We’d spent a few days at the villa, adding to my inventory of wonderful memories from the place. More a truce to the war instead of serious peace talks. “But that thing has been there a long time. Steve Berry’s bestselling thrillers have mesmerized suspense fans around the world, but his novels alone can’t contain all the exciting exploits of death-defying agent Cotton Malone and his smart, sexy sidekick, Cassiopeia Vitt. Cassiopeia Vitt has decided to sell the home she grew up in, The House of Long Ago. First seen in the late 12th century when the counts of Toulouse added the cross to their coat of arms. There’s only one way to find out. Inside are 15 masterpieces she wants to donate to museums. Hundreds of items had been unearthed. Cassiopeia lifted the latch, opened the lid, and peered into the box.

She laid the object on the ground and parted the moldy silk. On the title page were the words Libre de las Õras, Book of Hours, in Occitan. My father’s art collection was too valuable to remain in any ordinary house under even the best of circumstances. A pewter cape closure with a roughhewn topaz at its center. The sound caught Cassiopeia’s attention and brought her back to reality. She brushed the remaining mud off the lid in soft, easy strokes. Her chateau was one of many constructed in the 16th century, lovingly maintained through a succession of dedicated owners.

They’d attended university together, both working on architectural degrees, hers with a specialty in medieval history. QUARRIERS, STONE HEWERS, MASONS, CARPENTERS, BLACKSMITHS, AND POTTERS ARE NOW LABORING, LIVING AND DRESSING EXACTLY AS THEY WOULD HAVE EIGHT CENTURIES AGO.

My father had also been a lifelong bibliophile.

About the only thing that had drawn him away had been Angelina’s crema catalana, a traditional custard finished with a caramelized sugar crust. I couldn’t count on them staying around forever, and it would be next to impossible to find two more trustworthy people. Reluctantly, she agreed. How long had it lain there? “Thirteenth to 14th century, based on the decoration,” he said, pointing at the cover. We reminisced about the past, laughed, and cried a little.

Demand never seemed to cease. It was that way with every find. “Definitely gold,” Viktor said. After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.

When she has a friend come evaluate artworks her father owned and he was a collector she discovers they are fakes. “Okay, show’s over,” she said. There's a problem loading this menu right now.

Cassiopeia reached out and stroked the latch, then hesitated, savoring the anticipation. Hard to say. “I’d bet those are gem quality cabochon rubies embedded in the design,” she said. “But the outside can be quite different from inside. I said a break not a breath.”. Her own spine also ached from lying on her stomach too long.

They left the site and headed toward the high barn that housed the reception center, there to accommodate the several thousand visitors who came every year. Which meant there could be something quite valuable inside. She’d been working the project for a long time. Illuminated manuscripts were the picture books, the coffee-table books, of the Middle Ages. Angelina was waiting and looked disappointed to see I was alone.

Cassiopeia Vitt knew they’d found something important.

Painstakingly, trowel by trowel, they removed layers of clay, rock, and debris. Copyright © 2020 Steve BerryTerms of Service & Privacy Policy | Data Access Request. Viktor sipped his. Especially at moments like this when the French soil finally yielded up its secrets. She was proud that she was putting some of that capital to historical use. “Judging by what we can see, I’d say it’s about forty-six centimeters wide and about the same in height,” she said. Who wouldn’t be? No heaven or hell. Copyright © 2020 Natasha is a Book Junkie “It’s definitely something,” Viktor said. The middle of a construction site isn’t the best place to study such a precious find. In the hundreds of thousands of euros, Cotton had said after his inspection. A dozen men and women who’d also been working at the construction site had stopped, now gathered around where she and her site superintendent stood. “If there are rubies on the outside, what’s inside?” Shelby Randall asked. The pages were highly illustrated with the anthropomorphic initials of monks, most likely the artists themselves. What one was doing buried in the south of France was anybody’s guess. Yes, she was curious to uncover more. Through the centuries the locale had played host to a variety of historical buildings, starting with a Roman fortress nearly two thousand years ago. Trapped inside its walls are memories from a time when Cassiopeia was growing from a rebellious adolescent into a thoughtful young woman—regretful times when she often found herself estranged from her parents. She smiled. So the time had come to deal with reality.

Many of the wealthy possessed such a book. She lifted the book, set it back inside the chest, and turned to leave. She knew the history. From a secret repository in Andorra, to a mysterious yacht in the Mediterranean, then finally onto the streets of Paris and a horrific reminder from World War II, Cassiopeia must battle every step of the way to stay alive—a fight that will finally bring her face to face with the truth about the House of Long Ago. Shelby Randall, a journalist embedded at the site for the past week, there to write a piece about the castle for the magazine Archéologie, swept in and snapped some pictures of her own. The left braid enclosed an elaborate figurative biblical scene, still clear, untouched by time. But like Viktor had noted earlier, patience seemed in order. Every letter, finished in chrysography—a mix of powdered gold and gum—glowed in the sunlight. Shelby inched closer, ready for the reveal shot. Givors, France Together, they lay flat on their stomachs and carefully set about enlarging the find, slow and careful, using all of the proper techniques to keep it uncorrupted. Natasha is a Book Junkie is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, and as an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. He had a great interest in hand-painted religious tomes.

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