Dreyfus hesitated. He didn’t want to talk shop. He wanted her, but he wanted her on her terms. That’s why he telephoned; that’s why he accepted her invitation; that’s why he was there. He wanted – needed — to know. And now they were sitting at a table together alone in a huge room bright as golden glass. And she had brought them there. To the hopeless romantic in Dreyfus, it seemed as though all he had to do was take Emily’s hand and the two of them would glide away across the floor like elegant dancers. But those weren’t real thoughts: they were just shades, textures, the vague perfume of what he felt looking across the table at her.
For Emily, it wasn’t that complicated. For her, it had been lust at first sight, and even though she’d learned long ago to be selective about her lovers, she hadn’t thought about that. In fact, she hadn’t thought about anything. She’d invited Dreyfus to Pyaridge Hall because she desperately wanted him to be here – close to her. Close enough to touch. That was the only thing that would satisfy her disrupted dreams. And now – here — there was nothing – no barrier — between them.
Emily turned the bottle on the table, struggling with the cork and her bandaged hand. Instinctively, Dreyfus reached over to help her. He twisted out the cork and set it on the table.
She poured both glasses, set the bottle down and lifted her glass.
“Merry Christmas, Sinclair.”
Dreyfus flexed his fingers. “How’s it feel?”
“I stopped the painkillers last night, so it’s a little tender.” Emily raised her glass, “But this should help.”
“It’s very nice, but true confession: I don’t have a very sophisticated palate. I usually just take what I’m given.”
“You’re hardly ever disappointed then?”
“Depends on how you look at it.” Dreyfus drank and reached for the bottle.
Emily put her hand on his. The touch between them was soft with feeling.
“We had a deal,” Emily said, lifting her hand.
“I’ll make you another deal,” Dreyfus replied and refilled both glasses.
“Do you negotiate everything?”
“I’ll tell you about the eggs if you let it go and we get on to more important things.”
Emily considered it. “Alright, as long as you’re not just fobbing me off with some bullshit fairy tale.”
Dreyfus nodded and smiled. “How come your accent goes in and out like that?”
“Don’t skirt the question, Sinclair,” Emily said and put a bit of cheese on a cracker and ate it.
“Okay,” Dreyfus laughed, “I gave the eggs to my boss, and I have no idea what he did with them, but ….”
Emily scowled at him.
“But,” Dreyfus held up his index finger, “I’m pretty sure they’ll go back to being lost and Hudson and McCormick will get a healthy storage fee to make sure they stay that way.”
“But they’re not lost. I saw them. I have photographs.”
“I’d lose those photographs if I were you.”
Dreyfus sipped his brandy and reached for a piece of cheese.
“Look, Emily, nobody wants those eggs found. Nobody. And you should forget about them.”
Emily raised her bandaged hand. Dreyfus slowly shook his head. He was seriously worried.
“They’re trouble. More trouble than you need. More trouble than they’re worth.”
Emily knew just how much four “lost” Fabergé Eggs were worth in the art world.
“That’s right,” Dreyfus said hearing her thoughts, “But there’s a lot more trouble than that out in the real world, believe me. Your friend Anton was killed because of those eggs, and you barely escaped with your pretty little head. So just forget about them. Seriously.”
“You think I’m pretty?” Emily smiled and flirted, but then she was serious again. “Is this what you do?”
Dreyfus slightly lifted one shoulder and gave her a pained look.
“I don’t care. Really. I don’t. I just need to know. If I’m going to worry, I’d like to know why and for how long. That’s not too much to ask.”
“I don’t know how to answer you. Hudson and McCormick insures things that are,” Dreyfus gave a small grimace and sucked air through his teeth, “under the radar.”
“Like ‘lost’ Fabergé Eggs?” Emily ate a slice of pear.
“Yeah. And when things go wrong, they send me out to fix them. That’s it. That’s what I do. Mostly, it’s just like any other job, but every once in a while, you run into people like the Russians,” Dreyfus shook his head again, “Who won’t take no for an answer.”
Emily thought about it. “Alright, I think I can live with that.”
Dreyfus spread his arms with an opened palmed question.
Emily looked directly into Dreyfus’ eyes.
“Take me to bed,” she said.
Dreyfus picked the cork up off the table, held it for a second and then pushed it back into the bottle with his thumb. He lifted his eyes and looked at Emily.
“I’ve got a better idea,” he said.
Friday – Part 11