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Once a Thief
“Please sit.” Bette gestured toward the table and chairs. “Have you eaten? Nanette will be leaving shortly—would you like her to prepare a plate for you?”
“No, thank you.” Tina placed the ruby down on the table between them. “Did you steal this?”
Bette reached over and picked it up. “Yes. Yes, I did.” She held it up to the fading afternoon sun. “Have you looked at it? Really looked at it? It is a perfect stone, Tina.” Handing it back to Tina, she continued, “It was part of a rather ugly necklace that was made for Marie Antoinette. I pried it from the setting after Genevieve escaped from the room. Perhaps if I hadn’t stopped to do that, I might have caught her before she got a chance to get onto the roof.”
“You are not responsible for her death, Bette.”
“She had a gun—she held a gun to my head and made me open the safe.” She shuddered as she remembered the fear that had flooded through her system at that moment. “I have never owned a gun, much less thought to use one. I had no idea how terribly desperate she was. I should have paid attention and now it’s too late.”
“The police told my mother about a gun—it slid off the roof. They assumed it was yours.”
“They always assume the worst of me, Tina.” She leaned forward, “Because I am a thief. I am all those things that they say about me. You must understand that. So it will never go away—I will always be on their list. Interpol will always knock on my door when there’s a theft.” She leaned back and shook her head, “And Peabody Insurers will always come back to me because no matter what Helena says, I will always owe them. It’s just the way it is.” Bette turned and stared at Tina, “Go home, Tina. Go back to your safe life in Houston.”
Bette stood and turned to go inside.
“Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare tell me what I should do or how I should feel! I’ve been told that all of my life and I am not about to hear it from you.” Tina stood in front of Bette and looked up at her. “My mother so much as told me that I should forget all this—but I can’t. I can’t forget how you make me feel. And I don’t want to. I am in love with you.”