Book 6 in the Treasure Hunters Series
- Purchase the E-Book Instantly
- Receive Download Link via Email
- Send to Preferred E-Reader and Enjoy!
Trapped in a treacherous do-or-die contract that threatens the lives of everyone he knows, Archer is determined to settle the score. But, forced to scuba dive in shark-infested waters, Archer finds a deadly secret that was never part of the deal.
Treasured Tears is book 6 in the complete Treasure Hunters Series. ❤️Buy the full series in a book bundle to save $$$, and receive a bonus prequel for FREE
⭐ Quest for answers⭐Evil nemises ⭐Race against time ⭐Hidden secrets ⭐Broken hero ⭐Tragic childhood ⭐ Kick-ass heroine
- Broken Alpha Hero
- Treasure Hunt danger
- Race against time
Will Archer’s quest to right a terrible wrong tear him and Rosalina apart forever?
Trapped in a treacherous do-or-die contract that threatens the lives of everyone he knows, Archer is determined to settle the score. But, forced to scuba dive in shark-infested waters, Archer and Jimmy find a deadly secret that was never part of the deal.
As the days tick down to the birth of their child, and Rosalina’s fiancé is missing half way around the world, she questions why they wanted to bring a newborn into their tumultuous lifestyle. And when a deadly nemesis crashes into their lives yet again, it seems not everyone will survive this time.
Could this tear Archer and Rosalina apart forever?
Treasured Tears is book six in the romantic suspense Treasure Hunters series, full of drama, danger, and passion. Get ready for new twists and turns in the glorious settings of Tuscany and the Caribbean Islands.
Intro to Chapter One
Intro to Chapter One
Watching Nonna make pasta had always been one of Rosalina’s favorite pastimes. Not today, though. Not when she hadn’t heard from Archer since yesterday morning. He’d promised to call her every day, and for ten days, he’d kept his promise.
And she couldn’t take her mind off why he hadn’t.
While Nonna showed Ginger how to make pasta for one of Nonna’s specialties, pasta carbonara, Rosalina’s mind flitted from one reason to another.
Nearly every one of them was horrifying.
Ginger giggled, and it was so far from the gloom tangling Rosalina’s thoughts into knots that she shifted her focus to Alessandro. He’d been tapping away on his laptop since they’d joined Nonna in the kitchen.
Almost from the day they’d returned from Rio, he’d been searching for the owners of the artwork they’d salvaged from the Amazon. But so far, he’d had no luck. Which wasn’t surprising. The artwork had been stolen over eighty years ago. Tracking down the owner, or a direct relative, was always going to be difficult. Lucky for them, Alessandro loved a challenge.
“Look. Look.” Ginger beamed. “I’m doing it.” Ginger turned the handle on the pasta machine, gradually thinning the pasta sheet.
Alessandro glanced up from his keyboard, beaming a spectacular grin. It was so nice to see them happy. Alessandro had been torn to shreds with worry when the Brazilians had kidnapped Ginger in the Amazon. The pair of them had barely left each other’s side since they reunited.
“No. No.” Nonna smacked the back of Ginger’s hand. “You no’ do it correct.”
Holding up a sheet of pasta pockmarked with holes, Ginger giggled and stepped back from the pasta machine.
“Oops. Sorry.” Her expression was a mixture of annoyance and cheekiness. “It’s so hard. Each time I think I’ve got it; I mess it up.”
“Don’t be too hard on yourself, mia bella. Nonna makes it look easy.” Alessandro winked at Ginger.
“It no’ hard.” Nonna’s arthritic fingers kneaded Ginger’s mangled dough into a ball, and she patted it like it was a baby’s bottom. “I show you one more time.”
Ginger bulged her eyes at Nonna and sucked her lips into her mouth with a mischievous grin.
Rosalina had been in Ginger’s exact position many times. While Nonna may seem to be angry, she was secretly loving it. Rosalina had spent hundreds of hours in this kitchen, trying to learn every cooking technique Nonna knew. Those memories were priceless.
Rosalina had given up asking Nonna to write down her recipes. But now she looked forward to teaching her children the meals she made with love.
While the other three sipped Chianti that Alessandro had poured from the dusty bottle he’d chosen from the wine cellar below them, Rosalina sipped green tea.
Since she’d learned she was pregnant, she missed drinking wine with everyone.
She missed a lot of things . . . being able to sleep through the night without needing to pee . . . being able to stand for long periods without backache . . . her favorite jeans.
But none of that was even close to how much she missed Archer.
She ran her hand over her belly.
Will he make it home for our baby’s birth?
In about four weeks, they would become parents. It scared the hell out of her.
Archer had promised he wouldn’t miss the birth of their first child.
But it was a promise he should never have made.
Not when he was at the mercy of a ruthless Brazilian drug dealer.
She tried to reason that he was out of satellite range or that he was busy bringing up the stupid drugs from the bottom of the ocean. But other more sinister reasons lurked in her mind.
He and Jimmy were tied up and being tortured.
They’d tried to escape and were wounded. Or murdered.
Or a repeat of what had happened to Archer’s father all those years ago . . . a shark had attacked him.
Ever since she’d looked into Rodrigo’s soulless eyes when he’d held a gun to Archer’s temple, her thoughts had maintained a pessimistic tone.
It wasn’t like her.
Rosalina was usually optimistic and always looking for the positive spin in everything. It wasn’t too often there wasn’t one.
Her baby shifted in her stomach, pushing against her bladder. Unable to get comfortable, Rosalina stood, and after moving backward, she leaned against the fireplace that hadn’t been used in over a century.
Nonna raised her pale blue eyes to her. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, Nonna. Just the baby giving me a hard time.”
She waved her hand as if shooing away Rosalina’s comment. “He no’ give you hard time. He showing you how strong he is.”
Rosalina huffed. “If he’s anything like his father, he’ll be as strong as an ox.”
“Or she.” Ginger giggled.
“Yes, or she.” Rosalina missed having that banter with Archer too. Their little guessing game had been going since they’d learned they were pregnant.
We don’t even have a name for our baby.
After three days of rain, it was a glorious day outside. She turned to the windowsill where sunshine streamed in, highlighting the green leaves of the potted herbs on the sill. It was the same collection of herbs that she’d grown in pots on Evangeline’s rooftop kitchen. Basil, coriander, chives, rosemary, parsley.
She tutted. I didn’t even think to ask Archer to water them.
They’d probably be dead by now.
A knock sounded at the door. “I’ll get it.” Rosalina pushed off from the wall.
“Oh, that will be Andre.” Nonna glanced at the oven clock and scowled. “Tell him he be late.”
Shaking her head, Rosalina headed to the back door. Regular visitors to Villa Pandolfini knew to use the back door, which was closer to Nonna’s kitchen, rather than the more grandiose front entrance that was barely ever used.
Expecting to see Nonna’s favorite grocer loaded up with a box full of fresh fruit and vegetables, Rosalina smiled as she pulled the door open.
Two police officers stood there, their faces stoic, Rosalina’s smile evaporated.
Her thoughts catapulted to Archer. Bile twisted in her stomach. “Oh God, is it Archer? Is he okay?”
“Hello, Miss Calucci—is that correct?”
The fact that they knew who she was made it worse. She clutched the doorknob, fearful her trembling knees would topple her to the floor. “Tell me! What’s happened?”
The younger of the two men reached for her arm. “Are you okay?”
“No!” she blurted. “Is it Archer? Is he okay?”
He shook his head. “Signora, per favore, we are here about Massimo Montpellier.”
A gasp left her throat. Massimo was the last person on her mind. “Massimo? What? Why?”
The other man ran his hand over his gray chin stubble. “May we come in?”
“Oh, sì, of course.” She stepped back and indicated toward the kitchen.
They shuffled inside, but motioned for her to lead the way.
Her mind spun like a roulette wheel as she forced her legs to walk toward the others.
“Hey everyone,” Rosalina interrupted Nonna, instructing Ginger on the speed to turn the machine handle. “It’s la polizia.” She met Ginger’s troubled gaze. “They’re here about Massimo.”
Gasping, Ginger stepped back. “Massimo? What about him?” Wiping her hands over her hair, she left a floury streak from her temple to the crown of her head.
The uniformed officers stepped into the tiny room, making the cramped space even more so.
“Ciao. I am Sergeant Roberto Giovanni, and my colleague is Sergeant Henri Piccolo. We’d like to ask you some questions about Massimo Montpellier. We understand you all know him. Is that correct?”
“Bastardo!” Nonna slapped her hands together, dispersing a cloud of flour over the table.
Henri half huffed, half chuckled. “I think many would agree with you, Mrs. Calucci.”
“Nonna. You call me Nonna.” Her grandmother’s confidence always escalated in tense situations.
I wish I’d inherited that trait. Instead, Rosalina became worse in moments of stress.
But I never used to be like that.
Is it because I’m about to be a mom?
It was an impossible question. Attempting to slap her unruly thoughts into line, she pulled out a chair and sat facing Nonna.
“You must sit.” Nonna pointed to two seats tucked at the end of the table. Nearly the entire length of the ancient wood was covered in flour and bits of pastry, yet the men seemed unperturbed as they followed Nonna’s instructions.
Alessandro stood, offering his hand. “Ciao, I am Alessandro Marchello.” He indicated to Ginger. “And this is my girlfriend, Ginger McKee.”
The men nodded at Ginger, but didn’t offer any hint that they knew of Ginger’s previous relationship with Massimo.
Would she tell them? Probably not.
If Rosalina was in Ginger’s position, she wouldn’t want to reveal that either. Not yet anyway. Best to listen to why they were there first.
“I don’t know how we can help you.” Cupping her baby belly, Rosalina opened the conversation.
As Roberto tugged a notebook from his top pocket and flicked over the pages, everyone else watched him in silence. This kitchen only ever did silence in the middle of the night. Even then, it wasn’t strange for someone to be rummaging through the fridge for a midnight snack.
Roberto pulled a pair of spectacles down from his head and cleared his throat. “My understanding is that you four, along with Archer Mahoney and James Hamilton, were all in a . . . situation . . . in Brazil, in which Massimo’s mother, Audrey Montpellier, was murdered. Is that correct?”
Oh, jeez! His abruptness was shocking.
Between the four of them, nobody answered, and fearing it made them all look guilty, Rosalina opened her hands and nodded. “That’s correct. I hope you are here to tell us you have arrested him.”
Roberto and Henri glanced at each other, then Henri shifted in his seat to look more squarely at Rosalina. “We intend to arrest him.” He ran his fingers over his bushy mustache. “When we find him, that is.” He pulled a pen from his top pocket. “At this stage, however, he remains at large.”
“You’ll never find him.” Ginger tugged out a chair and flopped onto it like the adrenalin holding her upright had evaporated.
Roberto peered over his glasses at Ginger. “Why do you say that?”
“It is obvious, no?” Nonna glared at them, shaking her head. “He is bastardo.” She slapped the dough on the table and pushed the rolling pin through the mound like she was punishing it. “He nearly kill us, you know?”
“Yes, we are aware of that. He is also wanted for the murder of Hector Ivashov, in Egypt.” Roberto lowered his gaze to his notepad. “It seems you were all there when that happened too.”
Nonna banged the rolling pin on the table. Rosalina jumped.
A silence fell on the room and its weight seemed to crush her with guilt.
“Sì. We were there.” Alessandro closed the lid of his computer. “We were just lucky that he didn’t steal Prince Amenbemenhat’s treasures from us too.”
Roberto flicked over the page of his notebook, and noticing a page covered in a messy scrawl, Rosalina wished she could read what he wrote there.
Alessandro, Ginger, and Rosalina all knew who had killed Hector . . . Ginger, and not Massimo, as the news had proclaimed.
Oh, God! Was Ginger about to be arrested for Hector’s murder?
Rosalina’s heart thundered so loud she was certain the police officers could hear it.
“Ginger.” Henri peered directly at Ginger, and her pale skin flushed to a ghostly hue.
“Yes?” As she twisted her fingers, the lights above made the dark bags under Henri’s eyes look even bigger.
“You didn’t answer my question.” Henri flicked his pen from side to side, tapping it on the table. “Why did you say we will never find Massimo?”
Squeezing her braid over her shoulder, she cleared her throat and shrugged. “I don’t exactly know for sure. But he has money. Lots of it. If he wanted to disappear, he could. He owns properties all over the world. And he has his own helicopter and private jet.” She paused, and when her eyes darted from Alessandro to the police officers, Rosalina feared Ginger thought she’d said too much.
“You seem to know a lot about him,” Roberto said.
It wasn’t a question, and thankfully, Ginger didn’t reply.
Henri’s pen tapping continued. “Where do you think he would go?”
Shifting her gaze skyward as if contemplating his question, Ginger’s expression twisted. “I honestly don’t know. He could go anywhere in the world. But the best thing to do would be to follow the treasure. He’d never part with that.”
Frowning, both police officers eased forward.
Cocking his head, Henri stopped the pen tapping. “What treasure?”
Ginger snapped her hand over her mouth. Her eyes widened.
Rosalina plucked a blob of pasta dough off the table and rolled it between her fingers. Her mind flitted to the comment Archer had made about Massimo a few weeks ago. Massimo was a true collector. He would never give up his treasure.
That would be his undoing.
Hoping that Archer would approve, Rosalina said, “Massimo took the treasure he’d stolen from us away from Château de la Ravir, the castle he lives in near Monaco.” She squished the dough between her thumb and finger. “He moved most of it in a hurry. So, it’s possible the treasures have been stored somewhere very close to the chateau.”
“He’ll come back for the rest. Trust me. It’s the only thing he cared about.” Ginger flicked flour off the back of her hand. “If you want to find him, find that treasure. That’s how you’ll catch him.”
Roberto squinted at Ginger. “How much treasure is it?”
“Hundreds of pieces, worth millions and millions of dollars.” Ginger clenched her jaw.
Rosalina kept her jaw from dropping. She’d thought Ginger would keep her knowledge of Massimo to a minimum.
“Can you be more specific about what he had?” Roberto nudged his glasses up his nose and readied the pen in his hand.
Ginger ran her finger over the ugly, raised scar on her forearm. “Is a Fabergé Egg specific enough?”
Roberto’s face dropped. “Are you serious?”
“I saw it with my own eyes.” Ginger dusted flour off her hands onto the table. “It was a golden cherub pulling a chariot with a tiny gold egg inside.” She held her thumb and finger about two inches apart.
“The egg was decorated with diamonds and sapphires.” Ginger lowered her eyes and a flush of red colored her neck. Maybe she pictured that moment with Massimo, where he’d shown her a priceless piece of history that’d been missing for centuries. “Massimo told me there was a miniature clock inside the egg.”
Henri whistled. “Where did he find that? I wonder?”
Alessandro grunted like he was going to be sick. “He doesn’t find treasure like we do. He steals it.”
“That’s true.” Ginger reached for Alessandro’s hand. “Massimo has a collection that was stolen by the Nazis. But I don’t know how he got those.”
“You must get them back.” Nonna pointed at the police officer with her rolling pin. “It bad enough that the Nazis stole that art. Massimo, he is bastardo . . . he no’ deserve anything.”
Henri tapped the pen on his chin. “But we searched his Château.” A frown rippled his brow. “We didn’t find treasure.”
“You no’ listen.” Nonna tapped her forehead. “He took it all away. They no’ at his place anymore.”
Rosalina stifled a giggle. Nonna wasn’t scared of anyone.
“Nonna’s correct.” Ginger cleared her throat. “But Massimo had a secret room in the chateau where he kept his treasures. You would never have found that room.”
“Really?” Henri cocked his head. “When we get another warrant, could you show us where?”
Rosalina offered what she hoped was a heartfelt smile to Ginger. The poor girl was never going to get rid of Massimo.
A moan tumbled from Ginger’s throat as she nodded.