“I’m sorry, darling. There is no other way.”
Cyril gulped, his eyes fixed on the barrel of the gun his wife was pointing at him. He raised his hands slowly. “Celia, please –”
“It’s no use. Now, hand over the finger and I’ll be on my way and no harm done.”
Cyril looked pained. So that was what it was all about. That blasted finger. More trouble than it was worth, he was sure of it. And they had only escaped from Nepal by the skin of their teeth. And for what? So his wife of twenty years could betray him as soon as they got back to their Buckinghamshire mansion? After all the adventures they had shared? After all the scrapes they had got into and the fun they’d had getting out of them again?
Not on his nelly.
“Oh, do hurry up, Cyril. Pull the finger out.”
The chuk-chuk of a helicopter over the house provided the distraction Cyril needed. As Celia’s eyes flicked to the ceiling, he karate-chopped her wrist. She fired the gun – blasting a priceless Oriental vase to smithereens. Cyril twisted her arm and threw her over his shoulder. A glass-topped coffee table gave way beneath her and the gun flew across the room.
Husband and wife scrambled for the revolver. Cyril stamped on Celia’s hand.
“Ow,” she recoiled. “If only you’d shown this much energy in the bedroom, I might not have had to look elsewhere.”
The remark struck him like a blow to the sternum. “You’ve been looking elsewhere?”
Celia smirked. “Might have. Might not have. Oh, don’t be such a tiresome bore, old chap. My lift is here. Give me the finger and let me go. I’ve got a buyer lined up already and I’m going to be rich beyond my wildest dreams.”
Cyril reached in his blazer pocket. His fingers closed around the golden digit, the fabled finger of the Great Cham. It was said that one kiss of the finger would grant you your heart’s desire.
But there was always a price to pay, a terrible cost.
And now, as he looked down at his treacherous spouse, wiping a trickle of blood from her lip with the back of her hand, he realised what price he must pay.
He dropped the artifact to the carpet. Celia seized it and laughed in triumph. She got to her feet and gathered up her bags. Powerless, Cyril could only watch her go. It was as though he didn’t know her at all and never had.
“Tell me,” she turned at the door. “You kissed it, didn’t you? You kissed the finger. What did you wish for?”
Cyril sighed. His shoulders slumped. “I wished for you to be happy, my love.”