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Family Matters: The Society Book 4 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 21266

Updated: 2019-06-11 14:48


Chapter 3

Ivy's pleased feeling lasted as she walked down the corridor to their guest wing. A few of the rooms were set up for the occasional Shifter to use, but Ivy didn't think of them as true guest spaces. They were places for people who arrived without any luggage and who tended to do no more than use the bed to pass out for a few hours before resuming their wolf form and running off into the woods. This would be the first time Wildwood saw intentional overnight guests.

"I doubt the showers have even been used, " Ivy said as she double checked the towels in each of the guest bathrooms. She sniffed them to make sure they were fresh and not musty. They smelled of the laundry detergent and the tracker remover packets Ivy made up. Even though the property was shielded and fitted with a blocker that stopped any trackers from being active while within the shielded area, all of their laundry, from socks to sheets, was washed with the packets as a matter of course.

Ivy finished looking over the bathroom, checked the beds for clean sheets, made certain the drawers and closet were empty and not used for random storage and decided she was certain the room was ready for use. Satisfied everything was as prepared as she could make it, Ivy left the rooms and tried to decide if she had enough time to create more of the tracker identification spray or if she should return to her files and notes as she stepped out into the hall.

'With Hamilton out of the hospital, he could call for the return of the files at any minute, ' Ivy thought. As she stood in the hall debating, her cell phone rang. Ivy pulled it from her pocket and looked at the screen.

"Speak of the devil, " Ivy said as she saw Hamilton's number come up onto the screen. She pushed the button to answer it and lifted the phone to her ear.

"Hello, " Ivy said politely into the phone.

"Ms. Chambers, " Hamilton replied. His tone had a sharp edge to it, the words hard and crisp. "This is Hamilton Bridges."

"Mr. Bridges, " Ivy said. "I'd heard you were released from Eaglebrooke. I hope that means you are feeling better."

"It does, " Hamilton replied, his tone softening somewhat with her differential tone. "I hope you are on the mend as well."

"Feeling better every day. I hope I managed to leave everything as you wanted it in the office. After getting Jane to send in the custodial staff to clean and temporarily re-staff the guard and archive receptions desks, I told her to just maintain whatever status quo you had going."

Ivy winced at her own words and instantly wished she hadn't mentioned the golems. While she could claim that the guard attacked her and then fell victim to a marauding vampire thus leaving his position vacant, Ivy had no such cover for the receptionist on the archival level. Albert asked her to create a distraction while he dealt with the invaders and Ivy targeted the golem. She snapped the spells holding the bits of her together and had her chase the invaders around the room. In a matter of minutes she went from looking like a Marilyn Monroe knock off to a shambling zombie shedding rotten bits as it chased the terrified men around the room. Ivy told Hamilton she was working under Albert's direction and really hoped he didn't remember that she was the one who destroyed his precious Marilyn. He was quite proud of her and devastated by her loss.

'Even if Jane thought she was inferior, ' Ivy mentally added. She shook the thought away for later.

"It is about my office that I am calling, " Hamilton said, snapping Ivy's thoughts away from the strange flash of golem pride the receptionist displayed. "I'm standing it in now."

"Oh, " Ivy said. "I didn't realize you were back in the office."

'He must have gone straight from the hospital to the office, ' Ivy thought. Albert called her around ten to let her know Hamilton was being released. It was not even one when she left the kitchen to check the guest rooms. She tried to remember how long it took to drive from the office to the hospital.

"We have a problem, " Hamilton continued.

Ivy thought of the blood streaked floor tiles and elevator. She thought of the chenille throw and the couch cushions. "Did I forget something?" she asked.

Ivy thought she got all of the blood and gore out of his office. 'I imagine after a few weeks sitting anything left behind would stink to high heaven, ' she thought. She wondered if Jane would notice and take care of it or if the stench wouldn't even register. Golems were not her specialty and had no idea what they were programed to notice.

"No, you appear to have been quite thorough. There is still a problem, " Hamilton said. There was an odd tone to his words and Ivy couldn't tell if he was annoyed or simply tired. "I will need you to come into the office as soon as possible."

"Well Sir, I'm afraid I wouldn't be able to get there for a few days, " Ivy said. She kept her tone carefully polite.

"Days, " he repeated. This time there was no mistaking the annoyance.

"I'm afraid so, " Ivy fought the urge to explain herself. "Perhaps if you told me the problem I could help with a solution without coming in." Dealing with an annoyed Hamilton from a distance sounded like a very good idea to her. 'Much better than driving in to be yelled at in person.'

"That will not be possible. The issue is with the golems and will need to be dealt with in person."

"Golems?" Ivy repeated. She wondered what happened to Jane and hoped nothing was wrong with her assistant, the animated stick figure known as Fig. Seven.

"They are malfunctioning."

"But I don't know anything about golems, Sir, " Ivy said. She frowned wondering why he would be calling her to fix malfunctioning golems. They were created using earth magic. The only information she had was a fire mage trick that let her destroy them.

"You dismembered one fairly effectively, " he replied, his voice dry enough to catch fire.

Apparently, he remembered Marilyn.

'Crap.'

"I followed Mr. Winter's instructions, " Ivy said trying not to sound like a liar.

"Then I would suggest in your spare time during the next few days, you read up on Golems. I'm certain you family library will be more than adequate to the task. In a few days, when your schedule allows it, " Ivy could hear him fairly bite the word off with a snap of his teeth. "Contact me and we will arrange for you to come in and deal with the situation. Do not tarry overlong, Ms. Chambers. It is necessary to get this office back to proper functionality as quickly as possible."

Ivy thought of her current schedule and fought down her own snap of temper. She had her own business to take care of. She spent the bulk of her life avoiding any involvement with the Shadow Council and its members and wasn't thrilled Hamilton seemed to think she was at his beck and call now. She could feel her fingertips grow warm and didn't want to fry the cell phone. Replacing it would throw her schedule even more out of whack than Hamilton's request. She began reciting the multiplication tables in her head to push back the anger.

'Irina and Nick will be here today, ' she thought as the numbers helped settle her temper. 'The Seers, Lee and James will be here at ten the next morning. Hopefully, the interview will be done in one day and if I accept them I can pass them off to Alex to get the details of the apartments.'

Her one involvement with the apartment and the store below was to add a fire mage's protection to the layered protections already on the building. The store wasn't as secure as Wildwood, but it was close. 'Irina and Nick will be leaving the next morning, so I can follow them out. Not a bad idea since they were kidnapped the last time they left my place. It would be nice to make sure they got home safely this time.'

So far there was no indication The Brotherhood was still watching Wildwood and this time they took precautions with Irina and Nick's travel, but she would still feel better making sure they reached home safely. 'Especially since Howard Carlson wants Irina so badly.'

"Thursday is the earliest I will be able to leave, " she told Hamilton. She hoped her silence hadn't stretched too long.

"I suppose it could be worse, " he conceded. "I will expect your call on Thursday then."

Ivy opened her mouth to reply, but realized Hamilton already cut the connection. "Well, " she said as she slid her phone back into her pocket. "So much for the well-mannered leader of the mage clan."

Ivy cast her eyes back to the guest rooms, but knew there was nothing else that needed to be done there. Everything from the clean sheets to the small vase of posies placed on the night stand was done and ready for the arrival of company.

"You know that's the second time he's mentioned the library, " Ivy said. Instead of returning to her private sitting room and files, Ivy turned her steps towards the shared library.

The room set aside for books was big. Growing up they always had a large collection of books around the house. There were books on magic and history, both from the point of view of the society and that of the norms. There was a collection of conspiracy theory books and fiction suitable for nearly any age or interests. When their grandmother died, all of the books in the house were packed up and stored away. In the years they were separated, each of them started their own collection of books. When they combined their belongings, the books all ended up in the library.

Ivy was certain that when they got around to organizing, they would find duplicates of certain books and a winnowing would be done. For now, whenever anyone got time, they emptied out boxes, placing whatever was removed from the box onto the nearest available shelf.

"Most of the boxes are emptied now, " Ivy said looking around. As she was trying to rest her arm while it healed, she hadn't been unpacking many of the book boxes lately. Someone else clearly took on the task. "And most of what remains is mine, sort of, " Ivy said as she looked around.

Enough of the boxes were cleared from the floor to allow an area rug to be put down and several over stuffed comfortable reading chairs to be installed. Her personal reading chair had been destroyed when her apartment was broken into by a man calling himself Walter Garett, but Ivy was pleased to see the large leather one she favored from her grandmother's house.

"I forgot that was in storage, " she mused as she ran a hand over the comfortably worn leather. Like the books, the f

urniture was taken from different places and while none of it matched in color, style or even material, each was built to comfortably cradle a reader. The various card board boxes were emptied and carted away. Those left for her to deal with were in old trunks, neatly stacked off to the side in front of a set of still empty book cases.

The trunks were delivered to the house after the death of Ivy's instructor and fellow fire mage, Ms. Mooney. After doing some research she now knew that Ms. Mooney was in fact Emily Thorne nee Matthews, wife of William Thorne, sister to Albert and her paternal grandmother. When they were sent to the house, they were stowed away since their family library was already over stuffed and it was believed Ivy would be taking them with her when she left home. Ivy remembered looking into the trunks when they arrived at the house, and knew both of them were filled with old books.

"Both, " she repeated. She looked at the stacked trunks. There were seven of them. "So not just Ms. Mooney's things." Ivy walked over and studied the trunks. Two had the initials E.M. burned into the lids with fancy lettering. "Those would be Emily's." she said.

The trunks were stacked in three piles. One pile held three trunks and each of the other two were comprised of two of the larger trunks. Emily's two trunks topped two of the stacks. Ivy looked at the top trunk on the third stack. The in initials T.C. were stamped in gold bold faced letters on the front of the upper most trunk.

"Theodore Chambers, " Ivy said. "And it's on top." She did a little wiggling happy dance, pleased she wouldn't have to move any of the heavy, book filled trunks. A laugh sounded behind her. Ivy turned to see her brother Alex standing in the doorway laughing at her.

"You shouldn't sneak up on people, " she told him.

"If I didn't I wouldn't get to see such displays of grace and poise, " her brother countered. "What made you happy enough to dance?"

"The fact that I don't have to move any of the boxes to start looking for what I want."

"You weren't going to try to move one of those trunks alone were you?" He frowned at her.

"I just told you I don't have to, " Ivy said skirting the question.

"Uh huh, and what did you need in Old Ms. Mooney's books?"

"Actually, I didn't need her books, I needed Theodore's, " Ivy told him.

"Theodore, " Alex repeated. He squinted as he tried to place the name.

"Grandmother Elizabeth's father, " Ivy supplied.

"And you need his books why?" Alex flopped into one of the reading chairs and stretched out his long legs. Ivy could see he was wearing work boots and the clothes he tended to favor on construction sites.

"Did you just get back from town?" Ivy asked.

"Yup, " Alex said. "The retail place is as finished as we can make it and ready for whatever merchandise you plan to put into it. The apartments are likewise ready for occupancy."

"Melisa is in charge of setting up the store. Lee and James both have retail experience so if we do take them on they will be helping with that as well as moving into the apartments."

"Which means we are as done as we can be at the moment, " Alex added with a nod. "But that doesn't explain why you need Theodore's books, unless he was a retail wizard and I just didn't know it."

"He was an earth mage, " Ivy told him.

"Like me and Max?"

"Yup, " Ivy said. "Except that he was also once the mage representative on the Shadow Council."

"Really?" He quirked up an eyebrow and Ivy nodded. "Huh, I wonder why Gran never mentioned that."

"Probably because we were avoiding having anything to do with the council at the time and she didn't want to put out ideas about following in his footsteps or maintaining a legacy."

"We're not really the political type. And the only thing I lead is a construction crew. You are more of the leader than the rest of us, " Alex said. "Luckily you are more of a leader of the resistance than the council type."

"I don't lead the resistance, " Ivy said. "As far as I know there isn't a resistance. At least not an organized one."

"And yet they all come to you for help, " Alex added. "So why are you looking for an earth mage's books?"

"Well, in addition to being a clan leader, Theodore created a bunch of the golems in the Shadow Council building. Including Jane and the super scary archival guards."

Alex looked at her in surprise. "You're joking, " he said.

Ivy shook her head. "Afraid not."

"I thought Hamilton made them, " Alex said.

"Hamilton made the receptionist who looked like Marilyn Monroe and the one that sat outside the council chambers. Theodore made the scary ones and then to prove that he could make something other than the super scary ones like Crush and Stab, he made a Jane Russell look alike. Hamilton decided to continue the theme with Marilyn."

"Didn't you destroy Marilyn?"

"I did. Hamilton almost cried, " Ivy told him. She stepped away from the trunks and sunk into one of the other reading chairs. "Then Vlad attacked and he forgot about her for a while."

"Did Theodore make Vlad too?"

"I think so."

Alex shook his head. "We have some seriously twisted family members on our tree, " Alex decided.

"True, but I have to admit, as scary as they are the monstrous looking ones aren't as …creepy looking as the ones made to look like real people." She thought of the barely blinking secretary who gestured to the doorway like a game show diva displaying a prize and the way that the golems never realized that Ivy, Ivy Chambers, and Ms. Chambers were the same person. Ivy shivered in revulsion.

"Until they attack anyway, " Alex added.

"Well, then they are so terrifying you don't have time to worry about them being creepy, " Ivy said. "I'm still surprised I didn't get any nightmares."

After the fighting in the dark subbasement, Ivy expected to have nightmares about rotting corpses and things that attacked out of the darkness. While she still had the occasional bad dream featuring Ron Corwin the now deceased leader of The Brotherhood, Vlad and Marilyn hadn't put in any appearances in her dreams. She still occasionally heard the sickening sound of Ron's knife sliding into Hamilton's belly making her wake up feeling ill, but didn't fear the golems. Ivy didn't know why that was, but decided not to poke it too much in case it ended up causing her nightmares.

"I wonder why Gran was so against us learning anything about golems then, if her father built them, " Alex wondered.

"I think because she thought Hamilton might see it as a threat, " Ivy said. "He seems to have been better at it than our fearless leader. At least according to Jane."

"Jane?" Alex looked amused.

"Hamilton's secretary, the Jane Russell look alike. She thinks she is better than Marilyn. She seemed quite proud of herself for it too."

"Well, I've always liked her better, " Alex said. His smile faded. "She thinks she's better?"

"Yeah, it came as a shock to everyone else too as golems aren't supposed to have things like pride or any other thoughts they weren't programed with. And she was definitely proud of herself for being better. I wonder if that's part of the malfunctioning Hamilton was talking about."

"Malfunctioning?"

"Yeah, that's why I was looking for Theodore's books, " Ivy said. "Hamilton said his golems are malfunctioning so I need to come in later this week to deal with them."

"No offense Ivy, but you aren't the first person I'd call to deal with a malfunctioning golem, " Alex said. "It's earth magic. Hamilton would have a better chance at fixing it than you would."

"I know, " Ivy said. She allowed her worry to show. "The only thing I can do is break them, and I don't think he was calling me for that."

"But he wants you to come in because the golems are malfunctioning?"

"Yeah, he suggested I read up on them since he was certain our library had the necessary information."

"You aren't thinking of going alone are you?"

"I hadn't really thought about it to be honest, " Ivy said. "I just got the call a few minutes ago."

"Well, as much as the Intrigues like you, I doubt Russell will let you go without either him or a wolf he trusts since the cats let you get shot last time, " Alex said. "And if you are dealing with golems, earth magic you should probably take either me or Max too."

"Youi think Max would risk leaving his animals?" Ivy asked. Their brother Max was not only an earth mage like Alex, but he was their in house veterinarian. While all of their pregnant animals had given birth, there were still newborns to look after and the general well-being of the creatures to see to. As Ivy generally didn't deal with the animals until they were ready for slaughter and the kitchen, she wasn't entirely certain what his every day duties entailed but knew there were a lot of them Max wouldn't trust to anyone else.

"Probably not, " Alex said. "I guess you are stuck with me then. Good thing construction is finished for the most part. And the things left on Wildwood can stand waiting a few more days."

"That would be helpful, especially since Hamilton didn't exactly say how they were malfunctioning, " Ivy told him.

"It's not like him to be vague, " Alex replied. "He isn't very nice, but at least he is specific in letting you know what he wants you to do." Alex looked over at the trunks. "Is that the only one that's Theodore's?"

"I have no idea, " Ivy said. "I just knew that Ms. Mooney only sent two over. I was just checking to see where the other five came from and got excited about the T.C. on the front."

Alex sat up and looked the trunks over. "It's the only one that is marked T.C."

"True, but that doesn't mean the others aren't his. He could have trunks that don't have his initials."

"Well, why don't we start with the labeled trunk and if we don't find what we need there, we can look at the others." Alex stood up and walked over to the stacked trunks. With great effort he managed to life the loaded trunk down from the top of the stack. He placed it on the floor in front of Ivy.

"We?" she asked as he straightened.

"Well, if I'm going to help you deal with the malfunction I might as well help you with the research."

"Thanks, " Ivy said, relieved to have the help.

"No problem, " Alex said. "I don't mind helping, as long as I don't get shot."

"Hopefully no one will get shot this time, " Ivy said as she bent forward, reaching for the latches on the trunk. "Not getting shot sounds nice."

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