He took her to Acquerello's, her favorite restaurant. She loved the ambiance and the food was very special. It might even be the best restaurant in San Francisco. Despite the fact he was near death he still ate like a horse. She was happy about that, one should always be able to enjoy good food. No one knew for sure how much time Peter had. He did not look as sick as he really was, though he had lost considerable weight, despite his appetite. His face had a glow and his cheeks looked plumb. She was happy to see him looking so well but unfortunately, she knew it was temporary.
"Go, go and be happy," he said as he took her hand. "What's his name, Joe?"
Delilah nodded. She wanted to tell him everything, as she always had, but now, it wouldn't matter. He didn't need to know about the Eagle Diamond, about her plans to capture it. Her bags were packed and she had a flight out of San Francisco that evening.
"Brock will get my end of things, of course."
"Good," she said. "I'm sure Brock is the right choice."
"I’ve been saving this for dessert, my dear but I can’t wait a moment more. I have the most exciting bit of information."
"And what information is that, my darling?"
"I have news about the Eagle Diamond," he said, rather off the cuff. He looked at her coyly, playfully, as he chewed his food. "Do you remember the Eagle Diamond theft?"
"The Eagle Diamond?" She'd been startled and sat back. She should have expected this. Peter always knew about everything.
"News from an old source."
“So what? This is insanely wonderful news.”
“You’re not going to take any news about the Eagle Diamond seriously? You must be kidding?”
“I’m not kidding.”
“I don’t like the expression on your face, you’re not going to pursue this ridiculous joke, are you?”
"Why not? I'm not dead yet," he said.
"Peter, I didn't want you to ever find out, I've wanted to spare you. But if you're going to keep working you should be aware that you've been betrayed. Clearly, you're being betrayed again."
"I didn't think it was important to upset you, not now."
He looked puzzled as he stared at her.
"You were duped, my darling. There was no Yellow Diamond. Nothing was exchanged but hot air. That whole elaborate buy was a hoax. The prince was phony. Everything about it was phony. I never would have told you but I can't let you get involved in yet another scam."
She could tell he was trying to digest what she'd said and she hoped she’d said enough to get him off the subject of the Eagle Diamond.
"I found out from a very reliable source," she continued. "It was all part of an insidious little plan to destroy your customer base. I'm sure you're being duped again. It's preposterous to think the Eagle Diamond has surfaced."
"So I was duped?" He sat back in his chair and stared at her. "Devon?"
"Of course, who else?"
"That son of a bitch."
"Devon got Glen to participate in the scam, must have paid him a fortune. I guess he figures that when he owns your customer base he'll get it back. I was going to tell you about Glen but…"
“I know, I know, it’s hardly important anymore, isn’t it?”
She looked away and he leaned forward on the table and put his face in his hands.
"This is preposterous."
"Glen pretended to pass the Yellow Diamond but he never had it. None of us knows who has it. It's been out of circulation for years. Glen gave you a bunch of bullshit background on the Prince as well. Vizueta is a lackey. Devon wants to bring you down again, make you look like a fool, like you're making up bids to puff yourself up."
"Maybe I should tell them I'm dying. There's no need to get rid of me."
"Perhaps they know that and that’s why they’re doing this, I don’t know. Look, I doubt that there's an Eagle Diamond, Peter. When you look like an idiot one too many times Devon will inherit your business."
"And how did you find out about this?"
"I have my informers."
"And you never mentioned any of this to me?"
“At a time like this? No, you need to hear only good news."
Peter found her gaze. "Darling, my information has come from a good source as well. I don't believe this news about the Eagle Diamond resurfacing is a scam at all. I think you are the one being duped."
She sat back. This was going to be more difficult than she'd imagined. "My information came from a someone I trust. I can't stand by and watch you make a fool of yourself."
"You think Devon got to LaPorte and had him tell me a foolish lie?"
"LaPorte? Darling, LaPorte isn't reliable."
"On the upshot this is real, I'm going to pursue it. I already have Glen on it."
Delilah thought for a moment and tried to gather her thoughts. He probably needed this. She heard the determination in his voice.
“Having Glen on anything is a huge mistake. It’s suicide.”
“I’ll handle Glen. Letting him know I’m on to him now would be a mistake.”
"Well then," she said. "If the diamond exists, I hope you find it before Devon does."
"Devon might not even know about it."
She looked at him wide-eyed. He must know that Devon knows about everything. “If Glen was working with Devon on the Yellow Diamond scam don’t you think he would have told him?”
He rubbed the short beard on his chin. "So, you’re telling me that the Prince is a phony bastard and Glen is out to make a fool of me?"
“I’m afraid so.”
"LaPorte told me the Eagle is in Callicoon; he lives there."
Delilah continued to stare at her husband. She wasn't prepared to cheat him out of this but of course, she would. "Well, I'm sure Devon wouldn't have believed LaPorte, I guess that’s why he didn’t call Devon, he knew that. You’ve always been the shrewd one, darling.”
“That would have been Devon’s mistake because I believe LaPorte is telling the truth.”
"Peter, please lay this one to rest. Don't take any chances at this stage of the game," she said. “You’re very sick.”
"So, my own brother got me on the Yellow Diamond? Brilliant, I have to say. But he could have had me shot; it would have cost him less money. The idiot is paying commissions out of his own pocket, I would assume?"
She looked off, her plans were getting complicated and only a day ago they'd been so concrete.
"The joke is on them, my dear," he said.
"How could you take the word of LaPorte?" she asked.
"Instinct." He reached out over the table and held her hand. "I don't want Glen to know I suspect him of anything. I've already sent him to Callicoon so I can't call him back, that would be a red flag. I'll send Brock up immediately. I don't want Glen to be suspicious. No, this has to be well thought out. I don't want to raise any hairs on Devon's head either. When Glen tells him about this bid, and he probably already has, Devon will put him on the case and the weasel will betray me all over again. I refuse to let that happen."
"I don't understand why you're sending Brock."
"Perhaps I am crazy, but I believe in following my gut. The Eagle Diamond is going to be my final victory."
"I don't think you need Brock on this."
"Of course I do, who the hell do you think is going to outsmart Glen?"
She looked at him for a long time. "Alright then." She squeezed his hands. "I'll keep my mouth shut and stay out of it."
"Yes, I don't want you thinking about business...just enjoy this fellow, what's his name, Joe?"
"Peter, if the Eagle buy turns out to be real every thief in the world will be on it." She felt the betrayal and wished she could retract it but dead people don't feel revenge. Soon there'd be nothing he could do to her. She'd be safe. She'd have to take care of Brock, of course. His presence in Callicoon was certainly going to pose a problem.
"I never worried about other people before and I'm not going to start now."
"Yes." She hung her head. Her husband had unknowingly given her the biggest challenge she may ever have; she'd have to find a way to waylay Brock, to trick him.
"Goodbye, my darling," he said.
Delilah wiped a tear from her eye. "I'll always love you, Peter," she whispered.
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