My stomach tightened as I stepped into the pawnshop. I fingered the gemstone in my pocket as I walked to the pudgy man behind the counter. I hoped he didn’t think I’d stolen it. I’d end up being taken by the soldiers because of the very thing that was supposed to help me avoid them.
“Well?” said the man when I didn’t say anything. “Are you looking for something to buy or are you just going to stand there?”
I swallowed and told myself I was in no danger of being mistaken for a criminal. Ethan told me that he and Faiza had used this place before and they bought stuff, no questions asked.
Thinking of Ethan…. I glanced behind me to make sure Ethan hadn’t come in.
After finding the stone yesterday, I told Ethan that I had a fancy pocket knife I wanted to sell. Ethan didn’t seem to suspect a thing, and this morning set out to take me to a pawnshop in the nearest town.
I knew he wouldn’t be behind me. He was taking some pelts to be sold somewhere else. I told myself to stop being so jittery.
“Ah, you have something to sell,” said the man when he saw me looking over my shoulder. “First time huh?”
I shrugged, not sure if admitting it would count against me. If I let him know I’d never haggled before he may cheat me.
“I’m not going to offer you a price if you don’t show me the merchandise.” He raised an eyebrow.
Then again, by the way I kept standing here looking as lost as a greentwig, he’d probably already guessed I didn’t know what I was doing.
I grasped the gemstone tightly and pulled it from my pocket. I stepped closer to the counter before revealing the ruby in my hand.
I man’s eyes bulged and I couldn’t help but smile. Even this seasoned pawn dealer hadn’t seen such a stone before. I would make more than enough to give to the Foxes and still be able to live comfortably in one of Minaria’s neighboring countries until I was old enough to come back without fear of the king’s soldiers.
The man’s thick fingers snatched the necklace out of my hands.
“Hey!” I said. I knew he was excited about such a large gem, but there was no reason to act like a starving pick pocket.
He examined it closely, looking at it from all angels. Then he thrust it into my hands. “Take it.”
“But you didn’t even give me an offer?” What was wrong with the guy? His eyes were still huge and his face had gone white.
“I’m not making an offer. I don’t deal with stuff like this.”
“What do you mean? I saw jewelry in the front window.”
“Jewelry yes. Something like that,” he nodded his head toward the glittering red gem in my hand, “No.”
Maybe he thought it would be too expensive for him. “I’m willing to negotiate. Just give me an offer.”
“There’s no negotiating with something that dangerous.”
“Dangerous?” Maybe he did think I’d stolen it. But that shouldn’t scare him. That’s what pawnshops were for—to get money for shady items.
“Look,” he leaned in and lowered his voice, “I don’t know how you got that or who you’re working for, but I want nothing to do with it.”
I needed to sell it now or I wouldn’t be able to split the money with the others. Ethan would get suspicious if I asked him to find another pawn shop. He’d start asking questions about why I didn’t sell my “pocket knife” here.
“I didn’t steal it. I—“
He held up his hands. “I don’t want to know. Just take it and leave.”
The shop door opened and I froze, thinking Ethan was done selling the pelts and decided to check on me.
“I told you kid. I don’t want your junk.” The man raised his voice and folded his arms across his flabby stomach.
I quickly shoved the necklace in my pocket, glad for the show the pawnshop owner was putting on. Better for Ethan to think it was junk and not a huge ruby I’d found in a cave and didn’t tell them about.
“Street urchins trying to sell you their trash again?” said a voice behind me. I was relived it wasn’t Ethan’s.
“Just how it is in this business.” The man glared at me, but the beads of sweat dotting his forehead told me he was more nervous than angry.
I half turned, looking between the man behind the counter and the man that just came in. I couldn’t do anything now that he was here. I didn’t know why the gemstone was given such a strong reaction, but it seemed unwise to let anyone else know about it.
My shoulders slumped and I turned to leave. I would have to find another way to make my fortune.
Check out the Hashna Stone Page for previous chapters
Dalan is back to deciding what to do with the gemstone. It sure is causing a lot of trouble! And what I weird reaction he got at the pawnshop. Maybe we’ll learn more about this stone next week (that’s as close to a spoiler as I’m getting). 🙂