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- by Chuck Bowie
- Genre Suspense Thriller
- Series Donovan: Thief For Hire
- Tags Suspense, thriller, thief, thief for hire, wine, travel, food, music, three, trio, mask, cask, task, AMACAT, Donovan, England, France, river cruise, Montreal, New York City, London, Avignon, Arles, Gaia, Three Wrongs, Steal It All,
- Imprint MuseItUp
- Release October 17, 2014
- Cover Designer Celairen
- Pages 256
- Print ISBN 978-1-77127-800
- Price $12.95
Second in the Donovan: Thief For Hire thriller series, Sean Donovan is embroiled in a triplet of trouble.
His sister’s newly ex-boyfriend, an obsessed art collector, dumped an ugly, but valuable fish mask in her lap. A mask being hunted by a lethal insurance agent.
Beth McLean, barely an acquaintance from London, is being framed. She reaches out to the only person she believes can help clear her name. Who at the Canadian embassy is behind this treachery?
Or is it all connected to his nemesis, Gaia? And did the multimillionaire art dealer order the murder of Donovan’s ex-girlfriend as the ultimate payback?
All this falls into Donovan’s lap, and he still cannot stop himself from a small side trip to find a stolen cask of the last great batch of Provençal pinot noir wine. Too much baggage? Read A Mask, A Cask and A Task: AMACAT.
Covent Garden, London
Beth woke first, skipping the semi-conscious state and flying immediately to a quickened, fully alert state. She lay on her side, eyes slits, watching this stranger sleep in the bed across from her.
She’d spent a few hours in REM sleep, filled with dreams of running through the back alleys of London, men in black trench coats leaping at her from behind garbage cans and down from fire escapes. She couldn’t catch her breath, and at the end of each alley, Donovan would open a door, calling to her. “In here! Quickly,” he’d whisper. But every door kept taking her to a new alley, with more trench coats to chase her. So she awoke, sweaty and exhausted, in that most interesting of paradoxes: a hotel room containing two beds, each housing a stranger.
But Donovan slept on, a deep, trancelike coma of a sleep, the kind you arrive at, if you’re lucky, after having remained awake for thirty-six hours. She watched him for a while, asking herself how, in this Marianas Trench of misfortune into which she had careened, she could conjure up someone like him. He had known her for all of fifteen minutes, over a year ago. He didn’t really owe her anything of substance; why was he even bothering with her, let alone going on the lam with her? A thought crossed her mind, one that made her catch her breath. Was he involved, somehow? Wasn’t it convenient that he appeared out of nowhere to advocate for her? But then she calmed. She’d called him. She’d chosen the Fin and Fowl.
She glanced over to where his jacket lay, the front jutting at an odd angle. I wonder what’s in his pocket. He’s still asleep; I could just…take a peek. Pretend I’m picking it up…and…take a quick look. She stared at him, stole a glance at the clock, dared to take half a glance at the coat lying on the floor and then forced her slit-eyes back onto her companion, dead to the world and barely a yard away from her nose. Beth slowly drew the covers back and placed one foot on the floor, and then another, not daring to take her eyes from his face. She backed over to the article of clothing, fumbled down to pick it up and acted as if she was going to hang it up.
Another glance back to Donovan, who was still out of it. She felt something solid within the cloth of the jacket, and kept on walking to the bathroom.
Once behind the door, she took out an envelope with nothing written on the outside, opened it and looked inside. There was well over an inch of bills: hundred pound notes, serial numbers in no particular order.
Folding the flap back exactly the way it had been, she studied the envelope itself. There were no markings on it whatsoever. She put it back in the pocket, her mind overflowing with questions. She sat on the cover of the toilet, jacket folded neatly and placed sideways across her lap, smoothing the folds, mind racing.
What now? It was then the bathroom door flew open and Donovan, wide awake, peered in.
* * * *
Donovan woke from a dreamless sleep and looked across at an un-made bed. The bathroom door was closed, but there was something missing besides Beth. Shoes, pants, shirt. No jacket.
Fully awake, he headed for the bathroom and, without knocking, threw it wide open. Beth stared back, knees touching and toes touching, eyes wide and bare forearms goose bumped. She stared straight ahead, at the front of his shorts, dropping her eyes to his bare feet, and then up to greet his calm gray eyes.
He studied his jacket, draped across her bare legs, a crinkle forming beside his eyes. “Cold?”
“Cold? No, and I don’t have a funny come-back.” She took the jacket by its collar and held it out for him. “Don’t worry, it’s all there.” She stared somewhere in the vicinity of his bare chest.
Donovan walked in and sat down on the edge of the bathtub, his left knee grazing her right knee. He gently retrieved his jacket, placing it sideways across his lap, just as she had it a moment earlier.
“Sweetie, remember me telling you last night that you had to go to a debit machine and take out as much as you could, so our purchasing path couldn’t lead people to us? Well, wouldn’t you think I’d have to do that as well?”
“I suppose so. But that much? There are a lot of meals and taxis in that envelope, you have to admit it.”
“Okay, then. Here we are, you in your PJs, sitting on a toilet beside a stranger and close to fifty thousand pounds between us, me in my underwear. One of us has trust issues and the other is just feeling under-dressed.
“Come on, let’s go back to bed and I’ll tell you how having lots of cash on hand can be amazingly helpful. For example, we have to go to Canada in a few hours. In addition to a passport, don’t you think a bucket of cash is going to come in handy? I’m leaving now. Come on out once you’ve ready, and I’ll tell you what’s waiting for us over in France as well. That’ll take your mind off your troubles, I promise.”
“Us? What do you mean, ‘us over in France’?” But by then he had closed the door.