“I think that’s probably for the best,” he said.
“How can you say that!” Alessandra snapped. “You’re just as frustrated with how he’s running things as I am! How can you just sit there and let him get away with it?”
“Easy, Alessa,” Mikaelo said soothingly, using the nickname he’d used for her ever since she joined the clan. “I’m not saying that I want to just sit here and let him get away with things, but if we’re going to make a change, we have to be smart about how we do it.” Mikaelo’s soothing voice seemed to suck all the fight out of her, and she slumped back against the couch and sighed deeply.
“I know,” she said dejectedly. “It’s just so frustrating to have to keep taking that man’s crap!”
“It is,” Mikaelo agreed, “but he’s the best thief in the clan, no question, and until one of us gains the skills to challenge him, we’re just going to have to live with it.”
“So that’s what you wanted to talk to me about?” Alessandra asked, still slumped against the back of the couch. “You just wanted to warn me to chill out?”
“Well, yeah,” Mikaelo admitted. “You are kind of a hothead, after all.”
“What do you mean!” Alessandra shouted, leaning forward suddenly. Mikaelo flinched back from her, and she grinned. “Gotcha,” she said with a wink. Mikaelo rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, I guess you did,” he said sarcastically. Alessandra just grinned more widely.
“I should probably go take care of my disguise,” she said.
“I suppose,” Mikaelo replied, frowning. He looked like he was deep in thought, his eyes staring at something far away that no one else could see. Alessandra stifled a sigh. This was something that Mikaelo did often, and there was no getting through to him when he zoned out like this. She stood up and turned to walk away.
“Alessa,” he called, when she was just about to turn the corner. She looked back at him, and he said, “Just promise me you’ll be careful.”
“Oh, Mikaelo,” she said, flashing a smile, “I’m always careful. Don’t you know that already?” Mikaelo rolled his eyes again, and Alessandra laughed and walked away.
She made her way to the disguise storage room, so she could turn in her wig and her contacts. Technically, she should have done that as soon as she turned over the proceeds of her heist to Bezzum, but she’d been so deep in thought after that confrontation that she’d forgotten. The disguise room was guarded by a weaselly little man named Haazko.
“‘Bout time you showed up,” he snarled as she approached. “I happen to know you’ve been back for over an hour.”
“Well, this wig just looks so good on me, I couldn’t bear to give it up,” Alessandra said with a wink.
“Yeah, well, them wigs ain’t here to make you look pretty, little girl,” Haazko retorted, putting an emphasis on the word ‘little’, which Alessandra found ironic considering she was a good six inches taller than him.
“I know, I know,” Alessandra sighed. “I’m just teasing you, little man.” Haazko’s expression didn’t change, but Alessandra could tell he was amused anyway. They had always had this sort of relationship, where she teased him and he pretended he was aggravated by it. She took off the wig and handed it over to him, and then popped the contacts out of her eyes and handed those over as well.
“Everything looks like it’s in good order,” Haazko said as he inspected it.
“Well, of course,” Alessandra replied teasingly. “It’s me, isn’t it?” Haazko just rolled his eyes.
“Okay, you’re all set,” he said. “Now get outta here, would ya?” Alessandra grinned at him, and then turned and made her way back to her quarters. On her way there, she stopped in a bathroom and washed the makeup off her face. That was a pleasant experience, as the makeup had been on so long that it was starting to sting. She enjoyed disguising herself to go on jobs, but it was always nice to look like herself again. Taking a long look at her face in the mirror, she smiled. She liked the way her face looked, with her freckles, her twinkling green eyes, and her short, spiky red hair. She enjoyed being herself. She was strong, she was skilled, she was confident. Now she just needed the position in her clan that was worthy of her strength and her skills.
Her smile faded a little at that thought, but then she remembered what Mikaelo had said to her, and he was right. They needed to be patient. The time was coming when she would be able to challenge Bezzum and seize control of the clan. She just needed to be patient, and wait for the right opportunity. It wouldn’t do any good for her to strike too soon, and lose. The perfect moment was coming, and she would be ready for it.
The next few days passed fairly uneventfully for Alessandra. Being a thief wasn’t always about running around stealing things and getting chased by guards. There were plenty of mundane chores to be done around the clan house as well. Cleaning, cooking, maintenance and other tasks like this always needed to be done, and every member of the clan took their turn doing these things. Even Bezzum, although he seemed to get out of chore duty more often than any else. All the more reason Alessandra wanted his job. She hated doing chores. Especially cooking, which was what she was doing four days after her heist at Vadacar Lozech’s jewelry shop.
“I just love your stew today, Alessa!” piped Halidasa as she brought her bowl up for a second helping at lunchtime.
“Hali, it’s the same stew we have every day,” Alessandra replied with fond exasperation. “Everyone here makes it the same exact way. Even you!”
“I know,” Halidasa said with a shrug, “but there’s something special about it when you make it!
To be continued…