When she boarded his Gulf Stream she hadn't intended on falling asleep, but truth be told she was exhausted. She'd be working this case non-stop and was getting close to running on fumes. There hadn't been much a break between this case and the last and it was catching up to Jean. A patch of turbulence jostled her awake and she realized that they'd been in the air for quite sometime.
Jean looked out the window, "Lucien," he turned to look at her pleased that she was awake, "that island is not Tasmania."
"It's not?" He replied innocently as he flipped a page of the newspaper, barely sparing her a glance.
"No," she replied looking down at an unfamiliar island and then back up at him, "I have appointments." They weren't too important and she doubted they'd break the case open, but it was a matter of principle he seemed to think he could just whisk her away on his whim and she'd just go along with it.
"Want to keep them?" He folded the newspaper onto his lap and smiled.
It was getting harder and harder for her to resist that smile. He had a certain charm about him that drew her in, and despite her better judgement and earlier notion of appointments she merely looked back out the window. The clouds continued to part for them as they descended. A small airport, that looked like it was newly paved, came into view. Jean scanned the island for some clue in its shape and size as to where they were as it seemed Lucien wasn't keen to let her in on their destination. She noticed another island nearby and figured they were somewhere off the coast of Eastern Australia. She didn't think they'd gone as far as Tahiti and it certainly did look like New Zealand.
The plane circled in a downward trajectory until it finally lined up with the runway. She leaned back in her chair and put on her seat belt, bracing herself. Landing was never her favorite thing.
Lucien meanwhile sat back and studied this woman across from him, it seemed as though some of her defenses were down. Not the ones about being in a plane going to an unknown island, but the ones where he was the suspect and she was the investigator. He liked seeing her like this, hoped he might see more during this little getaway. He hadn't expected her to sleep so much, but it afforded him what he assumed was a rare opportunity to see her in a quite vulnerable state.
The plane bumped several times as the back wheels and then the front touched down on the runway. The wings tilting and the throttle going in reverse as the plane began to slow to a stop. It only took a few minutes to taxi to a little hanger that was nearby where men where waiting with Jeeps.
The moment the engines powered down the co-pilot got to work opening the doors, while the men outside go to work with the cargo beneath the plane. As Jean stepped out of the plane, the pleasant smell of tropical plants hit her nose. A small painted sign on the hangar finally gave away their location — New Caledonia.
Lucien watched as Jean practically bounded across the tarmac towards the hanger, eager to stretch her legs after their four hour flight. He tore his eyes away from her for a moment to keep an eye on the cargo being unloaded.
There wasn't much to this airport, in fact it was more of a strip of land with a few outbuildings. Next to the hanger Jean spotted a coke machine and suddenly felt parched from the long flight. She fished a few coins from her pocket and popped it into the machine, not sure what Lucien liked she got him a coke as well. She turned back towards the plane as she popped the caps off the glass bottles and noticed a wooden crate come out from beneath the plane, it was the right size. It could be her canvas. Then she realized this whole trip could just be an excuse for Lucien to take it out of the country.
Jean was so fixated on the potential canvas crate being loaded into an old white Jeep she didn't even realize that Lucien had pulled up in a Jeep of their own. He pushed his sunglasses down the bridge of his nose and smiled at her. She wanted to laugh at the sight of the leather driving gloves he was wearing, but managed to stifle it. Handing him the soda she tried to open the door but it wouldn't budge. She knocked on the side to get his attention, "The door's welded. Throw your leg over."
She hands him her drink so she can use both hands to climb in, "Throw my leg over?"
Pulling herself up and in she settled into her seat before turning back around acting as though she's tossing her bag in the back, but really she just wanted to get an eye on the Jeep behind them that was carrying the pine box that was most likely her canvas.
As the cars pulled away from the airstrip she couldn't help but stand up as they drove through the small town, it was beautiful, more than she was expecting. The old walls when it was a British Territory and then a French contrasted the jungle threatening to overgrow everything if just given the chance. They continued driving up a windy road full of switchbacks. The tree branches hung low and she was able to swipe a passion fruit from one and giddily bring it back to her seat. He smiled at her as she took a bite, surprised by the amount of juice that came running out and down her chin.
After nearly forty minutes of windy roads they finally reached a white plantation style house perched at the very top of a private drive. Aside from the driveway the space was filled with trees. She could barely see the house tucked in, but could make out a big porch and a balcony just off what must be second floor bedroom.
"Ah, this must go over," she began as she walked up to the house. It's dark green shutter doors and windows were open already.
"With whom?" He asked.
"With whomever you bring here," her eyes gazed out at the view of the ocean from behind the front porch.
"I never bring anyone here," he said walking past here and into the open-air kitchen.
His comment surprised her and she wasn't sure if it was just a line or the truth, the lines always seemed a bit blurred around him. She didn't reply and instead followed him as he made his way up the narrow stairs and into the bedroom.
"Voila," he said opening the closet doors for her, showcasing a wide selection of beautiful garments.
She laughed there was no way anything in there would fit her, nor did she particularly want to where some other conquests clothes that were left behind. "I bet they're all my size huh?" She played along.
"Could be," he looked into the closet recalling his quoted measurements to his assistant, "might be a little off here and there, but uh I think they'll make do. I'll go make dinner."
She watched him walk away, still in doubt about the clothes, but happy to spend a few minutes alone in this private space of his. She looked up and spotted a pewter frame with a black and white photo in it, she guessed based on the likeness that it must be his mother. Next to it was an old child's toy — a wooden train. She couldn't help herself, she picked it up and immediately felt a connection to it, it was most certainly his.
She wandered over to the closet and pushed around the hangers surprised to see tags on everything. These were all new clothes, recently purchased. As she checked the labels she noticed that by and large everything was also in her size. She didn't doubt that he could size her up as it were, but the fact that she had a brand new wardrobe of expensive "not off the rack" clothes in a closet of a man she just met was a surprise.
It seemed like he was one surprise after another, he was having too much fun and was pulling ahead of her in this game of theres. She grabbed the swim bottoms she saw and a beautifully colored wrap around and changed, opting to forgo the top. It wouldn't be a huge shock, but still she wanted to see the look on his face when she stepped into the kitchen as he prepared dinner.
She jogged down the steps sighing which she had to stifle from turning into a groan when she noticed that he too had gone topless. He was bent over the counter, biceps flexed just slightly, she could envision take of her wrap and tugging his jeans down and letting him have her right then and there on the counter.
Instead she slapped him on the ass before he could see her outfit of choice, "C'mon," and she sprinted outside.
"Want some wine?" He hollered out to her as he felt his ass still tingling from her touch.
"Yes!" She called back as she stepped up onto the wooden deck that had a 180 degree view of the ocean and cliffs below. "Oh it's beautiful." The sun was just beginning to set and the sky light up in beautiful shades of pink and purple. She'd traveled to many places over the years but this may go down as one of the most striking places she'd been. She felt swept up in everything until her gaze turnaround towards the kitchen where Lucien was emerging — beside him was the wooden crate, the canvas she was most likely after and it hit her she was here on a job and she couldn't forget that.
He followed her eyes down to the box and bent over making eye contact with her, "Wanna see it?"
She shook her head, "No." It was true she didn't want to know what was in the box. She did but not yet not right now. If she saw what was in it now the trip would be over, this fairytale she was playing in would end. She wanted at least one night here in paradise with him first.
"Are you sure?" He asked pouring the bottle of white wine into one of the glasses he was holding.
"I'm sure," her voice a bit more confident this time.
"Have a splash?" It wasn't so much a question of yes or no, but more of a quantity. She intended to get drunk tonight, "Come here" she said as she took the towel from around her neck and threw it around his pulling him close into her.
There make-out session lasted until the timer in the kitchen dinged. They pulled apart breathless, lips swollen to notice that it was completely dark now. The staff lit the citronella torches that were evenly distributed across the porch and made a small fire in the fire pit, all without them noticing.
The food was delicious, she couldn't remember the last time a man cooked for her, if ever. It was also coincidentally one of the best meals she'd ever had, had she'd dined at some of the finest restaurants in Europe. Despite the exquisite meal and wine, and of course the wonderfully handsome eye-candy that was Lucien she couldn't help but feel like the the canvas was boring a whole through her back as the box leaned against the shutter door by the kitchen. It sat there taunting her.
Lucien's eyes twinkled and he knew she was fixated on it, that's why he had it placed there. He wanted to dare her, see what she'd do when the potential object of her desire was perhaps so close at hand.
"Wanna see it?" He finally asked, following her eyes to the painting once more.
She glanced at it and turned back around, "No" she knew the game he was playing and wasn't about to be the first to give in.
He nodded pleased, but still pressed, "Are you sure?"
She continued prying open a piece of fruit trying to ignore the canvas, "You think I'd believe that you'd leave your hard stolen painting just laying around your island getaway?
"What if I did?" He dared her, for the first time potentially acknowledging his involvement in the theft.
She caught the slip, "And that you'd tell me?"
He shrugged his shoulders, "Well if I trusted you—" his voice trailed. He was beginning to think he did trust this woman, a lot.
"No, you can't," she said it with a half smile, but there was no jest intended. He needed to know that at the end of the day she still had a job to do.
"You don't believe it's possible that you'd ever trust me do you?" He pushed, needing to know if she was beginning to feel things that he was too.
"Do you know how likely that is?" In her line of work it didn't pay to trust anyone least of all the suspected thief she was chasing. Thieves were all the same they'd lie their way through a con even if it involved their mother. She took the last bite of the fruit she'd been working through during this last tet-a-tet studying him as he took another swig of wine. Then a thought crossed her mind, a way to truly test his theory of trust, she smiled widely at him and got up, tugging the ends of his white shirt across her bum and picked up the wooden crate, "Excuse me," she said as she gripped tightly at the top hoping that she didn't drop it on her toes. It was heavier than she expected. She strode the few steps from their table to the fire pit before tossing it into the fire, brushing her hands and walking back over to him, studying every twitch on his face for a tell. The fact he didn't immediately get up and yank the crate out of the fire surprised her but she kept her face neutral. She sat down and cleared her throat.
"So should I open another bottle?" He asked surprised by her bold move, not that he had an issue with it, but wasn't entirely sure where they went from here.
"Hmm," she said pulling herself out of her thoughts, not expecting that response from him, "Yes."
"I think so," he said turning slightly away from the fire, not wanting to watch the painting burn.
"I think so," she echoed still memorized by the flames nearby. The pine was starting to char and break apart showing that there was indeed a painting inside.
"The 45 wasn't very good," he muttered not sure what to say in this situation.
"No, no it wasn't," she twirled at the end of her hair studying the painting as the oils caught fire. She could barely make out the shape of a man, it looked like a Renaissance period work, certainly not her painting.
"A truce would be good," he finally said looking back at he fire seeing the painting he'd just won at auction melt into the fire pit. He was utterly perplexed by her, she claimed to be a lover of art, a savior in fact for insurance companies at least and here to prove a point she set fire to nice piece of work.
"Yeah that would be good," she'd pushed this game a bit too far she realized, thinking he'd call her bluff when she walked the painting to the fire pit but he didn't. Jean studied the fire and the canvas slowly disappearing and wondered what on earth she'd done, what had possessed her.
"What was it?" She finally couldn't hold it in any longer, she needed to know what she'd just set alight.
""A nice little Renoir," he said in dismay, turning away from the fire once and for all.
"Oh, Renoir," she said quietly and glanced over to him, "a nice little copy?" She hoped it was, the Art Gods might strike her down for such an act of sacrilege.
He took another large sip of wine, "We'll never know will we?" To be fair he was mostly certain that it was a forgery, but the borders hadn't been fully vetted.
"Okay! She screamed and threw a toothpick that she'd been worrying over, "I give up!"
He laughed, it was about all he could do, getting her to crack had been harder and potentially more expensive than he'd thought, but he'd done it.
"Easy, easy," he said before getting up, "Maybe I'll go get that bottle now."
"Yeah, that would be good," she said before bursting out into laughter. She'd had a bit more wine than she'd originally planned on drinking, coupled with the smoldering ash of what may have been a painting by one of the greatest artists of all time and the fact that Lucien had won was more than she knew what to do with. "You're not boring, I'll give you that."
AN: New Caledonia is roughly same flying time as NYC to Caribbean, so it stays consistent with the film. Also, while very expensive Gruman Gulfstream Air 1 - came out 1958 so it is reasonable in this AU story that Lucien being uber wealthy would have bought one for his personal use.