Cover art by Richard Stroud
Heartbroken art student Charlotte Ross, intent on locating her errant fiancé, follows him to Bariloche, Argentina. But her fiancé has his own reasons for being in Bariloche which complicate Charlotte’s life and threaten her very existence, as she quickly stumbles into a downward spiral of deceit, art forgery, and murder.
“Me? You go. I’ll watch the luggage.”
Tony shook his head. Finally, he shrugged.
“We’ll both go.”
As they neared the corner, one of the wheels on Charlotte’s luggage got stuck in the crack of an abutment between the sidewalk and the street. She tugged at it, to no avail. She gave a last hard pull and it came free, but she slipped on the wet pavement and found herself spread eagle in the middle of a deep puddle of water. A sharp pain shot through her back.
Tony squatted down beside her.
“Nasty fall. Break anything?”
“No, but I’m soaking wet, worse than before.”
As she carefully sat up, a rusted, green army Jeep squealed to a stop at the curb and Charlotte saw a pair of heavy black boots approaching. She looked up to see a young man, wearing a green poncho over a blue police uniform. Immediately, her mind recalled the horror stories of military police arresting foreign visitors for ridiculous reasons. Visions of rat infested prison cells and cattle prods passed before her eyes as she waited for him to whip out the handcuffs.
She struggled to her feet and shuddered as she stared at his thick eyebrows, mean mouth, rapacious jaw line, and piercing black eyes. The officer rattled off what seemed to be questions in rapid Spanish. It had been too many years since her high school Spanish class and her phrase book was in one of her suitcases. When neither of them responded to his questions, he sighed and began speaking in heavily accented English.
“You are in need of assistance?”
Charlotte nodded. She gave him a weak smile as she noticed his eyes scanning her and the clothes that clung seductively to her slender figure.
“You are here to dance for the discos, no?”
Tony stepped forward and spoke slowly and deliberately, as if speaking to a child.
“We’re not here to dance. We’re trying to get to Ty Champion’s house, for art classes. Perhaps you could help us get a taxi, so we could get out of this rain.”
“Americanos,” the officer muttered. “Get in.”