Read Sleight Of Hand Online

Authors: Kate Kelly

Tags: #romance, #romantic suspense, #seaside, #love story, #intrigue, #art theft, #woman in jeopardy, #sensual romance, #sex scenes, #art thief, #nova scotia coast, #love scenes, #east coast of canada, #group of seven paintings, #to catch a thief

Sleight Of Hand

BOOK: Sleight Of Hand
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Sleight Of Hand

 

By

 

Kate Kelly

 

 

 

 

Smashwords Edition

 

**

 

Sleight Of Hand - Copyright 2011 - Kathryn J
Kelly

 

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal
enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to
other people. If you would like to share this book with another
person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you
share it with. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it,
or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return
to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for
respecting the author's work.

This book is a work of fiction. With the
exception of recognized historical figures, the characters in this
novel are fictional. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, is purely coincidental.

Prologue - Sleight of Hand

It was fitting to end the affair where it had
begun. The man known to the art world, the FBI and Interpol as
Simple Simon checked his reflection in the glass doors as he
approached the building. After this, he'd let his hair grow longer,
trade in the suit for his old, worn jeans and chuck the tie. He
hated wearing a tie.

Three men, dressed in suits identical to his,
exited the building at the same time he entered. Simon raised his
hand as if to remove his sunglasses, blocking their view of his
face.

He strode to the desk, set his briefcase on
the floor and pulled his ID badge from the inside pocket of his
suit jacket.

"I'm running late today." He smiled at the
overweight security guard. Despite air-conditioning, the female
guard's blue shirt was stained under the arms, and perspiration
dotted her top lip.

She checked his badge. "You guys ever take
off your sunglasses?"

Simon's heart tripped, but he kept his smile
in place. "They're part of the uniform. How else would you know I'm
FBI?"

"You're new here, aren't you? Saw you with
Special Agent Parker a couple of days ago."

He held his laughter in check. He'd attached
himself to a group of agents surrounding the chief on Wednesday. If
anyone recalled seeing him, he wanted it to be connected to the top
dog. "That's right. That's why I want to finish these reports
before the holiday weekend. Gotta make a good impression."

The guard snorted as she passed the badge
back to him. "No one here to impress. The building emptied out
right after the chief left. It's going to be a hot one this
weekend. July 4th and all, everyone wants to get out of town."

"Me, too. But first these reports." He
hoisted his briefcase up for the guard to see.

"I'm outta here myself in fifteen minutes.
See you next week." She picked up her newspaper, dismissing
him.

No, you won't. No one from the Boston field
office would see Simple Simon again, unless something went terribly
wrong. He hurried to the bank of elevators. Nothing would go wrong.
Not after the planning that had gone into his final act of
revenge.

When the elevator doors opened on the tenth
floor, Simon's muscles quivered into alert mode. He stepped into
the deserted hallway, drew a deep breath and forced himself to
relax. He was a new FBI agent finishing up reports before the
weekend. That's all. Later, he'd enjoy the rush of besting the
FBI.

He strode down the corridor of closed doors
toward the office at the end. No one was here, just as he'd
calculated. He stopped at the door beside Special Agent Parker's
office, set his briefcase down, then pulled a pair of leather
gloves out of his pocket and slipped them on. Taking one last look
up and down the empty corridor, he moved over to the last door and
inserted a key into the lock. A second later, he stood inside the
office with the door closed behind him.

Simon surveyed the engraved metal desk that
dominated the room, the burgundy leather couch and matching
armchair in the corner and the two walls of windows. He grinned.
The Botticelli would look good here.

He put his briefcase on the desk, opened it
and lifted out an exquisite Botticelli painting. Right in the
middle should do it. Simon shoved the neatly aligned stack of books
from the edge of the desk to the center and leaned the painting
against them so the small masterpiece faced the door. Perfect.

Now for the final touch. He ripped a page off
the director's notepad and signed his trademark signature.

Compliments of Simple Simon.

Ten minutes later, he stepped into a phone
booth three blocks away and dialled.

Boston Herald." The receptionist's nasal tone
twanged in his ear.

'Len Corbet, please."

"One minute."

Wild glee ripped through him as he waited for
the reporter to come on the line. It was over. Done. With his free
hand, he tugged on his tie to loosen the knot, then pulled the
scrap of silk from around his throat and shoved it in his side
pocket.

"Len Corbet here."

"I've got a scoop for you." Simon didn't
bother to hide the delight in his voice.

"Who is this?"

"Your favorite thief, Lennie, baby. I left a
present for you at the FBI field office. Thought I'd start the
fireworks a day early."

In the act of hanging up the phone, he heard
the reporter yelling, "Simple Simon, is that you? Where are
you?"

Nowhere
. Simple Simon was gone
forever.

Chapter One

She'd never driven in a snowstorm before, but
it appeared the storm had a vortex, and she was in the middle of
it. Sarah O'Sullivan peered past the frantic windshield wipers, out
into the driving snow. After two gruelling hours, she was convinced
every snowflake that hurtled out of the sky was aimed specifically
at her.

Limp with exhaustion, she slowed to decipher
the sign just ahead. Ashley Cove, Nova Scotia. Thank God. She
unclamped a sweat-soaked hand from the steering wheel and flexed
it, wondering if her fingers would ever unbend properly.

Just a few more minutes. You can do
this.
But would she find a place to stay? Back in the
Lunenburg, the last town she'd driven through, it looked like
everyone had locked up and gone home to wait out the storm.

She brightened when she saw a house ahead,
then another. Five minutes later, she inched the rented Blazer
along what was obviously the main street. A restaurant, a gas
station and a small grocery store lined the street, all closed. Her
heart sank as she continued on, looking for a place to turn around.
She had to have missed something. The entire town couldn't be
closed up.

A small sign rimmed with winking Christmas
lights caught her eye. Cabins For Rent-Year Round. She murmured a
silent thank you and pulled into the driveway. In a town this
small, surely they'd have a vacancy.

A neon sign directed her to the side door of
the monstrous old house. A giggle burbled up her throat at the
absurdity of finding a red neon sign here, in the middle of
nowhere.

She slumped against the steering wheel.
You're losing it, Sarah. She dragged her limp body out of the
Blazer and staggered through the blinding snow toward the
office.

Heat rushed out to greet her as she opened
the door and stepped inside. She blinked and glanced around the
small office. She'd just driven through the vortex of hell. How
could everything looked so normal and cozy inside this room? An
older man, big around the middle and bald on top, sat in a wooden
rocking chair reading a book. A sleek calico cat sprawled across
his knees. The sound of a country and western song wafted out from
behind the desk.

The man looked up from his book and smiled.
"So, you finally made it."

Sarah shook her head, not certain she'd heard
him correctly. "Excuse me?"

He stood and ambled over behind the desk.
"You're Sarah, right? We thought you might not get here tonight on
account of the storm." He pulled out a key from under the desk and
laid it on the counter. "That husband of yours is a real
joker."

"Husband?"

"Chance told us all about the trick he played
on you. How he left clues for you to follow. I told my wife Myrtle,
that's one helluva way to start a honeymoon."

"Honeymoon." She repeated the word through
clenched teeth.

"It's a good thing he showed up yesterday,
otherwise you folks would be out of luck. We're booked solid." He
pushed the key toward her.

She looked at the key, then at him. "But how
can that be? I mean, Ashley Cove...." She snapped her mouth shut,
realizing there was an outside chance he might not view the small
town in the same light as someone from New York.

"It's the skidooers. They're hoping this snow
will stick, but I don't think it will. Either way, we're the only
place open all winter around here."

He picked up the key and held it out to her.
"It's the last cabin on your right. I know Chance has been worried
since the storm started. You'd better scoot up there and let him
know you're here."

"Yes." She took the key and rammed it into
her jacket pocket. "I think I'll scoot up there this instant."

Chance Spencer obviously had not grasped the
concept of playing fair. Sarah slammed her car door shut. From the
minute he'd strolled into her boss's office yesterday, a
teeth-gnashing tension had wormed its way straight into her
bones.

First interrupting that disastrous phone call
to her grandmother, then using her father's pet name for her,
Chance had caught her off balance twice in the brief half hour he'd
spoken to her in New York. Three times if she cared to count the
strange, breathless flutter she felt every time he fixed his cobalt
blue gaze on her.

As she drove past individual log cabins
tucked into their own private clearings, she nursed her outrage of
his latest manoeuvre. She had a sneaking suspicion the whole town
knew about the crazy American and his supposed new bride. Which
meant her own brilliant plan of telling people she was a
photographer--which she was--looking for interesting faces to take
pictures of, wouldn't fly. So much for sneaking into town, finding
her father to warn him and slipping away before anyone noticed.

She pulled into the driveway of the last
cabin and let the motor idle. She had to come up with a new plan,
but right now she was more concerned about the implications of
Chance's announcement. He didn't really think she'd walk around
town all starry-eyed like a newlywed, did he?

She slid on her black, heavy rimmed glasses
and jammed her hat on her head. She felt like she was preparing for
battle. The glasses useless, except as a prop to hide behind, her
hat and scarf insulation against the strange, magnetic pull she'd
felt yesterday while talking to Chance.

Sweat covered her forehead as her pulse
lurched into an off-beat rhythm. Chance couldn't have known she
would follow him. Especially after he'd told her not to. Yet, he'd
backed her into a corner even before she arrived.

As her father's business partner, the FBI had
probably looked long and hard at Chance after her father had
disappeared, along with several original pieces of art. Chance
wouldn't have been allowed out of the States if they'd charged him
with the theft. If the FBI didn't think he was guilty, why was he
so determined to find her missing father? What exactly did he have
at stake?

The only way to answer that question was to
ask him. Besides, she was exhausted from catching the early morning
flight out of New York, and battling the snowstorm had used up the
last of her energy. No way was she going to drive the two hours
back to Halifax to find a hotel room.

Camera bag and suitcase in hand, she
struggled out of the Blazer and trudged past a small economy rental
car.

About to knock, she lowered her hand and took
a final deep breath. This time, she would take the offensive. She
shoved the door open.

At the sound of the door opening, Chance
turned away from the flickering fire and faced the woman who had
captured his imagination for over a year.

She'd taken the bait. Thank God.

He hid his satisfaction beneath a scowl. "I
thought I told you not to come here."

Her gaze lit on him, then bounced around the
room. Thanks to her father and the cursed snapshots that O'Sullivan
pulled out of his wallet every opportunity he got, Chance hadn't
been able to shake the image of this woman out of his mind.

Sarah O'Sullivan was something to see, all
right. Silver blond hair and a slim, willowy body. And her mouth. A
man would have to be dead not to wonder what those lips felt
like.

But it wasn't her beauty that had haunted
him. Every time he'd seen her shy expression in those damned
photos, he'd had the inexplicable urge to tell her everything was
going to be all right, that he would protect her.

BOOK: Sleight Of Hand
8.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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