As the City clockwork tower struck midnight, I arrived back, alone at my rooms, but a light, from my window suggested I would not be alone for long.
As I stepped into my office, there she sat, a vision of beauty, as the cold air brushed passed the candlelight on the table, it flickered, and the shadows danced across her face, showing off her high cheek bones, and soft velvet skin.
Such beauty was rare in these parts, and she was sitting in my high-backed chair. But why?
I threw my hat on to my chaise-lounge that sat on one side of the room, and strolled further into the room. She didn’t move a muscle, as I drew near to her, she just continued to smoke her long black cheroot, then casually offered me one from a small silver case.
I took it, then lit it with the candle.
‘Ham Shovel I presume?'
‘What makes you think that?’ I replied, as I sat on the corner of the desk.
‘I need your help Mr Shovel, my dear husband has gone missing.’
‘Well you have come to the wrong place, I don’t do lost people.’
‘Well if it’s a question of money Mr Shovel?’
‘You have still wasted your time, if you had said a missing artefact, then I might have been interested.’
She then stood up abruptly, and hastily marched towards the window, still puffing on her cheroot vigorously.
After a moment she then turned around and headed towards me, and her body language told you she was all women, she then came, but a breath away from my face and stared into my eyes
'Can't you see am a desperate women Mr Shovel.'
But her eyes told me something different.
‘There his another hundred gold lion’s, if you will find him.’
I reached out and grabbed a coin from those that had spilt out onto the table, and then bit it with my teeth.
‘Seem genuine enough,’ I replied sarcastically.
But still found myself playing hard to get.’
‘I told you I don’t do.' ?
'Missing people, I know what you said Mr Shovel,' as she threw another bag onto the table in the vane hope of changing my mind.
‘Look there’s an extra one hundred, if you will take the case Mr Shovel.'
‘I charge twenty Bears a day, plus expenses, I have no need of your bags of gold.’
‘When did you last see you’re husband I asked?’ not being able to help myself.
She then took her gaze from mine and stormed back over to the window.
‘But you haven’t even asked who 'I' am?’
‘You’re Countess de marie courtemarch, the wife of the Count de courtemarch are you not?’
‘How did you know that?’ Has she turned, looking surprised at my answer.
‘The perfume you're wearing, his only made in Endorea, and the clothes you have on, are that of the artisan clothes makers of de march the finest dressmakers of the Duchy of the court of your father the Marquis de courtemarch.
‘How perceptive of you.’
I knew the kind of women she really was, rich and spoilt, and didn’t really care about the whereabouts of her husband, but that started to intrigued me greatly.
‘Who are you looking for?’
‘I told you, my husband,’ has her face changed from claim to angry in a flash.
‘ I meant from the window countess, you’re very good at hiding your true feelings Countess. But you can’t hide your anxiety from me.’
‘ I felt I was being followed, I had to trek all the way from my carriage to find this place.’
The Countess then sauntered towards my office door and hung there, half-way in and half-way out.
‘Come to my fathers small estate here in the city tomorrow, he will tell you more.’ Then she left.
I then turned to see the gold was still laying on the desk, I quickly grabbed and refilled the spilt bags, then ran after her, but the Countess was gone.
I walked back up to my rooms, and shut the door behind me.
It seemed I had a new case, one that I really didn't want.