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Sneak Peek: Just Lost and Found – Chapter 3

Summer Snoops and Cozy Crimes

featuring Just Lost and Found (Lucy Fong #1.5)

Available July 24, 2018

I will contribute a Lucy Fong short story to this charity anthology. All proceeds from the sales will go to the no kill shelters of AniCira and Jefferson SPCA.

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​Chapter 3

At the urgent care center, the doctor said Lucy only had a hairline fracture on her wrist and there wasn’t a need to cast her arm. He immobilized the hand and wrist in a brace and told her to wear it for a month. He didn’t think she had a concussion, but urged her to stay with someone that evening.

Afterward, Lucy and Stella returned to the lighthouse. They spent the rest of the early evening looking for Raspberry. After a quick dinner, Lucy dropped Stella home to pack an overnight bag. She would come over later in the evening to stay with Lucy for the night.

To keep busy so she wouldn’t fret about the cat, Lucy took photos of the golden monkey statue and called her foster cousin, who was finishing up her master’s degree on ancient Chinese history.

“Hi, Lucy. Have you had dinner yet?" Raina Sun asked.

Lucy smiled even though her foster cousin couldn’t see her. She loved the traditional greeting. It always made her feel like a welcomed member of the Wong family. “Yes, I did. How are you doing?”

“It’s been crazy. The wedding details are driving me nuts. And they even have a planner to help them. I can’t believe the bride is renting the entire winery.” Raina paused dramatically. “For the entire week.”

Lucy’s jaw dropped. Why would anyone need to rent a wedding venue for more than a day or two? “Are her parents that loaded?”

“My uncle owns a chain of Chinese restaurants in the Bay Area. I’m sure they can afford the bill. I’m surprised they are willing to spend it like this. They are usually frugal, as in Chinese frugal.”

Lucy laughed. Chinese frugal meant the parents would save the take-out ketchup packages and squeeze them into the ketchup bottle at home. “That bad, huh?”

“Yep. I don’t know how I got roped into helping with this wedding.”

“Duty is heavier than a mountain.”

Raina snorted. “And speaking of duty, how can I help you?”

“I found a gold statue in a chest. I think it’s the Monkey King.” Lucy said. “Hold on. I’ll email you some photos.”

Lucy opened the mail app on her cell phone, attached the photos to a message, and hit the send button. She could hear her cousin clicking the mouse through the phone line.

“Interesting,” Raina muttered to herself. The mouse clicked some more. “Can I call you back in a minute? I want to call one of my professors.”

Lucy’s hand tightened on her phone. What was interesting? Was the statue a rare artifact? Could this be the answer to a prayer to help the town’s declining economy? She told herself not to get her hopes up. “Okay.”

While she waited, she went into the kitchen to take her vitamin cocktail and brew a Chinese herbal tea to help her sleep. She had a feeling she might spend the night tossing and turning. She bypassed the Zyrtec. There was no point in taking allergy medication with no cat in the house. Though the remaining dander might trigger an attack, she was willing to risk it. She hated the side effects of the medication.

She went back to her attic room and powered up the laptop and put together a “Lost Cat” flyer. As she typed in the details about Raspberry’s disappearance, her elation deflated. What would she tell her sister if she couldn’t find her cat? And how would this impact their tenuous relationship? She saved the file to a USB drive and dropped it into her purse. She would need to stop by the printers in the morning to get copies made.

Lucy’s cell phone rang, and she picked up the call. She cleared her throat, hoping her cousin wouldn’t pick up on her mood. “Hello, Raina?”

“What’s wrong, Lulu?” Raina asked. Her voice was gentle with concern.

Lucy’s eyes filled with tears. She refused to cry over a stupid, ungrateful cat. The scamp didn’t even like her. “I’m such a horrible pet sitter.” She told her cousin about the escapade at the lighthouse, her voice quivering with emotion.

“He will turn up. The two of you are connected,” Raina said.

“But how? There’s no food along the cliffs—”

“Just have faith. The cat will turn up.”

Lucy swallowed the lump in her throat. Her cousin had spoken with such absolute conviction that Lucy couldn’t help but believe her. “Did you find out anything more about the statue?”

“It’s definitely the Monkey King. The crown around his forehead and the staff on his hand are his usual accoutrements. You said the statue is made of gold. Is there an artisan stamp on the bottom?”

Lucy turned the statue upside down. “Yes, there are Chinese characters on the bottom. I’ll send you a picture.” She snapped a photo and emailed it to her cousin.

A few seconds later, Raina gasped. “I can’t believe it.”

Lucy’s pulse increased. This could save her hometown. “What is it?”

“It’s the name of an artist from the Song Dynasty. If this statue is real, then it’s priceless. If you bring it to me, I can carbon date it with the equipment at the university.”

“I’ll have to ask the mayor. The statue belongs to the town, and he might not want to let it out of his sight.”

“Then you better hope no one finds out about the monkey statue until it’s secured,” Raina said. “A find like this hasn’t been seen in years. People will flock to the town looking for other treasure.”

* * *

The next afternoon, Lucy and Stella were stapling a “Lost Cat” flyer on the bulletin board at the Shoreline Bakery when they ran into Dave Michaels, the Historical Society’s president. The retiree was what Lucy’s grandma would call a silver fox. His trim figure and tan skin suggested he liked outdoor activities. No wonder her cousin Stella did his bidding with nary a complaint.  

As Dave made his way toward them, Stella’s eyes tracked his progress. A smile curled at the corner of her lips.

“Will you stop it?” Lucy whispered. “You look like you want to crawl into his lap.”  

Stella gave her a sideways glance. “Stop being such a grump. Just because you’re in a dry spell doesn’t mean I have to join you.”

Lucy raised an eyebrow. The sassy words sounded like they came straight from her grandma’s playbook. Before she could reply, the distinguished gentleman was in front of them.   

“Hello, beautiful ladies. Can I join the two of you for lunch?” Dave asked. His warm blue eyes twinkled.  

Lucy shook her head, already inching toward the doorway. “You two go have lunch. I need to post up the rest of the flyers.”   

Stella’s gaze shifted between Dave and Lucy. She chewed her lower lip. “A half hour wouldn’t make much of a difference.”  

Lucy kept her expression neutral. This felt like a setup, and she wasn’t in the mood to be polite about it. The president of the Historical Society sought her out to get his hands on the golden monkey statue...and her cousin was in on this. “No, thanks.”  

She pulled open the glass door and stepped outside. They followed after her like little ducklings to Lucy’s car in the parking lot behind the bakery. She spun around. “Seriously, go and have lunch.”  

Dave shifted from foot to foot. “I came by because of the golden monkey statue.”

Lucy gave her cousin a deadpan stare. “Is that right?”

Stella flushed. “I only told him we would be at the bakery this morning. I don’t know how he found out about the statue.”  

“Sorry for ambushing you,” Dave said. He didn’t sound apologetic at all. “I could help you evaluate its historical significance. Before my retirement, I was a history professor.” When he mentioned his previous occupation, he straightened.  

Lucy wasn’t impressed. She loved this age she was in. Still young enough to be cute, but old enough to not put up with bull. “No, thanks. I already had an expert in Asian artifacts look at it.” She emphasized the word Asian. She was starting to sound rude, but he was wasting her time. She had a kitty to find.  

“Is this wise, my dear? The gold monkey is a rare artifact. Do you have permission to let someone have it? What if it disappears into someone’s private collection?” Dave said.  

Lucy bristled at his tone. “I am not your dear. Who told you about the statue?”

“Damien North posted a picture on his website. Everyone is curious about this million-dollar statue,” Dave said. “I’m disappointed you let the priceless artifact out of your hands without consulting the mayor.” His tone held a hint of disapproval.

Lucy slid another glance at Stella. What in the world did she see in this judgmental man?

Stella wasn’t paying attention to Lucy. She was glaring at her former crush. “Lucy showed photographs of the monkey statue to the expert.” She sounded like a mama bear who just got told she had an ugly baby.

Dave held up both hands as if he was surrendering. “That’s very sensible, ladies. I better go get my lunch.”

Stella sighed after his retreating back. “We could have been good together.”

Lucy snorted and rooted in her purse for the car keys. “I call it a lucky escape.”

Stella pointed at Lucy’s car. “What’s that?”

Lucy glanced at the windshield. A sheet of paper was stuck to the blade of her wiper. “Probably an advertisement.” She grabbed the paper. “I can’t believe Damien North would open his big flap about the monkey statue. I’m surprised the mayor didn’t call with instructions on what to do with the artifact.”

“He’s”—Stella made air quotes with her fingers—“training in Palm Springs on the golf courses. I doubt he’ll check his voicemail or answer his emails for the next couple of days. If anyone asks about the statue, we’ll tell them we’ve turned it over to the authorities.”  

Lucy nodded. They didn’t need anymore treasure hunters coming out of the woodwork. She got into the car and tossed the sheet of paper on the dashboard.

Stella frowned, reaching for the advertisement. “Is that a drawing of a cat?” She dug into her purse. “Where are my reading glasses?” she muttered under her breath.

“Let me read it for you,” Lucy said, reaching for the paper. She unfolded the paper and gasped. She blinked to make sure she wasn't imagining it.

"Is it an advertisement for a pet shop?" Stella asked.

Lucy shook her head. “It’s a ransom note. The Monkey King statue for Raspberry.”

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