The Shadow

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The Pool

Caeli

“Sinclair.” I couldn’t hold in my anger, the entire situation was something that I could barely believe had even happened. The part I didn’t believe was that Vincent did this to me, that the man thought this had been a good idea, and by God, I was about to let him know it.

“Didn’t expect you back so soon…” the man trailed off as I entered the door and judging from his expression, he could definitely sense the anger that radiated from my body. I locked eyes with the older man for a moment before I walked back out to the hallway where Syrus was standing, grabbed his shoulder and dragged him into the room after me. “So, you two know each other now?”

“What the hell, Sinclair?” I nearly shouted the words but did my best to keep my voice lowered. The other Dawson, Nylah, as Syrus informed me on the way back, was sitting at the table in the room waiting for her brother to return. I didn’t want to yell in front of her, not when it had only been the second time we had seen each other’s faces.

“I thought you two should meet and-”

“You could’ve just introduced us,” I told him, pushing Syrus further into the room before I let go of his jacket. “Because of this absolute moron, we almost got caught,” my eyes flicked to look at Nylah for a moment, but she didn’t seem offended by what I had said… she almost seemed entertained by it.

“I’m sure it wasn’t that bad, Caeli-”

“Oh, it was,” Syrus responded, winking at his sister who smiled back at him.

“Caeli, your speciality is getting out of sticky situations, something Syrus severely lacks in-”

“Hey!” Syrus shouted to cut off Sinclair. “That seems like it’s supposed to be an insult, so I am going to act offended by that comment.” Once again, for maybe the twentieth time this night alone, I rolled my eyes and looked at Sinclair. It was like Syrus was trying to prove my point for me.

“Point is here, that I think you would make a great team. Syrus has a vast knowledge of history-”

“So do I,” I cut the man off.

“Caeli has superior fighting skills-”

“Won’t argue with that...” Syrus trailed off.

“Together, you would make a wonderful team. You’re alike in many ways, but different in others. Just trust me.” Sinclair tried to argue, but I didn’t care what the man thought. Not this time, at least. I never thought he’d be able to do it, but he’d gone too far.

“Blindside me like that again, Sinclair, and we’ll have tremendous problems.” I finished the conversation and walked out of the room, I had to let off some steam and get some air. The audacity of that man...

I punched a wall in the dingy hotel we were staying in... I should have known that Vincent would try something like this. He had been trying to get me to make ‘human connections’, and I should have guessed this would happen the minute I found out Nylah had an older brother. Even if Vincent was trying to help me, it didn’t change the fact that what he did was wrong. It could have ended with one, or both, of us in jail.

I am my own person, I can live my life without control or direction from someone else.

I looked down the hallway in each direction before I slowly walked away from the hole I left in the wall. There were no cameras, so the owners wouldn’t know it was me. Who expects a small teenage girl to punch a hole in the wall?

Even though the punch had helped relieve a bit of anger, I still had to cool my body down. If I remember correctly, there was a dodgy looking pool… after I walked outside I found it reasonably quickly, it seemed to be clean enough, so I jumped in fully clothed. I’d worry about the chlorine in the material later.

The pool wasn’t deep, for me to stand with my head above the water, it had to be relatively shallow. The water was near freezing in the autumn weather, but it took the heat from my body and slowed my heart-beat until I felt normal again. Water was a difficult thing for me to get along with, as long as it was still and I could see the bottom I was okay with it, grateful for it, but the ocean… it was one of the few things I was afraid of.

“Need to cool off? Literally?” It was the older Dawson who spoke, having followed me to the pool.

“It’s the only way for me to calm down, to cool my body,” I said, although I was unsure why. He didn’t need an explanation, didn’t deserve one.

“And the hole in the wall was you too, I take it,” Syrus responded, I didn’t reply as he sat at the edge of the pool, pulling his pants up to let his feet and calves hang in the water. “I think Sinclair meant well-”

“I don’t care if he meant well, he knows my past and why I hate being manipulated, being set up and not having control. He knew, and he still did it to me anyway.” I told him, why did I say that?

“What could have happened to you? It couldn’t have been that bad-”

“You don’t know what I have been through, and if you were smart, you would realise it’s none of your business. You aren’t helping anything right now.” I stated, looking at him with a glare so harsh it may have killed a part of his soul. Well, that’s what I had been aiming for. Judging from his grimace, I would say that I hit the mark.

“Alright, I’m sorry. I don’t know you, I shouldn’t make assumptions.” He said, his hands up like he was being arrested. My hands ran over the surface of the water as I took my eyes away from him. I was calming down… slowly.

I ducked my head under the water to cool my face, I was only under for a second, but it was long enough for Syrus to have jumped into the pool with me.

“You couldn’t just give me my space, could you?” I asked once he resurfaced, his hair dripping water after he shook his head. I didn’t know if the movement was a response to my question or attempt drying his hair.

“The water felt nice, so I thought I should jump in with you.” He told me, leading me to believe that he shook his head to get rid of the water. I sighed before I closed my eyes. “What are you doing?”

“Pretending you’re not here.”

“Well, that’s rude…” He trailed off, but my eyes remained closed. “I think we got off on the wrong foot.”

“How so?” I asked, keeping my eyes closed. If I couldn’t see him, then he might not really exist.

“Well, we met with you pointing a gun to my face so… historically, not the right foot.” He told me, and I opened my eyes at his words. I hated to admit it, but he had a point.

“I’m sorry about that, a force of habit when facing a competitor, I guess,” I told him. He shrugged his shoulders.

“I forgive you, I mean, I tried to shoot you as well, so there is that.” He held his hand out towards me. “My name is Syrus Dawson, I am the older brother to one annoying kid called Nylah, I work as a thief, treasure hunter, self-taught historian, and my favourite food is ice cream.” It confused me for a second until I realised he was trying for a fresh start. A sigh left my lips before I shook his hand in the water, still not thinking it was very conventional.

“My name is Caeli Porter, and to my knowledge, I am an only child. I am a mercenary, thief, treasure hunter and self-taught historian. My favourite food is also ice cream even though I’m lactose intolerant and shouldn’t eat it.” I introduced myself.

“Splendid to meet you,” Syrus said, trying to mimic my British accent.

“I think you’re starting to push it a bit,” I replied, letting go of his hand. His skin was softer than I thought it would be...

“Lactose intolerant, huh?”

“Yeah, but I deal with the consequences of eating ice cream.”

“You get gassy?” Syrus asked, and I lost all the humour of the situation.

“Could you have said that in a less flattering tone?”

“Well, it wasn’t a very flattering question. What did you think would happen?”

“Okay. I’m going to get out of this damned pool now.” I stated, heading towards the ladder.

“Was that a good fresh start or not?” Syrus asked as I clambered out of the water, I turned to face him with wet clothes clinging against my skin. He looked me up and down, and I sighed in annoyance.

“To be honest, it’s fairly average.”

“You know what, I got that feeling too.”

***

“Sinclair...” I trailed off. My tone was almost a warning in itself.

“It’s the best way to get this treasure, you know that,” Vincent replied, looking to Syrus who was also in the room. We were all standing around a desk which had a map of a low-level museum which was holding an Incan display. A few golden items were in cases and should be easy to steal.

We just had to scope it out before we would go in after closing and take a few insignificant items.

“I work best alone, in case you’ve forgotten, Sinclair,” I told the man. I had tried my best to avoid working with the Dawson brother, and I had failed.

“You have only ever worked by yourself or with me. Maybe you two will make a talented team. Won’t know unless you try.” The older man stated, I sighed and shook my head. I couldn’t change his mind.

“Once, just this once,” I responded, looking Syrus in the eyes. “But I swear to God, if you screw this up, we are never working together again.” He held his hands up, his go-to position for being put under fire, as I had noticed.

“Fine, but I won’t.” He told me, I shook my head

“Let’s go,” I whispered before I walked out of the room and begun the descent down to the street from their hotel room. Syrus right behind me as I had.

“So, any ideas on how to get this done?” He asked as we began the walk to the museum.

“Won’t know until I see the place for myself, but as long as you do what I tell you, we should be fine,” I told him, and he shook his head. He actually shook his head.

“I’ve been doing this a while now and don’t need to be told what to do. Maybe you could listen to me instead.” Syrus told me, and I laughed at his words. I couldn’t stop myself. “What’s so bloody funny?”

“You-” I had to pause, had to breathe, “you think you’re better than me. Genuinely, you do, and that is one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard.”

“How so? I’m good at this, and it’s not like I’ve seen amazing stuff from you. You were the one who got caught by a guard first, in case you’ve forgotten. You literally walked into him.” The audacity... why was everyone testing my patience lately? They’re going to find out it’s fragile.

“You left the ones you knocked out in plain sight, it’s a bloody miracle that they didn’t raise an alarm at all.” I retaliated, but I had become a bit too defensive about the situation. I had to take a breath and distance myself from the emotions I had felt. “Tell you what, let’s make this a little more fun.”

“Sure, how?”

“Let’s see, the first one to get caught has to...” I thought for a moment on it. “...be the one to argue with Sinclair about this stupid pairing and convince him it will never work.”

“What if neither of us gets caught?”

“If that unlikely miracle happens, it will be because I kept us out of trouble, and it will be a draw. If we’re successful, then Sinclair will make us work together again, in which case we can change the bet, you’ll be able to choose punishment or benefits then.” I told him. He nodded slowly. He did not understand how hard it would be to convince Sinclair that we wouldn’t work...

And if all went according to plan, the heist would go horribly and Syrus would be the one to lose the bet. It would all go so badly that it will prove that we can’t work together and force Sinclair to give up on his stupid idea.

At least that was the plan.

We walked into the museum, and immediately I was on edge. Something was off, I could feel it.

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