There was a long line of limos waiting to let out guests at the entrance to the mansion, which gave Béa a few more moments to savor the lead-up to the start of the night. These last few minutes had always thrilled her. It was the same feeling she’d had when going on stage as a high-school actor, the rush in her gut before to go-time. And she had a really good feeling about this particular job.
“You’re all set?” Lexi said, taking a break from perfecting her lipstick with the aid of a compact mirror to catch Béa’s eye.
“Always,” Béa said. She knew her own hair and make-up were flawless; Lexi had made sure of that before the team had even left the house, and Béa, who almost never did her hair or make-up on her own, knew better than to touch them or risk Lexi’s wrath. But the entire point of the hair and make-up for Béa was to help her to fade into the background. She needed to look like any other guest who belonged at the gala, so no one would ever question why she was there, so no one would ever know she’d even been there at all. Lexi, on the other hand, was trying to keep all eyes on herself precisely so that Béa would draw even less attention as she snuck off to complete the job. And Lexi looked particularly stunning tonight, dressed to kill in a gold dress that made her light brown skin glow.
“You’re a true professional,” Lexi said, snapping her compact closed and stowing it in her clutch.
Béa scoffed. “We’re all true professionals. This is quite literally our job.”
“You make it look so easy, though. I love that about you.”
Béa’s whole body flushed. It didn’t matter Lexi didn’t mean the word love the way Béa wanted her to and that Lexi never would. Get it together, Moreau, she told herself.
The limo inched forward and the team’s driver, Vihaan, tapped on the partition to signal that they had arrived.
“Break a leg, beautiful,” Lexi said, ghosting a kiss across Béa’s cheek before stepping out of the limo and joining the line of guests entering the mansion.
Béa gave herself a moment to burn for Lexi, just let her whole self burn down, and then she followed Lexi out into the party. She had a job to do, and her world-ending crush on Alexandria Khan could wait. It had been waiting for three years already, after all.
As she entered the foyer and joined the gala, Béa took a moment to admire the grand ballroom that houses like this inevitably had, with chandeliers the size of convertibles dangling from the ceiling and tuxedoed waiters circulating carrying canapes and champagne. Colin was somewhere in the middle of them, identical to all the others. Béa caught sight of him and let her eyes graze past him, not lingering. She knew better than to call attention to herself or him in the middle of a job.
Muhammad’s voice came through the earpiece. “The target is on the move. Southwest entrance.”
“On it,” Lexi said under her breath.
Lexi’s role at the moment was to acquire the fingerprints of their target, whose study they were going to be breaking into any moment now. Their plan hinged on Lexi lifting a champagne glass of the target and scanning them, after which Muhammad would be able to replicate them for Béa’s use when entering the study.
The target was the owner of the mansion, a man in his mid-seventies who didn’t seem to find anything strange at all about a stunning twenty-something woman flirting with him and taking his champagne glass to replace it with her own. As always, it was absurd watching Lexi at work. When she turned her full attention on people, they were powerless to ignore her. Béa had heard people audibly gasp in her presence before. Even Vihaan, who was gay as the day was long, couldn’t keep his eyes off her. Béa couldn’t imagine being the recipient of Lexi’s entire attention in that way herself; she would probably explode.
For now, Béa needed to turn her attention away from Lexi and concentrate on making her way into the private residences of the mansion, trusting that her team would get her what she needed when she needed it. None of them could afford distractions.
Béa had studied the layout of the mansion before the job, of course, but as always, Muhammad walked her through the turns, murmuring quietly into her earpiece. They all knew far too well how different a place could look once you were on the ground instead of poring over architects’ plans at the farmhouse table at home.
The keycard for access to the private residence was easily managed. Colin snagged that for Béa and passed it over during a turn on the dance floor as Béa pretended she only wanted to snag a ceviche cone. As soon as she could, she dumped the food in a potted plant, muttering, “Could you not once be the waiter with the fried chicken bites at one of these things?” while Colin laughed quietly in her ear.
The fingerprint scanner and voice passcode for access to the target’s study had been a bit more difficult to organize, but well within Muhammad’s purview. He’d gotten the vocal recordings from interviews with the target after hacking into security to learn the phrase he needed. And just after Béa finished the voice passcode input, Lexi and Muhammad’s work with the champagne glass came through.
The door cheerfully accepted both the voice code and the artificial fingerprints, and Béa quietly said, “I’m in.”
The study looked the same as these studies always looked. There was the giant hardwood desk. There were the shelves of books that were meant to look impressive, though who exactly was getting impressed by them was a mystery, given that this was meant to be the inner sanctum. There were the potted plants that seemed to impossibly stay alive though of course the study had no windows since it couldn’t be an inner sanctum if it did. There was the requisite portrait of the study’s master himself, the target, naturally done in oils, which swung aside to reveal the safe.
And what a beauty the safe was, huge and gleaming, a model Béa had been waiting for the chance to crack for quite some time.
“Guards passing down the hall,” Muhammad said in her ear. Béa held still and didn’t exhale until he said, “All clear.” Then she got to work.
Béa loved the flow of safecracking. She had to get into a near-meditative state to be able to do it at all, and everyone on the team knew perfectly well that they needed to stay on mute unless something life-threatening was coming. She let herself detach and practiced her breathing: in for seven, hold for four, out for eight. She straightened her spine and grounded herself. It was better when they worked jobs that didn’t require her to wear heels, but this kind of gala meant it couldn’t be helped. She toed off her shoes and then she went to work on the safe.
Plenty of safecrackers drilled or tunneled or blasted or used other brute-force methods to break into safes, but Béa had only ever been a lock manipulator: turning the dial slowly, slowly until the lock gave up its combination number by number. She could feel the tiniest difference in each turn of the dial. She took pride in her work, in making certain that no one would ever know she’d been there.
No matter how many times she heard the snick of the tumblers locking into place it never failed to be completely satisfying. She spun the safe open.
Mostly the safe contained papers, but in the back was a velvet case. She popped open the lid and there it was: an absolutely absurd diamond necklace, rumored to be worth more than twenty million dollars. Their client was paying them two million just to steal it for her.
Béa allowed herself a moment to celebrate silently, then began her clean-up. She swapped the real necklace for the facsimile the team had commissioned, dropping the real necklace into the hidden compartment in her push-up bra. Often Béa wished her chest were smaller, but she had to admit that there were benefits to being able to stuff things under her boobs and have no one be the wiser. She replaced the velvet case in the safe, replaced the papers precisely as they had been, and spun the dial back to the precise spot it had been at when she’d arrived, then wiped down everything she’d touched with the built-in liner of her floor-length black dress that was made for precisely that purpose. She closed the door to the study, reset the passcode, and made her way to the hall that would lead to the safest, most unobtrusive exit.
“See you soon, honey,” Béa murmured—the code the team always used to mean that the objective had been achieved and they were on the way out of there.
Muhammad had a few different responses he could give to that. He could say Plan A, which was apparent, or Plan B, which they’d also practiced a ton. Rarely did they have to go past Plan B. Plan C meant that something major was wrong, something that would require a significant change of plans. Everything had been going so smoothly tonight that Béa didn’t even realize Muhammad had said, “Béa, Plan C; everyone else, Plan A,” aloud until he repeated it a second time.
Plan C meant that Béa froze in place until someone with more information had a solution. Béa, currently in the hallway, couldn’t possibly stay there. She ducked into the next room she found—a bedroom.
“On it,” came Lexi’s voice next.
Béa’s heart was pounding as she listened to Muhammad guide Lexi to her position in the private residence. She heard voices go past the bedroom in the direction of the study—guards?—but still she didn’t move. As the door opened and Lexi slipped in, closing the door behind her, Béa didn’t say anything, terrified. In all their years, her team had been good, but more than that her team had been lucky. At some point, every thief’s luck ran out.
Lexi walked all the way over to her. “Hi, honey. We don’t have much time. Do you trust me?”
“With my life,” Béa said truthfully.
For just a moment Lexi studied her. Béa tried not to look at her too directly, but there was really nothing for it; all of Béa’s affection and love and terror had to be written all over her face.
“Then please know that this is not what I would have chosen for our first time, but we need to put on the show of our lives, sweetheart,” Lexi said, and kissed her.
Béa’s eyes flew all the way open. She couldn’t help it. Alexandria Khan was kissing her and even as she knew it was just for a job, just a way to get them both safely out of there, Béa couldn’t make her body know that. She arched up against Lexi and ached at the first touch of their breasts, her nipples tightening at the feel of it even through both their dresses. Lexi kissed Béa’s mouth open and ran her hand up Béa’s thigh, already exposed to the air through the high slit on the side of the dress.
“Is this okay?” Lexi said against Béa’s mouth, and Béa nodded as Lexi slid her hand up and up, then slipped Béa’s panties to the side.
“Sit back against the bed, baby,” Lexi said. Béa found that Lexi had walked her back up to the edge of the bed already. Béa let her thighs fall open as Lexi slid her fingers past Béa’s panties. She’d worn a thong and Lexi easily shifted it to the side and found Béa’s folds with her fingers.
“Oh fuck, you’re so wet for me already,” Lexi said. “Will you let me fuck you?”
“God yes,” Béa moaned.
Lexi slid her fingers inside of Béa easily. “Oh my God, you feel so good.” She pistoned her arm right away, holding Béa still. Béa couldn’t always come from penetration, but she’d been poised to come from the moment Lexi first got near her, and her body came through for her now. She felt the orgasm building and began to shudder through it, doing her best to muffle her moan.
“Be louder, baby,” Lexi said in her ear. “We want them to hear us.” She let her fingers slow, but then she said, “Do you think you could go again?”
Béa said, “Yes,” and they were off again.
“Do you want another finger?” Lexi said.
“No,” Béa said, “just like that. Keep that up, keep going, I’m going to—”
When she came the second time, she let herself be loud. “That’s it, sweetheart,” Lexi said, kissing her through it. She was pretty sure she blacked out for a moment, and when she came back to, Lexi was still holding her, whispering endearments to her softly. “That still wasn’t enough to get them here,” Lexi said. “Do you think you could go a third time?”
Béa flushed. “Not… with fingers.”
Lexi grinned. “Then it’s a good thing that I happen to love oral. Take your panties off, sweetheart.”
Béa had thought she’d blacked out before, but the sight of Alexandria Khan kneeling between her thighs was about to knock her right back out of this universe. Béa would never get over how gorgeous Lexi looked, grinning deviously up at her. “Buckle up, sweetheart,” Lexi said, and bent her mouth down.
It immediately became apparent that Lexi knew her way around a woman’s body. She licked and sucked until Béa’s clit was completely engorged, then let her tongue go soft and slick for Béa to rub her swollen clit against. She got one finger inside Béa for something for Béa to bear down on, and when Béa finally came for the third time, she came gasping out, “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.”
When she returned to her body, her eyes focused on the now-open doorway to the bedroom, where a security guard was standing, wide-eyed and gaping.
“You—you. You can’t be back here,” the guard stuttered when he finally got his voice.
Lexi stood up, quite obviously tucked Béa’s panties into her clutch, and grinned dazzlingly at the guard. “So sorry, my wife and I just needed some private time,” she said in what she referred to as her Rich Posh British Lady voice. She smirked and pulled her bottom lip between her teeth for effect.
The guard flushed crimson. “This is a private area. You need to leave right now.”
“Of course,” Lexi said. “Come, darling. Oh—that’s right. You already did.”
She blew a kiss at the flabbergasted guard as she took Béa’s hand in her own and led her back to the ballroom—directly down the middle hall, in absolutely plain sight. Béa’s entire body felt like it was floating above the scene. She wasn’t wearing underwear. Lexi had just made her come three times. Somehow, Lexi managed to guide them as they walked past the dance floor and out the front door and into the night.
Only moments after they got into the limo and Vihaan had cleared the gates, half a dozen police cars came screaming down the road toward the mansion, and Béa returned to her body enough to remember that holy fucking shit, the job still wasn’t done. They rounded a bend in the road and Vihaan floored it, roaring away from the scene of the crime; but soon they were on the highway, and still no cops had come after them, and finally, finally, Béa let herself exhale.
“You’re amazing, Vihaan,” Lexi said, laughing, and Béa let herself get caught up in Lexi’s euphoria. Tomorrow they would carry out the handover of the necklace in exchange for their fee, but for tonight their job was done. The letdown of adrenaline in her system made her loopy with exhaustion, and Lexi still hadn’t let go of her hand.
“Congratulations, darling,” Lexi said close in to Béa, and—Béa’s body flipped with want—her face smelled like Béa. Lexi’s face had been on Béa’s clit only minutes ago.
“Give us a minute, Vihaan,” Béa said, sliding the partition closed. She wasn’t sure she was brave enough for this, but she also needed to be. Lexi was looking at her evenly.
“Back there,” Béa began. “I know—I know that was your Plan C. But you said—you also said you wished it wasn’t what our first time was going to be like.”
“Yes,” Lexi said.
“Does that…” Fuck it all, Béa decided finally. They’d already fucked. “I’m in love with you. I love you. I don’t want that to be our only time.”
“Thank God,” Lexi said. “Me too. I love you, I mean.”
“Really? Since when?”
“Since the start.”
Béa stared. “You’re kidding. I loved you from the start. Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I tried!” Lexi said. “I flirted with you constantly. I held your hand at Pride last year. I did everything I could think of.”
“Except actually tell me.”
Lexi shrugged. “I was terrified of ruining the team if it didn’t work out.”
For a moment Béa let herself feel her fear, all the worries she’d had, all the reasons she’d never wanted to tell Lexi what she felt. And then she decided, for the second time in a few minutes: Fuck it all. “It’s going to work out,” Béa said. “We’re going to be good.”
Lexi grinned. “Darling, it’s you and me. We’re not going to be good, we’re going to be amazing.”
“Do you know what, though?” Béa pulled her in close to whisper into her ear. “I owe you one when we get out of here.”
Lexi pulled away to smile dazzlingly at her. “I’m counting on it.”