Elouise could hardly contain her girlish giggling as she watched the explorers practically dance around their exhibit, commanding the museum curator on how their discovery should be framed and presented.

“There’s no money in exploring. All of it’s spent on bullets, rope and travel permits,” Hugh came along beside her, tutting at the spectacle below them. “But it does sound like such an excitement! The foreign lands, the changing environments! Something different than… all this,” Elouise waved a hand towards the large window overlooking the city outside the museum.

Hugh followed her trail. “Well, it’s not all bad. A lot of people dream of urban life,” Hugh chuckled. “Of course. With people like me specifically forgotten,” she shot him an ironic smile.

An angry exclamation from below drew their attention back to the explorer and the exhibit. “No no no NO! The light should fall on the tip of the jar, then encompass the emeralds of the rim! If I knew how sacrilegious its treatment would be outside its Peruvian temple, I would have never brought it back!” the older of the two adventurers, a mustachioed man named Mr. Sorrin bellowed. His younger, far more pleasing to the eye companion, Mr O’ Neal, sniggered. “Calm down, my dear George. Might I remind you the interior of that temple was specifically designed to produce an altar to appease the Sun God? You can’t hardly expect a product of all those years of architecture to be replicated in a matter of hours,” he pacified his partner.

Elouise eyed Mr. O’ Neal with a glimmer. How exciting it must be to have an adventure with that beautiful man, swinging across ravines into ancient temple caves, his arms around her, and her rescuing him from savages. She giggled. “Down, girl,” Hugh nudged her.

“How come you’ve never went that route? God knows, with the amount of influence your father has, travelling shouldn’t be a problem,” Elouise straightened. “Precisely why I didn’t take that route. My father would be asking for more than just security detail at this point,” Hugh sighed. The thought of him going on trips to foreign lands for the sole purpose of rubbing elbows with his father’s overseas traders made him uncomfortable to no end.

“So, who will we be spending more time with? The magnificent there, or that magnificent over there?” her eyebrows lifted with excitement and cheekiness. Hugh clicked his tongue. “You are insatiable. Either way, you’re bound to have a good time tonight, aren’t you?”

“I would if I were entitled to the fetching price that jar offered. But, unfortunately I’ve been assigned a different end of the rope now,” she sulked a little. “Still, I can elicit a response from the other one, so all is not lost,” she grinned naughtily.

“Just, behave yourself tonight. There will be quite a crowd, and our main priority is to keep that artifact safe,” Hugh wiped his brow.

“Does your sergeant approve of this additional job?” Elouise fiddled with the hidden strap that kept her sword to her hip under her skirt.

“I’ve explained the situation to him. I’ve even agreed to taking a day off and playing Lord Roxton the Younger today, but Sergeant Illroy was thankfully understanding and I’m here as a Metropolitan Constable as well,” Hugh heaved a heavy sigh of relief. Crossing the line between Lord and constable was going to keep being as difficult as ever, but at least his father was respecting his career choice, even in his own way. And with Sergeant Illroy willing to generally dismiss and if needed, accommodate his status, things were looking better.

They made their way downstairs to where Mr. Sorrin was still fuming at the poor curator for having inadequate lighting for showing off the glint of the gemstones even with electric bulbs.

“Try a circular arrangement, from the base. And, maybe a mirror backdrop to reflect the illumination?” Hugh shrugged after having had enough of the displeasure in front of him. Beside him, Elouise’s grin could match the Cheshire Cat’s.

“Ah! Lord Roxton. Such a pleasure to meet you and your father yesterday,” Mr. O’ Neal shook hands. “And whom do I owe the pleasure to?” he extended a hand to Elouise.

“This is Lady Rose. She will be joining us for tonight’s festivities aiding me with the security detail,” Hugh beamed. Elouise put on her best lady-like smile and extended her hand to a politely impressed Mr. O’ Neal.

“A woman? On security detail?” Mr. Sorrin huffed. Elouise’s grin became even wider, and less in politeness. “Now, George. We seen more than our share to know being a female’s no excuse for being unable to lend a hand. Thank you so much for your assistance, Lady Rose,” Mr. O’ Neal bowed and kissed her hand. Elouise dipped in a little curtsy and grinned at Hugh, who rolled his eyes.

“Now, my good sirs, if we may, I wold like to go over tonight’s itinerary to make sure of the proceedings,” Hugh produced a notepad and a pen, ready to mark blind spots and exits of the building. Elouise took the opportunity to scrutinize the display, keeping a crowd of people around it in mind.

The vase on the podium glittered as she walked around it, its emerald rim and ruby inlays winking at her. Instinctively, Elouise circled closer to the shiny object. She knew nothing about Peru, let alone its culture, but such a vase seemed rather unnecessarily ornate, even to her tastes. A temple vase, they said? Perhaps their worship included overdecorating. If that was the case, why did the explorers return with only a vase? Surely there were other items in the temple, another vase even.

“Please don’t touch it!” the museum curator called out from the huddle around Hugh. Elouise appeared to take offense to the curator’s remark, but Hugh shot her a look. Suppressing a sharp remark, Elouise folded her hands behind her back and resumed testing the floor around the stand. She noted the hollow sound the floor gave as she paced around the stage with her wooden heeled shoes. That may be a little cause for concern, given her imagination for a creative heist.

Writer’s note: I’m back! Pardon for last week’s absence, I was sick something awful. Brain’s still a little on the fritz because as soon as I got well, I pulled two all-nighters for an essay D: Well, here’s hoping a wild imagination sprung from all that heck 😛