CHAPTER 1

I can't believe he called me. I just couldn't believe that he had the nerve to call me, after all these years. Well, actually it's only been two years, but it could very well be 20 for all I care.

I replayed the phone conversation in my head.

"Hey Macey, it's Hale," an achingly familiar husky voice had said into the phone, when I picked it up.

I was shocked into silence.

"How… How did you find me?" I managed to choke out, finally finding my voice.

The other voice exhaled a small sigh, and I knew that he was smiling. "Well, you didn't exactly make it hard."

By now, I was mad. "Why the heck did you call me? When a girl moves to Africa, nearly 3,000 miles from her hometown, you could take the hint that she doesn't want anything to do with you!" I all but screamed into the phone.

There was silence on the line. Nobody spoke for at least half a minute so I was about to hang up, when Hale decided to grace me with his answer. "I need your help."

I opened my mouth to say something, no doubt cuss him out, but he beat me to it. "Now before you shoot me down, just listen to me."

Of course, he knew me better than anyone else, so he knew exactly how to shut me up.

"I'm listening," I muttered through gritted teeth.

"I can't say much over the phone, but if you trust me, come to the place we used to play. You know, the one where you always got your head stuck in that log," I could almost see his goofy smile.

"Uh if I remember correctly, that was you," I replied, trying to hold back a smile. Wait! What was I doing? I was letting myself getting sucked into his charm, like a total idiot.

"I'll think about it, just tell me when," I said coolly.

"Day after tomorrow, 11 P.M. sharp. I already booked you a flight, which leaves in an hour, so hurry up and pack."

"Wait, hold up. What makes you think that I'm coming?" I said disbelievingly.

" 'Cause I know you."

I heard a beep, signaling the end of our call.

Stupid, cocky jerk. Insolent little dolt.

I cursed his name while I threw clothes into a suitcase.

I didn't even know why I was doing this.

Did I hate him? Yes.

Did I think he had devil horns hiding under his too-perfect-to-be-real hair? Absolutely.

Was I going to drop everything and actually help him? Probably.

I didn't know what was wrong with me, but I decided not to fight it and just go see what the heck he needed.


I got off the plane after a long 13 hour flight. Hale was thoughtful enough to get me first-class tickets, but I didn't even think he knew what coach class was. Even first-class isn't classy enough for him. He probably flew around in a private jet, or yachted around in his family's... yacht.

I looked at the time, 10:09 P.M.

I cursed under my breath and headed outside to signal a taxi. I was never going to make it in time, but I got into the cab anyway.

I handed the taxi driver a $100 bill and told him that he could keep the change if he got me there fast. I probably shouldn't have said that. The speedometer never went below 95 the whole way to Ridley's Brook.

I got out of the taxi and looked at the time, 10:53 P.M.

Now that I was here, I began to have second thoughts about this. I had just dropped everything and rushed here because of a phone call less than five minutes long. I was definitely going crazy.

10:57.

I knew the kid wouldn't show up. He's already 18 and he's still the same guy I knew two years ago. I exhaled and decided to give him a couple more minutes.

11:02.

I got up and starting to get my things together. I should've known he wouldn't show, it was probably just some stupid prank.

Just as I started to leave, I heard a voice from the trees behind me.

"Come on, Mace. You should give me more credit than that," Hale stepped out of the trees, without making a sound.

I gasped in shock and spun around, dropping my handbag in the process. He bent quickly and retrieved it, coming closer to return it. I snatched it out of his hands and backed up a couple of steps, we were way too close for my comfort.

"I'm not going to bite. Now, how about a hug? I haven't seen you in what, two years?" he smirked.

Was he for real? I thought as I cautiously regarded him. He had definitely gotten taller over the last couple of years. And if possible, hotter. I shook my head to clear the mutinous thoughts.

"What do you want, Hale? I came all the way back here just to talk to you, so this better be good."

"Oh it is," Hale casually leaned against a tree, "We have a job, and we need a person of your caliber."

"Uh-huh. Now tell me, what exactly do you need me for?"

"Well, I can't exactly tell you until you agree to help me, now can I?"

I blew out a breath of exasperation as I rolled my eyes.

"How long has it been since you've done a job? I mean really, don't you miss the excitement, the adrenaline? Or how a perfectly planned heist falls into place exactly how it was supposed to?" Hale said, stepping closer with each word.

With every point he was making, I realized that I did miss 'the life'. But I was, in no way in heaven and above, going to help him. At least, not without answers.

While I was thinking, Hale had gotten so close that I couldn't see the moon behind him. I could smell his cologne, it actually smelled really good. But there was also another scent, less prominent, but it was present. Something that could just be described as Hale.

He reached up and brushed a strand of my long auburn hair out of my face.

"I really have missed you, you know? Why did you leave? It took me ages to track you down," he murmured, looking into my eyes.

I flinched like I'd been electrocuted and backed away a good five feet. I knew it was childish but I still didn't trust him, with anything. So I don't think he has the liberty to touch me.

Suddenly, reality crashed down on me. What was I doing? I had told myself for two years that I absolutely WOULD NOT see head or tail of him, ever. And here I was, about to agree to something I didn't even know about.

I backed even further away, and turned around to leave.

"Where are you going? Car's the other way," I heard Hale say.

"Home. Don't ever contact me again." I snapped at him before swiftly walking away, with my suitcase in tow.

I felt his hand on my arm, effectively stopping me and spinning me around.

"What!" I snarled, trying to contain my anger at him.

"You've never been good at looking scary," he noted, stepping back and studying me.

"Look here, mister. I want absolutely nothing to do with you! Why can't you get that through your thick skull? After the last time I saw you… Just buzz off!" I snarled, poking his chest and knocking him back a couple of steps.

His eyes widened as his eyebrows shot up. I might have taken it too far, but it felt good to finally let go of all that anger that has been plaguing me since I last saw him.

I huffed out a breath and waited for his response.

"We're up against the I.G.G during the heist, if you wanted to know."

The blood drained out of my face as my heart literally thudded to a halt. My breath hitched as I thought about my last encounter with the Institution of Greater Good , or the I.G.G.

"I knew that would get your attention, I remember what happened the last time-," Hale started.

"Don't… Just don't," I cut him off, "What makes you think that I want to see them after what they did to me?"

"I know that you were scared stiff, but that you also felt like tearing each and every one of their heads off. I also happen to know that you would give anything to have another chance at them," Hale said matter-of-factly.

I looked at him, slightly surprised, but not shocked that he would know that. I mean, I was a delirious little 14 year old, who knows what I told him.

Hale inched forward, gazing into my eyes. "What happened, Macy? I mean, I haven't seen you for two years," he said gently, capturing me in his hazel-eyed gaze. Jeez, the boy was persistent.

The intense look in his eyes made me a little uncomfortable, so I broke off eye-contact and looked at my feet. "We grew apart after you met Kat, and then the cave-in happened, and then I didn't know what to do. So, I decided to leave. I moved to Africa and did a bunch of work with the natives and the research stations there-" I clamped my hand over my mouth, I had said way too much.

I had told myself over and over again that I would NOT spill my heart out to him, but here I was, doing that very thing. His eyes just drew the answer out of me.

But, just remembering that horrible cave-in that killed my father was something that I could not think of without crying. I felt myself tearing up, but I swallowed my sobs and turned around from him. There was absolutely no way that I was letting him see me cry.

"You know what? I'll do the job," I said, still not looking up at him. I have to admit, I was curious, and I did want to experience another heist. I didn't want to admit it, but Hale was right. I needed another shot at the I.G.G, for my father's sake. "Tell me what my part is."

He backed up and took my suitcase from me. "I'll tell you in the car, Marcus has the engine running."

We headed back through the trees to the road. I saw a long black stretch limousine parked on the side of the road.

When Marcus caught sight of us, he got out of the driver's seat and opened the back for us.

"Ah, long time no see Ms. Highgrove. How have you been?" Marcus asked politely, with a smile.

"I've been just dandy, what about you?"

"Thanks for asking, I'm great," Marcus said as he closed the door behind us and got back into the driver's seat.

"He hasn't changed a bit!" I told Hale as I leaned back on the soft, leather seats.

"Yeah, always been a suck-up," Hale said, grinning as he got himself a bottle of water. He threw a can of Coke at me, knowing it was my favorite. I raised an eyebrow at him as I caught it.

He noticed me looking and shrugged, "We knew each other for a long time, and I'm not the type of guy to forget easily."

"Fair enough." I leaned back and closed my eyes, relishing in the comfort of high-class leather.

While I relaxed and Marcus drove us to whatever house Hale owned these days, he filled me in on the job.

There was a new art museum opening near Paris, called the Muse d'Art. It wasn't too big or fancy, but there were two things about it that catches a thief's attention. One, they were revealing a priceless painting called, A Light in the Dark, By Unknown. And secondly, they had a state-of-the-art security system, almost as good as the one in Louvre. Nobody would have a security system like that, unless they had something worth protecting, or stealing. Our job was to steal it, simple enough.

It was a fairly simple job, but my heart still sped up every time I thought about it. I really did miss the excitement.

"We're here," Hale said as we pulled up to a small mansion. It was plenty big to me, but in Hale-standards, it wasn't very big. I mean the lot was only like 20ish acres. Yep, not big at all.

We got out of the car and started toward the door, with Marcus bringing my suitcase behind us.

Hale held the door open for me as I took a deep breath.

Did I really want to do this? I asked myself. Well, it was too late to back out now.


Howdy! I suddenly had an idea for this story during English and I am absolutely excited by it! Let me know what you think! Cough..Cough.. That means review.. Cough ;)

-Courtney(: