I Didn’t Steal It… I’m Just a Tourist.

Visiting the Louvre had been on my list of dream destinations since age sixteen. That was when I first saw Sherlock Holmes recover the Mona Lisa, stolen from the Louvre, before going on the run from Professor Moriarty. Therefore, my connections to the famed building were conclusively linked to the mysterious.

I didn’t, however, expect to be accused of theft on my very first visit!

My excitement could scarcely be contained as I skipped past the glass pyramid and walked up the steps to the beautiful old building. That building made my trip worth it even without seeing the outside, it was so magnificent, but I didn’t have much time to consider it. The moment I stepped inside the building, two members of the French Police marched up to me, pulling me aside for questioning.

Their accents were strong, but I could understand them fairly well. They demanded to know my name and the reason for my visit. I told them that I was just a tourist, though I might be considering writing a mystery set in Paris. I think it was the wrong thing to say.

“A mystery? A theft, perhaps?” The first officer crossed his arms.

I shrugged. “That or a murder. I don’t really know. Maybe both. But a theft seems likely.”

“A theft of, say, the portrait of a Russian Princess, perhaps?”

I blinked. That seemed awfully precise. “I’m sorry?”

“We already know about you. We’ve read your blog.” The second officer had seemed more approachable, until he started speaking. “You posted that you were on your way to Paris two days ago, that among your plans while in our city that you planned to visit the Louvre, and that you were especially interested, among other things, to see the portrait of the Russian Princess.”

“Is… Is that a crime?” I looked from one officer to another.

“It is, if your interest led you to steal the portrait instead of merely observing it.”

I have never done well at responding when shocked. I lose all sense of words. Thus, I only started at the two men with my mouth hanging open.

The officers waited in silence with me. Obviously, they expected a response. I tried to think.

“When… When did the Russian Princess get stolen?”

The second officer narrowed his eyes at me, but the first one dropped his arms. “Last night. In the dead of night, someone stole the painting and disappeared. Undetected. You expressed interest in the Russian Princess.”

“I didn’t steal her!” I took a deep breath and lowered my voice. “I wouldn’t know how to get into the Louvre without detection, even if I wanted to. Not by day or by night. And I didn’t want to!”

The two officers nodded at me. “We understand, Mademoiselle.” The first officer spoke smoothly. “You must understand, however, that you must be high on our list of suspects.”

“How did you even know about my blog? I’m anything but famous!”

“Someone tipped us off.” The officer shook his head. “No, I can’t tell you who.”

I bit my lip.

“Are you implying that you can tell us nothing else about the theft, Mademoiselle Jones?”

“I can’t tell you anything at all, except that I didn’t do it.”

The second officer seemed to soften. “And yet, we will need to keep contact with you for the time being.” He pulled out a notebook. “Would you, please, give us your phone number – the best way to contact you?”

I complied.

“Another question, Mademoiselle.” The first officer cocked his head. “Do you know anyone else in town, who might be interested in the Russian Princess?”

“I’m sure she wouldn’t steal it!”

“Then you do.” His partner smiled. “Supply us with her name, if you please. I assure you, if she is as innocent as you think, she has nothing to fear.”

I wanted to refuse, but I didn’t now how wise it would be, so I complied. “I don’t actually know if she is here, but I know she said something about visiting to see the portrait of the Russian Princess again. At least, I think she’s seen it before. After all, she put it in her new book! She’s the one who got me interested!”

The men gave each other a look. “The name, if you please, Mademoiselle Jones.”

I shook my head. “Liz. Liz Tolsma.”

I hope they aren’t too hard on her. What could I have done besides give her name? I really don’t know. Maybe I can make it up to her a bit, by showing you the GIVEAWAY for her new mystery, Slashed Canvas

3…2…1… Poof! Wait…

Dear friend,

Today did not go as planned.

I went to the auction house to bid on the freakshow poster. You know, the one from Denise Barela’s new book Silencing the Siren. I hadn’t ever been to an auction before, but I think things seemed pretty normal. At least, everyone around me seemed to think that they were normal. That is, until they showed us the poster.

Just as the auctioneer lifted the cover, a loud boom made the entire building shake, and what do you know? The poster had disappeared! Completely, utterly vanished.

Something about the disappearing poster and the noise caused a panic. Everyone started running. I really don’t know why. What’s more, I don’t know why I joined them, except it was either run or be trampled! I heard one woman yelling about theft and that someone needed to pay. A man started calling for the police, but as he wasn’t actually making a phone call, I don’t know what good he thought he did.

Outside the building, a woman I had never met nor seen before, grabbed me by the shoulders. Shaking me, she stared at me far too intently. “Where is it? Where is the poster? And what was that sound when it disappeared?”

I tried to tell her I had no idea, but she didn’t actually seem to care. She just ran off like the wild woman she was.

I’d lost my group, and as I tried to find them again, I heard a man grumbling as he walked past me. “Worst magic trick I ever did see. They should have consulted me.”

I don’t know if I agree with him. I still have no idea how that poster disappeared. Before the covering lifted, I would have testified in court that it seemed to be there.

It seemed to take me forever to find Chautona. When I finally did, we compared notes about what happened – but I’ll let you see what she has to say in her own words. I have no idea what became of that poster – but I hope someone comes forward to tell us the truth!

Until then, I sign off as your confused friend,

Rebekah

P.S. There’s a giveaway going on for Silencing the Siren. You should ENTER it!

Running from Treasure Hunters…

When I set out to write The Lost Dutchman’s Secret, I had no idea the trouble it would get me into. I knew that people still searched for the mine, but I hadn’t a clue just how obsessed some of them still are. You would think, after 150 years, the hullabaloo would have died down. Apparently, it has done no such thing.

It all started the week of my book release. In the beginning, I thought someone must be pulling a prank. After all, leaving a note by the door when I got home came directly from a scene in my story. However, when I found a note on my car when I left my favorite coffee shop, I decided it might be time to take action.

WE’LL FIND THE MAP. IT’S ONLY A MATTER OF TIME.

While I still didn’t know whether or not they could be serious, I decided I had better take precautions. Before the day had ended, I’d sent a special delivery to Cathe Swanson. To be signed for.

The notes, however, didn’t stop. I had another when I headed to church the next morning. And another a week later. And then came the calls, emails, and messages. I started hearing about the notes and strange visitors that my fellow authors were receiving, as the map passed through their hands. Threats, intimidation, espionage. Men in Indiana Jones Fedoras. From what I heard from April, some of them even seemed to succumb to the greed of gold and tried to form their own branch of rogue treasure hunter, (I’ve made note to be wary of Sandy and Cathe for awhile,) while Chautona, Marji, Liz, and Denise experienced the more threatening side of gold fever.

I needed to put a stop to this and fast, before someone else got hurt.

When the weasel with his Fedora wearing backup caught up with me, I stood at the base of the Superstition Mountains, watching a group of deer meander through the rocks.

“There you are!”

The voice startled me, rough and halting. I did wonder why I thought coming alone was such a good idea. I tensed, taking a step back, slipping a hand in my pocket. I knew how to press “record” without looking.

“Did you think that we wouldn’t notice watch for you here?”

“I don’t think I thought that through, actually.” I heard the laughter of children not far off, and the conversation of a couple hiking down the trail. I took another step back.

“Where is the map?”

He really didn’t sound intimidating at all. His friends’ glares and crossed arms caused rather more trepidation than his voice. Or anything about him, really.

“We don’t want to hurt you, Miss Jones, but we will.”

“I don’t have it.”

“Because we believe you.”

I shook my head. “The Lost Dutchman’s Goldmine is lost for good reason – and it’s going to stay that way.”

The man nodded and his men uncrossed their arms.

My hands shook and I glanced around, hoping a random stranger or five would show up to help me if I needed it. “You won’t find the map. I can promise you that.”

“Because you don’t have it? We don’t believe you.”

“Because I buried it.”

The man started. “Buried… what?”

“The map.”

He looked back at his companions and then back at me. “She just admitted she has the m… Wait. Where did you bury it?”

“In the Superstition Mountains.”

“Then we want the map to the buried map.”

“I don’t have one.”

“You lost the map to the Lost Dutchman? Are you insane?

I’ll have a reader note here that I never said I lost anything. I said that I buried it and didn’t have a map. There is a rather amazing difference. However, I didn’t see any need to correct a crazy man. He and his friends stared up at the Superstition Mountains with horror. “You’re insane.”

It seemed unfair to be called insane by a man who literally seemed to embody that trait in the treasure hunting sphere, but again, I didn’t see any need to correct him.

“We could have been rich.” He paused, an evil grin forming. “We will be rich. We’ll find that map before you do.”

I only blinked at him.

He nodded to his men. “Come on. Look at her shoes. She didn’t hike far into the mountains to bury the map. It’s fairly close. We’ll find it.” He raised an eyebrow at me and pointed a menacing finger. Or what he thought was menacing. “Don’t bother trying to get it back. We’ll find it first. We’re good like that.”

I stepped back, clicking off my phone. I felt pretty confident I had the message recorded.

With a last attempt at a glare, the three started off toward the mountain base.

“Are you all right, Miss?” The young man who asked might have been twenty-two. I wasn’t sure what he saw or heard, but I nodded with a shaky smile.

“I am now, thank you. I’m just headed to my car.”

Once in the car, I shuddered, then with a glance back at the Superstitions, I smiled to myself. They were right, I hadn’t hiked far into the mountains that day. I hadn’t even started to climb.

I also never said that I buried that map today any more than I had said I lost it. It wasn’t my problem, however, if their search had been based on faulty assumptions. And until they realized their assumptions would lead to literally nothing, I had evidence to send to the local authorities. And a map – safe, sound, quite buried, but hardly lost. I’d just have to wait awhile before I paid my next visit to the mine. I didn’t want to be followed.

On the other hand, there’s another treasure that’s up for grabs (well, it’s a book but books are treasure, right? And I can call it that, even if I wrote it?) – make sure you enter the GIVEAWAY for The Lost Dutchman’s Secret!

What Time Again?

I woke up with a start. The train had pulled into the station and the conductor yelled for Chicago. Trying to avoid rubbing my eyes, I pulled on my suitcase, and stumbled onto the platform behind the rest of the vaudeville troupe.  

At least, I thought it I came behind the rest of the troupe. When I really looked up, I discovered only one other person that I recognized, Alf a fellow singer, and he turned to look at me with eyes wide with shock. I tried to ask him the problem, but a wave of dust made me cough and then, I looked around.

First of all, we were in the desert. How we got there, I had literally no idea, but nothing but the desert has that much dirt everywhere. I even saw a cactus. We were supposed to be in Chicago, getting ready to perform at the Empire. This was not Chicago.

Second… The people. The women’s dresses were worn, faded, and reworked. I saw more patches on trousers than I have ever seen in a similar group of men in my life. As for the children, they ran around barefoot in clothes I considered fit for the rag bag.

We’d followed the stream of people without much though. This tiny town absolutely could not be Chicago. Alf’s eyes couldn’t have gotten wider as we walked down the dirt streets that held the scent of farm life.

Past what must have been main street, we found fields of cotton. Near one of these fields, we came across what can only be described as a shack. I didn’t know how it stayed up when wind came. Or how what passed as a roof could have kept the rain out. More barefoot children raced around the shack, not one of the three boys wearing trousers that actually reached their ankles and as for the two girls, their dresses resembled a patchwork quilt.

Alf pulled on my arm, leading us back toward main street. A man, his hat pushed back on his head, leaned against the general store.

“Did you see the election results?”

Another man walking past him, nodded with a laugh. “Sure did. We got Roosevelt again. We’ll see if the president can fix things this term.”

I looked at Alf and he hurried toward the two men. Election? Roosevelt? President? What…

“Excuse me, but did you just mention a presidential election?” Alf’s voice sounded hollow.

“Of course! Did you miss it?” Both men laughed, but we didn’t join them.

I shook my head at Alf, as he turned to look around the town. Dust blew in the wind again and I finally noticed the motorcars. Rounded lines had replaced the sharp angles I knew. I shook my head again.

Alf turned to the men. “Just another question – what year is it and where are we?”

Two barefooted boys ran past me, chasing a chicken and shouting, so the only word of the answer that I heard was, “Arizona,” but Alf grabbed my hand and started dragging me back toward the station.

“Whatever is the matter with you? Where are we going?”

“Back onto the train. Now.”

I pulled back, making him stop. “What did they say?”

He looked back at me, eyes still wide. “Something went wrong. We have to find a way to get back to our time.”

“Our… time? What are you talking about?”

Alf shook his head. “It’s not our time. It’s not 1926. We’re lost and I don’t even know how we got that way…”

Murder at the Empire is releasing this week, but Cathe’s vaudeville troupe is scattered across the decades. Can you guess this decade? I also heard that Liz has some news regarding the troupe, so you might want to read what she has to say… Don’t forget to enter the giveaway before you go!

Where… Wait, did I just see Hugh?

I’d heard that April Hayman had been looking for her hero, Hugh; that somehow or other, he had disappeared from the pages of her book, The Pilot Falls, and that she couldn’t find him. Of course, I’d heard that, but I never expected to do more than hear about it.

It’s been a really wet summer. I know that I live in the desert and that most people don’t associate desert and wet, but it really has been! As in there are days that the roads are flooded, the ditches and retention areas are lakes, and goodness, there is more green around here than usual. Last year, for instance, the sun had scorched about everything in sight by the end of June, I think. Anything the sun left, wilted from lack of rain. Not this year, though.

I don’t tend to carry umbrellas, for the mere fact that there is no where convenient to put a wet umbrella when you go indoors to shop and people don’t always want a dripping mess in their entry way. Also, my umbrella does not have a hooked handle – if I had a classic umbrella with a hooked handle, things might be different. As it is, instead of an umbrella, I tend to make a dash from car to door, and hope for the best. (Usually using myself to shield any books I may have in my grasp.)  

On this particular wet day, while driving in my car, I had to stop partway to my destination, because I was sure I had a flat. Avoiding the puddle of water that nearly resembled a ditch, I parked just ahead on the side of the road to do some investigation, but due to the downpour, I rather ran to the passenger side of the car in a rush.

No flat, but I bent down, hoping I wouldn’t get too wet, to double check what looked like a screw in one of the tires. As I stood, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Standing in that puddle that I’d avoided, where literally no one had been a moment before, (not that I saw – but I was running) stood a man. A tall man.

Actually, I think tall may be an understatement, but perhaps I was just that startled. He immediately reminded me of Goliath of Gath, his light hair plastered against his forehead with the rain. He watched me, looking rather confused or surprised – I certainly couldn’t tell which one.

The rain started to drench my hat, and I glanced toward the driver side of my car.

“Where are you from?”

I jumped. His voice certainly matched giant stature. “I’m sorry?”

He shook his head, gesturing toward me. Or, more specifically, my dress. “What time are you from?”

“Time?” I know I stared. It may be rude to stare at a stranger, but I couldn’t help it. “I’m sorry. I have no idea what you’re talking about.” I took a step back toward my car, starting to shiver.

“It doesn’t matter.”

A crash of thunder made me jump and look up. When I looked back toward my confusing giant, he’d disappeared. Where he went is beyond me.

The rain started down faster with another crash of thunder, and I took the opportunity to bolt for my car. As I started to fasten my seatbelt, I looked down at my dress again, now mostly drenched by the rain. It’s my 1920’s dress. April’s missing Hugh is from… the 1920’s. And he… Did I really just talk to the man and utterly not realize it until it’s too late? I grabbed my phone. I better message April and let her know.

I haven’t seen him since, but maybe someone else has. Denise, perhaps? You could go check with her.