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   Chapter 31 Pilot

Pilot: Book One of the Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 14417

Updated: 2018-02-02 13:18

Elena dressed for the snow rather than for work the next morning. She knew that by the time she had plowed through the snow from her apartment to her office she would probably be soaked completely through. So into a small duffle bag she placed a nice set of pants, sweater and work appropriate shoes. She clothed herself in faded jeans, thick socks and an old sweatshirt. On top of this she added coat, scarf, hat and gloves, not to mention the snow boots that always made her feel like she was impersonating a yeti.

"As long as no one sics the fashion police on me I should be fine." She said slinging her bag of work clothes over her shoulder. At the street level, Elena's inner child grinned with delight. She was early going into work and much of the snow to the sides had not been disturbed. In a little while she knew building managers would be out clearing the sidewalks in front of their buildings, just as she would have to do when she got to hers. But for now she had a barely marked swath of snow.

"I guess a lot of folks decided to stay in yesterday." Elena restrained herself from making snow angels, but she took great delight in plowing her way through the snow. As expected, she arrived at the store wet from the snow and a little out of breath from her exertions. Elena unlocked her door and set the bag inside. Before grabbing the shovel to clear her sidewalk, she poured cider into the waiting stainless steel pot and turned it on. It would be a treat for her customers as well as herself.

She quickly shoveled the snow from her sidewalk and sprinkled the city approved mix on the cleared sidewalk to prevent melted snow from becoming sheets of ice. Elena wasn't quite sure what was in the little pellets, but had been told it was less corrosive than salt and neater than sand. To her it looked like white and pink balls of Styrofoam. She shrugged. The stuff did the job. She wasn't going to question it.

Elena went inside and stomped off the snow clinging to her boots. Luckily she had thought to bring the floor mat in to absorb the wet. They would still have to watch for drips on the floor. Towels were placed behind the counter to help stop pools of melted snow from forming into hazards. Elena grabbed her bag of clothes and went into the back room. She changed into work clothes and hung her jeans up to dry on a make shift clothesline. She had no doubt other clothes would soon join hers.

The cider was ready and she poured herself a mug to warm up from the cold. She wrapped her fingers around the steaming mug and felt them thaw a bit. She watched as her staff trickled in, each bundled against the cold and carrying work clothes. Apparently, the fashion police had granted an exemption.

As expected the first snow brought the holidays to mind and the customers came in droves, worried that time was running out to find the perfect gift, to set up stunning displays to impress the in-laws, or to trump someone else in their social circle's display. Elena shook her head. She had lost count of how many people seemed to be planning more for interior design combat than any holiday she had ever heard of. She smiled her way through it, knowing their competitive streaks would help keep her in the black. As expected the cider helped with the customers as well. People came in half frozen from the chill and lingered over their cups, warming up and taking a deeper look around.

After lunch, snow began to fall. The fat flakes spinning in lazy circles added to the holiday feel and didn't seem inclined to get heavier. Elena hoped it didn't complicate Andre's drive too much. She glanced over to the clock on the wall and realized it was quarter to two. With luck he would be almost in town and the snow would stop before he had to drive back. As Elena finished helping Emily wrap up one of their client's purchases in tissue paper, Max came up to her with the cordless phone from the office.

"It was ringing as I went by, " Max said handing it to her. They had a standard policy with the phone that whoever was nearest answered it, which was why the office door was usually kept open. With staff moving between the floor and the stockroom on a more or less constant basis, few calls were ever really sent to voice mail.

Elena took the pho

ncome on automobiles and electronics. She decided to hold the question. "I'd have to see the place first."

"Of course. Although I have to say there will be work going on to get the building ready for opening." He shrugged off the construction and they settled into salary negotiations. The terms weren't that difficult to work out. She had a feeling she was paying less than his current employer, even with the apartment thrown in, but he seemed happy with the arrangement.

"I'll have to give two weeks at the firm, " he told her. She smiled.

"That should give us enough time to set things in order and get the items you are going to be working with together. I'm afraid I am not quite certain what goes into outfitting your workspace. If you could send me a list of needed supplies I would appreciate it." They walked out into the front of the store. There seemed to be a bit of a lull in patrons. Most of the staff was busy replacing missing elements in the display cases. Elena introduced Andre and let them know he was going to be working on the designs for the new store.

"Speaking of which, " Emily said. "Ruby dropped these by." She handed Elena a stack of legal looking papers and a set of keys. Elena thought that was awfully trusting. 'But then again, they have all my bank information and it isn't like my store is going to disappear over night like a gypsy wagon.'

"I can show you the apartment if you'd like." She told Andre.

"That would be great, " he answered. She led him around to the front, unlocked the door and led him upstairs.

"I was thinking of converting the back apartment and leaving the front, " she said leading him up. "It would of course be cleaned and re-painted by the time you moved in." He seemed pleased with the place and she was relieved. They left and she locked up behind them. He was bundled up in his winter garments, but Elena once again forgot to grab a jacket for the short hop next door.

In deference to her shivering they made their farewells short. She watched him walk away for a second, just another shapeless mass of dark hurriedly moving through a world of white, before she darted back inside to warm up. She had a meeting with Smith and company and she had a feeling calling in sick would not be a possible option.

"Even with a doctor's note, " she muttered under her breath, reaching for the mug of cider Max held out to her. "Thanks, " she said, pleased he either hadn't heard her mutters or was willing to ignore them. She mentally checked meeting with Andre off her to do list. Unfortunately that really just left her with one big thing on the day's list. She tried very hard not to think about Smith and the potential verbal landmines that were waiting for her after work. Instead, she took the papers Ruby had left for her back to the office and focused only on the legalese.

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