"Let's see…" Juliet mumbled going over a checklist in her hands as she went over the inventory of the basement of her father's museum. "Three African masks… One, two, three, yes. Two Ceremonial spears… One, two, yes. Four Peruvian Palma illustration tapestries… One, two, three— Where's the fourth one?" Juliet looked around the room, looking for the fourth tapestry that was supposed to be there. She jumped when she heard the ringing of a phone and looked around for the source. She went over to the phone her father had had placed in the basement and picked it up, "Hello?"
"Juliet?" Tintin's voice came on the other end, and she smiled.
"Hello, Tintin." She said in reply.
She could hear the smile in his voice as he said, "I was wondering what had happened to you."
"Well, I've been at the museum all day." Juliet said, "So that mystery's solved." She looked around, still looking for the fourth tapestry as she spoke.
"Yes, well, I was just calling to confirm about tomorrow." Tintin said.
Juliet smiled, "Our date, you mean?" She could just imagine Tintin's cheeks turning a little red in that shy way that she just adored.
"Yes, our date." He said. He and Juliet had been in a relationship for a good long month, now, and they were both very happy with each other. A few months ago, when Juliet had moved into the apartment across from Tintin, she had helped him with a case involving a serial murderer, and if she had never met him, the case would possibly never have been solved.
"Sure, I'll meet you at the café tomorrow." Juliet said, "Now, I hate to cut this call short, Tintin, because you know how much I love talking to you, but there is a Peruvian Palma illustration tapestry that has gone missing, and I need to find it."
"I'll leave you to it, then." Tintin said, "See you tomorrow."
"See you." Juliet said, and she hung up the phone. She went over to where the tapestries were, and started digging through some items that rested near them. She looked under one of the crates and smiled when she found what looked like a rolled-up tarp near it, "Ah-ha! Sneaky little bugger." She grabbed it and held it up, unrolling it to reveal it was the tapestry. She smiled and placed it with the others. She quickly went over the remaining items on her checklist, because she was very tired and she wanted to go home, and grabbed her things before heading up the stairs. She glanced at a clock on her way up, and was surprised to see the time read 11:43, a very long time after the museum had closed, "Good lord! It's that late already?" She quickly dashed up the stairs, "I need to get home."
She walked out through the door and started heading through her father's museum, taking a shortcut to the exit through his most recently added wing in the museum, 'The Haddock History' dedicated to Captain Haddock and his family, who, while a constantly drunk man, she found to be a very good friend.
As she began to walk through the lobby, she noticed one of the lights in the museum was still on, as it shouldn't have been. Specifically, the light in her father's office. She peeked through the door, and saw her father bent over his desk, his head in his hands as he looked at a sheet of paper in front of him, a tired and worn out expression on his face. Her father, a lean man of six feet, with brown hair and bespectacled eyes, was well into his fifties, with his brown hair graying slightly in a couple places. He had always been a smiling man, happy on most occasions, sad on some, but the stress she saw exhibited in his face at that moment worried her, because he had never really worn that expression. His office wasn't very large, it was ten feet by fifteen. His desk sat in front of a mirror that overlooked a garden that had some dying plant life due to the coming season of autumn. She could see some of the vines that had grown over his window starting to shed the orange and red colored leaves from their stems in preparation for the season. On each side of the room was a ten foot tall, five foot wide bookshelf that was filled with various books of sizes and magnitudes, some fiction, some non, but a large portion of the shelves bore souvenirs from when he and Juliet's late mother had gone on trips around the world. The room was dimly lit by a small desk lamp that shone over what Juliet could see was one of the books they use to keep up with the money the museum receives.
"Papa?" His head shot up at the sound of her voice and he smiled softly at her.
"Juliet." He said, "What are you doing here so late, sweetheart?" He got up and walked around his desk so he could speak to her, and inconspicuously hiding the book from her view at the same time.
"I could ask you the same." Juliet replied, "Papa, it's almost midnight. Shouldn't you be in bed? What are you working on?" She tried to peer around his shoulder to look at the book, but he stopped her by placing his hand on her shoulder.
"Don't worry, dear, it's nothing." He said, "I'm just going over some of the museum's finances. Nothing to fret over."
"That face you were making earlier says otherwise." Juliet said, "Papa, those men didn't harass you again, did they?" Over the past few months, Juliet's father had been getting 'visited' by a local mob who had loaned him some money to help keep his museum going. He had paid them off for the most part, but they still came by every now and then, asking for the interest he owed them. His face twitched into a grim one for a moment, but he quickly covered it up with a soft smile.
"Don't worry, they haven't." He said, "Everything's fine, Juliet." He leaned down and kissed her forehead, "Now, as you said, it's late. Why don't you go home for the evening?"
"No buts." He interrupted, "You're working at the café tomorrow, aren't you? You need to get some sleep."
Juliet sighed, seeing that her father wasn't going to tell her what was bothering him, "Okay, fine. Keep your secrets then." Her father frowned at her words, "I'll go home for the night." She shouldered her purse, "Goodnight, Papa." She turned and walked out of the office, peeved that her father wouldn't trust her enough to tell her what was on his mind.
Just as she reached for the door, she heard her father call out her name, "Juliet!" She looked back and saw him coming up to her. He smiled, looking at her lovingly, and embraced her. Juliet, a little confused, and now a little worried, returned the embrace. "You know how much I love you, don't you?"
"Of course I do, Papa." Juliet said, wondering why he was asking her this.
"And you know how proud I am of you?" He asked, Juliet nodded.
"Yes…" She said quietly. Her father pulled away slightly, and looked down at her face, he reached up and tucked some of her brunette hair behind her ear.
"You know, you are so much like your mother." He said randomly, "You look just like her. Except for the nose," He touched the nose in question, "That's mine. And we never could figure out the chin. For years we argued if it was mine or your grandfather's. Everything else is hers, though. The eyes, the cheeks, the hair, all your mother's. And you have her spirit. Her love of life…" Juliet looked at him worriedly and moved her father's hand from her face.
"Papa, you're scaring me." She said quietly. Her father frowned and leaned down, kissing her forehead.
"I'm sorry." He said, "I didn't realize I was. I was only speaking my thoughts." Juliet's nervousness didn't lessen as he smiled at her. "I love you very much Juliet."
"I… love you, too." Juliet said, a little hesitantly, "And… Papa, if you need anything, I'll help you out. You know I will." He nodded.
"Yes, I do, Juliet." He said, he patted her shoulder, "Now go home. It's been a long night." Juliet looked at her father worriedly and she turned around, heading through the door. She paused and looked back at him.
"Really, Papa." She said, "Anything." He nodded.
"I know, sweetheart." He said, he waved her onward, "Go on, I'll lock it up for the night." She stepped through the door, and closed it behind her, leaving the museum with a very uneasy feeling in her stomach. She walked down the street, her apartment being only a thirty minute walk from the museum, and kept glancing back at the museum, looking worriedly at the building as she saw her father had yet to turn off all the lights.
"Papa, just what are you up to…?" She asked quietly as she continued down the street.
Inside the museum, her father went over to where the phone was in the museum, quickly dialing a number into it, and waiting for someone on the other line to pick up.
A moment later, the phone was answered by a feminine voice, "Hello?"
"Yes, Jeanine?" Mr. Ryder said, "Is Richard still waiting for me to tell him goodnight?"
"Yes, sir, he is." Jeanine was the nanny that Mr. Ryder had hired because he was no longer able to look after his son on a daily basis.
"Put him on, would you?" He asked, "I'm afraid I won't be able to come home tonight."
"Yes, just a moment." He heard a small thunk as she put the phone down, and waited a moment. After a short while, she came back, saying, "He's very tired Mr. Ryder, so, he might sound a little strange." He heard a rustling sound as the phone was handed to his son.
"Hello…?" Richard's slurred sleepy speech came from the other end. Mr. Ryder smiled. He could just imagine his little boy, his eyes half closed and his entire body swaying from how tired he was.
"Hello, Richie." He greeted, "I called to say goodnight, I won't be home until much, much later."
"Oh… 'Kay." Richard said, "G'Night, Papa."
"Goodnight, Richie." Mr. Ryder said, "I love you. Be a good boy, all right?"
"Yesser…" Richard said tiredly, "I love you, too…"
Mr. Ryder smiled, "Alright then, bye."
"Bye-bye." Richard said, and he hung up the phone. Mr. Ryder did the same, just as the front door to the museum opened. He looked to see who it was that had come, and scowled.
"I see you're back again." He said to the person, "Don't worry, I have what you asked for. Come with me." He took the person back into another part of the museum. He went back to where the safe was hidden, filled with the funds he had received for museum patronage. "I hope you're doing something useful with this money I keep giving you." He reached in and pulled out a small bundle of bank notes and handed it to them. "There. Now leave us be." The person said nothing as they reached in and pulled out a gun, pointing it at Mr. Ryder, who immediately put his hands up. "Wait! What are you doing?!"
Ta-dah! Sequel! It's a little shorter than I hoped it would be, but I hope it's good enough!