“I love art festivals,” Patsy gushes. “I love all the food and the music and the performers.” Her brows draw together in a frown. “But tell me again why we came so far for this one.”
“Because,” Lyn taps Patsy’s forehead, “Evelyn’s on the track of some stolen art and the trail leads here.”
“What’s this place again?” Mac slaps a wide-brimmed hat on her head. “All these people crammed together in one place is making me really hot – and not in a good way.”
|Bariloche - from www.evelyncullet.com|
"Like I’ll remember that. Mac’s lips twist in a wry grin. “But at least I know we’re in Argentina. We are in Argentina? Right?”
|Painting by E Cullet|
|Painting by E Cullet|
“Right!” Lyn’s interest is caught by a young art student in a covered booth diligently working on a canvas.
“I’m just amazed by all the artists here. Oil painting, watercolor, gesso. And over there are sculptors. Every kind of artisan I could ever imagine.”
“What kind of art is that?” Patsy points across the way where a handsome dark-haired male attacks the canvass with a flourish.
“He’s using the Chiaroscuro style of painting.” Evelyn
leans in for a closer look.
They round the corner and stop. A huge booth spanning the entire width of the walkway catches their attention.
“These paintings are supposed to be copies,” Evelyn says. “But some of these look like real masterpieces. Maybe we’ve come to the right place.”
A seedy looking lowlife sidles up to the women. He is dressed in what could only be described as pseudo gaucho. A straggly mustache and goatee cover oily, pock-marked skin. Pig-like black
eyes roam the women with undisguised avarice.
“Ah, Senoras,” he waves a blunt fingered hand with broken, dirty nails. “I am Reynaldo.” His overly full lips part revealing decayed and yellowing teeth. “I am the proprietor here. Tell me what I must do to make you happy!”
“How about you taking a bath,” Mac mutters, face skewed with disgust.
“We have anything and everything,” the seedy individual rambles on. He rubs his index and thumb together. “But only for a price.”
“I’m sure this is "The Concert" by Johannes Vermeer,” Evelyn whispers as she studies one of the paintings. “It's an actual masterpiece that was a part of the Isabella Stewart Gardener Art Museum art heist in Boston in 1990 and has not been recovered to date.”
“How much is it worth,” Lyn murmurs, casting a nervous glance at Reynaldo who watches their every move.
Evelyn’s face lights with awe. “It’s valued at 200 million dollars. And in case anyone is interested, there is still a $5 million dollar reward out for it's recovery.”
|The Concert - Vaneer|
“And that looks like Blue Boy.” Patsy points to another art work.
Reynaldo furtively reaches behind a nearby counter.
“I think we should get out of here.” Mac edges out of the booth. “Guy looks like he’s up to something.”
Reynaldo glowers at the women. His hand raises threateningly. He looks ready to attack.
“Well, this really isn’t fun,” Patsy grumbles. “I came all this way for this crap. I can get this at home for nothing.”
“You Senoras made a wrong choice by coming here.” Reynaldo snarls, brandishing a long, wicked looking panga. “And you,” he points at Evelyn, “have made the worst mistake of all.”
“Is there a problem?” A tall handsome man enters the booth. He smiles, dimples dancing in his sculpted cheeks.
“Oliver!” Lyn practically falls on him. “We’re so thankful you’re here.”
Seedy Reynaldo backs up and then scurries out of sight.
“I could see you ladies were in trouble.” Oliver crooks his arms in invitation. “Let’s do some sightseeing and hit the food booths along the way."
“Now you’re talking,” Mary groans with delight. "There’s a food booth over there and their specialty is Milanesa Napolitana -- breaded meat strips in tomato sauce and melted port cheese
. Comes with an Asado Salad, grilled white onions, carrots, olive oil, lemon, and grated cheese. And for dessert Alfajores, two large almond cookies sandwiched with thick melted chocolate. If we’re really hungry, there’s Dulce de Leche cake.”
“All I need now is some beer and I’m in hog heaven.” Patsy seats herself at a table and picks up a fork. “This is the life.”
“I agree,” Mac licks her lips. “This is why I love arts fairs. The food.”
Lyn munches on a meat strip. “Oh Yum! My stomach thought my throat had been cut.”
“I thought someone was going to get their throat cut,” Mary shudders. “Do you believe that guy?”
“I think I’ve found my criminal,” Evelyn says. “Now to prove it.”
Oliver seats himself between Lyn and Evelyn. He’s already informed the authorities, so now they can relax and have some fun.
A beautiful Spanish woman hurries to their table. “Greetings Senoras, Senor. Can I interest you in a little something while you make your dinner selections. I suggest some wine made from the Melbec grape. It's Argentina's signature grape - medium to full-bodied, dry red wine. Delicioso!”
“Bring it on,” the ladies cry out.
A band of roving musicians stops by the booth and begins playing.
“That’s a Samba,” Lyn gasps with joy. “We are in the right place!”
Now Evelyn, let's find out all about your great book, 'Masterpiece of Murder.'
Heartbroken American art student Charlotte Ross is so intent on locating her errant fiancé that she submits someone else’s painting as her own in order to gain access to a Master art class being held in the resort city of Bariloche, Argentina—the place her lost love was last seen. But her fiancé has his own reasons for being in Bariloche, he's after a stolen art masterpiece, they complicate Charlotte's life and threaten her very existence as she stumbles onto deceit, art forgery and murder. When circumstantial evidence begins to mount against her, the local police think she is the killer. Now she mustprove herself innocent of a crime she didn't commit. Not an easy task
with a military police officer dogging her every step.
Charlotte was barely aware of her body as it drifted down toward the bottom of the lake, until a strong hand grabbed her wrist and pulledher upward. In another moment, her head broke free of the water and the hot, sweet air filled her lungs. The sudden change in temperaturefelt as if she’d gone from a freezer to an oven. The hand dragged her onto the muddy bank and left her there. She rolled to her hands andknees, coughing and spitting out water. After several minutes, she finally managed to catch her breath. Brett sat down beside her.
Rivulets of water ran down the muscles on his bare chest and arms as he pushed back his wet hair. “You okay?” he asked, breathing hard.
She nodded. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Raoul, handcuffed and on his way to the police Jeep along with the Chief and anotherofficer. “I didn’t know you could swim like that.” she said.
“There’s a lot about me you still don’t know."
Brett tried his best to button her short, wet blouse that now clung flaccidly on her shoulders. “We can’t have anyone see you like this.”
Her jeans were gone, but there was so much mud on her legs, she was sure nobody would notice. She coughed again and a shudder ran up her body. “Thanks for rescuing me. I’m glad you didn’t leave me here all alone to face a murder charge.”
“I could hardly do that,” he said. “There’s something so vulnerable about you, sweetheart. It brings out the protective instinct in me.
When I think that I, we almost lost you.” She could hear the emotion in his voice. He cleared his throat. “Your parents would never forgive me if anything happened to you. And, I don’t think I could ever forgive myself.”
“Oh, Brett,” she sighed, but she barely got the words out before his strong arms were around her. His muscles felt solid against her body as she melted into his embrace. He smelled of river water and sun block, and when his mouth covered hers, his wet mustache tickled her upper lip. But his warm, passionate kiss was filled with raw emotion.She ached to tell him how deeply and hopelessly she loved him.
Evelyn Cullet has been an aspiring author since high school when she enjoyed writing short stories. She began her first novel while attending college later in life, and while working in the offices of a major soft drink company. After taking early retirement, she finally has the chance to write full time. She enjoys playing the piano, is an amateur Lapidary, and an organic gardener .A former member of the Agatha Christie Society, she is currently a member of Sisters in Crime.
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