The Da Vinci Cook

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Authors: Joanne Pence
that supposed to mean?”
    Cat swallowed. “I don’t like what you’re implying! Marcello is hardly my type. What about Charles? Damn! I’d better call him soon.”
    Angie was developing some definite ideas about Cat and Marcello, but a restaurant was hardly the place to confront her sister.
    “We’ve been so hung up on finding Marcello,” Angie said after a while, “that we’ve forgotten what started all this today—or I should say yesterday, since we lost a day traveling.”
    “It feels like we lost a month,” Cat lamented. She’d practically cleaned her plate. Notwithstanding the drab decor, the food was quite good.
    “It began with someone, presumably Marcello, accusing you of stealing from his house.”
    “Yes. Or, I should say, that’s what the office manager, Meredith Woring, claimed was said.” Cat grimaced. “What a bitch! The whole thing is ridiculous!”
    “Of course it is. But why would Marcello, or anyone, have said such a thing? And it couldn’t have been Marcello, since he was already in Italy.”
    “Was he?” Cat wore a thoughtful frown. “The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that it was Marcello I followed. He might have used Rocco’s passport if the two still look alike. And keep in mind, a passport is good for ten years, so the photo could be an old one. But why would Marcello travel using Rocco’s identification? That doesn’t make sense either!”
    Just then the scraping of chairs caught Angie’s attention. The father and son got up to leave and were heading for the door when the son abruptly turned toward the kitchen. Bruno Montecatini met him in the doorway and the two men shook hands before the son followed his father out.
    Angie thought he must have really liked the meal until she saw the waiter surreptitiously slip something into his pocket. Just what was going on here?
    “How does that idea strike you, Angie?” Cat repeated. “That Marcello used Rocco’s identification.”
    “That’s as good as anything,” Angie admitted, puzzling over the strange interplay she’d witnessed. “Even if it was Marcello you followed, why would he have called Meredith with such an accusation? Why lie and say you stole the chain? Especially if he had it himself.”
    “It’s illogical!” There were few things Cat hated more than lack of logic. “I believe whoever did it wanted me fired. For all I know, Meredith made the whole story up so she could sell Marcello’s house herself and get my commission! On a five and a half million dollar sale, it could be big enough to kill over.”
    “You really think she made it up?”
    “I guess . . . not really,” Cat said wearily. “One of the owners, Jerome Ranker, was in the office when she fired me, and I went to him. He said Meredith was overreacting, to go home and try not to think about it. He promised to talk to her, and he was sure I’d get back my job and good name soon.”
    “But you didn’t go home,” Angie prodded.
    Cat flushed. “No.”
    Angie remained silent as their dessert was served. “Have you ever seen the chain you’re supposed to have taken?”
    Cat nodded as she speared a melon. “Yes. It’s about a foot and a half long, with rusted metal links and large loops at the ends for wrists or ankles. It looks like something you’d find in a junkyard, except that Marcello kept it in a black leather box.”
    “The box you saw him carry as he ran from the house.”
    “I think so,” Cat admitted.
    Angie couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. “You think? First you guessed it was Marcello, and now you only guess it was the box? What’s going on here?”
    “Well, it’s a good guess because . . . ” Cat put down her fork.
    Angie waited. “Because?”
    Cat explained that she’d looked in Marcello’s bedroom safe and the chains were gone.
    “Are you telling me you know the combination to his safe?” Angie could hardly believe it. “Is he aware of that? No wonder he thinks you stole

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