Archive for November 4th, 2013


For the remainder of 2013, my posts will be from Layla Daltry’s perspective.  She’s the hero of The Compass Master, a daring antiquities hunter, and while on the trail of a rare, precious artifact is living undercover in Denver as Helena Soister…

When I walked into the Art Institute of Chicago, there was a knife in my boot, a stiletto up my sleeve, and the hatpin in my elegant black hat was tipped with poison.

I wasn’t taking any chances.

The moment I had read the professor’s note that told me the rendezvous point was in the museum, I knew I was in trouble.  How had those smugglers discovered that Annie and I planned a visit to it this afternoon?  Had they discovered my blog? I really should be careful about what I posted.

“Tell me again why you know where to go,” Annie said as we walked past hordes of tourists and up the museum’s grand staircase.

“My master’s thesis that I wrote at the University of Chicago…”

“You mean that Layla Daltry wrote.”

“Hush!” I whispered.  “I’m undercover.  Anyway, the thesis was about the Book of Revelation, and there’s only one painting here that depicts the author John.  If those criminals know about me and why I’m here, that must be the rendezvous point.  So let’s split up.  Keep your distance from me, and keep an eye out.”

Moments later I saw the painting—Landscape with St. John on Patmos, by Nicholas Poussin.  I didn’t like the painting, but I liked the look of the man standing in front of it.  He was wearing an expensive dark suit and was built like an Egyptian god.

I walked over and stood beside him.  From the corner of my eyes I saw his profile.  Damn, he was handsome.

“Interesting picture,” he remarked.

“I never liked it.  I only like that it shows John writing on a scroll of vellum.  Or papyrus.  I’m interested in papyrus scrolls.”

The stranger seemed perplexed.  “Perhaps there are scrolls in another wing,” he said, and walked away.

Oh hell, the gorgeous man wasn’t my contact after all.  But maybe he’d like to have a drink in the museum’s bistro followed by an intimate conversation in a dark corner…

“Interesting painting,” growled a voice behind me.

I turned around.  I was facing a man who smelled like old cigars and looked like a mangy rottweiler.  Of course he was ugly.  Contacts in these situations were always ugly.

“I’ve got a scroll,” he said.

“I’m interested,” I said.

He made a crookedsmile.  I began to get a very bad feeling…

TO BE CONTINUED…