Chapter 2

Late Night Diner

“Hold up just a second,” Oliver said, quickening his pace to keep up with the woman. “We are not going straight back to my place. For starters, I don’t even know your name.”

“Jeanne Delvare,” she replied, turning towards him and proffering a hand as they continued to hurry down the dimly lit street.

Oliver took her hand and was pleasantly surprised by her firm grip. Then he laughed, remembering the certainty with which she had swung the chair at the burly man.

“What?”

“Oh, I was just thinking how I acted like I was coming to your rescue back there. I’ve got a feeling you could have handled it yourself.”

Jeanne shrugged, glanced back towards the derelict brewery, then nodded her head up the street. “Shall we? They can’t hang on to those guys for long or it will ruin their reputation.”

“Agreed,” Oliver said. “But we’re not going back to my place until I know who you are and what all that was about.”

“There’s a decent all night diner nearby. I’ll explain everything there, if you’ll come.”

“If they do hash, I’m in.”

Jeanne nodded and they continued up the street, then cut west for a block to get out of sight of anyone exiting the brewery, before continuing north.

As they turned the corner onto Commerce Street, Oliver asked, “How did you know my name?”

“You said it in the club.”

“No, I didn’t. You knew it. That means that you already knew me from someplace and I’ve forgotten you, or you’ve got an unhealthy obsession with relic hunters. Either way, I need to know.”

“I’m not stalking you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“Not at all. I’ve already got so many people following me that one more wouldn’t be an issue. I just want to know if you staged that fight to get my attention.”

Jeanne stopped beside a sculpture that rose up from the brick sidewalk in a curving arc of black steel, to which dozens of slabs of inch-thick glass had been fastened. The light of a nearby streetlamp refracted through the glass and glinted from her wide blue eyes. She set her narrow jaw and fixed Oliver with a cold expression. “I didn’t ask you to come charging in like some valiant knight, you know.”

“I wasn’t just going to stand there and let them beat you,” Oliver protested. He glanced back, searching the narrow street for any sign of pursuit. Seeing none, he looked back to Jeanne and was surprised to see that she was still glaring at him.

“Would you have jumped in if I were a man?”

He shrugged. “Possibly. You just looked like you could use some help. Two against one and all. But I guess you’re saying I shouldn’t have interfered.”

She turned and strode down the street, once again leaving Oliver to follow. He caught up quickly and she glanced over to him, saying, “I’ve been following your forum posts for a long time, Oliver. You might only post about your legal salvage work and photography, but that alone was enough to get my attention.”