Eve Cole loves her small apartment in Dublin's city centre. It might come with the party people downstairs and Larry, the handsome and charming ex-con next door, but the floor to ceiling windows make it perfect for her jpb painting fake masterpieces: Renoirs, Picassos and especially Van Goghs. And she's good at it.
Maybe too good. When eleven million euro appears in her mother's bank account, it turns out that Eve's been unwittingly involved in one of the greatest art frauds in history.
Now she has to figure out a plan to get her painting back and return the money without implicating herself or her family.
Enter Larry. Even though he's turned his back on his shady past, he's the only one that might be able to help.
Will Eve get the painting back or is Larry just another fake? Eve is about to discover that in love as well as art, the trick is in knowing when it's the real deal.
“Ok,” the man strode into the premises, obviously impatient to be gone as quickly as possible, “what’s the big secret?”
John Cole flinched at the abrupt tone and wondered yet again how on earth he’d been persuaded to do this. It was madness, complete craziness. If he got caught, he’d face prison, his reputation ruined. But by the time the trial came up, he’d be long gone, he supposed. And, as Robert had pointed out to him, he could always plead ignorance and get away with it and he, Robert would take the rap. But still, John knew he’d never do that to his friend and it was his daughter that had...
“Well?” the impatient man, Harry Collins, a renowned expert, glanced at his watch with irritation, “come on John, I don’t have all night. You told me this was special.”
“It is.” John was surprised at how normal his voice sounded. “I’ll just go and fetch my friend. He has something to show you.” Knees trembling, he sauntered as confidently as he could, towards the back of the premises. “Pierre,” he called, “meet Harry Collins, the man I told you about.”
John’s best friend, Robert, gave him a nervous smile as he got to his feet. Dressed in black trousers and a dazzling white shirt, which accentuated his dark looks, he appeared more continentally European than a man born and bred in Dublin. Rolled up, under his arm, was a canvas measuring roughly twelve by eighteen inches.
John marvelled as Robert, abandoning his normally apologetic stooped manner, swaggered confidently from the back room into the blinding light of the gallery. Head up, his whole frame looked more powerful and John, hurrying behind him, wondered why Robert never adopted that persona in his real life dealings. He’d known Robert since they were two kids knocking about together on Dublin’s Southside, and having the same interests in Art and history, they’d clicked and been friends ever since. John had never realised how deep this friendship went until his life had taken this terribly unexpected tragic twist.
Robert came to a stop in front of Harry Collins and looked at John expectantly.
“This is Pierre,” John introduced Robert awkwardly, his heart beginning to thump hard. “He’s an old friend of my family,” which at least was true, he thought wryly, “and he contacted me last week about a picture he’d found in his late grandfather’s belongings.”
“Great grandpere,” Robert corrected in a pretty good French accent. “Dis bee-longed to my great grandpere.”
John nodded. “Yes.” He turned back to Harry. “Pierre’s grandfather inherited a number of pictures from his own father so technically this picture belonged to Pierre’s great grandfather. Pierre?”
Very slowly, Robert aka Pierre, unrolled the canvas. As it flapped open, revealing the sombre portrait, John had to admit that it looked great. She was an amazing little painter, he thought in admiration, pride filling him up. He glanced quickly upward, tearing his eyes away from the picture and realised, with a quickening of his heart, that Harry wasn’t in such a hurry now.
Harry had paled. He moved nearer the picture and reached a finger out and touched it. “Is this what I think it is?” he breathed, his voice hushed.
John nodded. “Eighty percent certain,” he swallowed hard.
“It iz,” Robert nodded vigorously. “I can guarantee it.”
As Harry poured over the painting, Robert managed to wink at John, who scowled hard at him.
It had taken two years to get to this point and from right now, they couldn’t back out.