ALL THAT GLITTERS

How does one begin a story like mine? I suppose you could say at the beginning, but I’d really rather not. You see, by the time I told you about all the things that have happened to me prior to this, you would get bored and not care about what I am going to tell you. So I guess I shall start in the middle.

To be fair, though, I will tell you a little bit about myself. My name is James Branden. That’s Branden with an e not an o. I live in the downtown area of Columbus, Ohio and I work for the local department of the FBI as one of their profilers. To be sure, I was made for this kind of work. Let me explain.

I was born with powers. Some might call them superpowers, others gifts, others may even view them as a curse. I can sense others’ feelings, for starters. My other gift is that of telekinesis. While my parents feel that I should work on developing my first ability (they’re gifted as well,) I found that moving things with my mind was much more in line with my personality. Of course, using my empathic abilities during an investigation has proved exceptionally useful. I use them quite often when visiting a crime scene or when we’re questioning someone. Most people know how to put on a poker face, but their emotional state? Most of the time, it’s like they have running lights and a big neon sign that flashes “GUILTY!” over their heads. About the only ones I have a hard time being around are the sociopaths. Completely soulless, I find being in the presence of one an almost terrifying experience.

My main hobby is geology. I don’t know why, I just got into it when I was a little kid, and found myself fascinated by rocks and minerals. This led to me becoming somewhat of an expert on certain famous gemstones. In fact, it was this level of interest that brings me to where I am today.

It was a day like any other day in Central Ohio. Grey, gloomy, mid-thirties. I came to my office, actually a cubicle that gave me a really great view of the city. As I sat down at my desk to begin looking at the case file for the day, I saw a note from my boss. “Must see you at 10 sharp!” it said, no explanation about why or what it was he wanted to tell me. This was normal for him, and so I thought nothing of it.

I went about my business, looking over the file, until the appointed time. When I went to my director’s office, I opened the door and was greeted by the sexiest pair of legs I had ever seen.

Her back was turned as she sat in the chair facing my boss’ desk, but her legs were quite visible. Tanned, smooth, tall spike heels and nylons that had the seam running up the back of them. Like I said. Sexy.

“Jim, I’d like you to meet Agent Anya Petrucci. She’s from INTERPOL. They’re working on a case that led them to the US. You are going to assist them.” he said. He never was one for introductions.

Agent Petrucci stood up and turned to face me. I tried not to let my jaw drop. The woman was absolutely stunning to look at. Glossy black hair cut to shoulder length, impossibly high cheekbones and amber-colored eyes. I just stared, oblivious that she had her hand out in greeting.

“You know, Director McCoy, for a profiler, Agent Branden seems rather quiet.” she said lightly.

“Sorry.” I stammered out, and shook her hand. The skin seemed warm. Almost too warm. Instinctively, I reached out with my gifts. There seemed to be something there, but I couldn’t tell what. She suddenly seemed aware of my scrutiny, because she looked at me as if she was studying me in kind.

“Well, what do you need me for, Ms. Petrucci? Surely INTERPOL has its own profilers to help you.” I asked as we both sat down.

“I need your knowledge of gemstones. Particularly regarding some stones that were stolen from the American Natural History Museum back in 1964.” she started.

Hastily, my boss closed the door. Anya’s warm smile had faded, her amber eyes glinting coldly as he went back behind his desk. Returning her gaze to me, she arched an eyebrow.

“Well, most of the stuff you can read online.” I started. “Several famous stones were taken by someone who got the idea from a movie. The Eagle Diamond, the DeLong Ruby, the Schettler Emerald, and the Star of India were among the more famous ones taken. The Star and the ruby were returned, although the DeLong Ruby did have to be ransomed.”

“What happened to the diamond?”

“No one knows. It was a 16 carat diamond. Most likely it was cut and fenced.” I could sense she had no idea what the term meant, but she nodded like she understood. “In all honesty, Ms. Petrucci, could you explain why Interpol is interested in a theft that occurred on American soil over forty years ago?”

She smiled. “Of course. That would be only fair.” She turned to my boss. “Director, could you please excuse us for a moment?”

Normally loathe to taking orders, my boss left the office. When the door was closed behind him, Agent Petrucci had a very sly smile on her face. I suddenly go the feeling that there was more to this woman’s arrival and interest in me than an old jewelry heist.

“It was never cut up. You probably would also be interested in knowing that the DeLong Ruby that is sitting at the American Natural History Museum is a fake.” she started.

“Impossible. They can tell artificial stones from real ones. Besides, the DeLong is a natural, double-star ruby. That can’t be faked.”

“You said it was missing for some time, and during that time, it exchanged hands many times.” She opened a small leather portfolio and laid it on the desk. “When it was “ransomed” back to the museum, it was in the possession of this man, Aristotle Miniakis, head of the Greek underworld. What many people don’t know is that he also has…gifts.”

I looked at her, my eyebrow arched. There was only one reason why she would say such a thing.

“You mean he’s got powers?” I asked.

“Yes.” She looked at the office door for a moment to make sure my boss wasn’t standing too close. “As do I, and a few others. We work in a department of Interpol not too many know about. We monitor those who have powers that make them more than human. That’s how you came to our attention.” she smiled serenely, yet knowingly.

I studied her face for a moment. Her expression revealed nothing, save a dare for me to contest any of her statements. My mind was swimming; I had longed for an opportunity to really use my abilities other than poking around an individual’s emotional state or telekinetically tripping a fleeing suspect. Anya was giving me the chance to live up to my potential. When all was said and done, this was probably the easiest decision I could ever have made.

Leaning back in the chair, I smiled warmly at Anya. “So, where do we start looking?” I asked.
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