Delilah noticed the car right away and shook her head. Who else but Brenda would drive a Maserati into a town full of pick up trucks and SUVs? She stuck out like Prince Charles would at a redneck barbeque. She followed Delilah's car up a dirt road to a log house not even bothering to stay that far behind.
Brenda stopped her car directly behind Delilah's and got out. She took a stance in the middle of the drive, one of defiance. Delilah smiled to herself as she walked toward her.
“Fancy meeting you here,” she said.
Brenda’s mouth went into a thin, tight line. “Well, you’re the last person I expected to see in Callicoon, New York.”
“What are you doing in this tiny little town?”
“I rented this sweet house for the weekend, mountain air clears my head.”
“Right. Can we talk?”
“Did Peter send you?”
“Peter has no idea I’m here.”
“Got wind of the Eagle, didn’t you?”
“Precisely,” Delilah said.
“Don’t be stupid, Delilah.” Brenda laughed, that horrible high-pitched hyena scrawl. They were seated on a long sectional couch with windows as tall as doors.
“You’ll never get away with something so incredibly dumb. I'll inform Peter. You have no experience in passing merchandise. You can't do this on your own. What are you thinking?”
Delilah took a very pregnant pause. She had information that Brenda didn’t and Brenda probably knew that, or at least suspected it.
"I suppose you're right.’ She sighed. “I just wanted to do it for Peter, give him a grand farewell, the pinnacle of his career, the Eagle Diamond. It was going to be a surprise. I guess if Peter knew what I was up to he'd be furious that I’d attempt it on my own. I should have known he’d send his team to Callicoon."
“He wouldn’t be pleased with your presence here, that I know.”
“Speaking of knowing, you know of course that I know things that you don’t.”
“About the Eagle? That it’s not a bullshit rumor? ”
Delilah shook her head. “It’s real, Brenda.”
“You’ve never negotiated anything of value. You need me. You can’t pull this off on your own.”
Delilah stared at Brenda for quite some time before holding out her hand.
“You weren’t in my plans,” she said.
“Plans are meant to change. You’d botch this, Delilah, and Peter would be furious.”
"I guess you have a point. All right then, against my better judgment, let's collaborate, you and me. I'll even let you take all the glory when word gets out, which it will.”
“Did LaPorte call you?”
“We want to involve him as little as possible. I know who has the diamond, that’s more than anyone else knows, you won't get anywhere without me, and maybe I won't get anywhere without you. We’ll have to negotiate a good price for the diamond . We'll need a player, of course."
Brenda looked at her steadily. "Peter has contacts. I thought you were doing it for him? You must be using his contacts?"
“He’s dying of cancer. We need our own contacts.”
Brenda was clearly taken off guard. “Oh, my God,” she said.
“It’s you and me,” she said.
“And Brock,” Brenda added.
“Brock?” She took a long pause. “All right, and Brock. Peter is sending him here anyway; he’ll be a big help if there are problems. I don’t expect any though.”
Brenda relaxed, Delilah could see her shoulders fall and hear the breath she took. "I'm glad you've come to your senses," she said. "I'll inform Brock. We'll get a player and pass it quickly. There's certainly enough for all of us."
"It's complicated, though. The man who knows where the diamond is, well, he’s a bit strange. I’m told he doesn’t actually have the diamond but he knows where it is. We’ll have to negotiate with him to get to it."
“Can you take me to him?”
“Tonight, meet me in the woods behind his house. I haven’t approached him yet. We’ll approach him together.” She found a slip of paper and wrote an address. “Park just off the road and walk up. I don’t want us to be seen with him.”
“You say he’s strange, what, not wrapped too tight?”
“I trust we’ll handle him.’ Delilah rose to her impressive height and shook Brenda’s hand.
Delilah stepped on a stick and it cracked under her foot. She held her breath. But apparently Brenda had not heard it. She relaxed for just a moment. This little town had become a real popular place. They were all there, converging upon the Eagle Diamond like the vultures they were. Peter had already sent Glen, soon to be followed by Brock. She wondered just how much Brock knew. Brenda obviously knew the Yellow Diamond buy was a scam so Brock knew as well. She’d suspected that Brenda wasn’t working alone, but Brock was a surprise, certainly one that Jane wouldn’t appreciate. The organization was falling apart and it appeared to be every man for himself. Well, she’d handle them all one by one. It was Brenda’s turn now. She’d interrogated LaPorte earlier that day. The bitch was relentless. LaPorte wasn’t talking. Of course he wasn’t, she’d offered him a fortune to keep his mouth shut. He told her to get Brenda off his tail, and so she’d get Brenda off both their tails. Delilah knew that Longfellow was too much of an idiot to seriously upset her plans but he did need to be handled with care. He was the only one that knew where the diamond was, he and his crazy aunt. Brenda's meddling could destroy everything. There was no splitting the Eagle Diamond. This was theirs, hers and Joe's. There was certainly no room for Brenda.
Brenda was agitated. Delilah could tell. She'd been waiting at least ten minutes. Though mostly shielded by trees and a nearly impenetrable darkness, Delilah could still see her from where she stood. It was challenging but with her skill, it would not be a wound, it would be a kill.
Ha! She'd baited her with a velvet hook, so smooth that the blood was undetectable. Delilah took the arrow from her pouch and raised the bow. She tensed her arm as she brought it back. "Farewell, my sweet."
Slowly she closed one eye and sighted her prey. Brenda stomped out a cigarette and looked around. Delilah whistled and Brenda turned. The sound of a moving arrow is swift, clean and sharp. Delilah always loved the silent speed, the deadly force of a feather tip.
The wine wasn't cold enough but it would have to do. Delilah put her head back and closed her eyes. It was a good Riesling, not too sweet. Well, it was done, one less person to worry about. It's an odd thing about murder, she thought, when it's necessary, it carries no weight.
She'd never lied to Peter before but there was something about his inevitable death, it excused her somehow. Peter couldn't reach her from the grave, couldn't condemn her for cheating him. Delilah liked to think, he might even admire her craftiness.
But he would hate her for the arrow she had put in Brenda's heart. Damn Brenda, too frigging arrogant, too frigging stupid for her own good. She would not have killed her if she hadn't insisted on splitting everything, if she hadn't insisted on forming a little team with Brock. If Peter knew she was working with Joe on this, he'd never forgive her. It was okay to sleep with another man, but not split one of the world's most valuable diamonds with him.
It was only a matter of time before Brock would arrive in Callicoon. Peter would hate her for deceiving Brock as well. Of course, she would never hurt Brock physically, that would not be fair to Jane. She and Joe had thought of something else to keep him from thinking of the diamond as his property. Joe kept insisting their plan would work but Delilah had her doubts, Brock was a smart man. They had to be very careful and very believable.
She walked back toward the kitchen for more wine and reached for the wall phone.
“Joe?” she said when he answered. “This is one hell of a place. You’ll love it.” She peered around the loft admiring the antiques, the expensive area rugs and the high tech open kitchen. “It’s on a cul de sac. How perfect for us, an old renovated barn, tres sexy.”
"You've got cell reception up there?" he asked.
"No. I'm on some wall apparatus with a very long, annoying, crinkly cord."
"Shit," he said. "Walk around the property, you're likely to find a hot spot.
"Longfellow turned me on to this place, his aunt is a dingbat."
"Did you mention anything to him, give him any clue that you knew about the diamond?"
"No, not yet. He's a bit on the stupid side too. I want to follow him first, see if he has the clock hidden somewhere. I might not even have to approach him at all. LaPorte isn’t really sure where the clock is but he thinks he can get that information from Longfellow. You think this is all bullshit?"
"It isn't. Trust me, baby."
"I do. I do trust you. I wouldn't be killing people if I didn't."
"It's done then?"
"What do you have against guns?"
"They're uncivilized and easy to trace."
"You've got a point."
"It seems our benefactor preferred the bow and arrow."
"I hope you're as good as you say you are."
"It's really a quite spectacular bow, bought it all here, nice sporting goods store on the way up. When I'm through with everything, I'll burn the evidence."
"You are a very cool woman."
"Brenda has always been a pain in the ass, but she became downright incommodious."
“Whatever that means, but I kind of get the picture. We didn't have a choice, not if we want to keep this between us."
"You and I are taking all the risks, darling. Anyway, she slept with my husband, I had no use for her."
"I thought everyone slept with your husband."
"Monogamy bores me. It bored Peter too."
"What’s Eleanor like?” he asked.
“Eleanor?" She laughed. I just told you, she’s a dingbat; she’s Longfellow’s aunt. I'd advise you to get drunk before screwing her. Just think of the pot at the end of the rainbow and keep your eyes closed.”
"Is it really necessary to sleep with her?"
"Yes, she'll talk to you. If you insist that the diamond is in a grandfather clock then we must find out where the clock is. We’ll either get that information direct from Andy or direct from Eleanor’s pillow talk. Women like that talk a lot. One of them is going to know where our clock is. LaPorte doesn’t have a clue. For all we know, one of them may already have it but I doubt if they can get to the diamond." She laughed.
“Yep, the clock is rigged. Neither Andy or Eleanor will touch it.”
“Well, they are kind of stupid.”
"What about Brock?" he asked.
"He's going to believe you, make him believe you."
"I'll do my best."
"Were you able to steal your brother's badge?"
"Perfect. Will I ever get to meet your twin brother I wonder?"
This time it was his turn to laugh. "What if Brock puts the pieces together, he's a smart man?"
"He's going to be too busy chasing his tail," she said. "As long as he believes you, he won't get in our way."
"You're right," Joe said. "He's going to be more help than hindrance, actually."
"I was thinking of Peter earlier."
"What about Peter?"
"He was pretty shocked to find out he was duped by his own brother but he isn't letting that stop him. I admire that. I admire his gut instincts. He's always had them, they always proved to be right."
"His gut instincts are the reason we had to involve Brock."
"And we did," she said. "Rather brilliantly I'd say."
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