*Please note that this has not been edited but is a story I wanted to share with my readers. Also, this is under the copyright law and I will hunt that person down if I see that it has been stolen. I will release a chapter per week. Please leave your questions or comments below. I would love to hear from you. Enjoy the story*
Elisabet’s skin tingled as all the breath left her lungs. She squeezed her eyes shut, then opened them wide to confirm that this wasn’t a hallucination. In Elisabet’s mind, she thought she would know how she would feel once she found the piece but in that moment, in that locked dark room, amazement was not even close to describe her emotions. Desperately, she wanted to touch the dingy pitted pearls and gold ‘B’ but knew better.
Isaac stood next to her, staring at the necklace. She could hear the funneling of air through his nostrils. All clear and intelligible questions escaped her. Her eyes could not leave the necklace. The be-headed queen’s missing necklace was sitting inches in front of her in a secured air-tight case.
Elisabet’s pulse throbbed in her neck. She leaned her pelvis against the stainless steel table trying to locate some sense of steadiness. A handful of minutes had passed and Elisabet’s brain cleared and she could form words again.
“Is this…?” She whispered.
“Yes. Well, we need to authenticate it but, it appears to be the real deal.” Isaac took a step closer to her. “This is what you dreamed about for so many years. Your last trip to France unearthed something, because now, we have Queen Anne Boleyn’s missing necklace.”
When Isaac spoke her name, a cry escaped her mouth, quickly; Elisabet covered her mouth with the back of her hand. She could almost feel the doomed queen’s presence in that room, coaxing her to uncover the truth. So many books had been written about Queen Anne but Elisabet knew there was more to the story.
Isaac swiped a tear from Elisabet’s cheek. She hadn’t even realized it was there but she didn’t appreciate his affectionate touch. Elisabet moved away from him.
“How did you acquire this? Who sent it? And when?”
“I was contacted by a man three months ago, informing me of his discovery in a villa, in France. It belonged to a French aristocrat. This was the one piece her daughter, Queen Elisabeth, never found. How it left the Tudor walls undetected is mysterious.”
“So, this man just sent you an important historical relic without anything in return? I find that hard to believe.” Elisabet said, eyeing him.
“He was afraid. But I did compensate him nicely.”
This was surreal. Elisabet was having a hard time wrapping her mind around it. Anything that Isaac was involved in led her to suspect his intentions. He wasn’t doing this for her; Isaac never did things for others. She hated sucking the enthusiasm from the room but she had to ask.
“If he contacted you, why involve me? That’s not your style. You relish in the spotlight.”
Isaac crossed his arms over his dark wool sweater and sighed. “Leave it to you to take a moment like this and drag it through the mud. The day after her execution the necklace disappeared. It’s sitting right in front of you. This is what you’ve obsessed about for years. You visited the Tower of London a dozen times because you thought her headless ghost would lead you to it.”
“Shut up. Now you’re mocking me. We need to authenticate this first. This could be a mere reproduction.”
“Ah, ye of little faith. There was a letter attached to it.”
Elisabet raised a brow at Isaac. He was pulling her further and further in and he knew it. Enticing her a little bit more. It was like Isaac was aware of her intentions today and completely derailed her with this miraculous discovery. As much as it killed Elisabet, she couldn’t leave right now. Not when the most secretive Tudor artifact lay before her.
“Where’s the letter?”
“In the safe. I’ll put the necklace away and show you the letter. It’s written in French and I need you to translate it.”
The safe, or ‘The Steel Beast’, as Elisabet referred to it, sat tall and menacing in the corner of the dimly lit room. The artifact space was designated for delicate ancient pieces such as the necklace. The temperature was controlled electronically, the windows had been filled with brick, sealing out all light. The safe could only be accessed by Isaac or her and it was voice-sensitive, along with a thirteen-digit security code.
“Elisabet, you have a visitor.” Ben’s voiced boomed through the intercom startling Elisabet.
Isaac was opening the safe. She walked to the white square on the wall and pushed the button down.
“Okay. I’ll be right down.”
Elisabet heard the safe lock and Isaac’s footsteps approach her. She turned. He tipped her chin back with his index finger so he could look directly into her eyes. Though she felt his heat, her own body dismissed it. He was no longer who she wanted. Elisabet moved her chin away from his touch knowing who his fingers have touching.
“Liz, this is it. I know its Anne’s. I know it. And, you know it as well.” Isaac’s voice was low and serious.
“I want to believe it is. I’m hopeful, Isaac.”
Silence passed between them. I still don’t trust him, I never will. Without another word, he stepped around her to open the door. She didn’t want to leave the necklace. With a heavy sigh, Elisabet turned and entered the hallway and nearly ran right into Bianca.
“Geez, Bianca. I almost knocked you over.” Elisabet said, as her body regained balance.
Bianca fluffed her limp sable stick-straight hair and let out a huff. She narrowed her large eyes at Elisabet but quickly changed once Isaac turned from locking the door.
“Sorry. I was looking for Isaac.”
“You found me, what do you need?” He asked in a cold tone.
Elisabet wasn’t one to enjoy Isaac and Bianca exchanges but watching this unfold was like a gift from God.
Bianca look wounded and kept shuffling her heels back and forth. “What were you guys doing in there?”
Nosey bitch, is what Elisabet wanted to say but Isaac beat her to it.
“None of your concern, Bianca. Don’t you have an exhibition to prepare for?”
Elisabet could feel her smirk grow. This was priceless. And though, she would have loved to watch the uncomfortable but amusing conversation continue, someone was waiting for her. She nodded at Isaac and walked toward the stairs to head back to the first floor leaving the lovebirds to their spat. Elisabet chuckled and rolled her eyes.
She entered the airy gallery and searched for Ben but didn’t see him. At the far wall, standing stoically, his back facing her stood a tall man wearing a black long coat. The ends of his thick amber waves, curled up against the collar. Elisabet could see natural highlights flowing through the crown of waves. So jealous. Her very expensive hairstylist had to chemically add champagne streaks.
Elisabet was drawn to him. Her boots quietly moved against the tile and with a few steps to go, the man turned around. Those eyes, God, she remembered those magnificent blue eyes. And his lips, full flush lips bowed up when he caught her staring at them.
His clear eyes were outlined with black-framed glasses, but they weren’t any less attractive. In fact, every feature of this man was alluring. A slight weave of stubble covered his face and over his sharply defined jawline.
Elisabet’s nerves were coming undone the more immersed she became with this man. Her body temperature had been increasing from the second her eyes found him. He lessened the space between them; Elisabet had to crane her neck to hold his stare. Slowly, he lifted his hand and extended it toward her.
“Elisabet Halvorsen, I’m Gabriel Morgan.”
She graciously accepted his hand and could immediately feel the roughness of his palms. He obviously worked with his hands. Maybe a sculpturist? His fingers wrapped around hers giving them a slight squeeze.
“It’s nice to meet you. I apologize about my behavior yesterday. I was late picking up my son…”
Gabriel shook his head but continued holding her hand. It was warm and Elisabet didn’t want him to let go. “No need to apologize. It was my fault.”
Elisabet detected an accent but was unable to pin-point an origin. It held European undertones. This added to his intrigue.
“I received your message. What can I do for you?”
Reluctantly, he released his long fingers from her hand and she felt disappointment clench her stomach.
“Would you like to join me for dinner this evening?
Elisabet was taken aback by his question. She was not expecting that.
“Wait. You met with Isaac yesterday. Would this be a business dinner? And if so, are you attempting to pit us against each other. That would not be the first time and I assure you, I will not be part of such a plan.” Elisabet said a little more defensively then she had anticipated but she needed to make herself clear on the matter.
Gabriel adjusted his glasses, she could see he was clearly deciding whether to be offended or amused.
“Elisabet, I feel that conversation would be best discussed elsewhere. I will elaborate this evening if you accept my invitation.”
“That is the vaguest explanation I have ever heard in my entire life.”
Gabriel smirked and her pelvis responded with a flutter. Elisabet was enticed by him. She had never had these physical reactions toward Isaac or to any other man. Elisabet found them rousing.
“You choose the place and time. Does that ease your mind?”
“Not at all, but if you insist, I chose Blu Café at seven.”
He agreed with a slow dip of the head. “I look forward to it, Elisabet.”
Gabriel stepped beside her and his arm brushed against hers. Elisabet’s body hummed by the diminutive encounter and she was ready to melt right into her boots. She couldn’t ask Isaac to take Ethan for the night. She turned on her heels to walk to her office when she caught Ben leaning against the receptionist with a canary-ate-the-bird sneer. Elisabet marched right to him.
“Did you enjoy the show, Ben?”
“Girl, that man wants you.” Ben said jutting his hip out.
“Stop. It’s business.”
Elisabet walked away from her goading assistant but she could hear his footstep trailing close behind. Once inside her office, Ben shut the door and firmly planted his hands on his slender hips.
“If you think that man wants to talk just business, you are crazy.”
Elisabet kept her eyes down at her phone, scrolling through her contacts. “I am keeping it business.” She hoped she sounded convincing because she wasn’t fully believing her own words.
“Just admit it, Elisabet.”
She looked up at Ben who had a huge grin on his boy-next-door face.
“You think Mr. Morgan is a hot piece of brooding ass.”
Elisabet could feel a feathered sensation grace the length of her arms, over her collarbone and up around to the nape of her neck. Her physical demeanor was the answer Ben presumed.
“Fine. Yes, I find Gabriel very attractive—”
She focused her eyes back on her phone and tapped Jacinda’s number. Elisabet knew her best friend would be more than happy to watch Ethan for a couple of hours. And of course, Jacinda screamed with excitement. Elisabet held the phone away from her ear. Ben began laughing. Elisabet assured both of them that this was not a date but they vehemently disagreed.
Elisabet ended the call and then kicked Ben out of her office. The morning had been a whirlwind and she needed a moment to process everything. She felt her brain floating. Knowing that Queen Anne’s necklace was lying upstairs in the safe, sent wild vibrations through her body. Elisabet was tapping her boot against the floor. Her mind was upstairs but she was planted firmly in her chair fighting the urge to fly the second floor.
Screw it, with a jolt, she shot up, grabbed her keys from her purse and rushed upstairs. Elisabet slid the metal inside the lock. The click sent waves of excitement over her. She stepped into the dark room and turned on the single dim bulb that hung from the ceiling. Elisabet shut the door behind her, locked it, and placed the keys on the steel table.
With each thump of her heart, she walked closer to the safe. Elisabet entered her code and then said her name. The lock clicked. Her veins hummed as her limps shook. Elisabet held the container like she was cradling a baby bird. With gentle fingers, she placed it on the table.
“Amazing” She breathe out.
She stared at the pearls and B, searching for her own proof of the validity. It would be weeks before they knew but for now, she believed that this was the condemned queen’s necklace. Elisabet wrapped her fingers around the front of her throat at the thought of the Anne’s last breath of air. She had been disgraced for centuries. Anne Boleyn had been manipulated by her father to win the King Henry’s favor and she paid the ultimate price for it. And he walked away. How cruel and unfair.
Elisabet knew that feeling all too well. Her father had been a master manipulator, even as he took his final breath; he twisted the dagger deeper into her heart. Guilting her further for her mother’s sudden demise. Elisabet had spent years pleasing everyone but herself. She absorbed each cruel word her father had ever said to her and swore to herself that she would never do that Ethan. Never. He was too pure, too good for her father or for Isaac.
Tears streamed down her face. Obligation was what she knew. Not love. Elisabet took a deep breath and wiped the wetness from her face. She recalled Isaac mentioning a letter and walked back to the safe to retrieve the letter.
The worn, yellow parchment paper was encased in a protective clear sheath. The edges were dark and torn. And the writing was faded, near illegible. The wisps of delicate cursive glided over the paper with small strokes. Elisabet had studied French in high school and college. It would take some time to translate but her briefly glimpsing at the words would hopefully give her some insight.
I have located Queen Anne Boleyn’s necklace. It was where she had instructed it would be. Queen Anne’s death is injustice to this kingdom. We are filled with sorrow. You shall receive the necklace soon. She also instructed me to send you another
Another what? Elisabet stood breathless. The words were fading the further she read. A barrage of questions immersed her mind. Who wrote this letter? Obviously, someone close to the queen, a confidant. Maybe a lady-in-waiting? Who was she writing to?
Anne Boleyn had known her fate was sealed. Elisabet’s muscles felt weighed by this revelation. The tyranny of a husband or father was not unfamiliar to her. Her stomach growled and interrupted her frenzied thoughts. As careful as Elisabet had removed the items, she placed them back just the same. A red velvet satchel caught her; it was new to the scattering of items in the safe. Elisabet’s curiosity peaked but her empty stomach protested. She would save her prying interest for another time.