The House of Long Ago by Steve Berry,M.J. Rose (Cassiopeia Vitt Adventure #4)
English | 2020 | Women Sleuth| ePUB | 2.7 MB
Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen Cotton Malone novels and several standalone novels. He has over twenty million books in print, translated into forty languages. He serves on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board and was a founding member of International Thriller Writers, formerly serving as its co-president.
M. J. Rose is the international bestselling author of about a dozen novels. She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors, AuthorBuzz.com. She has appeared on the Today show, Fox News, and Jim Lehrer News Hour and has been featured in dozens of US and international media outlets, including USA Today , Stern , Poets & Writers, and Publishers Weekly.
The day started off warm in southern France and became even warmer when my corporate jet landed in Barcelona. Minutes later I was in the rear seat of a Mercedes on the way to Tossa de Mar.
I rolled down the car windows and allowed the fresh sea air to wash over me.
My driver navigated the familiar roads with ease and I allowed the coast to welcome me home. I’d made arrangements to meet my friend Miguel Velez at my parents’ house. He served as the deputy director of conservation and research at the Prado Museum in Madrid. I wanted him to inspect my father’s art collection as to condition and value. My plan was to split the paintings between the Prado and the Louvre—the two museums my father had been most involved with—donating them in perpetuity.
I arrived two hours before Miguel, greeted by Angelina Costes, our longtime housekeeper, and her husband, Paulo, who served as groundskeeper. For thirty years they’d lived in a cottage on the property and taken care of the estate. Both were now up in age, nearing retirement, which was another reason why I knew I had to make some changes. I couldn’t count on them staying around forever, and it would be next to impossible to find two more trustworthy people.
The last time I’d come, three months ago, it had been for a short visit with someone special. Harold Earl “Cotton” Malone was my boyfriend. Strange that I attached such a descriptive term to a man. But facts were facts. He was the love of my life. Or at least I’d come to believe that. We’d spent a few days at the villa, adding to my inventory of wonderful memories from the place.
The car stopped and I stepped out into the bright sun.
Angelina was waiting and looked disappointed to see I was alone. I knew she’d been taken with Cotton’s Southern charm. Who wouldn’t be? He had that way about him. Like Churchill said, Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. He always said his mother had that ability, and he seemed to have inherited the skill too. When he’d accompanied me to the house he’d spent most of his time in my father’s library. About the only thing that had drawn him away had been Angelina’s crema catalana, a traditional custard finished with a caramelized sugar crust. It had been one of my father’s favorites too. Cotton loved books and owned a rare bookshop in Copenhagen. My father had also been a lifelong bibliophile. Many of the books he’d bought as a young man became, over time, quite valuable. In the hundreds of thousands of euros, Cotton had said after his inspection. Last year I’d donated an original Elizabethan quarto valued at over a quarter of a million euros to the Bodleian Library. I planned to make a lot more donations too.