“Where else to search?” Angel looked down at the English language brochure, searching for any clue they might have missed. “I thought this mystery solving was supposed to be fun and exciting, not discouraging. I’m starting to think this place is a dead end.”
“It can’t be.” Jade stood with her hands on her hips, scowling at the big stained glass window in the cathedral’s east wall as if it was somehow at fault. “The connection is too perfect. It’s got the hares and the peacock. This has to be the right place. It’s just got to be!”
“We’ve looked at every peacock in this place and found nothing.” Angel wasn’t sure why Jade got under her skin so badly. She was actually pretty cool– quick-witted and not too girly. She iMagined it was worry over Bones and Maddock that had her on edge. “I think we should check on those two.”
“They’re fine.” Worry painted Jade’s face but she shook her head. “Whatever you might think of your brother, neither of them are dumb, and they’ve been through plenty of dangerous situations before. They won’t let themselves get into serious trouble.”
“You’re sure about that?”
“I have to be. If the bad guys didn’t kill us, Maddock would. He knows what he’s doing. Let’s just keep looking.” Jade turned about slowly. “Anywhere we haven’t looked?”
“How about this Trinity Chapel? The hares are a Trinitarian symbol and there were three Magi.” She shrugged.
“Sounds good,” Jade agree. “Let’s do it.”
There was not much to the chapel. Its most prominent feature was a gilded relief of Liborius himself, set in a niche between a window and a pillar. The saint held a staff in his left hand and a book, presumably the Bible, in his right.
“What are the three things on top of the Bible?” Angel cocked her head to the left. “Rocks?”
“Rocks, stones. They symbolize healing. He’s the patron saint against gallstones.”
Angel guffawed. “No, seriously.”
“I’m not kidding. Think about how bad it must have been to have gallstones back in the Middle Ages.”
Angel took a closer look at the odd sight. A saint of gallstones! It sounded like some ridiculous crap Bones would make up. She ran her fingers across the stones and, as they passed over the center stone, she felt something. She frowned and leaned in close. There was a faint shape there! Heart pounding, she beckoned for Jade.
“Check this out!”
“What is it?” Jade’s eyes popped when she saw what Angel was pointing at. “The three hares! It’s faint, but definitely there.” She grinned at Angel. “Want to do the honors?”
Angel put two fingers on the stone and pressed down. It resisted at first, but when she put all her strength into it, it slid back into the wall. The Liborius relief swung forward, revealing a small alcove containing stone box. It was small, but not too small to hold a skull– even a crowned one. More nervous than she’d ever been before one of her fights, Angel removed the box and held it out for Jade to see. The three hares were engraved in the top.
“This has got to be it.” Jade’s low voice trembled with excitement. “You found the second skull!”
“We thank you for that.” The voice startled them, and they whirled about to see the two men who had accosted Angel two nights before standing with guns trained on them. “Now give us the box.” The blond man grinned at her.
“I see your friend isn’t smiling.” Angel glanced at the dark-haired man’s battered face. “Tell you what. I’ll fight you for it. Hell, I’ll fight both of you. Put away your guns and take me on like men.”
“Let’s kill them, Niklas,” the dark-haired man said.
“Calm yourself Ulrich. If they give us the box, no one need get hurt.”
Angel could see the lie in Niklas’s eyes. “First, you let her go, then I’ll give you the skull.”
“Angel, no!” Jade protested.
“Quiet!” Niklas snapped. “If we shoot you now, we will take the skull and still be away before anyone notifies die Polezei. I would prefer to leave here quietly, but it is not necessary.” He tightened his grip on his gun.
Angel saw him swallow hard. She had a feeling the guy wasn’t really a killer, but he was still dangerous.
“Fine.” She kept her face blank, though her heart was pounding with fear and excitement in equal measure. “Here you go.”
She heaved the stone box in his direction. After years of training with a medicine ball, the weight of the box was nothing. She didn’t throw it at Niklas, but tossed it high over his head.
As the men turned their heads to follow the flight of the box, and Niklas moved to catch it, Bones, who had crept up behind Niklas, drove his fist into the man’s face, sending him crumpling to the floor. Uhlrich whirled about, pistol upraised, but Dane stepped out from behind a pillar and cracked him across the back of the head with a candelabra.
“Nice job delaying them while we got into position.” Dane wiped the candelabra with his shirttail and dropped it the ground.
“We weren’t delaying for you,” Angel said. “We were just delaying. I didn’t even see you until Bones popped out from between those pews and motioned for me to throw the box.”
“We’re SEALs.” Bones retrieved the stone box and held it up for inspection. “All part of the training.”
“You did a lot of in-church camouflage work in the service?” Jade kissed Dane on the cheek, which sparked an unexpected flare of jealousy in Angel. What the hell? Maddock was like a brother to her. She supposed she’d feel protective of Bones if he ever got serious with someone.
“These guys will be coming to any minute.” Dane scooped up Uhlrich’s pistol and tucked it in his inside jacket pocket. “Let’s get out of here.”
Bones grabbed the other dropped weapon, and the four of them headed for the exit. Angel paused long enough to give Niklas and Uhlrich each a kick in the groin.
“Two down,” she said to herself, and chuckled. Skulls or bad guys? It fit either way.