NEW YORK, NEW YORK
It’s so not fair. Why doesn’t anyone tell you ahead of time your dream job’s going to morph into a nightmare if you stay in it long enough?
Like I have.
“C’mon, Roger,” I reason. “You can’t ask me to take off for New Delhi tomorrow. Give me a break. I just got in from Hong Kong last night.”
My boss, the oh-so-distinguished Roger Hammond, frowns. The gears in his steel-gray-haired head practically spew smoke from his warp-speed thinking. Then he smiles.
“But that’s why it’s so perfect, my girl.” Have I ever noticed the ultrabright whiteness of his teeth? “Now you don’t need to unpack. And you know you’re the very best. No one, but no one, can compare. You’re simply the only one I can trust with this deal.”
Yeah, right. Butter up the fall girl again You know I don’t say it. You also know I cave. Especially after Roger describes, in flamboyant Technicolor, the loot I’m supposed to bring back.
What can I say? I’m a sucker for the beauty God plants under layers of plain old mud.
“Here.” Roger plunks his index finger on a fax on his desk. “Take a look at this. Sudhir Singh says the new find’s the finest vein of top-grade garnet found in Orissa to date. That’s saying a lot. We’ve bought how many of his parcels in the last few years?”
My vivid imagination paints a series of picture memories. “Have you seen samples of the new material?”
“No, and that’s why I need you in Orissa.” Roger slips his right hand into the pocket of his custom-tailored Italian suit trousers, strolls to the meager excuse for a window in his office, and pauses. He doesn’t bother to check out the view; the high rectangle features a grimy back alley.
He goes on. “Sudhir’s not about to leave this new find to bring us the goods, Andrea. Poachers, of course. And I would go, but for this . . . this… ” His voice trails off while he waves his free hand in helplessness.
I really, really have to fight a laugh. “Do the words dinner party escape you?”
When he turns, a red haze creeps up onto his chiseled cheekbones. “Well, you do know Tiffany. She makes such a production of everything.”
Oh yeah. Do I ever know the infamous Tiffany, the trophy wife. Roger treated himself to Tiffany after his first wife left him for their starving-artist pool boy four years ago. At first, he was understandably livid. Then he turned morose. By the time he’d dabbled in all the colors of emotion, the ink on their amicable (not!) divorce had dried. Three months later, the beauteous, extravagant, and too young Tiffany became the second Mrs. Hammond. The rest, including lavish parties and astronomical Saks, Macy’s, and Cartier bills, is now history.
I don’t remark on Tiffany.
“Well, Rog,” I say instead, my hip propped against the corner of his desk, “it’s not nice to invite the mayor and senator to din-din, then stand them up while you take a trot around the world, now, is it?”
His sigh of relief is funny --- almost. “I knew you’d understand. That’s why I pay you the big bucks.”
I wish. “Does he have anything else you’re interested in right now?”
“Sudhir said something about a parcel of emeralds. But you know how I feel about Indian emeralds. They just don’t compare with the Colombian material or even that from Zambia. I’ll leave it up to you.”
Swell. “What price range do you have in mind?”
He takes a couple of steps, then gives my shoulder an awkward pat. “I’ll trust your judgment --- within reason. You know your gems. Better than I do, actually.”
Well, yeah. Roger owns a store in New York’s diamond district; I own a BS in geology and a Gemological Institute of America certificate that declares me a master gemologist. But why quibble?
“Ohh-kay, then.” I grab the fax and head for the door. “I guess I’m off to India bright and early in the morning.”
The smile blazes again. “That’s wonderful, my girl. I always know I can count on you. You’re the most valuable employee a man could ever have… ”
I am thankful for all Roger has taught me over the years, but I still block out the effusive flattery. You see, besides that BS in rocks and piece of paper from the GIA, I also have a torn-up gut, the result of seven years’ work in the stress-filled gemstone industry. My mangled middle lies in wait until something like this stirs it up, and then that holey gut of mine starts up with a zesty hula. Like it does right after I agree to New Delhi.
Excerpted from Priced To Move © Copyright 2012 by Ginny Aiken. Reprinted with permission by Revell. All rights reserved.