A Picasso painting, worth a hundred million dollars, disappears en route from Chicago to New Hampshire. Literally--en route. The painting goes missing while the truck is moving. The painting is there, then it's not. It's gone, but it can't be.
Kendra Jean Valentine, underwriting agent for the policy, is on the hook. She scrapes together enough to hire two women to work the case.
Westen Hughes owns a failing pet shop. With creditors phoning daily, she jumps at the chance to earn a bundle of easy money, even though the offer comes from her old nemesis KJ Valentine, who stole everything in high school: head cheerleader, homecoming queen and the star quarterback.
KJ pairs her with Westen's total opposite: Phoebe Smith, a snake-loving, underwear-hating, tuba player with more baggage than Logan Airport.
Ten percent of a hundred million is...well, it's a lot so Smith and Westen join forces on a rollercoaster ride to find one of the world's most valuable paintings.
Page Count: 320
Word Count: 76375
Smith finished her tea and thumped the cup in the saucer. “Wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could find that painting?”
“What would you do with the recovery fee? Besides dumb things like paying bills, I’d buy a new tuba.”
A tuba? Had she heard right?
“The one I have is all dented. I found it in an apartment we moved into when I was ten.”
“You play the tuba?” A loud, repeating oompah started playing in her head. Westen wanted to clap her hands over her ears to block it out.
“…what would you buy?” Smith asked.
Clearly, she’d missed a sentence or two. Westen shook off the disorientation produced by the Bavarian band. “An apartment,” she said. “A penthouse. I own a home now but I’d really like a place without upkeep. Something on a top floor where I could look out over the city. I want a tiny rooftop garden.”
“You’re easy to please.”
Westen shrugged and slipped into her jacket. Easy maybe, but something like that was so far out of reach she might’ve been craving a trip to Mars. “I guess I’ll see you in the morning.”
Smith got up too. “You sound apprehensive.”
“You can’t really believe we’ll find the thing. By now, some of the best investigators in the world are working on it. I bet, by morning, the painting is back in Chicago safe and sound.”
“Probably,” said Smith, sadly.
She followed Smith out into the brisk May air, her feet marching to the beat of the men in lederhosen.
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