Emerald Green 15

“You do know what’ll happen if I don’t get that emerald, right?” she asked.

“Yes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a little fun while we get it.”

“I’m going to get it,” she said.  “Not you.  And your dancing isn’t helping.”

“The main reason for the dance was to make your boyfriend jealous.”

“My boyfriend?” Dido asked.

“The young man you came in with.  He couldn’t take his eyes off you the entire time.”

“He’s not my boyfriend, he’s an acquaintance.  He didn’t want to walk into the party alone, and neither did I.”  Dido wasn’t sure how much she should say.  “He’s also a city watchman.”

“Oh I know that.  I may have left a tip about tonight to spice things up a bit.”

“Why you insufferable little…”

“I didn’t expect you two to be so friendly though.  Made me a little jealous.”

“I might just go over and kiss him,” Dido said.  “It would serve you right.”

“You wound me,” the Collector said.  “But you might want to hold off on that rendezvous.  If my information is correct, and it always is, the Emerald of Lorn should be set up in the viewing room by now.  It won’t be long before they start letting people in.

One of Hannibal’s friends had come through with the location of the viewing room, though he hadn’t been able to nail down a specific time.  Dido turned away from the Collector and went right for Scipio.  The satisfying click of her heels as she stormed away was slightly marred when she almost fell over dodging the stand of bronze spears.

She hoped the Collector was worried that she was going to make good on her threat to kiss the watchman.  It would keep him preoccupied.  Scipio saw her walking over and tried to seem like he hadn’t been watching her since the dance.

“How’re you enjoying the party?” she asked.

“Oh, hi.  I didn’t see you there.”  Dido’s left eyebrow twitched from the unfulfilled desire to roll her eyes.  “It’s quite exciting.”

“I know,” she said.  “I can’t believe it.  But I totally forgot.  I’m supposed to be angry with you.”

Scipio was taken aback by her sudden change of tone.

“Angry at me?  Why?”

“Because you’ve been keeping secrets from me.  That man I was dancing with told me you were a city watchman.”

Scipio looked side to side, seeing if anyone else had heard.  If the Mechanist’s Society had wanted any city watch at their party, Scipio wouldn’t have had to sneak in.  Dido let her mouth open and her eyes go wide.

“Oh, are you here on a secret mission?  Am I not supposed to know?”

“It would be best if you could keep it to yourself,” Scipio said.  Since she was playing up the spoiled rich princess, he didn’t seem to have much hope.

“My lips are sealed.”  Dido made a locking motion across her mouth and threw the imaginary key over her shoulder.  “Is that man in the tiger mask with you?”

“No,” Scipio said.  “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, he just didn’t want to get near you.  I thought it was because he was undercover too,” Dido said.

“Didn’t want to get near me, huh?  Excuse me a moment, miss.”

Scipio gave a quick bow and then started moving across the edge of the party towards the Collector.  Dido gave her fellow thief a smirk and then turned to the hall leading to the viewing room.

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