Chapter Excerpt: The Devil’s Triangle by Catherine Coulter
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Kitsune stood on the Rialto Bridge and watched the sun flash against the waves of the lagoon. She enjoyed the early mornings in Venice, before the summer crowds flooded into the city. She watched pigeons peck the ground for yesterday’s crumbs, watched a row of tethered gondolas bob in the heavy sea swell. There would be a storm soon—she tasted it in the air. She looked at her watch. It was time to go. Her client had instructed her to take a water taxi to the San Zaccaria dock, then walk to the house.
She should have been on her way before now, but she’d waited there on the bridge to see who was following her. Even though she hadn’t seen anyone yet, she’d felt eyes on her, felt them since her plane had landed an hour earlier. At the airport’s dock she’d caught a glimpse of one of them: a man—dark sunglasses, a slouchy work jacket. There were probably others, but where were they? She hated being in the open like this—a target—and the large tube in her hand a target as well. She still didn’t see anyone.
She bent down to adjust the strap of her sandal. From the corner of her eye she saw him. She was sure it was the same man she’d seen at the Marco Polo airport, still wearing sunglasses and a jacket. He wasn’t very good at this job, since she’d spotted him, standing in the alley to the left of the Hotel Danieli, chewing on a toothpick like he didn’t have a care in the world. But where were the others? She knew she hadn’t been followed to Venice, she was sure of that, so why now? For some reason, her client didn’t trust her. She felt a lick of anger. It was an insult to her reputation. Or perhaps someone knew what was inside the large tube and wanted it?
Ah, there he was, the second man, hovering near the dock, a cap pulled low on his head, wearing wrinkled jeans and scuffed boots. Both men were in their thirties, muscled, garbed in everyday working clothes, and thugs. She saw no one else. Only two of them? Another insult. One was tall, the other short. Mutt and Jeff. She took note of the small sign above Mr. Short’s head—Calle de la Rasse.
Kitsune head learned the complicated layout of the Venetian streets, an integral part of her reparation, since she could run much faster than she could swim.
She checked the men out again. Both cocky, sure of themselves, but she could take them. Easily.
Not yet, though. The time wasn’t right.
Their presence bothered her. Why the sudden distrust from her client? Her reputation was built on absolute discretion, always delivering what was commissioned and never asking questions. She had no false modesty. She could steal anything, anywhere—even the Koh-i-Noor diamond, that magnificent bloody stone that had nearly gotten her killed. A pity she’d had to give it up.
This client was paying her a small fortune, and half of it, five million euros, was already deposited in four different accounts in four different banks, as was her custom. She would receive the other five million upon delivery. All of it was straightforward; so why the two thugs following her?
Kitsune had been a thief for too long to ignore the prickle of unease that went down her neck. The tube was heavy, and she hugged it closer.