From the desk of Monica Summers
Even though I was starting my job at PathCath, Cathedral sent me off on an unorthodox mission that started nine months ago. I was sent to keep an eye on a con artist and thief named the Gingerbread Man, who was known for his heist in Portland, Oregon, where he helped fence a collection of Swiss watches to help two fellow con artists codenamed FireThief and SwanPrincess. FireThief and SwanPrincess were last seen in Tallahassee, Florida, but have been under the radar since then. He also stole a priceless painting of Saint Martha from Rome. The painting somehow ended up in Saint Louis (or was it Saint Paul?) but nothing could be traced back to him. Knowing that I was facing a dangerous man, Mother gave me one condition on this mission: Do not put yourself in a compromising situation.
I travelled to Tucson, where the Gingerbread Man was last seen, and crossed paths with him as he was at a meeting with a group of people I assumed were his team. I had to admit to myself that the photo on the dossier did not do him justice. His hair was slicked back and it was a little bit longer than most guys would cut it. He wore a white t-shirt and common everyday blue jeans, like he just got off of a construction site.
I twisted the cross necklace I wore and adjusted my skirt. Was it too short? I wondered. Too formal? I had to maintain a modest appearance for a successful mission.
I had the opportunity once he walked into a coffee shop by himself. I followed in after him and “accidentally” bumped into him.
“I’m so sorry!” I said.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Yeah. This shop is just really crowded.”
After we both got coffee, we sat down at a table for two. I brushed my hair behind my ears.
“So what brings you to Tucson?” he asked.
“Oh some star-gazing, really. Orion is brightest this time of year.”
“Yes, but your smile shines even brighter, ” he responded.
I felt myself blush, loving the look of his dark eyes. It was hard for me to discern the color, as if they reflected a storm out on the sea. We made small talk easily.
“I feel like we’ve met somewhere before,” I said.
“You sure about that?” he asked. “Because I could never forget a face as pretty as yours.”
He looked out the window, I assumed at his team, and left a few bills behind. “Coffee’s on me. Hope to see you around.”
As he walked out, I felt my heart racing. I knew as I followed in pursuit, that was emotionally compromised.
The next time I saw the Gingerbread Man was in New York City. He was posing as the owner of a pop-up restaurant called the White Rabbit that was really a front for his latest con. An enemy spy from another country (codenamed The Pirate) shot him in the stomach. The Pirate was quickly arrested, identified by an agent named Ariel.
I was assigned by Cathedral to pose as his doctor and checked up on him regularly. I made sure to keep my distance whenever I was outside of St. Mary Margaret Hospital, but he kept sending me very flirty messages. We met up every now and then and I tried to keep things as professional as possible. But there’s a reason the agents at PathCath never invited me to play poker with them.
Today, the Gingerbread Man vanished without a trace. We went together to a week-long charity event held at The Miller Theatre, an old theatre built in the 1920s during the peak of the Silent Film Era. There were different things going on, such as an auction, several luncheons and dinners, charity campaigns by politicians from around the country, and a concert at the end of the week.
I got word from PathCath that two thieves were on the move to the auction, intending on stealing a very rare white moonstone called the White Stag’s Eye. I was scared that my Gingerbread Man was one of them, even more so when I saw him with a very reputed museum curator and jewel enthusiast from Poland named Adam Krakowski. But after doing a background check, I realized that Mr. Krakowski was legit. The two thieves in question , codenamed Scarlet A and Silver Q, got caught by security. Mr. Krakowski met the owner of the moonstone, Mr. Hart, and was able to acquire the White Stag’s Eye for his museum.
It wasn’t until later that night that I learned of the Gingerbread Man’s true target: the Coeur de la Mer. Recovered from the bottom of the ocean, it was the last piece held for auction and I was the only one who knew where it was hidden.
The Gingerbread Man approached me as I had lunch and I immediately felt the cold hard steel of a gun against my waist. Forced to act like we were the best of friends, I led him down to the place where all the jewelry was kept. But I sent a signal to my handler, who I often call my guardian angel. We went up to the 24th story of the high rise building next to the theatre. I opened the glass case and took out the necklace…then I dropped it on the floor and watched as it smashed to pieces.
“Did you really think I would give you easy access to the Coeur de la Mer after what happened with the moonstone?” I said. “I’ve been guarding the necklace all this time.”
He stepped in front of me as I took off my jacket, revealing the necklace as it hung around my neck.
“Hidden in plain sight,” he said.
“I told everyone that this was plastic and paste as a nod to the famous story by Guy de Maupassant,” I said. “Only a jeweler would be able to tell.”
“You’re as clever as I heard you were, Storyteller.” He chuckled.
I almost thought he was gonna take this chance to surrender. Instead, I felt a punch to my gut, followed by his arms around my neck as I slowly passed out.
I woke up and saw that the window was broken and that the necklace was gone. I knew he must’ve had some way of getting down–some kind of zipline or something.
I made my way back to the party, where I found my handler waiting for me
“What’s your status?” she asked.
“I’m fine,” I said. “The heart…it’s gone.”
“The people back home will want a full report. He’ll probably be holding onto that heart for a while.”
“I know. I’ll get it back. Somehow.”
My handler shook her head. “Leave it to me. Get a drink”
I sat down at the bar and downed a glass of vintage moscato. I turned my attention to the stage as the audience applauded. World-famous actress/singer Dylan Patterson stepped out to announce the performance of her husband, Milton.
As she walked off the stage, I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see my handler.
“I went backstage and saw someone running like death was over his shoulder,” she said. “So I stopped him.” She held a blue diamond heart in her hand. “I believe this is yours?”
“Yes!” I said.
“I also sent a message to Dylan to make sure Milton performed as soon as you arrived. Oh, and here she comes now!”
To my surprise, I saw Dylan taking a seat on the barstool next to mine.
“Your timing is impeccable, Dylan,” I said.
“It’s one of my many talents,” she said.
The three of us turned our attention to the stage and smiled as we watched Milton sing.
The auction followed Milton’s impromptu performance and the Coeur de la Mer was sold to the royal family of a distant country, somewhere between the Middle East and Asia, that nobody really knew about. The Queen Mother was dressed in a beautiful blue gown while her son, The King, wore a dazzling white robe. The Queen’s husband, The Duke, was dressed much simpler, in a brown suit over a green shirt with a lily flower sticking out of his pocket. It was clear that his clothes were of high quality material.
To my surprise, the Royal Family approached me during dinner. I apologized to them for almost losing something so precious.
“Please keep it safe for me,” I said.
“No need to worry,” the Duke said. “My Son was the one who created it, after all.”
The three of them left to return to their kingdom, leaving me at the bar with my handler, Dylan, and Milton. Milton raised a glass.
“I would like to make a toast to celebrate a really good week,” he said. “To a job well done.”
“To better days,” Dylan said.
“And better things,” my handler said.
“Amen to that,” I said.