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   Chapter 31 Alliance

Alliance: Book Three of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 18893

Updated: 2018-02-26 15:16

Chapter 31

"You look as though you need to talk, " Alexandro said as she reached the doorway. He was stepping out of the cloak room. His coat folded over his arm. Elena had not brought a coat as the Docking Facility maintained a constant temperature and had no weather to speak of. Still she knew that her grandfather would have felt it was a necessary accessory. The two of them left Danvers and entered the main corridor.

"I doubt any of my questions should be asked in a hallway, " Elena responded.

"Ah. My club has private meeting rooms and is not far. Come we will talk there." Elena knew of his club and even visited a few times although it wasn't exactly to her taste. She did like the atmosphere. It was the sort of place one could sit comfortably with a drink and talk business with associates. Typically when she wanted to sit with a drink, talking business wasn't high on her list. Arguing philosophy, record holders and making drunken bets with other pilots was usually more her speed.

She followed Alexandro to his club more because he seemed to want it than anything else. His anger over telling Mateo about Therese cooled and sitting down with him for a drink seemed like a small gesture to make in order to keep the peace. The club had a main room, which they avoided and skirted around to one of the smaller spaces in the back.

The back portion of the club was arranged in secluded gathering spots with small enclosed table areas. It was to one of the small enclosed tables her grandfather led her. He settled himself in one of the chairs as she seated herself across from him. A waiter stopped by to take their drink orders, returned quite swiftly and departed again, sliding the partition closed so that they appeared to be in their own private room.

"The room is soundproof, " Alexandro told her.

"I see, " she said. They each took a sip from their respective glasses. Alexandro seemed content to wait patiently for Elena to begin.

"Do you enjoy the Danvers gatherings?" She asked, feeling the slight headache behind her eyes that the gathering left behind. He smiled

"No, but like the Guild tithe, they are a necessary evil."

"Do you like being a councilor?" It was the first time she ever thought to wonder. He always wore his cloak of power and authority the way she wore her favorite pair of jeans.

"I would like leaving my family vulnerable even less." He replied.

"That isn't really an answer." Alexandro smiled softly at her response and Elena realized how tired he looked. For the first time she realized how old he had become. He did not have nearly the frailty of Riko, but he aged. As he was always such a driving force in her world this thought scared her a little.

"No, " he said with a sigh. "I do not like being a Councilor. I do not like doing the things I have to do and I do not like making the decisions I have to make. But I would rather be a part of the Council than to be ruled by it."

"Are they are all as bad as the stories make them out to be?"

Alexandro laughed at the question, but the laughter had a hard edge to it. With uncharacteristic openness he gave her a quick rundown of the current members. It took her back a moment to hear his bald assessment of his contemporaries. She also thought it odd that he sounded as though he had more respect for Peter and his approach than the others. Elena always avoided asking him about his time as a Counselor, afraid of what stories she would hear. After spending the evening at Danvers, she felt less afraid of the dark.

"Is your approach the same as Peter's?" She asked, still not really sure if she wanted the answer.

"Yes, " he said bluntly, looking directly into her eyes. "When situations arise you deal with them quickly and in the most efficient manner possible. It is better to make a horrific example of one than it is to make less harsh examples of fifty."

"I see, " she said softly.

"It gets easier."

"Because you get used to it?" she asked

"No, " he responded with a harsh bark of laughter. "You don't get used to it. Not if you still have a soul. But the first few years, you need to scare people. After that, those who would test you learn not to. How many people do you think challenged Riko last year? Or even in the last ten years?" She remembered her own reluctance to upset Riko.

"Probably not many, " she replied.

"Try none, " he told her. "None in the last twenty or so years." He stared at her as though demanding an answer.

"I can sort of see the logic to the policy." Elena slowly said. "Does this mean that Riko isn't as bad as she seems then?"

"No, she is worse than she seems. She lost her soul a long time ago." The statement was an echo of her dream and she found it oddly disquieting.

"And Hashi?" Elena asked, pushing the uneasiness away. Alexandro stared at her hard, a dark and not so friendly smile on his lips.

"You noticed then did you? That she is not looking as healthy as she once did?"

"I did, " she replied.

"Hashi has noticed too. He and Riko are cut from the same cloth. Her father was the same as well. Very few councilors of any family get to die of natural causes, " he told her. "Given Riko's family track record, I did not suppose she would be one of those. And if Hashi has his way I doubt she will, but then again she might."

"Is she terminal? Elena asked. Alexandro sighed and rubbed his face.

"I believe so. If things keep going as they have in the past year, then I give her two more at the outset. If Hashi does not intervene and try for his inheritance early."

Elena took a sip of her drink. "And

or right as evidence was in short supply. There is no direct evidence linking the Council. Believe me, I looked. There is a suspicion of Riko's involvement, but then again she does make a rather convenient villain." He shrugged.

"I do not know Victor well, Peter would know him better, but if I were to guess Victor means to have you seated on the Council to give voice to the new world. Perhaps then, he will seek to continue his line. But the loss of his family was devastating to him. He was nearly mad with grief when we met. In the space of a few months, he buried more than a dozen family members. It almost broke him. I do not think, even were he so inclined, that he would place another member of his family in the line of fire. Because of his predilections, however, he is not viewed as a threat. If he were to actually take a female lover or make some sort of an arrangement through a fertility clinic, then perhaps that perception would change."

"You are in a dangerous place, " Alexandro said sadly. "Half want you on the Council and half want you dead. It is a thin line. I trust you will walk it carefully."

Elena sighed and finished her drink. "Do I have a choice?" She asked.

"No sweetheart. You never really did. Even without your mother's blood, you would still be my heir. I want you to be seen as an independent because that is needed. You need to be strong and your actions, at least in public, decisive. It is why I have stayed away as you settle back into the Guild. I realize that I may have stayed too far back."

"It was necessary, " Elena said, seeing his logic even if she felt it was cold.

"I will need to speak with Mateo soon, " Alexandro said. "I would like to have him listed as a Head of House by the end of the season."

"Is this because of Riko's illness?"

"In part. I would have an acknowledged heir before Hashi assumes her place."

"I don't suppose you know why Riko and Peter hate each other do you?"

He laughed. "No I do not. That is a very closely guarded secret. So I suppose it is either dangerous or embarrassing. Perhaps both."

"Perhaps, " she said. Elena looked at Alexandro and toyed with her empty glass. "Aunt Catherine asked me about Therese. Is she part of why you want Mateo?"

"Partly. I thought she might come to you, " he said. "You told her then?"

"No, " Elena said shaking her head. "She knows I promised you that I wouldn't."

"Ah, " Alexandro said, seeming both pleased and surprised.

"Did you think I would tell her?"

"I figured that it would be either you or Mateo."

"And if neither of us tell her? What will you do?" She asked. She wasn't terribly surprised that her grandfather would avoid a discussion about family fractures. He hated to admit they existed and wouldn't relish the conversation.

"Perhaps Therese will understand why her acts were wrong before the need for a conversation arises, " Alexandro said softly.

"She wants your seat on the council and you don't want her to have it, " Elena said bluntly. "That's not exactly a situation that will easily resolve itself."

"She would not be good for the family, any more than her mother would be, " Alexandro said testily. "She will come to see this. With you sitting, representing North America and Mateo taking my place, the family will be well secured, prosperous and stable, she will see that."

"As Aunt Elizabeth doesn't see it that way, I doubt Therese will come to the conclusion any time soon."

"Meaning?" Alexandro asked with a frown.

"Aunt Elizabeth groomed Therese to take her place once she stepped down from your seat on the Council."

"That was never my intention, " he said.

"Then it might not just be Aunt Catherine you need to have a conversation with."

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