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Lights, Camera, Heist!

Less Than Three Press LLC

Heat Rating: SWEET
Word Count: 80,000
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When they bungle a job trying to steal a priceless cello from an Emir in Dubai, thieves Max and Maddie are forced to flee for their lives and start all over—not to mention recover their losses, and pull off an art heist at a high-end museum.

Not just any heist, either, but one that involves making a movie, fending off a Chinese crime baron, and continuing to avoid an irate Emir who's less than convinced by their recent demise. As if that's not enough, they're each falling in love with people they should steer clear of. Even the best laid plans always have a few kinks, but this time there may be a few too many.

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The sky and the sea were almost the same sparkling, azure blue this late spring afternoon in the Persian Gulf. A slight haze blurred the edges of the horizon in the very far distance. A stiff breeze was coming ashore, perfect for the Dubai International Marina and Sailing Club’s annual regatta. Already the first paper-white sails were skimming out from the marina.

An attractive younger couple passed through the sea-side outer gates of the lavish palace of Emir Sheikh Mohammad bin Boulos Fikri Al Qureshi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance for the United Arab Emirates. Surprisingly, the couple had not arrived in a limo, as most of the other guests had done, but were on foot as they passed along the allée of palm trees on either side of a reflecting pool. They approached the covered entrance to the massive wall surrounding the Emir’s palace.

“Is your embassy friend going to get into any trouble for letting us have this invitation?” Jack asked.

“Jérôme is the darling of the Ambassador’s wife. He can get away with almost anything,” Felice whispered.

They were greeted by two of the Emir’s staff members: a pleasant, smiling woman checking the guest’s invitations, and a more persuasive-looking gentleman, standing at the ready with a service revolver at his side and shoulders with arms that stretched the confines of his decorated fatiques.

“Felice Sommer and Jack Russell from the French Embassy,” Felice announced, handing an invitation to the greeter.

The smiling greeter, after checking the invitation against her clipboard list, turned and looked at Jack, somewhat surprised. “Jack Russell? Isn’t that some sort of a terrier?”

Jack smiled. “Yes, it was named after me.”

The greeter smiled and bowed. “If you please, could you sign the guest book for our birthday girl?”

They both signed the book, and the greeter extended her arm toward the entrance and welcomed the couple to pass inside.

Felice and Jack, with great aplomb, ambled through the massive entrance into a garden that surrounded the palace. They were greeted by yet another functionary that led them into and through the spacious hallways of the palace toward the courtyard garden at the center.

“Such service,” Felice, impressed, whispered to Jack as they traversed the towering gilt halls toward the party.

“It’s not service,” Jack whispered back. “It’s called security. There’s a lot of luscious loot about, if you haven’t noticed.”

Felice, at thirty-two years old, was tall with stylish short blonde hair. She had a handsome face with intelligent light-green eyes and wore minimal makeup. Dressed smartly, Felice carried herself with precision and control. Asked what she might be in life, many might suggest a corporate executive or a player in politics.

Jack, on the other hand, was bright and attractive, with dark black, rather scruffy hair, and his face had not been graced with a razor for several days. Slender at twenty-six, he had dark brown piercing eyes and a devastating smile.

After emerging from the palace into the central garden, they were directed to a tall, middle-aged man with a neatly trimmed beard. He was dressed in elegant, flowing Arabic robes, and his head was covered with the traditional Arabic keffiyah. He had perceptive dark eyes and a neatly trimmed beard, but he appeared not to recognize his approaching guests.

Felice thrust her hand forward to greet the Emir. “Your Excellency, peace be with you. I am Felice Sommer, financial attaché to the French Embassy. The ambassador sends his deepest regrets for being unable to attend to your most gracious invitation, as he is currently in Paris and has asked me, specifically, to send his very best wishes for your daughter, Hafa’s, most felicitous birthday. And I have a little gift for her,” Felice offered.

The Emir nodded. “You are most welcome, and I thank the ambassador for his gracious greeting. Please send him my very best regards. You may present the gift to Hafa yourself, after the concert. ” He turned his gaze questioningly toward Jack. “And this young man?”

“Jack Russell—IT at the French Embassy,” Jack answered, thrusting his hand toward the Emir, who declined to take it.

“An American at the French Embassy?” the Emir quizzed.

“They wanted the very best. Graduated MIT. A techie whiz kid… and extremely modest, as well.” Jack flashed his award-winning boyish grin.

The Emir smiled ever so slightly. American humor escaped him.

“Please enjoy yourselves.” The Emir nodded and turned to greet other newly arriving guests.

“Well…” Jack gave a mock-shiver as they wandered across the grounds toward the refreshment pavilion. “Was that a frosty reception, or what?”