Saturday, September 17, 2016

Emerald Envy

A Free Romantic Historical Lesfic Caper in Brief

Emerald Envy

I hefted the carved flat emerald in its newly set platinum and diamond pendant necklace. There was no way to wear it inconspicuously through the streets of Paris. Even on a bitter winter night like this, it would bulk out my thin wool cape too much. Some opportunist would see a tall thin woman with a promising bulge and figure out that they had little to lose in trying to jostle it loose. I also didn’t trust any of my pockets to support the monstrous weight of the emerald I’d lifted from an Indian Mogul two weeks prior.

There was nothing for it. I had to get the emerald and all of its flashy new diamonds to Jacques “the madman” Coquin before he slit Madeline’s pretty throat just to satisfy his grudge against me for being the better thief. Holding my lover hostage gave him all the leverage and he knew it. The millions I would have made selling the newly fitted emerald to the highest mob bidders on Chicago’s diamond street were nothing compared to the wealth of joy I found basking in Madeline’s bright smiles. Some treasures are priceless.

I took out my handkerchief and wrapped it carefully around the sharp edges of all the jewels’ settings, encasing the pendants' glory inside the silk bundle. I sighed and shoved the mass between my corseted breasts as firmly as I could manage before draping Madeline’s heaviest brocaded scarlet scarf around my head and shoulders. Satisfied the folds of the scarf held enough obviously fabric lumps to satisfy the curious looks of second-glancers, I pulled on my navy wool cape over top and quickly inspected the results in the looking glass.

My image reflected someone who would likely be taken for a normal middle-class woman hurrying homeward. I left our modest flat on Rue Claire and hurried down the stairs to the street. One of those new-fangled Bugatti 35B’s roared around the corner on brass and rubber wheels, making an unworldly racket against the cobblestones on its way toward the Champs-Elysees and all of the park’s Friday night pre-opera festivities. At least there was a reason for people to be out in such cold tonight, I realized that would help me pass unencumbered to Jacques' little cabaret.

I kept pace with pockets of other people walking when possible, glancing around to see if and when Jacques' men might pick me up, but I spotted no one threatening until I arrived in the alley backing the cabaret.

Two of Jacques' goons, one flat-footed, the other with a nose like a hobnail vase, barred my way.

Hobnail-nose grabbed my shoulder with an iron grip and chuffed in French so thick I could barely interpret, “What do you want here?”

I suppressed my wise-acre urge to retort nothing before kneeing him in his fruit basket, and answered like I remembered Madeline’s life was at stake instead, “My name is Lissette Tatum and Monsieur Coquin is expecting me here now.”

Hobnail-nose gaped at me and didn’t ease his grip any. I peered expectantly at the flat-footed goon, who looked a shade brighter than the other one. Flat-foot nodded and smiled, his voice strangely high pitched, “Yes, Madame Tatum, you are on the list as they say.”

Hobnail-nose turned loose of me and pushed the door open with the heel of his right boot. Flat-foot stepped aside to give me room to pass and gestured with one hand. “Monsieur is waiting in the first dressing room on the left.”

I walked from the cold dark bricked alley and into a warm ocher plastered and gilded hallway. My boots looked cheap and worn-out against the white marble tiles, but I forged ahead like I owned the place anyway. A regular woman of the modern era, Ms. 1926, I kidded myself. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. I was a steel rose when it came to sleight of hand and seduction thieving, but heavy-hitting was way out of my league. I was desperate to get Madeline and I out of this place still breathing, but I wasn’t smart enough to spot any leverage for keeping us safe. Once I gave up the Mogul’s emerald, Jacques would surely just kill us both, but if I didn’t try he would undoubtedly kill Madeline or worse. Thoughts of his brutish mustache blemishing Madeline’s pale velvet skin renewed my anger and determination as I lifted a hand and rapped twice on the door the flat-nosed goon had indicated.

Several deep breaths passed and no one answered. My pulse quickened. I lifted my hand to strike my knuckles against the wood again, but before flesh glanced wood the door swung open slightly. Madeline’s hand slipped out, grabbed my wrist and tugged me into the dark room. We stood practically nose to nose in the silence as she reached around me and pushed the door shut again with a firm click.

Irrational joy at the sight of her unharmed stunned me mute. Dumbstruck at her smiling green eyes peering up at me in the dim room, I stammered my words together, “Where’s, What’s, did the madman, I mean Jacques.”

Madeline pressed two cool finger tips against my lips. “Shh. It’s fine. I am not hurt. I took care of him, but we need to leave and quickly.”


She gestured behind her and I peered into the dimness. Jacques lay sprawled out on a velvet love seat in the corner with a large knot looming on his temple. His eyes were closed and a full bottle of absinthe lay in his lap.

Madeline took my hand. “He was stupid enough to give me the bottle of absinthe so I could check out the quality before he poured us a drink.  I clubbed him with it.”

“Is he dead?”

Madeline pulled me to the door. “No, he is breathing.  You can feel his mustache moving, but we will be dead if he wakes up and finds us here.  I was just waiting for you.”

I hesitated. “We can’t go out the back.  Those two goons I came in through will make a ruckus.”
Madeline stepped very close to me. “We can go out the front.  No one here has seen either of us and it’s crowded. Listen.”

I tilted my head and heard the sounds of the crowd, clinking glasses and shuffling chairs, thrumming along the walls.  I pulled Madeline in close and kissed her full on her warm lips, relieved to be together and potentially still wealthy despite Jacque’s emerald envy. “You’re my hero.” I realized she was a true partner, as in love with as I was her.

She smiled. “I know.”

Cover Art for the Story
This story was written as a #NaNoWriMo warm-up and as such was limited to a 1,000 word short story featuring the Mogul Emerald Necklace. Bonus if I include ninja space monkeys (which I couldn't). 

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