A C21 Story
Sean Miller is a professional thief. When he breaks into the home of C21 handler Jonah and is discovered, Jonah makes him an offer he can't resist -- join the covert organization and put his talents to a more legitimate use. C21 skirts the edges of the law, bringing criminals to justice that the police can’t seem to catch, and they could use someone with Sean’s talents.
For his first job, Sean is teamed with Ken Ward, one of Jonah's men, to bring down a phony adoption racket. In the process, Sean fights his growing interest in Ken, certain it won't be reciprocated. Is he right? Or will the two men become more than just partners when they are teamed up again to stop a gang of jewel thieves?
It was the third evening after Sean had discovered the house which no visible means of keeping trespassers from entering its property. That intrigued Sean, as had the fact he couldn't find any information about the owner. So he had spent the last two nights doing recon. As far as he was able to determine, there were only three people there on a regular basis -- a man and woman he thought were husband and wife, and a younger man who seemed to be an employee.
In the process of his surveillance, Sean had located the well-concealed motion detectors and cameras that covered the edge of the grounds. He was certain very few people would know they were there unless they were as skilled as him.
Okay, time to find out if this is going to be worth my time and energy.
Sean used his night vision binoculars to study one of the omni-directional motion sensors, as he had the previous night. Then, with a nod, he took a jammer from his backpack, pointing it at the sensor. After making an adjustment, he turned it on, which deactivated the sensor. Then he did the same thing to the camera a few feet away. The second he was certain it was safe, he moved swiftly inside the invisible parameter to the back of the home's multi-car garage before reactivating both the camera and the sensor. The whole operation took less than two minutes.
The next step was getting from the garage to the house. Again, he knew where the motion sensors were located under the roof's eaves. Choosing the one closest to him, he deactivated it momentarily, sped to the back of the house, and turned it on again. Inching slowly forward, he stepped onto the back porch.
Now for the real test. Getting inside.
The jammer worked on wireless systems, but if the interior security was wired into a landline it wouldn't help. The damned problem with not knowing who set up their system.
He studied the lock on the door before choosing which pick to use. With the door now unlocked, he turned on the jammer, then eased the door open. Using another of his 'toys', he located the security keypad, hidden behind a panel by the side of the door from the mudroom into what, he presumed, was the kitchen. The same device told him what the code was and he punched it in. So far, no alarms had sounded, but then with a system as sophisticated as he suspected this one was, none would. Any notification of a breach would either go to the security company, if there was one, or to the homeowner.
He smiled dryly. At least no one's come in, guns drawn.
Stepping into the kitchen, he saw two doors. One, he discovered, opened onto a pantry. The second led to a hallway. Ahead of him, at the far end, he saw a flight of stairs going up to the second floor. Ignoring them for the moment, he eased his way down to the large living room. Impressive. They must entertain a lot. He walked across the room to check out the bookshelves. He knew enough about books to realize there were several very valuable ones behind the locked, glass-fronted doors on one of them.
"If you like reading, feel free," a voice said from behind him.
Sean spun around, his hands fisting, and groaned. The two men standing there both held guns. They weren't pointed at him, but he had the feeling they would be if he made any sudden moves.
"You are better than I hoped," the older man said.
"Excuse me?" Sean replied, beyond surprised at his words.
The man smiled, gesturing to one of the sofas. "Why don't we all sit and discuss what comes next."
"Like you calling the cops?"
"Not at all." The man holstered his gun before taking a seat in an armchair across from the sofa. "I'm Jonah. My friend is Ken Ward, one of my ... employees, for lack of a better word at the moment. And you are?"
"Very puzzled," Sean said, reluctantly sitting at one end of the sofa, putting his pack on the floor beside him.
Ken nodded. "We all are at first." He studied Sean, so Sean studied him back. He saw a pleasant-looking man about his age. Not particularly handsome, although if he smiled, that might change. He had short, dark hair, intense eyes, and a shadow of a mustache, as if he hadn't shaved recently.