Elements of Mystery takes chemistry to a new level in the ongoing series of mystery novels by author Terri Talley Venters.

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The train from Rome arrived at the armpit of Italy, also known as Naples. Luckily, Gabriella only had to stop in Naples long enough to transfer to the Circumvesuviana, the train which would take the dark-haired beauty to Sorrento. Then a ferry would whisk her away to her final destination–the beautiful and serene Isle of Capri just off of the Amalfi coast. Although she could’ve taken a longer ferry ride directly from Naples, Gabriella opted to detour via Sorrento just for pizza. The wood-burning oven at Ristorante Pizzeria da Gigino makes the best Neopolitan-style pizzas. She licked her lips, tasting the Quatro formaggi with a glass of chianti already.

The train’s engine expelled its exhaust as it stopped, and the doors opened. She retrieved her pink suitcase from the chrome luggage rack, extended the handle, and pulled it down the narrow aisle of the first class car. A woman dressed in a cobalt blue suit and matching hat exited her first class compartment. Gabriella did a double take because the lady reminded her of Queen Elizabeth II. Only this woman appeared as a platinum blonde in her fifties instead of the white haired monarch. The queen’s younger clone retrieved two pieces of her matching Louis Vuitton luggage, while a young Italian man helped her with the other three. The dark haired man didn’t resemble a relative. Man servant? Boy toy? Shaking off the notion, Gabriella vowed to mind her own business.

After patting herself on the back for not packing so much crap, she gingerly descended the three narrow steps. Setting foot onto the cement platform at Napoli Termini, she met with an early autumn breeze. Gabriella pulled her pink suitcase and briskly traversed the platform to the main terminal. Checking the enormous round clock at the station, her stomach grumbled. Ignoring the hunger pains, she bypassed purchasing a sandwich at the stand and followed the signs to the Circumvesuviana. She avoided the ticket window and its long line thanks to the Italy Rail Pass next to her passport which safely hung in a pouch under her shirt. Pick pockets and Gypsies lurked at train stations, just waiting to steal from careless tourists.

Gabriella stepped onboard the third car of the train and couldn’t find a seat anywhere, at least not a seat with any available room in the luggage rack above. Not wanting to let her luggage leave her sight, she placed it against the wall by the bathroom and sat on it. The thought of risotto, Limoncello, and a swim in the Blue Grotto beneath the Isle of Capri tonight with her lover got her through the next two hours of the hell train. That, and the beautiful scenery–the ocean on the right and Mount Vesuvius on the horizon.

She arose from her perch on the suitcase as the train pulled into the small Sorrento station. Gabriella promptly found the WC, relieved to have held her bladder for the last two hours and to have avoided the putrid bathroom on the train. She freshened up her appearance before meeting her handsome Italian lover, Giovanni, for the weekend. Excitement filled Gabriella at the thought of great food, wine, and toe-curling sex on the beautiful Amalfi coast.

Before descending all of the steps from the train station to the streets of Sorrento, she spotted the lady she’d seen on the train from Rome to Naples who resembled the queen. Only this time, the lady stood alone without her five matching pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage and boy toy.

The lady scanned the train’s platform as the Circumvesuviana prepared for its return trip to Napoli. Making eye contact, the lady walked towards her with a waving arm and a look of panic.

“Excuse me, do you speak English?”

“Yes, are you okay?”

“No, I can’t find my porter. This nice Italian man helped me with all of my luggage back in Naples. He said he’d get it on the Circumvesuviana for me and I could pick it up once I arrived in Sorrento.” A tear dropped onto her cheek as the realization sank in.

Gabriella’s heart broke for the woman as Rick Steve’s words of warning rolled off her tongue. “Ma’am, there aren’t any porters at train stations in Italy.”

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