I didn't care where I went, just as long as I got out of there as fast as I could. My feet barely touched the pavement. But where was I to go? Was I going to go back and confirm Roger's suspicions? Could I face Mariano's full-blown, hell-spawned wrath when he got back? But where else could I go? I couldn't just tell people I happened to be one of the best thieves in town, responsible for nearly every high-priced heist in the last four years, and expect to be taken in. Besides, Mariano's influence was much too far-reaching in this area.
I had no choice. I slid back into the hideout through a vent I'd discovered years ago and, as far as I knew, was only known to me. It's difficult, trying to catch one's breath while keeping silent. I just about had it back when Kirsten scared it and half my wits out by seemingly appearing out of nowhere.
"You think you got away with that botch job?" she asked in her know-it-all tone.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I hissed.
She smirked. "You know darn well what I'm talking about. I saw the security cameras, I saw that intentional maneuver to the manual alarm. You're slipping, Irena, don't deny it."
"So what are you gonna do?" I challenge.
Her nauseating smirk widened. "Well, I could tell the gang and Mariano when he gets back that you intentionally botched both the attempt and second-time-around."
"The second was an accident!" I cried a little too desperately.
"They'll have a hard time believing it, won't they? You know as well as I that in our kleptocracy, it's suspect until proven innocent." She was right, unfortunately.
Alonso happened to poke his head into the doorway. "What's this now?" Then it registered. "Irena, where's the painting? What happened?"
"I'll tell you what happened," Roger began, folding his arms and coming into the little room. I always forgot how tall he was from this low angle. "I'm thinking there's something between Irena and this particular job that's keeping Irena from doing what she should be?"
"What? What are you talking about?" Sergio asked indignantly.
"She'd never do such a thing!" Wally cried.
"She'd never do what?" We all turned, Mariano was right in the doorway. Everyone parted, leaving a blank space between he and I. My guilty eyes locked with his as they narrowed.
"Somebody," he began in his lowest, most dangerous tone, "had better explain what the hell happened with Irena and this job. This. Instant."