“I didn’t do it.”
“Do what? Madam?” The airport security guard had introduced himself as Toussant. He had only a mild accent, but he didn’t fool me. He’d pulled me into this bare, little room for something.
“Whatever it is you’ve brought me in here for.” I wasn’t making a whole lot of sense, but such was typical when I got nervous.
“We merely want to speak to you, Madam Laine.” He gestured to a chair on one side of a small table, but I didn’t feel like sitting.
How did the man know my name? I’d just been sitting in the waiting room when he stepped up and ushered me in here. It certainly wasn’t the random choice I’d thought it was. “About what?”
“What is it that brought you to Paris, Madam?” He seated himself in the chair across the table and steepled his fingers.
I don’t know what bothered me most about the man: his condescending tone or his half-lidded eyes. But since he’d sat down, I went ahead and sat across from him. “I was in Germany, visiting a mission with one of my friends, and I decided to come to Paris, just to say that I’d seen the place, and fly out from here.” I know I’m weird, but Paris has never been one of my dream vacays. Still, when I was only a hop, skip, and jump away, I needed to see what all of the fuss was about.
“And the Louvre?” The man lifted an eyebrow in, clearly doubting all that I’d just said.
“Was open when I got here. I decided to visit.” I lifted my chin and held his gaze for a second. “What’s the look for? I like art.” My mind flitted to the painting of the dogs playing cards that had hung in my game room when I was a kid.
I liked all sorts of artistic stuff.
“You were in the Louvre this morning?”
“Yes.” What was he getting at?
“And last night?” He gave a lazy blink as though he was working at being patient with me.
And I had no idea what he was fishing for. “I stayed in a little village just over the border from Germany. I can’t pronounce the name, but the chalet was owned by a family named Fontaine.”
“Then you did not come into Paris last night.”
“No.” Wasn’t that obvious? “I traveled yesterday and stayed at the chalet. Then I drove into Paris today and went straight to the museum.”
“To see the art.” He took out a notepad and jotted something down.
“Yes.” What was with this guy?
“And then you came straight here to the airport.” He didn’t look up at me this time.
“Yes.” I had a late afternoon flight to Heathrow. Was that so odd?
The man stood and gazed down at me. “So how did you enjoy the painting of the Russian Princess?”
I thought through the rooms I’d visited. I’d made a point to put my eyes on every picture, but that didn’t mean I would remember them all. Or any of them. Well, a few stood out in my mind. And some of them had looked royal. “Was that the painting of the little girls near the roses?” They had been dressed in multiple layers, so they might have been royal.
He merely shook his head.
“Well, I liked most of what I saw, so I’m sure I liked it.” Wait, why had he asked about that specific painting? “Was there something odd about it?”
“Only that it is missing.”
So that was why I’d been pulled aside. I stood. “Okay, I really didn’t take that. The only thing from Paris that I have in my bag is a magnet for my fridge and a thimble for my collection.” Well, and a couple of photos on my phone, but they didn’t count. I pushed my carry-on toward him as the door behind me opened.
I turned in time to see another guard step in and simply shake his head.
Toussant smiled benignly. “It seems you were indeed where you said last night.”
No news to me. “So I’m free to go?”
“I do have one other question.” He eyed me again. “When did you decide to go to the Louvre? I mean, there are many sights here in Paris. And you only had time for one of them. What made you choose that particular place?”
I’d actually planned this jaunt before I’d even purchased my plane tickets. “A friend of mine back in the states talked to me about the Louvre. Come to think of it, she mentioned some painting of a princess.” I immediately wished I hadn’t added that comment.
The guard pounced on it. “And who was that friend?”
Well, at least I didn’t need to worry about that. She was safely in California. “Chautona Havig. You might have heard of her. She’s the author of over seventy books.”
“Spell, please?” He jotted down the name as I spelled it for him. She couldn’t even be a suspect since she wasn’t even in France, but he wrote it down anyway.
“Thank you for your time, Madam.” He ushered me to the door and closed it behind me. The little room in the airport hadn’t been on my list of things to see in Paris, but I was glad that at least I wouldn’t be missing my plane.
Have you been able to follow this mystery? The Ever After authors are again caught up in a theft, this time of priceless art. Follow the trail of the missing painting:
I’m so excited to celebrate with Liz Tolsma on her Ever After mystery Slashed Canvas. Here’s a little more about her new book which is now available in paperback and ebook at Amazon:
Held prisoner by all she’s lost, Katarina’s about to lose all she has.
Grand Duchess Katarina Volstova barely escaped the Russian revolution, arriving in Paris just before the birth of her twin daughters. With her heart still captive in her homeland, she haunts the Louvre each day, spending hours gazing at one painting, lost in her pain.
Not the man he once was, Timothy Smythe never returned home to England after the Great War. Instead, he hides himself away doing maintenance in the Louvre and watching the beautiful woman whose pain seems riveted on one painting.
When Katarina returns home to find her daughters and their nanny missing, the loss opens her eyes to all she has to lose now.
Frantic to find her girls, her distress causes Timothy to offer his assistance. Together they put together clues to a puzzle they must complete before the kidnapper ensures Katarina and her daughters are never reunited.
Slashed Canvas offers a retelling of The Lost Princess that mingles self-centered grief, spoiled little girls, and proof that nothing will stop a mother from saving her children.
And don’t miss your chance to win an Amazon gift card. Giveaway Link: https://promosimple.com/ps/18dfa/slashed-canvas-marji