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Chapter 30

Natalia took her seat.

’Welcome,’ every Council member said to her in Viperian.

’Thank you.’

There was a ripple through the room when she spoke Viperian.

My secret is out, Natalia thought.

“We will now turn to the sentencing,” Kareen said, changing languages.

There was the sound of a door. Two police officers led in Sherri. She was dressed in jeans and a t-shirt and she was barefoot. Her head was down, and she had no expression on her face.

“Sherri Toranga.”

Sherri never moved.

“I could write a book on the events that have occurred over the last two months that were all due to you,” Kareen said. “You instigated the sanguine tea shortage. You instigated the theft of millions of dollars. Despite a warning sixteen years ago, you tried to breed with two different men within days apart in order to either scam money from them or control them.”

Kareen paused to glare at Sherri.

“You caused grief to numerous people that were accused of crimes they hadn’t committed. Uri Osrisca is innocent of any crimes. Alfie, a victim of your double-crossing, is dead. He paid you a lot of money for the marriage rights to Anna. He was enticed to aid in stealing money that we hafd confiscated from the Church in order to pay for this. Kasseen also thought he had bought the marriage rights to Anna. He is also now dead. These deaths will be attributed to you.”

Sherri jerked her head up.

Natalia knew this meant a death sentence.

“Peter. He is not dead, but will be serving a short sentence. His only crime is believing he had sired a child with you. He also created sliver letters for you to help you communicate with Anna.”

Kareen paused to sip some water.

“Because of your many good deeds as Council woman, your sentence of death has been commuted to life. You will be allowed no visitors for ten years. Should you still be alive at that time, your family may visit you should they choose.”

Sherri dipped her head.

“The last sentence is for Anna. Due to the attacks she authorized through the Drivers Guild, pretending they were orders from her mother… due to the deaths she was planning after her escape from prison… due to her hatred of Undents and her own family… she has been given the penalty of death. She has already passed.

Sherri fainted and hit the floor hard.

No one moved.

Kareen continued as if Sherri was still aware.

“As for your children…“ Kareen looked up and over toward an older woman in the room. “In the line of succession, your mother is first. She has waived her right to your children.”

Kareen’s eyes moved to Grazie.

“The next in line is your current husband. Grazie has been declared current husband due to the recent birth of your child with him. Grazie, do you accept this responsibility?”

Grazie stood.

“I do,” Grazie said in a loud and clear voice.

“Grazie has accepted all responsibility for the raising of your children. Your estate will be his to use.”

There was another ten seconds of silence.

Kareen raised her hand toward the Council members. Natalia rose with them.

“The Council has spoken.”

Natalia could see that this motion ended the meeting. People started to file out.

“Kareen?” she said.

None of the Council members had moved as if they were waiting for everyone else to leave.

“Yes, Nattie?”

“I am under the belief that Bonnie, our driver, is an employee of the Council.”

“Yes, that is true.”

“Can we give her a raise? She’s had to put up with a lot. Drivers Guild attacks, people bashing into the limo, visits to… you know where… Hell.”

Kareen smiled and nodded.

“We can move her to your staff,” Kareen said. “You can expense her salary. You will get a salary from the Council for your part. We’ll go over all that. A few of you need to know these things.”

“When do we want to cover this?” Pearl said.

“Let’s have a weekend. We’ll do our usual meeting on Tuesday.”

Everyone nodded.

“And can someone please add Nattie to our broadcast system so she gets the news flashes. She had no idea she was nominated,” Kareen said.

“I got that,” Friesa said. “Shame on Uri for not telling her.”

Natalie smiled as she stepped down and joined Uri who was waiting for her. Moralis stepped up and joined them. Then Tia arrived with Grazie and all the children.

“Congrats on your new family,” Uri said.

Natalia watched as two officers picked up Sherri and carried her off. No one else watched or seemed to care.

“I am so happy,” Tracy said.

Zean was bouncing up and down also looking happy.

“We’ll be looking for a new house, too,” Grazie said.

His eyes were on Tia. Grazon, his son, was clinging to his leg.

Uri rolled his eyes.

“Everyone wants a new house.”

Francie slid up beside Moralis. He put his arm around her.

“You should see the place that Francie wants on the lake.”

“I think you want the place on the lake,” Francie said.

Moralis winked.

“We’re going over there this afternoon to take a look. Join us and then come to dinner.”

“You know, I think I need a bus,” Grazie said, looking at all the children.

“I can get my learner’s permit,” Tracy said.

“That is not helping,” he said.

“What’s the address, we’ll meet you,” Uri said.

Natalia nodded.

“You know this totally squashes any hopes you had of becoming a Council member,” Natalia said as they walked out to the limo.

“I’m totally fine with that,” he said. “I have a sister, a father, and a wife on the Council. I am either favored or cursed.”

She laughed.

Bonnie smartly opened the door of the limo for them.

“Everyone knew of my nomination except me. What if I didn’t want to do this?”

“You would have,” he said.

“And who nominated me?”

“I think Tia did.”

“So now I have school, work, a pending baby, and the Council. I am so busy.”

“No more running amok,” he said.

He put his arm around her.

“We’ll manage,” he said. “We can always reduce your hours at work. Ursula won’t be happy because you’re doing so well.”

They fell into silence. The area that they now rode was one she’d never been in. It was the far side of the lake where it was neither near the boat dock nor the boardwalk. The homes were large and private.

Bonnie pulled into the laneway. It was a large circular drive. Moralis and Francie were already there. There was also a woman.

“Real estate agent,” Uri said.

Grazie and Tia’s cars pulled up.

“Friends and family,” Moralis said to the agent who nodded and unlocked the house.

The house was huge. Large windows looked out over the lake. After a tour of the main floor, everyone headed downstairs. Natalia caught Uri and Moralis walk off. She followed. They left out a side door down toward the water. There was a boat house. The snow was heavy and the lake looked picturesque.

Moralis unlocked the boat house door. They all stepped in, and he shut the door.

Natalia knew immediately what she was looking at. There were two lifeboats. There was also the faint scent of blood meal and balsam.

“What are you going to do with all this blood meal?” Uri said.

“The real question is how the hell did you get these in here? The lake is frozen,” Natalia said.

“I need something to feed the grubbies in the basement,” Moralis said, seeming to ignore Natalia’s question.

’Good thing it snowed more,” Uri said.

“And that the ice is thick enough,” Moralis said.

Natalia knew they weren’t going to tell her.

“So what’s next?” Natalia said.

“Victoria,” Uri said.


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