“So did he ever get a key?” I asked.
Across from me, Emil stretched and glanced at his watch. “Jesus, I’ve got to go!” he said, reaching for his jacket and jumping up.
Nearly two hours had passed since we’d entered the studio. Emil was expected home for dinner with his daughter, Cecily Rose.
“You’re gonna keep me hanging?” I wailed.
“Yeah, you: legendary queen of suspense. You’ll just have to get on my waiting list for the next installment.”
We made a date for the following week and I walked him out of the studio, images of Victor and his family flying through my head. Where was Roy, the jealous brother, I wondered. And the parents – Leonard and Evelyn Frances – what had become of them? I pressed Emil about them as he got in his car, but all he would say was I’d find out in good time. Feeling a little forlorn, I watched his tail lights wink in the dark as he drove out of the cul-de-sac. In my pocket my cell phone chimed. I pulled it out and saw Alicia’s name on the screen. “Well, what a coincidence,” I said, hitting the accept button. “I was just with your husband.”
“Yeah? What’s he up to?”
Alicia was in Florida, selling paintings to wealthy tourists in her swank gallery. I told her Emil had spent the past two hours filling me in on the history of Victor Goodlove.
“That’s why I’m calling, actually,” Alicia said. “One of the guys who worked for the art transport company has pulled a vanishing act. For sure the one who stole Victor’s portrait.”
That brought me back to earth. I felt goosebumps rise on my skin. Minutes ago Emil had been talking about Victor’s father carrying on secret experiments in his locked study at night and now here we were with more mystery, a stolen painting and an art mover who’d gone missing. It was all getting to be a bit much.
“I’ll keep you posted,” Alicia said. “Hope there are no dead bodies.”
My goosebumps increased. I was suddenly jumpy. One dead body – the one that possibly lay beneath my studio – was enough. I decided to go back in the house and write down everything Emil had told me about Victor’s family before I forgot.
To be continued…
Cover photo ~ The Bottom of the Bed, Alyssa L. Miller, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/