Warning: This work has been rated 18+.
When Emily slammed the heavy kitchen door shut, a faint chiding from memory appeared. If her great-grandmother had ever caught her so carelessly shutting the door, Emily would have only heard the end of it when her sentence was over.
She walked slowly to the work shed and carefully turned the lock chambers over with her fingers. The tumblers clicked back and forth, finally settling that the magic was appropriate enough to open her particular combination. Emily flipped the switch on while moving to the table at the rear and she sat down to study the papers remaining on the table.
The case out currently was a private matter.
It had no connection to the current smuggling case that she had been involved with by the Feds. And it had absolutely not connection to the work being done for the Torrios, who were being difficult but were maintaining their patience. This folder didn’t even have a connection to the case she was looking over for the state park service.
Just a seemingly simple robbery – enough to distract her brain from the matters at hand.
The matters had taken place in an antique store on the east side of Cumberland. The small shop supposedly dealt mainly in mortal items and practices, with the occasional mildly magic object passing onto the shelves. Nothing more extreme than perhaps an enchanted vase or a levitating set of flat wares.
That was at least what they had said in their report to the police.
The discrepancy in their input of product and their output of product is why the outside hand of Emily O’Brien was asked for. The shop owners faulted to dealing with the insurance company for a lesser payout.In the claim to the police department, the shop keepers reported a variety of stolen mortal jewelry and a few pieces of mildly enchanted furniture. The same was reported to the insurance company, quite fraudulently.
Her observations of the scene had quickly led Emily to the hidden compartment that contained a master list. Even without the information from the ledger, it was almost too easy to recognize that something else was going on with the shop. Perhaps that was why they sought her out and their easy agreeance to pay double her normal rate.
Yes indeed, it was a simple case when it came to the motive and the perpetrator. From the first day, Emily knew that it was the shop keeper’s wife who had taken the items, but she had spent the past two weeks of free time looking for a location. The theoretical location of the stolen goods was what kept her mind engaged.
After a time of studying the details, there came a knock at the workshop door and the faint creaking as someone stepped across the floorboard. The gentle fingertips that drummed across her shoulder and the other hand that ran down her back. It was obviously Sherlock who then said, “Emily, I am terribly sorry if I hurt your feelings.”
There was another creak and another groan as he shifted to look over her shoulder at the case on the table. The only recognition Emily gave of his presence was shuffling the papers around and pushing a surveillance picture into his hand.
“So, I was right. You are working on outside cases again.” Sherlock tapped the photograph against his fingertips and laughed while saying, “Does the United States government know of these side jobs of yours?”
Emily couldn’t refuse his laughter and turned about in her chair to pull another folding chair up to the table.
“I should certainly hope not.”
“And why not?”
She sighed, pushing her fingers through her hair and huffing out, “They’d probably make me an accessory to the crime. Which is really more of lover’s spat that anything else. I just need to find the hiding place, my fee will be finalized, and I’ll report it to the revenuers as anything else.”
Sherlock pulled his step ladder chair out from the corner of the room and Emily tried to ignore the sounds of the floorboards scratching. One of her better senses was her hearing, amplified by certain magical blessings, and most often in the modern world it was a curse. Every slight movement and gesture had its own sound.And it took a lot of commotion to take all of those sounds away.
“Would you mind filling me on all of the details?”
Emily lifted the folder from the tabletop, reordering the photographs as each one fell into Sherlock’s hands. He looked through them with a hum, occasionally tapping against the bookcase and slowly starting to sing. She slowly tried to recognize what he was singing and followed along in the tapping. There was no point in trying to mimic the tune, but Emily stayed the course while they both set their minds to working on the case before them.
Holmes spoke in the middle of the silence and asked, “Were there any other suspects beyond the wife?”
“Yes,” was the only answer Emily could force out. She followed it up with, “The detectives believed that it was one of the delivery men who came back around to return the shipment to the seller.”
She pulled a black and white mug from another folder.
“This is George Briggs, previously convicted for grand larceny.”
“What did he steal last time?”
“You’re going to balk at this, Sherlock, but he stole a magical snuffbox.”
Sherlock’s chair rocked back and forth, the metal sliding with a slight squeak as the bottom step got stuck, and a nice accompaniment to Holmes’s laughter. The squeaking stopped when he leaned forward over the work bench once again, but Emily could still hear him giggling.
“Emily, my dear, what could possibly be so special about a snuff box?”
She set about digging around in the desk once more, trying to find all of the information before their allotted amount of time ran out. Emily tried to ignore the remnants of his giggling, but it crossed the thresholds into her mind while the search went on. All of the information was right there, but just somehow buried.
A blank look crossed Sherlock’s face as she swore, but Emily noted he lack of movement and speech. He stayed away from the desk, going back to examine the photographs of the shop that were already in his hands.
Maybe the detective would be able to find something he missed.
The proper photograph finally found its way into her hands and Emily explained, “It’s dangerously enchanted and also covered in precious stones. Briggs took it from a museum where he worked as a delivery man for the café’s food vendor.”
The details of the case quickly started running through Emily’s mind, and she soon felt Sherlock’s eyes upon the side of her face. He noticed her distress far too quickly.
“Is there something about the original Briggs case that bothers you?”
“Beyond every single detail of the matter? No, nothing about it bothers me.”
Emily had snapped at him.And she then leaned back in her own chair to avoid Sherlock’s continuing glare, refocusing her mind to think about the shop. Whether or not Briggs had stolen the piece during the last case was none of her concern. But she at least knew that he wasn’t guilty of this crime.
If she could only find the wardrobe.
She walked through the crime scene one more time, noting the smashed glass on both sides of the window frame and the crumpled scraps of paper. The wardrobe had been in the back-storage room, prompting the police to believe a delivery man had something to do with it.
But the storage room had something obviously wrong with the amount of space available. Emily had put it down to a hidden compartment for the more illicit items, but there was that empty sheet in all of that empty space.
Something was being hidden.
It was just staying in plain sight.
Her quick rise back to the land of the living startled Holmes as Emily quietly stated, “I know how they did it.”