Philips bristled, then smiled. "Okay, I'll admit that was a bit much. But still, I'd rather not think of you physically hurting someone to get information."
"I never do. It's not my thing. As Ricky pointed out, I'm intimidating and I use that, but only as a threat, nothing more."
"Good." Philips checked the time and asked, "Is there anything more we need to talk about?"
"Only how we're going to handle the exchange. Of course it won't really be an exchange, since he's asked for the papers, meaning he has no intention of giving back the book. They, either Eber or Caiazzo, know I'm working for you. So I'll come with you to the meeting. It wouldn't surprise me if at least one of the goons will be with the guy, whether it's Eber, Caiazzo, or an agent."
"Do you really think it will be an agent or, what did you call it, a ringer?"
"I think it's possible. Whichever man is behind this, I'm sure he'd rather not be directly associated with what's tantamount to grand theft and blackmail. On the other hand, he might want to be there in person to be certain you bring the real provenance papers. Either man would know what he's looking at. An agent might not, if he's just an employee standing in for his boss."
"So I give him the papers and the necklace and that's it." Phillips said angrily. "Win-win for him and I'm left with nothing."
"No. One way or another we're going to stop him. I just have to figure out how. The first step to doing that is, as I said, having a nice long chat with Williams. Luckily, tomorrow's Sunday so he should be at home if I get there early enough."
"You'll call me as soon as you have?"
"Of course. What I find out will determine what happens next."
"All right. I really should get home now. My wife knows I'll be late but…"
Ricky chuckled. "There's 'late', and there's so late she starts worrying." He shot me a look when he said that—which I ignored.
Philips thanked Ricky for dinner then headed for the door. I wondered how long it would take him to realize his car was still in the restaurant parking lot. It took all of two seconds. He asked, a bit sheepishly, if I'd mind driving him there. I told him "Not at all," and promised Ricky I'd be back soon.
Ricky insisted on coming along. "We should stop at your place, to see if it's been searched too," he said by way of explanation.
He had a good point. I hadn't actually been home since—hell—since before I'd been attacked the second time.
We dropped Philips off, but not until I'd driven around the block a couple of times to be certain no one was watching his car. From there, Ricky and I went on to my house. There was no sign anyone had been inside, although I was well aware a good B&E guy wouldn't leave any evidence unless, as with my office, he wanted me to know he'd been there.
When we finished going through the house, the stress I'd been under for the last couple of days finally hit full force. The wound in my arm began to ache, something I realized it had been doing for the last couple of hours, although I'd managed to ignore it. Ricky, being the loving, caring man that he is, figured out what was happening and told me in no uncertain terms I was to go to bed.
"Here, not at my place," he said as an apparent afterthought. "You don't need to aggravate your arm any more than you have already by driving me home."
I managed a smile. "Meaning you're staying here?"
He chuckled. "That would be the logical conclusion. So, to bed with you."
I did as he ordered after popping three ibuprofen, hoping that they'd ease the pain and let me sleep. They helped. His being in bed with me, his arms wrapped comfortingly around me, finished the job.