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   Chapter 15 Wildwood The Society Book 1

Wildwood: The Society Book 1 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 44994

Updated: 2018-03-13 11:38

Chapter 15

Ivy spent the rest of the afternoon putting together packets for what she was certain would be the world's most spectacular laundry day. The first couple of packets went to wash and dry the folded blankets she kept in her trunk turned coffee table. Once they were dried, refolded and stashed back in the trunk, Ivy felt better. It was the last of the things the intruder had touched and it had now been put to rights. The rest of the packets would be gathered into zip top bags for Eric to take with him when he came by later.

As she worked, Russell and Alex drifted in and out of the room. While Russell seemed to enjoy watching the first packets being made, by the third and fourth packets he had lost interest in the assembly-line style process. She caught snippets of the conversation between Russell and Alex and it sounded like they were talking about construction crews and timelines. Ivy thought it was a bit premature as they had yet to actually choose a location, but she had nothing else for them to do and it at least kept them out of her way.

"And at least they are optimistic, " she thought, leaving the men to talk to each other. She had decided to reserve judgment until she had at least seen the properties in person. Ivy began turning over the information Irina had dropped by as she worked. Thus far, even though she knew both Alex and Russell had heard the conversation, they had not talked about it. Mentally, she debated the pros and cons of passing the information along to Hamilton or even Hackett. Somehow she wasn't all that comfortable doing so. There was of course the possible leaking of information to consider, but somehow it was more than that. Growing up, all of them had been cautioned about relying on the Council and about letting them get too close.

"Nothing comes free from the Council, " she had been warned. "And what they tell you it's going to cost, usually isn't what you end up paying." As her uncles had also collected books on UFO and bigfoot sightings as well as conspiracy theory literature of all stripes, she had thought their avoidance of the Council just another governmental avoidance policy. As her training progressed and more and more often they were told to hide some of their abilities and talents, or to at least let themselves be thought of as less skilled, she wondered if that was the case or if the UFO type stuff was used to cover their fears of the Council, to make it just one paranoia among many.

"Then of course people started to die, " she said to herself. The precautions and warnings looked less paranoid after that. Ivy still wondered why her family thought they would be targeted in the first place, but knew this was no time to go looking into that particular can of worms. There would be time enough once they were out of harm's way and safe behind the strongest shields the five of them could devise.

Deciding to go with the 'there might be a leak in the Council' theory, Ivy reasoned that for the moment she would keep Nikos' information to a limited audience. Whether that limited audience included Albert or not was something she had yet to decide and continued going back and forth as she worked.

That decided, she began reviewing her lists of friends and contacts trying to figure out who, besides Nikos, would be useful. As Ivy started to mentally sketch out a plan, a knock on the door startled her from her thoughts. She looked up from her packets as Russell moved towards the door. For such a large man, he moved silently and Ivy could see his inner predator. He looked through the Judas hole and then sighed.

"Council rep, " he told them. He stepped back and opened the door.

"Ivy Chambers, " the dour looking man on her doorstep said.

"Here, " Ivy replied, having no desire to step closer. He was standing just outside her door, at the very edge of her shields. She was still feeling unsteady enough that she wasn't going any nearer until her shields had scanned him. She didn't much care if they called her paranoid at this point.

Russell stepped back and the man stepped forward, crossing the threshold, stopping as he felt the shields hit him.

"Well standing in the doorway isn't going to do anyone any good, " Ivy heard a familiar voice say from behind him. Ivy smiled recognizing Max's impatience.

The man stepped to the side letting Max, and oddly enough Eric inside. Max was carrying a large duffle bag and Eric was carrying yet another chair for her collection. Max moved into the living room, dropped his duffle bag and gave Alex a hug, complete with several resounding back slaps. He then moved over to her and gave her a much gentler hug, even though he did pick her up off of her feet. Eric walked the chair over to the kitchen table and set it down, stepping back out of the way.

The dour escort remained near the door looking very uncomfortable. Ivy could feel her shields scanning him and from the way he was fidgeting, she could tell he felt the scan as well. Her shields decided he wasn't an immediate threat, but he wasn't a trusted friend either. As a consequence, the shields remained pricking his skin, like ant's crawling over his flesh. It was not a sensation he seemed to enjoy.

"Yes, we are delivering Maximillian Chambers to you at the Shadow Council's request, " the uncomfortable man said. Ivy wondered if he was using the royal we until she saw another Council rep in the hallway.

"Do I need to sign for him?" she asked, not knowing what to say. Alex chuckled.

"No Ms. Chambers." The man told her without cracking a smile. "I am also to tell you that while Ms. Rosalind Chambers has been delayed while she finishes out her tour, she is perfectly safe and guarded at all times. Daniel Chambers will also be delayed in his arrival."

"Did something happen to Danny?" she asked, her humor fading.

"No Ms. Chambers, he will however be bringing a Melisa Richardson with him and that is taking longer to settle. I believe Hamilton Bridges has more information, should you wish to contact him. Both Daniel and Melisa will be well guarded until their arrival."

"I see, " Ivy told him, planning to call Hamilton as soon as possible. Details, at least when given to her, sounded like a good idea. The dour man nodded and turned to leave. Ivy could almost swear she heard a sigh of relief when he left the range of her shields. Russell closed the door and threw the deadbolt.

"So you are a special delivery?" Ivy asked Max, giving him an extra squeeze.

"Actually, I come COD, " he told her.

"Oh really?" Ivy returned with a laugh. "And what do I have to pay to keep you?"

"Anything edible, " Max replied. "Every time I tried to stop and get something to eat, those two went into super freaked out mode, inspecting the food for poison, staring down waiters, it was crazy. By the time they had finished, their fingers had been all over my food and I was so paranoid that I couldn't actually eat it."

"That does sound like them, " Russell said with a laugh. "I think they watch a lot of bodyguard themed movies, but don't have a lot of reasons to implement the knowledge, so when they get a chance they go overboard."

"That actually explains a lot, " Max said nodding. His eyes narrowed. "You're the wolf right?"

"You talked about me?" Russell said to Ivy with a grin. She rolled her eyes. "I'm Russell, " he told Max, holding out his hand. They shook. "I'm guessing you met my brother Eric?" he added gesturing towards Eric. Eric pushed himself off the wall and walked over.

"Actually I just sort of followed them up the stairs, " Eric said, shaking Max's hand. "You're the vet right?"

"I am, but I didn't think shifters went to doctors. I thought they either healed themselves or went to Mages."

"Well we aren't too fond of those big plastic cones." Eric told him with a laugh.

"Fair enough, " Max stepped back and turned to Ivy. He dropped his voice into a stage whisper. "Hey, is that homemade cinnamon raisin bread?"

Ivy laughed. "Knife is in the block, toaster is on the end, butter is in the fridge." She told him. "I'll get you a plate."

Ivy handed him the plate as he began assembling the various components. "I only have a few more packets to do and then I'm done, " she told everyone. "Until then talk amongst yourselves." Max fixed his toast and all four men moved to the couches. As she finished the last of the packets, Ivy smiled at the low rumble of conversation as the men settled in. She completed the packets and slipped the last of them into the plastic bags, zipping them closed. Sighing with relief, she made certain the bags were all clearly labeled and set the bulk of them aside for Eric to take with him. Knowing that there would need to be an in house laundry day soon, she kept some of the packets for the house.

"I need to replace the laundry room jars, " she said half to herself as she dusted off her hands and joined the others on the couch.

"Don't like plastic bags in the laundry room?" Russell asked with a grin as she settled in next to him.

"I liked the jars better, " she told him. "I don't suppose you called Hamilton while I finished up?" she asked.

Alex nodded. "I did, " he grinned. "Apparently the only way the Council would let Melisa join Danny was if he married her. He had already bought the ring and was planning to propose after she had a chance to meet us and decide if she wanted to run screaming into the hills or not."

"He already had the ring?" Ivy asked.

"Yup, apparently he purchased it right after your little call about Albert and the council session. Not that he mentioned that particular timing to them of course. Danny's trip is delayed until they can have a wedding."

"Won't it take a while to gather her family?" Max asked. He had finished his toast and looked like he was contemplating getting up for more.

"We were going to order pizza or something for dinner, " Ivy told him. "We can do that sooner rather than later."

"Her parents are both gone, remember, " Alex told them.

"That's right didn't her father die in a skiing accident, " Ivy said, thinking through past conversations.

"Oh yeah, he hit a tree I think, " Max replied nodding. "And I think her mother had cancer or something like that. Can we get mushrooms and black olives?"

Ivy chuckled. "I think we had better order pizza before Max runs through the rest of the cinnamon raisin bread."

"Well, I am kind of hungry too, " Russell admitted.

"I could eat but I'm not terribly hungry, " Alex added.

"That's because you finished off the pot roast, " Ivy told him.

"There was pot roast?" Max asked. Ivy stood up and went to get the menus for the local pizza places as the men began to argue toppings. She decided taking advantage of take-out while she could was a good idea. Once all of them were settled, delivery would no longer be an option as they would more than likely be too far out.

"And I'll need to increase the serving numbers, " she thought. She had the feeling her days of worrying about what to do with excess leftovers were behind her.

The next few days passed in companionable waiting while Sarah contacted property owners and other real estate agents in order to book appointments. Ivy sent Russell and Eric out for the ingredients, like lemons, that she needed for the tracker identification spray. Eric seemed happy to trade errand running for a place at the table and happily joined them for dinner. When Ivy worried about taking advantage of him and keeping him from whatever it was he normally did, Russell snorted and reminded her that wolves tended to prefer to be in a pack.

While Ivy created more spray than she had ever made in one sitting before, utilizing every single pot, kettle and saucepan she had at her disposal, Alex and Max discussed livestock and pasturage. Occasionally Ivy would contribute a few comments about type of milk and quantity. In between, the three of them caught up on the little bits and pieces of each other's lives that had not been considered important enough to discuss in their clandestine video conferencing. Russell and Eric joined in, sharing stories and anecdotes as well, somehow it seemed like they had always belonged.

Finally, the day arrived when they were going to meet Sarah. Ivy awoke feeling excited and nervous, as though she were about to jump off of the high dive. She awoke early and lay in bed trying to tell herself this was just the first day of looking and that she shouldn't expect too much. Beside her Russell chuckled and Ivy turned her head to look at him.

"You know we might not find it today?" he reminded her, echoing her own thoughts as he pulled her close.

"I know, I know, " she told him. "I always get like this at the start of a big project. Remember when you came over the morning after the council meeting?"

Russell chuckled and his eyes filled with heat. "I remember it very well. You told me I went from puppy to big bad wolf."

Ivy shook her head. "I meant that by the time you got here I was already on the phone with Petra trying to work out some of the details. I like getting all of the details and then putting them together. Even if we don't find something today odds are, I'll get more details to add to my plan." Ivy lifted an eyebrow. "And exactly where do you think you are going with that hand, " she asked teasingly. Russell starte

ked up after you are done looking. I'll be in my car when you are ready to go."

"Okay, " Sarah replied hesitantly. Carl, his message delivered, turned and slid back into his car. Ivy could see him turning up the heater. "Um, house first then?" Sarah suggested. They all turned and walked to the large entranceway. Over the doorway was a partially enclosed portico and before opening the door to go inside, they stamped the snow from their boots. Underneath their feet, Ivy could see blue green flagstone peeking out from the snow and wondered if it was just under the overhang or if it continued as some sort of driveway.

"I know I'm bad with the cold, " Ivy said as Sarah unlocked the front door. "But please tell me if I ever get that bad." As they all assured her that she had a better disposition than the grumpy Carl, they entered the house.

"Oh, " Ivy said in surprise as she shut the door behind herself and looked around the open space. She expected the interior to match the glamourous exterior. It did not.

"This is sub floor, " Alex remarked tapping his foot on the rough looking boards.

"Yes apparently the money ran out soon after they started work on the interior, " Sarah told him, switching into professional mode. "Electric, plumbing, sewage, that sort of thing was taken care of. I think the duct work is also complete and if I'm not mistaken a furnace was installed, although clearly not on."

Their breath still puffed up around their faces, but without the wind it was a bit warmer than the outside. To Ivy's relief, it was also much drier. Slowly Sarah took them through the building. It was large as it was originally designed as some sort of hotel. Personally Ivy thought it looked as though it was the sort of hunting lodge where rich men took their wives. The wives could have a spa like experience and the men could hunt or fish or whatever activity was out this way. Indeed as Sarah showed them around, there was what Ivy thought of as the spa area. The pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room had been installed. To Ivy's eyes, they looked like the most complete rooms in the building. All other plumbing consisted of bare pipes protruding from the floor.

"At least we'll have something to do when we can't leave due to muddy roads, " Russell said.

"Yeah, " Max added. "Swimming, Ivy's favorite past time." He laughed.

"I like the hot tub, " Ivy countered. "And the sauna, cause it's a dry heat."

"Are there construction plans?" Alex asked as they left the spa area and headed towards the kitchen.

"Or what will one day be a kitchen, " Ivy mused. At the moment it was an empty space with pipes for both water and gas placed in what she assumed was some sort of logical pattern. Her experience with Petra's spa building let her more or less know what she was looking at, but seeing the completed space from just the layout of pipes was not her strong suit. Alex however seemed to be excited, which she took as a good sign. He had always been able to look at a room and know right away where things should go and how they should look. He had been the mastermind behind their grandmother's extravagant porch.

"Probably why he's the architect in the family, " she mused noticing Max was just as lost as she was. "Let's just hope he's gotten less bossy over time."

Ivy had a better idea of room layout when it came to the bedroom spaces as there was less plumbing involved. It was definitely more space than they needed but she imagined that with five adult mages, one shifter and Danny's soon to be bride Melisa, more space was better than less. "It would allow us each workroom space inside the main building as well, " she reminded herself, remembering the many small out buildings dotting the landscape at the old family home. "And extra families would have space, " she thought as she followed the group around, half listening to Sarah. Alex was asking all of the right questions and the answers sounded right, so she left that more or less in his hands as she took in the space.

"We could even set up a semi-permanent teaching space in the back. If there was also a kitchen back there we could just go along with our business forgetting they're even here." She thought, nodding to herself. "We can also block off those spaces when they aren't being used so we can save on heat." They stopped on one of the upper floors and looked out of the large floor to ceiling windows at the roll of land before them. Max took over the questioning, asking about acreage and pasturage as Ivy merely took in the view. Despite the almost completely hollow interior, she got a good feeling from this place, much better than she had from any other they visited. "Maybe I'm just shallow and like the pretty exterior, " she thought as Max finished his questions.

She shook the thought away and asked the questions Rose would need answered for her involvement, pleased to find there was space for a small airfield should they need to install one. Danny's questions involved internet access and Alex ended up answering them instead of Sarah. Apparently he had arranged installation of system similar to the one they would need at a boutique hotel he helped design. Ivy looked around and saw excitement shining out of her brother's eyes. Russell's were crinkled with amusement and Sarah seemed to be trying to remain professionally detached.

"I think this might be the one, " she told them. Identical grins split her brother's faces and Russell chuckled.

"I had the feeling when we pulled up, " he told her.

"Because you thought I'd fall for the pretty exterior?" she asked with a smile. "Am I that shallow?"

He chuckled again. "I think you fell for the fence line, " he told her. "That long line of stone fence just waiting for you to put in your layer cake shielding, how could you resist? All of you were oh-ing and ah-ing before even looking at the house."

She punched him lightly in the arm. "As long as the price is right, " she told him.

"That would be my cue, " Sarah said. "Russell gave me the range the Council approved and while the property is at the high end of that, I think we might be able to get him lower. He really wants to sell." She looked as though she wanted to rub her hands together like a cartoon villain anticipating a victory over a longtime nemesis.

"This is the part she likes, " Russell told them. "Getting the property for the lowest possible price."

"It is the fun part of my job, " Sarah said. "I like the haggling."

"Uh huh, " Russell countered. "Simon said she does a happy dance when she gets a low ball offer accepted."

Sarah frowned, "There is nothing wrong with enjoying your job." She told them. Ivy smiled, pleased not to be the only one people were picking on. The two of them bickered good-naturedly as they made their way back to the front door. Sarah checked all of the doors and windows, making certain everything was secure before they exited. Sarah locked the front door behind them and Ivy shivered as the cold wind hit her. After the relative security of the house, the wind seemed to bite harder. They trudged back to the car and as they piled in, Sarah diverted to the black Lexus where Carl waited. He seemed to be yelling into his phone, apparently believing volume made up for poor reception. The car windows seemed to vibrate with his voice. He ended his call as Sarah walked up. He rolled down the window and they had a brief conversation while she handed him the keys. Ivy's toes were once again little blocks of ice in her boots but she decided not to thaw them out as she had before. Sarah rejoined them.

"He'll follow us to the gate and then lock it behind, " she told them as she fastened her seatbelt. "He is a rather horrible little man. I told him we'd be putting in an offer and he asked what it was." Sarah looked as though she were trying to hide a grin. "He wasn't thrilled that it wasn't top value, but apparently it's the only offer he's received since he's had it for sale so he's willing to consider it." She shrugged. "We'll have to see what happens when we officially submit the bid. He may change his mind and counter." She looked as though she were anticipating a battle of numbers.

"Do you think he'll try for the full asking price?" Ivy asked as they headed towards the gates.

"I doubt it, " Sarah said. "The place has been up for sale for over a year at this point and this was the first bite he's gotten. While he wants the full price, I think he is almost at the something is better than nothing stage. When I mentioned the offer his little eyes lit up. I think he may be just ready to stop paying taxes on it."

They drove through the gates and watched as he got out, locked the gate and returned to his car. He honked to let them know he was fine and Russell turned on the rutted road to head back to Isilton. Carl drove in the opposite direction and was soon lost around a curve.

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