Chapter 9

It’s What I Do

Oliver found Jeanne sitting on the top landing of the narrow stairs that led up to his borrowed apartment. She had changed into a pair of tight black jeans and a maroon button up shirt, which was currently unbuttoned low enough to reveal the top of her black sport bra. Her black hair was pulled back into a short pony tail.

And she was pointing a large silver revolver at Oliver’s face.

“Some way to greet the man who gave you a place to stay last night,” Oliver said.

“I have my own place,” Jeanne replied. She lowered the revolver, then slipped it into a holster that hung inside her button-up shirt, beneath her left arm.

“Which was apparently robbed last night. Can you lend a hand, or at least get out of my way?”

Jeanne stood and Oliver tossed her the tripod he had been carrying.

“Nice vest. Been fly fishing all morning?”

“Funny,” Oliver said. He climbed the remaining steps, slipped past Jeanne, and pulled out his keys to unlock the door. “I thought you had a house around here.”

“I never said that.”

“Pretty sure you did.”

“I said my parents live here, not that I own a house. I travel a lot.”

The door opened and Oliver stepped in and shrugged off his backpack before turning to disable the alarm. Jeanne followed him and set the tripod down beside the island counter in the kitchen.

“So your hotel room was ransacked when you got back to it this morning?”

“Not exactly ransacked. All they took was my laptop and flash drives.”

Oliver nodded and pushed the door shut, locking it behind him. “You mentioned that. Are you sure it was TeciGem?”

“Sure as I can be. Nobody else would have broken into my room, taken my laptop and drives out of my bag, and left everything else intact.”

Oliver thought about asking why she hadn’t been staying with her parents, but decided to not push the issue. If one thing was becoming clear about Jeanne Delvare, it was that she did not like to be challenged. She was, Oliver thought, the single most obstinate woman that he had ever encountered, with the possible exception of his mother. Where Jeanne seemed determined to interpret Oliver’s every statement as an attack, to the point that he wondered that she actually wanted his help, his mother had long viewed Oliver’s legitimate work as an embarrassment to the family name. If only she had known about his more secretive activities, Oliver supposed that she might have had a stroke.

“Have a seat,” Oliver said, gesturing towards the kitchen area. “Want a drink?”

“Got anything harder than last night’s coke?”

“There’s beer in the fridge, if you’re into that this early in the day,” Oliver said.

“You having one?”

“Too early for me. And I just got back from the bayou, so I’m sticking with water for now.”

“Oh, thanks, make me feel like the alcoholic in the room,” Jeanne said. She pulled the refrigerator door open and started rummaging through the bottles on the bottom shelf as Oliver poured himself a glass of water.