Home > Heist Society (Heist Society #1)(11)

Heist Society (Heist Society #1)(11)
Author: Ally Carter

“It’s a different world, Uncle Eddie. I just don’t want you to get into trouble.”

Just then, Hale’s spoon scraped the bottom of his bowl. There was no hiding the dismay in his voice as he asked, “Uncle Eddie, why is the seal of the British Royal Family on your dishes?”

Her uncle’s voice was gruff, impatient. “Because that’s who I was with when I stole them.”

As Kat held the bowl in her hands, she couldn’t help but realize it was hot—in a lot of ways. She couldn’t help but see Uncle Eddie as Hale saw him—not as an old man, but as the old man.

“We practice a very old art, Katarina.” Her uncle paused long enough to toss Hale’s wallet toward him. “It is kept alive not by blood”—another pause as Uncle Eddie dropped Kat’s passport onto the counter next to a loaf of day-old bread— “but by practice.”

The old man turned away from his speechless niece and the boy she had brought home. “I suppose you were absent the day they taught that at the Colgan School.”

Kat’s coat suddenly felt too heavy as she stood there, remembering that she couldn’t take the heat and that was why she’d gotten out of the kitchen. She sat down at the table, knowing that now she was back in.

There were a lot of things that could have happened next. Uncle Eddie might have commented that the boy Kat had brought home dressed far better than the stray her mother had chosen. Hale might have worked up the courage to finally ask Uncle Eddie the story behind the fake Rembrandt that hung above the hearth. Kat might have admitted that the food services department at Colgan had nothing on her uncle’s cooking. But when the back door slammed open, everyone’s attention was on the two boys who hurried in, struggling to restrain the largest, shaggiest dog that Kat had ever seen.

“Uncle Eddie, we’re back!” The smaller boy tightened his grip on the dog’s collar. “They were out of Dalmatians, but we got a . . .” He looked up. “Hey, Kat’s here! With Hale!” Hamish Bagshaw was slightly shorter and stockier than his older brother, but otherwise, the ruddy English boys could have passed for twins. The dog lurched, and Hamish hardly noticed. “Hey, Kat, I thought you were at . . .”

When he trailed off, Kat told herself it was the heat from the stove that was making her face red. She focused on breathing in the fresh air from the open door, and swore she didn’t care what anyone thought. Still, she was relieved to hear Hale ask, “So, Angus, how’s the bum?”

Her relief quickly faded when Angus started unbuttoning his pants. “Good as new. German docs fixed me right up. You wanna see the scar?”

“No!” Kat said, but what she thought was: They were in Germany?

They did a job in Germany.

They did a job without me.

She looked at Hale, watched the way he licked his spoon and helped himself to a second bowl of soup, at home in her uncle’s kitchen. She looked at her uncle, who hadn’t even smiled at her. And when she turned to the Bagshaw boys, Kat couldn’t meet their gaze. Instead she focused on the mangy mutt between them and whispered, “Dog in a bar.”

“Hey, you guys want in?” Angus asked, beaming.

“Boys,” Uncle Eddie warned, as if saving Kat from the shame of admitting that even classic cons were beyond her now.

“Sorry, Uncle Eddie,” the brothers mumbled in unison. They eased quietly out of the kitchen, taking the mutt back into the night without another word. Then Uncle Eddie took his place at the head of the table.

“You have to ask the question, Katarina, in order for this old man to answer.”

The last time Kat had been in this room, it had been August. The air outside had felt like the air in the kitchen was then—sticky and thick. At the time, Kat had thought she would never again be so uncomfortable at her uncle’s table. Sure, this was where her father had planned the De Beers diamond heist when she was three. It was the very room where her uncle had orchestrated the hijacking of eighty percent of the world’s caviar when she was seven. But nothing had ever felt as criminal as sitting there, announcing to her uncle that her greatest con had worked and she was walking away from her family’s kitchen in order to steal an education from one of the best schools in the world.

Turns out, that was nothing compared to walking back in and saying, “Uncle Eddie, we need your help.” She lowered her eyes, studied a century’s worth of scuffs and scars in the wood beneath her hands. “I need your help.”

Uncle Eddie walked over to the oven and pulled out a loaf of fresh bread. Kat closed her eyes and thought of warm croissants and cobblestone streets. “He didn’t do it, Uncle Eddie. I flew to Paris and talked to Dad. He has an alibi, but . . .”

“Arturo Taccone paid Kat a visit,” Hale finished for her.

Kat could count on one hand the number of times she’d seen her great-uncle genuinely surprised; this was not one of them. She knew it the moment he turned from the stove and looked at Hale with knowing eyes. “Your job was to deliver a message.”

“Yes, sir,” Hale told him. “I did that.”

“Nineteen fifty-eight was a good year for cars, young man.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Arturo Taccone is not the sort of man I would like visiting my great-niece.”

“She left in the middle of the night. She does that.” Hale glanced away then added a quick, “Sir.”

It felt, in that moment, as if her going to school was all the excuse anyone had ever needed to start treating Kat like a child. “She is sitting right here!” Kat didn’t realize she was yelling until her uncle looked at her in the manner of a man who has not been yelled at in a very long time.

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