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   Chapter 21 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 10649

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:09

Chapter 21

The celebration lasted until a little after midnight. The bride and groom long since made their getaway and Elena tried to control her envy as details of trade negotiations danced in her head. Alexandro retired sometime near eleven and Elena lost track of both Catherine and Therese in the whirl of business arrangements. She and Mateo headed back to the house together as the party broke up, their dress shoes making hard, sharp sounds on the ground as they moved.

"Your mother was wondering why you didn't take more of an interest in the available ladies, " Elena told him.

"What did you tell her?" Suspicion laced his voice, but Elena waved it away.

"That she shouldn't be planning another wedding."

"I'm sure it will come up in conversation again." Mateo said, but he seemed relieved.

"I don't suppose there is anything between you and Kiera?" Elena asked, curiosity getting the better of her.

"Might be, " he said. "I don't know yet."

"All right then, " Elena said letting the matter drop. "Do you know what had Therese so upset?"

"Not a clue, " Mateo said with a grin. "I promised mom that in the name of peace I would stay away from her for the duration of the wedding. She said my brother would consider it part of my wedding present."

"Nice, " Elena said. "Easy to transport and no wrapping required."

"Is that a dig about my present wrapping abilities?"

"Not at all. I'm sure everyone wraps a bowling ball in tissue paper and two rolls of scotch tape."

"I had to make sure the paper didn't tear."

"Of course."

"We should be able to find out what's up with Therese tomorrow. She should be at the family gatherings, " Mateo said. "And since the wedding is officially over, I no longer have to behave."

"It's odd. I didn't see her at the house this morning, " Elena said with a frown. "Nearly everyone passed through the courtyard while I was drinking coffee with Grandfather."

"She isn't staying at the house."

"Is that allowed?" Elena asked, only half in jest. When the family gathered, Alexandro liked to keep them all as close as possible. When he found out she made hotel reservations, he called to order her to cancel them.

"I was told it wasn't, " Mateo said, having received the same order from their grandfather. "But Nate said she wasn't staying at the house. He asked if anything was going on with her. Apparently she's been acting odd enough that even he noticed. Or more accurately his new wife, noticed. Nate wouldn't notice if she started wearing a Big Bird costume and called herself the Queen of the Aeries."

"I know she and Isa had a falling out, " Elena said remembering Isa's claim that Therese would not be present during any of her recreational pursuits during the off season.

"The times, they are a 'changing, " Mateo said. They entered the night dark house and as quietly as they could and made their way to their separate rooms. Elena was quickly ready for bed, but despite the late hour and the still lingering jet lag, sleep was rather elusive. Eventually, she drifted off. If she dreamed, the dreams were too murky to be identified and were banished with the smell of waff

d he was delighted with her selections. Apparently the fact that he could not immediately identify them delighted him as much as the actual scents themselves. They meandered through the shop, looking at glass bottles and sniffing scents as they discussed business. Elena found it an odd experience to look at perfumes with someone who made a career out of sniffing them and the things that went into them. Her typical method was to sniff, decide good or bad and more often than not simply put the bottle back down. After hearing details of citrus notes and layering scents, she kept this heresy to herself.

When it came time to purchase something, he steered her towards something light that smelled of orange blossoms. She appreciated the airiness to the scent and as she left with her purchase and the details of the new contract, Elena tried to remember the last time she actually bothered to put on perfume.

"Probably not something to mention to Luigi, " she muttered continuing on her way. The rest of her meetings went smoothly and each ended with another purchase. If, at the end the shopping bags weighed her down, her mood was certainly lifted.

One of the things she was afraid of was that most of her trade agreements would be off world. While there was nothing wrong with that, alien commerce did not often translate into earth based dollars. "Which is what I pay my employees with, " She said. Somehow she didn't think the clerks at her store would appreciate any other form of payment.

"Hard to pay the rent with foreign credit, " Elena said as she checked the time on her cell phone, trying to decide if she wanted to stop and eat before heading back to the house. She looked up as someone yelled out a warning. A car moving too fast popped up onto the sidewalk. Elena's eyes widened as she saw the car bearing down on her.

"Therese?" She said, recognizing the driver. Her breath whooshed out of her as she was tackled and shoved against the building behind her as the car sped by, missing both her and her rescuer by mere inches. As far as Elena could tell, Therese never once looked back.

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