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   Chapter 7 Wildwood The Society Book 1

Wildwood: The Society Book 1 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 37573

Updated: 2018-03-13 11:31

Chapter 7

Ivy woke up early, smiling into the somewhat washed out light filtering through the bedroom curtains. In her dreams she had talked with her family in person and actually done some work in her glass studio. "I could actually get my things out of storage, " she said to herself. When she had taken the apartment, all of her things had been boxed up. Her place was no more conducive to glassblowing than Max's was for raising cows. As she lay in bed and stared at the ceiling, she realized that along with being split from her family, she had been split from large parts of herself as well.

"Maybe I can get some of those parts back, " she thought. Ivy smiled. "In the name of diversification and self-sustainment of course, " she added thinking of Danny's terms. After all she had started selling glass worked pieces when she was about fourteen in lieu of taking babysitting jobs or working in fast food joints.

She slipped out of bed and as she walked to the kitchen, Ivy realized she was excited in a way she hadn't been in a while. She had always enjoyed the first day of any project, the potential and endless possibilities. She felt all that now, but it was multiplied. She still felt angry about the Council, but as she was unsure what to do about that anger, she pushed it away to deal with later and let the excitement win.

"It is a larger project, " she thought as she measured out the coffee grounds into the filter and filled the pot with water. "There is a lot to take into consideration before I unpack my storage unit and load Rose's plane."

Already she felt intrigued by the multitude of little details she would have to investigate, plot and plan. As she turned on the coffee pot, she admitted though that a huge chunk of her excitement was due to the lifting of restrictions and of the thought of getting to actually see her family in person again rather than through the video camera on her computer. After all, hugging a laptop wasn't quite the same thing.

"Nothing wrong with that, " she told herself. She got out a pair of jeans and a comfortable long sleeved t-shirt. She added clean underwear to the pile and took the whole lot into the bathroom with her. As her assigned Council adjunct, she knew Russell would be by sometime during the day and didn't want to still be in her pajamas when he arrived.

"Although he has seen me in much less, " she reminded herself momentarily flashing on the feel of his hands on her skin. "Although I doubt anyone would want to touch me at the moment, " she said deliberately pushing the thought away as she slipped off her pajamas and turned the water on in the shower, letting it run to heat up before stepping into the spray. The neutralizer she had taken great care to apply the day before had dried into flaky patches that crumbled at a touch.

"Looks like I'm molting, " she said as she let the water sluice over her body and take the worst of the flakes away. She squeezed some of her normal body wash onto her net scrunchy and began to bathe. "I'll need to change the sheets again, " she thought knowing the flakes would be all over the bed. When she was satisfied her body was clean, she started in on her hair. "No need to look like I have dandruff either." She thought.

Once squeaky clean with no trace of neutralizer remaining, Ivy turned off the water, dried and got dressed, leaving the towel wrapped turban like around her hair. She stripped the sheets off the bed so she wouldn't forget later and put them directly into the washing machine so the flakes wouldn't fall everywhere. Task complete, she towel dried her hair and left the damp strands to dry on their own as she went back to the kitchen for coffee.

While she had bathed, the pot had filled. She poured herself a cup and took it over to the window to check the weather. The wave of white that had blanketed the city had been peeled back and heaped in giant piles out of the path of traffic. The roads had a layer of sand coating them, in places the sand had mixed with the half melted snow to form pools of grainy black sludge that cars sprayed everywhere as they drove through. Sidewalks had also been dusted with sand and a mix of neon pink and sea foam green pellets to prevent pedestrians from sliding on the ice.

"So much for pristine white, " Ivy thought as she sipped her coffee. She glanced at the sky. It was a solid mass of clouds that had an almost gun metal color. It had a heavy feel to it. "I wonder if we are going to get more snow, " Ivy mused. She stepped away from the window. "Why don't we see what Bob has to say about it?" She crossed over to the living room area and turned on the television.

Ivy listened to stories of power outages across town, peppered with a few neighbor helping neighbor heartwarming moments, which got the toothy reporter, Trina, teary-eyed. She saw various sections of roads pictured on the traffic cams the news station had erected while Doug gave the traffic report.

"Because we apparently can't interpret the images on our own, " Ivy said, somewhat amused as Doug gestured to an image of cars driving on the city's main artery while telling his audience that traffic was moving.

"I guess that's why the cars don't seem to be staying on one place, " Ivy said shaking her head. "Thanks for clearing that up, Doug." Ivy said imitating the news reporter. She took a sip of her coffee. "Well at least they let him back in the building instead of making him stand on the corner again."

"That's good to know Doug, " Trina said somehow still smiling as she talked, never once hiding her gleaming teeth. "And hopefully it will stay that way for a while, what do you think Bob? Are we in for a break from all this winter weather?"

"All this winter weather, " Ivy repeated with a snort. "Two days ago all we barely needed to throw on was a sweatshirt when leaving the house, one day of snow and apparently we live in an ice age."

"I wouldn't be breaking out the flip flops and sun screen yet, Trina, " Bob replied. "It looks like we have another storm on the way. It might not drop as much accumulation on us, but it might get messier as the snow mixes with freezing rain. It is going to get slick out there folks. Especially as the temperatures start to drop later in the day."

Ivy watched as Bob outlined his beliefs in what the day would bring. He gestured to lines that moved across his maps and looked grim. Apparently the weather wasn't going to be nice, but it wasn't going to be bad enough to spark an excited frenzy of doom's day predictions.

"Poor Bob, " she said. "No thunder snow for you today." Ivy turned the television off and set down the remote.

"That settles it, " she said. "I'm making waffles." Ivy walked back to the kitchen and began gathering her ingredients. She pulled her waffle maker out of the cupboard and placed it on the counter. Ivy glanced at the clock. "Petra should be up about now, " she mused. "If I catch her before work I can at least ask if she is interested, which will help me plan the start of my day."

Ivy set her mixing bowl on the counter and picked up her cell phone instead, realizing how eager she was to get started, and slightly amused at herself. She pulled up Petra's number from her contacts list and pressed the call button. It rang three times and Ivy began formulating a message to leave on the voice mail.

"Hello?" She heard a somewhat out of breath voice answer.

"Petra, this is Ivy, Ivy Chambers." As she had been mentally planning her phone message in her head she felt off guard at catching the person rather than the machine.

"Ivy, " Petra said. "Thanks for calling. Please tell me this means you've decided to help me with my soap. We just can't get the mix right."

"Well yes and no, " Ivy replied. "I answered a summons yesterday, " she began knowing Petra would understand her meaning. "There have been several requests for some of the items I produce that others want on a routine basis and I was asked if I could figure out a way to provide them."

"By which you mean the Council ordered you to figure out a way to provide it, " Petra said. She snorted disgustedly. "They just can't stand anything not under their control can they?"

As she sounded like she was about to go off on a rant, Ivy jumped in to stop her. "Your soap was on the list, " Ivy said.

"What?" She said sounding startled. "Ivy, I would never force you to…."

"I know, " Ivy said. "I know, but seeing the soap on the list got me to thinking. In order to create what the Council wants me to create, I would need to have a rather large herb garden at my disposal at the very least, which would entail a space larger than my apartment. And it would look strange for people to start coming out to that place to pick up small parcels. It wouldn't be too terribly long before someone noticed and I had a law enforcement invasion and questions about clandestine bathing products."

"So you'd need a separate location where it wouldn't look strange for people to pick things up, " Petra said, going along with her.

"And since many of the washes and creams could be packaged to look like high end bubble bath and face cream, I wanted to call and see if you were interested in thinking about partnering with me, at least on the retail end."

A knock sounded on the door. Ivy walked over and looked through the Judas hole seeing Russell standing in the hallway. She unlocked the door and motioned him inside. "Coffee's fresh help yourself, I'll be done in just a second, " she told him softly. He nodded and moved to the kitchen as Ivy returned to her conversation.

"Would I get my soaps?" Petra asked. Ivy laughed.

"Yes, you would get your soaps. In fact it would look better if you did get your soaps so that there would be an official reason you were accepting shipments."

"Hmmm, would I be able to get a second scent?" Petra asked teasingly.

"We can discuss it, " Ivy said, smiling at the tone in Petra's voice "Why don't you think about what you would need if you were willing to partner with me and I'll see what I need and then we'll talk in a few days?" Ivy suggested.

"Oh, I already know I want in Ivy, " Petra said with a laugh. "I just want to know what else I can get while I'm at it. Although getting my soaps and a possible thank you note from the Council just might be enough to satisfy even my avaricious soul."

"I wouldn't count on the thank you note, but I'm sure we could work out some kind of wholesaler's discount in lieu of."

"Excellent, " Petra said. "I'll meet with my folks and see what we'll need to have an official agreement. So glad you called. How does Friday around eleven look for you, " Petra asked. Ivy could hear her fumbling with something and knew that Petra was more than likely pulling out her planner to schedule a meeting.

"Friday at eleven works well for me, " Ivy confirmed, knowing she had nothing scheduled for a while. "Just remember we are still in the initial planning stages, so nothing is really set yet."

Petra promised to remember and Ivy ended the call to find Russell grinning at her with evident amusement as he drank his coffee. "What?" she asked as she

study scientifically, " Ivy told him.

"True, " Russell agreed. "And I only know of one girl born to one of the Intrigues and she wasn't born shifter either. I don't know what happened to her, but I'd guess if she had kids they were all cats too or someone would have heard about it."

"Huh, " Ivy said. Somehow that was not the answer she had expected to hear. She frowned. "Intrigues?"

"It's what the feline shifters call their packs." Russell clarified.

"I knew pounce wasn't right, " Ivy said. Russell looked at her questioningly. "It's what you call a group of kittens, I think."

"Ah, I would stick with Intrigue when dealing with the shifter clans."

"Probably best, " Ivy agreed.

"Now I've shared a wolf secret with you, how about you share a mage secret with me, " Russell said. He had a look on his face that Ivy privately thought of as his attempt to be charming face.

"Ah, the subtlety of wolves, " Ivy told him. "I suppose we could trade, depending on what it is you want."

"What it is I want, " he mused. "Hmm, that would be another story. I was however asked to find out about your scent."

"My scent?" Ivy asked. She lifted a hand to her nose and sniffed the back of it. "What's wrong with it?"

Russell laughed. "Nothing's wrong with it. At least right now, " he told her. "But it was different yesterday."

"Was it?" Ivy said trying to sound innocent. Russell laughed and shook his head.

"You know for a mage, you don't lie very convincingly, " he told her.

"I don't?" she asked.

"Nope, " Russell confirmed. "You can say words that don't smell like lies, but they don't sound natural. And you always open your eyes wide when you say them. Sometimes they pass though, if someone doesn't know you that well." He shrugged. "You can't hide when something surprises you at all."

"I can't?" Ivy said lifting an eyebrow.

"When you are surprised, you blink really fast as though your brain is processing the new information. It happens fast so you have to be paying attention, but it is always there." He told her looking smug.

"No I don't, " Ivy said. She frowned, not sure if he was right or not. "Wait, is that why Hackett was so pleased during my question and answer session? Did you tell him that was my…tell, " Ivy asked.

Russell grinned. "Maybe, " he answered. "At least it confirmed that Albert hadn't given you anything."

"Does it?" Ivy asked trying not to widen her eyes. Russell tilted his head to look at her. She tried to radiate innocence and Russell narrowed his eyes.

"Maybe I should search you again, " he said sounding suspicious.

"In case I still have whatever you didn't find in your search before, but thought he gave me, hidden on my body two days after I got it?" Ivy asked.

"Probably not a likely scenario, " he admitted. "But it would be more fun to search you without an audience." He winked and Ivy felt heat creep into her cheeks. "I'm not a big cat person either, even if I'm not allergic." He confessed. Ivy laughed and shook her head.

"It was the only thing I could think of to say." She told him.

"Uh huh, " Russell said looking amused and somewhat pleased with himself. "So about this scent, " he said circling back to the earlier topic. "You changed it so that it was harder to smell a lie, " he told her. "A sensible precaution when faced with a council summons. Others have tried it, but none were quite as successful. They also usually smell like they are trying to conceal their scent. Hackett wasn't certain what you wore was an actual concealer rather than just some general soap of lotion you happened to use."

"That's why he brought you to test my shield, " Ivy said taking a guess. "Because you know me better. You know what I normally smell like." Ivy shook her head. "That just sounds strange even for me."

"And because I had reported never sensing an active shield at your place before. I also reported David's inappropriate actions, although I didn't know he would return."

"But you thought it likely?" Ivy guessed. "At least likely enough to warn me not to let him in again."

"It was a suspicion, " he said, not meeting her eyes. "David and I have … met a number of times and do not get along. As you and I do … get along, that is, it seemed likely he might try something."

"Ah, " Ivy said, not sure how to interpret his pauses. "Well at least I know that the council is not in the habit of breaking vases and stealing underwear."

"Stealing underwear, " Russell's eyes narrowed again.

"Yeah, " Ivy said. "I didn't realize you hadn't seen." A thought occurred to her. "Please don't tell Hackett, " she said. "Sending the vase was enough." Ivy didn't think she wanted to get a pair of panties sent to her by the council. "The vase was nice, panties would just be weird."

Russell's anger faded and he chuckled to himself. "I don't think Hackett will replace the underwear. I'm not even certain he could ever actually bring himself to say the word panties, let alone buy a pair."

Ivy smiled thinking of Hackett in a lingerie store. "He would probably look so uncomfortable they would think he was a pervert and have security follow him around, " Ivy concluded.

"Exactly, " Russell said. "It's the drawback of living with a mostly male clan. You have a mother who's unmentionables in no way concern you, and if you are lucky you find a wife, who of course buys her own clothing. There are no sisters or daughters to worry about. And since Hackett never found a mate, he would be even more out of his element."

"You only mentioned mothers and mates, " Ivy said before she could stop to think about it. "Don't wolves date? Or do you just see someone you like and say, HA! We will marry. Now."

Russell laughed. "We date, but we know our mates from the first moment we meet them. Or smell them actually; I think it has something to do with pheromones." He told her. "So dating is just…fun until you meet your mate."

"Seems kind of cruel to date someone you know will never be your mate, " Ivy said. "Unless they know it is just for fun at the very beginning I suppose. So Hackett is worried that if women can hide their scent from you then you won't be able to find your mates?" she asked.

"I think he is worried that it will become a popular purchase once you start providing items on a less than emergency basis. He very much likes to know when people are lying to him." Russell chose to ignore her comment about dating cruelty.

"You know if I hadn't known better, I would have just thought you were wearing a new perfume or had gotten a new soap." Russell continued.

"Really?" Ivy said, pleased with herself. "That was the plan. I didn't want the neutralizer to smell like I was trying too hard to block my scent. I figured that might just make me look extra guilty."

"Well it worked. I don't suppose I could see the neutralizer?" He asked pouting slightly for effect. "After all I did give you a secret."

"All right, " Ivy said, not pointing out he had told her several things she hadn't already known. She wasn't quite certain why he was being so forthcoming today, but she wasn't going to challenge it. After all they had figured out she had a scent neutralizer, showing him the mix wouldn't change anything. His nose might be able to puzzle out the ingredients, but she doubted he would be able to tell which ingredients she altered magically or which particular properties in each ingredient she had tweaked.

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