The intercom buzzed, interrupting Ethan Water's train of thought. He hadn't been having a particularly good day and didn't want to speak with anyone. Reluctantly, he pushed the voice button. "Yes, Sarah?"
"Delivery downstairs, Mr Waters. They need a signature."
A smile crept across his lips. The unexpected news instantly put him into a better mood. "Tell Frank I'm on my way."
Ethan finished penning a letter to the Smithsonian National Museum of History and buttoned the jacket of his dark navy suit. Few things put a smile on his face these days, but a new addition to his museum seemed do the trick.
He hurried out of his office and down two flights of stairs, his palm sliding along the smooth, lacquer banister. At the far side of the hallway, he pushed his way through the double doors and out to the shipping garage.
With a large grin, he greeted his long-time friend and main delivery guy. "How's it going, Frank? What do you have for me today?"
The portly man took out a handkerchief and dabbed his forehead. "Afternoon, Ethan. Not sure what I brought. Can't seem to read the writing. Must be from overseas." He held out a clipboard and pen. "I'll need you to sign the top copy of the invoice."
"You got it."
Curious to see what was inside, he quickly scribbled his signature and fished out a box cutter from his jacket. He slid the sleek silver blade along the top of the box puncturing through several layers of packaging tape.
When he'd cut through all the tape, Ethan pulled the sides open and took a step back. His eyes instantly lit up.
Inside stood an oval-shaped, full-length mirror framed with thirty or so blue gems within a crystal inlay. A blue felt cloth protected the glass of the mirror.
Frank's whistle echoed throughout the garage. "Whoa, looks like you got yourself quite a beauty there."
What an understatement. Ethan ran his fingers along the decorative jewels, admiring the intricate details then chewed at his lip. In all his thirty-five years he'd never seen anything so beautiful. "If I'm not mistaken, I'd say these are real sapphires. Take a look. What do you think?"
His friend leaned in and squinted. "Sure looks like the real deal to me." Shivers ran along Ethan's back. "This has to be worth a fortune. I mean, the value alone of a single sapphire of this size and cut." The mirror looked like it belonged in a castle, not a modest-size museum in Astoria, Oregon. "I hope it didn't get sent to me by mistake."
"I doubt it," Frank chuckled. "Your address happened to be the only thing I could read on the box. Do you want me to go ahead and store it in the warehouse for you?"
Ethan stroked his chin, still in awe over the unexpected delivery. "You know, I think I'm going to store it in my office for the time being. I'd like to do some research on it. You say it didn't come with any other paperwork?"
"I'm afraid nothing except the invoice." Frank handed him his copy.
"Interesting," he mumbled and studied both sides of the paper. The idea of finding out more about the mirror intrigued him and would be a welcome distraction. "Well, you know how I like mysteries. Thanks again, and don't work too hard today."
His friend gave him a two-fingered salute and started for his truck. "I won't."
Ethan grabbed a dolly from the corner of the garage and carefully scooted the box onto it. He lowered it to an angle and rolled it towards the elevator. Inside, he held his breath. Of all the things that could bother him, small places were the worst.
When the door opened, he breathed a sigh of relief and pushed the dolly straight to his office. Carefully, he slid the mirror out of the box and placed it in the corner near his desk. Warm from all the activity, he removed his jacket and loosened the collar of his shirt. It had been several weeks since he"d done anything related to exercise, and he felt out of shape.
He sat in his leather seat to look over the invoice. Almost immediately, his secretary rapped lightly on the open door. "Knock, knock."