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   Chapter 7 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 19516

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:00

Chapter 7

The dinner remained friendly and casual and seemed to end on a contented sigh. She didn't see anyone approaching Mateo or Kiera with names for lab staff and Elena had the sinking suspicion Mateo's estimation was correct.

"I guess it's my turn to start a generational lab, " Elena muttered to herself as she drove back to the city. The thought of choosing people who would more than likely become Guild raised families in the next generation or two was a little daunting. She supposed it kept the Guild from becoming too inbred, but it seemed like a lot of responsibility for her little laboratory.

While no one approached about the science end of things, she received a recommendation for a personal assistant from Maria. She gave the pilot her e-mail address and told her to have the man, Victor, fill out the standard Guild application.

"An assistant, " she said incredulously. "I can't believe I've reached that stage." Still as crazy as the idea sounded, Elena had to admit it would be nice to have someone to screen calls and take up some of the paperwork. She thought of the paperwork still left to sort through and sighed.

"Looks like it will be an early morning, " she told herself as she parked. Her brunch with Riko was set to start at ten, her lunch with Lisa at noon, her dinner with Peter at seven and her clandestine meeting with Jonathan at eleven.

"Gonna be a busy day, " she said aloud. "At least I won't have to worry about going grocery shopping until Friday." With a silent prayer not to dream, Elena readied herself for bed and crawled between the sheets.

For once her prayers were answered and her sleep was deep and undisturbed. Elena woke before her alarm and managed to make it to the conference room above Nibbles in record time. She checked her e-mail before leaving the house and was surprised to find Victor's application already in her inbox.

"Fast work, " she said. She forwarded on Victor's name to Peter for vetting and then printed out the application to read. At Nibbles, she put on the coffee and settled in to her paperwork. She was starting in on her second cup when Andre wandered in.

"You're here early, " he said, fighting a yawn.

"I figured it was my turn to make the coffee, " she responded.

"Nice, " he responded pouring himself a cup.

"Besides, " she continued. "Meetings with Riko and Peter have managed to catch up with me today."

"Aren't you the lucky one, " he responded.

"Aren't I just? I have brunch with Riko and dinner with Peter. Luckily I already had lunch booked with a friend to serve as an ocean of calm between."

"Hmm, " Andre said. "Dinner?"

"It was the only other time available. Well, other than breakfast and I'm not sure I could take him first thing in the morning."

"I see, " Andre replied, his voice flat.

"Does that bother you?" Elena asked slowly, looking up from her paperwork.

"Peter always bothers me, " Andre said. Before Elena could respond Andre turned and retreated to his workspace. Elena frowned wondering what she was supposed to do. Peter was her business partner and she had to meet with him. In addition, he was the council representative who was supposed to deal with the military, regardless of Smith's preferences. She couldn't exactly avoid him.

True, he sent her a valentine's gift of oversized, old lady pajamas which might be an indication that his interest was more than simply professional. She tried to give the gift back, but it was returned and now resided in the bottom of her spare closet with a mound of winter blankets hiding it from view. But she had no feelings for him.

"And he knows I'm seeing Andre, " Elena said softly. She drummed her fingers on the table and realized there was nothing she could do. "Besides it might be intentional, " she said sipping her coffee. There was an odd sort of tension between Peter and Andre she had yet to figure out. Elena glanced at the clock and forced herself to turn back to the paperwork. She had a lot to get done before meeting Riko. "I'll just have to talk to Andre at dinner tomorrow night."

By the time Elena walked through the hotel doors, she pushed thoughts of Andre to the side and was feeling pleased with the amount of paperwork she completed. She should be able to get a report to both Peter and her grandfather before heading out with Andre to dinner and the movies, leaving herself free to enjoy both the date and the weekend. She was barely five steps into the lobby when Riko's starched assistant walked towards her.

"Edgar, " Elena said politely. "How nice to see you again." Edgar looked slightly taken aback. Apparently in Riko's world, polite pleasantries were not routinely given to the help.

"A pleasure as always, Captain Calabrese. If you will please follow me." She smiled and nodded to him. Edgar turned and led her to the bank of elevators located to the rear of the lobby. In silence they rode to the top floor. Elena was somehow not surprised. She could not imagine the councilor being pleased with anything less than the penthouse. The elevator dinged open and Elena followed Edgar out of the box and down the hallway. The thick carpeting muffled any sound of their passage. The white noise of the air conditioner was the only sound.

Elena shivered a little as goose bumps rose on the exposed flesh of her arms. There were few doors along this corridor and Elena assumed the suites were much larger than the lower floors. At the end of the hallway, Edgar slipped an electronic key card from his pocket and used it to open the door. The light flashed from red to green and Edgar pushed the door open, standing to one side to allow Elena admittance. She walked into the room.

"Captain Calabrese to see you Madam, " Edgar said closing the door behind him. The sitting area w

in case Lisa didn't want to talk. Lisa heaved a heavy sigh.

"There are many positives, " Lisa began. "And I am trying to remember them. That gets harder with every rejection."

"You know it isn't you, " Elena said. "In this economy a lot of folks are just hunkering down."

"I know, I know, " Lisa said. "But how many times can you hear that you are fabulous, but they still aren't interested before it gets to you? I got bored with daytime television in under a day and started re-reading old case files and law books." Lisa leaned in. "Bob caught me re-enacting one of the cases in the living room the other day, " she confessed in a stage whisper.

"Really?" Elena said with an amused grin.

"Really. Ladybug was the judge."

"I've always thought that pugs had a kind of judicial air to them, " Elena said thinking of Lisa's overweight and overly excitable dog.

"Mmm, " Lisa said. "Sad to say Bob came in just as I was bribing her with a snausage."

"Wow, " Elena said. "Isn't that some sort of felony? Thirty days in the pound or at least a mandatory flea dip, something like that?" The waitress brought their wraps and two empty plastic cups. Elena gestured towards the fountain station at the back of the restaurant. "Still on root beer?"

"Of course, " Lisa said.

"I'll be right back then." Elena picked up both cups and went to fill them. She remembered to only add half a cup of ice to Lisa's root beer. Behind her she heard a muffled thump. Elena turned to see Lisa picking up the heavy purse Elena left on the back of her chair.

Elena's purse was heavy enough that once her weight was no longer in the chair, it over balanced. Elena shook her head reminding herself to take some things to the new office sometime soon, preferably before the bottom fell out of the bag. She finished filling the cups and headed back to the table. Lisa managed to corral a rogue roll of life savers and push Elena's purse under the table where it could cause no further upsets.

"Good grief, " Lisa said taking her drink from Elena. "What do you have in there?"

"Just some extra files and accounting stuff I need to drop off at the new office."

"Files?" Lisa said. "Felt more like your rock collection. You are going to hurt your back if you keep that up." Smugly, Lisa indicated the small purse she routinely carried.

"I know, but I haven't had time to unload, just add."

"Uh huh, " Lisa said taking a sip of her drink. "I still think you are adding random rocks collected from all your trips to the bag and trusting that no airport security personnel is crazy enough to go digging in there to see if its contraband or not."

"Speaking of trips, " Elena said after taking a bite of her sandwich. "Where has Tina gone off to? Bob said she had been out of town most of the summer."

"No clue, " Lisa said. "She just said there were some kind of hush-hush negotiations at work and she couldn't talk about it."

"Seems odd, " Elena said. She never managed to work out exactly what it was that Tina did for a living other than that it involved a large scale corporation and a lot of negotiating. She hadn't asked too much, as she hadn't wanted anyone asking her too many questions in return. "I wouldn't think negotiations would take that long."

"I guess it would depend on what you were negotiating, " Lisa said.

"You have no idea what she does either do you?" Elena said with a smile.

"Nope, " Lisa confirmed.

"That makes me feel a bit better, " Elena said. As they ate they debated what it was their friend could be negotiating. The ideas ranged from the serious to the ludicrous with no final decision being made. Elena left lunch more relaxed than she had started it and after they said their goodbyes she decided to head home rather than to the stores. Perhaps it was time to give Peter's Valentine's Day gift a little more attention.

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