“You’re clear on the plan then?” Noah nodded but looked nervous. I squeezed his hand. “You’ll be fine. Just do exactly what I told you, and we’ll be in and out and on our way to Paris by midnight.”
I’d done all the groundwork. All that remained was stealing the gems, catching the charter boat at the dock, and sailing away to a new and better life.
I was experienced, Noah less so, but he’d been an attentive student, and the two small thefts we’d done together had gone off without a hitch.
Tonight was the big one, though. The last one. Lady Remington’s jewels would give us enough cash to buy a little place in Tuscany, where I could paint, he would write, and wine from grapes we planned to grow would grace our table every night.
“What if she doesn’t like me?” He fingered his bow tie for the tenth time at least.
I brushed his hand away. “Stop that. You’ll make it crooked.” I gave him an encouraging smile. “Look at you! What’s not to like? She flirted with you like mad last week at the Jameson’s. She’s ready, I tell you. Rich old fart husband died two months ago, she’s done her mourning, and now she wants to get laid, I guarantee it.”
The entire plan hinged on Noah being able to get her into bed sometime during the party and keep her there long enough for me to grab the jewels. He was bisexual; getting it up wouldn’t be difficult for him, and she wasn’t all that old.
“If you can’t get hard for some reason, give her head.” I bumped shoulders with him. “She’ll love it… and pay no attention to what I’m doing in the dressing room.”
“Sure you can get into the safe?”
“We’ve been over and over this. You do your job, I’ll do mine, and we’ll meet at the boat as planned.”
We arrived at the Remington townhouse fashionably late. The place was lit up, music and conversation pouring out through open doors and windows. People wandered freely in the yard and garden, drinks in hand. Inside, we were greeted by new friends; we’d been in town for a couple months and setting up this job for several weeks.
Julia, a pretty young thing in emerald silk, sidled up to us and leaned on Noah in a way that made me look at her twice. She’d be a problem if we couldn’t get rid of her.
“Hello, boys. How are you tonight?” She playfully stroked Noah’s cheek. He looked embarrassed and pulled away.
“Dying for a drink,” I said, camping it up. I reached for her hand. “Take me to the bar?”
Laughing, she dragged me away. I looked back over my shoulder at Noah, one eyebrow raised. He should find Lady Remington and get to work.
About an hour later, Noah, with Lady Remington on his arm, gave me the signal, and I adroitly dumped Julia, quickly ascending to the second floor and strolling down the hall to the master bedroom. Slipping inside, I paused. If noticed, I’d simply apologize, say I’d been looking for a bathroom, and leave.
They didn’t notice, though. The room was dark, and interesting noises were coming from the bed. I recognized Noah’s voice when he said, “Let me, darling. I’ll do everything, and you will be very happy.”
Smiling, I silently crept to the dressing room, closed the door, activated the flashlight app on my phone, moved to the safe, and got to work. I had it open in less than a minute. Inside were stacks of cash and neat piles of jewels. I stuffed a couple packets of hundreds in my pockets, then hid necklaces, rings, and bracelets in specially made pockets inside my fashionable jacket.
I closed the safe, turned off the app, and pulled the door partially open, listening. Lady Remington was building to a crescendo. Grinning, abuzz with the satisfaction of a job well done, I exited the bedroom and returned to the first floor, nodding to a guest who was going upstairs. I didn’t care who saw me; I’d be in France in a couple hours.
Outside, I caught a taxi and directed the driver to take me to the docks. The boat we’d hired to take us across the channel was waiting, the taciturn captain lolling patiently at the helm, not asking questions because he’d been well paid to keep his mouth shut.
Not the least bit nervous, but anxious to get away, I lounged in a chair in the bow, my attention split between the access road and the captain; being robbed at this point in the evening would be the height of irony.
When a taxi appeared and Noah jumped out, I leaped from the chair and laughed in an explosion of joy. It was done. We were off.
The instant he was aboard, I hugged him ferociously and gave him a kiss. “Any problems?”
He shook his head. “I got her talking about her jewels afterward, she offered to show me a few, and as planned, discovered them missing. The cops were called, and I stayed by her side, offering comfort and a shoulder to cry on. She was so upset, a sedative was administered.” He grinned. “I’d helped it along earlier by dosing her wine, and she was asleep minutes after the police and last guest departed.” He pulled me close and grabbed my ass. “It all went exactly as you said it would.”
“Then we’re out of here.” I turned to the captain. “Set sail for France, Kramer. Va vite!” He gave me a blank look. I sighed. “It means go quickly in French.”
The boat puttered out into the channel. Noah and I leaned on the rail, watching England get smaller and smaller in the distance.
“Think we’ll ever see London again?” I asked, gazing at the twinkling lights on the horizon.
“I probably won’t,” Noah said, “but you will.”
He stepped back, and I turned to him in surprise. He was waving at someone behind me. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Julia. The emerald silk dress had been traded for pants and a thick sweater. The gun in her hand was pointed directly at me.
“Hello again, Shawn. Please take off your jacket and hand it to Noah.”
The moment of shock passed, and I finally understood. I slipped out of my jacket and passed it to Noah, who went to stand beside Julia. The captain didn’t look our way; someone had obviously paid him even more than I had.
Noah went through the inside pockets of my jacket, checking each one. “It seems to all be here.”
“Let’s make sure, shall we?” She waggled the gun at me. “Empty your pockets.”
I tossed two packets of cash on the deck between us. Noah picked them up.
“The water’s going to be cold,” she said, slipping an arm around Noah’s waist. “But you’ll probably make it if you keep swimming. Coast is only about a mile away.”
“Why let me live at all?” I asked waspishly to cover the hurt Noah’s betrayal had caused me.
“Noah has a soft heart, and honestly? Murder was never part of the plan. Overboard with you now.”
Noah shrugged. “I’m sorry, Shawn, but I love Julia more.” He threw a packet of cash at me. “We needed you to open the safe and steal the jewels, but I do wish you well.”
I shoved the money in a pocket and went over the side. The water was goddamn cold, but Julia was right. I’d make it if I kept swimming, and thoughts of revenge would keep me warm all the way back.
Word count: 1291
Genre: contemporary crime
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