|Spectre of the Past
Author: Inion Lugh PM
The idea is not to become involved in any missions- a rule Silverstone, Artemus, and Hawk have been careful to observe. But when a mysterious woman appears, the rules may change for Artemus. Editing in progressRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Mystery - Chapters: 10 - Words: 13,856 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 1 - Updated: 12-06-04 - Published: 06-06-01 - id: 308191
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Jett Jackson characters. Enough said.
Author's Note: Okay, so I found a printed copy of this lying on my bedroom floor under my bed today. And I realized how horrible it was. How you people were able to read it, I'll never know, but bless you. I've gone back and re-written it. I would still like to completely finish it off, but it's been such a long time, I'm not sure if I'll be able to. (Three years is a long time in between writings). But in any case, here's the edited version of chapter one.
His only complaint was that the tux was too tight around the waist. He wouldn't be able to move as well as he'd need if it came to a fight. No, not if. When. He glanced at his partner, who wore a full-length dark blue evening gown and a string of pearls around her neck.
"Come on, Silverstone. We need to find that diamond. Artemus said that if it were going to be stolen, it'd probably happen before the auction started-"
Silverstone interrupted Hawk. "So as to attract more awe and surprise from the crowd. What is it with criminals needing attention?" He smiled politely at a nearby aristocrat. "This tux itches."
Hawk rolled her eyes. "And I can't move at all in this dress."
"You're not supposed to be able to move in fancy clothes," he grumbled. "It's all about decoration." He took a sip of punch, then started across the room. "There's the host. He looks a little nervous."
"I would too if I had a diamond that size up for auction," Hawk retorted, then she snickered. "You see that girl over there? The one with the blonde hair?"
Silverstone gazed around nonchalantly. "The one with the cloak? What about her? Is she acting suspicious?"
Hawk laughed again. "She keeps looking at you. She thinks you're cute." Silverstone considered for a moment, then winked at Hawk.
"Well, I can't fault her taste…" Hawk elbowed him in the ribs, but straightened as the girl headed over their way. As she drew closer, Silverstone realized that she wasn't so much a girl as a young woman. A very beautiful young woman, wearing a tight dress that revealed her bosom. He coughed slightly and lifted his gaze to study the rest of her. The dress was dark green with a medieval look to it- tie-up in the front, long sleeves that extended well below her hands, with a paler green trim. She wore a dark green cloak over it, but the cloak had gold trim and a golden brooch holding it together. Her white-blonde hair was put up in a tight bun, and Silverstone realized that she wore no makeup.
"Hello, Earth to Silverstone," Hawk hissed. "She asked you a question."
"Oh," Silverstone said, flushing slightly. "I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention."
The woman's eager expression faded slightly as she cleared her throat. "I asked if you wanted to dance." She had a warm, southern accent, and she batted her eyes a few times.
Silverstone glanced at Hawk, who was trying desperately not to laugh. "I'd love to," he said, holding his hand out. The woman grinned and accepted, following him in the direction of the dance floor.
Before they got there, however, the host and auctioneer stepped up to the microphone. Silverstone was privately relieved that the woman wouldn't see his horrible dancing skills, but at the same time mildly disappointed.
"I'd like to thank all of you for coming tonight," the host began, then smiled as everyone applauded. "I'd like to believe it has more to do with my excellent conversational skills than with the diamond, but I'd be fooling myself." There was weak laughter from the crowd; the woman giggled and looked mildly embarrassed. Silverstone scanned the crowd; nobody there looked like a possible diamond thief. Then he spotted the man in the corner, hiding amidst the shadows. He glanced significantly in that direction, then glanced back at Hawk, who had hurried to stand with him as the crowd gathered. She nodded slightly.
"I'll keep an eye on him," she murmured softly.
The host's butler wheeled out the diamond case, which was covered by a velvet cloth. "And now, ladies and gentlemen, the diamond." He lifted the cloth, and to Silverstone's surprise, the diamond was still there. He and Hawk exchanged glances, then palmed their minute data readers. The readers would tell them if the diamond was real or a fake. "I did promise that everybody who was bidding would be able to inspect the diamond, at my discretion, so they would be satisfied with its quality."
"That's me!" the woman squeaked, sounding suddenly very girlish. She pushed her way up to the front of the line, much to Silverstone's displeasure. He stepped in place behind her, while Hawk waited patiently and headed to the end of the line. The host glanced at Silverstone, who shrugged. Technically, he was supposed to be at the head of the line to make sure that nothing would happen, but he doubted that the woman ahead of him was the thief. The man from the corner had moved into place toward the back of the line; Silverstone was sure that it would be that man.
The woman eagerly took the diamond in her hands, then began an overly thorough (in Silverstone's opinion, at least) look-over of the diamond. He kept his eyes on the diamond the entire time, just to be sure that nothing happened, and nothing did save that her sleeve slipped over it for a brief second. She tugged the sleeve back up, furrowed her brow in concentration, then nodded in satisfaction before handing it back to the host.
Silverstone pretended to take an interest in the diamond, but he couldn't act as interested as the woman before him. He studied it long enough for his data reader to get an accurate assessment, then stepped down to chat with her. "What did you think of it?"
She smiled. "It was definitely a perfect cut. If anything, I'd say it looked a little too perfect." Silverstone nodded faintly, not really listening but watching carefully. Nobody acted suspiciously, not even the man, and finally Hawk handed the diamond back to the host with a smile.
"Excuse me a moment," Silverstone said, hurrying up to the host. The man looked relieved.
"I'm sorry, I didn't think she'd push her way up front like that," he said.
"It's okay," Silverstone said. "You got the data readout from when you handled it?"
"Right here." The host handed Silverstone a small disk. "What exactly will this do?"
"Basically it'll just assure us that it was the real diamond the entire time you, Hawk, and I held it. It's a good thing we gave one to you, too, since that woman stepped in. We'll compare your data to mine and Hawk's later, but I didn't see any problems. Everything's going smoothly so far."
The host shook Silverstone's hand. "I'm so glad you were willing to help. You can't imagine how nervous this has been making me."
Silverstone smiled. "Just doing my job, sir."
"Oh!" the host said. "I thought of something that might be useful. I got the names and addresses of all the bidders here tonight, I wrote them down…"
Silverstone raised an eyebrow. "Good thinking," he said, taking the piece of paper from the host. "I'd better get back down to the rest of the bidders."
He stuffed the paper in his pocket as he headed away from the floor. The woman gave Silverstone a funny look. "What did you say to him?"
"Oh, you know. Just thanked him for letting us inspect the diamond before bidding on it."
"How kind of you," she said, touching his upper arm. "If you'll excuse me, I've got to use the little lady's room before bidding starts."
"Hurry back," he said as she headed out.
Hawk moved over to Silverstone. "Where's she going?"
"Bathroom. So, any suspicious activity down at your end?"
"Nope," Hawk said. "Looks like the fun's just getting ready to start."
Sabyne smirked to herself as she headed out of the mansion. "Right under his nose," she muttered, drawing the diamond out of her long sleeve. Her accent was no longer warm and southern, but clipped and British. She headed toward a limousine that was parked just in front of the mansion, opened the door, and slid in.
Across from where she settled down was a handsome man in Armani. "Ah, so you did get the diamond. I had my doubts, you know."
"I am sure you did." She showed no emotion as she held the diamond. "I told you I would get the diamond, and I did it."
"You're smudging it."
"You are not paying me to keep it clean," she retorted, and he chuckled.
"Let me see it."
She smirked. "Do you think I am so stupid, Rafael? I know how you operate. You say you'll pay someone to retrieve something, then take it and ditch them. I want the money first."
Rafael smiled slyly and slid a briefcase over to her. She opened it and thumbed through the money quickly. "It's all there, every last dollar," he reassured her. "I do like a woman who's thorough in her work." She didn't lift her gaze as she tossed him the diamond. "Hey, careful. This thing is fragile." She locked the briefcase and opened the door to the limousine.
"Out," she said.
He chuckled. "It was nice doing business with you, Ms. DeWynter. We shall have to do it again."
"You supply the cash, I supply the goods," she replied.
"We could make a great team, you and I."
"Do not count on it," Sabyne growled. "Out." He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it, then stepped out and slammed the door shut. "Pathetic fool," she grumbled, setting the briefcase to the side. "Cannot even do his own dirty work." She pressed the intercom button. "Take me to the hotel."
Artemus sat in his chair, studying the data Silverstone, Hawk, and the host had collected. Silverstone and Hawk were still in their formal dress, but Artemus looked beyond comfortable. "Well, this is indeed curious," Artemus said. "It makes sense, and yet it makes absolutely no sense at the same time."
"What does that mean?" Silverstone asked.
"Well, between the time that the host had the diamond and the time you had it, a switch was made. Which means, really, only one thing."
Silverstone froze. "Oh no."
"Indeed," Artemus agreed. "But what I don't understand is why he would go to all the trouble of having you there if he was going to take it anyway. He must have known that we would catch him."
Silverstone looked at Hawk and grimaced. "Actually…"
Artemus lowered the pages of data. "Actually?" he repeated reproachfully.
Silverstone shifted uneasily. "I…wasn't actually the first person after the host to have the diamond."
"You were supposed to be." Artemus' voice became dangerously quiet.
"It wasn't his fault," Hawk interjected. "There was a girl there who was pretty pushy, and she shoved her way to the front."
"She wasn't our prime suspect," Silverstone groaned. "I had somebody else picked for the thief…"
"And instead, this girl stole it from under your nose?" Artemus asked.
Silverstone shook his head. "I don't see how, though. I had my eye on the diamond the whole…" He trailed off, then suddenly stood a little straighter. "Her sleeves. She had incredibly long sleeves on her dress. They slid down when she was inspecting the diamond, but…"
"And then she left and never returned," Hawk pointed out. "She told you she was going to the bathroom, and she never came back."
"I forgot about her sleeves," Silverstone groaned.
"And now the diamond is missing and we have no idea where it could be." Artemus looked displeased. "That was a very valuable diamond, Silverstone."
But Silverstone reached into his pocket. "The host got a list of all the bidders. It has their names and addresses." He handed the sheet of paper over to Artemus. "I never caught her name, though, so I have no idea who she is. I guess we could start-"
"Sabyne," Artemus said sharply, then lowered the paper. "Silverstone, this woman…did she have very pale hair?"
"It was almost white," Silverstone said. "Not like she's going old kind of white, but just really, really light colored. And she wore a medieval style formal dress, complete with cloak. She was really good looking."
Artemus was staring at the paper. "This gives her address- or an address, I should say. I doubt it is her own. Still, we must see what we can discern from this." He hesitated. "The three of us should go together, in case of a trap."
"Do you think she's really smart enough to have thought that far ahead?" Hawk asked. "I've come to discover that most thieves and villains don't think too much."
"She always thinks ahead. She always has every escape route plotted, and every possible outcome mapped." Artemus stood slowly. "She isn't physically strong, but she makes up for it with a sharp mind. She wouldn't have given an address without good reason."
Silverstone grinned. "She wasn't that strong. We can take her."
Artemus smiled faintly. "Let's get going, then. We have a diamond to find."