Cover of Darkness, part 7

Opal’s mother was fussing in the library, “Edward I’m so glad you could spend the day with me it was an enjoyable time. Going out to eat at my favorite breakfast spot. Then the long walk in the park. Yes, it was a perfect day. And now to spend the evening together. What more could I ask for?” A smile of satisfaction lit up her face. Eugenia in her late forties petite and regal, with feline honey eyes, quiet, discreet and soft spoken had met Edward while working as a core intelligence collection analyst for the CIA, after they married she quit working, and stayed home to keep house and raise children. Opal came first, then ten years later Fisher surprised them.

Closing the book he was reading he glanced up from his scarred leather chair positioned in front of the oversized fireplace. He watched as the flames crackled and hissed, dancing around and consuming the logs, radiating heat that warmed all the nooks and crannies of their large library, chasing away the dampness of a frigid day. A pleasant smile brightened his eyes, he pulled the pipe from his lips and held it in his hand, “Ah…Eugenia it was a fun day, relaxing for a change.” Edward a tall good looking man, caught Eugenia’s eye the first time she passed him in the hallway of the building they were working in. He nodded and smiled as they walked in opposite directions. The rest is history.

Eugenia strolled around the floor-to-ceiling thirty year collection of books, many of them first editions, that filled the oak shelves of their spacious reading room as she called it. Closing her eyes, she breathed deep, filling her lungs with the smell of cherry tobacco from his meerschaum pipe. The two of them relished their alone time, quietly appreciating the presence of each other in the same room. At the fireplace she repositioned the intricately carved ivory box occupying the center spot on the wide mantle. “Edward, does Fisher use this anymore?”

He glanced up to see what she was referring to, “Once in a while when he thinks no one is looking, I’ll see him put stamps and papers in it.”

“Good. I’m glad he makes use of it.” She moved to the window over-looking the winding driveway and stared out, it was almost night.

“Eugenia, why don’t you pull a good book off one of those shelves, and I’ll slide a chair next to mine, so we can enjoy the fire together while reading?” He stood to retrieve a chair from across the room.

In a pleasant, dismissive voice, “I promised Opal I would watch for John and Preston to come, and let them in and bring them back to the laboratory.” Her raised eyebrows said it all to Edward.

He flashed her a dark scowl as he sat back down, “If only she wasn’t dealing with those two, they’re dangerous men. They would sell their own souls for the right amount of money, and they wouldn’t care who they put in danger doing it.”

A sweet confidence filled her voice, “Edward. Opal has worked many hours to finish this project, and for her it’s been a long time coming. Now she is anxious to be paid for all her hard work.”

Dismayed that Eugenia hid that piece of information. “Oh…and how do you know that? She didn’t say anything to me about a private plan she was working on. It’s hard to believe she would jeopardize her job that way.” Eugenia and Opal were not aware that he had accidently over-heard Opal talking to John on the phone about the project and what it involved.

She looked away, “I think I’ve said too much, you will have to talk to Opal.”

He stood pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace as he spoke, “You can bet I will. Later tonight her and I will have a little talk. This is an untenable situation.”

In the sweetest voice she could muster, “Now, Edward, just calm down, it can’t be all that bad.”

He resented her comment, “With John and Preston involved in this project it’s a sure sign there’s going to be trouble. Opal knows the CIA will fire her if she’s caught selling anything she created. There policy is and always has been everything you invent or create while you are working for them belongs to them, whether you make it on your own time or there time.

Her voice grew defensive, “What do you mean trouble, they seem like such nice young men, a little different than most people, but they seem nice enough.”

A thick crease shaped his eyebrows, “Seem, is the important word Eugenia. Didn’t you ever notice Preston’s froggy eyes, and John’s overly pale skin. They work for people who have shady backgrounds. Those two are not nice they would sell their own mothers for a couple of dollars, but I doubt that Preston ever had a mother, I think he was hatched.”

“Now Edward, that’s not a nice thing to say, everyone has a mother.”

He mumbled to himself as he sat down and turned back to his book, “No, it’s not nice, but it’s true.”

Eugenia waved him off with a sigh and continued to stand watch. Every now and again she cocked her head like a watchful sparrow, and glanced out the windows. Then about the time the street lights started to flip on one by one up broad street hill halting at Windermere Lane, she spotted headlights turning into the driveway. “Oh, dear,” She mumbled, rushing to the laboratory she poked her head around the door, “Opal, there coming up the drive now.”

Turning from the window Opal walked toward the table, “Thanks Mother, will you let them in and bring them back here?”

“Yes dear.” As Eugenia strolled down the hall the door-bell sounded.

Hearing the chimes Fisher whispered, “Heads up guys, sounds like Opal’s visitors have arrived.” In unison they inched closer to the window to watch, while staying in the shadows. Fisher was forever hanging around Opal trying her patience, hunting a good mystery for his gang, The Bow Street Runners, (a famous group of young people in London, England in the seventeen hundreds, who worked as amateur detectives doing the investigating for the police before Scotland Yard was created) to solve. Opal waving her arms shoo, shooing him away when she’d catch him listening in on her phone calls and while she was meeting with clients. Opal, considered Fisher a kid who was too young to understand the importance of the work she was doing.

“Opal is in here,” Eugenia waved the two men through the door.

The teens moved again into the shadows just far enough not to be seen, but close enough to see and hear everything going on in the room. Henry’s large body helped conceal them.

“Thank you mother,” Opal smiled, nodding at her guests.

“You’re welcome dear, your father and I will be in the library if you need anything.” Eugenia pulled the doors half closed and scurried down the hall.

John gave Opal a questioning look.

Caught off guard, “Why the look?” Opal held his stare.

“You told me not to worry, your father would be out of town. That he would never know we had been here.” His pink eyes held her intense stare as his thick fingers rubbed his face. “Anyway, let’s get down to business and forget the small talk.”

To be continued: Thank you for traveling with me.

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