Don’t go near the Masai honey pot. It was evil.

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A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental

Chapter 35

Angus plowed his silver Chevy down several side streets northwest of the UT Campus.  He was headed for a small house that had been re-done with designer paint and exquisite wrought-iron trim.  The former house served as an elegant business suite.  He went to the front of the house and peered through all of the window glass that was exposed.  A couple of lights were on.  That was normal.  There was no evidence of anyone inside and a quaint sign hanging from the doorknob said, ‘closed for business, re-opening Monday, regular hours.’”

The house was his clandestine sweetheart’s antiques shop.  Eleanor and her husband, Ben, usually networked and bought goods for resale to big accounts—restaurant lobbies, hotel lobbies and swank business offices, and for interior designers.  She did keep the small house-conversion shop for storage and sale of leftover items, but she did not find it worth her while to man it constantly, or pay someone to do it.  She used the shop to manage the records for all of their business transactions, and went there long enough to do the books, inventories, and usually made private appointments with people that wished to see other items inside.

Again, Angus peered carefully into the windows.  The corners of his mouth lifted when he realized he would later appear on the security videos doing this.  I’m a criminal!  He grinned right into one of the cameras.  The choicest items were not visible through the window glass.  It was mostly period furniture, a few fine accessories such as china, pottery and brass.  He did not see anything exotic or foreign staring back at him.  He went to the back of the house and there were no cars, there, either.

He got in his Chevy and drove past Eleanor and Ben’s home.  He eased up to the side garage and peered though the glass window in the overhead door.  Ben’s BMW was there.  That would be expected.  He had gone on a buying trip to Boston and Eleanor had mentioned to Angus that she had taken him to the airport, herself.  Eleanor’s Audi was not there.

Angus started feeling anxious.  He got in the Chevy and raced northwest on Balcones for a few miles.  He took a side road left, and tried not to kick up too much dust and gravel.   After taking another primitive side road, he saw Eleanor’s car and pulled up to the lake house.

When he knocked on the door, Eleanor peeked out of the tiny peep-hole window.  She opened the door quickly, then, went back over to her spot by the window where she had been capturing a sunbeam.  She was barefooted, her long, tan legs exposed.  She picked up her hairbrush again and continued her pre-interruption activity—brushing her luxurious tawny locks in the warm glow of the sunbeam.  She seemed to be covered only by a long, gauzy Big Shirt, ecru, with the sleeves rolled up.

Angus paused in the doorway taking it all in.  Shear poetry!  He mumbled the words to himself.

“I beg your pardon.”  Eleanor said, aloud.  She had no idea what he had said.  He continued watching her for a moment, then, he went in and shut the door behind him.

“You’re a hard person to get in touch with.”  He said to her.

She could see that he was smiling.  It wasn’t really a harsh scolding.

“That convention has drawn any prospects to the other side of town for the rest of the week.  There is no point in going to the shop at all.  I decided to take some R and R while I could.  Ben and I are expecting a big business rush soon. . .”  Her voice trailed off as she turned around to rummage through a drawer for a rubber band to make a ponytail with.  She did not hear Angus come up behind her, but she caught the faint scent of his aftershave.  She turned.

Angus took her hard in his arms and kissed her with a wild, almost feral hunger.  She pulled herself back.

“What is going on?”  She asked.

“I have been worried sick about you,” Angus admitted.

“Why?  Be careful, Angus,” she warned.

“Eleanor, you know I love you.”  He kissed her again.

When Eleanor could get some air, she said, “And I love you, too.  But we are not going to do this.”

“Do what?”

“Make a needy relationship out of it.  It will ruin it.  Ours must be a shadowland romance.  We agreed.”

“Shadowland, not needy.  .  .” Angus repeated with a wry smile, then, he kissed her again and again, as they slid to the thick turquoise area carpet.  Their glorious reunion started in the glittery warmth of the sunbeam ended thirty minutes later, in a breathless heap, across the room by the arched entryway to the kitchenette.

Eleanor kissed Angus on the forehead and grinned. “How convenient,” she said, “I guess this is a hint for me to scrape myself up, amble through the archway and make us a snack.”

*     *     *

     “And that was why I was so worried.  My imagination was running overtime, from the moment Sullivan said, ‘some of the artifacts we are investigating are old and could be coming in by way of Antique shops.’”  Angus had just put away a ham and Swiss sandwich and was glugging some coffee.  He was way more than a satisfied man.

“What is so evil about these artifacts?”  Eleanor asked.

“I can’t tell you the whole story, yet.  You’ll have to humor me, but I cannot emphasize how deadly they might be.  I would like for you to caution Ben, also, and have him also be on the alert—tell him as soon as you talk to him, again, okay—can he keep this information secret, between the two of you?  Have him report to you, and you report to me if you run across an ad for one, anywhere.  This is important.  Under no circumstances, should either of you touch, or go near a Masai honey pot.”

“A Masai honey pot?”

“You know, an African artifact of a utilitarian nature.  They look like little drums.  Please look up some images, print them, and show them to Ben, so you will both be familiar with them, okay?  Promise me!”

“Okay, my dear.  You have made a good point and I am getting very creeped-out.  I won’t go anywhere near one, and I will stay on alert about them.  I will warn Ben and tell him you told me—it is odd, he respects you as a cop.  We don’t talk about you, it is kind of off limits, but I can tell he does.”

“Good girl.  While I am here, I guess I should tell you that Skeeter and I are pressuring Sullivan to let us go to Africa for a couple of weeks.  I will call you and let you know.  Maybe I can see you before we go.  I will hope.”

“Okay, Angus.  I can see why you were getting panicky, now.  I appreciate it, and, a big ‘thank you’ for stopping by!”  Eleanor giggled as Angus went out the door.

Angus decided to go back to headquarters, and as he drove along, he could not help feeling jittery about Eleanor.  She did keep a loaded gun at the lake house.  He had made sure of it.  And after all, they had promised each other, “No strings.”

Thank God for afternoon sunbeams coming through windows.  .  .  Angus was thinking this thought on his ride back to headquarters to see if there were any updates.  He was in no way a typical man.  He preferred to save up his passion and savor the intensity of it.

Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.

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