Mr. Curtis had been mulling over plans for his next big score for over a week. It was a good plan. Solid. He only wasn’t sure if he should include Ms. Fox or not. However, as he set course for the destination, and the days wore on, he decided to let her in on the details.
Mr. Curtis approached Ms. Fox with his idea of going to Saint Luca, location of one of the Marqué estates. The family was well known, not only for their wealth, but also their political influences. In a safe were bonds and, if he were able to get at least one of them, he would be set for a long time.
The estate grounds were usual bared off to the public , but once a year the gates opened for a grand charity gala. It was a highly coveted event and invitations were hard to come by – especially for a con-artist. As for Mr. Curtis’ plan, they were going to go to the gala, break into the safe, and make off with the bonds. After years he had finally been able to acquire a ticket – or one that he was certain would pass for one – and gain entrance. He even had an idea for how to get her in as well, but Ms. Fox was only partially paying attention. Memories of years spent at the estate came to her, along with the reason why she left, and her mind was elsewhere.
Ms. Fox interrupted what he was saying, informing him that she had her own way in, and that she knew someone at Saint Luca that would be able to take care of the boat. This revelation drew suspicion from Mr. Curtis and he was surprised.
“So….,” Mr. Curtis started to say as he leaned against the cabin’s roof of the boat, watching her as he slowly peeled a kiwi with his small knife. He looked away and watched the approaching shoreline. “A friend, eh? That you can ditch the boat with?” Mr. Curtis was moodier than usual. Normally he wouldn’t care if the partner he was working with had their own contacts, but this was different. It irked him. The job would get done, so why did he care?
Ms. Fox was watching him, even as she chose her words. “In this line of work, you have to have connections, right? I’m sure you have some too.” Mr. Curtis ignored her question as he went to the wheel and prepared to steer into the docking area.
Ms. Fox left the deck to gather her bags, his too, and prepare for docking. Once she was out of sight, Ms. Fox let out a sigh and checked over her shoulder to make sure he wasn’t watching. She didn’t know how he planned to get in, but she didn’t want anything to happen to him either. Then there was the question of the boat. They would dock in a few hours. Ms. Fox knew that he was curious of her actions, and going there, to the party, was a risk, but she couldn’t tell him her secret. It was better he didn’t know.
Knowing they would be separated once they left the boat, she wrote instructions for him on a slip of paper. Though she felt a pang of guilt over not telling him, she had to work fast.
It was not long before they docked. Mr. Curtis took her hand and brought her up to him. They were face to face and Ms. Fox used that moment to slip her note into his pant pocket. A smile on her lips, she patted his cheek and then bent to pick up her bags. She wanted to say something to him, but instead she walked past. She had to get to the Harbor Master before he got to them. “I’ll take care of the harbor master and see you tonight,” Ms. Fox said over her shoulder as she left him at the boat and the dock.
Ms. Fox didn’t bother to look back and after him, knowing that Mr. Curtis could take care of himself. She reached the Harbor Master just as he was exiting his office and he paused when he saw her. Ms. Fox recognized him and, by the look on his face, he knew her as well. “My dear, my poor, poor dear,” said the Harbor Master, reaching out and taking her hands. “I’m so sorry.”
Ms. Fox’s brows furrowed in confusion and she shook her head. “What are you talking about?”
The Harbor Master’s face was clouded over with sadness. “You’ve been away for so long only to return today. Word is, there’s been a robbery at the estate. And a murder.” He shook his head. “But the gala is continuing. I can’t believe it.”
Ms. Fox felt pained and concerned for her partner. He was on his way to the estate. “Wha.. what happened? Who died?” As the Harbor Master told her what he knew, Ms. Fox grew more anxious. Quickly she told him about the boat and asked that he take care of it, then she rushed off to the estate.
By the time Ms. Fox arrived cops and detectives were weaving about through the throng of people gathered around the pool being questioned. She heard bits of conversation, and concluded that the murderer had not yet been found. As she didn’t want to get questioned, she slipped into the cottage by the pool and checked her surroundings. No one was there. Ms. Fox moved to a back window and pulled out her phone from the holster on the top of her thigh. Where else would she be able to keep it in the small, black slip dress she wore?
The phone was answered on the second ring. “It’s me . . . I’m at the estate, there was a murder here. Was it…..I’m fine, really….. No, no I haven’t told anyone. Okay. .. Yes.” Ms. Fox hung up. She was a bit shaken, but she had to find Mr. Curtis. They had come here for a job.
Stepping outside she was surprised to see the one she was looking for standing there, almost waiting for her. Mr. Curtis stared at her a moment, his heavier breathing evident with the rise and fall of his chest. To Ms. Fox, he looked worried she gave him one of her gentle smiles. Then, before she knew what was happening, he had pulled her into a dance. Ms. Fox couldn’t help herself and let out a short giggle. They were silent a moment, as he moved their bodies together to the sounds of a tango.
Ms. Fox grew silent. She listened to the music that played from the hidden speakers out in the grass, and she felt the movement of their bodies as they danced and his hand upon her back but, most importantly, she looked in his eyes. He was worried, she could tell, and once again she felt a bit of guilt and suddenly she was unsure of what to do.
“It’s time…..” she said backing up from the dance and him. She would stick to the plan. The faster they got this over with, the faster they could leave before anyone gave her away, and away from the killer. It was then that she realized something that she was not yet ready to admit to herself.
His only reply was a nod. She walked back up to him quickly, her palm cupping his cheek, and slipped on a brave smile for him. Mr. Curtis hesitated, but finally went to raise his hand to her waist, but she stepped back, turned, and hurried off towards their destination. Damn him. Damn this job. Damn everything about this place.
Ms. Fox entered the estate easily and went to check one room while Mr. Curtis visited another. She knew the like the back of her hand and had only let him enter the other room alone so she could have a moment to sort out her thoughts.
Then she heard another voice coming from the room Mr. Curtis had entered and she curious. Rounding the threshold of the door, Ms. Fox saw a red-head in the arms of Mr. Curtis and her eyes narrowed.
“What’s going on here?”
Mr. Curtis looked up, but didn’t push the other lady away. Looking at the lady, it struck Ms. Fox who it was. Ms. Burke. At least, that was the name she was going by. It was a night for old memories, but what was she doing here, and what was she telling Mr. Curtis?
He had his hand out to Ms. Fox and she approached.
Ms. Burke smiled and pulled away from Mr. Curtis. “When you get a chance.” Those were her last words as she left the pair in the room together.
Mr. Curtis turned his attention to his partner in crime, and held her there against him. He even tightened his grip on her waist, eventually letting go so he could try to maintain his composure. He slowly leaned into her, and she didn’t move. Ms. Burke had told him something, Ms Fox could tell, an her pulse quickened pulse.
His jaw tightened, and he moved his head closer to hers. He was so close…. Their lips perhaps only an inch apart.
Broderick ( Check out his blog for the other part of the story : A Gentlemen’s Game )