by Katherine Tomlinson
When my husband and son came home early from their camping trip, hauling a footlocker in the truck bed and grinning like fools, I got a bad feeling.
Deke carried in the trunk and dumped it on the living room rug. “Open it honey,” Deke urged, but I didn’t want to touch it, so he knelt beside it and threw open the lid.
The trunk was packed with small velvet pouches. Deke pulled one open, pouring the contents into my hand. Diamonds, each stone as big as a pearl. “They’re real,” Deke said. “I tested them.”
“Put it back,” I said. This was a dragon’s hoard; so precious it was worth its weight in blood.
It took me all night to convince him but in the end he agreed to return the trunk to its hiding place.
Three days later, there was a knock during dinner. Deke opened the door and stepped back to let the visitor enter.
“You have something of mine,” he said. “I want it back.”
“We have nothing of yours,” I said.
“You are misinformed,” he replied mildly.
I turned to my husband in horror. “What did you keep?” Deke’s face was ashen as he pulled an antique rose gold watch from his pocket.
“You’re welcome to the time-piece,” the visitor said. “I’ll take your boy in trade.”
And simple as that, Andy was gone.
I could have left Deke but that wouldn’t bring Andy back.
Deke wears the watch every day. It keeps perfect time.