Darek’s shop held its quiet place of honor, second from the corner, on the sweeping market street. The building was old and the money behind it even older. Rumors about the family’s original fortune were varied, violent, fanciful, and partially true. Though maybe not the ones that everyone would have preferred. Well, the pirate part was true.
The streets were loud with families looking for treats and weekly shopping. A family of three was getting ice cream down the street, a group of teens looked into the window of the boutiques and ogled the latest fashions, a single woman purchased lemons from an open air cart, and Aaron double-checked his shoulder holsters before heading up the steps into Darek’s.
Jewels in gold settings glimmered under the subtle house lights. Rows of cases holding exquisitely crafted bracelets, jeweled pendants, and rings with bright diamonds lined the floor. Aaron smiled. He walked toward the back of the show room, stopping to glance at pieces that caught his eye. When a clerk began to walk up, he shook his head. He could shop for pleasure later.
He made his way to the desk in the back where Darek’s assistant worked. “Alexander.”
The man looked up from the book open on his desk, removed his reading glasses, and folded them. “Mister Bellmonte, a pleasure to see you again, sir. You are the one o’clock.”
Aaron smiled. “As usual, Alexander, your acuity astounds me.”
“You will follow me, please.”
Aaron just nodded and followed Alexander up the stairs to the private office. He surrendered his pistols to the door guard with a sharp smirk.
Meliara Diana Darek sat at her desk sipping hot chocolate from a mug, the whipped cream on top the same white as her hair. She lowered the mug as Aaron sat down across from her. “What can Darek’s do for you today, Mister Bellmonte.”
“A pleasure to see you as well, madam.”
Meliara Darek raised an eyebrow at his response. Eighty-seven years old if she was a day, and she did not care to waste her time on small talk.
“I have a commission only Darek’s has the reputation to provide me what I need. As per usual, madam.” He fished the envelope out of his pocket and passed it to her. She ran the envelope under a black light and a chemical sniffer before opening it. She read it without a flicker of surprise. Then again, one did not get to the head of the information game by giving away any information for free. She replaced the commission in the envelope.
“I believe we can accommodate you, but the scope on your commission is broad and I may need more than one artist to complete a sketch up of the piece. That carries a higher than usual price, Mister Bellmonte.”
“I have no issue paying for quality, madam.”
She nodded and put the envelope into the box marked ‘out’ on her desk.
“Will that be all?”
“Aside from my usual patronage of your showroom stock, I do have in my possession, a piece which may hold some personal interest for you.” Aaron pulled up his small traveling case and carefully unsnapped the closures. He set it down on the desk and offered it to her. It was given the same treatment as the envelope before she opened the lid. This time, her eyes widened and a smile played about her lips.
“I thought it would about cover the cost of the commission, and yes, I recognize that it does not cover overtime or incurred fees.”
“Why, Mister Bellmonte, would you offer me this?” She was still pleased, but no one gave anything away for free. Not in their trades.
“I respect our working relationship, madam, and the acquisition of the piece brought me pleasure. In as much as I know I am a favored patron, I still enjoy becoming more so.”
“I always enjoy your patronage, Mister Bellmonte. But I am rarely surprised by the patron.”
Aaron stood and bowed, making no move to pick up the travelling case. “I enjoy giving gifts to people who appreciate them.” He looked down at the antique dueling pistols and smiled. “Do give my best to your son.”
“I’ll give him the best, but I do believe I shall be keeping these.”
“They suit you, madam.” Aaron took his leave, and Captain Darek’s great-granddaughter picked up his pair of weathered pistols and smiled.
I stole the first line of this piece from Gwen over at Apprentice,NeverMaster. Check out her blog to see the original fiction.