I sighed at the familiar sound of the pick-up coming toward the cabin. "What have they done now," I murmured, half-amused and half-irritated, brushing out my hair at the mirror. This had better be important.
There was no knock at the door, only the sound of footsteps as whoever-it-was rushed into my living room. I whipped around in a flare of anger, heading to the soundhow dare they just barge right in!
It was Pendanski, and between his middle finger and thumb he held a small, worthless, dirty tube. He wore a stupid grin, while my lips scowled around my words. "Excuse"
"I think we might have something here," he said in a suppressed voice, coming closer. First he broke into my cabin; now he was interrupting me
"Look!" he urged, trying again to press down his excitement and failing. I simply glared. He wasincrediblyunfazed and had the gall to physically grab my wrist and put the filthy piece of junk in my palm. "Look at it!" His fingers twitched and he was so eagerI wanted thoroughly to slap him.
But I didn't. I simply looked. And smiled.
It was a lipstick topa gold lipstick top. Delicately I traced the heart, the KB initials. I couldn't believe it. So many years of waiting and here it was.
"Where was it?" I asked, examining it closer, running my fingers over it, greedy.
"Group DX-Ray found it," he replied.
X-RayRex something. Black kid with the glasses. "I knew that kid was good for something," I said, my lips curling up into a smile, and Pendanski laughed. "But what are we waiting for? Let's get digging!"
I grabbed Kate's boots and was out the door. It felt good to be wearing them, now on the day that we'd find her treasure. It was like everything was coming full circle.
With a touch of almost pleasant reminiscence I looked at the scattered holes around the cabin. "Not in vain," I murmured to them.
Suddenly it all felt worth itthe lack of a childhood, a social life, holidays: all of it was worth if for this moment, the moment the Walker family could once and for all conquer Kissin' Kate Barlow. She had ruined too many generations of my family, torturing them with the uncertain location of her mysterious loot. It had made my great-great-grandfather nearly go mad, he was searching for it so hard. And then he had forced my great-granddaddy to dig, and so on, until my parents forced me in this Godforsaken plot of land, looking for something that had to exist. I needed to find this treasure. I would've done anything to find it, to take back all of the things I had missed out in life.
And now, here. So close I could taste itrevenge and tons of wealth, all at once.
Thank God I had taken in those kids, those convicts: this camp was the perfect alibi. The government didn't care about convictsas long as they had a bed to sleep in and food to fill their stomachs, they couldn't care less for the treatment of prisoners. And kids had so much stamina. Thus, the absolutely perfect solution: taking unwanted kids and forcing them to do my work for me. Sure, it was miserable in this heat, but they would get used to it as I had so long ago. In the end, maybe digging holes would help their characterwho knew? All I knew was that this was suddenly paying off.
Pendanski pulled up to the dig site and I had to stop myself from jumping out. My eyes scanned this miserable group until I found X-Ray: his glasses gave him away. I went to him.
"This where you found it?" I, like Pendanski, had to swallow my excitement. No use showing it to the campers: might make them question their task or take me less seriously.
"Yes, ma'am." Oh, God, Kate's treasure was just under her boots, my feet. I wanted to dig here, nowwith my bare hands if I had to. But I kept my head.
"Your good work will be rewarded." Pendanski was back toward my truck, and I turned to face him. "Drive X-Ray back to camp. Let him take a double shower, and give him some clean clothes. But first I want you to fill everyone's canteen." That was a good rewardhe deserved it for making me a millionaire. And the others deserved their drinks, too. They would be digging for a while.