A Game of Shadows – I


22:09PM CET
Paulus Potterstraat,
Amsterdam, Netherlands.

It was just after 10pm that Khole was making her way out of the Van Gogh museum. Unlike January, the early February nights were starting to feel cold and Khole had forgotten her jacket at home when she started for work this morning.
The constant pressure at work had turned her into a workaholic. At 28, Khole Andrews was the youngest woman to become the director of the Van Gogh museum of Netherlands. The museum was the 30th most visited art museum in the world and the most visited in the country, which only meant, more added responsibilities with each passing minute for the one at the helm of such a prestigious place.
It was less than a year ago when Khole had taken over the museum but the most challenging event of her career was yet to come.

The inaugural Van Gogh festival, celebrating the life and achievements of the master was to be held in the museum in another 8months. For most it was ample time to make arrangements but for Khole every moment wasted was an opportunity missed to make a mark.

She just started walking down the final few steps outside the museum, fiddling in her bag to find her car keys, shivering in the cold night, when she bumped into someone.

He was nearly 6 feet tall, with what looked like a chiseled body and with the hypnotic smile that he was blessed with; he looked upon her with childlike Innocence as Khole gathered herself around his presence.

“I am sorry miss, didn’t mean to bump into you, I was just lost admiring the exterior of the place” he said, while making a gesture towards the museum building.

“You, an art student or something?” She asked, still trying to gather her mind from his smile.

“Oh no. I am a art dealer, huge fan of Van gogh, just moved here, so wanted to see the place, although never could make time, yet” he said.

Before she could reply, he spoke again, “Your shivering here let me help you with that.” He said and took his over coat off and offered to place it over her shoulder.

“I am Khole Andrews, I am the director of the museum. Why don’t you come back tomorrow morning and I can give you a small tour of the place myself” She offered with a hope to have a chance to see him again.

His eyes lit up at that, “That would be wonderful miss. By the way, I am Kevin Ellis here” She said, flashing that hypnotic smile of his.

A hundred meters away from them, towards the diamond museum, in a black car, a man with grim expression over his face watched Kevin and Khole walk away being all smiles.
He picked his radio and spoke into it, “This is Agent Weaver. The target has taken the bait. The plan is in motion.”
As he watched them walk away, he recollected an old phone conversation, a young voice, challenging him, “You will never know what hit you”.

8 Months Later –

Amsterdam,
Netherlands.

It was the fourth day of the inaugural Van Gogh exhibition and after a hectic day’s work Khole had made home a little after 8pm, which was quite early by her standards. But it wasn’t her house where she had arrived, it was their house. Hers and Kevin’s.
A couple of months ago, Kevin had asked Khole to move in with him, It was a offer she couldn’t say no to, neither she had ever thought of answering negatively to the question. Consequently, she had moved in to his house in the next couple of days and since then they had be staying together, weaving a world of happiness with their love.

Kevin was an art dealer, who moved around the world, scouting for valuable art pieces or collections, he had a number of wealthy clients whose demands he catered to. Most of the times he kept out till late nights due to his work and at times he had to travel around the globe, which made Khole miss his presence. Hence, everytime she got off work a tad early she made sure to let him know, just like today. Tonight she has decided to surprise him by making his favorite food.

He was a meat guy and could eat meat at every possible opportunity, hence she always made sure she had some form of meat stored for him in the refrigerator. She got changed and started the preparations in the kitchen. On her way to the kitchen she looked at around at the house and smiled at herself.

Even if he was not physically present with her, his memories, his laughter, his love, was smeared all around their place.

Kevin was a pragmatic guy, who took every step with thorough thought of the present with an eye towards the future but even then, at times he lived in the moment, just to make her smile. Like the time last month when he decided to play santa for the kids at the nearest orphanage, he had said, “Happiness doesn’t have a date to arrive and who knows if I’d be around for Christmas. And I always wanted to share my happiness with you my love.”

If being impromptu was one of his qualities, being sweet and yet mysterious was another one. He always got gifts for her and hid them in places she couldn’t find and then would leave her notes with clues on where the gift was hidden. It was her personal treasure hunt. He remembered every single detail of their conversation and made sure he got her gifts that she always wanted or which were sure to make her smile.

He loved reading, history and art was his favorite subject. He would be reading about world history and the wars that were fought in the past for years. She recalled him saying that as a child, the first book he read on was from his grandfather’s library at his house in Cuba, It was titled “The great civil war of Onin and Bunmei” and since then he had grown in interest towards the history and never stopped reading about it.

For a guy with so many qualities, he was even weird in his own sense. He always brought framed quotes from unknown writers and poets, which now adorned the walls of their house. She recollected the time he hung a similar quote above their bed.

The quote read ~

“How well her name an Army doth present,
In whom the lord of Hosts did pitch his tent!”

–          Gavin Ward.

War quote

“And you want to hang a war quote above our bed?” She had asked.

“Yes” He replied with a smile.

“Why?” She asked with a puzzled look on her face.

“Cause it’s the right place” He said and pulled her in his arms and sealed the discussion with a Kiss.

Lost in her own merry thoughts, smiling and blushing at the memories that she had made over the recent past, she failed to hear the footsteps behind her. Slowly, a hand snaked through her waist and she was taken aback by a kiss planted on the nape of her neck.

“Good God Kev, you scared me” She said being startled.

 “You looked so lost in your thoughts that I wanted to make sure I’d bring you back to reality in the most beautiful way, I can.” He whispered in her ears.

She blushed as she said, “Get fresh soon, Dinner will be done in a while.”

A while later, when dinner was done, Kevin turned to the familiar solace of his favorite music. The slow soothing rhythm of the saxophone had always managed to transport him in the state of trance. He slowly dragged Khole out of the kitchen to dance with him. She didn’t resist much cause she herself needed the familiar embrace, the warmth of his arms around her.

The saxophone filled the living area with its slow melody as both Kevin and Khole melted in each other’s arms. It was as if their life had elucidated the reason behind their existence.

“There is something different about you tonight” She said.

He looked into her eyes with and with all seriousness, avoiding her observation said, “If I look back at the years of my life, I’d only say, you are the best thing that has happened to me. I might have been living luxuriously before I met you but I only felt alive when you blessed my life. Ms.Khole Andrews, I just want you to believe that I love you, from the bottom of my heart and the truest of my feelings.”

Tears flooded down her eyes as she couldn’t hold them back any longer, even with smile on her face and glee radiating from her soul, her eyes felt moist, something within felt empty.

“Oh, I love you too Kev. I’ve always loved you & I always will, no matter what” She replied.

Without a word further being said, Kevin carried her in his arms to their bedroom, where they slept together, embracing every moment that they spent in each other’s company.

Somewhere deep within, they both knew this night was unlike any other.

The rustling of the sheets and Kevin’s movements despite trying to be careful broke Khole’s slumber. She didn’t get up and question him though, she lay still and let him believe that she was asleep. He spoke to someone over the phone before gathering a large back pack. He leaned over and planted a kiss on her forehead and whispered “I love you” before walking out of the house in the middle of the night.

Khole got out of the bed and walked towards the window. She was careful enough not to be spotted as she watched him leave in a black car, which she had never seen before.

She rushed to her cell phone and as she started to dial tears started to flood from her eyes, with a heavy heart she spoke, “This is agent Isabel Chavez, I need to speak to Agent Tom Weaver, Now!”

A moment later she was put through to Tom Weaver who was the head of the FBI art crimes unit.

“Weaver here” He spoke with a grim voice.

“It’s happening tonight, he’s has walked out with all his gear and as we speak might be heading towards the museum.” Isabel added, with the tears still flowing from her eyes.

“Good work Agent Chavez. You’ve done your bit. I’ll take it from here.”

An Hour later,
The Van Gogh Museum,
Amsterdam, Netherlands.

10 of the best FBI art thief department agents were currently being lead by the department head, Tom Weaver along with the help of Amsterdam’s finest who had surrounded the building and were accompanying Weaver and his team as they stormed though the museum.

The exhibition was held at the 2nd floor of the Rietveld building, where the paintings of the master that were flown from different parts of the world were currently housed, while paintings that paid tribute to Van Gogh were exhibited in the adjacent Kurokawa wing of the museum.

As calculated before hand, the security systems were down but unexpectedly not a soul in sight.

The team reached the 2nd floor and canvassed the area looking for any signs of a theft. Moments later, the building was declared clear and no thefts were noticed, the sad part was, the thief himself had vanished into thin air.

Agent Weaver had already started to calculate what went wrong with his strategy when his eyes fell on a letter carefully placed   on the corner table in the room. It wasn’t addressed to anyone but he had a feeling It was another throw of the dice.

He carefully opened the letter and brought forth the old parchment from within that revealed its contents.

The letterTo be continued..

 

Disclaimer – All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

PS – I am ending this part of the post with a slight tinge of mystery. All the readers (Whoever manages to read) are welcome to play along. The letter that Agent Tom weaver has found contains the location of the thief carefully coded. So go ahead, find it if you can. If you find the correct location, you are welcome to write the next part of the blog alongside me.
I should also mention however, Apart from the correct location, there is also a false location mentioned in the letter. I’ve learnt writing a true and a false location is always a better way of coding. Saying that, the clues to find the correct location are smeared all over the blog post.
If you think you’ve managed to find the right answer, Let me know by tweeting at my twitter profile 

OR

Email me at theghostwriterr@outlook.com

You have 24 hours, a dead line that can be extended. But nevertheless, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have. See you soon.

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