An art conservator, hiding in witness protection, battles her larcenous bosses and brutal ex-husband to save a priceless masterpiece.
In this excerpt, Sarah Downing, the conservator, meets with the Director of the university art gallery.
Their firm rented studio space from the gallery and the director consulted for them. His office was a short walk away. She hurried along, passing the newest paintings from the University’s collection hung on the walls of the corridor leading to his office.
The door stood open; the director sat at his desk, reading. Sarah knocked on the door casing and stood across the desk from him. He never invited her to sit down but he smiled, his face so thin, his lower jaw seemed to unhinge like a skull’s.
“Gregory, would you review the Caravaggio copy left for conservation?”
“Of course, later this afternoon.”
He glanced down and up at her again. “Something else?”
“I…would like to speak to you afterwards. Would you call me?”
She turned, stumbled into the chair behind her, righted it and herself, and escaped through the door. What was the matter with her? She did have a Ph.D. after all. Talking to the director turned her into what—a scared kid in the principal’s office? And he wasn’t even her boss.
She turned right into the hall leading to the studio and right again into the ladies’ room. She leaned over the sink and took a breath and another. She brushed back her hair. She wasn’t happy with Emil. Those last streaks he’d put into her dark hair had a brassy tone, hard. She’d have to go back. Another Saturday wasted.
She touched up her lipstick and used her finger to wipe off the unsteady rose line her shaking hand had drawn around her mouth.
Why did he frighten her? Gregory had been nothing but kind to her since she arrived at the restoration firm six months ago. But there was something about him. He resembled Leonardo’s Saint Jerome with his long, gaunt face and tight skin. But she was used to his appearance. It was something else, something underneath when he looked at her. Not lust. That was easy enough to see. Something else.
That something else proves to be dangerous for Sarah and the Caravaggio masterpiece.
Painting of Sorrow is available on pre-order from Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.