“Are you nervous?” My partner asks. “You look like it.”
I stare at him. “No, why do I look nervous?”
“You’re shaking your leg and tapping you toes.” Realizing he’s right, I suddenly stop. Signs of nerves are always considered a sign of weakness. We can’t afford to look weak. Kevin looks back at the elevator door. “We’ve got this,” he says. “It’s a simple mission.”
“Yeah. We have to steal one of the world’s most famous diamonds,” I say. “That’s so simple. Especially in front of a bazillion people.”
“No one is going to notice us. Just remember the cover-”
I stick my hand up in protest. “I know, I know. We’re young money.” Every time, I add silently. “What happens when we aren’t young money anymore? When we aren’t young? One of these days we’ll be thirty and people will realize we don’t actually have money.”
He tips his head back and laughs. “I’d hope that we’ll be legit agents by then. Not they’re little underground agents that don’t even show up on the government’s payroll.”
He’s right. “It doesn’t matter,” I say. “We have a job, let’s get it done and so I can go back home.”
“Oh, it must be nice to have a home,” he says.
I roll my eyes. Now is not the time to listen to him lament about how he’s a wandering soul. He had the opportunity to find a home and he didn’t.
The elevator opens up and Kevin slips his arm into mine. “Showtime,” he says.
We step out of the elevator into the line. All that’s standing between the diamond and us is a pair of French doors. Kevin, always the charmer, talks up the woman behind us. He’s the cover, I’m the eyes.
As he chats with people, I’m watching those in front of us, looking for any sign that our man is here.
“Cassandra, dear, this is Melanie Starright,” Kevin says.
I smile at her. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Starright.”
“I just love your bracelet,” she says, motioning to the bracelet wrapped around my right wrist. She leans in to take a closer look.
Kevin touches me on the lower back and I look up at him quickly. The look on his face tells me that he’s found our man and we need to act fast. “If you’ll excuse us, we need to go talk to some old friends,” I say to the old woman.
She smiles at us and we leave her.
“Where is he?” I ask.
“He just went to the men’s room. You go wait by the diamond. Where’s the ear piece?”
I open my clutch and pull out two tiny earpieces plus two equally small microphones. I hand one of each to him and put mine in place. Normally we put them in before we do a mission, but the metal detectors in the front of the building pick up the interference. Never enough to pinpoint what is causing the interference, but it would be enough to pull us over and ruin our mission.
“You watch him, I’ll watch the diamond,” I say. Closing the clutch, I start walking back towards the double French doors.
The line has died down and I enter the giant ballroom without any trouble.
There are lines of tables filled with dining sets on the left. On the right is the diamond.
“Cassie, he just left the bathroom. We’re headed into the ballroom. Unless you want to fight this guy for his diamond, I suggest you steal it now.”
The diamond is currently surrounded by people. There’s no way I can sneak in and steal it with people there. “Kevin, I can’t.”
“Excuse me, miss,” a young man slides past me. I barley glance at him to acknowledge him, but I do a double take at him.
The man can’t be much older than myself. Given by the wine glass in his hand, he’s twenty-one at least, putting him at least a year older than myself. He’s tall; easily six foot seven, or maybe six-eight. I can only see his backside as he walks towards the diamond, but he’s got dark brown hair, and he’s got the backside of a guy who’s probably smoking hot.
“Cassie, what are you doing?” The voice in my ear brings me back to reality. “Quit drooling over a nobody and get your ass over to that diamond.”
I turn around and look at the doorway. Kevin is staring at me, and in a moment of teenage boy maturity, I stick my tongue out at him before I turn around and head towards the diamond case.
Most people look at it, make some “oohs” and “ahs”, and move on to talk to people. Watching the tall man, I try to think of how I can get rid of him.
By the time I walk across the ballroom to the case, he’s the only one there. I stand on the opposite side of the case from him and look down at it.
“Trying to convince your boyfriend you need a sparkly new diamond?” he asks when I arrive.
I just look at him. “What I do and do not do is none of your concern,” I say.
The man throws his hands up as if he’s surrendering. “I was just making small talk. Don’t get mad at me if your boyfriend is a cheapskate,” he says.
I just stare at him. “Considering you’ve had a thirty-second conversation with me, you make an awful lot of assumptions about my boyfriend and I. Haven’t you ever been taught about a little thing called manners?” I ask.
He laughs. He’s got a deep, rich laughter. The kind that you’d want to laugh along with.
“I’ve heard plenty about manners,” he says. “I grew up with a twin sister. A snobby, priss of a sister. A lot like yourself.” He winks at me.
“I beg your pardon, you have no right to assume that I’m a snob or a priss.”
“If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be offended,” he says.
I’m losing my patience, and the more time I spend looking at this man’s amazing face, everything the backside promised it to be, I’m not looking at the diamond case.
“I’m offended because you just assume that you know everything about me.”
“Well, I would love to get to know more about you, but I have places to be. See ya later, Cupcake.” He picks up my hand and kisses it before he leaves.
I turn around and watch him walk away until he leaves through the doors. “Cassie, do you have the diamond?” Kevin’s voice brings me out of my lala land again.
“No, but I’m alone now, so I can get it.”
I spin around and stare at the glass case. “Kevin?”
“The diamond…. It’s…it’s gone.”
A moment later, he’s next to me starting at the empty case. “There’s no way. You were watching it the whole time.”
Almost the whole time, I mentally correct him. “I was here talking to a man and there is no way he could have stolen it right out from under me without me noticing,” I say.
“And no one else walked by?”
“No. Kevin, we have to stop that man. He’s the only person who could have taken it. I have no idea how, since I was talking to him the whole entire time. The diamond was in the case when I walked up.”
“Then quit talking and get going.”
Kevin pushes me in front of him, and I start running towards the front. A few people stop and look at us, but we can’t stop to explain. They don’t need to know anyways.
When we come out into the hallway, I see the man ducking into the elevator. “There,” I say pointing.
I hit the “up” button right as the door closes and I wait a moment for it to open back up. But it doesn’t.
“Cassie,” Kevin calls. There’s an elevator on the other side of the hallway that’s opened up. I run to meet him. “What floor?”
“Take the ground level. He’s going to run out a getaway car,” I say. “We can’t afford to lose him.”
The door opens up to the ground level and the man is nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly, an alarm goes off, its whining filling up the hallway. I look towards the back, where there’s a porch.
Standing on the porch is the man, with another man, not as tall, and not nearly as good-looking as him.
The moonlight reflects off of the diamond. “Kevin,” I hiss. “Come here,” I say.
I’m surprised he hears me over the sound of the alarms. He walks over and I point to the two men before I cover my ears again.
Kevin starts moving towards them, but I grab his arm. “Wait, let’s see what’s happening.”
I walk back towards the walls, hugging it as I start walking towards the porch. I motion for Kevin to follow me, and we creep to the windows. Leaning down, I watch the two men talk.
It’s hard to make out what they’re saying over the alarms, but the man from the ballroom is flinging his arms around, obviously mad at the man with the diamond.
Then the man from the ballroom glances off to his right and looks at me. For a moment, I think it must be too dark for him to see me hiding in the building, until he winks at me.
“Shit, we’ve been spotted,” I say. I spin around on my heels and pull Kevin up as I start running. I have no idea where we’re running to, but we need a better hiding spot.
There’s a door open down the hallway when we turn. “Go.” I shove Kevin towards it.
“Cassie, where are you going?”
“To go get our diamond.”
“You can’t leave me here by myself. I’m your partner. We’re doing this together,” he says.
I look at him for a moment. I have no idea what my plan is, but I know Kevin isn’t going to let me get all the action while he sits around.
We turn back around and walk towards the window. We stop at the edge and I take a moment to catch my breath.
“Are you going to look?” he asks.
I nod. After another breath, I peak my head around the edge and look out. The two men are still going at it, so I must have not been that important.
“They’ve got our diamond. We’ve only got a few minutes to subdue them. You take the smaller, older man. I’ll take the giant,” I tell Kevin.
“Wait, why do you get to fight the big guy?” he asks.
“Because in a fight like this, it’s isn’t about the fist fight,” I say as I tug my dress up a little bit to create the illusion that my chest is bigger than it really is. “It’s about who can charm better.”
“Charm… Like seduce?”
I nod. “But this game doesn’t end up with a trip to a five star hotel…”
“But to a padded jail cell?” Kevin asks.
Kevin smiles at the sound of the inner Texan I try so hard to hide. “Let’s go.”
He pulls his gun out of his jacket and I take my heels off and leave them on the ground.
There’s a door to the balcony and we come busting out of it.
But we’re too late.
The older man is half way up the ladder to a helicopter and the tall man is grabbing a hold of the ladder.
He turns to see me and winks again. “See ya later, Cupcake.”