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   Chapter 18 Skyside

Skyside: Book Five of The Channel Riders By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 16443

Updated: 2018-02-26 16:27


Chapter 18

Elena sighed with relief as she watched the newlyweds dance. Her aunt Catherine may never forgive her, but Elena could sense a subtle shift in the crowd that augured well for the future. The slight tension that ran through every interaction between Kiera's people and the Guild melted. She took a sip of champagne, smiling into the glass as she overheard one of the teenagers ask a Captain how one joined a ship's crew. She took it as a good sign when the captain took the time to explain rather than walk away.

"You know you aren't supposed to work during a social event, " Thompson said walking over. Elena turned and smiled. To herself she admitted he looked rather nice in his dark suit. He also had a slightly dangerous air to him, like James Bond, or his evil twin. She couldn't decide which.

"If you think that then clearly you weren't paying attention at the last Guild social event, " she told him.

"Oh, I was paying attention. A great deal of attention actually."

"Oh?" Elena asked, lifting an eyebrow.

Thompson smiled a slightly wicked grin and tilted his head towards the cake. Elena decided the evil twin was more appropriate. "How exactly did Consuelo manage to construct that monstrosity?"

"I think it's considered bad form to call a wedding cake a monstrosity, " she said as she turned to study the construction. The cake was actually four separate cakes. Three of them were placed in a triangle around a stand and a fourth was placed on the stand in the center. At least Elena hoped it was a stand and not just more layers of cake. From what she could see, each of the cakes was five layers tall and festooned with swags of white icing. The white was relieved with red icing roses and green vines that looked painted on.

"I didn't know we had an actual oven, " she confessed. "Let alone one capable of wedding cakes."

"Consuelo had several bread ovens built. I think the cake was the first test for the ovens. I'm kind of looking forward to tasting a wood fired wedding cake, " Thompson replied with a smile.

"It should be an experience, " Elena replied.

"It looks as though other couples are joining the bride and groom on the dance floor, " he said. "Care to take a turn or two?"

"Why not?" Elena said, knowing she needed to be seen enjoying the festivities. She took Thompson's hand and let him lead her to the dance floor. They glided across the floor, easily finding their rhythm.

"So, " Thompson said after a while. "Are you going to tell me what super-secret plan you are working on?"

"Who says I am working on a super-secret plan?" she asked, amused.

"I do, " He told her. "You pass instructions to Maria to give to the other pilots and I have yet to sit in on a meeting with her involved. You also have clandestine reports given to you from Evan's people."

"Clandestine reports?" Elena asked. "Why would you have an official report on anything clandestine?"

"So you have something to lock in that lower desk drawer of yours?" he returned with a grin.

"Have you been breaking into my room to read reports?" she asked, doubting anything in her reports would tell him much other than the fact that they would be scouting new trade routes.

"If I break into your bedroom, it won't be to read reports, " Thompson said with a dark laugh. Elena blushed, momentarily breathless as she watched his eyes go hot.

"So does this mean we are back in flirting mode?" she asked when she found her voice.

"Did you miss it?"

"I was curious." She replied.

Thompson shrugged. "You had a lot on your plate and it didn't really seem fair to ambush you when you were distracted."

"So you were just being fair?"

"Of course. Admittedly, that's over now."

"It is?"

"Absolutely, " Thompson said, nodding. "Things are starting to return to normal around here and I can no longer hold back the charm. It could be dangerous to even try."

"Could it?" Elena said with a short laugh, once again feeling like she was on level ground.

"Oh yes, we could have an outbreak of sighs and swooning in the mess tent and then where would we be? A cataclysmic charm event could cause an epidemic of massive proportions."

"Well we can't have that, " Elena replied. "After all we only have two doctors on the entire planet. I don't think that's enough to deal with an epidemic of any sort."

"Exactly, " He told her. "And we must all do our part for the safety of the community at large. Besides, it won't be too long before Peter returns and we enter a wooing competition."

"A wooing competition."

"You heard me, " he replied as Elena shook her head. "Speaking of Peter, " he began.

"Were we?" Elena asked.

"Were we what?"

"Speaking of Peter, " she answered.

"Only vaguely, " Thompson replied with a smile. "But I did have a question about him."

"Only one? Your research must have gone better than mine. Half of what

send your ships out."

As expected, the celebration lasted well into the night. At some point, Kiera and Mateo managed to slip away and change out of their wedding finery. When they returned, the crowd escorted them down to the docks, waving and cheering as they boarded the Star's Delight. At Elena's orders the ship weighed anchor as soon as the couple was aboard. Still in the mood for celebration, the crowd moved back to the cleared space where, to Elena's surprise, more food and drink was placed out by Consuelo and her minions.

Elena found herself pulled into a spinning reel of a dance by a large man whose face was only vaguely familiar. She found herself dancing every dance thereafter and finally managed to escape breathless and footsore at an hour too late to call night but too early to actually be morning. She made her tired way home alone. She lost track of both Benjamin and Thompson a good while earlier.

Once home she took off her shoes and wiggled her toes in relief against the soft carpet. Spin stepped into the doorway of Elena's bedroom and stared at her disapprovingly.

"Don't worry, " she told the cat, picking up her discarded shoes and moving to the bedroom herself. "Tomorrow it is back to normal hours and comfortable shoes."

She carefully hung the dress up. Despite the careful pathways Rene established, the hem had accumulated quite a bit of dust and was in desperate need of a cleaning. "Fancy clothes weren't meant for the jungle, " she told herself as she slipped into pajamas and then bed. She smiled as Spin settled on her pillow. She was tired and knew that she would regret the late hour in the morning, but it was a happy kind of tired. Mateo was married, the Houses were merged and she would soon be sending the pilots of her House out to establish more trade routes for the Guild.

Elena felt a momentary twinge of regret that she would not be piloting one of the ships soon to sail, but she knew now was not the time for her to leave Haven. Earlier Thompson reminded her that the season was not far from opening. Soon the Guild would return in force. They would need to direct the returning ships to the planet instead of the empty space where the DF once stood. They would need the way station up and running.

"And we will need to have life here look established and set, " she said to the darkened ceiling. The last thing she wanted was the Council to return and start adjusting life in Haven. She wanted the community to run smoothly and look established. The Council could then concentrate on the Matrovean, building a new DF and relocating their base of operations elsewhere. She knew that would take time and effort so the Council would remain in Haven for quite a few seasons, but she had no wish to give control of Haven to the Council. The less they could directly influence, the better.

Her grandfather's words when she asked if he enjoyed being Council floated through her head as she tried to sleep. "I like leaving my family at the mercy of others even less, " he told her. She thought she had understood then what he meant. Now her understanding had deepened. She would not leave her people to the mercy of the Council.

"Even if it means I have to take a seat on the Council myself, " she said.

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