The unsalable painting
Neal studied the Mona Lisa that he had placed on the kitchen table.
“I’d say that this was one of our greatest heists.” Mozzie’s voice broke through Neal’s thoughts.
“Yeah”, he just said. Because what else was there left to say?
“So Neal. Why did you steal the Mona Lisa? Why not pick an easier target? You know, a target that is actually possible to sell.” Neal sighed and walked over to the sofa and sunk down.
“I’m sorry, I really am. But it’s not safe for you to know yet.”
“Neal, please, don’t do this. Because last time you said that I ended up thinking that you were dead for months. Please don’t do this.” Neal looked up to Mozzie’s concerned eyes and realized that maybe he shouldn’t hold on to the secret anymore.
“Fine.” Neal said, hiding his face in his palms.
“I will tell you.” He slid his fingers down his face and then he began to stroll down memory lane.
Four months ago
Neal sat by the small café waiting. Waiting and waiting, hoping the time he kept wasting wasn’t for vain.
He had gotten a card, saying that someone wanted to meet. Curious, skeptical, paranoid, Neal decided that it was best if he got to know his frenemy.
Around dusk, when the sun’s light started fading and Neal drank his last glass of wine, a familiar figure appeared. The sun shone into Neal’s eyes so brightly that he used his arm to shield himself from the light.
The figure sat down in front of him and Neal dropped his arm.
When he caught the sight of her, he wasn’t just dazzled by the sun, but the very person in front of him had pretty much not only once dazzled him with her exceptional personality.
“Kate?” old feelings ignited inside him and he couldn’t help his trembling voice.
She was just as beautiful as she had been before her presumed death, and her smile was just as warming as Neal remembered.
“Well, I guess that we finally got to see each other on the other side”, she said.
“But you were dead”, Neal didn’t know how he should react. Was he supposed to be mad? Pissed? Happy? Sad?
“But I’m not”, Kate reached forward to hold his hand, but he pulled it slowly away.
“No; Kate, how could you do this to me?” Denial was what Neal was heading for. Kate looked down at the table and then she looked back up to meet his gaze.
“I’m sorry Neal, but it was the only way. I did what I had to, I needed to save myself.”
“Save yourself from what?” The question echoed in the silent air, and it remained unanswered until Neal asked the question again. Kate bit her lower lip and started to spin her left earring unconsciously.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t Neal. Not now.”
“Then when?” Kate raised her gaze and met his, this time her eyes shone of confidence.
“When I know that I can trust you again.” There was a short pause, and then Kate picked up her purse from the ground and pulled out her wallet.
“You actually had me scared there for a while Neal, I really thought that you were gone.” Kate picked out about 20 dollars and placed them down on the table firmly.
“How did you find me?” he couldn’t hope but ask. Kate just smiled, while hiding her light blue eyes under her long dark eyelashes.
“That’s a question we will save for another time Neal. I’ve got to go- or I’m going to be late.”
“Late? Kate, will I see you again?” a wry smile appeared across her face.
“It’s okay Neal, I will find you. Somehow, we always manage to cross our paths together.”
And just like that; she was gone with the wind once again.
“Kate’s alive?!” Mozzie burst out. Neal shot out his arm in a gesture saying “well, yeah”.
“But how? I mean they did find her body right?”
“Right, but a body can be faked.”
“Oh, so you do know how she did it.” Neal’s sudden silence gave him away.
“So you don’t know”, Mozzie continued.
“Okay Neal, please tell me what this secrecy is all about. I’m not going to tell anyone, besides, the Suits are left in New York, remember?”
Neal took a deep breath.
“Mozz, there’s a treasure. Not as big as the long lost Nazi-treasure, but the value is as big.”
“You say what?”
“Okay, so for starters, I took the Mona-Lisa because of its message on its back. Sure I could just take a picture of it, but I needed to bring the real painting along because I need Kate to start trusting me again.”
“Yes, she’s the one pulling the strings on this thing.”
“So let me get this straight. You stole the Mona-Lisa just to get Kate to trust you again?” Neal just nodded.
PETER BURKE was not having such a great day.
It had been a little over a year and he still missed Neal. He was a little skeptical about Mozzie going away on “errands” but he had let it go.
He sat by his kitchen table watching his computer with knit eyebrows.
“El, what do you think about this?” Ellie walked down the stairs with her hand resting against the railing.
“Think about what?”
“This”, Peter said tapping the screen. Ellie went to his computer and placed her arm over his shoulders.
The screen showed a report about a famous missing painting from the German museum. The heist had been pulled surprisingly well, so well, that it had taken an entire month to realize that the original painting had been replaced by a fake.
“I don’t know why; but this stunt kind of reminds me of Neal.” Ellie kissed his cheek and then she stepped away from him.
“I thought you said that he was gone, right?” Peter sighed.
“I know, it’s just… I don’t know. Maybe I wish that it would be him after all.” Ellie smiled and then she walked down to the hall and she put on a white coat.
“You and me both. But bye hun, going off to work.”
Kate’s lips trailed down Neal’s mouth and then she brushed her lips against his neck. Her fingers entangled into his hair and Neal stroke her back slowly, enjoying the thrill; all the nerves in his body exploding by her touch. Soon her mouth found her way to his mouth again and the both of them threw themselves unto the bed, Neal was just about to peel of her cloths as…
“Careful friend, you’re dripping mucus.” Neal woke up because of the sudden weird sentence.
“What?” he couldn’t help but brush the back of his hand across his mouth. He didn’t want to admit that he was surprised to not feel anything sticky.
“What is it Mozzie?” Neal asked as he got up from the bed. His hair wasn’t pretty but messy.
“I want to know if the German heist was you.” Mozzie said, holding up today’s newspaper. Neal, who was half-conscious walked off to his wardrobe and dressed himself in a shirt and dark jeans.
“What? No, it wasn’t me. I’ve only been in Paris so far.”
“So far”, he noted and started to browse through the newspaper.
“Neal, the heist was brilliant, as in matter of fact; even I am impressed.” Neal arched a brow and then he walked up to the kitchen and went for a bowl and some cereal.
“I didn’t do it, but I think I know who did.” If Neal wouldn’t be too busy pouring milk into the bowl he’d notice Mozzie’s exclamation gesture.
“Then who? I wanna meet him, her.” Neal just nodded and turned around with his bowl and a spoon.
“Mozz, it was Kate.” This time Neal got to see Mozzie shoot his eyebrows to the roof and his eyes widened of shock.
“Wait, what. She? She did this?” he said surprised as he tapped the picture of the stolen painting.
“Yes. Not alone though, she had help.” He went to the kitchen table and started eating the cereal.
“Well then, who helped her?” Neal took out the spoon and pointed it at nothing particular.
“I don’t know Mozz, I’m no god.”
“What’s gotten into you Neal? Why are you so… cranky? You’re not usually like this in the morning.”
“Yeah well, you did happen to wake me up.”
The both of them fell silent.
The atmosphere was deathly quiet until Neal’s phone started ringing.
“This’s Neal.” Neal listened through the conversation with a few humming.
“Okay, see you soon Kate.”
“What did Kate want?” Mozzie asked as soon as Neal put down the phone.
“Nothing particular”, Neal started to spin his spoon around the bowl.
“Fine, she wanted to know what kind of color I wanted the carpet to be.”
“If you will keep continuing to keep me out of the loop I’ll be mad.” Neal rose and placed the bowl in the dishwasher.
“Okay. I’m meeting her in about twenty- here. So Mozz, if you don’t mind”, Neal said gesturing to the exit. Mozzie rolled his eyes and then he did as he was asked. But by the door he lingered his hand by the handle. He went back to Neal’s delicious wine collection and picked out the finest wine.
“But I’m taking this with me.” And then he was gone.
Kate studied the painting carefully as she took out the scanner from her bag- and the rest of the equipment for the matter.
“If I find out- which I will, that this’s a fake- you’re out Neal. And I mean it.”
“Don’t worry Kate, you won’t.” Moments later, when Kate was done with scanning the painting, she smiled.
“You really did manage to pull it off after all. I’m impressed Neal.”
“So, where is it Kate? The treasure?” Kate started to pack all the equipment back into her bag.
“Okay Neal...” She put the bag unto the floor and then she walked off to the wine collection everyone seemed to be so fond of.
“There’re three messages, three coordinates of total, hidden on the back of the three most valuable and well-guarded paintings in the world. You see, to crack the code, you need the actual paintings. If you for example look at the Mona-Lisa you’ll see the a small lake there, correct?” Neal found the point Kate was looking at and nodded.
“Okay, so we now know the environment the treasure is hidden in, but we don’t know where without the coordinates. There’re beliefs that Leonardo Da Vinci was a part of the Huntsmen, around 1460.”
“Huntsmen? What’s that?” Kate suddenly broke of laughing.
“You’re such an idiot you know that? No, there’s no ‘Huntsmen’, I’m teasing. Neal- I can’t tell you. I’m sorry, but I can’t.” The excitement drained from Neal’s eyes.
“You had me excited there for a moment you know that?” she smirked.
“Sorry Neal. I’m going to have to take the painting with me though.” Neal’s eyebrows rose.
“Are you crazy? Are you just going to walk off with the Mona-Lisa on the streets of Paris as if what you’re carrying isn’t worth a fortune?”
She couldn’t help but roll her eyes.
“No Neal. I will carry it safely in a bag.”
“As if that’s so much better”, he said ironically.
“Bye Neal”, she said with then she left with the Mona-Lisa.