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Family Matters: The Society Book 4 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 14222

Updated: 2019-06-11 14:47


Chapter 2

"I don't see why, I can't take just a little, " Eric's voice drifted out of the kitchen and into the corridors.

As soon as they left their quarters Ivy was aware they weren't alone. Thumps and bumps sounded showing that there were definitely others in the building. The closer to the kitchen they moved, the more prevalent those noises became. Ivy reminded herself to thank her brother Alex for his soundproofing efforts when renovating the shell of a building. After living so long alone, Ivy still found the presence of so many others a bit surprising. She also found the fact that even though shifters could move with the silent grace of a shadow, they tended to rocket around the building like rampaging puppies.

They entered the kitchen and saw Eric trying to claim one of the containers of left overs. Even from the doorway Ivy could see the label marking it as reserved by the cook. Eric was offering a winning smile to Wildwood's cook but Winston was having none of it. One hand was on his hips, the other firmly grasped the container, somehow managing to keep it just out of Eric's reach, despite his being nearly a foot shorter than the wolf.

"I have plans for that, " Winston said. "And as you can see it is clearly marked."

Eric was about to respond when he saw them standing in the doorway. He frowned at Russell's grin. "I was just trying to get something to eat for lunch, " Eric told them.

"What a coincidence, so were we, " Russell replied.

"Although I think we'll stick to the unclaimed food, " Ivy added.

"Thank you Ms. Ivy, " Winston said. He shot Eric a dark look and turned towards the fridge, container in hand. "We have plenty of cold cuts if you'd like a sandwich."

"I didn't see any cold cuts, " Eric said as he looked over Winston's shoulder while the cook slid the contested container pack into place.

"You didn't look, " Winston said. "You just saw the remains of the roast and tried to claim it."

"I'll bet you hid the cold cuts, " Eric said, still trying to peer into the fridge's depths around the solid mass of the man. He gasped in mock astonishment. "You put them in Ivy's fridge. That's why Hackett went in there. You want me to starve."

"You are hardly starving, " Winston said.

"And there is no food in my fridge, " Ivy said. "Anything in there is not for consumption." She frowned. "Not that it actually stops any of you from trying. Wait, did you say Hackett was in there?"

Ivy turned and walked out of the main kitchen and across the small corridor separating the main kitchen from what was dubbed 'her' kitchen. Their home, Wildwood, was set up to act as an out of the way place where she could make the various creams, unguents, potions and lotions that others in The Society wanted to buy from her. The property was set up as small farm, predominantly to provide her with the ingredients to make the things she needed. While many items were starting to be moved outside and planted in the ground as spring took a firmer hold on the world, their warren of green houses were still packed with the more tender varietals awaiting their turn in the sun and their hot house filled with citrus and other trees, shrubs and plants that would only be rolled out into the world during the summer months.

Her kitchen was where all of the raw ingredients were turned into concoctions, many of which were definitely not suitable for consumption. It was thought that by keeping the kitchen completely separate, everyone would realize there was no food in it. Instead, most of the Shifters seemed to believe it was where she kept the most delectable edibles and routinely snuck a peek to see if they could find them.

"It's like some bizarre culinary treasure hunt, " Ivy muttered to herself as she looked around her kitchen. Because so many of the wolves clung to their belief of hidden food, she started adding warning labels to various jars, bottles and jugs.

"Wow, " Russell said as he moved into the doorway. Since nothing on the counters looked out of place, Ivy moved to her fridge to see if anything looked nibbled. "You are serious about your warning labels."

"Last week I caught Nathan taking a spoon to a container of topical hex remover, " Ivy said as she tugged open the fridge door.

"Is that the thing that smells like blackberries?" He asked. His smile widened as he continued to look around.

"I use blackberry leaves, " Ivy said. Her eyes scanned the shelves. "There are no berries in it. It is not as Nathan believed, my hidden stash of pudding." Everything in the fridge looked as she left it. Ivy started to close the door and then she noticed the small silicone molds on the bottom shelf.

While her cream based hex remover was good for most general hexes, sometimes a Hex slid right under the skin. There were several that were currently quite popular among those seeking to even scores. It caused a rash and about twenty four hours after the infected treated the rash and thought they were in the clear, a new outbreak would start. The silicon molds contained tablets designed to be dropped into a bathtub filled with hot water. The heat opened the pores and the tablet dissolved, absorbing into the skin and flushing out anything that was hidden beneath the surface.

"Someone's been nibbling my anti hex tablets, " Ivy said as she looked at the edge. It showed the clear marks of teeth along the edge. Russell walked over, bent down and inhaled deeply.

"It smells wonderful, " he said. "Sweet and kind of fruity."

"It doesn't taste nearly as good as it smells I can assure you, " a voice said from behind them. Both Ivy and Russell turned and saw Hackett standing in the doorway. Ivy sighed. She and Russell both straightened and he moved back as Ivy closed the refrigerator door.

"It's not food, " Ivy said. She gestured to the many warning signs posted throughout the space. "Food is in the other kitchen.

"Well, the cookie jar was empty, " Hackett said. "And it smelled like food. Didn't taste like it though, I spit it out right away. It tasted like something you'd find in the bath."

"It is something for the bath, " Ivy pointed out. "You drop it into your bathwater like a bath bomb. It dissolves and if you have a hex under your skin it removes it, if you don't it just makes your skin really soft and removes the remnants of environmental contaminants so your skin is healthier.

"Then why is it in the fridge?" Hackett asked.

"So it can set up in a temperature controlled environment, " Ivy told him.

"You shouldn't put bath stuff next to food, " he scolded.

"I don't, " Ivy said. "The food stuff is all in the other kitchen. There is only bath type stuff, and laundry type stuff and other non-food type stuff in here."

"Well, you should have said something, " Hackett said huffily. "Then I wouldn't have tried tasting them."

"Looks like you need more signs, Ivy, " Russell teased.

"Clearly, " she replied. "And the cookie jar gets refilled on Wednesdays, " she told Hackett. "It's almost always empty

on Tuesdays."

"True, " Hackett conceded. "But I didn't want to delay and miss talking to you before the Seers arrive." Ivy heard a low growl and Russell rubbed his stomach.

"Can we talk over lunch?" he asked.

"Excellent idea, " Hackett said. He looked around as though he expected Ivy to pull food from some hidden corner.

Ivy sighed. "The food is in the other kitchen, remember." She started towards the door and Hackett looked slightly disappointed as he backed into the hallway. "You guys really think I hide special treats in here don't you?"

"It seemed like a logical possibility, " Hackett said.

"Do you hide food at your house?" Ivy asked as they all moved back to the regular kitchen.

"Only the things I don't want to share, " he said.

"So you were looking for things that I didn't want to share?" Ivy asked. Hackett had the grace to blush. Russell looked as though he was swallowing a laugh.

"It was more out of curiosity than anything else, " Hackett said.

As they were investigating the other room, Eric wandered off somewhere. As Winston didn't look upset, Ivy suspected he hadn't taken the container he wanted with him. Also in their absence, Winston put together several sandwiches.

"I figured Hackett would be eating with you, " he said as he moved three plates to the table. He then added a pitcher of lemonade and three glasses to the table.

"Thank you Winston, " Ivy said. She still found it strange when someone waited on her.

"That's what I'm here for, " Winston said, waving off her thanks. He left them at the table and moved back towards the stove. Ivy saw several large pots containing various liquids all simmering away on the stove top burners. As she sat down, she reminded herself that she was no longer running the kitchen and turned her attention back to Hackett.

"Russell said you wanted to talk to me, " Ivy said as she settled in her seat. She picked up half of her sandwich and took a bite. It was fixed exactly as she would have done herself. She looked over and saw Russell sliding a tomato slice out of his sandwich and onto the plate.

"Told you he likes you better, " Russell muttered under his breath, making sure Winston couldn't hear him. Ivy rolled her eyes.

"It's about these Seers, " Hackett continued, ignoring Russell's comment. "I have reservations."

"So do I, " Ivy admitted. "That's why I've set up an interview."

"But is an interview really worth bothering with? I can't see how the pack would be improved by their addition to our community, " Hackett said. He shook his head and took a bite of his sandwich.

"They aren't looking to join the pack, " Ivy told him. "They are seeking sanctuary within a mage house. It has nothing to do with the pack. It's just mage business." Ivy took another bite of her sandwich while Hackett mulled her statement over. Like any Shifter he could scent the truth of her words, but he wasn't really worried about her lying.

Ivy continued to eat her lunch as Hackett puzzled his way through what he thought he should say next. When Ivy and her siblings moved to Wildwood, the pack was grateful for the mage assistance in securing their homes. As her mate, Russell was one of the Isliton pack and they looked forward to having a trusted mage they could call on in times of emergency.

However, they all made it quite clear that as much as they appreciated the fact that they were willing to help, the pack didn't want her or her siblings to get involved in what they called pack business. Somehow it never occurred to any of them that there would be anything happening in their area that could be called Mage business, let alone that as they were not mages, they would have no say in it.

From everything that Ivy learned, pack hierarchy was very strictly structured. It was the wolves who were accustomed to being in charge currently having issues coming to terms with a sector in their territory they couldn't control. As Ivy thought about pack hierarchy, something occurred to her.

"Isn't this more of a Russell problem anyway, " she asked. "I mean, he now leads the Isliton pack and you sort of arbitrate between the different packs and groups of other shifters. " Again color crept up to Hackett's cheeks and Ivy got the feeling his worries caused him to overstep his bounds.

"Yes, well, there is only concern because they would be living under the same roof as the pack master of the Isliton pack and that could potentially cause some issues, especially since a lot of pack business also takes place under the roof. Which makes it pack business, not just mage business. And since we discuss more than just the Isliton pack here, it is my business as well."

Hackett looked proud of his reasoning and he nodded. Ivy watched him take a bite of his sandwich.

"If the two Seers are accepted into my house, they won't be living under this roof, " Ivy told him. They'll be living in town. Since there are quite a few people in town who aren't part of the pack, it is less of an issue and not pack business."

Hackett blinked in surprise and stared at her while he processed the information. Ivy could tell he desperately wanted to take charge, but was left with few avenues for doing so. Ivy finished her sandwich, and downed the last of her lemonade.

"Well, if that was all, " Ivy said. "I need to check on our guest accommodations." Ivy stood and Winston stepped over to take her plate and glass before she could walk it to the sink. "Thank you, " she told him. He nodded as he moved back to his bubbling pots.

"I thought you said they weren't staying here, " Hackett said, a note of triumph in his voice.

"They aren't, " Ivy said. "Nick and Irina are. They will be here this afternoon and will be helping me with my interview."

"But they…they, " Hackett began unsure how to deal with the duo.

He knew Irina was once a Seer who was married to a Shifter, but Ivy hadn't given him any greater details, believing those were Irina's to either keep or share. When she researched the names Nick gave her in the archives, she provided the information to him and no one else. Hackett didn't like not having a name for the Shifter Irina was married to. She suspected once he had the name he would do his own research by contacting various members of the appropriate pack leaders. As Irina was currently listed as dead no one was looking for her. If questions started to be asked, that might change.

"They have been a part of my house for years, " Ivy said, stretching the truth only a little.

"Oh, " Hackett replied. "Then you…have their details?"

"I do, " Ivy said. He stared at her and when she didn't offer any details, he nodded slowly.

"Well, if you are satisfied, " Hackett said. He looked somewhat deflated.

"I am, " She told him. "Now, I'll leave you two to pack business while I see to their rooms."

Ivy moved away from the table and Russell winked at her from behind his sandwich as she left the kitchen. She smiled back, feeling pleased about at least getting Hackett to back off.

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