Seth Crossman is a minister, speaker, and writer who lives in Upstate New York. His own adventures have taken him across the globe and stirred his desire to write fast-paced, provocative thrillers that keep readers turning the page. He has three boys that he wants to inspire with a sense of adventure and courage to overcome whatever obstacles get in their way.
As they were leaving the room, Giovanna Rossi caught up to them.
“Signor Ricolini! I need to see your paintings.” Giovanna was holding up what looked like a purse, but Will spotted a custom head band with a magnifying glass and ultra violet light sticking out of it.
“Why, may I ask?” Mr. Ricolini frowned.
“I’m the last check before the paintings leave the building. You didn’t think I came tonight to buy a painting, did you? No. The museum hired me as a courtesy to the buyers. I make sure each painting is authentic at the point of departure. The museum has a reputation to uphold.”
Behind them another buyer had come to pick up his paintings.
Piero gave her a pained look. “Of course, of course. It will only take a minute, won’t it?”
She smiled. “Two minutes. Unless I find something. You can take them right over to the door if it makes you feel better.”
Will watched her begin her inspection. She flipped on her ultra violet light and looked closely at each painting. “Are you staring at me or the painting,” she asked Will with a grin.
Will turned away quickly just as Piero’s guards came in the delivery entrance. When Giovanna was done with her inspection, they wrapped up the paintings and placed them on specially constructed dollies. Then they wheeled them out the open back door.
“Signor Ricolini, you are all set,” Giovanna said. “Just sign here and you are on your way.”
Will walked out the door, still on alert. So far the evening had been quite tame. He didn’t really expect the thieves to strike at the museum, but he also knew that being prepared saved the day.
This is why he was the first to hear the sound of an engine roar as it changed gears. A black Mercedes van barreled down the narrow alleyway and skidded to a stop right in front of their van. Four men in black tactical gear jumped out of the van with semi-automatic rifles in their hands. They immediately pointed them at Piero’s guards.
“Get back! Hands in the air!” One shouted in German, which Will understood, and then switched to Italian and said the same thing. Two of the guards raised their hands and started backing slowly away from the van and the paintings. Inside the van, hidden from view, Vitto pulled his gun and edged to the end of the van.
Will ducked back inside the doorway and pulled out his Glock. “Get down, sir!” he said to Piero. Will stepped protectively in front of Giovanna, using his body to block her from sight.
Fear lit Giovanna’s face but Torrence had his hands on her and guided her away from the door before turning back for Piero. He was already on the phone alerting the police.
Just then, one of the gunmen reached the edge of the van and Vitto fired. He missed. The gunman stumbled back in surprise but then fired a volley into the open door of Piero’s van.
“Be careful of the paintings!” one of the attackers shouted in German.
“Don’t let them get the paintings!” growled Piero to Will.
Will raised his gun and fired. The closest of the attackers crashed to the pavement. The other gunmen, seeing a new threat, let loose a volley at the doorway. The bullets rocketed off the metal doorway and sent them scrambling for cover.
Will peeked around the corner and saw the paintings being grabbed while another volley ricochetted off the door. He was pinned down. He fired wildly through the door in the direction of the assailant.
Vitto must have thought he was a hero, for he stepped out from behind cover and took a wide stance and just started firing from his gun at the attackers. Maybe he thought the attackers were using plastic bullets. Will knew they weren’t. He didn’t know what had changed, but something had. These were live rounds.
A split second later, a bullet took Vitto in the chest and he went down, clutching at his neck.
And then it was over. They heard the black Mercedes van squealing as it pulled away.
Will turned and froze. To his horror, he saw that Piero had been hit in the chest. His eyes rolled back in his head. Giovanna had her hand over her mouth in shock. Torrence was trying to staunch the flow of blood, but his face was pale and said what they fearing.
Piero was gone.
Will jumped out and checked the bodyguards. Frank was going to be fine. His vest had taken a few bullets, but he was going to survive. Vitto and another guard were dead. Will looked in the back of the truck, his heart racing at the horrible turn of events.
The paintings were gone.