Chapter One – Deceitful Appearances
"What's up, dad?" Neal asked, stepping into Peter's office and closing the door behind him. Despite the circumstances, Peter gave Neal a tiny grin whenever the younger man called him dad – a special warmth blossomed of inside him when it happened.
"Someone's been stealing expensive and rare pieces of jewelry from displays all over New York for about 2 weeks now," Peter said, tossing the case files in front of Neal. "We have absolutely no idea who it is – the techniques used by the thief don't match any of our other criminals. Hughes is getting sick of it and is sending us in."
"Undercover?" Neal asked.
"That's what I'm considering, but I don't want to send anyone, especially you, in undercover without knowing if this criminal is dangerous."
Neal rolled his eyes. "Come on, Peter, there's no evidence that this person is violent. Besides, you've barely let me tie my shoes without your watchful eye since the Benjamin incident – this is a good start to you loosening your grip on me."
"I don't ever plan on 'loosening my grip' on you, young man," Peter said with a slightly raised eyebrow, "but I do think our best plan of action would be send you in. We've calculated that the next most likely display that our thief will hit is the Goldhouse Diamond Jewelry display. They're holding an auction around 3. You'll be attending as a wealthy potential buyer named Carson Goddard. The rest of your undercover ID information is up to your imagination."
Neal grinned rubbed his hands together in anticipation. "When do we leave?"
"About 2 in the afternoon. Right now, we're going to meet mom for lunch – her new friend from China has been teaching her some new Oriental cooking techniques and she wants us to try them."
Neal mulled that over. "This could be either really good or really bad."
Peter chuckled. "I don't care how awful it may be – you pretend you like it or it'll be your ass."
FBI Agent Peter Burke was a cautious man. A kind, gentle, firm man. But, unfortunately, he was also a very worrisome man. Although he knew the chances of Neal getting hurt were very slim, he wasn't taking his chances – Jones was also sent in undercover, just in case something went wrong. Now all he could do was wait while his boy worked his magic. Neal was dressed in his most expensive suit, face cleanly shaven and not a hair out of place. He fit the description of a rich buyer to the T. He wore a pair of FBI glasses that gave Peter a visual of everything Neal saw, along with a small ear piece that worked at both a microphone and speaker.
Neal carefully yet covertly eyed each and every one of the buyers and browsers at the auction. Though most looked like they had partaken in their fair share of illegal activity, Neal didn't really think that they were here to steal anything. That was, until Neal spotted a very young woman.
"Are you seeing this, Peter?" Neal said quietly. He zeroed in on the young woman, 18 at the oldest, browsing the beautiful selection of diamond jewelry. She looked merely curious, but Neal wasn't so sure that she was here just to look. He recognized the slight stiffness in her composure.
"That can't be our thief, Neal," Peter scoffed. "She's practically a kid."
"Never underestimate the youth of this generation, Peter – their incredibly skilled deceivers."
Peter snorted and kept his eyes on the screen. Neal casually walked up to the display case next to the girl and admired a particularly lovely necklace.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" she commented, flashing a grin that shocked everyone in the van watching threw Neal's glasses – it was every bit as charming as Neal's.
"Very," Neal agreed smoothly. "I have a piece almost identical, but with red sapphires instead of diamonds."
"It must be lovely," she marveled, her eyes wide with excitement. "I've only seen a few red sapphires, but I can honestly say they're one of my most highly favored gems."
"Mine as well. I didn't catch your name…?"
She smiled again and shook Neal's hand. "Moriah," she said. "And yours?"
"Carson Goddard. Do you have a last name?"
"I go by many names – I wouldn't know which one to give you."
Not wanting to seem suspicious, Neal smiled charmingly and dropped the subject. "You can't be more than 18 – I suppose you come from quite the wealthy family to be at an auction such as this."
"I do, my father worked as a head scientist at NASA," Moriah answered, eyeing the necklace once more.
"Really? I worked there for a time, maybe I've met him," Neal lied easily. "What's his name?"
"Branson Summers, he was a burly man with short, brown hair. He died some time ago, though – it's highly unlikely you've ever been acquainted with him."
Back at the van, Jones was searching every record the FBI had access to for Moriah Summers. He found it quite easily – Moriah Summers, age 18, both parents deceased. Only, there was one problem – Moriah had died 6 years ago along with her parents. However, a younger sister named Kaitlyn was still alive and reported missing.
"Move in," Peter ordered, and in a matter of minutes, at least 10 FBI agents flooded the area – and 'Moriah' had taken off running. Peter ran after her, but catching her was not an easy task. She dodged and sprinted, but the girl was no match for the FBI agent. He caught her around the waist and picked her up over his shoulder, only to have her kicking and screaming. Having none of that, he swatted her hard on the backside, and again and again until she finally calmed down.
"We're going to have a long talk, young lady," Peter said sternly, setting her back down onto the pavement. He kept a firm grasp on her upper arm, not having a pair of handcuffs with him at the moment and walked the fuming girl back to the van.
"Has she said anything?" Neal asked, standing next to Peter, crossing his arms identical to his father. They stood outside the interrogation room, looking inside the transparent room that held the young jewel thief.
"Not yet," the older man said, running his hands threw his hair. "She's a mystery – we have absolutely no records of her, no date of birth or anything. Only a mention of her in her older sister's file. She was a FBI trainee, but was killed in a car accident along with her parents. Kaitlyn hasn't been seen since."
"Not even a birth certificate?"
"Nope. Not a thing."
Neal sighed, almost impressed with her anonymity. He wondered how old she really was – the makeup and very professional look she sported made her look much older than probably actually was.
"I'm guessing she's 16," Neal said.
"I'll go with 17. Unless she's extremely skilled with disguises, she can't be younger than 17, I'm positive."
Neal shrugged. "Are you gonna talk to her soon?"
Peter took a deep breath and nodded. "Wish me luck."
"Good luck, dad," Neal chuckled. Ruffling his son's hair, he entered the interrogation room where Kaitlyn was currently residing. She looked up at him, her blue eyes emotionless, and watched him as he sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the table, across from her.
"Kaitlyn Summers," Peter said, opening a notebook and taking a pen out of his jacket pocket. "That's the only piece of information I have on you. Would you mind filling me in?"
Kaitlyn stayed silent, her eyes still fixed on the agent. It seemed like she was trying to determine what she thought of the man.
"Alright," Peter sighed. He tore out two pieces of paper from the notebook and took out another pen. He passed one of each over to Kaitlyn and said, "You write down information and I'll write down information – then we'll compare and see if I guessed the right answers."
Her eyes changed – they looked curious. She nodded and picked up the pen.
"Let's start with age, favorite song, height, weight and favorite thing to watch on TV."
The girl smiled slightly and started writing information down, as did Peter. Two minutes later, Peter passed his paper over to Kaitlyn. She giggled a little bit when she saw a few of his answers, and started correcting. His paper turned out like this:
Age: 17 15
Favorite Song: Eye of the Tiger / Bad by Michael Jackson
Height: 5'5 – good job
Weight: 111 lbs. /105 lbs
Favorite thing to watch on TV: football /WWE wrestling
She passed the paper back to Peter and he scanned over the paper. His eyebrows shot to the ceiling.
"…wrestling over football?"
She giggled again. "My dad used to watch it with me when I was younger," she told him, intense pain and sadness evident in her voice. "We could never really get into football."
Peter smiled comfortingly. "I'm sorry about what happened to your family, Kaitlyn."
He saw her eyes, once emotionless and strong, moist over and give away the pain that tore at her heart.
"It's fine," she said. She changed the subject quickly. "Can you please make a deal with me?"
"That depends on what you want," Peter answered.
She knew exactly what she wanted. "I still have every item I stole," she said. "I fully admit to it – I'll tell you the locations in exchange for a shorter sentence, maybe…maybe put into foster care or something… I really don't like being on my own, agent Burke."
The look she was giving him tore at his heart-strings. Suddenly there was a knock at the door, and Neal poked his head in.
"El wants a word," the younger man said.
"She's been here for about 5 minutes. You might want to hurry."
Excusing himself, Peter rushed out the door and into the hall, surprised to see a tearful Elizabeth waiting for him.
"El? What's wrong?" he asked, pulling his wife into his arms.
"We have to help her, Peter," she cried. "She looks so lost – she reminds me so much of Neal, and look at how much progress he's made in such a short amount of time. I know we can help her, give her a family…"
Peter sighed and hugged her tighter. "I'll see what I can do," he promised. "I'll try and get a deal for her similar to Neal's."
"A little sister, huh?" Neal mused from a few feet away. He smiled at the thought. He'd always wanted a little sibling.
This is a sort-of continuation of 'Pain and Deception'/ 'My Dad' but not by too much. I hope you'll like it