In the spirit of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and Shadows of the Stone Benders by K. Patrick Donoghue The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami unravels an unforgettable mystery.
Three destinies, one remarkable painting.
Will her visions lead her to the truth?
Art historian Angela Renatus is haunted by dreams of Leonardo da Vinci and a mysterious painting of Giuliano Medici and his mistress Fioretta Gorini. A painting that, as far as the world knows, doesn’t exist. Compelled by her visions, Angela is determined to find out the truth.
When Angela is contacted by art detective, Alex Caine, she’s shocked to learn that he too is seeking the same painting. Alex’s client, a wealthy German financier, is determined to clear the name of his late uncle, Gerard Jaeger, an art historian, who went missing in Florence, during World War II. In letters written before his disappearance, the historian describes his love affair with a beautiful young Italian woman named Sophia Caro, and the discovery of an extraordinary painting by the great master himself—a painting depicting Giuliano and Fioretta.
Alex and Angela journey to Florence in search of the priceless treasure. Is it a lost da Vinci, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars, or a wild goose-chase that will only lead to a dead end? But someone else is searching for the illusive painting—Alberto Scordato is a powerful man in the art world and a sociopath who will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even murder. Scordato knows something about Angela that even she doesn’t know, something that could threaten both Angela and Alex’s lives, forcing them into the crosshairs of fate.
Los Angeles, California
August 3, 2018
Alex almost choked on his martini when he saw the young woman’s reflection in the mirror. He swiveled on his barstool, his heart pounding in his chest and stared, unable to believe his own eyes. Angela Renatus and the girl in front of the painting who’d kissed him so passionately are one and the same.
Alex had managed to grab two seats at the bar of Bistro Prossima Volta—one of the hottest spots in LA. The place was packed. The hipsters who flocked there during the dinner rush, crowded around the ornate mahogany bar, drinking and sampling a vast array of Italian antipasti.
Setting his briefcase on the second stool, he’d ignored the angry glances and ordered a dry martini. He sipped while keeping his eyes locked on the Italian mirror stretching along the wall across from him. He could see the reflection of the restaurant’s entrance and everyone who walked in. Angela had texted him that she was running late. She hadn’t given him a description and he’d neglected to ask. Odd. Alex never forgot to ask. His entire career involved just those kinds of details. And then she walked in. And he knew. He knew it was her.
Her dark hair, secured in an elegant bun, enhanced those movie-star cheekbones. Her brown velvet eyes, framed by the black-rimmed glasses, were a striking contrast to her lush, ruby-red lips. Wearing a crisp, white blouse and a gray, pencil skirt, she paused as she scanned the restaurant, unaware of every male head swiveling to get an eyeful. Damn! He wasn’t the only guy attracted by the hot librarian look. He recalled the temptress who’d kissed him with wild abandon and shifted on his stool. He couldn’t reconcile her disparate behavior. It was as if she were two different women.
When their eyes locked in the mirror, he was surprised to see no reaction or recognition. His pulse quickened. How can she not know me?
She glanced down at her watch.
This wasn’t at all what he’d expected. Embarrassment, yes, confusion and accusations, not this total obliviousness of the erotic passion that had consumed them.
He stood and called out to her. “Angela, Alex Caine.”
She maneuvered through the crowd. “How did you know it was me? I think I forgot to give you a description.”
“Just a guess.”
“Do you prefer Alex or Alexander?
“Everyone calls me Alex,” he said with a grin, offering her his hand.
Angela smiled and took it. “It’s good to meet you.”
Double damn! Gorgeous smile, with a sexy dimple in her left cheek. The touch of her hand sent a jolt through him. Her eyes widened slightly, her hand trembled in his.
“That’s weird,” she whispered, as though to herself.
“What’s weird?” he asked, feigning ignorance. Does she feel it too?
She shook her head, a laugh escaping her. “Sorry, it’s been a long day. It’ll be good to relax. I’m glad you called. Professor Hoffman is one of my dearest friends and my mentor.”
Alex lifted the briefcase and stowed it at his feet, gesturing her to sit. “I’ve known Michael for years. He’s been very supportive of my work.”
She nodded and sat. “Michael is a vault of knowledge and always willing to help.”
Her gaze was direct, but without any recognition that they’d made out a few hours earlier in front of the Botticelli painting. How the hell do you kiss someone like that and not remember?
Her brows knitted as she continued to look at him.
He laughed. “Is there something on my face.”
“Forgive me.” A rosy hue colored her cheeks. “It’s your eyes. They’re so unusual.”
He sat back and scratched his cheek. “Yeah, I get that a lot.” His left eye was pale blue, the right was hazel. “You can blame my parents for the odd combo. Although, no one else in my family has two, different-colored eyes.”
The bartender approached them. “Angela, the usual?”
Her eyes remained locked on his. And she failed to reply to the bartender. Something flickered in her gaze. Not recognition. But something deep. Intense. He suddenly wished they were back at the Getty, sitting in front of the painting, not in a noisy, packed restaurant.
“Hey, Angela,” the bartender repeated. “Do you want the usual?”
Her expression cleared and she glanced up at the bartender. “Sorry, Tim. Yes, please, that would be great. Oh, and some of those yummy meatballs.”
“I’ll have the meatballs, too. And put it on my tab.”
“Got it, man.”
“I can’t let you do that,” she protested.
“Don’t be ridiculous. I called you.” He grinned. “Besides, I’m the one with an expense account.”
She shook her head and chuckled. “I definitely don’t have one of those.”
Alex took a sip of his martini. He couldn’t get past her lack of recognition. He needed to test her, to see whether this act of hers was for real. “Besides trying to convince you to work on this case with me, I’m here on business. In fact, I had a meeting with the director of the Getty today.”
Her eyes widened. “You knew I worked at the Getty, why didn’t you tell me you were planning on being there? We could have grabbed a coffee.”
“I didn’t want to bother you at work. Seeing the Getty was a pleasure, but a brief cup of coffee wouldn’t be enough time for me to get to know you or learn much about your expertise.” Alex had spent years studying body language and facial expressions. He knew when someone was telling the truth or evading it. She genuinely seemed surprised. Which made this mystery all the more strange.
The bartender placed a white sangria in front of her. “Cheers.” She clinked her glass to his and took a sip. “How did your meeting with the director go?”
“Don’t take any offense, but let’s just say I’m not a fan of the guy.”
She nodded, her eyes glancing down at her drink.
“Correct me if I’m wrong but you don’t seem thrilled with him either.”
She took another sip. “I’m having some issues with him.”
He didn’t press her on the director issues. His focus was still on their unforgettable kiss at the museum. “You know, I have this strange feeling that I saw you today.”
She lifted her elegant eyebrows. “You did?”
“Yeah, at the Getty.”
“No, that’s unlikely. I rarely leave my desk at the research center.” She shook her head and a strand of hair came loose. He began to lift his hand, wanting to tuck her hair behind her ear, but caught himself just in time and reached for his drink instead. He needed to unravel the mystery of why Angela had no recollection of what had happened earlier in the day. This woman is either a really good liar, or she’s sleepwalking.
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About the Author
Belle Ami writes intriguing romantic/suspense/thrillers with a teaspoon of sex. A self-confessed news junky she loves to create cutting-edge stories about politics, espionage, and redemptive love.
She is a Kathryn McBride scholar of Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. Writing, cooking, spinning, hiking, boxing, and skiing are her passions.
She is the author of The Only One series, The One (#1), and The One & More (#2). Her third in the series titled One More Time is Not Enough, was published July 13th, 2016. She was honored to be included in the RWA LARA Christmas Anthology Holiday Ever After featuring her short story The Christmas Encounter. Her next series entitled The Tip of the Spear begins with Escape, published January 10, 2017. The sequel to Escape, entitled Vengeance was published September 12, 2017.
The Girl Who Knew da Vinci is her latest release. It’s an intriguing romance/paranormal/thriller. She is currently working on book three of The Tip of the Spear Series, titled Ransom.
She lives in Southern California with her husband, two children, a horse named Cindy Crawford, and her brilliant Chihuahua, Giorgio Armani.