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   Chapter 25 Storm Chaser

Storm Chaser: Book Two of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 13419

Updated: 2018-02-26 14:33


Chapter 25

Elena slipped her coat off as she walked the hushed hallway in the hotel. The thick carpeting, patterned with muted oversized flowers on a beige background, muffled her footsteps and she felt as though she were the only one in the building. The air vents were a steady white noise barely discernable over the sound of her own breath. She passed identical doors each with a brass oval inscribed with its number. As she walked the doors became further and further apart.

'The rooms must be getting bigger, ' she thought. Finally she reached her destination. Room 28203. It wasn't where either Peter or her grandfather were staying, but a room rented out for the sole purpose of tonight's celebratory gathering. Elena tugged her shirt straight and brushed absently at the wrinkles in her pants. She wondered if she should have taken the time to run home and change, but dismissed the notion as soon as it formed. She had been working since first light. Changing would have lured her into a shower and a shower would have just made her want her pajamas not a new outfit for this event. Elena straightened her back and knocked lightly on the door. The door opened. The light tinkle of polite laughter and the murmur of small talk voices snuck into the hallway. Elena smiled as she was ushered in.

Alexandro walked over a smile on his face and a champagne glass in his hand. By the glass she knew he had taken a hand in the supplies for the celebration. He hated champagne flutes and always replaced them with the glasses of earlier design when possible. The glass in his hand was straight out of the 1940s. He handed her the glass and leaned over to kiss her cheek.

"I am so proud, " he whispered before pulling away. Her smile became genuine and she squeezed his hand in response. Alexandro straightened and nodded to Peter. Peter plucked two glasses off of a serving tray and walked over, passing one to Alexandro, who nodded his thanks.

"To a magnificent beginning, " Alexandro said. The crowd politely repeated the phrase and took their sips.

"And to Elena, without whom this would not be possible." Peter continued. The crowd once again echoed and drank.

"I can't claim full responsibility, " Elena said as people looked at her expectantly. "Any great venture requires a great team. Not only were Peter Baranov and Alexandro Calabrese great partners but they allowed me the space to secure the best for our team. I would like to thank Andre Baranov for his brilliant marketing and willingness to work." She saluted Andre with her glass.

He winked back at her and Peter lifted an eyebrow in question. "Nibbles also has a great manager in Roger DeAngelo, which allowed me to spend more time doing what could only be done by one of the Guild." There was polite laughter and Elena regretted that Roger was not here for her to salute.

"And I would also like to thank Consuelo McCracken who provided the various edibles not only for Nibbles tonight, but for the Wineshop around the corner, which allowed for greater exposure." Consuelo laughed and Elena's smile deepened as she lifted her glass in the woman's direction. Other's followed suit and drank. Elena turned to her grandfather. "I think that covers the necessary speech making for the evening."

"I agree, " he said. He and Peter backed away, which seemed to be the signal for the rest of the crowd to press in. She found herself being congratulated and questioned alternately. Occasionally, she caught glimpses of Mateo or Andre circling through the crowds. Andre seemed to be nearly as inundated with questions as she was.

"Remind me to thank you for not thanking me, " Mateo whispered in passing as he dropped off a fresh glass of champagne. He waggled his eyebrows, darted his eyes towards Andre and then shivered theatrically. Elena laughed as he melted back into the crowd. A few minutes later he saw him chatting with an attractive brunette.

"So is the Wineshop Guild owned?" someone asked. E

om the hotel while Benjamin continued to ride.

"You didn't come together?" Elena asked as they continued their trip.

"Yes, " he answered. "We came together, but are not ending up at the same place."

"Okay, " Elena said unsure how to respond. Benjamin laughed but did not explain further.

"When will you know your travel plans?" he asked. His eyes sparkled with humor.

"You really like leaving people wondering, " she said with a laugh.

"It is a hobby of mine."

"I suppose there are odder ones." She looked over at him. "Travel plans will depend on a few more details."

"About me?" he asked. He didn't really sound surprised.

"About you, " she confirmed. He nodded.

"I thought it might be something like that."

"Oh?"

"Mateo is well known. I took a guess."

"Ah, " Elena replied. Apparently everyone knew she was up to something. "Fame does have its drawbacks." The cab pulled up in front of Elena's building.

"I would be happy to answer your questions, " Benjamin said holding out a card. Elena took it.

"Really?"

"Yes, " he said as if vaguely surprised by his own answer. "I think so."

Elena left the cab and went inside. She tiredly made her way up the stairs. She was sure Benjamin trusting her had some import, but was too tired to dwell on it. She braced as she reached her floor, but the hallway was empty. She sighed with relief and unlocked her apartment door. There was no way she would be able to deal with either Smith or Jonathan tonight. The apartment door swung open and Elena was startled to find a wooden box with a note taped to it placed in the center of her living room floor. Elena shut her door and listened quietly for a moment. The apartment felt empty. Spin walked around the corner and mewled.

"Well mostly empty, " Elena amended. She still checked each room before returning to the package. Spin looked at her like she was crazy.

"This from the cat who followed Benjamin around for two days?" She told the cat. Spin merely propped her leg up and began to wash herself. Elena realized she had been effectively dismissed and bent down and pulled up the note from the top of the package.

"In celebration of a successful venture, Peter." Elena flipped the lid of the box open. Inside was a small metal wand like thing. A piece of paper was taped to the inside of the box lid. Elena removed it. She smiled as she read. Apparently she would not have to wait for a deal with Smith. She would be able to detect the electronic bugs on her own. She had no doubt that anything Peter gave he would work efficiently and effectively.

"Of course other people would just send champagne."

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