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Family Matters: The Society Book 4 By Valerie Gaumont Characters: 15933

Updated: 2019-06-11 14:57

Chapter 16

Ivy stepped inside the lobby of the Shadow Council's building and tried to push her own nebulous fears away, setting the past aside to deal with the present. She saw Bert scan Russell and Alex with a bored security guard expression, reminiscent of the previous guard, although slightly less hostile. His gaze then slid to her and he brightened visibly, standing straighter, tugging the wrinkles from his uniform shirt and putting a warm welcoming smile on his face.

"See, " Russell said to Alex.

"Yeah, " Alex said, nodding in agreement. "Big Ivy fan."

The men stepped to the side to let Ivy take the lead and she looked at them, frowning. Alex wagged his finger at her. "We're just your backup singers, " Alex said.

"I thought I was the bodyguard, " Russell said as Ivy stepped past them and walked towards the guard's desk.

"Well, technically you are the bodyguard and I build the stage sets, but I've always wanted an excuse to wear a feather boa in public, " Alex told him. Ivy sighed and shook her head.

"Do we get platform shoes as well?" Russell asked. "Maybe with the goldfish in the heel?"

"I think those are 1970s movie pimps, " Alex told him. "Not backup singers. Unless that's the theme of Ivy's stage show. Then we'd wear those and the feather boas."

Ivy ignored them as she reached the guard's desk. He paid the men no attention, his smiling face fixed on Ivy. 'For all he cares they could be my backup singers.'

"Ivy Chambers and the Chiffons signing in, " she said half under her breath.

Behind her she heard one of the men snicker. She thought it was her brother, but didn't turn to look. The guard held out his clipboard for her, looking a bit like an adoring fan seeking an autograph.

"Good morning Dr. Chambers, " he said as she picked up the pen, swinging from the chain attached to the clipboard.

"Good morning Bert, " Ivy replied. Even knowing he couldn't help but be happy to see her, Ivy found his over eager smile a little on the creepy side. 'I really hope that's an unexpected glitch and not something Theodore programed.'

Ivy signed her name and passed the clipboard to Russell. He signed and handed it to Alex. When Alex was finished, he handed it back to the guard. Bert set the clipboard on his desk.

"Your assistant is ready for you in the archives Dr. Chambers, " Bert said as he walked them to the elevator. "Unless you need to go up to the offices first?" He paused, the key needed to let them descend into the archival level already in his hand. A look of uncertainty crossed his face, disturbing the perma-grin and making him look more human despite the swirl of magics she could see dancing across his skin.

"No, we will be going straight to the archives, " She assured him. He looked relieved by her reply.

"Your regular research room has been prepared for your arrival as well, Dr. Chambers. Please let me know if there is anything else you require."

"I will thank you Bert, " Ivy said. The elevator door opened and Ivy, followed by Russell and Alex stepped into the gleaming metal box. Bert leaned in, fitted the key into the lock and pressed the button allowing them to descend. He then removed his key and stepped back so the doors could close. Ivy wasn't sure if it was the lack of annoyance, but Bert operated the key with a great deal more panache than the human guard.

As the elevator started to descend, Ivy patted her pocket where her extra keys rested. 'If I need to I can get out, even if Hamilton locks down the building, ' she reminded herself. 'Unless the elevator doesn't work, ' her traitorous brain worked.

Despite planning to take the emergency stairwell, neither Albert nor Hamilton ever showed her where it really was or how to unlock it. 'I won't need to escape.' She reminded herself. 'Last time was a one off. Never to be repeated.' She wondered if it would become true the more times she repeated it.

Russell rubbed her back and Ivy wondered if her fear was showing or if he expected her to be jumpy after her last visit.

"So we're the Chiffons?" Alex asked.

"It was the only name that came to mind. I'm sure they were a girl group of some kind, " Ivy told him.

"Sounds like it would be, " Russell said.

"It doesn't really fit with Ivy does it though, " Alex said. "It would make more sense to have something like 'Ivy and The Creepers.'"

"You'd look like creepers in platforms and feather boas, " Ivy told him.

"Maybe 'Ivy and The Vines' instead." Alex replied as Russell chuckled. "What do you think?" he asked Russell.

"Don't ask me, I'm just the bodyguard, " Russell replied.

"You are the one who wanted the platform shoes, " Alex protested.

"I just liked the shoes with the goldfish in them, " Ru

s an accident. She grappled for the right words. While she had nightmares about the golem's destruction none of her thoughts, waking or asleep called for her to justify Marilyn's demise. 'And Emma would technically be like a sister as they had the same creator in Hamilton.'

"Marilyn's destruction was a necessary sacrifice so that Albert Winters and I could survive the attack by unauthorized visitors, " Ivy explained choosing each word carefully. It made her speech somewhat stilted but she didn't think the golem noticed. "She was not destroyed because she wasn't created by Theodore Chambers and she wasn't destroyed because she was malfunctioning. You will not be destroyed because you were not created by Theodore Chambers and you are not malfunctioning."

Emma tilted her head to the side as though running Ivy's words through her database. She righted her head. "The destruction of the golem known as Marilyn followed acceptable protocols. She was sacrificed for the survival of those she served and not because she malfunctioned or because her creator was removed from power. I will not be destroyed because of my creator and I have not malfunctioned. I complete my assigned duties in the archival level with a manner that is sunny both in disposition and in dress. My garment is acceptably sunny?"

"It is exactly the right amount of sunny, " Ivy said quickly.

"I understand, " Emma said. "I apologize if my questioning of protocol has delayed your research."

"I'll be fine, " Ivy assured her. "Especially now that I know you aren't worried about being unnecessarily destroyed."

"Worry is not a part of my programming, " Emma said.

"Of course not, " Ivy replied.

"Your assistant will be waiting for you once you have greeted the archival guards, Dr. Chambers, " Emma continued. Apparently, whatever thoughts she had on the matter, worry or not, were settled.

As she spoke, Emma lifted her right hand and turned stiffly towards the door leading to the corridor Ivy would need to take. The gesture was reminiscent of a game show hostess showing off a prize package. Ivy turned towards the door, half expecting to see a dune buggy or a life time supply of surf board wax. Instead there was merely the entry to the empty corridor.

"Room twenty-eight has been prepared as to your specifications. Do you require any further assistance?"

"I think that is everything, " Ivy said, already starting to ease towards the corridor. "Thank you Emma."

"You are welcome Dr. Chambers."

Ivy turned away and took a large step towards the corridor. The others followed. Somehow after dealing with the other golems, Emma was even creepier.

'Maybe because the others show a variety of emotions rather than just one, ' she thought as they walked.

She thought of Bert's smile, his uncertainty and relief. They were outsized emotions, but still seemed somewhat genuine. She thought about Emma's questioning. The golem claimed not to worry and Ivy guessed she would have the same response if asked if she felt fear. But even without the emotional connection, Ivy was willing to bet there was something. 'Even if it isn't officially an emotion.'

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