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   Chapter 18 Haven

Haven: Book Four of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 28481

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:08


Chapter 18

Both Evan and Kiera were ready in less time than expected and they joined Elena and Benjamin on the Storm Chaser. Elena weighed anchor while Kiera settled herself in the pilot's quarters and Evan strolled about on deck. The trip in was quiet and Elena tried not to think of the whirlwind she would set in motion once she arrived on the DF. Once people realized what Mateo's engagement signaled, she had no doubt bedlam would rise.

'And Therese might turn her attentions to Kiera, ' Elena thought. That was a worrisome thought.

Without Thompson on board, Elena felt free to circle, looking for a place to dock that was closer to her quarters. She wasn't sure, but it looked to her like the number of battle-scarred vessels increased. Elena saw Evan purse his lips as he took in the damage. Elena knew he was getting reports, but this would be the first time he saw things with his own eyes. Once docked, Evan headed towards his quarters in the Library sector while Elena, Benjamin and Kiera made their way to Elena's House quarters.

Jasmine and Gina were both in residence and reacted with squeals of delight at the news of Kiera's engagement. The two of them studied the ring as Elena put a call in first to Madame Dupry and then to her grandfather.

Elena knew that the pilots of her House thought of Mateo as something of an older brother and she was pleased that they appeared happy that Kiera was officially joining the family, so to speak. Even though Mateo would be starting his own House, he would remain connected, just as she remained connected to Alexandro's.

After the dress maker and her grandfather, she called her Aunt Catherine and was pleased to find she was in and more than willing to meet them. As Catherine raised only sons, she viewed dress shop adventures as a rare treat. No doubt getting to know Kiera better was an added incentive.

"Are you ready, " she asked Kiera once the calls were made.

"Ready?" she asked.

"Dress and planning, " Elena explained. "With limited time we kind of need to get started. Unless you want to spend a few weeks on the DF?"

"Ah, no. Thank you though. I need to get back ASAP." Kiera said. "You'll show me the rules right?" She looked nervous.

"Of course. We'll try not to let it get too painful, " Elena told her with a laugh.

"Then lead on, " Kiera told her. The two women left the quarters and headed to the market. At the entrance to Madame Dupry's, Catherine was waiting for them. She looked excited enough to pop.

"Two of my boys settled, " Catherine said as they entered the dress shop. "Now we just need someone nice for Lucas."

"Melanie seems nice, " Kiera said. Catherine froze for a moment and then turned slowly to Elena, eyebrows lifted in question. Elena raised her hands in surrender.

"I just found out this trip back, " she explained. "Melanie is a doctor and Lucas brought her with him to the planet. I'm sure you'll meet her next trip out."

"I most certainly will, " Catherine assured her.

"I didn't realize…, " Kiera started.

"I wouldn't worry about it, " Elena told her.

"My youngest has always managed to keep himself to himself, " Catherine told her with a smile. "It was his defense against getting involved in the family politics."

"Really?" Kiera said.

"Unfortunately, " Catherine told her. "He saw what Mateo and Elena had to go through with Therese as well as what I went through with Elizabeth and just tried to distance himself. He and Nate, my oldest, are very much alike in that." She looked thoughtful for a moment. "I should have known something was up when he was willing to go to the planet instead of the Gareantal Free."

"The GFH is in a bit of a danger zone, " Elena pointed out.

"But he didn't know that until after he spoke with Mateo, " Catherine reminded her. "If he is serious about someone who is not Guild-raised, he would have wanted to look into at least a tentative family alliance."

"So everyone in your family plays politics even if they don't look like they do?" Kiera asked with a smile. Catherine looked sheepish and Elena laughed.

"I'll take that as a yes, " Kiera replied.

Evalene Dupry stepped out of the back room, a dress laid over her arms. The fabric was every bit as spectacular as she remembered it. Introductions were made and Evalene looked Kiera over with a measuring gaze. "The colors definitely suit, Elena you have a good eye, " Evalene said. She shooed all but one of her assistants out of the fitting room. "And I can see you are well suited for Mateo. I am pleased to hear he has found a partner."

"Thank you, " Kiera said hesitantly. "Colors?"

"I found some material that I thought might be good for you, Kiera, " Elena explained. "I figured even if there wasn't a wedding, sooner or later you would get dragged to one of the fancy functions and need something. If you don't like the material we can find something else."

"Actually, it's gorgeous, " Kiera said studying the way the colors flashed with the movement of the material.

"Let us see how it looks on, " Evalene said. "The changing room is this way. The hem and neck are just pinned as Elena's measurements were only estimates." The two women disappeared into the dressing room. "We will soon have accurate ones and we will keep them on file." Evalene glanced over her shoulder at Elena. "In case there are more events to follow. It would never do to be caught out."

"That was well done, " Catherine told Elena as they disappeared. Elena tried to shake off the feeling that everyone was planning events around her.

"I figured it was better safe than sorry." She replied. She wondered if she ought to start applying that to her life as well, but shook the thought off.

Kiera returned and Evalene helped her to stand on a small stool so the hem line could be adjusted. The material suited Kiera extremely well.

"Simply gorgeous, " Catherine said. "You will look stunning at the presentation."

Kiera smiled softly, a little shy about being the center of attention. "This is certainly different from my normal shopping experiences, " She said.

Evalene tisked. And Elena smiled, knowing full well what the dressmaker thought of off the rack clothing. "Wait until you start getting fitted for the wedding dress, " Elena told her. Catherine brightened, Kiera looked nervous and Evalene patted her consolingly on the shoulder.

"We will talk, just you and I and then we will start some designs." She told her. "You will be fine." Evalene began adjusting the neckline and the fit of the dress. It took a while, but finally the seamstress was satisfied and she helped Kiera slip delicately out of the pin covered gown.

"I can have it completed within the week, " Evalene told her. "Elena your things have already been completed and will be delivered to your quarters this evening."

"Excellent." Elena replied. The women left the dress shop and found Alexandro lurking near the door.

"Shopping complete?" he asked. Both Catherine and Elena smiled knowing that Alexandro had a perfect horror of dress shops.

"Madame Dupry has things nicely in hand, as always, " Catherine told him. "Kiera will look simply stunning."

"Grandfather, " Elena said as they began to wind their way through the market. "At some point I will need to speak to you about Therese."

Alexandro nodded tiredly. "I know. I have heard the stories. As I know both of you, I realize what happened. Perhaps when things calm down a bit, another option can be found."

"Perhaps, " Elena said. "Things won't really improve after she receives the invitation, though."

"Of this I am well aware, " Alexandro told her suddenly looking much older than she recalled seeing him before. "We will deal with it as it comes." Elena let the topic drop and followed along with the group, leaving trouble to be dealt with as it arose.

Alexandro led them to a place known simply as Rene's. It had a modest sign in small black letters on a frosted glass door. In fact it was one of the older businesses, run by successive generations. Some of the owners were named Rene after the founder, some were not, but always managed some tie with the founder.

The current owner was actually the 18th Rene to operate. The businesses with actual shop fronts all tended to be older. The stores were actually the first of the markets to spring up on the DF. At first, they were mostly for large scale commerce, places where shipments were con

ese studied them as they approached. Elena watched in surprise as Therese registered Peter's presence and then dismissed him to study Elena.

"It is true?" She demanded. Her voice was a hiss between clenched teeth and her eyes were narrowed to glittering slits. Elena sighed. "It is isn't it, " Therese said. "He's naming that…mechanic as his heir isn't he?"

"Mateo will be officially listed as Grandfather' heir, " Elena said calmly.

Therese clenched her hands into fists, she wondered if Therese would take a swing at her. There was a small part of Elena that almost wished she would, mainly because there was a small violent streak inside her that wanted to take a swing right back at her cousin. For a moment both of them forgot Peter was even there.

"You, I could understand, " Therese said. "But him? He is less than worthless."

"He's not worthless, Therese, " Elena said, feeling tired, her anger draining. Fighting with Therese was never worth it. "Hell you've been trying to claim him for your House since you discovered politics and you don't even have your own House."

"That's because he is an adherent to a House not its Head, " Therese hissed back.

"No Therese, you are an adherent. Mateo will be the Head of his own House."

"I'm not an adherent, " Therese practically screamed back.

"Then why haven't you formed your own House?" Elena shot back. "Why are you still part of your Mother's?

"Mother has a plan, " Therese declared.

"You might want to think of a contingency."

"It's because he's male isn't it? He's the precious grandson."

"No Therese, he just isn't you."

"Please, Grandfather wanted your father to be his heir just as he now wants Mateo. It is so obvious he favors the men of the family. Mother told me all about it. How he had to be taught reason so that he would see that my mother was the one who should truly be his heir. Why do you think he skipped you, cousin?"

"Because I was born outside the home district for the seat, Therese, " Elena said, but in the back of her mind warning bells started to go off. Something Therese said triggered an alarm, she was just too mad to figure out quite what it was yet.

"Mother won't stand for this. She's the natural heir. And I'm going to take over after her." The words sounded as though they came from a defiant child. Elena could almost hear the 'so there' after Therese's statement.

"What is this?" All of them turned to find Alexandro and Kiera walking towards them. At first no-one answered him. Elena turned in time to see Alexandro's face morph from pleased grandfather to the hard mask of a Council representative. She noticed that as she fought with Therese, Peter stepped away, allowing himself to fade into the background.

His hand was in his jacket pocket and it looked to Elena like he was holding something. The word gun flashed through Elena's mind and she wondered if he was armed and planned to shoot Therese. The thought made her feel vaguely ill, mostly because it seemed plausible. It could very easily escalate.

"I heard Mateo is getting married. I expect congratulations are in order. " Therese said recognizing the change in demeanor and knowing what it signaled. She knew Grandfather was someone you could fight with, the Council demanded respect. Alexandro was radiating Council from every pore.

Elena saw his eyes dart to Peter's coat pocket and Peter slowly extracted his hand. Elena could still see a somewhat bulky shape hidden in the fabric, but Alexandro seemed satisfied. Therese's voice was anger filled, but it was not the evil hiss she gave Elena. She appeared to be trying to regain some semblance of calm. Her eyes flashed to Kiera.

"Strange, you don't look pregnant." Therese said in a curiously flat voice, unable to resist the barb. Everyone froze for a moment.

"That is because I'm not." Kiera said lightly, stepping into the shocked silence of the moment. "I'm guessing you are Therese?" Kiera said politely, a sugared smile on her lips. "I've heard quite a bit about you."

"Therese, allow me to present Kiera Hawkins, your cousin's intended, " Alexandro said, ignoring the tension in the hallway. "She will soon be a part of our family. Kiera, please excuse my granddaughter's rudeness. She does not seem to be quite herself tonight."

Elena thought that might have been the first time she ever heard her grandfather lie out right.

"Nice to meet you, " Therese said through clenched teeth and a brittle smile that was little better than the stretch of lips over teeth. "I must be going now." She looked at Elena. "We will speak later." Therese said. She turned and walked off down the corridor.

"Well, wasn't that pleasant, " Elena said when she was gone. She wondered if Therese would try to convince her to go against Mateo now that Elena wasn't up for their grandfather's seat. "Is everyone coming in?" Peter and Alexandro begged off and started down the corridor together, going the opposite direction from Therese. Elena shook her head and she and Kiera entered the quarters.

"That was fun, " Kiera said. "An evening of answering questions about my family and my childhood all while being introduced to various people who were more shocked than surprised by my existence, and all followed by a meeting with the evil queen herself. At least I now know I don't look pregnant. I suppose my yoga must be working."

"Life in the Guild is never dull, " Elena told her sympathetically, hoping that her stomach would settle. In her mind she kept seeing Peter's hand clutching something in his coat pocket. She shivered and knew that sleep would be a long time coming.

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