze nearby. The drama playing out on the sand held no concern for them. Cori watched as William Winkler passed through her field of vision. He had a cell phone tucked against an ear, talking with someone.
"Ashe, we need help over here," Winkler jerked his head. Ashe stood on unsteady legs and gazed at the gathered crowd of humans.
"Yeah," Ashe muttered. "Wynn, get something for Cori to drink." Ashe walked toward the waiting crowd.
* * *
"Mr. President, take a look at these records," Matt Michaels handed an electronic tablet to the President. Matt Michaels had been in the oval office many times. Never with news such as this before, however.
"What is this?" The President tapped the tablet as he examined an image that appeared to be a map of GPS coordinates.
"We have a subject wearing a watch with a chip embedded, so we can track him," Matt said. "The first map shows the start point. The second map shows the destination. Elapsed time from start to finish is less than one second, sir."
"But the start point is in Texas and the destination is somewhere near, let's see—London? That can't be right. Am I operating this correctly?" The President turned the tablet around to show the Director of the Joint NSA/Homeland Security Department.
"You're operating it correctly, sir. This has been confirmed by firsthand witnesses. The kid relocated from Texas to England in less than a second."
"Yes, sir. It's time you knew, sir, since I intend to recruit him the minute he turns eighteen."
* * *
"You'll sit there and behave or I'll come back there as my wolf and we'll have a chat," Trajan threatened Chad and Jeremy. The two boys sat in the back of Diane Booth's car while Trace drove. Winkler was driving Sali's car home with Hayes's body in the back seat—Ashe had already transported the others to Winkler's temporary home in Star Cove.
"Hayes is dead?" Jeremy sounded bewildered.
"You pulled the trigger; why act so surprised now?" Trajan growled. "If Ashe hadn't come, Cori would be dead, too."
"I was aiming for Sali," Jeremy still sounded confused.
"Even worse. You expect Packmaster DeLuca to have any mercy for you when you tell him that?" Jeremy huddled farther into his seat. Chad was sullen and refused to speak.
"Doesn't matter, bro," Trace said. "As soon as those vampires are up, we'll find out what these two were planning."
* * *
Ashe rubbed his forehead. He had the worst headache imaginable. Marco sat on the sofa nearby, his arms wrapped protectively around Cori, who huddled against him. Wynn was still shaking while Ace attempted to calm her. Dori and Sali stood together in the corner, wrapped in one another's arms. Jeff sat on the floor near Marco's feet, staring at his shoes. All of them waited for Mr. Winkler to arrive and for parents to come. Ashe knew Hayes had been Jeff's best friend since first grade. Now, Winkler was bringing Hayes's body back to his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Howard would be devastated; Hayes was their only child.
"What kind of poison was that?" Jeff looked up at Ashe. "Werewolves don't usually die from poisoning."
"Jeff, this was batrachotoxin, from those poison arrow frogs in South America," Ashe sighed. "That stuff can kill just about anything. I have no idea how those two got it. I don't think they even knew how dangerous it was. Stupid, stupid, stupid," Ashe pounded his forehead with a fist.
"Ashe, son, come with me for a minute," Winkler walked into the living room. Ashe felt weary as he followed Winkler into the kitchen. Marcus was standing there with Micah, his Second. Ashe wanted to snap at Marcus. Marcus was responsible for ruining his friendship with Sali.
"Kid, we've got Weldon's forensics team coming in to examine Hayes. We need to know what killed him," Marcus sighed, raking a hand through black hair in frustration.
"You can bring 'em in, but I already know what killed him. It's Batrachotoxin, from the poison arrow frog," Ashe said. Marcus cursed. Ashe figured Marcus knew what it was—he'd been Special Ops for the military.
"The kind that can kill a man in just a few seconds?" Winkler asked.
"Yeah. Only it took a little longer to kill Hayes. Almost killed Cori," Ashe muttered. "If she'd been human, I wouldn't have been able to save her, either. I didn't have time to save both, Winkler. I wish I did."
"I know, son. I just don't understand how you saved Cori to begin with."
"I don't want you to know." Ashe stared at Marcus when he said it. Marcus tossed a hand out helplessly and stalked off, muttering.
"Ashe, one of our Pack died today, and another member of our Pack is likely responsible. I don't think Jeremy would have any hand in this if Chad wasn't urging him on," Marcus turned back and leveled his gaze on Ashe.
"They're both guilty," Ashe said. "I'm sure those vampires can lay compulsion and get the truth. I suggest you have Jeremy's parents and Hayes's parents there when you question them."
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