Shanghai is as beautiful as Connor remembers it to be, there’s a subtle nuance to the glistening city unlike anything he’s ever seen in America. This part of Asia had captured his heart in more ways than one, the bustling of the busy streets, the ever flitting locals, the dotted twinkling lights above a skyline he never gets tired of seeing — it’s perhaps one on of the very few vices he admits to having.
People stare when he walks by, they pause to look before bursting into whispers when he passes; but it's no longer something uncommon for him anymore. He expects it at this rate, but offers polite smiles to the faces he recognises as long time in the establishment.
Connor’s become something of a frequent and very exclusive member to this sector of the Chinese elite, something few Americans manage to achieve, but really he can’t help himself — any prospect of rare jewellery is enough to send him ravenous and he’d been ready to travel anywhere for them. Even his own brothers accuse him of being much too similar to a magpie, always ready to take and refusing to part with even one of his beloved treasures.
“Mummy! See what I made for bunny!”
He watches the scene with little to a small frown, a downward pull to lips usually trained in a thin, even line. A child callously pushed away from his parents, Connor finds good enough reason to bend — meeting evenly with the shy boy who hides behind the poked ears of the rabbit, curious speckled eyes flicking upwards to meet his with characteristic, endearing shyness of a sweet child.
Amanda would have disapproved of the parents, tutted and probably wouldn’t have hesitated to voice her opinions of them in public. She’d always been an advocate for those kids forgotten by their parents in a world filled with greed, a lesson she’d been hard on teaching her boys the same. Children should never have to deal with the fallout of parents too engrossed in their own world.
“Hi there. I’m Connor, what’s your name?”
“And who’s this?”
Connor smiles at the stuffed rabbit, gently rubbing the soft material of the rather comically large bowtie and nodding with approval.
“Well, I think Bun Bun looks very dashing with his bow, you have a good eye.”
A wonderfully large grin mirrors his own, at the least, he’d leave the boy in better spirits.
“Mister Kamski? Right this way.”
“Well, it was very nice to meet you both.”
The inner gallery remains as grand as he remembers it, only opened to a select few clientele that even Connor had issues gaining access to — but the trouble had been worth the wait, the gallery boasted a collection much rarer than the pieces sold at the front of the house and anything than what America could normally offer. New jewels or historical pieces; either sold for prices the average millionaire would struggle to buy let along get a glimpse to.
“These are all brand new from Antwerp, you’re the first person I’ve shown them to.”
New arrays never fail to surprise him; from artfully crafted rings of gold fanning small pearls, to bangles set in diamonds with beautiful clasps — Connor is almost tempted to buy the whole thing set to accompany his collection. The rims of the cooling tea still at his lips, careful eyes catch interest on another piece set behind the glass panes.
“What are those.”
His rapt attention is noticed by the dealer, lingered on a set of earrings and a simple motion is enough to alert the attendants. Carefully gloved fingers bringing the piece forward like a meal set for royalty.
“Those are very special. Burmese pearl drop earrings, set with emeralds, and rare pigeon blood red rubies. They were worn by Queen Suphayalat at her self anointed coronation in 1878.”
He hums at the interesting bit of knowledge, but immediately feeling his breath catch, caught and hung onto the way the light reflects off the shimmering earrings. Lithe fingertips move to pick one up from the blue cushion to admire the glinting, iridescent jewel — the lone emerald sits in the center, accompanied by alternating sets of the red rubies and white sapphires all set in casted gold. The pearl remains clasped below, resembling a tear, finishes the design in what Connor best describes as only entirely regal and befitting a ruler.
Connor feels himself whispers the next words, all as if fearing he’d never be able to acquire the earrings for its set price.
(But a Kamskis wallet runs deeper than most people realize, the only person to have ever challenged that fact found themselves out of business within the day and declaring bankruptcy by the next. No one is stupid enough to repeat the same mistake, and if not from stupidity then tepid fear.)
The dealer regards him, not of doubt, you never doubt a Kamski, but almost careful consideration — the face of a man he knows is about to offer a deal in return for releasing such a historical piece, but how could Connor deny him that? Equivalent exchange was the foundation for all good trade.
Not to mention, he’d love to see the look on his brothers faces when he comes home with more priceless jewellery in tow. Amanda wouldn’t mind, she’d always been very supportive of his rather expensive hobby. It wasn’t as if they’d go to waste anyways.
“Having you in possession of one of my pieces is better publicity than I can ever hope to buy. I’ll let them go at cost — one point two million. A present for your mother perhaps?”
The question comes innocent, without any ill intent but Connor returns with a knowing look, holding the one already in his fingertips up to his own ear and returning with a coy smile and easy snark.
“What? You don’t think I’d look good in them?”