Vendetta(Legend of the Ir'Indicti,Book 4)(39) by Connie Suttle
"Come, filth, you will bathe before going to the King," Liridael muttered, hauling Wildrif away.
* * *
"Boss, everything is ready except for a few last-minute details." Buck spoke to Winkler but watched as Ashe explored the spacious kitchen. The island was nearly as big as Ashe's bedroom back in Cloud Chief, with an extra sink and two dishwashers. The last-minute details included paint, some tile work in the entry and other minor construction issues. Winkler gave a slight hand gesture to Buck, telling him to back off for now. Buck wanted to talk to Ashe about his developing relationship with Adele. Winkler's small gesture told Buck that Ashe wasn't ready.
"Hey, Ashe," Marco walked in with Ace. Both had been staying at the beach house, helping the crew get everything ready.
"Kid, I want to thank you for yesterday," Ace said.
"It wasn't anything. I wish I could have saved Hayes."
"I know." Ace patted Ashe on the back and moved away.
"Come out and look at the new deck, Ashe," Marco broke the ensuing silence. Ashe was glad to leave the kitchen. He didn't know what to say to Buck.
* * *
"This is really cool." Ashe admired the massive, multilevel deck. The last one had been much smaller and only one level, with one set of steps leading to the walkway that in turn led to the beach. This one had steps going down and converging from three separate locations.
"We've ordered the furniture already," Winkler walked up behind Ashe. "All of it will be delivered tomorrow while we're here and we'll decide where to put it. It'll take our minds off other things."
"Ashe, let's go for a walk on the beach," Marco suggested. "Boss, we'll be okay," Marco waved Winkler off; he was ready to send Trajan with Marco and Ashe.
Winkler nodded curtly and went inside the house, Trajan following behind him. Marco waited until they were on the sand, the midmorning light glaring off the water and making it difficult to see. Ashe held out his hand and two baseball caps appeared from his old bedroom in Star Cove. Handing one to a shocked Marco, Ashe slipped on the other. The hat helped him see as they walked down the beach. Marco, still unsure of what he'd just seen, put his cap on as well.
"Ashe, if you hadn't helped yesterday," Marco said.
"I did it for Cori, dude."
"No part of that was for me? Or for Sali?"
"Maybe a little. Mostly it was for Cori. Cori's always been my friend. Even when the others thought I was empty. Granted she blabbed about Billings' letter to my parents to keep everybody from knowing about James being in contact with Randy, but that's understandable."
"Yeah. She told me about that."
"So you can keep secrets."
"Ashe, I know how to do that. And I understand a little better just how important it really is."
"You mean you don't run to Winkler about everything?"
"That's in the past, dude. When I made my oaths to Winkler, it states specifically from this day forward."
"That's how it's done." Ashe nodded, squinting over the water and purposely not looking at Marco.
"Ashe, I didn't come to open old wounds. I came to thank you for Cori's life. And Sali's and the others. Jeremy could have reloaded. There were four more darts. Humans could have gotten killed, too."
"I know. I had to place compulsion and wipe a few cell phones."
"I hear the Grand Master may come down for the full moon." Ashe jerked his head around at Marco's statement.
"Marco, come on. We have to talk to Winkler."
* * *
"I'm asking you to trust me," Ashe said. Winkler, Trajan and Marcus sat inside Winkler's study inside the beach house. Marcus had been summoned and the Grand Master was on a conference call.
"Kid, this is a big thing to put in your hands," Marcus growled.
"Marcus, you can't say this to anyone else. Not Sali, not Marco, not even your wife. Do you understand?" Ashe had stars in his eyes. Marcus swallowed with difficulty. It wasn't easy looking at Ashe when he was like that.
"He'll keep quiet or I'll have him locked up," the Grand Master said on speakerphone. "I'll come down. I want to see this."
"I'll handle everything from this end," Winkler said. "See you Sunday, Grand Master." Weldon ended the call. Winkler punched the end button on his handset. "Marcus, we have a little planning to do," Winkler stood and jerked his head toward the door. Marcus dutifully rose and followed Winkler.
"I sure hope you know what you're doing," Trajan stood too, coming over to wrap Ashe in a hug. "Ashe, if Winkler hadn't signed up to be your guardian," Trajan released Ashe and walked out behind his Packmaster.
"Yeah. I know," Ashe muttered.
* * *
"My King," Wildrif bowed low before Baltis. The Dark Elemaiya camp was quite cold and Wildrif was used to a much warmer climate. "I would have come sooner, but my escort insisted on my bathing. Twice."
"What is it, Wildrif?" Baltis wasn't in any sort of humor to deal with the half-crazy foreseer.
"My King, I feel your brother and those you keep in Chicago are in danger," Wildrif moaned. "The outcome is not clear, but I fear the human military is leading an attack against them."
"Human military? Hmmph," Baltis waved away the threat.
"But my King, the incident is still murky and unclear. Terrible things might happen." Wildrif groveled, his blue and brown eyes pleading insincerely with Baltis.
"Did you discuss this with my brother? I feel he might be more than capable of taking on a few humans," Baltis had nothing but contempt for most things human, though they did have good food and a comfortable habitat, most of the time. Baltis had spent time on worlds where things weren't nearly as hospitable.
"But my King," Wildrif wept. "Please—let me stay here with you until it is over. I beg you."
"You're that frightened? Very well, I will send mindspeech to Beldris. He may make the final decision." Baltis waved Wildrif away. "Take him to a space on the far side, near the lake. I have no wish for his stench to reach my tent," Baltis growled. He'd been in the middle of making preparations for the pending attack by the Bright Ones. That attack could come at any time. Wildrif had been consulted, but as the outcome was once again murky, he was more useless than not on the matter.
Brother? Beldris was surprised to receive mindspeech from Baltis. I thought you would be making preparations for the coming attack.
I am, Baltis replied. But Wildrif seems convinced that humans are preparing an attack upon you.
Humans? What humans?
He says the human military is leading an attack against you. He cannot see the outcome—it is murky to him.
Many things are murky to him—he's three-quarters human. Beldris' amusement came through in his mental voice.
As you say, Baltis was also amused. What say you, brother? Do you wish to join me here, or does a threat from humans frighten you?
I do not fear humans, Beldris declared. We will stay and if they find us, they will regret their attack, I assure you. I have the two blasters and Treydis—he will destroy their hearts if they think to take us down.
Wildrif is frightened and wishes to stay with me, Baltis said.
Let him stay, then. Send Liridael back to me. We will sort this out after the Bright Ones fall.
That will be the most welcome of events, brother. We will celebrate it. Baltis turned to Liridael. "Go back to my brother—he is staying in Chicago to handle any threat from the humans. Assist him in his efforts." Liridael bowed to the Dark King and relocated.
* * *
For the moment, Ashe was content to sit on the floor of his new suite, an elbow leaning on the window as he stared out at the ocean. He could see it easily from this bedroom; the new design had seen to that. His other hand gripped his cell—Cori had left three messages. Each message begged him to call or come see her. Ashe ducked his head, leaning it against his arm on the windowsill. Hesitantly, he lifted the cell and dialed Cori's number.
"Ashe, where are you?" Cori asked immediately.
"At the new beach house. Winkler wanted to see how it's coming along."
"You're not going to ignore me, are you?"
"No, Cori. You'll always be my friend."
"Ashe, I feel so guilty," Cori wept. "That you came to me first, and let Hayes go."
"Cori, do you think I don't feel guilt over that too? That I can't go to Hayes's mom and dad and explain myself? Even I can't be in two places at once. Not for that. I don't have the ability to bring back the dead, either. Hayes left us while I was working on you."
"Ashe, I was trying to protect Dori. She turned and jumped on Jeremy, to keep him from shooting Sali. Jeremy hit her in the head with one of those stupid guns and aimed at her. I tried to stop him. He shot me instead and then aimed at Sali again."
"Cori, hush," Ashe soothed as Cori sobbed. "Hold on, I'll be there in a minute." Ashe was there in only a second or two. Cori sat on the back porch of her parents' home, weeping. "Come here," Ashe settled on the chaise beside her. Cori wrapped her arms around his neck while Ashe tried to get her to stop crying.
"What's going on?" Dori stopped dead as she walked onto the deck carrying a glass of juice. "Sis, what happened?" Dori sat beside Ashe as he rubbed Cori's back gently and murmured soft words against her hair.
She's upset about Hayes—that she lived and he didn't, Ashe sent, knowing Dori would hear him perfectly. And be able to reply if she so chose.
I'm sorry you had to choose. I feel responsible, Dori replied.
The one responsible is Jeremy. His parents are wondering right now how this happened. Don't blame yourself for someone else's temper and shortsightedness. Or whom they choose as their friends. Chad sent Jeremy in this direction. Now both will pay the price.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online