Beta Reader and Celta Thursday, Cut First Scene of Heart Search
Druida City, Celta, 422 Years After Colonization, Late Spring
"We've located your heirloom amethyst and diamond cuff bracelets," the private investigator said. His craggy face was expressionless on the scry screen hanging on the dark paneled wall near Laev Hawthorn's desk.
Laev Hawthorn, GreatLord T'Hawthorn, kept his own face as impassive as ever but let optimistic hope trickle through him. As far as he knew, those were the last of the Family treasures his late wife Nivea had sold before his HeartGift. "Thank you. How much will it cost to recover them?"
The investigator named a figure and Laev winced. It wasn't at the amount, like most FirstFamilies he had generational wealth that wasn't easily dissipated – though Nivea had done her best. But it was an expense he wouldn't have had if he hadn't made a a poor choice in choosing his wife.
"Residence?" he addressed the intelligent castle that he lived in.
"Here, T'Hawthorn," the Residence answered at it's haughtiest. It didn't approve of the investigator, hadn't approved of Nivea, and Laev was unsure of it's feelings for himself.
"Transfer funds to cover the retrieval of the jewels and Prime Investigation's bill," Laev said.
"Thank you," the investigator said. His eyes narrowed and he continued softly, "Now, GreatLord, why don't you tell me what you really want me to find?"
Heat edged Laev's cheeks. The man was more observant than Laev had expected. He was a master of his craft and several years older than Laev's thirty-two, and though a commoner, there was something about the man that disquieted Laev. Probably the aura that whatever mistakes the guy had made, he'd fixed them immediately...and they weren't as disastrous as marrying the wrong woman in a culture that condemned divorce.
A door banged in the castle and a rush of exuberance seemed to breeze toward him. His journeywoman, a girl like the daughter he'd always wanted, had arrived for her morning lesson. It took real effort to slam a door in the Residence, but Dontea Ash always managed. She'd stop at the kitchens for a treat and to stroke Black Pierre, the old FamCat who'd survived Laev's FatherSire's death.
Laev said, "I don't have any more time for this matter this morning. Please have the bracelets delivered as soon as possible." He was still uncomfortable with the investigator's shrewdness.
With a mock-subservient dip of the head, Garrett Primross said, "As you wish, GreatLord." Primross hesitated a beat, then asked, "Do you wish to continue to retain my firm?"
His firm was only himself and an apprentice, but Laev appreciated pride a lot more now than he had as a youngster. Sometimes in the last few years, appearances and pride were all that had kept him going.
"Yes." He calculated how long it would take for the man to find his HeartGift. That gift, made during the second fugue that freed his Flair, could only be truly sensed by himself and his HeartMate.
Too bad that he'd thought Nivea was his HeartMate when he was a gullible seventeen and he'd given it to her.
He stared at Primross. The investigator had already exceeded Laev's expectations. Laev had tried to find the jewels and objects d'arte that Nivea had sold over the years, but had failed. His pride had been too touchy to speak to another FirstFamily lord, Straif T'Blackthorn, to track them, and discreet questions had led him to Primross.
It didn't matter that Primross disliked the noble class and barely treated Laev with civility. It didn't matter that Laev's pride took a beating as he revealed his secrets to the investigator. What mattered was getting the items back, and Primross had been successful in that. Another issue for concern was the amount of time that had passed. Nivea had been dead for the past two years. The time it had taken to retreive most of the Family heirlooms had already taken too long and tried Laev's patience.
"Yes," Laev repeated, made a decision. "You can send me a contract for a monthly retainer, for an initial period of three months."
Surprise flashed in Primross's eyes then he jerked a nod. "The courier with your bracelets is on the way. I'll have the contract in your cache box within the septhour." Primross gave an amount that seemed slightly lower than it should have been that had Laev narrowing his own eyes. Was the investigator hiding something?
Primross signed off without any pleasantries and the viz screen went dark.
Laev fiddled with the thin, silver encased drawstick that he preferred. His many-times female D'Hawthorn's redgold desk set had gone missing years ago and was not one of the items that had been recovered. He wondered who had them, if he had enemies he didn't know about who were collecting Hawthorn Family items. If the desk set had been melted down
He'd talk about the loss of his HeartGift in person with Primross. That was going to be a fun conversation.
Though it was an open secret for a long time that Laev T'Hawthorn had gone against his Family's wishes and wed a girl he'd thought was his HeartMate. A girl who had encouraged him to think that so she could have the wealth and status of being a GreatLady, the highest of the high on the planet Celta. Primross was a smart man and a competent one, he might have guessed what Laev wanted.
Of course Laev had a link to his HeartGift, and once again he closed his eyes, settled into his inner balance and reached for it. The sculpture was wedged somewhere and he couldn't translocate it. Nor could he figure out where it was. Dark. Dry. He thought. In good shape, he hoped.
The door to his den slammed open and Laev flinched from his light trance.
Dontea rushed into the room, small and fineboned and fifteen, and with a scowl on her face. Her short dark brown hair was windblown, her blue gaze sharp. "Brood, brood, brood." She shook a finger at him. "You know I come from a household that has forbidden brooding."