Uri didn’t answer her. He led her out of the quiet room and back to bed. He cuddled up to her.
“That’s why I was asked special to breed with Mina. She’s almost as good as I am,” Uri whispered into her ear.
“Does she know if its a girl or a boy?”
“No. She didn’t influence the sex. It will be a few more weeks until she finds out.”
“So she’s going to come live with us?”
“No, she won’t. But she will feel honored that I asked. She’ll start coming over more or start following us in the car. She’s one to keep on your good side.”
“What does she do for a living? Won’t this interfere with her job?”
“She owns a number of businesses, but they don’t need to be babysat. She has more freedom then most of us.”
“Now, I’m scared.”
“No, the war against you.”
“I’ll feel better when that money is totally hidden. I would go look to see if the girls got it all taken care of, but you would follow me and it would ruin the surprise.”
“You and the girls are killing me with suspense.”
“Go to sleep or I’ll sic Victoria on you.”
“I hope all your children are girls.”
“I’m okay with that,” he said. “They will all be beautiful and deadly with a knife.”
He kissed her cheek and settled to sleep. She stayed awake for awhile longer, thinking of all that was happening. It was only Victoria’s heartbeat that finally lulled her to sleep.
Uri woke earlier than usual. She was looking forward to another hour of sleep, but he whipped the covers off of her.
“I’m betting Mina shows up,” he said, dragging her to the shower.
“Where did the weekend go?” she said when they showered.
“I have the feeling it’s going to be another hell week.”
After they had dressed, Natalia paused at the top of the stairs which stopped Uri.
“The doors are still closed.”
“They’ll show you tonight,” he said.
He tugged her hand and led her to the dining room. Mag was just coming in with the glass of sanguine tea.
“Do you ever get to sleep in late?” Natalia said to Mag.
“I’m always up early,” she said. “All the laundry is folded and put away.”
“Thank you,” Uri said. “We may be expecting Mina this morning.”
Mag nodded and left. She returned shortly with their breakfast.
“I can be a little more leisurely this morning,” Natalia said.
She sipped her tea.
Uri seemed a little unsettled. He still ate and drank quickly.
No one showed up. Half an hour before they usually left for work, Uri buzzed Bonnie.
“Let’s go,” Uri said. “If I try and be early, maybe we’ll be on time.”
They slid into the backseat of Uri’s car.
“Check the status of the limo and if it’s not ready get a rental,” Uri said.
“Check point,” she said only a few blocks from home.
“Go through,” Uri said with some exasperation in his voice.
There were only two police cars, but as they approached, a policeman stepped out and waved them around.
“I wonder if they got a talking to,” he said. “But then again, why were they even set up here?”
“Still keeping tabs on you,” Bonnie said. “Looks like the tracking system is still not working.”
“Why isn’t the Council screaming at Alfie on this?” he said.
There were no other incidents on the drive to work.
“Looks like Ravi beat us by seconds,” Natalia said.
Ravi wasn’t in sight, but his limo pulled away into traffic just as they pulled up.
“I’ll hear today if they’re having a cocktail gathering this Friday,” Uri said, getting out of the car.
“That will interfere with club night,” she said.
“I’m trying to get out of going to both, but we’re keeping Moralis too busy. You have a good day. I’ll come to get you for lunch,” he said, rubbing her cheek with his.
He held her arm until they were inside the building. They rode the elevator up until she got off on the fourth floor. She was barely a few steps down the hall when she heard the complaints coming from Ingrid. Her language wasn’t business appropriate. Natalia headed straight for her office and called HR.
“You should hear her,” she said to Ursula.
She held up the phone.
“Oh, my word. I can hear her,” Ursula said. “Well, we have enough documented to justify letting her go. Let’s do this. I’ve had enough as well. I’ll be right up with security.”
The next two hours were hectic and loud. Ingrid yelled and screamed and cried.
“Security cameras are documenting all of this,” Ursula said to her for the third time.
“How dare you say I don’t do my work.”
Security was overseeing her while she cleared her desk.
Natalia found two boxes for her to load up her knickknacks. She had a lot of them. Natalia thought it made her desk look busy and useless.
Finally, security escorted her out. Quiet settled on the office. Natalia was glad to note the other ladies did their work, assigning out and checking in files. None of it was being allowed to pile up.
At lunch time, Uri came down to get her.
“Bonnie has the limo back,” he said when they rode the elevator down.
She waited until they were in the limo before she continued the conversation.
“Finally got Ingrid fired. The other ladies are doing their job. It’s quiet and seems to be running smoothly now.”
“Good. Very good. If that keeps up, you’ll have a manager’s job in a few months.”
“I’d like things to calm down in our personal life.”
“Ditto,” he said.
They pulled up to Cooper’s and got out. There wasn’t a line, but it was busy and people were waiting inside. However, as usual, they were seated immediately.
The waiter served four glasses of ice tea. Right behind him, was Moralis and Mina.
“Need some company?” Moralis said.
“Almost expected to see you this morning,” Uri said to Mina.
“Your kid was causing some stomach issues. I ran late this morning.”
“Morning sickness?” Natalia said.
“It’s mild. I just wasn’t expecting it. This is my first one. I got the medicine now. All good.”
“Only one check point this morning, but they waved us through,” Uri said.
“Tea is moved,” Moralis said hardly above a whisper. “So why did your garage smell if you already moved two bags?”
He barely moved his lips.
“I moved two bags, but only partially full. I was on foot. Not going to carry eighty plus pounds. Plus, I had to hide that I was carrying it. I put the rest in trash cans in the garage. The hide in plain sight sort of this.”
“I waited until Frances left for work and put a load in the wash. You’re right. It does have a strong smell after sitting in a plastic bag for this long.”
“Mines not reachable at the moment, but it can sit,” Mina said.
“Nothing has come through the bank, yet,” Uri said.
He was leaning in as if they were in a huddle, but he abruptly sat back with his eyes to the door.
Natalia looked. Alfie had come in with Cora. They all exchanged waves in acknowledgment, then Alfie and Cora went to sit at their own table.
“End of meeting,” Uri said under his breath.
The rest of the day flew by. Natalia was ready to go when Uri came down for her. The other ladies were already gone. She locked up her office.
“I’m glad today is done,” she said. “I hope tomorrow starts as quiet as today ended.”
“Busy day. Housing market is going wild, and there are lots of loans and investments happening.”
They ended their conversation during the elevator ride.
Natalia felt good to be back riding in the limo. The limo reported check points. There was one they had to go through. Bonnie stopped and rolled down windows. The police didn’t take their IDs, just looked in and then waved them on.
“They are definitely keeping tabs on me,” Uri said.
Once home, Natalia trotted up the stairs to change. When she pulled on her jeans, she felt the note in her pocket. The one from Sherri.
“Forgot about that. I’ll see if Tia can get me access to Anna.”
She took the note out and slipped it into her satchel, then stepped out to the top of the stairs.
Uri had gone into his office right away.
There was the smell of dinner.
The rooms were still closed.
Natalia trotted down and headed to the dining room.
A few minutes later, Uri joined her. Mag served dinner.
“Am I going to see the rooms tonight?”
“Yes,” Mag said. “Right after dinner.”
“When we’re both done eating,” Uri said.
He seemed to be eating slower than normal.
“You are a tease,” she said.
He smiled and sipped his tea.
“Ah, such a leisurely dinner.”
Natalia scowled at him. She finished eating before him for once and had to wait. After his last fork full, she was about to jump up when Mag entered, but Mag wasn’t empty handed.
“Cupcakes for dessert,” Mag said.
“Why?” she said.
She almost didn’t want the cupcake. However, she peeled off the paper and licked the frosting. It was her favorite grubbie frosting.
“To celebrate the nursery,” Mag said.
“You had to make these. So good,” Natalia said.
She pulled off half of the bottom of the cupcake and put it on the top with the frosting, then took a big bite.
“Why did you do that?” he said.
“Keeps frosting off my nose. Unlike you.”
He wiped frosting from his nose.
“Learned something. Not used to getting cupcakes.”
Finally, Mag cleared the table. Once the table was clear, Mag came out of the kitchen followed by Kate, Zena, and Bonnie. Natalia ran up the stairs, but had to wait for Uri who unlocked the door to the nursery.
Natalia stepped in.
“Oh, my word.”
The room was the same light blue that she had seen in Brianna’s nursery. There was a beautiful crib with blue and white fleece blankets draped around it. There was a changing table beside a wooden dresser.
“All of your supplies will be in here,” Mag said, pulling open drawers.
There were wipes, towels, and ointments in the first drawer. The second held diapers. The other two drawers were empty.
“Those will hold Victoria’s clothes.”
There was also an overstuffed rocking chair. Natalia sat in it. It was comfortable and rocked gently. There was a fleece comforter draped over the back that was also blue and white with butterflies and dragonflies printed over it. Even the curtains had been changed. They were the same color and pattern as the comforter.
“Signs of good luck,” Mag said, explaining.
“It’s beautiful,” Natalia said.
By the changing table, she noted a trash bin. It was in the shape of a cat, mottled blue and white.
“That’s so adorable.”
She rose and opened doors beneath the changing table. There was a package of diapers and towels.
“What does my office look like?”
Uri led the way and unlocked the door.
Natalia stepped in.
“Oh, my word.”
The whole room was a warm welcoming collection of different shades of brown. There was the chaise lounge that she had been wanting with a fleece throw blanket. A low table was beside that where she could put a drink and her tablet. There were also a small desk and chair with a fanciful pen and pencil holder that looked just like an upright beetle.
“It’s beautiful. I’m not going to study in here, I’m going to sleep.”
“This is so cozy,” Natalia said.
“Once you start gaining in size, this will be a nice place to relax and get off your feet,” Mag said.
Uri pulled open the curtains.
“How wonderful,” Natalia said.
“You can’t use it until spring, but you have your own tiny patio with a chair and table.”
There were two chairs with the table. They just fit on the balcony, allowing enough room for people to slide in to sit.
“I can’t wait until spring,” she said. “Thank you. This was so worth the wait.”
You can spend the rest of the evening in here,” Uri said.
He placed her satchel by the chaise lounge.
“I’m never going to want to leave. Thank you so much, Mag, Zena and Kate.”
She gave each of them a hug. They all looked pleased.
“I don’t get a hug?” he said.
“You just paid for everything,” she said. “They did all the work.”
She smiled and hugged him.
She settled in her chaise lounge. Everyone left.
The room was so comfy and cozy. There was even a woodsy smell that she decided was coming from the dresser.
Uri stepped back in.
“I forgot to tell you. We are going to a cocktail party on Friday therefore we will have an early start so we can come home to change.”
“I’ll just wear the same black dress if that’s okay.”
He nodded and looked around the room.
“Damn, I might have to have them redo my office.”
The quiet of the room was relaxing. She found she was able to get a lot of reading and homework done.
Tuesday was a quieter start. They passed through a check point again, but were waved through. The remaining ladies in her office did their jobs. She allowed them to turn on a radio and they all seemed much more relaxed and happy. Natalia found she had time to look through the material for the new imaging system that the bank wanted to implement.
Uri came and got her for lunch. Moralis and Mina didn’t join them, but Ravi did. Alfie and Cora also showed up, but sat at their own table.
“I can hardly wait until spring comes and the garden parties start back up,” Natalia said to Ravi.
“I know Sittel is itching to get out into the yard. We have an all seasons room, but it’s not the same.”
“Will she be coming on Friday?”
“She usually doesn’t,” Ravi said.
“Let her know that I will be there and hope she comes.”
Ravi smiled, looking pleased at the request.
“Tell your limo driver that we’ll drive you back,” Uri said.
“Thank you. Very nice of you.”
They left together. Natalia saw that Alfie and Cora were still there.
Natalia settled back in her office when she remembered Sherri’s note. She called Tia.
“Hey, Tia. This is Nattie. I was wondering if Anna can have visitors?”
“Limited visits are allowed at the moment. You want to see her?”
“Yes, I’d like to visit her and see how she is doing. I haven’t really heard much about her or what the Council is doing.”
“She’s receiving counseling sessions. She’ll probably be in jail for sometime. We are allowing her to take her high school classes on line.”
“That is nice to hear.”
“We could probably do that right after work. I know Corean will be there monitoring.”
Natalia wondered what monitoring entailed.
“Let me check with Uri. I don’t know if I want him only with Bonnie going home.”
“Just let me know.”
Natalia called Uri.
“Sorry to bother you. I wanted to go see Anna and Tia said tonight would work, but I didn’t want you driving home with just Bonnie.”
“I’ll see if I can get Moralis to follow or come with. I’ll call you back.”
Natalia went back to reading about the new system. She was taking notes and writing up questions that she had.
Her phone rang, and she could see it was Uri.
“Moralis will come with. He hoofed it to work today anyway so he doesn’t have a car. We can take him home later or have Francie come get him.”
“Okay, great. See you later then.”
She called Tia and let her know.
Then she sat at her desk wondering if this was the right thing to do. Anna hadn’t exactly been friendly during her trial, She had revealed that she was the one who had ordered the attack to have both Natalia and Uri killed. She also had expressed a hatred of Undents. Despite being bitten and having developed the mark of a Viperian, Natalia knew she wasn’t a Viperian. She was an Undent and that hatred had been aimed at her.
“I’m only doing this for Sherri.”
But then again, it had been expressed that Sherri was to have no contact with Anna.
“Just a simple note of encouragement,” she said.