The Art of Stealing
Valentina Philips is a respected Decorative Arts curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is also a thief. Together with Luca, a jewel thief and childhood friend from Italy, this pair of thieves chase love as they try to outrun an FBI agent chasing them through the cobblestone streets of Florence. More
Valentina Philips loves her position as Decorative Arts curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Just because she's a recovering thief doesn't mean she can't still enjoy being surrounded by masterpieces. After an unhappy childhood growing up in Italy, it seems as if she has finally found peace. The only obstacle in her path now is her former childhood friend, Luca Greppi, jewel thief extraordinaire. He stepped in years ago as protector and mentor, introducing the lonely Valentina to the beauty of art—and so began her dual lifelong obsessions.
Valentina has successfully brought the Fabergé Eggs for exhibit at the Bargello Museum in Florence to rave reviews, yet still looks over her shoulder for Luca. Knowing he'd never be able to resist teasing and tormenting her in the city where they first met, she's on full alert. And of course, one day as she returns to her hotel suite she finds Luca lounging on her sofa. "What is it with you and my sofas?" she asks. "If you'd invite me to your bed, I wouldn't have to settle for the sofa," is his reply.
As the exhibit closes, Valentina says good-bye to Luca for what she hopes is the final time. She has long ago outlived the need for his approval and watches helplessly as he prowls society parties stealing precious gems and replacing them with ones of inferior quality. His recklessness grows as he tries to outrun his demons. He wants to know if Valentina has forgiven him for losing control of their car years ago when they were sixteen and in love—the night they put his younger brother, Roberto, in a wheelchair. She nods through her tears, but she hasn't forgiven him or herself.
Returning home, Valentina asks for a leave of absence from the museum. She plans to set her GPS and follow the prompts to wherever they lead her. She intends to make peace with herself, as Roberto has urged her many times, and to purge her thoughts of Luca. Elizabeth, her sister, asks if Luca is aware she said her final good-bye in Florence, and Valentina says yes. "It's never good-bye with him," Elizabeth says wisely and her prophecy comes true as Luca tracks down Valentina tucked away in a beach house in Cape Cod. He has come to tell her that he has always loved her and wishes life had taken them in another direction. His declaration is heartfelt and stirring and Valentina's resolve weakens. They share a night of raw passion and he is gone in the morning when she awakens.
After returning to New York, she is satisfied that she has erased Luca and her guilt about the accident from her mind and returns to her position at the museum refreshed. Except she isn't; she’s exhausted and soon discovers that she will be bound to Luca forever because she’s carrying his child.
The story jumps eleven years as we find Valentina raising their daughter, Lily, on her own. She has opened a successful antiques shop in Westchester and is satisfied with the life she has carved out for herself and her daughter. One day a limousine rolls up to her property and Luca steps out. He looks into a pair of eyes that mirrors his own, and Valentina wonders how long it will take Lily to discover the truth. Luca claims he has left his thieving days behind, but Valentina fears he has one more theft up his sleeve—to steal Lily's heart and her own.
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