By the time they get back to the loft, daylight is fading fast and whilst Kate places the pastries and bread on the kitchen island, Castle goes around switching on lights, lighting the fire and making the place much cosier.
Returning from the bedroom he has to smile as he notices her sock-clad feet pocking out from under her. Turning his head he spots her boots back up against the wall by the door and he feels immeasurably satisfied that she seems to have settled back in. Her cheeks are rosy as the warmth from the loft begins to get their blood circulating again and he finds himself rubbing his hands together for all sorts of reasons.
"Like some more wine?" he asks. She nods and he pours them both a glass, making a mental note to stock up with a few bottles of the Seghesio in the hope that she'll be around to enjoy them.
Once they're settled he says "Ok, so you learnt to rock climb and you learnt how to crack windows, how were you going to shift the items? Pawn shop? I'd have thought that would be risky … and not very profitable, especially with any valuable stuff?"
"Right on both counts, first place the cops look for stolen stuff and sure they'll give you a price on most things, but a valuable piece of modern art, pictures … no good. I have an old school friend, runs a legit business but like anyone in the trade, knows who deals with the shady side of things. She agreed to act as go-between as long as it was only a few items, didn't involve any violence and included nothing that would have the cops doing extra time …"
"Like stealing some priceless diamond necklace or a Rembrandt?"
"Exactly" she pauses, takes a sip of wine and continues, "I'd delivered a package to an office, some small accounting firm on Division, the office was three rooms; reception and two others … I assume one for each partner. There was no receptionist when I got there and the office I went into to deliver the package didn't have much, but there were a couple of prints on the wall and a middle-aged guy who kept looking at me like he was imagining me naked … gave me the creeps … and the motivation …" a look of disgust sweeps across her face, then she carries on "… anyway he went out to consult with his partner and I snuck round the desk and took a couple of shots of the prints with my phone, also took the chance to check the office for alarms and things"
"The building had scaffolding all up the front, they were obviously painting or cleaning the façade, I thought that would give me easy access and cover. I checked with my friend and she looked the prints up, they were a couple of limited edition Doug Hyde prints … valued at between a grand and fifteen hundred each … obviously a lot less in my case, about thirty percent of their legal value … but still they'd cover the month's payment to Valote". Here she takes another break, sips her wine and watches the flames flickering in the fireplace for a few minutes before carrying on.
"I spent three, four evenings watching their routine, checking closing times and where they went after closing. The other partner went home … at least I assumed it was his home … always the same block of apartments. My friend …" here she wrinkled her nose in distaste and Castle was hard put not grin, "… always headed for the same bar about three streets away, spent about two hours in there trying to chat the ladies up and invariably left on his own and headed to the East Broadway Subway station"
Standing up she heads to one of the windows overlooking Broome and stares out for a bit, watching the splay of evening lights across the pavements, the well-wrapped pedestrians hurrying along the sidewalk and occasionally stopping to glance into one of the shop windows before pulling their coats tighter and moving on.
Castle watches her, fascinated by the play of light and shade on her features, the flickering firelight adding to the enchantment as highlights lighten her skin and then shadow her features, the auburn hair curls softly into her neck at the back whilst the sides are carefully tucked behind her ears. He waits her out, used now to her pattern of telling him a part of her story and then regrouping before the next chapter is voiced.
Eventually, unbidden, she draws the curtains closed and returns to the couch, sitting down and hugging her knees to her. She rests her chin on her knees and stares at him from large, considering eyes, eyes that are dark pools from within which flecks of amber glitter and make him catch his breath. He remains still, though he desperately wants to lean closer, wants to be sucked into those mysterious pools and drown … she sighs and the sound brings him back to the present.
"I went to rock climbing class the next evening, showered and changed into street clothes at the gym and hung around a local diner till they closed. Climbed on my bike and headed to Division. I thought if anyone stopped me and found my climbing gear, I'd have a legit excuse for carrying it. The scaffolding made it easy and the netting gave me good cover. It only took a few minutes to reach the second floor and the window that gave onto the office. I hadn't seen any alarm system when I'd been in there … who wants to steal anything from a small accounting firm right? Took me about five minutes to cut a circle in the glass and open the latch. I'd practiced at home on several sheets of glass, but it wasn't the same … every screech of the wheel seemed so loud that I had to stop every inch to make sure I didn't have a crowd of spectators. Anyway, eventually I managed to open the latch on the window, climb in and lift both prints off the wall", again she pauses and with a rueful grin shakes her head. "Took me about another ten minutes to get the prints out of their frames and rolled up into the tubes I'd prepared from kitchen roll tubes taped together"
"After that it was almost too easy to climb back down the scaffolding and head home. Next morning I really wanted to go to the office and see the guy's face …" she grins, "It would have been priceless"
"Eventually it just became routine, I'd keep an eye out for items that I thought would be of sufficient value for my needs whenever I delivered something, I'd scout out the target to get an idea of routines … then I'd get in, take what I needed and get out again without anyone knowing I'd been there … until I met you!" and here she's shaking her head in disgust at herself.
She watches him as he sits there, eyes lost in thought and fingers drumming on the back of the couch. She wonders what he's thinking and begins to get a bit nervous about his reaction to the information she's given him.