Chapter 44

That’s Part of the Problem

Despite Oliver’s objections, Diana returned to her apartment a few hours later. Before she left, he invited her to join their expedition to India, but she refused.

“I’m in the middle of the my research grant, Oliver, and I’m not going to risk that, or my life, to help you impress another woman,” she had said as they walked to the subway station near the hotel.

“You were happy to a few years ago,” he said.

“That was different. Our interests coincided then, with your effort to find a biblical relic and my curiosity at the unusual depictions of biblical figures in murals at the Louvre, but they don’t now. I was happy to help you today, Oliver, and I can’t deny that I felt something of a thrill down there in the catacombs, but this is simply not my life.”

“I’m not asking you to make it your life.”

“And that’s part of the problem.” She stopped and pulled Oliver close to a street lamp so that they could stand without blocking the flow of early evening pedestrian traffic along the sidewalk. She looked up at Oliver and said, “I know that I, or Jeanne, or any other woman will always come in second to the lure of whatever relic you decide to pursue next.”

Oliver raised an eyebrow, but didn’t protest. He knew that she was speaking the truth and, if he was completely honest with himself, the truth didn’t hurt at all.

“I see that look. You know I’m right, and you’re not even sorry for it, are you?”

Oliver laughed and stepped back into the flow of people moving down the sidewalk, pulling Diana with him. “You know me too well. Still, I do like having you around.”

“I’ll always be here, Oliver. But here is where I’ll be. Here in Paris, or maybe back in the US of A someday, not out in the field with you, trading bullets with mercenaries and cultists.”

Oliver glanced over at Diana and caught her looking at him as well. Her eyes were soft and filled with concern, but it was the sisterly concern of a woman who wanted support an old friend. He caught nothing of the romantic tension that had swelled between them during their last adventure together.

She smiled and reached up to pat him on the shoulder. “Don’t worry. I’m not waiting for you to come back to me. I’m quite busy with my work, although I have been seeing this one British academic some evenings.”

Oliver laughed at that, drawing stairs from several passersby. “Good thing.”

“Do you really think you can be happy with her?”

“I don’t know. I’m not even sure if this is a good idea.”

“Then why are you taking such a risk for her? You didn’t even need to come to Paris,” Diana said. She paused outside the entrance to the underground and turned to Oliver, inspecting his face.

Oliver’s shoulders fell and he bent to whisper into her ear. “I feel like she’s my last hope for something like normalcy. I need an anchor, Diana. I need some reason to not go after those final shards and trigger an outright war with the Watchers.”