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   Chapter 18 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 13342

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:07

Chapter 18

Tuesday passed in a whirl of packing and passing messages. Knowing she would have to wake up well before dawn the following morning made the day a short one however, and after she dropped Spin off with Kiera, Elena downed a sleeping pill and headed off to bed much earlier than usual. She expected to have to fight to go to sleep as the sun was not fully set yet, but the quiet hush of her apartment behind the pulled curtains lulled her into a restful state, and aided by the sleeping pill, she fell into a deep sleep very quickly.

Her dreams were murkier than usual and when her alarm went off, Elena was left with only vague remnants of dreams, as if many dreams fractured and been poured into a constantly turning kaleidoscope. Thoughts of store shelves lined with off world goods mingled with intense conversations with Kiera and Mateo filled with words she couldn't quite grasp.

She had the vague sense of the dancing dream mixed in, but whatever was in the sleeping pill mixed and mingled with her subconscious making the dream feel more like an impressionistic painting than the pseudo-reality it usually portrayed. Once awake, Elena raced through her morning routine and found herself standing on the sidewalk in the pre-dawn light with her suitcase just as the taxicab pulled up. Her bag was loaded in and Elena found herself vaguely relieved as she headed off to the airport.

'I'm not sure what is says about me that I'm relieved to be running out of my own life for a few days, ' she thought. 'Probably that I need a vacation.' The cab dropped her and her luggage off at the terminal and Elena stood in line to check her large bag. Once she certified that she and she alone packed it and sent it off in its own journey, hopefully to be reunited with her at the end, she stepped out of the way and checked her gate. When she looked up from her ticket, she saw Mateo standing in line to hand over his suitcase. When he was done he walked over to her.

"Once through security, we are so getting breakfast, " Mateo told her without his normal preamble.

"Deal, " she said. "As long as there is coffee, I'm in." The two of them walked over to the security area and stood in line waiting with the others to be cleared of suspicion. Slowly they inched along, waiting for their chance to remove their shoes, have their identity questioned and their personal items pried open. Elena found the process both impersonal and strangely intimate. They were treated like cattle with the vague feeling that they had done or were about to do something wrong lingering in the air and moving like automatons in synchronized line formation.

Yet, there was something oddly personal about seeing the small hole in the sock of an otherwise impeccably dressed business man, having an elderly woman place her orthopedic shoes next to yours on the conveyor belt while noticing she had odor-eaters tucked inside and glimpsing the medications and toiletries complete strangers used in the privacy of their own bathrooms.

The rush to retie shoes, reaffix belts and sweaters and jackets always left Elena feeling as though they had all just shared some sort of illicit affair and were now rushing off in different directions before they could be caught.

Elena slipped her shoes on at the end of her journey and adjusted the strap of her carry-on bag as Mateo re-tied his laces. Then together they went to find sustenance before boarding their plane; the first of many in their global adventure. Elena managed to find a large coffee to chase the dregs of fuzziness that always seemed to remain the morning after she had taken a sleeping pill, while Mateo grabbed a breakfast burrito. She watched as it disappeared in fewer bites then she would have thought possible.

"Hungry?" she asked. He balled up the now empty insulated foil wrapper and tossed it into the nearest trashcan.

"I missed dinner last night, " he told her as they began walking towards their gate. Personal

a pushed all worries aside for the two hour jump to Chicago. She pulled out a paperback novel she picked up somewhere but never managed to find the time to read and settled back into her seat, more than willing to leave her own reality behind for a while.

The time passed more rapidly than she expected and soon she was tucking her book away and preparing to do the connecting flight shuffle. As was the norm, at least when she flew, the connecting flight was located on the opposite side of the terminal. As she and Mateo began their journey through the strange airport world, Elena found herself wishing the channels were still open.

"The Adriana even opens into the Mediterranean, " she mumbled as they dodged other travelers causing Mateo to laugh. "Well it does, " she told him.

"Uh huh, " he said stepping onto the human conveyor belt imbedded in the floor. "And the fact that no pilot likes not being in complete control of all traveling at all times would of course have nothing to do with it."

Elena frowned. "It would save time."

"Of course, " he said trying to keep his face serious while his eyes danced with laughter.

"Don't tell me you are looking forward to the next what ten, eleven hours on the plane. Followed by a brief stretching period and then another hour and a half on another plane just to arrive in time for the family breakfast?"

"Well, I am looking forward to the breakfast part, " Mateo said. "I plan on eating my body weight, just so you know. And by the time the eleven hour section is done, I'll just be functioning on auto pilot so the last leg won't even register." They reached their gate, just as boarding began and shortly thereafter they were settling into their seats. This time Mateo was seated across the aisle from her.

"You just don't like being out of control, " He told her, sliding his i-pod out of his carry-on. Elena frowned and began to settle herself. She didn't comment, after all what was there to say. He was right. Elena's frown turned to surprise as the person occupying the seat next to her arrived and began to settle in. She stared at him, dimly noticing that her cousin was doing the same thing. The newly arrived passenger smiled. It was not an encouraging sign.

"Good morning, Ms. Calabrese. What a pleasant surprise to see you." Elena stared at Thompson as he slid his carry-on bag underneath the seat in front of him. He was still smiling as he fiddled with the chair's controls, making sure his seat back was in the fully upright position.

"This should be an interesting flight, don't you think?" he said.

"To say the least, " she replied, finding her voice.

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