Chapter 43

Tavernier’s Own Journals

“Give me the gem, Oliver,” Jeanne snapped.

“First I need some answers,” Oliver said. He  finished locking the hotel door and turned to face Jeanne, who was leaning against the wall just inside the sleeping area, and Diana, who was already seated in a high-backed wooden chair beside the glass-topped wicker table near the window at the far side of the room. “And I need to get this blood off of me.”

“Do you think anyone followed us here?” Diana asked. She pulled the gun from the inside pocket of her coat, examined it with narrowed eyes, and shook her head.

“From the society, no. But I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that Jeanne’s friends in the underground are not the only players involved here.”

Diana ejected the magazine from her gun and set it on the tabletop, then racked the slide to eject the bullet from the chamber. It spun away to land on the carpet beside her chair. “Oliver, you sure know how to show a lady a good time, but I’m starting to wonder if you’re more trouble than you’re worth. Seriously. Five years since I’d so much as touched a gun, then you come back into my life and I’ve been pulled into gunfights three times in two years.”

“Sorry about that. I’ll send a memo to the united cults of Earth to stop interfering with our efforts to steal their relics.” Oliver unzipped his leather jacket and vest as he stepped into the bathroom. He tossed the jacket into the bathtub, then pulled off his vest and inspected it. Less blood on that than the jacket, but it would still need to be cleaned before he wore it out in public again so the stain would at least look old, rather than drawing attention to him. He called out to the main room, “Check your clothes. We can’t get bloodstains on the hotel furnishings.”

Diana swore and jumped to her feet, suddenly aware of the splattering of blood across the legs of her trousers.

“You’re not going to distract me, Oliver,” Jeanne said.

Oliver turned towards her and started unbuttoning his shirt, which was splattered with blood on the collar and sleeves. “You so sure about that? Last time we survived a fight, you were pretty excited to celebrate being alive.”

“As I recall you got drunk and passed out before either of us got much celebrating in,” Jeanne said. “Now would you mind handing over my family jewel? I’ve gone through a lot to find that.”

Oliver chuckled and turned back to the wide mirror over the vanity as he finished unbuttoning his shirt and tossed it into the bathtub as well. “Here’s the thing, Jeanne. The last time I helped you recover a family heirloom you were claiming that your last name was Delvare and the jewel was a long-lost sibling to the Hope Diamond. This time you’re claiming to be a descendant of Tavernier himself, and this gem…” he pulled it from his pocket and dangled it from its silver chain between them. “This gem was not only was in the possession of a genuine, true to god death cult, but bears a striking resemblance to the Hope Diamond and the gem I already helped you recover.”