The Courbet Connection (Book 5) (Genevieve Lenard)

BOOK: The Courbet Connection (Book 5) (Genevieve Lenard)
13.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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Estelle Ryan

 

The Courbet Connection

 

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements

Dedicated

Chapter ONE

Chapter TWO

Chapter THREE

Chapter FOUR

Chapter FIVE

Chapter SIX

Chapter SEVEN

Chapter EIGHT

Chapter NINE

Chapter TEN

Chapter ELEVEN

Chapter TWELVE

Chapter THIRTEEN

Chapter FOURTEEN

Chapter FIFTEEN

Chapter SIXTEEN

Chapter SEVENTEEN

Chapter EIGHTEEN

Chapter NINETEEN

Chapter TWENTY

Chapter TWENTY-ONE

Chapter TWENTY-TWO

Chapter TWENTY-THREE

 

 

Forged masterpieces. Kidnapped students. The dark net.

 

Nonverbal communications expert Doctor Genevieve Lenard’s search for an international assassin is rudely interrupted by an autistic teenager who claims that forged masterpieces are being sold on the dark net—a secret internet few know exists. The resulting probe uncovers an underground marketplace offering much more sinister products and services. Including murder.

 

An official investigation into one of her team members and the discovery of dozens of missing students across Europe adds immense pressure on Genevieve to find out if one person is masterminding these seemingly unrelated cases. What starts out as a search for illegal art sales soon turns into a desperate hunt for clues to uncover the conspiracy to destroy her team member and murder more students. Timing becomes even more crucial when someone close to her disappears and the assassin she’s been looking for is the key to preventing another senseless death.

 

The
Courbet Connection

A Genevieve Lenard Novel

By Estelle Ryan

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever, including internet usage, without written permission from the author except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

First published 2014

Copyright © 2014 by Estelle Ryan

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is purely incidental.

 
Acknowledgements

 

 

I want to take up this space by acknowledging my readers. You guys have no idea how much I appreciate every like on Facebook, every comment, every newsletter subscriber, every email and every review.

 

Frequently, I find myself staring at my computer screen in amazement, simultaneously humbled, deeply touched and grateful that so many truly wonderful people take the time to connect with me. Please know that not once do I take any of your communication for granted.

 

To my amazing support system: I would not be here without you and this journey would not be half as much fun if I couldn’t share it with you.

 

A shout-out to all those readers who so graciously allowed me to use their name
s
.

 

 

Dedicated

 

 

 

To Jane

 

Chapter ONE

 

 

“Doctor Lenard! I want to speak to Doctor Genevieve Lenard! Where is she? The Red Sea is the warmest sea in the world! Doctor Lenard!”

I looked away from the computer monitors to glare at the glass doors to my left. The doors separating my viewing room from the team room had been sealed. Now they were slightly ajar, allowing the yelling to distract me.

“Doctor Lenard! You need me! Doctor Lenard!” The loud voice belonged to a young person. That much was clear to me. I rolled my shoulders to stretch the taut
trapezius
muscles in my neck.

My room was set up for maximum comfort and efficiency when viewing video footage. The glass doors had been specially fitted to seal so I could work in a soundproof—and uninterrupted—environment. I only went into the team room for meetings, which I often experienced to be chaotic, the constant digression a vexing waste of time.

More yelling ensued, but it was the lack of emotion, and the increase in volume of the young voice that completely drew my attention away from my work. I sighed and shook my head angrily. This disturbance was most unwelcome. The case I was working on was much more pressing than a stranger seeking me out and reciting strange geographical facts.

In front of me, ten monitors were arranged in a curve, filled with information we had gathered on Dukwicz. The notorious international assassin had evaded capture for more than a year. Not only had he killed people without remorse, he had
terrorised me inside my own apartment and had stolen three clocks I had highly valued until he’d touched them.

It didn’t matter that he had returned those clocks to my apartment. I had seen that action for what it was—an intimidation technique. It hadn’t worked. If anything, it had made us more determined to find him.

His weakness for timepieces might very well be the key to catching him. Two days ago, Vinnie had heard from one of his contacts about a man offering to beat up non-paying clients for a fee or for a valuable timepiece. It was the latter form of payment that made me take notice.

Vinnie, the most intimidating member of our team, had convinced his contact to divulge information on how he had heard of this service, and how to get in touch with the service provider we suspected was Dukwicz. I had learned early on to never question Vinnie’s methods in gaining information. It caused me much less mental distress not knowing.

“Doctor Lenard! I want to speak to you! Japan has six thousand eight hundred and fifty-two islands!” The yelling was much closer now, possibly in the hallway outside my viewing room. Movement in the team room drew my attention. Through the glass doors, I watched Vinnie get up from the round table used for our meetings and walk towards the hallway.

Manny, an Interpol agent and the only law enforcement individual on our team, followed Vinnie to the hallway. Manny was the oldest and was in constant conflict with the other team members who were not known to be law-abiding citizens. Yet he was the first to defend us. Aggressively, if needed.

I turned back to my computer and ten monitors. I had full confidence in Manny and Vinnie handling this situation. I also knew that Phillip, my boss and the owner of Rousseau & Rousseau, the insurance company I worked for, would keep away the person shouting out random facts.

No sooner had I started looking into the phone records of Vinnie’s contact than the glass doors opened fully, allowing the panicked yelling from further down the hallway to reach me.

“Jen-girl, I think you’re going to have to come out and deal with this.” Vinnie stood in the open doorway, his usual place. The
depressor anguli oris
muscles turned the corners of his mouth down.

“You know I don’t handle things. Why would you even ask? Can’t Phillip handle this?”

“He asked me to call you.” Vinnie lifted one shoulder in a half-shrug. A gesture employed when we weren’t convinced of our thoughts or statements. “Phillip and the old man reckon the kid is like you.”

“Like me?” Did the young person have an exceptionally high IQ? Was he a world-renowned expert at reading and interpreting nonverbal communication?

“They think he might be on the autistic spectrum.”

“How did they become experts to make such a diagnosis?” My eyebrows raised and I leaned away from Vinnie. I didn’t want to admit that the quality in the young man’s tone of voice and his odd recitation of geographical facts could confirm their suspicions.

Vinnie tilted his head to the side. “Please? Colin isn’t here and they don’t know what else to do.”

Colin was my romantic partner. I refused to call him my boyfriend. We were both in our mid-thirties, far too mature to be girlfriend and boyfriend. Colin had an uncanny ability in dealing with me. He knew what to say and how to say it. More importantly, he knew when not to say anything. I wished he was here. He would know to leave me alone. And he would’ve handled the situation.

“Jen-girl?”

I pushed myself out of my chair, making sure Vinnie saw my disapproving expression. “I don’t know what you expect me to do.”

“Not just me. Phillip and the old man too.” Vinnie followed me through the team room to the hallway. “I wanted to throw the whining little shit out. Phillip wouldn’t let me.”

“Where are they?” We were in the hallway. Alone.

Before Vinnie could answer, screaming came from the conference room. It was the yelling not to be touched that had me increasing my pace to the large conference room. Having high-functioning autism, I couldn’t bear being touched. My personal space was particularly wide, much to Manny’s annoyance. The only person who’d broken through my intense dislike of close personal contact was Colin.

Vinnie and I walked into the conference room and immediately I smelled it. A body that had not been washed for an extended period. On the far side of the conference table stood a teenager. His eyes were wide in his dark-skinned face, giving him a wild, out-of-control look, and he continued screaming not to be touched. I had never been good with estimating ages, but he looked no older than sixteen. An adolescent. An extremely challenging stage to work through for an autistic individual, especially without any guidance.

Looking a bit more closely at him, I was sure he’d been wearing the same outfit for the last week or so. His long-sleeved t-shirt had a few holes, many stains and hung loosely on his body. Not only did this teenager look in desperate need of a shower, he looked severely underfed. His pallor could be attributed to emotions, but I wondered if it wasn’t because of a lack of care, a lack of nutrition.

Manny and Phillip were both standing close to the door, their body language completely non-threatening. Not that the young man noticed it. Like many other autistic individuals, he
probably had never learned to read the subtle cues we give with our body language, helping others understand our intentions. If he’d been able to read Manny and Phillip’s cues, he might have calmed down by now.

“Doctor Lenard! You’re here! I want to speak to you! In February 1979 and March 2012, it snowed in the Sahara. Tell them to go away!” Staring at my shoulder, he pushed his back against the wall, his voice echoing in the large room.

“No.” I kept my voice low. I wanted him to strain to hear me.

“What do you mean, ‘no’?” Instead of imitating my lowered voice, he raised his even more.

“I mean that I refuse to speak to you if you are screaming. Or if you are rude to my friends.”

Typical of people on the spectrum, he didn’t respond immediately. People with autism were each unique, as was their processing time. Some needed a few seconds to work through the information presented to them before they responded. Others needed minutes. It appeared this young man needed minutes. His lips were moving in a silent monologue. We waited in silence while he bounced his back against the wall in a semi-rocking motion.

“I cannot guarantee that I will not be rude.” His tone was appropriately low for an indoor conversation, albeit without much inflection. “I can, however, refrain from shouting. As long as you speak to me. As long as they don’t come close to me. As long as…”

“Stop.” I raised my hand, palm towards him. “You are a guest in our conference room. You have no right to make any demands.”

“Oh, but I do. I have information that gives me the right.”

Immediately, Manny’s body language changed from non-threatening to alert. The change in his slouched posture was
subtle, but after working with him for almost two years, it was easy to spot. Vinnie took a step closer to me.

“What do you mean, you have information?” Manny asked.

“I won’t speak to you. You are not intelligent enough.”

I turned around and walked to the door. I stopped just outside the room and looked back. “You seem to be an intelligent young man. Ponder upon this. No matter how softly you speak, I refuse to listen to you if you insist on being rude to the people in this room. Either you treat them with respect or you can find someone else to speak to.”

I didn’t wait for an answer. I had numerous degrees, most of those in psychology, but I was not a therapist. I didn’t know how to sensitively work with neurotypical or non-neurotypical people. I was not going to act as this young man’s counsellor or confessor. Very likely, he could benefit greatly from cognitive therapy, but I had zero interest in providing it. I returned to my viewing room, fully intending to continue my search for more information on Dukwicz. We needed to find him and make sure that he could no longer kill or beat people up for payment—be it cash or timepieces.

BOOK: The Courbet Connection (Book 5) (Genevieve Lenard)
13.06Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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