"Start small. I don't want to scare her." Parker repeated the grifter's advice to herself, looking around the street. She was dressed in a gray sundress over a pair of blue jeans. Her ever-present sneakers were peeking out from under the levis and she was carrying a little bag with her.
Sophie had been giving her advice all morning, about what normal people talked about. She had told Parker to try coffee and to talk about Alice's job. For a week, Parker had been reading every book she could get her hands on and memorize lists of novels and authors. She needed to know what she was talking about if she was going to play her role properly. "Alice!"
The thief looked over to see Peggy jogging towards her. "Hi." She was overwhelmed with the awkwardness of the situation. Peggy either didn't feel it, or was simply oblivious.
"How have you been? I'm so glad you called!" Peggy was grinning widely, and Parker let herself smile as well. She considered Peggy's question, trying to think like a book keeper.
"I've been good. I've been reading a lot." She smiled again, noticing that it came easier this time. "How about you? How have you been?"
"Oh, I've been great." Peggy smiled. "Come on." She led the way into the Starbucks, and they went to the counter.
"What can I get you?"
"I'll have a grande white chocolate mocha." Peggy ordered. She looked at Parker. "What about you Alice?"
Parker looked at the menu. "I'll have a grande Red Eye." She contributed. They got their coffees and found a small table.
"So, what have you been reading recently?"
"A bunch of things. I read Catch 22, but I didn't like it very much." Parker wrinkled her nose. "It was poorly written."
"Really?" Peggy smiled and took a sip of her coffee. Parker did the same.
"Yeah. I also read Rising Sun, by Michael Crichton. It was good, but too predictable." Parker said.
"Have you read anything that you really liked recently?"
"Not really." Peggy laughed and Parker joined in. "I don't like books when I can guess what the ending is. I like books that keep you guessing."
"Really?" Peggy asked. "I've never really liked those. They're always so confusing."
The rest of coffee passed like that, with the pair discussing the merits of their jobs. Parker was surprised to find that she was almost comfortable talking to a normal person about normal things like books and nutrition.
"I've probably got to go soon." Parker said. Sophie's advice ran through her head again. Start with coffee. Don't scare her off. "But I did want to ask you something."
"Oh yeah? What is it?" Peggy asked.
"Do you want to steal a painting with me?"