Excerpt for Minjy the Robot in Glitter City: Minjy's Fourth Adventure by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

~ 101 ~

Minjy the Robot in Glitter City

Minjy’s Fourth Adventure

Copyright © 2017 by Steven Michael Krystal

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or

transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photo-

copying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.

This book/e-book story is a work of fiction. All names, characters and incidents depicted in this book/e-book story are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, organizations, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental and is not intended by the author.

Published by Steven Michael Krystal

Toronto, Ontario, Canada



By Steven Michael Krystal

Minjy the Robot

Minjy the Robot Returns

Minjy the Robot – A Pirate’s Life

Minjy the Robot in Glitter City

Chapter 1

Mick’s smartphone rang.

“Where are you? I’ve been trying to reach you for days. Mick, I’ve been worried sick about you!”

“Olivia, don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m in America.”

“In America? When did you leave London? What are you doing there?”

“I’m the laughing stock of Redbridge. Surely everyone knows that the painting was stolen on my watch. No one will hire me after that, and I can’t say that I blame them. Olivia, I’ve got to carry on and make a fresh start.”

Mick York worked as the night manager in a small, upscale, East London hotel. It was quaint and more like an inn and had been recently renovated. Just off the lobby was a sitting area with a comfortable couch and several plush chairs. There was a Victorian era fireplace which was the focal point of the room.

Mick York

Above its mantel hung a small painting by a little known, Welsh artist named Stuart Hobbs.

Stuart Hobbs

It was a painting of a polo competition, and while the colors were rather drab, its details were considered just shy of masterpiece quality. Most people took little notice of the piece which depicted horsemen swinging their mallets. Yet knowledgeable art collectors knew otherwise - its value was easily worth upwards of fifty thousand pounds. Hobbs had gifted the painting to his nephew, Dan, who owned the hotel.

“Mick, exactly where are you?”

“I’m in Glitter City. It’s full of hotels and restaurants. I’m sure I’ll find work.”

“That’s crazy! You don’t know the first thing about America. You’ve lived in Redbridge your whole life. Mick, you’ve hardly ever ventured into London! How are you going to make your way in Glitter City?”

“The thought of those gents making off with that painting haunts me. I’ve let Dan Hobbs down. Olivia, that was a really valuable piece of art, and because of me he’s lost tens of thousands of pounds. Even worse, the painting was a gift from his Uncle Stuart. It had real sentimental value. I can’t get it off my mind!

“I did manage to get a glimpse of those blokes before the video surveillance went dead. They were texting on their phones. Someday I’ll find out who they were, and I’ll figure out how they got away with it. But for now I need a change – I hope you understand. Good-bye, Olivia.”

Mick’s thumb pressed down on the button and he glanced at the screen – ‘call ended’.

Chapter 2

“Power on.”

The device’s voice recognition function activated.

This feature was one of the many upgrades that were recently made to the ‘WaveTitan’ high security smartphone. The user simply spoke to the device and told it what to do. Voice recognition had entirely replaced the need for a keypad.

The phone also had the ability to encrypt and decrypt messages. This meant that the words of messages could be scrambled and unscrambled by the phone’s software. As an added layer of security, the phone also enabled the level of encryption to be modified. This allowed messages to be unique to the user’s requirements and even more secure. The phone’s manufacturer boasted that this type of technology was impossible to hack.

Another impressive feature was that the phone could jam signals and temporarily disable most kinds of electronic devices.

With everything that it could do, the WaveTitan proved to be the overwhelming choice for governments and the military - and unintentionally, professional thieves.

He sat patiently and glanced at the screen every so often, waiting for the message icon to appear. After a few moments it did.

“Open message.”

The screen illuminated and the message read: The early bird catches the worm.

He paused to think.

“Decrypt message.”

The message changed and now read: Ready to go, advise time.

He smiled.

“Create message.”

A flashing icon appeared on the screen prompting him to speak.

“Okay to proceed tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., good luck.”

Upon completion of the message the device confirmed that it had been recognized word for word. He gave the encryption command and the original version changed instantly.

The message now read: A stitch in time saves nine.

“Send message.”

He felt a sense of satisfaction that the plan was finally set into motion. He sat back and continued to think.

“Isn’t technology wonderful?”

* * * *

Advances in technology were not, of course, limited to smartphones. Its effects on modern day cities were equally fascinating. Sprawling, high rise towers were the new normal in most of the world’s biggest cities. Leading the way was Glitter City with the newest, tallest skyscrapers that dotted its skyline. It was nothing short of dazzling. Most of the buildings were large hotels whose colorful neon lights were a visual spectacle, especially against the backdrop of the night sky.

Glitter City basked in sunshine and warm temperatures that allowed visitors to enjoy endless outdoor recreation. Yet most people could hardly wait for the sun to set, so the city lights could illuminate the horizon. For some magical reason, the awesome display of colors created an exciting atmosphere that was unique to this city.

Renovations to the San Elora Grand Hotel’s lower level were going well. It was always business as usual while upgrades were being made, especially for a forty storey complex of this kind. Crews worked around the clock to ensure that all of the work was completed as quickly as possible with no disruption to hotel operations. Although it was late in the evening, the pace of work was just as quick as during the day to get things done.

It was just before midnight when she received the text message. After reading it, she put her smartphone on the night table and paused to think.

“This is very short notice, but I have no choice,” she said to herself. “Very well then, tomorrow morning at nine will have to do. You can’t pick and choose when it comes to a job. I better get some sleep. Before you know it, it will be time to get up.”

* * * *

Morning had arrived in the blink of an eye. The San Elora Grand was buzzing with staff already hard at work. It was a sign of the times that practically every employee would glance at their phones while on the job. While some used them for work, most were either texting personal messages or checking social media.

It was shortly before 9:00 a.m. when the renovation crew was getting ready for their break. A few of them gave Iga friendly smiles as they walked by. She was in the housekeeping department and new at the job. Iga enjoyed the attention and did not hesitate to return a warm smile to them. Once they had left, the lower level became much quieter.

Iga Novack

“This is great timing. It is 9:00 a.m. and things are going just as planned,” thought Iga.

She took out her phone and began texting.

There was hardly anyone around aside from a couple of cleaning staff, some delivery men, and a women texting on her phone. She was heading in Iga’s direction and paid little attention to where she was walking. She looked up just in time and avoided stumbling into Iga’s housekeeping cart. The woman and Iga exchanged polite smiles and a few words, and both continued texting.

“All is well. It’s 9:00 a.m. and things are on schedule,” said the woman to herself.

After a few moments she sent her text.

The delivery men were moving a dolly packed with all sorts of building materials. There were large mirrors that rested on both sides of the dolly which sandwiched pieces of drywall and glass. As the dolly moved down the corridor, the reflections in the mirrors were dizzying. It had reached the entrance to the ‘Sapphire Room’ and was positioned to block the view of the doors. One of delivery men appeared to be looking for someone or something. He stepped away from the dolly momentarily and glanced over to where Iga and the woman were standing.

Moments later he pushed the door and it opened. He unlatched the one next to it, and they moved the dolly inside and closed the doors behind them. They stopped in front of a large painting and removed it from the wall with the precision that could only be expected from professional thieves. The painting was covered with a large drop cloth. They leaned aside one of the mirrors on the dolly and positioned the painting behind it so that it was concealed. This was all done in a matter of seconds. They exited the room through a back door which led to a nearby loading dock.

It was about then that Iga and the woman appeared to be done texting and went their separate ways.

Chapter 3

The San Elora Grand’s offices were on the lobby level of the hotel. The owner, William ‘Bill’ Smith, was the first one to arrive in the office most mornings. He was a veteran of the hospitality industry and liked to think of himself as one of the early pioneers of Glitter City. Bill, as he liked to be called, was brilliant and shrewd, but considered himself to be a plain guy.

William ‘Bill’ Smith

He opened the San Elora Grand just over five years ago. Bill was also the owner of the popular Glitzy Resort Hotel and Casino. He knew every aspect of the business and his success could be attributed to his management expertise. It was a good thing for that, because running a hotel was not always a money making proposition. Bill, like most business owners, had his share of ups and downs.

Bill was constantly on his smartphone. His staff would joke that his phone rang more often than his slot machines. He appreciated the well intentioned humor. It was just after 9:00 a.m. when Bill was reading a text on his phone. He sat back and smiled.

His concentration was interrupted by a buzz from his desk phone and was followed by the voice of his executive secretary.

“Excuse me, Bill,” she said. “The insurance company is on line four.”

He lifted the handset and began to speak.

“Good morning, this is Bill speaking.”

“Good morning, Bill. This is Nigel from Longfellow Insurance and I’m returning your call. How may I help you?”

“Thanks for calling me back, Nigel. Is there any update on when our claim will be paid?”

“Yes - for the art theft from your hotel. As a matter of fact there is. I see that a funds transfer was made and should be in your bank account by ten o’clock this morning. The amount was two million dollars. This is the settlement that you agreed to. Once you receive the money the file will be closed.”

“Yes, that’s fine.”

“Very good, and I’m sorry that it took so long to settle the claim. Your patience is appreciated, and hopefully you won’t have any more problems. Thank you for choosing Longfellow Insurance and have a good day.”

“And you as well, Nigel. Thanks.”

Bill hung up the telephone. He sat back and smiled. Then he called his accounting department to check if the money had been received.

“Good morning, Frank. Did we get the money from the insurance company?”

“Yes, Mr. Smith, it came in a few minutes ago.”

“How much was it?”

“The amount was two million dollars.”

“Good. Frank, do you remember the time when I asked you to transfer some money into Washington Smith’s account?”

“Yes I do, sir.”

“Good. Go ahead and transfer the entire two million dollars into the same account.”

“Yes, Mr. Smith, it’ll be done at once.”

No sooner had he hung up the phone when there was another call for him. The hotel’s security manager, Tina Eastbrook, was desperately trying to reach him. She had been waiting patiently on the line as Bill did not want to be interrupted while speaking with Frank. Tina finally got through and told Bill that another one of the hotel’s paintings had been stolen.

Tina Eastbrook

Tina rushed to examine video surveillance from the Sapphire Room. This upscale conference venue played host to many of the country’s largest corporations. They would routinely book the exclusive room for executive meetings. In addition to its award winning food and excellent service, the Sapphire Room was adorned with several paintings by renowned artists.

Tina told Bill that their security department could not figure out how the valuable painting had been stolen. Their surveillance system was state of the art and could record the smallest detail from different camera angles. The video, however, offered no clues.

The hotel had experienced their first art robbery just over two years ago. It was still unsolved by the police. This morning’s video from inside the Sapphire Room presented a challenging similarity. The cameras stopped working during the theft. The ones that were positioned outside the room all functioned properly, yet they revealed no unusual activity before or after the robbery.

The size of the stolen painting measured four feet in height and eight feet in width. The security department was baffled that such a large painting could vanish without a trace. Other smaller paintings that were in the room were left untouched.

The video from outside the Sapphire Room showed various angles of the same things. They included images of some hotel staff and the moving dolly of building materials. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The police and an investigator from the insurance company were quick to arrive on the scene. They were determined to figure out what happened and immediately met with Tina. They had plenty of questions for her, yet she had few if any answers.

Chapter 4

There was an unusually long line to check in at the San Elora Grand. Guests were getting impatient as they waited, and there seemed to be a commotion at the front desk. It involved a woman who was upset and wouldn’t stop shouting. Monique and Juliette were standing at the back of the line.

Monique Hevelle

Juliette Hevelle

They had their luggage by their side as well as Minjy, who was taking in the sights and sounds of the lobby.

Minjy the Robot

Minjy enjoyed looking at the spectacular ‘Cascade Fountain’ which was the lobby’s showpiece. Jets of water propelled into the air in an array of colors thanks to laser lights aiming at them from all directions. The fountain was entertaining to watch, and served as a nice place to relax and a convenient meeting spot.

The San Elora Grand was a beautiful hotel whose forty storey design was unique. All of its rooms had balconies either facing out towards Glitter City or in towards the lobby. The view was especially impressive from the top floor where the ‘Cirrus Lounge’ was located. It was used for parties and meetings, and had a view of Glitter City on one side and the lobby on the other.

While waiting in line with Monique and Juliette, Minjy received a fair bit of attention from the people around her. Most thought that she was some sort of amusement figure that the hotel used to entertain its guests. Everyone that saw her either smiled or said hello. Minjy was happy to return a friendly greeting.

Monique peered ahead towards the front of the line to see what was causing the delay. She noticed the hotel’s owner, Bill, as well as Tina from security, standing behind the front desk. They looked like they had their hands full with the woman who was shouting.

Percy the Cat

“We are doing everything possible to locate Percy,” said Bill. “In the meantime, I ask that you move to one side and allow other guests to check in.”

“I will not budge until you find Percy!” replied the woman in a defiant tone of voice.

Moments earlier upon her arrival at the hotel, the woman had her cat, Percy, in a travel pet carrier. The bell hop took the woman’s luggage and the carrier to the front desk. As the carrier was placed on the floor, the door mistakenly opened and Percy ran out. He was nowhere to be seen. The woman became hysterical and insisted that everyone help find her cat.

“Juliette, I’m going to the front to help Bill and Tina,” said Monique. “They look like they’re having a problem with one of the guests. Please wait here with Minjy.”

As Monique walked away, Juliette began speaking with a man who was also waiting in line. She became caught up in their conversation and hadn’t noticed that Minjy wandered off.

“Oh dear,” said Juliette to herself, “this is not good. Where could Minjy have gone?”

When Monique got to the front desk she heard the heated exchange between the woman and Bill. As much as he tried, Bill was having no luck reasoning with her.

“I want my precious Percy. Please go and find him at once!” she shouted.

All the while, Minjy was darting around the lobby. She noticed a tall, glass wall unit that was filled with decorative Oriental vases. Minjy thought that they were pretty. The upper most section of the unit had a cabinet with a gold colored, wooden door. Minjy happened to notice that it was open. Her curiosity got the better of her and she wondered what was inside. As it was high up, she had to use her zoom vision to get a better look. The inside of the cabinet was dark, but Minjy’s infrared eyesight allowed her to use night vision to see properly. To her surprise, Percy was sound asleep inside.

Minjy waved frantically to Monique.

“Monique, come over here! There’s a cat inside this cabinet,” yelled Minjy.

Everyone at the front desk heard Minjy. The woman, Bill, and Tina bolted in Minjy’s direction, with Monique following behind. Minjy stood aside as Bill reached up and removed Percy from inside the cabinet. The woman was relieved to say the least. She turned to Minjy and said, “Thank goodness you found my precious Percy. I cannot thank you enough. How did you manage to find him?”

“I was looking around the lobby when I noticed that the cabinet door on that wall unit was open. I was curious as to what was inside, but it was high up and difficult to see. My eyesight has a special mode that allows me to zoom in on things. I can magnify objects and see them in greater detail. I have the ability to see millions of pixels that come together to form the image of an object. I also have infrared eyesight. I use night vision that allows me to see in total darkness. As you can well imagine, all of this comes in handy!”

“That is fantastic! You must be some sort of machine - perhaps a computer? What is your name?”

“Actually, I am a robot and my name is Minjy.”

“It is a pleasure to meet you, Minjy. Thank you so much for finding my precious Percy. It is very kind of you.”

“It is nice to meet you too, and I am happy that I’ve made you happy.”

The woman made her way back to the front desk and in no time it was business as usual. Tina went back to her office, while Bill made his way over to Monique to speak with her.

“Welcome back, Monique,” he said. “That’s quite the robot you have there! Thanks for your help. Did you have a good vacation?”

“Yes, I had a very nice time,” replied Monique. “How is everything at the San Elora Grand?”

“Much better now that you’re back,” said Bill. “We had another art theft from the Sapphire Room, but everything will be fine. Now if I’m not mistaken, you still have a bit of vacation time left before you go back to work at the Glitzy. Is that right?”

“Yes it is,” she replied. “I’m only in town for a few days and then I’m off to St. Belle to take my sister back home.”

“That sounds nice. I’m sure she appreciates it,” he said.

“She does,” replied Monique. “I’m truly sorry to hear about the theft.”

“Thank you, Monique, and good seeing you,” said Bill. “I’m sure you’ll enjoy staying at this hotel. The San Elora Grand is very different from the Glitzy Resort and it will be a nice change for you. I’ll be curious to hear what you think. Enjoy the rest of your vacation.”

As he walked away, Monique couldn’t help but think that Bill was such a great boss to work for.

* * * *

The walk back to his office took Bill past the casino. He heard a friendly greeting coming from one of the blackjack tables. It was a man’s voice with a cockney English accent.

“Good morning, Mr. Smith. Fine day, ain’t it?”

Bill stopped to look and realized that the voice belonged to the dealer whose table was closest to the lobby. Bill approached him and glanced at his name tag.

“Good morning, Mick. You must be new to our casino. I don’t believe we’ve met before.”

“That’s right, sir.

“Where are you from, Mick?”

“East London – Redbridge to be exact.”

“I was in London a few years ago.”

“I’m sure you enjoyed it. Really fine hotel you’re running here.”

“Well, Mick, I’m impressed that you even recognized me.”

“I’m pretty good with faces, sir. Besides that, I’m interested in money and how people make it. I do hope the hotel business is being kinder to you these days.”

“Excuse me?”

“You know what I mean - no losses. Hopefully your hotel is ‘back in the black’, as you executives say. I deal cards in a casino and know that you can win big and lose big in this business. Ain’t that right, sir? No doubt you can weather the storm and I wish you luck. Hopefully, things have turned around for you.”

“Everything is just fine. You have yourself a ‘lucky day’ as we executives say in this business. Isn’t that right, Mick?”

“Thank you, sir, and you as well.”

Bill continued back to the office. He was taken off guard by Mick’s remarks, but nevertheless kept a smile on his face. Mick, on the other hand, grinned, as if he had something on Bill.

* * * *

Monique, Juliette, and Minjy finished checking in and went up to their room. They had arrived in Glitter City from Port Marcia a few hours earlier. Their flight was quite long but comfortable. Prior to departing, Minjy was powered off and left in the care of the airline. She was placed in a special cargo hold of the plane that was reserved for fragile items. Upon arrival she was returned to Monique and Juliette, powered up, and appeared to be as good as new.

The following morning was a lazy one for Monique and Juliette, who still had a bit of jet lag. Eventually, they made their way down to breakfast and Minjy stayed behind in the room. Upon leaving, Juliette put the green ‘housekeeping please’ tag on the doorknob for the room to be cleaned.

The San Elora Grand Hotel had earned a reputation for outstanding customer service, and this was thanks to its prompt and courteous staff. Their housekeepers ensured that every room was neat, tidy and well stocked. If there was a speck of dust or a towel to be replaced, it was taken care of immediately.

Minjy was alone and stood near the corner of the room by a large window. It had a great view of Glitter City and she had never seen anything like it before. Minjy was captivated by the gleaming skyscrapers whose glass walls sparkled in the sunlight. She was also intrigued by the dazzling signs atop the buildings that looked like shining rubies, emeralds, and sapphires on a magnificent crown.

No sooner had Monique and Juliette left when there was a polite knock on the door. After a few seconds, the door latch opened and there was an equally polite greeting.

“Good morning, this is housekeeping,” said Iga. “May I enter?”

Minjy heard the unfamiliar voice and became frightened. She moved quietly behind the window curtain and hid from view. Then she heard a different voice - a second woman began to speak.

“Iga, I’ve been looking all over for you.”

“I’m sorry, Tina. Is everything okay?”

“No. There’s been a theft from the Sapphire Room. It happened yesterday morning and a valuable painting was stolen. My department has been reviewing the video surveillance with the insurance company and the police. It showed several people who were near the room just before the theft occurred and one of them is you. Iga, why were you there? You have no business being on the lower level.”

Iga became nervous but responded in a calm tone of voice.

“I ran out of linens and took the elevator to the laundry room on the second floor. I guess I didn’t press the right button and I ended up on the lower level. I wasn’t paying attention and got out of the elevator before realizing where I was. It’s nothing more than that. Silly me!”

“I see. I’m afraid that the insurance investigator and the police are going to question you. This is the second art theft that we’ve had and they are determined to figure out who did it.”

“But Tina, I not work long time here.”

Tina smiled.

“Iga, sometimes your grammar cracks me up!”

“I apologize, but I guess I’m nervous because you said that the police and the insurance company will be questioning to me.”

“Iga, you have nothing to be nervous about as long as you’ve done nothing wrong. It should be routine for the most part. Besides, you’re not the only one being questioned. I do, however, wonder why it is that you lingered by the Sapphire Room for as long as you did? The video also shows that you were using your phone while on duty. This has become a problem among the staff.”

“I don’t remember if I was or wasn’t. I guess I stayed there longer than I should have because I was talking to some men from the renovation crew.”

By now Iga’s face was flushed. She was even more nervous by Tina’s persistent questioning. The two finished their conversation and Iga was left alone in the room. She was upset and tears began rolling down her cheeks.

“I cannot believe this is happening,” said Iga, who was mumbling out loud. “The police and the insurance are suspicious of me.”

Iga sat down on one of the beds and wept. Minjy continued standing behind the curtain and was saddened by Iga crying.

Chapter 5

“Good morning, ladies,” said the restaurant hostess. “It will be just a few minutes for a table. Is that okay?”

“Oh yes, of course, that will be fine,” replied Juliette.

The San Elora Grand’s coffee shop was the most popular restaurant in the hotel. It was located on the lobby level just across from the casino. It was open twenty four hours a day and was always busy.

As Monique and Juliette waited, they were greeted by a friendly ‘hello’ from a handsome, well dressed man. He was the one that Juliette had met the day before while standing in line to check in.

“Hi there,” replied Juliette. “It seems that we’re always waiting in one line or another.”

“Yes, I’m afraid that’s often the case in Glitter City. Are you here for breakfast?”

“Yes we are. By the way, my name is Juliette, and this is my sister, Monique.”

“It’s very nice to meet you. My name is Lars. What brings you to Glitter City?”

Lars Crocker

“We just got in yesterday from Port Marcia. We were there on vacation and decided to stay over in Glitter City for a few days. After that, I’ll be heading back home.”

“That sounds very nice. If you don’t mind me asking, where is home?”

“We come from a small town called St. Belle and I still live there. It’s overseas and you probably haven’t heard of it. Monique lives here in Glitter City and will be accompanying me back. What about you, Lars. What brings you to Glitter City?”

“Actually, I also live here.”

Juliette and Lars took an instant liking to eachother. They were enjoying their conversation when Monique decided to join in.

“As a matter of fact,” said Monique, “I’m a dealer at the casino in the Glitzy Resort Hotel. How about you, Lars? What do you do for a living?”

“I’m also a dealer, but not in the casino,” he replied. “All kidding aside, I’m an art dealer. I’ve sold several paintings to the San Elora Grand, many of which decorate the Sapphire Room. I’m sorry to say that one of my favorite paintings was stolen from there yesterday. I’m meeting with the hotel’s owner to discuss a replacement for it.”

“Oh, so you’re meeting with Bill,” said Monique.

“Yes, that’s right,” he replied. “Of course you know Bill. You work in his casino.”

“Yes, and he’s a very nice man,” she said.

It seemed that Monique, Juliette, and Lars could have talked for hours, but their conversation was cut short by the hostess. As the women were about to be seated, Lars extended friendly handshakes to them.

“It was really nice speaking with you both,” he said. “Juliette, maybe I’ll have the good fortune of seeing you again before you go home. Monique, I’m sure I’ll see you at some point in the casino. I’ve been known to occasionally try my luck in there.”

As the hostess showed Monique and Juliette to their table, they saw Lars being greeted by Bill. They were escorted by the restaurant manager to a separate dining area. Bill was about to sit down when his phone vibrated, indicating an incoming message.

“Bill, is everything okay?” asked Lars.

“It’s a message from Tina,” he replied. “Would you mind coming with me to the office? It’s urgent.”

The two wasted no time and were on their way.

* * * *

Upon their arrival they were met by Tina. She introduced Bill and Lars to the investigator from the insurance company.

“Good morning, Bill,” said the investigator. “My name is Paige Wright and I’m a senior investigator at Longfellow Insurance. I’ve gone over the video from the theft. I’ll be interviewing several individuals in the video that I think are persons of interest. I find it strange that there’s no video from inside the Sapphire Room during the robbery.

Paige Wright

“I can’t believe that a hotel like the San Elora Grand has an inferior security department with a second rate surveillance system. In all my years as an investigator I’ve never come across anything like this - it’s as if someone has deleted the video. I’ve decided to ‘red flag' this investigation. I guarantee that you will not receive a penny from Longfellow Insurance until I’m satisfied that this isn’t insurance fraud.”

Bill was flabbergasted.

“To say that I don’t appreciate your comments is an understatement,” replied Bill. “Everything at my hotel is top notch, and that includes Tina and her department. Our surveillance system is second to none. This is my art dealer, Lars, and you can get his opinion. He’ll tell you that our security is the best that money can buy. Paige, go ahead with your investigation. I’ll tell you what - why don’t I put in a call your competitor, Claystone Insurance. I’m sure they won’t hesitate to grab my business.”

“I meant no disrespect, sir, but I take my job seriously,” she said. “You are welcomed to do whatever you want. After all, you’re the customer and it’s your money. As a senior investigator, I’m independent from my head office - that allows me to do my investigation without interference from their sales department.

“As long as your hotel has done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about. On the other hand, the police will be brought in if I suspect that any of your staff has acted fraudulently. You’ll be seeing a lot of me in the coming days and weeks. I trust that I’ll receive your full co-operation. Now, Bill, if you don’t mind I’d like to speak with you in private. It won’t take long.”

He agreed, and Paige followed him into his office and closed the door.

“What can I do for you, Paige?”

“How long has Tina been working for you, and what can you tell me about her?”

“Why would you be asking me about Tina?”

“I ask about everyone – that’s my job as an investigator. She has access to the surveillance system. There’s no video of the theft, and it’s possible that it could have been deleted intentionally.”

“Paige, are you suggesting that Tina could have deleted it?”


“That’s impossible! Tina is my security manager and is here to protect me – not to rob me. I’m afraid you’ve got it all wrong.”

“Don’t be so sure. Bill, you’d be surprised by how many times the thief is right under your nose.”

Bill heard enough and lost his patience.

“If you’ll excuse me, Paige, I need to get going. You’ll be given everything you need to carry out your investigation. I have nothing to hide.”

Bill left - he was not pleased.

Chapter 6

Tina and Paige were alone in the office. As they reviewed the video from before and after the theft, Tina was asked to identify each person that she recognized. Paige came up with a short list of persons of interest that included hotel staff and anyone involved with the lower level renovation. She was of the opinion that they were the most likely suspects.

After going over the video several times, Paige focused her attention on two women. One of them was Iga, and the other one was Helga, a building materials supplier. The women were seen talking to eachother as well as texting on their phones.

“Tina, take a look this video. I need the names of these two women. I want to speak to them right away,” said Paige.

“Sure, that will be no problem,” she replied. “The housekeeper’s name is Iga Novack, and the other woman is Helga Burton - she’s a supplier. She’s in and out of here on a regular basis while the lower level is being renovated. Helga is really great and ensures that all of the building materials are here and on time when ordered.

Helga Burton

“Paige, I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, but I highly doubt that either of them could have anything to do with the theft.”

“There’s a reason why I’m a senior investigator,” said Paige. “I’ve dealt with fraud for years, and I can tell you that often it’s the ones who you’d least expect that are committing it. Tina, why don’t you concentrate on trying to figure out who stole the painting rather than trying to second guess me? Please locate Iga or Helga. I’d like to speak with them as soon as possible.”

“Yes of course,” she replied.

Tina messaged Iga and Helga and asked where they were. Both responded that they were in the hotel - Iga was on her morning shift, and Helga was on the lower level speaking to the renovation crew.

“Both women are in the hotel,” said Tina. “Iga is cleaning the lounge up on the fortieth floor and Helga is on the lower level. You may speak to either one of them. It’s up to you.”

“I think I’ll pay a visit to Helga,” replied Paige. “I’d like to see the lower level and the Sapphire Room.”

Paige left the office without saying good-bye. It wasn’t from a lack of manners, but rather that Paige approached her job with a ‘business is business’ attitude.

* * * *

The elevator door opened on the San Elora Grand’s lower level. Paige exited and immediately recognized Helga, who was standing by a large skid of supplies.

“Excuse me, Helga. My name in Paige Wright and I’m a senior investigator with Longfellow Insurance. I’d like to speak with you for a few minutes.”

“Why do you want to speak with me?”

“Helga, are you aware that a valuable painting was stolen from the Sapphire Room yesterday?”

“Yes, I heard about it and I feel so bad for Bill. He takes a lot of pride in his art, and I also know that the Sapphire Room is the apple of his eye. But I still don’t understand why you want to talk to me. I had nothing to do with it.”

Paige did not respond immediately. From her training as an investigator she had developed the skill of being an excellent listener. She also learned to keep her questions brief and to concentrate on the responses. Paige was keenly aware of voice patterns and body language. These helped her to determine if questions were answered with ease or nervous hesitation.

“Helga, the video surveillance shows that you were on the lower level at the time of the theft. Why were you here?”

“That’s part of my job. I routinely spend time here during the renovation to ensure that the crew has all of the materials that are needed. That’s what makes me such a good supplier.”

“I see. There was a delivery of materials that were made yesterday morning just before the theft occurred. What sort were they?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know? Helga, you just finished telling me that you’re such a good supplier. Why is it that you don’t know what materials were being delivered?”

“It could have been a delivery from a competitor. Unfortunately, I don’t get all of the San Elora Grand’s business. I am only one of several suppliers that they use.”

“So you’re saying that the delivery wasn’t from you?”

Helga hesitated before responding, and when she did she spoke quickly.

“Listen, Paige, I was down here yesterday for a short time. How do I know exactly which delivery you are referring to? For all I know, there could have been several deliveries yesterday morning, including one of mine. I’d really have to see your video in order to give you a more accurate answer. Now if we’re done, I have to get going.”

“Helga, why were you talking to the housekeeper? What is your relationship with her?”

“I don’t know who you’re talking about. I’m leaving, and I’ll make a point of letting Bill know about our conversation.”

“You’re free to do so. Helga, just keep in mind that Bill is as determined as me to find out who stole his painting and to get it back. I’ll see you around.”

Helga left and quickly made her way towards the elevator.

“I’ll have to do something and fast,” thought Helga. “That woman is nothing but trouble.”

Paige had all that she needed from Helga and was eager to speak with Iga. For Paige, gathering clues was like fitting puzzle pieces together. Eventually the whole picture would emerge.

Rather than seeing the Sapphire Room, Paige decided to head up to the fortieth floor to speak with Iga. It was easy to find her from the location of her housekeeping cart. The door to the Cirrus Lounge was open, and Iga got startled upon hearing her name being called.

“Yes, it is Iga. Who is looking for me?”

“Good morning, Iga. This room has the most spectacular view of Glitter City, wouldn’t you say?”

“I suppose it does. I too busy cleaning to look out window.”

Iga’s grammar made Paige smile.

“The San Elora Grand must keep you very busy. I’m sure your housekeeping is second to none.”

“Thank you. Do you want to ask me a question?”

“Yes, if you don’t mind. My name is Paige, and I’m a senior investigator with Longfellow Insurance. A painting was stolen from the Sapphire Room yesterday morning. Our video surveillance shows that you were near there before the theft occurred. Isn’t that correct?”

Suddenly, Iga began to breathe heavily and her eyes were tearing. She sat down on the bed and looked at Paige, saying, “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Nobody says that you did. Iga, what makes you think that?”

“Yesterday, my boss, Tina, also asked me questions about the painting. She said that I am on the video from where it was stolen. But I was not in the Sapphire Room. Never!”

“Tina was right when she told you that you appear in the video. I saw it myself. You were texting on your phone, and standing near a woman and speaking with her. Who is she? How do you know her?”

“I don’t know that woman. She almost fell on my cleaning cart! She was texting on her phone and did not look where she was going.”

“Did you see anything unusual when you were on the lower level yesterday morning?”

Iga sat hunched over on the bed. Her face was red and she could not stop crying. Paige could see that Iga was upset and very nervous. After a few moments, Iga straightened up and her demeanor became defiant.

“I saw nothing and I know nothing! I do my cleaning and I have done nothing wrong. I am upset that Tina spoke to me yesterday and that you are talking to me today. Everybody should just leave me alone. You go away or I’ll go to Bill and tell him that I quit job!”

“Iga, that won’t be necessary. I am sorry that you’re upset. The robbery is a serious matter, and Tina and I are just trying to do our jobs.”

“I must do my job too. Enough talking, please go away.”

Paige did not want to make Iga feel any worse. She left off speaking with her and went back to the office. From her conversations with Helga and Iga, Paige still considered both women to be persons of interest.

* * * *

It had been a long day. It was just after five in the afternoon and people in the office were finishing their work and getting ready to leave. He was about to as well when his phone vibrated. The WaveTitan’s screen illuminated and the message icon appeared. He gave a voice command.

“Open message.”

The screen illuminated and the encrypted message read: Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

“Decrypt message.”

The wording of the message now read: We have a serious problem on our hands.

He began to worry.

“Create message.”

The flashing icon appeared on the screen and prompted him to speak.

“We need to talk right away.”

The icon stopped flashing which meant that the message was ready to be sent.

“Send message.”

He felt even more worried than before.

Chapter 7

Monique and Juliette were getting ready for their evening out on the town. They had dinner reservations for 9:00 p.m. at ‘Pilitas Bistro’ which was one of Glitter City’s newest restaurants. The sun had almost set, and the city’s bright lights began to shine in the dusk.

Minjy stood in what now became her favorite spot in the room. Her fascination with the view of Glitter City was still a novelty. She would gaze out the window for hours and was as quiet as a mouse. She was absolutely no trouble for Monique and Juliette.

“Juliette, are you almost ready?” asked Monique. “I thought it would be fun to go to the lobby lounge before heading over to Pilitas.”

“Yes, I’ll be done in a minute,” she replied, “I’m just doing my makeup. The lounge sounds like a great idea. Who knows, maybe we’ll bump into Lars!”

“Lars? Now that’s a random thought. Are you interested in him?” asked Monique.

“I don’t know. We’ve spoken a couple of times and he seems like a nice guy. I wouldn’t mind getting to know him a little better. I’ve never dated an art dealer!” replied Juliette.

Juliette smiled at Monique.

Minjy was listening to their conversation as she stared out the window. Then she turned towards Juliette, saying, “May I please ask you a question?”

“Certainly, Minjy, what’s on your mind?”

“A moment ago you mentioned something about art. Is that the same thing as a painting? You know - like a picture on a wall?”

“Yes it is. Why do you ask?”

“When you and Monique went for breakfast, the housekeeper came to clean our room. She unlocked the door, and when I realized that it wasn’t either of you, I became frightened and hid behind the curtain. While she was cleaning, the housekeeper was interrupted by a woman who began talking about a painting that had been stolen. The woman asked the housekeeper if she knew anything about it.”

Monique was listening as Minjy and Juliette spoke.

“I know what they were talking about,” said Monique. “A painting was stolen from the Sapphire Room and it was very valuable. I wonder why anyone would be questioning the housekeeper?”

“The woman said that the housekeeper was near that room when the painting was stolen,” replied Minjy. “The woman kept mentioning something about the housekeeper being in a video. Then the housekeeper began to cry a lot. It made me feel sad.”

Monique and Juliette could sense that Minjy was becoming upset by what had happened to the housekeeper. Then they noticed Minjy’s front red light begin to glow dimly.

“Minjy, you’re becoming upset,” said Monique, “and you’re front light is starting to glow. You have to stay calm and not think the worst. I’m sure there’s a very good reason why the woman was asking the housekeeper about the painting. Perhaps she may have seen someone or something while she was near the Sapphire Room. Hopefully the housekeeper had no involvement in the theft and she’ll be okay.”

“There’s something else,” replied Minjy.

“What is it?” asked Monique.

“When the woman entered our room to speak with the housekeeper, she called her by her first name - Iga. I knew a woman named Iga from when I worked in the workshop that made clocks,” replied Minjy.

“What are you saying, Minjy?” asked Monique. “I’m sure there are plenty of women named Iga.”

“Yes, I’m sure there are,” replied Minjy. “But the housekeeper spoke exactly the same as Iga that I knew. Her grammar sounded funny. Even the woman who was speaking with Iga commented about it. And the housekeeper was a heavy set woman. So was Iga from the clock factory.”

“I don’t know what to say,” said Monique. “Maybe you’ll see her again if she happens to clean our room. Then you can find out if she’s Iga who you once knew. Please don’t be sad, Minjy. I’m sure the housekeeper is absolutely fine.”

Minjy’s front red light had stopped glowing.

Juliette spoke up, saying, “Are you feeling a bit better now that you’ve spoken with us?”

“Yes I do, thanks,” replied Minjy.

“That’s good. Now if you’ll please excuse us, I think Monique and I will be heading out for the evening. Will you be okay by yourself?” asked Juliette.

Purchase this book or download sample versions for your ebook reader.
(Pages 1-29 show above.)