1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense.
My name is Sam Steele. I’m an FBI agent, with our art crime team. Art crime is overlooked by a lot of police departments. Yet, it’s a seventy-billion-dollar-a-year crime with criminals using paintings as collateral to finance everything from arms, drugs and money-laundering deals. Not to mention the cost of lost history and culture. We got a lead on this current case when we got a tip that a stolen Native American painting was being sold out of Skagway, Alaska, to the Robbins’ Gallery. When Jennifer and Cassandra Robbins, heiress’s to the gallery being run by their guardian until their approaching 25th birthday, booked a cruise to Alaska, I knew I didn’t have time to set up a sting by my usual methods. So I decided to book my parents, widowed brother, my nephew and myself on the same cruise, under the pretense of celebrating our parents’ 40th wedding anniversary, with the goal of befriending the women in order to gather the evidence against them that I needed.
2. Tell us about the woman you are investigating, Jennifer Robbins. What was your first impression? When did you know it was love?
Jennifer and her twin sister Cassandra were raised in a small rural Washington State community, where her mother taught art and her father managed a store. Then her mother’s art was discovered and the family moved to Seattle where they opened what quickly became a lucrative art gallery. Sadly, the girls lost their parents in a tragic accident at seventeen and became wards of the gallery’s curator. However, unlike her sister who works at the gallery and seems to love the glamorous parties and publicity that goes along with it, Jennifer works for a charitable foundation, seems to embrace a quiet and humble lifestyle and claims to be a believer. I was skeptical at first. I’d been duped before by a beautiful woman that almost cost me a case. But from the first time I met Jennifer, I felt an undeniable attraction to her beauty inside and out. My family adored her, too, especially my nephew who she helped win at dominoes. Spending time with her and my family felt like old times, the idyllic life I’d once dreamed about having, before…
Well, never mind that. When did I know it was love?
Looking back now, I’d have to say it was the first time I saved her life. I remember saying “I won’t let you go.” And ever since, I haven’t wanted to.
3. What strengths/skills do you have? What is your greatest weakness?
I guess my greatest talent is that I can be whoever or whatever I need to be to get the job done. My greatest weakness is probably my incessant need to prove myself.
4. What scares you?
The thought of making a wrong call, a mistake that could cost someone his or her life.
5. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I would’ve walked through the sorrow and grief with my extended family after my cousin died, instead of moving a continent away to avoid it.
6. Where are you in your faith at the start of your story?
I take my faith very seriously, but I realize now that I used work to avoid things I hadn’t wanted to face and as a result wasn’t truly living.
7. Where are you in your faith at the end of the story?
I learn what it means to really trust and realize that my family forgives me for my mistakes and wants to be a part of my life, and I’m finally able to embrace the life God wants for me.
8. What is the one thing you would never do?
Now? Lie to the woman I love.
9. What is the most unusual thing about you?
I guess I would have to say that although I’m a believer, I have posed as many a criminal, usually by posing as an unscrupulous private collector willing to overlook a masterpiece’s provenance for the opportunity to own it, in order to recover it and bring bad guys to justice.
10. What do you hope people will learn from your experience in this story?
Love is worth the risk.