What I See In You

an excerpt

About eleven, the store door opened. Kennedy glanced up from the ring in his hand, a single look that was nothing more than a confirmation of who the man was and where Elspeth stood. She handled the people so he could work. Easy.

The man unbuttoned his coat and shook it lightly to free it of damp. He was good looking, in a rugged, Daniel Craig kind of way. He was even blond. A light, sunny blond. Kennedy guessed he was about his own height, around six feet. Not bad. And that was the extent of his perusal.

"Morning," the man said as he approached Elspeth. He held out a hand.

"Mr. Fairaday." Elspeth shook. "You're here to talk about the rings?"

"I am."

Kennedy had tipped his head in disinterest, hunched over the piece in his fingers, glasses in place as he worked on polishing the filigree beneath the magnification light. Kennedy sensed their approach, sparing a moment to use a cloth on the gold of the piece he was working on, before setting it aside in the slotted cushion on the table.

The display case on that side stood between himself and the man in the store. Now that he was only a few feet away, Kennedy took a closer examination of his customer. And apparently, it was being returned equally. His gaze was piercing when they connected for a split second. An incredible shade of gray-green that defied color definition. And he was staring right at Kennedy.

He slid his glasses to the top of his head and blinked. "What can I do for you?"

"I have a broach my great-grandmother left my father. I want it made into matching rings." His voice was rich and baritone. It suited him well.

"I see. Did you bring it?"

The man across from him opened his coat and reached into a hidden pocket. He handed over a closed box.

Skin caressed skin as he placed it carefully into Kennedy's hands. The hair on his forearm stood up at the surge of energy that arced between them. He swallowed, actually leaning away to put space between them. Static electricity. He was sure of it. The drier air of winter was perfect for it.

Kennedy put his glasses in place and opened the box, holding the broach under the light. "May I?" He motioned to take it out.

"Of course."

He gently removed it from the silk bed. "This is remarkable." The stones gleamed and glistened. "Tourmalines?"

"Emeralds, actually."

Kennedy blinked. "And you want to tear it apart?" It wasn't as easy to hide his shock that time. The stones alone were worth a fortune as deep in color and as clear as they were. They weren't worn for their age, either. The man really didn't know what he had in that velvet box.

"I have a purpose for it," he replied evenly. "The broach has been in our family for generations. Since I'm the last to own it, I'd like to actually have something that I can also pass on, if I should."

"I see." Kennedy swallowed the sigh. It wasn't his decision. The workmanship on the piece was delicate and hand-woven. More than hours went into the piece. He could sense that.

"What type of rings were you considering?"

"Wedding bands. I'd like the emeralds channel set, if possible."

That would be easy enough. "And the others?"

"My niece asked for earrings. Is that possible?"

He raised an eye loupe and studied the stones. "These could be sapphires, but by their color, they could also be spinels. I could do a stud, tri-cluster setting by Christmas."

"Jessica would love that."

"When did you need the rings by?"

"I'm not sure. I haven't asked yet."