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   Chapter 24 Storm Chaser

Storm Chaser: Book Two of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 13077

Updated: 2018-02-26 14:33

Chapter 24

Elena lay down to sleep with a mix of exhaustion and apprehension. Everything was in place and she knew there was nothing else she could do, but she felt like she was waiting for a storm. Mentally she ticked off points in her head.

The interview went well and hopefully good press would come from that. The business review with Peter and her grandfather had gone well also, although the suggestion that when circling through the crowd they remain vigilant for trouble met with amusement. Apparently they were not generally given orders.

Roger was being circumspect, but she strongly suspected the thought her two business partners were mafia. She frowned at her ceiling. How else would she explain the drivers? Elena shook the thought away. After all, her business was run on the up and up. There should be no reason for concern.

'After all it isn't as though either of them are going to be around much.' She thought. 'Hopefully even I won't be around much.' Now that she had a ship and the ability to once again pilot, she found an itch to be away. "Soon, " she promised herself. Mateo claimed his latest device would be ready for field testing by Wednesday. They could drive it down and do the installation on Thursday and sail out with the morning tide Friday. Elena closed her eyes, willing herself to relax. The dreams of the Calling were almost a relief from her swirling thoughts. She made sure to concentrate on the spot she and Mateo would be testing first. Upon waking she added the details dutifully in her notebook and not for the first time wondered if reality would match.

Once the notebook was returned to her night stand, the swirling butterflies of nervousness returned full force. Breakfast was out of the question. She filled her travel mug with coffee and took it with her out of the door. She glanced towards Kiera's apartment as she locked her door. When she returned home for a shower, Jonathan was gone. She wondered if Kiera stumbled over him on her way to work or if he had gotten up of his own accord. Elena shook her head and let her feet carry her down the stairs.

"I wonder if they will get their act together before I leave again?" she mused as she stepped out onto the still night hushed street. Today had to start earlier than usual to get all the pieces in place. Elena walked briskly down the street, her legs slicing through the morning fog. As she approached the stores she smiled. Apparently, she had not gotten up early enough.

The lights of both Calabrese Imports and Nibbles were glowing softly in the early half-light. She smiled and crossed the street. Out of habit she entered the imports store first. Susan was walking through the store making minute adjustments, eyeing the displays for flaws. Elena moved into Nibbles and saw Roger doing more or less the same thing. Now was the calm before the storm. Somehow she was not surprised that Consuelo was the first thunderclap to sound. Consuelo's arrival shattered the calm and began the whirlwind.

Andre came down and the staff of both stores arrived as the trays were unloaded and the distribution began. Once they were in place, Peter and Alexandro appeared, followed shortly by the reporter. She took more pictures of the set-up, with food. The Chamber of Commerce folks arrived and a ribbon cutting was done. Peter and Alexandro stanchly refused to be in the photograph. As people began to arrive, first in a trickle then in larger groups Elena began to feel like a pin ball. She bounced through both stores, adding her efforts where they were needed. She made small talk, gave explanations, helped out at the register and dispensed serving advice.

Some of the people were long standing customers, some were friends. She spotted several individuals that had enough of a similarity about them that she marked them as military. They didn't seem to be asking h

ere." Elena let herself out of the front door, re-locking it behind her, and started walking to the Wineshop. The cold air and the momentary silence felt good. All too soon it was over.

Flyers for the evening's wine tasting were placed in her stores just as cards advertising Nibbles had been placed in the Wineshop. As Elena entered the store she was pleased to note that several of her patrons migrated. Doug saw her enter and walked over with a smile and a glass of something red. He handed off the glass while rattling off the name. She smiled and took a sip. It clashed a little with the lingering taste of champagne, but was otherwise good. Elena asked him to put a couple bottles aside for her. After all if her grandfather decided to drop by her apartment she needed something besides frozen margaritas to offer him.

"Of course, " he told her. "Did things go well for you today? I popped by earlier and things certainly seemed to be hopping." His brown hair flopped into his eyes as he spoke and he scooped it back impatiently with one hand.

"We were certainly packed, " she answered. "What that means in terms of actual sales, I don't know yet. But it was a good start."

"I can tell you that I don't have my hands on the numbers yet, but we have moved a great deal more bottles tonight than any other event we have hosted. Here is to many more partnerships." He lifted his own glass and clinked it on Elena's. "And that food, " he continued. "Heaven." He sighed the word dramatically. "I am glad you warned me about the chef though." Elena laughed. Doug was soon called back to his own duties and Elena mingled for a little while as she sipped her wine. She made small talk and as she reached the end of her glass she realized she was stalling.

At the hotel, there was another celebration. Mateo actually picked up the champagne for it from Doug earlier. In addition to the usual suspects, the members of the Council and Heads of Houses who made it out would be in attendance. Elena sighed and put her empty glass down knowing there was no way she could skip out. She waved to Doug as she made her way out of the front door. He blew her a kiss and she laughed. Once outside she saw several cabs circling the neighborhood. A ready supply of cabs was one of the good things about having several nightclubs in the neighborhood. She hailed one instead of walking home to get her car.

'Besides, ' she thought as she gave the driver the needed directions. 'Tonight will be more politics than celebration. Not having to find parking will be one less headache to deal with.'

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