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Family Matters: The Society Book 4 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 13310

Updated: 2019-06-11 14:48


Chapter 4

The trunk was filled to capacity with a variety of books. Some were fat and some were thin. Some were barely the size of her palm while others looked more like large format folios. Most were printed text, but several were hand written. Almost none had a title stamped on the spine or cover. Having no idea where to begin, Ivy and Alex each took a book from the top and began to flip through the volumes, trying to get a feel for the subject matter it contained.

By the time Russell came to tell her that Irina and Nick were pulling into the drive, they managed to make it half way through the contents of the initialed trunk. Thus far, none of the volumes contained anything about golems.

"At least we are getting the trunk unpacked, " Alex said with a shrug. Ivy looked to the shelf where the eliminated books were being placed so they didn't create stacks on the floor.

"That's one way to look at it, " she replied.

"I'll keep going and let you know what I find at dinner."

"Thanks, just don't lose track of time. We have company tonight, " Ivy said.

Alex tapped his watch then reached for another book. Ivy stood up and moved towards the door. Russell walked with her down the corridor.

"Family research?" he asked. "Or did Alex catch you trying to lift one of the trunks on your own?"

"Hamilton called and wants me to come in on Thursday because of malfunctioning golems. Alex agreed to go with me and help find the information to help fix the golems, " Ivy said, ignoring the comment about lifting with ease. It was something she was becoming well practiced in.

Since most Shifter injuries tended to last less than an hour unless they were very severe, they tended to treat those that remained injured longer than an hour as though they were severely wounded. While interesting in the beginning, Ivy found it wearing a little as her body continued to heal.

"Thursday?" he asked.

"I figured when Irina and Nick left, I'd follow them out. Make sure they got home safely and deal with Hamilton. Two birds, one stone."

"Makes sense, " Russell said, knowing she felt guilty about her friends' kidnapping by the minions of Ron Corwin after the last time they came to visit. "Luckily things have calmed down here, so I'll be going with you."

"You know I am capable of going places without a body guard?" Ivy said.

"I know, but last time you had a bodyguard and still got shot, " he pointed out.

"I'm kind of hoping that was a one off thing, " Ivy said as they stepped into what was originally designed to be the hotel lobby. "There can't be that many people who want to shoot me."

While there was no reception desk, the large open space was dotted with couches and large chairs set up in conversational groupings. While the space looked high end with nice floor finishing and chandeliers, the furniture wasn't chosen for its beauty. All of the furniture was heavy and designed to be sturdy. As the area was usually used as a wolves' hangout, the furniture had taken quite a beating as chairs and couches tended to get shoved around during friendly discussions. Surprisingly, none of the sturdy couches or chairs was currently occupied. It made the space seem curiously hollow and strangely cavernous.

"What's with the clear out?" Ivy asked looking around. "I haven't seen it this empty since they finished the floors and dropped in the furniture."

"I figured you might want some alone time with your friends before your meeting, " Russell said.

"Really?"

"And most of them are a little wary of Seers."

"They are hiding from Irina?" Ivy asked.

"More like her tea, " Russell said. He smiled.

"So they are worried that a tyrannical old lady is going to jump on the poor defenseless werewolf and force feed them intoxicating tea?"

"Something like that, " Russell confirmed.

Ivy shook her head and sighed. "How are they going to feel about two male seers in their thirties living in town then?"

"They'll be in a shop so it will be fine, " Russell told her.

"Because shop owners don't generally offer you tea?" Ivy guessed.

"Exactly, " Russell said. "They just don't want to be tricked into drinking it by good manners."

Ivy looked at her husband, surprised to find he was serious. Good manners weren't the first thought that came to mind when she thought of the Shifters. They tended to be pushy and stubborn and because they could smell a lie they were very forthright in ways that were sometimes hard to take.

'But I've never seen them decline offered food or drink, ' Ivy thought as they walked through the cavernously empty atrium.

They opened the main doors, stepping out into the early spring sunshine. The cool breeze carried the scent of freshly turned earth and green growing things. When looked at straight on, most of the trees still looked winter barren, but when glimpsed from the corner of the eye the woods fairly shimmered with green, like a strange haze over the bare limbs as leaf buds began so peep out to check the weather.

Ivy knew that when she wasn't looking there would be a flora explosion and suddenly spring would be sprung. Spring managed to take her by surprise every year. One minute winter would be clinging on for dear life regardless of the calendar's decrees and all the plants she could see would look dead and dormant. Then poof, leafy trees and spring blooms. If she missed the in between green shimmer, she ended up staring at the early daffodils as though they were a botanical magic trick.

Nick was pulling his car into an empty space at the end of their row of vehicles. While the wolves tended to arrive on four paws, the mages needed the mechanical assistance to reach town. When Ivy toured and purchased the property, the ground was covered in several inches of snow. The arrival of warm weather revealed a small parking lot that kept their vehicles from being mired in the mud of the front yard. Unfortunately the small parking lot was separated from a strip of dirt that was now a bog like mud intent on sucking the shoes from her feet. Luckily Alex managed to find a temporary solution.

Ivy and Russell walked towards the car using the pavers Alex laid out as a temporary pathway. He planned to work on something more permanent once the ground dried out a bit. For now the mismatched pavers were their only option to avoid the quagmire.

'Unfortunately he can't add pavers to the road, ' Ivy thought as they reached the solid space of the small parking lot without mishap.

The road leading to the house was a dirt one and during heavy rains was sometimes impassible. I

t was the main reason they had the extra walk in fridge and freezer stocked with food. The week before when early rains hit them, they couldn't leave the house for three days. Ivy reminded herself that the extra fridge and dry goods stockpile was now looking a little thin and would need to be replenished before the next rain storm.

Even though the road dried out a good bit, Nick's car looked like he had driven through a mud pit and would clearly need a good washing. The doors opened and both Irina and Nick looked relieved to find themselves standing on asphalt.

"If you stick to the pathway you should be fine, " Ivy told them. Irina peered around her and visibly sagged with relief at the sight of the pavers.

"We almost got stuck, " Nick told her. "Twice."

"You should have seen it a few days ago, " Russell told him. Russell and Nick gathered the luggage while Ivy led Irina over the pathway, letting her use her good arm to steady herself. When they reached the house and less treacherous terrain without incident, everyone looked relieved.

"So how was the trip?" Ivy asked as the group moved inside.

"Very smooth, " Irina told her. "With the exception of the muddy road."

"We've talked to the city council about gravel, " Russell told her.

"We have?" Ivy asked.

Russell nodded. "It was while you were out of commission."

"Ah, " Ivy said. The first few days back she tried to take the painkillers the doctor gave her, following his instructions. While they knocked out the pain, they also knocked her out. A few days down after all the excitement was a welcome relief, but after catching up on all her missed sleep, Ivy decided it was better to be conscious and simply grit her teeth until the worst of it faded. Luckily, she wasn't hurt as badly as the others.

"Well that's good to know, " Ivy added. "Keep me posted on how that turns out. If we get gravel, I'm baking a celebratory cake."

The others laughed and Irina reached into the neck of her blouse and pulled out the necklace Ivy sent her. Attached to the chain was a silver charm imbued with a blocker. While Irina and Nick spent years hiding from Nick's father, recently the Seers had begun hunting for the older woman. While his father considered Nick the important one, the Seers could care less about him and desperately wanted Irina. From what Ivy managed to learn, Seers could not see their own fate. As their clan lived together in a tight knit community, their future as a clan was tied together and therefore invisible to them.

'And Seers don't like to be blindsided, ' Ivy thought.

Considering her past with the Seers, she found the thought darkly humorous. While Irina was born a Seer and trained in their ways, when she married a werewolf, she was exiled. Even after her husband died, Irina stayed away and now the Seers hoped she was distant enough from them to provide insight into their future.

Ivy learned her blockers kept the Seers from finding Irina. The blockers were put on the house and designed to keep anyone from finding their home. For their trip out here, Ivy created portable blockers so that no one would know when they left home and provide a measure of safety for the pair.

"So no one followed you?" Ivy asked.

Nick snorted with laughter. "Spotting a tail in the real world is not one of my skill sets, but no one followed us onto the highway and as we were the only car to take our exit, I'm pretty sure we weren't followed. We passed a few cars in town, but no one followed us and once out of town there were no cars at all."

"He is too modest, " Irina told her. "We left the house early, when the streets were mostly deserted and any watchers could be identified. We then drove across town to get onto the interstate instead of taking the nearest ramp. And we didn't take the Isliton exit in case anyone was in town watching. We took an exit three past and doubled back through the side roads avoiding the town."

"Smart, " Russell said.

Nick shrugged off the complement, looking uncomfortable with the praise. "They know you are outside of Isliton so there was a possibility they would watch the exit or town and even though they don't know exactly where we live they have a general idea of the vicinity and the best route to take from us to you so those seemed like places to avoid, " Nick said. "Basic logic, no super spy skill."

"You'd be amazed at how many people lack basic logic, " Ivy said.

"And most would have thought the blocker was enough and not bother with extra precautions, " Russell added.

"We've learned to be careful, " Nick said, shrugging off the compliment.

"So when are we to do the interview?" Irina asked. She rubbed her hands together and flashed Ivy a wicked grin.

"Tomorrow, " Ivy told her. "I figured you could settle in and recover from the trip first as well as arrive on a different day than the others in case they told anyone of their plans. They are scheduled to be here at ten in the morning."

As they talked, Ivy led their little party to the section of guest rooms. She and Russell helped settle their luggage in the rooms. "Hopefully this will be comfortable for a few nights, " Ivy said.

"This is lovely, " Irina said. Nick nodded.

"Plenty of outlets, " Nick said. His grandmother rolled her eyes heavenward and muttered something in Greek under her breath. Ivy suspected most of Nick's suitcase was filled with electronics. She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a slip of paper.

"What my grandson means to say is that the rooms are very pretty and look comfortable, " Irina said.

"And they have plenty of outlets, " Ivy added with a smile. She held out the folded paper. "This is the wifi password, " she told him.

"Excellent, " Nick replied, taking the paper from her.

"If you head straight down this hall and at the end of the corridor take a left, you'll end up in the kitchen. Once you are settled, rested, freshened up or whatever, we'll see you there, " Ivy said. "Take your time. Dinner is usually around six."

Ivy and Russell left the two to settle in and went towards the kitchen. "Why are we meeting them in the kitchen?" Russell asked once they were far enough away not to be overheard.

"Because the lounge is too cavernous, the small meeting room is too formal and Irina will probably want a cup of tea once she is settled, " Ivy said. "The kitchen table is perfect for a comfy discussion over tea."

"Tea, " Russell asked.

"I made certain to buy some plain black tea, " Ivy said. "Don't worry, no one wants to hear you sing I'm a little teapot again."

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