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   Chapter 6 Pilot

Pilot: Book One of the Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 12416

Updated: 2018-02-02 12:59

They stepped from the shelter of Elena's apartment building and onto the street. Both shivered in reaction to the brisk wind tugging at the edge of their clothing.

"I should have worn a coat, " her grandfather said with a bit of a rueful smile.

"I'm sorry, I don't think I have anything that would fit you, " she answered. He waved away her concern.

"It is not far and I have endured much worse." She smiled at him. "It is good to see you doing so well out here on your own. The family was concerned." Elena felt her smile slipping into a bit of a sneer and turned her face from her grandfather. With the exception of her cousin Mateo there were few members of her family she spared a thought for. And while Mateo was friend as well as blood, to keep in contact with her after she had left would have proved extremely problematic.

"Not concerned enough to visit, " she said. Her words puffed in the air. Therese declared Elena shunned by the family when she left and none of them had bothered to call or drop a post card in the past five years. "How worried could they be?" She asked.

"It has been quite busy, " Her grandfather answered. Alexandro Calabrese never admitted to the rift between Elena and Therese and she didn't expect him to start now. When pressed he would simply claim they were both passionate women and often held differences of opinion, nothing more. They were blood and there was love, at least to his mind. Elena shook her head letting it drop. Once his mind was made up, changing it was often more trouble than it was worth. While she had very few feelings towards Therese, her cousin actively hated her, of that she was sure.

"There is to be a marriage soon, " he continued. "Nathanial has found a mate."

"That's nice, " Elena responded. Nate was Mateo's older brother and not a bad sort of person. He was about fifteen years her senior and so their paths rarely crossed. "Is she a Pilot?"

"Yes, of the House of Carloti, " he answered. He smiled, pleased that she had bothered to ask. "The wedding will take place next fall, at the end of the busy season so they can take a nice long honeymoon. You'll be coming of course."

"I'm invited?" Elena asked with some surprise.

"Of course, " Alexandro said. "You are family." Elena saw the calculated gleam slide through his eyes before he blinked and smiled. "All of the family will be there."

"I see, " Elena said. She had the feeling her grandfather would bring pressure to bear to have her invited and a grumpy time would be had by all. She put tomorrow's troubles away. Today's agenda was already more than full.

Luckily the store was but a handful of steps away. Soon they could pause the family chatter and with luck the Council would be meeting close enough that she wouldn't have too much catching up on family matters to endure. Elena tugged her keys from her pocket and reached towards the door handle. Her grandfather reached out and grabbed her wrist. She looked up at him over her shoulder.

"They do love you." His face was serious and his eyes pleading. Elena sighed.

"I know, " she said. "In their own way. I'm sure they have been busy." She kept her tone neutral. He let her wrist go.

"Yes, for all five years, " he said softly. There was a sadness in his voice that made Elena swallow hard. She turned back to the door, unlocked it and pushed it open.

"I have to leave some details for while I'm away. Feel free to look around; just don't open the back door. Those alarms are still active." He nodded and turned to walk around the store. His slow measured stride let her know he was taking in all the details. Elena smiled as she took Emily's chair behi

business. Alexandro smiled and chuckled beneath his breath.

"You would make me ask?" He said teasingly. Elena made her eyes wide and tried to look innocent.

"Ask what?"

Marcus's chuckle rumbled from the front seat. "She is your granddaughter." He said.

"Therese never gives me this much trouble and she is my granddaughter." He replied. Marcus shrugged.

"Elena is not Therese, " he said simply. Alexandro snorted.

"I can tell the difference, you know. I have eyes in my head do I not? Very well, " He continued, turning his attention back to Elena. "You have a connection of artisans that you presumably trust and are more than likely located in the right districts for our purposes. Would you be willing to work with your family to assist us in making these connections?" Elena braced herself to say no. To tell him that when she could no longer be of use to them as a pilot they ceased to take an interest in her and they could therefore rot for all she cared.

"I don't know." She replied, the words surprising herself even as they tumbled from her lips. "I'll have to think about it." Elena leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. What had she done? Silence filled the vehicle.

"Therese would have instantly said yes, " her grandfather said. Elena opened her eyes and turned towards him.

"As Marcus pointed out, I am not Therese." A strangely thoughtful look passed over his face.

"No, you are not." He stared at her as if deep in thought. "You should try and get some sleep. We will have to drive through the night to reach the arranged place in time for the meeting." Elena nodded and turned away from her grandfather to stare at the dark world beyond the window glass.

The wind whipped the treetops into a frenetic dance and they cast odd shadows when they passed in front of the streetlamps. Rain began to tap on the glass and slide down in diamond droplets. In the reflection Elena saw her grandfather tug his briefcase from under the seat and pull a leather bound volume from its depths. He placed the notebook on top of the briefcase and pulled out a pen, writing as if the briefcase were a laptop desk. Marcus switched on the radio and something soothing and classical filled the dark spaces between them all.

'I'll never fall asleep, ' she thought to herself leaning her forehead on the cool glass and closing her eyes. 'There is no way I could fall asleep.' It was her last thought before sleep claimed her.

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