Sighing, Chasey turned over under her warm blanket. In her half-conscious state, she heard footsteps click and clack closer to her. The next thing she next, someone's warm grip was over her shoulder and shaking her gently while warm peppermint breath blew into her face.
"Chasey? Chasey, wake up. We're raiding the house now."
Chasey reluctantly blinked and sat up, trying to smooth down her hair. She then realized it was Scipio's breath in her face and immediately felt her eyes water warmly, a sign that she was blushing, hard.
Turning away, Chasey pulled on her new jeans over the cotton leggings she was wearing, slid her feet into her damp sneakers, and wiggled into a warm black sweater presented to her by Hornet which smelled suspiciously like Scipio. She got to her feet, stretched, and walked over to Hornet, who was also waiting for the others to get ready.
"Strange, huh, how they always say it takes girls longer to get ready to go out?" Hornet grinned.
"No, not really." Once again, Scipio was too close for comfort to Chasey.
She inched away as conspicuously as she could and blushed. Again. Ugh, she was never going to have to use blush when putting on makeup when she was older.
Soon the seven friends were standing in front of a moonlit mansion.
"These people are obviously easy targets," Riccio reported.
Mosca nodded. "Obviously rich airheads," he added. "Look, right there." He pointed. "The window's open, right in front of a tree. It looks easy to climb."
Hornet snorted. "For you it is." Everyone knew that Hornet was no good at the physical stuff. She was more like the brain of the group.
Mosca shrugged. "Well, I'll help you, then! Come on!" He easily vaulted the gate, as with Scipio. Riccio, Prosper, Bo, Hornet, and Chasey moved a hollowed piece of wood under the stone wall and used it to climb over.
Soon, they were all up crouched in the tree Mosca had pointed out. Chasey had taken extra long to help up, and she was currently trying to hide her ashamed face behind a particularly leafy branch. Realizing no one could see her in the dark anyways, Chasey pushed the leaves away from her face.
Mosca was helping Riccio to quietly climb in through the small window, which turned out to be directly above a shower. As predicted, Chasey had most trouble squirming through the window and made a thud while landing.
Feeling her face heat up uncomfortably, Chasey followed her friends into the house, with Scipio in the lead. They entered a room of what looked like a collection of valuables and heirlooms, displayed in antique cabinets, glass shelves, and lit-up display cases. There were even a few pedestals here and there, showing off golden crowns on velvet cushions or museum-worthy ancient books.
Mosca immediately started trying to deactivate any security systems, while Riccio stuffed anything in reach and without protection into his sack. Hornet thumbed, wide-eyed, through an old-looking tome, and Prosper walked the perimeter of the room, searching for cameras.
Chasey stood there in front of a wooden cabinet, feeling extremely stupid and useless. Maybe they shouldn't even have brought me along, she thought sadly, biting her lip and shoving her hands in her pockets.
Scipio saw Chasey and tapped her shoulder. "Would you like to help Riccio with nicking all the things you can?" He handed her a pair of black wool gloves. "Here, use these so you don't leave fingerprints all over the place." He smiled kindly.
Chasey stared into his deliciously warm eyes, tempted to stand there all night, just gazing at them. She nearly dropped the gloves she had just taken. "Er…all right," she said, embarrassed.
Standing on her toes, Chasey reached up and grabbed a silver cup from a gray stone pedestal. It made a grating noise as it scraped the stone as Chasey pulled it down.
"SHH! Chasey!" Riccio hissed. "You'll wake the whole house!"
Casting her gaze downward, Chasey shuffled toward the door, dropping the cup in Riccio's bag as she passed him. "I'll wait in the bathroom," she said softly, blinking back tears.
"Chasey?" Bo said in a small voice.
Chasey ignored him and walked on.
Scipio watched her go, feeling a strange emotion course through his body. It seemed to radiate from his chest. Was it pity? It felt like that. But as he went back to work digging through a cabinet, he couldn't help but feel that pity wasn't it.
Chasey crouched in the polished white bathtub, letting the tears flow limitlessly. I'm useless, she thought. I'm stupid, I'm ugly, and nobody likes me. No one tried to stop me back there. Well, except Bo, but he would try to stop the worst person in the world. No one cares about me. Everyone is better off without me. I'm just an annoying tagalong they couldn't let die. She wiped her nose on her jacket sleeve, as sniffing would sound extra loud in the bathroom and might wake the house's residents up.
Just then, there were footsteps outside in the hallway, heading right at the bathroom.
Oh, it must be Scipio and the others. They're probably done stealing, Chasey thought. She quickly swiped the tears off her face. She stood up, prepared to step out from behind the shower curtain.
The lights went on, illuminating the polished marble sink and floor.
Wait a minute, Chasey thought, panicked, they wouldn't turn on the lights! She stood there, heart beating furiously. Adrenaline coursed through her so excessively it clouded her vision and prevented her from moving any part of her body.
Much too late, Chasey realized she was breathing far too loudly. The shower curtain was whipped back, and Chasey heard a loud bang and herself scream. The next thing she knew, white light forced her eyelids apart and she was staring at a white ceiling.