Home > Heist Society (Heist Society #1)(9)

Heist Society (Heist Society #1)(9)
Author: Ally Carter

“You have very good sources,” she said.

“I have the best of everything.” The man smiled. “My name is Arturo Taccone.”

“What do you want?”

“I thought I might give you a ride to the airport.” He gestured around the interior of the beautiful antique car, but Kat merely shrugged.

“I’d planned on taking a cab.”

He laughed. “But that would be such a waste. Besides, this way, you and I can have a nice talk. And along the way we can even pick up my paintings if you’d prefer.”

“I don’t have them,” she blurted before realizing how the words might sound. “My father doesn’t have them either.” She leaned toward him, hoping that proximity might equal believability. “Look, he didn’t do it. You’re staking out the wrong guy. He was doing a gallery job in Paris that night. Stop. Get a paper. It’s on the front—”

“Katarina,” Taccone interrupted, his whisper more terrifying than a shout. “These paintings are very important to me. I came to Paris to explain that to your father, but at the moment he is a bit too popular for my taste.” Kat thought about the Interpol officers watching her father’s every move. “So it is most fortunate that I should meet you. I want my paintings back, Katarina. I am willing to go to a great deal of trouble—to take a great many pains, if you will—to get them back. You will tell your father this for me?”

As Kat sat across from Arturo Taccone, sandwiched between the two massive men who never left his shadow, she had yet to hear the stories. She was ignorant of his dealings in the Middle East. She hadn’t heard about the explosions at his warehouse near Berlin or the mysterious disappearance of a bank manager in Zurich. She knew only what she saw: a well-dressed man, an antique walking stick with an ornately carved pewter handle, two guards, and absolutely no way out.

“He can’t return what he didn’t steal,” Kat pleaded, but the elegant man only laughed a slow cold laugh and called to the driver.

“Two weeks should be enough time, don’t you think? Of course, it should take less, but out of respect for your mother and her family, I’ll be generous.”

The limo slowed to a stop. The goons opened the doors, and as Arturo Taccone stepped out into the sunshine of the Paris street, he said, “It was a pleasure meeting you, Katarina.” He laid a business card on the seat beside her. “Until we meet again.”

It wasn’t until the door slammed and the car started through the busy streets toward the airport, that Kat felt herself begin to breathe in slow ragged breaths. She stared down at the white card that bore Arturo Taccone’s name printed in plain black letters. And the handwritten words: Two weeks.

“He didn’t do it.”

Kat spoke from the doorway of a dark room, toward the silhouetted figure in the massive bed. She saw it jump upright, felt the lights flash on, stinging her eyes. But she was far too tired to blink against the glare.

“Kat,” Hale groaned, then fell back onto the pillows. “Funny, I didn’t hear a doorbell.”

“I let myself in; hope that’s okay.”

Hale smiled. “Or the alarm.”

She stepped inside, tossed a pocket-size bag of tools onto the bed. “You’re due for an upgrade.”

Hale propped himself against the antique headboard and squinted up at her. “She returns.” He crossed his arms across his bare chest. “You know, I could be naked in here.”

But Kat didn’t allow herself to think about what Hale was or was not wearing underneath those Egyptian cotton sheets. “He didn’t do it, Hale.” She dropped into a chair by the fireplace. “My dad has an alibi.”

“You believe him?”

“Normally?” Kat asked. “Maybe.” Then she shrugged and admitted, “Maybe not.” She looked down at her hands. “But I’m pretty sure he couldn’t have been pulling a big job in Italy on the same night he was pulling a small job in Paris.”

Hale let out a slow whistle of admiration, and Kat remembered that, for all of his resources and talent, the most dangerous thing about W. W. Hale the Fifth was that, when he grew up, he really wanted to be her father.

“He’s still in Paris?” Hale asked. Kat nodded. He swung his bare feet to the floor and looked at her. “So . . . what? He’s got the loot stashed somewhere and a twenty-four-hour tail keeping him from recovering it and leaving town?”

“Something like that.”

“What’s he gonna do?”


Hale shook his head. “You Bishops . . . one of you won’t leave”—he cut his eyes at her—“and one of you won’t stop running away.”

Without even realizing she’d done it, Kat pulled a card from her pocket and ran a finger across the heavy paper. “What’s that?” Hale asked.

Kat looked toward the dying fire and felt herself tremble. “Arturo Taccone’s business card.”

In a flash, Hale had thrown the covers aside and moved toward her. Part of Kat couldn’t help but notice that no, he wasn’t naked, but other parts—the thief part and the daughter part and the part that had seen the darkness in Taccone’s eyes— barely noticed the Superman pajama pants. “Please tell me you found that on a sidewalk somewhere,” Hale said.

“He was probably there following Dad, but then he saw me and . . . he gave me a ride to the airport.”

“Arturo Taccone gave you a ride to the airport?”

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