Dave set their suitcases on the dresser and stretched, still stiff from the flight. He surveyed the cozy bedroom, taking a moment to appreciate the view of the mountains out the window.
“This is nice,” he said to Val.
“I need to have it redecorated,” she called back from the bathroom, where she was touching up her make-up before their dinner reservation. “Everything’s horribly out of date—which I guess I should’ve expected. I haven’t used this place in years.”
Dave was just happy to visit one of her properties on a vacation and not as a safehouse to hide in while someone was trying to kill them. He pulled off his watch, wanting to wear a nicer one for dinner, and opened the top draw of the nightstand to put it in.
He stopped, watch still in hand, and stared down for several moments.
“Hm?” She waltzed out of the bathroom, hand to her ear as she put in an earring, and glanced down in the direction he was staring.
A pile of jewels filled the open nightstand drawer: sparkling diamonds, shimmering rubies, and smooth, dark opals. They rested among pearl necklaces, gold chains, and elaborate brooches. Dave winced as he thought about how much it all must have been worth.
“Oh!” Val’s eyes lit up. “So that’s where those ended up. I’d completely forgotten about them.”
“How do you forget about a fortune’s worth of gems and jewelry?”
“Please.” She tossed her hair back from her shoulders. “Do you have any idea how many jewels I’ve stolen over the course of my career? You’d lose track of them, too.”
“We have to return them.”
She made a face like a comic book collector who’d just been asked to throw all their first issues off a bridge. “That’d be a terrible way to start a vacation. Would it help if I said I stole them from a drug lord who pissed me off?”
“Who probably stole them from someone else. We can drop them off anonymously at a police station and let the cops track down the rightful owners.”
She huffed. “You’re going to be a stubborn old stick-in-the-mud about this, aren’t you?”
“Fine. We can make a trip after dinner.” She turned but then stopped, eying the jewels speculatively. “Though if we’re giving them back, we should get some use out of them first.”
“What can you use them for besides playing dress-up and—”
She grabbed a handful and scattered them across the bed, where they lay gleaming like stars in a silky night sky. Then, slowly and deliberately, she crawled onto the bed and draped herself across the glittering treasures, not breaking eye contact with him for a single second.
“—oh,” Dave finished.
“We’ll have to be quick,” she said. “Our reservation’s at seven.”
Dave swallowed. “We may be late.”
Val shrugged, looking perfectly okay with that.
* * *
Hey, super readers! This one’s for all you White Knight & Black Valentine fans. I’ve had this scene in my head forever but never managed to work it into a novel. Also, I feel guilty about ruining Dave and Val’s vacation in Kill Them All and wanted to give them a getaway where nobody shoots a rocket launcher at them.
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