Home > Romancing the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #5)(14)

Romancing the Billionaire (Billionaire Boys Club #5)(14)
Author: Jessica Clare

“So you want to dig up a tree in the backyard?” She peered at Jonathan curiously, and then her face lit up. “You’re with that nice man who came here last year, aren’t you?”

Violet turned at that. “Last year?” Had her father planned things that far back?

The woman nodded. “A gentleman asked me if he could bury something under one of the trees in the backyard. Told me a lovely story about it meaning something to his daughter.” She shrugged. “I thought he was a little cuckoo but harmless.”

A reluctant smile spread across Violet’s face. “Cuckoo was a good description for my father.” She wasn’t so sure about harmless.

“He told me to expect you in the future. Lovely man.” She gave Violet a sweet smile. “Spoke so nicely about his pretty daughter, too.” Before Violet could scoff at that, the woman continued. “Well, come on, then. I don’t mind. Do what you like, just don’t touch my daylilies.”

“We won’t,” Jonathan assured her.

They made their way out to the backyard, and it, too, was transformed from Violet’s memories. For a heart-stopping moment, she worried that the tree would be gone. Not that she cared, of course, but she didn’t put it past Jonathan to come up with another sort of scheme to keep her at his side while they tried to figure out where the next lead would take them. But Violet counted trees and realized that the slim cottonwood she’d staked out as a child was, in fact, still there, just thicker and taller.

Drawn to it, Violet headed forward, looking for the mark she’d made when she was young. Jonathan followed behind her, and when she got to the tree, she ran her fingers along the upraised ridges of the bark. There, faintly among the ridges, was her drawing. It did look like a squashed bug. Just a bit. Violet smiled to herself. Huh. “This is the tree.”

“Mind if we dig at the base?” Jonathan asked the owner.

“Go right ahead,” the woman said with a tittering laugh. “You’re sure this isn’t for TV?”

“I’m sure,” Jonathan said with a chuckle. “Got a shovel?”

Violet waited as Jonathan got a few gardening implements from the owner, and then he returned to the tree.

“Dig here,” Violet told him, pointing at the front of the tree. That had been where she’d hidden her Etch A Sketch back when she was a child, between two upraised roots. She stepped back and watched as Jonathan dug, all of his casual friendliness gone once more in the face of his focused intensity.

He didn’t have to dig far. Violet figured as much. After all, her father had wanted it found. A few shovelfuls of dirt in, Jonathan clanged against something, and all three of them paused and bent over to see what he’d uncovered. He leaned down and brushed the dirt away from a small metal box, then pulled it out and held it out to Violet. “Do you want to do the honors?”

She waved him away with a hand. Violet would never admit that she was a little curious, herself. “This is your party. You go ahead.”

He examined the box for a moment, holding it up. To Violet’s eyes it looked like a plain lockbox. She half-wondered if they’d find an Etch A Sketch inside, and her heart twanged painfully.

But when he opened the box, Jonathan reached inside and pulled out two thick cream envelopes with her father’s familiar red wax seal. “One has my name on it, and one has yours.”

Violet stared at the envelope with her name on it. She was surprised her hand didn’t tremble when she reached forward and plucked it from his grip. She didn’t open it. Not yet. Instead, she waited as Jonathan tore his open, his eyes that dark, sharp intense stare that made her shiver and remember her dreams from earlier.

He flipped the paper open, scanned it, and was almost disappointed. “Just one word. GLIRASTES. I’m not sure what that’s referring to.” He showed her the paper, his gaze turning to her. “What’s yours say?”

Reluctant, Violet flipped hers over and gently eased the seal open. Her heart thumped as she saw her father’s familiar, crabbed cursive writing with certain letters bolded. There were eight lines of it, and she scanned it and then began to read.

“I met a traveller from an antique land

Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown

And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.”

Violet frowned down at the paper. “Poetry? Really? You got a made-up word and I got poetry? Was my dad on crack in his last days?”

She looked up and to her surprise, Jonathan’s face was lit up with recognition.

“What?” she asked warily.

“‘And on the pedestal these words appear,’” Jonathan murmured, getting to his feet and dusting off his jeans. His intense gaze held hers. “‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings: look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’”

Her eyebrow went up. “Ozymandias?”

“Shelley,” he said excitedly, and his hands gripped her arms and he pulled her into his arms. “It’s Shelley!”

She was going to ask him to explain when he grabbed her and pulled her against him in a quick, brisk kiss of excitement. Before she could chastise him, he pulled away from her, grinning, and turned and grabbed the elderly woman and gave her a big smacking kiss on the cheek. “Shelley!” he pronounced again.

The elderly woman tittered.

Violet didn’t laugh. It was a nothing kiss. Just excitement.

Still, Violet’s cheeks flushed as she remembered her dream from earlier, and Jonathan’s mouth between her legs. She forced herself to remain outwardly indifferent. “Do you mind explaining what you mean by ‘Shelley’?”

Jonathan turned back and gave her a brilliant smile, his solemn face lighting up in a way that made him impossible to look away from. “Percy Bysshe Shelley,” he explained. “He wrote the poem ‘Ozymandias’ when he saw a statue of Ramses the Great in London.”

“So,” she said thoughtfully, tapping the paper on her hand. “Knowing my father, we’re either to follow the rabbit trail after Shelley himself and go to London, or research Ramses the Great. What does your clue have to do with any of this?”

“No idea,” Jonathan said, that boyish smile still on his face. “But I’m positive there’s a connection somewhere. We just have to figure it out.”

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