tagErotic CouplingsThief in the Night Pt. 01

Thief in the Night Pt. 01

bymadam_noe©

Author's Note: This is a novella that will appear in four parts, two chapters each. It's the third in a loose chain that is my ode to 1980's pulp trash novels. You don't need to read the award winning Out Of The Past or Love On The Run (both on this site) to enjoy this story, but if you'd like to that's the order. I hope you enjoy, and comments/ratings are welcome.

Summary: Kerry Allen is a jewel thief on her last job: she must steal a rare diamond from a country auction and entrap her enemy. Turning him over to Interpol she will remain free of prison. Her godfather sends her a smart-alec hitman and an intractable sex god, Henry, to help her. But this is more than Kerry's last score: it is her chance to avenge her mother's death, and put her greatest danger behind bars. When the sparks fly between Kerry and Henry, can they keep their eyes on the prize long enough to survive?

Chapter One



This was going to be the job of a lifetime, if Kerry Allen did it right. In just two weeks her life would change forever. She would publicly retire at the top of her game, secure her underworld legacy for all time, and vengeance would finally be hers. There was just one thing in the way of her final score as a master thief; she didn't speak a word of French. Well, not unless "croissant" counted.

She spoke four languages, only one of them a Romance language, but Romanian was nowhere close to French. And there in snooty Paris no one seemed to give a shit she spoke English, German, Japanese, and Romanian with total fluency. She didn't speak French so they treated her like a moron. She had a French title through her mother, but every time she'd been through Paris her few friends there spoke English, and her mother had fled France and left every last drop of her culture behind. It seemed the blood counted for little when her tongue didn't conform.

That was why she was taking a huge risk recruiting a partner. Partners were nothing but trouble for thieves, hell her last was the reason she was in fucking France, which she hated. The food was good and there was softcore porn on TV, but the attitudes were driving her crazy. Some of that she knew came from her mother's attempt to keep her daughter separate from her homeland, but there just never seemed to be anything in France for her but a dark past. She fully intended to die alone and happy in New York City and let her cousin Alain take the damn title. He had the right snootiness for it.

Take the little café she was in, she thought. She'd had to play charades to get a pack of smokes and a cup of coffee that was normal. Why they thought the first three tries she'd wanted a café Americano was beyond her, watered down espresso was not Kerry's idea of a good drink. A good Kona blend that could strip paint, now that was coffee.

She wore a red flower in her brown hair just as she'd told her contact. Due any moment was a man who would be translator and aid in the tricky score. She'd asked for someone who could handle himself on the streets, but clean up enough to look good in a tux. Someone that spoke French like a native and had enough IQ points to follow directions and get himself out of any tight situations he might get into when she wasn't around.

So far the only customers to come in after her were a laughing couple, two old men, and one group of middle aged women, all locals, laughing and talking in speedy French. Kerry signaled again for a refill with exaggerated motions and wondered if she could use Rosetta Stone quickly enough to get by.

The café door opened, bells jangling, and a god walked in. Tall and built, his hair was blonde, pulled back into a short ponytail two shades lighter than his small goatee. With his tan and relaxed manner, were they at home she would have pegged him as a California surfer, an all-American boy grown into one hell of a man. She sat up straight hoping he was the man her contact had sent. If her translator/goon/assistant was also hot, perhaps she'd have a fun diversion for the next two weeks.

Sex in her line of work only worked out with fellow underworld movers and shakers. Men who understood everything was temporary, nothing was real but shiny jewels, gold, valuables, and cash. She usually preferred the older, bookish types, but this was a man any woman would be fool to pass up. He likely wasn't much of a deep thinker, but probably a good time in bed, the perfect wham-bam-thank you-sir candidate.

He looked around and his eyes lit on her. Smiling she waggled her fingers and he came over, moving like a jungle cat surveying his territory.

"Bonsoir, j'espère que vous n'avez pas attendu longtemps. Je suis Henry, Georges m'a envoyé."

She blinked at the fluid French. His voice was deep, his accent wasn't native Parisian, but it was a damn good imitation. Her mother's had been flawless and though she didn't know the language, Kerry had a perfect ear for accents and this was a transplant, American. Not a true native speaker, he could still pull it off as few people had ears like hers. She caught the names Henry and Georges, and Georges Depardieu was a retired fence, her contact in Paris whom she had asked to hire an assistant for her.

She stood and took his hand, one eyebrow raised. "Didn't Georges tell you I don't speak a word of French?"

"I'm sorry. I'm Henry Williams, Georges sent me but didn't tell me exactly what it is you need."

He was indeed American. His accent was strange, a hint of something southern and something tougher, like New York overlapping Georgia in his baritone. Mmm, she thought. She liked American boys. She liked America. Growing up on English food she'd come to love the land of excess where good burgers were never more than twenty feet away in any city, and Thai, Mexican, and Japanese could all be found on the same block. Sure, her native country had all that, but it didn't have peanut butter and that was a deciding factor.

"Kerry," she said, surprised he'd given his own surname, not common in their line of work. "Have a seat and we'll talk."

He sat and the waitress came over. They had a hurried conversation in French and Kerry put her hand on his arm interrupting. For a moment she couldn't speak, a tremble went through her at the hard feel of his bicep beneath his shirt, a tremor she only got when hot ice was dancing on her fingertips. Stunned for a moment she finally shook it off and forced a smile. "Would you ask for another coffee with a little cream?"

He smiled and did so, but there was a strange look in his eyes as if he had felt the same jolt she did. The waitress left, throwing a look back to Henry suggesting she was having the same fantasy of him wearing nothing but cream that had entered Kerry's mind, and Kerry shot daggers at her. Not that she ever cared about any lover's other lovers, but she couldn't afford her employee being distracted.

"So, tell me what it is you need."

"The job is simple. I need a translator to help do recon. You need to blend in with high-class people, do you have a problem cutting your hair or shaving? Anyway, it helps if you have experience with security. I just need a second set of eyes and ears, I do the top story work alone. You'll help translate anything I need, and when it comes time for the final deal you'll back me up in some tough negotiations. It pays fifty thousand, American. You'll get five now if you sign on, ten when we start, and the rest when we conclude business. I'll pay all your expenses, and you tell no one about this, black ops only."

His coffee was set down gently as he stared at her, and the waitress slammed down Kerry's coffee, spilling it. A large splosh of black un-creamed coffee hit her white leather skirt.

"Bloody hell!" Kerry yelled and shot to her feet. The waitress just smirked and Kerry resisted the urge to yank her by her black ponytail to the ground and kick her several times with her Jimmy Choos."I'll be right back," she said to Henry and stalked off to the bathrooms.

Lucky for her leather was hard to stain, but she carefully cleaned off her miniskirt and inspected for any discoloration. When she was satisfied her red cotton top and white leather skirt were stain-free, she emerged and ran into a man.

"Pardon me, luv," he said in English with a much heavier British accent than her own.

"Nothing of it," she replied and regarded him. Tall and slim, he had dark hair cut brutally short and a short beard that barely covered a few large scars. Her eyes dropped to his hands where knuckles barely healed over revealed he was a brawler.

His dark eyes lit on the flower in her hair. "Oi! Georges sent me, sorry I'm late."

"Georges Lamont?" She asked, using the name Georges used publicly, and he nodded. "But if you're...then who..." She peeked around him at Henry and sighed.

"Yeah, I'm Billy. Want to talk somewhere more private, luv?"

"Can the nickname. I'm from Blackpool and it doesn't impress me," she said firmly and he grinned. Billy fit the picture exactly of what she needed, a mercenary with a three-digit IQ. Henry seemed a bit more than what she needed, a nuclear bomb when she needed a stiletto. Whoever Henry was, he was just a tourist, and until she made this final score, there was no diddling tourists. "C'mon, let's go."

She led him out the back door leaving Henry with the bill. Well, at least he'd remember her for that.

***



"The client never showed," Henry said in French to Georges Depardieu, an old friend he'd met during a particularly nasty court case near Versailles.

"I'm sorry. Perhaps she had second thoughts. Have a seat. Whiskey, yes?"

Henry rolled his shoulders and sat in the ancient armchair as directed while the older man stood and pointed at his bookshelf filled with bottles. "Jameson if you have it."

"Indeed." This was followed with some muttering about Americans that made Henry smile.

"There was this woman, beautiful. Thought she was the client, seemed to know your name. Went on without pausing for breath, seemed to be hiring me for a job and asked me to cut my hair. British, very...nice."

Georges paused before pouring and turned. "Where did my friend Jeanette ask to meet you?"

"Café Dupree."

Georges sighed with deep affectation turning away and Henry laughed. "I knew it, Geroeges. Up to your old tricks? I thought you had retired from fencing."

"I have, but I still have friends." Georges passed the glass over and raised his own. "Cheers," he said in English.

"Cheers. Who is she and what is it she's doing?"

"Never you mind. A nice lawyer like you should have nothing to do with the people of my past."

"Insanely beautiful legs. And that ass...a man can't forget an ass like that."

"Watch it," Georges said sharply, and Henry laughed. Oh, the whipcord-slim man could be very deadly even at the advanced age of seventy-three, but Henry knew he'd touched a nerve and was close to some useful information.

"I am sorry, Henry, but she is the daughter of a very old friend. I promised to look after her when she died."

"And is she a good little thief?"

Georges' dark eyes glittered with paternal pride. "The best. And retiring. Not that it's any business of yours. Now that that awful case over the land in Breton has been settled, will you be staying at your home here or going back to America?"

"I'm owed a vacation, and I like France. I still need to finish furnishing my home here, but I want some time to play. Good wine, good women, what more does a man need?"

"You cannot fool me, my friend. You just do not want to see Cynthia and your friend Jon."

Henry couldn't disagree, much as he wanted to. Cynthia had once, a lifetime ago, been his first love. Seeing her married to Jon with two lovely children drove him mad even though he was happy for her. It didn't help that Cynthia was his partner at the firm they had started and Jon worked for them. Every day, he couldn't escape it. God knows he'd tried, and there was a long trail of women over the past seven years he'd gone through trying to forget, but it was never enough.

"Well, if you are staying, then perhaps you can do me a service, and see my friend's daughter again. But I do not know how far your morals may stretch, my old friend."

Intrigued, Henry's mind went back to the shapely Brit and that leather skirt that should have been illegal. "I'm a lawyer, not a saint."

"Yet far from the demon most lawyers are." Georges smiled. "Her name is Kerry Allen, her mother was an old thief known as the Simian."

"Odd name."

"She often climbed impossible trees to do her work. We cannot help what Interpol and the newspapers name us. Now, her husband died when Kerry was young and she brought her up the only way she knew how, which was to be like her.

"She's a good girl, and smart. Lives in New York as it happens. Her parents left her more than enough money to live on after they both died."

"So why does she steal?"

"Because it is as addictive as any drug. The rush...it is intense. Almost as good as sex. In truth, the only sex that can compare is that which carries passion, danger, and love, for that is what it is to steal. And, my friend, you know how rare such sex can be. Kerry thrives on excitement, she has never understood how to live life slowly, and she is the best at what she does, and who does not enjoy some pride? Alas, most of all it is because of a man named Franklin McCall."

"Who is that?"

"Her...once-partner. A pig of a man. He has no honor, even among thieves. They worked together for a few years and then got into a scrape. In Nepal he left her holding the bag and it took a team of six lawyers like yourself I hired to get her out. There was some other business too personal to discuss, but suffice it to say if I had my way they would find his body in some dark forest, buried deep. Kerry is a more gentle soul, and ever since then she has dreamed of revenge, but the best she has managed is to steal his targets. Sometimes. Sometimes he steals hers," Georges added with a Gallic shrug. "She plans something big now, something to shame him greatly."

"So what is this to me?"

"McCall is planning to steal the Leopard Diamond. It is being auctioned off at an estate in the country. The family selling it needs to raise money to cover some legal expenses of their own. They are going broke but refuse to admit it, so are holding a large auction under the guise of a week-long party. Kerry plans to go there and steal it before her old partner can."

"And what is this all to me?" Henry patiently restated his request, pretending not to be intrigued.

Georges stood and brought the bottle over, refilling both their glasses. "I was planning to go. Kerry needs help on this one. I sent her a good man who can help her as she needs and owes me a great debt, a man I can trust. But she needs someone else who will watch over her, keep McCall from doing anything harmful. And if it comes to it, prevent McCall from success."

"You doubt she can do it?"

His smile was again almost one of paternal pride. "I know she can, but with McCall she has a tendency to lose her temper. The thief who loses his temper loses his wits and loses himself.

"She was raised in England, but her father was Irish, you know, no stiff-upper British lip, she is all intense passion. Billy, the man I sent, would simply laugh if she grabbed the diamond and threw it at McCall's head, I do not know if he has the full instinct and ability to keep her in check and out of jail. I sent him to help her steal the diamond, but I want someone to watch over her."

"So you need a babysitter for this felony."

Georges smiled like a cat. "Where is the harm? The diamond is fully insured and Kerry has sworn to me it will be her last job. She will retire on a high note."

"Awfully young to retire."

"She is thirty-three, and has been a thief in practice since she was ten. That's an impressively long career in our world. It's time she settle down, get married, do something with that fine mind besides outwitting rich idiots and insurance investigators.

"I guarantee you will be safe, and I will pay you, of course."

Henry waved him off."If I agree, and that's a big if, I do need a vacation and this sounds more interesting than lying on a beach or shopping for antiques. But I have to tell you, I don't think this is right."

"Sometimes we do the wrong things for the right reasons. McCall can be a dangerous man. If all goes to plan, Kerry will frame McCall for the theft and pull a dangerous man from the streets."

"How dangerous are we talking?"

"I sent her Billy who is really an assassin, not a henchman. McCall has tried to kill her three times. If he catches wind of her plot he will try again. Kerry plays what she thinks is an innocent game, but McCall pulls no punches."

"Why don't you just stop her!?!"

Georges shrugged. "She is not mine to stop. I promised Jeanette I would look after Kerry, not control her."

Taken aback Henry stared at him for a long moment. "This is quite insane, don't you realize?"

"You didn't say that when I sent you Michel when you needed top story work done on your last case."

"Stealing back blackmail photos of my client and stealing a diamond while competing with a killer are two different things."

"Michel is much like Kerry, their parents both made them what they are: young, passionate, and misguided. Thanks to your offer to let Michel join your firm, he has a chance at a normal life. All that it took was a chance, something calling him forward out of the shadows. But Kerry...Kerry can never be free until McCall is either imprisoned, or dead. Would you deny her this chance?"

"She can go to the police and cut a deal, testify about past thefts."

Georges shook his head. "And incriminate herself. Our legal system is different than yours, as you well know. You are not a criminal lawyer, but I believe your partner the delightful Miss Cynthia is. Ask her if you like, but here Kerry would be locked up, the key thrown away.

"If it helps, she will keep nearly nothing of the money she makes. After expenses it almost all goes to charity, it always does."

Who on earth would steal something so risky if not for the money? His one experience with a thief, Michel, had taught him it was a job like any other, seeking the almighty dollar, or franc in his case. "Why?"

"I told you, her mother left her quite comfortable."

"Then why steal at all?"

"Do you know what it is to lose yourself in a woman, a woman who excites you more than anything?"

Henry thought back and blushed. It felt wrong that in all his encounters with women, he'd never quite felt that way. The only time he had come close had been his first time, with the woman married to his now-best friend. "Yes," he ground out, but truthfully Henry was unsure.

Georges shook his head, smelling the lie. "Imagine that feeling, but it lasts for weeks. That is what it is to steal. It is a passion like no other, and that is why few can ever walk away. Help Kerry walk away. Help me fulfill my promise to Jeanette and keep her safe. Do it as a favor to me, or as a job, but please do this."

Henry set his empty glass down, feeling warm from two good glasses of his favorite whiskey. "You were planning this all along. There never was any real Jeanette in need of a lawyer, you wanted me to meet Kerry so I'd do this."

Georges inclined his head and smiled. "You are a very smart man, and clearly I am not so imaginative with names. Yes, Kerry is quite beautiful, and looks almost delicate, and inspires that instinct we men all so foolishly possess, to protect a woman, but she truly needs it. I need a man I can trust to look after her, protect her from McCall, a man I know cares nothing for the money. Your fee from the Versailles case was over one million, yes?"

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