The Lost Exhibit (From the Archives)

“Do you have it?” a female voice said from the shadows.

James shuffled on his feet, feeling the weight of the small statute in his pocket. It had taken him months to track it down, and another two to get it across the border for this particular buyer. The lost statute of Anerak, last seen in the British Museam’s exhibit Lost relics of an unknown world.

“Yes,” he replied.

A figure stepped out of the shadows. She wore an evening gown, deep forest green, complete with elbow length gloves. Her hair was stacked ontop of her head, thick curls pulled tight and decorated with diamonds.

She smiled at James. He felt his blood turn cold.

“So tell me,” the woman said, “how did you come about the statue?”

Her voice dropped a warning note. Don’t got for your gun. Don’t try to shoot. James could feel the snipers already aiming the gun at his back.

“Acquired it,” he replied. The woman took a step closer. This close, he could smell the thick perfume she wore, even the line of gold glitter that she had brushed across the top of her collar bones. It stood out against her dark skin, like stardust.

The woman smiled, seemingly pleased. She lent forward and whispered in James’ ear;

“Which pocket is it in?”

“Left,” James replied. He forced himself not to breathe as she brushed her hand inside his jacket pocket and grabbed hold of the statute.

He also felt her fingers slip something else into his pocket. A note.

“Thank you,” she replied, stepping back and snapping open her handbag. The small statue disappeared into the depths of it within seconds.

“You’re welcome,” James said, “and payment?”

“Will be with your bank, as agreed,” she replied, snapping her bag shut, “pleasure doing business with you, James Manegreave.”

James felt his heart stop as he watched her walk away back down to the main street.

How does she know my name? he thought, fishing out the note from his pocket. He unfolded the piece of paper, holding it under the dim outside light that was flickering up him.

Dinner, sometime? Aurora.

“Dammit,” James muttered, crumpling the note up in his hand.

It was not a request, it was a demand.

Featured Image by Alice Hampson on Unsplash

First posted in 2020.

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