Like the textbooks she'd left on the blanket
in the quad.
    "I need to go get my books before someone
steals them, too," she said.
    She felt him relax just a little. "Books? Are
you kidding? No one's going to steal your books."
    He was right. When they got back to the
blanket, her Sociology text was right where she left it. Everyone
had gone back to their studying or playing or simply enjoying the
sun. It was like nothing had ever happened, but something had.
    She'd been robbed, and she and Ryan and Jimmy
were the only ones who seemed to care.
    * * *
    She filed a report with campus security, but
since she only had a vague description of the thief, she knew the
report would be filed away and that would be that.
    "You need to keep your purse with you," the
security officer told her. "Or better yet, carry your valuables in
a front pocket of your jeans. Harder to steal that way."
    Abby suppressed the sharp retort that
threatened to pop out. She wasn't an idiot. She was just
momentarily distracted. The campus security cop made her feel like
a victim all over again, and she didn't like that feeling one
    A thought occurred to her. The security
officer, sixty if he was a day, had given his advice like he had to
give it often. "Has that happened before? Like what happened to
me?" she asked. "I mean, lately?"
    The security officer shrugged. "I'm sure it
has. Most minor thefts around campus aren't reported, and the ones
that are... well, there are thousands of people who attend class on
this campus, not counting all the professors and assistants and
grad students, and we don't have the staff to interview everybody.
If we've got something to go on, like a name or a real description
of the perp, then we can investigate."
    A real description. It wasn't her fault she'd
never seen the guy's face. He'd deliberately not turned to look at
    That fact bugged her all the long walk back
to her dorm room. The thief knew what he was doing. Not only had he
not turned around and shown her his face, he'd fled to the one spot
on campus where he'd be hidden from view long enough to blend in
with the crowds headed in any one of a half-dozen directions. Jimmy
had found her purse -- minus her wallet and the Sony Walkman her
mother had given her for her birthday last year -- behind a shrub
at the back of the library building. Abby'd had a fleeting thought
that the thief might have left fingerprints on the smooth black
leather, but after the lukewarm response she'd gotten from campus
security, she decided to keep any mention of fingerprints to
    So if the thief had snatched purses before,
maybe someone else had gotten a better look at his face. Instead of
attacking her Sociology reading assignment, Abby spent the next
hour talking to every girl she saw in her dorm building. Three of
them had had their purses stolen while they were on the quad. Only
one of them had reported it. None of them had seen the thief's
    Abby flopped down on her bed. So much for
that angle. Maybe she just wasn't looking at things right. She was
the fourth woman he'd robbed, or at least the fourth that Abby knew
about. There were probably more victims out there. Even when the
weather was colder, people still hung out at the quad. The thief
knew the area well. He should. He'd done his little snatch and run
before, and he'd probably do it again.
    She sat up straight as the thought sunk
    The thief would probably do the same thing
again in the same area. If she wanted to get a good look at him,
good enough to give a description to campus security so they could
catch him, she'd have to catch him in the act first. It would just
take time and patience, and being in the right place at the right
time. She already knew the right place. All she needed were a
couple of extra eyes to help her watch, and she was pretty sure she
knew where she could get a couple of volunteers.
    * * *
    Abby didn't know if Ryan was merely humoring
her or if he really believed her plan

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