“No, No No No!”
Michael could not be any more emphatic than that. Not without more yelling and screaming.
He faced Sydney across the living room in the villa. How had she gotten here exactly? Davidson recalled that a bit too well.
Charlotte Laurent sashayed around the couch wearing a bikini and an evil grin on her face. That was the same couch that Gretchen had recently occupied and had had the nerve say as she got up from it, “You know Mike, that might not be such a bad idea.”
She walked from the room without a backward glance at his negative tirade.
“Gretchen thinks it will be okay”, the now dark haired, brown eyed woman told him, standing with her arms crossed under her breasts. Her breasts which were round and full and peaked with pink nipples…
This was supposed to be their downtime! The time when they played cards and ate junk food before the job. Now? In no way did his plan call for Sydney to participate.
It was Thursday the 28th of March 2013 at the villa. Two full days before the eight, and only the fucking eight of them, were due to fly to London to pay their last respects to the utility tunnel under Hatton Garden and Greville streets. That visit should clear the alarm system out of the way the next day and allow them to rob the place blind.
But the gang floated the idea of using Sydney as the tester in London versus one of them. And he rebelled. Loudly.
Oh, all of the gang loved Sydney Devereaux very quickly after they started interacting with her.
On the Friday, six days earlier, Mike and Gretchen called up the water taxi to come get them to check in on their guest.
A curtesy text to Sydney told her they were on their way. It was 12:45 in the afternoon. Not a particularly busy time and it had taken that long to ensure the stooges were no where around.
Gretchen had her makeup and ID kits with her. Ostensibly, she was there to perfect the quick passport and ID’s they’d done up before.
In reality she was there to prevent Sydney from killing Mike. Davidson checked his phone on the boat. “She says “K”- he showed Gretchen the phone so she could read the one letter response. Like he was proving that the woman was allowing them to visit.
Gretchen watched him closely. It’d been a LONG time since she’d seen him this nervous.
Suite 307, building E- he pointed her towards the lush plant lined path from the dock to the suites.
The pair knocked on the door and a terry cloth robe wearing, and obviously drunk, Sydney Marie Devereaux opened it.
As Mike entered the room he noticed quite a few things: Syd had been busy with the room charges. The remains of several meals seemed to be scattered around the room. Two empty champaign bottles, lobster shells and fresh flowers littered the table and the TV stand. Some new clothes adorned the back of the couch and the two opposite chairs. The mini bar looked to have been wiped out. Tiny liquor bottles dotted available flat surfaces.
How much had she fucking charged?
He turned towards Sydney who screamed at him, “You broke my heart you bastard!” And then slapped him before storming off into the bedroom.
Gretchen grinned white teeth out of her thin face at him as she sat her cases down. “I like her already.” She went into the bedroom after Syd.
Michael sighed and started cleaning up the living room. Was she having lobster and champaign delivered every hour? he wondered. He cringed at the minibar macadamia nuts. The 22 dollar package was opened and it looked to have six nuts eaten.
Twenty minutes later, his teammate came out of the bedroom.
“How is she?”
Jesus! Sydney was a sorority girl. How much liquor would it take to get her drunk?
“Did you get her corporate card?” he asked trying to sound innocent.
“She loves you so much, Mikey.”
That hurt anew.
“Yeah, well not anymore,” he said sounding miserable.
His friend was silent to that.
An hour later, after vomiting and showering, a reasonably sober and calm Sydney emerged.
Gretchen’s suggestion of “Lets go back to the villa,” was practical and casual.
She knew Syd needed people around her to make her feel better.
Of course Davidson hated the idea.
’She is supposed to be incognito.”
’Who’s gonna cognito her on the water taxi?” Gretchen asked.
The sigh from Mike was long suffering and signaled defeat.
Despite all his misgivings, he had fun over the next few days. The risk of Sergei dropping by was fairly small and he could at least keep an eye on her here.
And Sydney was buoyed by being around the gang. Meeting Rick and Graeme, and giving a welcome hug to Ira seemed to bring her back to life.
Having another woman around sparked some fun for Gretchen as well. She gave Syd one of her smaller bikini’s and the two woman took a swim before the blonde’s dye job.
“I will put a bullet in your brain,” Mike told Rick as the two men watched the woman splash around the pool and the blond young man drooled. Gretchen was pretty but Sydney was curvy and toned and…
“How much money do you have, shammer?” Graeme asked coming to stand next to the pair watching the show. “I’ve seen your willie, its not all that,” the Irishman asked eyes twinkling.
Oh, she fit right in! Burgers on the grill that night and Ira taught her how to pick locks.
She fleeced the lot of them at gin rummy and Gretchen taught her how to make fake passports.
Rick followed her around like a house boy, fletching drinks and laughing at her jokes.
The whole time she flared whenever Mike suggested toning down the fun.
The last straw was when Graeme suggested getting her “checked out on the guns,” calling across the pool to her. She stuck her tongue out at him as she scooted out to the garage following the man.
Mike had had enough. It was already too much when she double crossed him and took his bedroom in the villa. It was enough when he was relegated to the couch. It was enough when he tried to reason with her. He wanted peace, he wanted quiet, he wanted things normal as possible.
In truth he wanted Sydney but he settled for a fight in the living room in the villa.
Separated by the couch physically and the cold hard truth emotionally, he took a different tact once his yelling “no!” seemed not to work.
“Sydney, stop this. You are a doctor not a thief.” Michael started again in a very soft tone.
Maybe it was the change of tone but she stopped smiling and got sad. An inner struggle showed on her face when she finally admitted. “I’m scared, Michael. Those men took me and there was nothing I could do about it.” I don’t feel safe.”
“I know that…but let me extract the revenge. Let me take care of this. Your best bet is to lay low and let me finish what I have to do and you can go back to your old life.”
The silence built as she struggled. She wanted to believe that but… “Can, I Mike? I’m not sure about anything. I’m not safe. Not alone. Can I go back and just resume my life?” “I need some protection.”
The sad, quiet, hurt tone in her voice ran up his nerves and filleted his emotions. His fault. This was all his fault.
He moved around the couch slowly like he was approaching a fawn.
“It’ll be okay. It’s okay. I promise to keep you safe.” He cautiously wrapped his arms around her. She resisted and then slowly hugged him back.
Every fiber screamed to kiss her but he just held her carefully. The bruised ribs being the smallest reason to hold her gently he knew.
They broke apart without words. The smiles between the two were small and tentative but Mike would take any thaw in their relationship.
And later that evening, over more gin rummy and Graeme’s famous Irish stew, Sydney worked Mike’s, Its okay line into a ninja invitation to accompany the gang to London.
Defeated again, Davidson just incorporated her into the plan. The worlds greatest thief worked his way around contingencies.
The 29th was nothing but planning and review for the thieves. For Sydney it was a fascinating peak into the world of high end stealing.
It helped that she had been to the city several times and was familiar with the tube and the airports and the Hatton Garden district.
’I’ve gone shopping on that street!”
“Well now your are going to rob the place, love!” Graeme told her.
Basic logistics were still okay for the gang. The five plus the three stooges would fly in on Gold Jets, landing at 7:00 pm. All of the papers were ready for the trip. At one AM they went in with the gear and goodies. A little over an hour should see it done. Syd would follow on a commercial flight arriving at 8:00. Since the Russians were occupied they would not be staking out the airport.
’Syd makes the test the next day while we fly back to the desert,” Ira finished up.
Not bad, Mike thought. Plan B would be installed as well while they were in there. Always a plan B.
’Tell me again what I have to do?” Sydney asked as the bloom came off the rose.
“Its easy, Gretchen jumped in. She pointed to the detailed schematic on the villa table. “This phone box is down the block and in the alley near the safety deposit building. Its relatively hidden from the street. You pick the lock and hook up the monitoring gear right here.” She showed Sydney the phone line test points. Ira demonstrated the probe clips.
“Once it is installed all you have to do is break a window on the back of one of the diamond shops.”
“Wig and make up please”, Mike reminded her.
’The monitoring gear will record the values. We just need you to note the time it takes the cops to get to the place and how long it takes them,” Ira finished.
“Oh, and tell us which shop they go to.” he added as Sydney nodded.
“And I do this at 9:30 the next morning right?”
“April Fool’s!” Rick said.
Mike got serious. “Syd, make sure you look for this guy.” He held out the picture Gretchen had taken of the Flying squad investigator they had tried to set up.
Mike wasn’t too happy about that whole deal. The Yards investigators had cleared both the agent and the boss very quickly. A small item in the paper had informed them of the fact. Mike figured the guy would be pissed and looking for any of them at any time. He said nothing to Sydney about that. In truth she was more anonymous than any of them. It made sense but it felt wrong.
Wrong as it might feel, the gang was tight and this was what they did.
The flight into London was uneventful. The capo’s watched Mike and his team like vultures but there was nothing wrong they could detect. Everything was going exactly like it had gone before. Sergei might suspect but…Fuck em, Mike thought. They can suspect all they want. Now was not the time he knew for them to take out the loose thread that was the gang of thieves.
The white van was still in its storage place and dusty. The light mist was griming up the sides but London had been and would be very dry for the English spring. That was very helpful to the gang. No one liked going into a flooded tunnel.
Mike got a buzz on his phone and checked it. Syd texting- she was in the Rosewood hotel. “Super nice hotel”. No problems getting out of Dubai then. Good.
It was becoming routine for the crew. The Russians taking the tube while the gang drove the van. Hard hats, vests, cones and checklists. Anton and Viktor taking up positions with the signs while Sergei dealt with the metro police. Not Robert this time.
Ira led the rest of them down the metal ladder into the darkness. The lights showed, nothing had changed except the foot of water was gone and an wide trickle of a stream stood in its place. Levinson had his gear and the rest had lights and tool boxes but those were fake. The bottoms held the plan B packages and equipment. The other portion of plan b was in the yellow vent tube.
A 12 inch wide ventilation duct ran from the van down thru the manhole cover that allowed the workers entry into the tunnel. The ventilation was “required” this time as Mike briefed the cop topside.
What was really required were the 25 small packages that were dropped into the tunnel down the vent duct while the briefing was going on.
The gang set to work. Ira walked to his access point and setup the gear while Rick and the rest grabbed the small packages from the vent line.
The small 18 by 1 by 6 inch packages expanded enormously when the tight plastic wrapping was removed. The compressed cellulose fiber pieces- ten to a package, now were 18 by 12 by 6. The other four scurried about wedging the material in between the pipes. The alarm line got packed all long it length. The weather and the huge amount of trash in the tunnel would help if plan A did not work.
“Pick up the bags!” Mike warned as they finished.
No need to worry. An hour 27 minutes in the tunnel was all it took.
“Wrap it up! Mike called to keep the Russians happy.
“Not too bad officer,” he told the cop as the rest stored everything. ’We may have to go back one more time in a few days, he told the man who shrugged. He didn’t care one way or the other.
The crew held strictly to plan. Russians by tube to Paddington and then Heathrow express to Heathrow civil terminal. The five would follow once the van was returned to it’s spot.
That gave them just enough time for one stop at the Rosewood. Mike held his breath when she opened the door. He knew her fondness for ordering room service.
She’d at least had the grace to look chagrined when he and Gretchen had checked her out of the Anatara.
Mike was sorely tempted to stay when Ira handed Sydney the monitor unit and the leads. The thieves left after everyone wished her luck.
Turned out the woman was a natural. The simple pad lock on the phone box took twenty seconds for her to pop. The cover door opened wide and she clipped on the leads just like Ira had shown her. The box matched the detail in the drawing very closely. Easy. Not like biopsy on a tumor, she thought. A flick of the switch to turn the unit on and she closed the cover part.
“Step one accomplished-easy as pie” she texted at 8:35 am on the first.
Sydney continued down Greville street away from the Safety deposit company and the phone box where she’d just been.
She went into the Oasis to get a cup of coffee without knowing the connection to Michael. She sat next to a nice younger man about her age who did not know her and she did not recognize at all. She should have. The squad man was back on the case.
9:20 like clock work she went outside and picked a small shop on Greville street as her target.
The back area was hidden from the street but the security camera clearly showed a woman chucking a broken brick at the back window of the shop.
Sydney hustled out to the front and across the street and down a ways.
She needed to hustle. About 45 seconds after she was in position a car pulled up outside her target with the two toned “Wa wa” European siren waling.
Wow! She was impressed. Two more cars sped to the scene.
She did not wait around. Calmly waling back to the phone area she snatched the gear from the box and closed the cover. Monitor in bag and bag over shoulder she threw off wig and glasses and frumpy coat into a dumpster on Hatton Gardens alley way. The cops put it down to crazy woman vandalism.
His phone chirped at 1:00 pm local time just as they’d rehearsed. The five of them were back in the villa with the Russians back at Diera chilling out.
“Michael, it went perfectly,” she said her voice breathless and rushed. Mike knew that feeling.
’Easy, kid. Talk to Ira.” He handed off the phone to Levinson who took Sydney thru the monitor readings. Three times.
“You’re sure? 90 seconds? and the shop where you broke the glass?” Uh oh.
Graeme took Mike’s arm interrupting his intent watching while Ira talked to Sydney.
’Shammer-“ he showed Mike his tablet.
Davidson read the proffered news story.
Shit! His stomach sank.
Mind working furiously he took the phone back and locked eyes with Ira. “Plan B?”
“Yeah, no. It didn’t work. B is the only way,” he confirmed.
“I’ll do it on the fourth,” Mike told them all as he put the phone back to his face.
’Syd? Lay low until I get there in two days, okay?”
He clicked off and looked over at his friends. “It’s starting.”