I’ve been on the bus for a half hour before I reach the stop closest to Deane Turner’s downtown office. From a block away, it looks just about the same as every other skyscraper in the city, including the other one I visited a couple days ago.
I loved stealing from people like this, I say as I’m walking off the buss. Dude won’t miss a thing. Who cares if he has 299 million instead of 300 million?
I take it you were a fan of Robinhood growing up? Rebecca says, disinterest in her voice, which is unfortunate for her because she’s stuck with my ramblings for as long as we’re together.
Victoria here sees herself as an honest thief, Isabel says. It’s how she sleeps at night.
Sleep? Last night was the first time I slept in a week. Also, both of you, thanks for not trying to take me over while I was out.
Couldn’t, Rebecca says. Turns out when you fall asleep, we fall asleep.
But you’re still trying?
No, not anymore.
I find that… comforting, at least.
This building owned by Deane Turner looks only slightly different than his other one. It’s a hotel rather than for businesses, but according to his website his office is on the top floor, and from the pictures it looks as though he might live there from time to time.
It’s funny how rich men buy buildings to show off their wealth, I say, my eyes scanning the face of every person who walks toward me on the busy sidewalk, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Overcompensating for what’s in his pants with his money.
Isabel laughs somewhere in my head. A moment later, she asks, Are you going to kill him? Do you think he’s one of the hunters?
I hadn’t considered it. Probably not.
The door attendant is peering over at me as I walk up. I flash a grin and see the man relax. Britney left directly from the gym yesterday morning and hasn’t taken a shower in who knows how long, but she’s still got it.
“Can I help you, ma’am?” he asks. He’s tall and wide, with an aggressive beard that hangs to his chest and a bulging gut that is being both held back and supported by the white shirt beneath his red vest.
“I’m here to see Mr. Turner.”
The man raises an eyebrow. “Can I ask for what business?”
“It’s a personal matter, I’d rather not get into it.”
The man shifts so he’s in front of the door. “A personal matter?”
“Yes, a personal matter,” I state through gritted teeth. “Deane and I refer to our days together like that so doormen like yourself will understand without us having to blurt it out.”
“He’s spending his Sunday with you, a random woman from the street who needs to shower?”
I put on my best ‘I want to speak with your manager’ face, like I’ve seen plenty of white women do in my life.
“Do you really want me to have to call him to come get me? Are you new or something?”
The doorman shrugs and takes a deep, condescending breath. “I’m afraid you’re going to have to.”
“Before I call him, let me ask you something. He’s going to be very embarrassed.” I glance down at the man’s hand, locating a thin, silver wedding band. “How are you going to explain to your wife that you got fired by the owner of the building himself? The same man who owns multiple other buildings in the city and who isn’t going to be keen on hiring you again?”
He processes the words for a moment before moving aside. “As you wish, ma’am. Shall I tell him you’re coming?”
“Oh, you really must be new,” I say, laughing as I walk past him. “Do you think Mr. Turner wants you to announce his mistress’s presence?”
“Of course,” he says with a gentle node. “I trust you know the way.”
That wasn’t as slick as you’d like to think it was, Rebecca says once we’re in the elevator.
Isabel is laughing over Rebecca. I’d give it a six-point-five for the dismount, but it was pretty clever.
He surprised me and I had to scramble for something.
I thought you were supposed to be this great burglar, Rebecca says.
I was a great burglar, I say, stressing the ‘was’ as much as I can. Now I’m just a woman in another woman’s body with two other women constantly talking to her, so give me a break.
The elevator is slow, but thankfully it doesn’t stop until we reach the top.
You know, it is a Sunday, Isabel says as we slow to a stop. What if he’s not here? What if he’s with his wife or kids or something?
Or with his actual mistress? Rebecca adds.
Then we’ll look around and see where we might find him, or, if we’re lucky, see where we might find Gerard.
From the way the light pours in as the doors open, it’s obvious this floor is less an office and more a living space. There are beautiful hardwood floors and not a solid wall or supporting pillar anywhere in sight. The elevator is right in the center, and there are windows all around the edges of the building that give a good view of the mountains and rest of the skyline.
Along one of the long windows is a grand display case that looks like it should be in a museum, with a placard hanging from the roof above that says ‘In Loving Memory of Brian Abrams’. The case is full of ancient-looking weapons, stone knives, bronze axes, iron and steel swords from around the world. On the opposite side of the room is a Ferrari. Not a poster of a Ferrari. Not a model of a Ferrari. An actual Ferrari, bright red, shiny, spotless. We’re on the top floor of a skyscraper in downtown and there’s a Ferrari right in front of me.
“Jonathan,” a voice calls from behind the elevator, accompanied by clacking footsteps, “you’re early. I don’t have any appointments until thr—” He stops when he sees me. “You’re not Jonathan…?”
The man looks to be in his late forties to early fifties, cleanshaven, with salt and pepper hair, skin too orange to be a real tan, bulging arms, and a gut that betrays how much he enjoys the billionaire lifestyle.
“Who’s Jonathan?” I ask as I walk forward.
“My assistant.” He straightens. “Who are you, and what do you want?”
I’m getting closer, but still too far away. “Are we all alone?”
“There’s no one else here?” I say, now only and arm’s length from him.
“No… Who put you up to this?” He motions to the giant, golden ring on his finger. “I have a wife.”
We’re only inches away despite him pacing backward. “I’m not seducing you, asshole.”
I rip the rope from my waistband and throw a loop around his hand, wrenching it behind him until I can grab the other one. He yelps in pain, but in less than a few seconds his wrists are tied and he’s sitting on the nearest chair.
“What the hell is this?” He goes to stand but I kick him in the chest to push him back into his seat.
“You really need better security in both of your buildings,” I say to the man, who I suppose I’ve just assumed is Deane Turner, “all I had to do to get inside this one was bat a few eyelashes.”
A look of realization flashes across his face. “You?”
“Yes.” I shrug and force a laugh. “I stole an electrician’s van and then impersonated her, but it seems like it never needed to be that hard.”
“They did say whoever it was didn’t seem like they knew what they were doing,” Turner says, grimacing and struggling against his bindings as Rebecca laughs in my ear. “What do you want from me?”
I sit in the chair opposite his own. “I’ll make this simple. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will if I have to.” He grunts acknowledgement, so I continue. “I need to know everything about Gerard of Meath and Morta’s Children.”
His expression turns from anger to fear in an instant. “Who are you?”
“I’m no one of importance.” I lean forward. “Just someone who needs to know everything you know about Gerard.”
“You’re dead as soon as you leave the building, no matter what you do to me.”
“You’re probably right.”
“Then what good is it?”
“Humor me,” I say.
“Or what?” He’s got a too-confident grin, like just because I’ll be dead it won’t matter what happens.
I pull Britney’s phone from my pocket. “You know, all it takes is one little text to your wife and there goes years of faithful marriage, and when they do fine me dead, who do you think they’re going to blame after that?”
Eww, Victoria, really? Isabel says.
Look, it’s all the leverage I’ve got.
“You wouldn’t dare,” he says through his surprise.
“Like I said. I don’t want to hurt you, but I will. If a text to your wife doesn’t do it, then we’ll do it a different way. I work out a lot, I imagine I can throw hands all day without getting too tired.”
He groans, looks away, stays silent for a long breath before finally opening his mouth. “Fine, you want to know about Gerard? I don’t know anything about him or his people, other than they’re all ruthlessly efficient at what they do.”
“And what do they do for you?”
“They…” He trails off, his shoulders deflating. “They help me with business. Whenever I need a favor.”
“Why?” The look on his face says he expected me to ask ‘how’, but I already know how.
“Because we have an arrangement. I pay them to help me out when I need difficult things done. I honestly don’t know why they need the money. It seems like they could get enough of it on their own.”
That’s a good question, Isabel says. Why would someone who can become anyone they want need to work with this guy for money?
“How do you get in contact with them?” I say.
“He finds me.” Deane Turner slumps back. “No matter what I do, Gerard always knows. At first it was terrifying. He knew things he shouldn’t have known. No matter how secret I kept a deal, he knew what it was.” He gives a small but surprising laugh. “Eventually I just had to accept that he knew everything I knew.”
“So, you never get into contact with him yourself?”
“No, I swear he always just knows when I need him.”
Plants people in this guy’s business? Rebecca says. Bugging his office?
Probably both, Isabel says.
I give a long, defeated sigh. “And I’m guessing you’ve never seen where he conducts business?”
Dammit, we’re running out of leads, I say.
What can we do now? Isabel asks.
I stand to leave, unable to answer her question. “What now?” he says, cowering beneath me.
“Now I leave.”
“And that’s it? No messages to my wife? No beatdown?”
“No, like I said, I don’t want to hurt you.” I take a few more steps, looking over the apartment one last time, before gesturing to the display case full of weapons. “Who was Brian Abrams?”
“A historian friend of mine who died recently.” His voice is shaking, but it doesn’t seem like with sadness. It seems more like shame. “He wanted me to donate those to a museum, but I thought they looked better here.”
I can’t help but feel like that’s such a typical thing for someone like him to do. I loved stealing from people like this. Loved stealing from people given gifts that they never fully appreciated.
“Fucking rich people.”
I’m nearly to the elevator before he speaks again. “You know you’re dead, right? He’s going to kill you as soon as you leave.”
Of course I know that. Gerard can always use my anchor to find out where I am. If he was watching me get this close to someone he actually needs, you can bet one of his hunters will be here in an instant.
“I’ll take my chances,” say without looking back. Silence hangs over the room until the elevator doors slide open. I’m heading down a few moments later.
The lobby is empty, and the doorman is gone when I reach the bottom. My body tense with expectation, I slowly walk to the street.
A rush of cold air hits me and rain pelts my face as soon as I’m out from under the tent propped up outside the door. The whole road is as empty as the lobby until a woman suddenly appears in front of me, a .9mm pistol in her hand. The Sadistic Woman.
“Clever, clever girl. Gerard is not happy with you.”
“Tell him I don’t have what he wants, but I’m trying to get it for him.”
She gives a frightening laugh. “No, you’re trying to find out where he is, and he is not amused.”
“Amused? I don’t want him to be amused. I want him to let me go.”
The two of us stand there for what seems an eternity until she raises the pistol.
“Well, I guess you have to do what you have to do,” I say, holding back a shiver and burying my disappointment so as not to give her any satisfaction. “First, your partner has to cheat to get me and then you can’t stop me from getting all the way to Deane Turner before finding me. You’re losing your edge.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll start taking you more seriously,” she says with a cackle.
We stare at each other for an eternity before she pulls the trigger.
I hear nothing. I feel nothing. Britney McCray lasted a day and a half, but Britney McCray was still gunned down in the middle of downtown. All I can hope is that the last hours of her life weren’t as wasted as Yvonne’s were.
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