supposed to be?”
He stood back a little and showed me his tuxedo, his tumbler half-filled with ice and what looked like scotch, the toy gun tucked underneath his jacket. “I’m James Bond,” he said.
This was all becoming a little too meta for me, but I guess Jesse took my surprise for disdain. “Sorry, that was really cheesy.” He grinned, and I was totally not admiring his smile and his nice dimples and, my God, it was really warm in this house.
“It’s okay,” I told him. “Hey, is there a bathroom up here?”
He pointed vaguely over his shoulder. “There’s a few up there, but they’re all taken by people making out.” He wiggled his eyebrows at me before cracking himself up. “Sorry, that was really cheesy, too. Did you just get here?”
“Um, yeah.” My opinion of Jesse seemed to be changing every three seconds. He knows about verbs? He has a nice smile? He doesn’t take himself too seriously? Our dossiers really needed to start including this kind of information. “I came with a friend.”
“Oh yeah? Who’s your friend?”
“Roux?” I said it like a question on purpose, just in case Roux did something that made us all end up in court. I wasn’t going to jail for that drunk muppet, that was for sure.
“Roux? Are you serious? She’s here?” Jesse looked down the stairs. “Holy shit, she’s brave.”
“Yeah, well, she’s a big girl.” I climbed the stairs so that Jesse and I were both on the landing.
“Is she drunk?”
“I’ll give you one guess.”
Jesse sighed a little. “I better go lock the wine cellar. Last Halloween she drank an entire bottle of ’72 Bordeaux.I thought my dad’s head was going to explode. He takes his wine seriously.”
It sounded like Roux and Armand had something in common, but I filed the information away for safekeeping. I wasn’t above drugging someone’s glass of Pinot Noir to get access to his files.
“Yeah, you go lock that wine thing,” I said, patting him on the shoulder. “I’m gonna wait in line for the bathroom. Say hi to Q for me.”
“Wait, so you’re not even going to tell me your name?”
“You’re the secret agent,” I told him. “Figure it out.”
I climbed the stairs until I couldn’t go any higher, finally reaching locked double doors. “Why, hello,” I said softly, then found the bobby pin that I had stashed in my hair for such an occasion. I straightened the pin and slid it into the lock, then wiggled it around. Usually when I pick a lock, it can cause a racket, but the music was a perfect distraction. I probably could have used dynamite to blow open the doors and no one would have noticed, that’s how loud it was.
I felt the lock click into place a minute later and the French doors opened to reveal plush carpeting and dark wood walls. I crept in and shut the doors behind me before calling, “Hello? Is there a bathroom here?” I knew that my parents had placed Armand in Los Angeles, but there could easily be a wife or a mistress or a boyfriend or, I don’t know, Max, that crazy friendly golden retriever, lurking somewhere upstairs. I wasn’t taking any chances.
The coast was clear, though, and I locked the doorsbehind me before pulling leather gloves out of my pocket and putting them on. “Game on,” I whispered, then got to work.
The entire upstairs was a master suite, I soon realized, including a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and a skylight in the massive closet that revealed a clear, empty sky overhead. The Icelandic nights had been so light, and I still wasn’t used to New York’s darker heavens. It was nice to see the moon again.
I could feel the party pulsing under my feet as I prowled the huge walk-in closet. I was pretty sure that the closet was the size of our temporary loft in Soho and easily twice the size of our house in Reykjavík. Surely big enough for a safe, right?
The cutout that my parents had showed me on the blueprints turned out to be nonexistent in the actual
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