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The Stolen Masterpiece
By Nora Agostini
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Nora Agostini
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTHE STOLEN MASTERPIECE
As the thunderous August rainstorm subsided, Tony Pacelli hails a cab outside of his Manhattan apartment to attend his retirement dinner from the NYC police department, at La Fortuna Restaurant in Greenwich Village. He has just completed his 21st year on the police force. As this tall slender man with sandy blonde hair and sad blue eyes enters the Italian bistro, many memories flood his mind.
Shortly after his graduation from John Jay College, Tony remembers receiving his acceptance to the NYC police department. Coming from a family of police officers he recalls that letter which brought his memory back to his father who lost his life protecting a woman during a domestic dispute. While Tony cherishes the thought of his father as a hero, his mind constantly questions his own courage.
He needs to overcome his fear of not being able to protect the public, against his desire to possess the strong emotion of altruism. Besides these conflicts, he carries a deeper secret, his fear of dying on the job like his father.
Accepting his police assignments his life goes along like a tidal wave. He climbs the ranks to detective during his twenty years on the police force through community service and written tests. On the tenth year on the force, Tony is feeling confident; it's this same year that he meets Maria Simone. He can't believe his luck when his heart flips for this 27 year old woman with light brown hair and glistening green eyes, a newly appointed assistant D.A.
Maria's love makes him strong. He begins to relax more with his police work. As a mature thirty-two year old man, he feels complete love, and is ready for a commitment. Maria and Tony enjoy each other's company; mostly they just always want to be together. Unfortunately, the following year comes upon them as a huge black cloud. Maria is continually feeling fatigued, so she goes to the doctor. The physician tests her to the maximum with laboratory tests. Finally, she's diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. That year she endures months of chemotherapy and ultimately receives a bone marrow transplant. Although all methods of treatments are exhausted, Maria succumbs to the disease and dies. Tony's heart sinks to the deepest abyss of darkness. He feels like a cement wall has fallen on his chest. To keep his sanity he devotes his next nine years exclusively to the service of the police department.
Tony is grateful that he has finally reached the end of his police work without being embroiled in any legal situations. Mostly he just wants to enjoy the aftermath of completing satisfactorily his proud professional career.
All these thoughts crowd his mind at the conclusion of his party. He thanks his fellow officers and leaves for his home.
He calls for a taxi and returns to his apartment on 34th Street and 2nd Avenue.
Chapter TwoBefore climbing the stairs to his apartment, Tony reflects on how lonely he has been since his beloved Maria's death.
"I must make some changes," he mulls over.
He looks at the mailbox, opens it and collects a huge amount of cards and letters. Most of the mail are wishes for his retirement. As he goes to the second floor, with a huge bundle in his arms, he experiences difficulty unlocking the door. He flings his raincoat over the brown leather sofa and proceeds to drop the cascade of mail on the kitchen table. As the mail drops from the table, Tony notices an air mail letter.
"Ah!" Zia Erna, his aunt in Italy remembered his retirement. With a smile on his face, he opens the letter.
I congratulate you on your retirement; I wish you many years of happiness and adventures. (Zia had lived in the USA so her written English is pretty good).
I do have a favor to ask of you. Over the last few months we've been having a series of thefts at the hotel. Our guests have had jewelry and money stolen. Although the carabinieri have been summoned, nothing has been solved. I would be deeply grateful, if you could come to Italy and help me. Con affetto, Zia Erna
With a tear in his eyes, he remembers how Zia Erna helped him during his large sorrow from Maria's death. He spent a month at her hotel during his deep seated grief. Tony's mind visualizes his kind sixty-year old aunt, although petite in stature, at only five feet two inches, she possesses the courage of a David. He sweetly grins, as he recalls how each morning in Italy, Zia would swiftly spin her silvery wheat colored hair into a bee hive at the back of her head. Mostly, he cherishes her clear hazel eyes which reflect a serenity that could calm the eye of any storm. How could he refuse Zia! He picks up the phone and calls his mother, Zia Erna's older sister.
"Hi! Mom, I just received a letter from Zia Erna".
He proceeds to explain the contents of the letter. She agrees that Tony should travel to Italy to help his aunt.
The next day he arranges his trip to Northern Italy.
Chapter ThreeTony calls his aunt in Italy. She picks up the phone, "Pronto. Ciao Tony. I'm so glad to hear from you. Did you get my letter?"
Tony responds, "Si. I'm sorry that you are having so many problems. I'll be glad to help you with the robbery investigations."
"Good!" Zia Erna answers.
Tony continues, "I'm coming to Italy this Saturday around two o'clock in the afternoon."
Zia asks if he needs to be picked up at the airport. "No, grazie, there's no need as I'm renting a car at the Marco Polo Venice airport. Ciao Zia. See you Saturday."
Zia puts down the phone, takes off her apron, changes into her walking shoes and crosses the street to her hotel.
It's early afternoon, the guests are finishing their lunch. The staff's scurrying around clearing the dining room tables.
Zia Erna enters the manager's office. Marco Zini, the hotel manager of the II Bel Fior Hotel, jumps up to greet his aunt.
This tall slim forty-year old man stands rigidly in his usual dark suit and tie. He spends most of his day in his office organizing future trips for new and previous clients. His light brown eyes wander around his office before he continues to speak with his aunt. "Zia, can I assist you?"
"Si, I just came over to tell you that Tony is coming this Saturday."
"No." Zia replies. "I asked him to come to help us with the investigation of these hotel thefts."
Marco's brother Mirro looks over at Zia. Overhearing something about Tony, he comes quickly running over to their side.
Mirro is the maître di of the hotel. He is in his forties, medium built, with searching brown eyes and quick feet. As he enters a room he always seems ready to perform.
He is well liked by the hotel guests because he enjoys joking with the vacationers. Also, he rejoices in staying up late with the customers for late night drinking and card playing. He can since he is the only unmarried hotel working brother.
But rumors are murmuring at the hotel that he has gambling problems.
Seeing Mirro go over to Zia, the two other brothers come out of the kitchen. They are the hotel chefs with many years of culinary experience. Mario, the oldest brother, is tall and handsome with a bronze complexion and curly brown hair; he resembles a model posing for a sculpture at a Florentine studio. He speaks very little but when he does his brothers listen.
The youngest brother Gianni is in his thirties. He is the tallest one, around six foot three. His fair complexion and his smiling clear blue eyes gleam whenever he receives his prizes as a renowned pastry genius.
They stand there listening to Marco as he discusses excitedly about the thievery that has occurred at the hotel.
Mirro stares at Zia and exclaims in a high pitched tone,
"Why did you bother Tony? We can handle the theft problems ourselves with the insurance company."
Zia responds in a soft tone, "I think we need Tony's experience since he has been a detective on the New York City police force for over twenty years."
Please set aside a room for Tony this Saturday, Zia advises gently.
She leaves and goes into the corridor looking for Angelica. Zia sees a tall slender woman in her thirties, with brown hair and serious brown eyes, who is coming out of one of the rooms.
Zia calls to her, "Angelica."
This young lady locks the door and walks quickly over to her aunt.
"Buon giorno! Angelica. I've come to tell you that Tony is arriving here, on Saturday."
Angelica smiles broadly as she admires Tony.
"Good. I'll get his room ready."
Zia hugs and thanks her. Angelica is the one who is in charge of the rooms. She's a quiet person but takes optimum care of the hotel guests.
Zia appreciates all her nephews' and her niece's help, as she has no children. They are the ones who kept the hotel going after the death of her husband Beppi, four years ago. Her husband Beppi was their uncle, only through Zia's marriage. They are the children of Zia Erna's brother.
The aunt leaves to water the hanging crimson red ivy geraniums that surround the upper balcony of her chalet hotel. This structure has a grandiose background of the majestic Italian Alps, in particular the Paganella.
This mountain is the most colorful in the Italian Alps. In the summer, the Paganella Mountain glistens with tiny spots of yellow, lavender and royal blue bell flowers sticking their heads out of the mountain's wet snow. The most treasured flower which nestles on the side of the Alpine mountains is the velvet shiny ones. This flower's white pointy velour textured petals surround its puffy yellow tinged center. It appears like it has been kissed by the sun. To the Italians it is known as the Stella Alpina, while to the Austrians it is called the Edelweiss. This is one of the reasons that the vacationers flock to this region.
In the hotel, Marco takes his three brothers and his sister Angelica back to his office to talk with them. The first to speak is Mirro. He doesn't want to listen to anyone.
He babbles in a fiery tone, "That meddling old lady. Tony has no right to know our hotel business."
"Merda!" He starts cursing. With a wave of his hand he begins to leave.
Angelica critically reprimands him. "Be quiet Mirro. Maybe Tony can help us." Mirro shakes his hand and points his middle finger demonstratively to the group. They all disperse to go about their hotel duties.
Chapter FourFriday arrives. Tony makes quite a presence. His tall lean stature and his soft smiling Roman face frames a person who makes strangers feel comfortable. He packs his suitcase and his backpack; he is ready for his trip to Italy. He calls his mother to set up arrangements with her to oversee his apartment and to collect his mail.
"Hi Mom! Just calling to ask you to look in on my apartment, while I'm in Italy."
"Of course, Tony. Take all the time you need."
"I took care of all my bills," Tony tells her.
"Ciao. Have a good end of the summer, and thank you! Thanks for helping my sister. Have a safe trip," his mother responds.
Tony puts down the phone.
He picks up his suitcase and jacket, and gets ready to leave for his trip. He calls the taxi service for a 5:00 pm pickup to take him to New York City's JF Kennedy Airport. The taxi arrives on time to take him immediately to the airport. Arriving at the airport Tony proceeds to get his boarding pass. Happily, he has a half hour to relax before boarding his flight.
As the time approaches he climbs into the 747 international jet plane; the pilot announces that the trip to Venice, Italy will take approximately eight hours. He finds his seat and gets himself comfortable. The meal is served at the beginning of the flight, which makes Tony happy. After finishing his meal with a glass of red wine, he curls up and puts himself in a harmonious position where he falls asleep for five hours.
When he wakes up the flight attendants are preparing the passengers for a light breakfast. The plane lands on time, Saturday 9:30 am. Tony collects his luggage and proceeds to Avis to pick up his rental car.
Unfortunately, they do not have an automatic car available, so they give him a semi-automatic one. Tony agrees.
He enters the vehicle and attempts to start it. It bucks and stalls out. Tony waves to the attendant. The young man rushes over and instructs Tony on how to work the gears to facilitate his driving. Quickly, Tony grasps the instructions.
Tony is on his way for his three hour trip to the Val'D'Adige region in northern Italy. Procuring some bottles of water and a prosciutto panino, he commences his trip on the autostrada to his aunt's hotel, II Bel Fior.
Chapter FiveA little after one p.m. he arrives at the front door of the hotel. The hotel is alive with the sound of dishes and the chatter of the guests.
Angelica notices Tony right away. She swiftly runs to the door to greet him. With a strong embrace she welcomes him. Marco, the manager, greets Tony politely and assists him to his room on the second floor. Tony puts his bags on the floor of his room. Then he decides to shower and change his clothes before going to his aunt's house. Finally, he looks into his knapsack and pulls out Estee Lauder's White Linen eau de toilette. He bought it at the airport especially for her, as it is her favorite fragrance.
Feeling refreshed, he descends down the back of the hotel and crosses the street to his aunt's house. There he presents her with his gift.
In the comfort of Zia's kitchen, Tony sits for over two hours simply enjoying Zia's homemade gnocchi, veal cutlets and a plentiful garden salad. After finishing his meal, with a frothy cappuccino in his hand, he relaxes into a comfortable discourse with his aunt regarding the hotel thefts. He tells her that he will get a better view of the problems in the next coming days.
As the evening approaches, Tony decides to take a short walk around the center of the town. He notices that the cafes and restaurants are crowded and busy with many vacationers. Feeling tired he calls it a day. He returns to the hotel, climbs up to the second floor, making a mental note to get up early the next day to meet the guests at the hotel.
Chapter SixTony sets his alarm for 6:30 am the next morning. He plans to meet all the guests at the hotel. The shrills of the alarm clock wakes Tony immediately. He showers, puts on his blue Izod sport shirt and his khaki long pants and walks down to the breakfast area.
Seeing Angelica briskly serving the early guests their coffee, Tony calls to his cousin,
"Ciao Bella!" She smiles and tells him to help himself to some panini and coffee. Angelica has set out on a long table in the foyer, an assortment of rolls, fresh fruits and yogurts. The guests can go to the table to choose their own foods. Angelica places a carafe of hot coffee, warm milk, butter and jams at each table prepared for four.
All of a sudden, like the wind blowing from the front door, in comes a long-legged, lovely twenty-year old woman. She has hair of golden honey color and her presence startles the room with her sparkling azure eyes.
She goes to Angelica. "Scusa, I overslept." She grabs a hotel apron and immediately starts to arrange the tables for the new guests who are arriving for breakfast.
Angelica calls to her. "Come, I want you to meet Tony, my cousin from New York."
"Tony, this is Mirella, a student from the University of Trento. She is working at the hotel for the summer months."
Mirella charmingly smiles at Tony.
"It's a great pleasure." She exclaims.
Since she is studying English at the University of Trento, this is a great opportunity for her to use the language.
Tony reflects that she is quite a vision to behold.
With a strong thrust of the door, in comes Mirro, the jovial maitre d'. He screens the room. First he compliments the ladies, and then he jokes with the children. All of a sudden his face blushes seeing the waitress, Mirella.
Moving to her side, he greets her, "Ciao carina!"
She tilts her head, flashing him a coy smile.
Tony enters the dining room and waves to his cousin, Mirro.
Tony observes all the guests in the dining room. He goes to speak to an older couple seated in the corner of the room. "What healthy looking octogenarians!" Tony assesses. He takes his coffee to their table and introduces himself.
"Buon giorno!" He speaks to them in Italian. "Io sono Tony Pacelli di New York."
The older gentleman extends his hand to Tony. "Piacere. Io sono Paolo Montagni e questa e la mia moglie, Maria."
The husband informs Tony that he is a retired plumber from Milan. His wife states that for these past ten years they have been vacationing in the Trentino region because of its beautiful mountains and delicious cuisine.
Excerpted from The Stolen Masterpiece by Nora Agostini Copyright © 2012 by Nora Agostini. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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