When two young men catch up to her, a woman, who often goes by Allison James or Marie Lichen, has her world turned topsy-turvy. She never thought anyone could catch her. But they did. "What next?" she wonders.
“Miss Lynch!” a voice shouted behind me. I turned around to the unfamiliar name. A man in a black suit with a silk white shirt jogged up to me, holding a slip of paper. I smiled at the museum manager.
“Yes, Mr. Holmstrom?” I asked in my fake Irish accent.
“I’ve talked it over with my lawyer, and he agreed that it was a once in a lifetime chance. So here’s your money. I’ll be expecting the collection in by next Wednesday. Thank you,” the conned man said, smiling at me. Then he handed me the check that meant my safe disappearance from this dreadful city.
“No, really, thank you,” I replied. I turned on my black Stilettos and sauntered out the front door of the art gallery. “Got it,” I whispered to myself, dropping the Irish accent and skipping into my natural Midwestern one.
“Robyn!” a familiar voice shouted. I watched as the attractive, but rather naïve, man approached me.
“Hello Carl,” I smiled. When he opened his mouth, I realized immediately what the look on his face meant. “I’m sorry,” I replied before he could ask. “I’m leaving town to go home. I won’t be back for a few years.”
His eyebrows pulled together, but his shoulder muscles loosened. I smiled internally. I could still make men nervous, even under a fake identity that I hated. “How’d you know…? Well, nevermind. Maybe when you get back?” he asked hopefully.
I shrugged. “I’m not sure if I’m coming back. But if I do, I’ll definitely give you a call,” I said. I winked at him and quickly walked away.
He called out to me. I didn’t turn. “But you don’t have my number!” he protested. I laughed. It was funny that if I was who I said I was, not having a number for an honest citizen might actually be a problem. It was ironic. Because since I would never call him, I actually had the ability to without his number.
“Look at it, Noland,” Marshall said, astounded. He ran a self-conscious hand through his brown hair. “She’s like your match made in heaven.” He read the description from all the sites, some legally tapped, and some… not. “Fluent in seven languages, able to perfectly match any accent or any dialect from anywhere around the world, including dead languages, which, in case you didn’t know, isn’t supposedly possible. Three doctorate degrees, an MD, a JD, and a PhD, five Master’s degrees, five Bachelors in Science, Arts, Fine Arts, etcetera. She’s a master, or black belt, or whatever in 12 Chinese martial arts, 8 Japanese martial arts like Jodo, a few types of karate, Kendo, Ninjitsu, I can’t even pronounce some of these… Others like Taekwondo, Kenpo, fencing, boxing, Jiu-Jitsu, everything! Known to have at least seven aliases, which means she probably has about twenty… Names Allison James, Sarah Podlore, Danielle Cabot, Nina Hewlett, Rebecca Livingston, Marie Lichen, and Valerie Welsh.” Smiling, I noticed that she avoided the taboo name – Smith. The names she’d chosen were all unique, but also common enough that no one would be too quick to remember them. She was smart. “Good lord! She’s escaped jail twice and federal prison once. I wouldn’t want to go up against her any day!”
“Why so few escapes?” I asked sarcastically. I looked over his shoulder at the woman he described.
She had long wavy brown hair, like most of the general population, light skin, freckles, though none distinct enough to get her caught. Her eyes might give her away though, if they didn’t vary in each and every picture that popped up on our system. It seemed that her natural eyes were a gold-tinged green, but I couldn’t be sure because in seven of the nine databases pulled up on the wall screen she had different eyes. Dark green, brown, blue, aqua, gray, hazel, and even a violet color in one. She must’ve worn contacts in those, but they all looked incredibly natural. Her height seemed to be about 5’8”, though it too, somehow, was different in different databases, an average enough size. The perfect blender.
“She’s only been arrested three times,” Marshall said. His voice sounded awed.
“Well, when you’re finished drooling over the new squeeze in spy chicks, help me find our next mark!” I taunted, although I had to admit it was impressive to escape from federal prison. I’d done it once, but I was unbelievably close to getting caught.
“I am!” he protested. “We’ve been thinking of bringing in a woman for our team, and she’s obviously the perfect candidate.” I rolled my eyes.
“And how are we supposed to find her?” I asked, waiting for the stumped silence to follow.
I should’ve known Marshall would’ve figured it out. “Well, her last arrest was only two weeks ago in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since then, there’s been a credit card charge to a register in Chicago, Illinois to Miss Allison James. I used that picture and ran it through my computer’s facial recognition system and found a charge to a register in Cincinnati, Ohio to a woman named Robyn Lynch, who happens to look just like Miss James. And a charge to a credit card belonging to a Cara Pendleton, who also resembles Allison James. That one was in Louisville, Kentucky, before the one in Ohio. The way I figure it, she headed north from South Carolina, stopped in Kentucky and Ohio before she got to Chicago. The charge in Chicago was only yesterday.” He raised his ridiculously thick eyebrows suggestively. His hazel eyes widened until he just looked stupid instead of pleading.
I sighed. “How far is Chicago from here?” I asked, conceding. We were currently stationed in Springfield, Illinois, but we’d finished the job and were getting ready to leave.
“If I’m driving? Four hours, tops.” I told him there was no chance he was driving my car. “Well, if you’re driving, It’ll probably take at least a whole two hours plus another half an hour or so!”
I rolled my eyes. He even talked like a con artist to me. “I’m driving,” I told him. I grabbed the keys to my beloved Maybach Exelero and my single suitcase.
Marshall followed, carrying his computer bag and his backpack that held everything else. “We’re really gonna get her?” he asked giddily. I nodded. Marshall held out a fist. I rolled my eyes, but bumped it just the same.
I tossed the room key on the front desk of the hotel. The head of the young employee appeared from the floor. “Oh, are you leaving Mr. Horton and Mr. Oxley? Well, goodbye,” she smiled. I tipped my hat the way my British alias might and said a quick “cheerio!” She smirked at me. What is it with most Americans and British accents? They’re obsessed!
As we walked out, I muttered to Marshall, “Mr. Horton, you better never give us British covers ever again. I hate being British. Everyone notices you!”
“Sorry, sorry,” he said distractedly. “C’mon! Let’s go catch us a female!” He pulled up the GPS directions and sent them to my phone. I turned the key and was soothed by the familiar rumble of my sleek black car.