Chapter 16

Measurement Discrepancies

“You’re not going to do anything stupid, are you?” Amber asked.

“Of course not. I just need to get a better idea of who I’m dealing with.”

Amber didn’t say anything, but he could sense her rolling her eyes over the phone connection. Oliver’s cousin Amber had come to live with his family after her parents were killed in the amazon and they grown up together practically as twins. She had accompanied him on his first expedition to find a shard, the same one which had been the cause of her parents’ deaths, and they had remained close over the years, even as she had settled down and married, while Oliver continued trekking across the world in search of relics.

He glanced both ways, then crossed the narrow street without slowing. “I can hear you rolling your eyes, Amber. If you don’t want to help, I can just go into this blind.”

“Of course I’ll help you, Oliver. I’m just worried about you getting so involved with someone else’s project, especially when you already know that she’s lying to you.”

“I don’t know how much she is lying about. What I do know is that this is an interesting project and I want to see it through.” Oliver paused at the base of the steps up to his borrowed apartment, not wanting Jeanne to hear him on the phone.

“And she’s hot, isn’t she.”

Oliver said nothing, then immediately realized his mistake in staying quiet.

“I knew it! Nobody can live like a monk forever.”

“I put what I know in the encrypted image on Dropbox. Just get me what you can without making Tom angry.”

“He’s almost ready to forgive you.”

“I don’t blame him for being angry.”

“I got you two put on the hit list of an international cartel of supernatural killers. I think your husband deserves to be a bit grumpy with me.” Oliver glanced up and down the street, reflexively scanning for any sign that he was being watched. He had reached an impasse with the Watchers, but now he always assumed that they were following him. “I’ve got to go now, she’s waiting for me.”

“Be careful, Ollie.”

“Will do.”

Oliver hung up his phone, put it away in his vest, and climbed the steps to the loft apartment, where Jeanne was standing over the table in the dining area, studying the maps they had taken from the mine office.

“Took you a while,” she quipped, glancing up and reaching for her gun as Oliver entered the apartment, then going back to her work as she saw it was him.

“Couldn’t decide between low fat and whole milk.” Oliver set the woven plastic grocery bag on the counter and started unloading its contents. “You find the best path to the hydromining cavern yet?”

Jeanne straightened and leaned back, arching her back with her arms above her head as she cracked her stiff vertebrae and stretched her shoulders. Oliver ducked his head behind the refrigerator door and pretended to rearrange bottles in an attempt to hide the grin that slipped onto his face at the sight of Jeanne’s unintentionally seductive pose.