Chapter Forty One
Griffin awoke in an unfamiliar room, in an unfamiliar bed, with an unfamiliar feeling of satisfaction. He rolled to his right to find the spot next to him vacant and the crumpled sheets cool to the touch. He pulled on yesterday’s clothes and yawned as he followed the aroma of freshly brewed coffee to the kitchen.
A mug sat next to the half-full pot along with sugar, creamer and a note that read “Grab some coffee and join me in the living room.”
Jayne sat at the desk in an oversized t-shirt and plaid flannel lounge pants. Her hair was twisted back into a loose bun and ponytail held together with a couple of black lacquered chopsticks. Her nose was buried in a time-worn manuscript so large it dwarfed her. The image reminded Griffin of a Saturday Evening Post cover.
“Well, look at the early riser!” Griffin pulled up a seat beside her.
“Me? Oh, I don’t sleep anymore. I haven’t really slept in many years. When you start jumping around through time, it pretty much screws up your internal clock.”
“You don’t sleep at all?”
“What about Lil’ T? Is he a time traveler as well?”“Lil’ T has been around the block a few times. He is far older than he appears. He had a tendency to get himself into sticky situations. Keeping him in the state he is in makes him much easier to control. It allows me the time I need to do my research and find answers to my problems. Enough about me and T., I’ve found something about you. At least I think it’s about you.”
Jayne wedged her fingers alongside a bookmark that protruded from the top of the giant book in her lap and pried it open to the flagged page. She scooted over to allow Griffin a better view.
“’Folklore is rich with tales of adventurers risking everything to find the golden idol, a king’s ransom, the fountain of youth. This book contains accounts of many great quests. The story I have marked tells of a contest known as ‘The Blind Pursuit’. Dozens of teams were lured by the promise of a treasure of immeasurable value. The participants were given one clue and sent on their way with the understanding that each clue led to the next. The path to the treasure was marked by cairns, both literal and virtual.’”
“Marked by what?”
“Cairns. You know, piles of stones that mark a path.”
“Oh, of course, piles of stones.”
“’Some of them were literally stacked stone signposts while others were cairns of a more figurative nature. These trail markers held the answer to a riddle or puzzle that revealed the next destination along the path to the treasure.’”
“What does this have to do with me?” Griffin interrupted.
“I was just getting there.” Jayne retraced the paragraph with her finger to find her place. “’As the participants neared their final destination the cairns became less obvious and the tasks much more complex. Their final challenge was an encounter with a griffin, a beast whose sole purpose was to protect the treasure.’”
Jayne pointed emphatically at the page.
“…WITH A GRIFFIN!”
Griffin stiffened in his chair and waived off the whole notion. “I may be a magnificent beast but my name is Griffin! I am not a griffin!”
“I said ‘beast’. Nobody mentioned anything about you being magnificent.”
“That’s not what you said last night.”
Jayne sighed a fake laugh.
“The coincidences are too great to ignore. I heard them refer to you as a cairn! These women were actively engaging you. Aren’t you the least bit curious as to why?”
“I thought we attributed that to the potion.”
Jayne closed the book and set it on the desk.
“No. You are glossing over the details. The love potion was not meant to play a part in this. The rose was meant to draw them to you, whether you are a cairn or the griffin is still unclear to me. They want something from you and I fear they may be willing to harm you in order to get it.”
The two quietly stared at each other for a moment.
Griffin broke the silence. “I agree that some, well, a lot of weird stuff is going on but I don’t buy into this treasure hunt theory. I appreciate your concern about what happened last night, but that is a police matter and I’m going to let Hannah sort that out. Now, I’m going to go home to let her and Jacob know that I’m okay.”
Griffin leaned forward and kissed Jayne on the forehead. “I’d really like to see you again soon. Maybe something a little less action-packed.”
“How ‘bout a bank heist?” Jayne suggested.
“That would be nice. Could we have a little dinner first?”
“I don’t see why not.”
She escorted Griffin to the door.
“Promise me you’ll be careful,” Jayne cautioned.
“You worry too much. What happened last night is over and done.”
Griffin opened the door. A carpet of crows covered the lawn and draped onto the roof, hood, and bed of the El Camino. They turned in unison to face him.
“Or maybe not.” Griffin shrugged.