Rob was breathing hard, a little frightened by what was happening. The energy was a crackling, spinning mass now, so hot and dense that he could barely hold onto the crystal. It was like trying to control a high-pressure fire hose. And trying to send more energy in was like trying to pump air into a critically overinflated bicycle tire. Something had to give.
Something did. Like a cork blowing out of a bottle, the blockage flew out of Marisol's third eye. The force of the energy behind it chased it down her body and out the soles of her feet almost faster than Rob's eye could follow.
Gold everywhere. Marisol's entire body was encased in gold as the energy raced around, rushing through veins and capillaries, circulating at a wildly accelerated speed. An internal whirlpool bath. God, it was going to kill the girl. Nobody was meant to have that much energy.
Rob jerked the crystal away from her forehead.
Marisol's body had been straining, her back arching as the energy shot through her. Now she fell back and lay completely still for the first time since they'd walked in. Her eyes were shut. Rob realized suddenly that one of her monitors was blaring like an alarm going off.
Then, as he watched, her right hand began to move. The fingers unclenched, the wrist relaxed. It looked like a normal hand again.
"Oh, God," Lewis whispered. "Oh, look at that."
Rob couldn't speak. The alarm went on blaring. And Marisol's eyes opened.
Not halfway. All the way. Rob could see the intelligence in them. He reached out to touch her cheek, and she blinked and looked scared.
"It's okay," he told her, loud over the alarm. "You're going to be all right, you understand?"
She nodded uncertainly.
Running footsteps sounded outside the door. A sturdy nurse burst in, got almost to the bed before she skidded and saw Rob.
"What do you think you're doing in here? Did you touch anything?" she demanded, hands on hips-and then she took a good look at Marisol.
"Ma'am, I think she's feeling a little better," Rob said, and smiled because he couldn't help it.
The nurse was looking from Marisol to the monitors. She broke into a huge grin, switched the monitor off, and took Marisol's pulse.
"How're you feeling, darlin'?" she asked with tears shining in her eyes. "You just hang on one minute so I can get Doctor Hirata. Your mama's going to be so happy." Then she rushed out of the room without yelling at Rob.
"I think we'd better go before Doctor Hirata gets here," Lewis whispered. "He might ask some awkward questions."
"You're right." Rob grinned at Marisol, touched her cheek again. "I'll tell your brother you're awake, okay? And he'll be over here as fast as he can drive. And your parents, too . . ."
"Rob," Lewis whispered urgently.
They made it to the back stairs without being caught. On the second landing they stopped and whacked each other in glee.
"We did it!" Rob whispered, his voice echoing in the empty stairwell. "We did it!"
"You did it," Anna said. Her dark eyes were glowing and wise. It wasn't true, it had been the crystal, but her praise made Rob feel warm to the tips of his fingers.
He hugged Lewis and felt happy. Then he hugged Anna and felt a surge of something different from what he felt for Lewis. Stronger . . . warmer.
It confused him. He'd only felt something like it once before-when he'd found Kaitlyn alive down in Mr.
Z's basement. It was almost like pain in its intensity, but it wasn't pain.
Then he pulled back, shocked and mortified. How could he let himself feel like that about anyone but Kaitlyn? How could he let himself feel even a little like that?
And he knew Anna could tell, and that she was upset, because she wouldn't meet his eyes and she was holding herself shielded. She was disgusted with him, and no wonder.
Well, one thing was for certain. It would never happen again, never.
They walked down the rest of the stairs with only Lewis talking.
"All right, this is the place," Gabriel said. It was an imposing stone building on a one-way street in the financial district of San Francisco. Through the metal-framed glass doors Kait could see a guard at a little booth.
"Joyce said the guard won't give us any trouble. We sign in with the names she told us. The law firm is Digby, Hamilton, and Miles, the floor is sixteen."
He didn't look at Kaitlyn as he spoke and he didn't glance at her as they went inside. She didn't seem to exist for him anymore. But Joyce had told them to go in pairs, and Kait was supposed to walk by Gabriel.
She tried to do it without showing any more expression than he did.
The guard was wearing a red coat and talking on a cellular phone. He barely looked at them as Gabriel flipped through papers on a clipboard. Gabriel signed, and then it was Kait's turn. She wrote Eileen Cullen, Digby, Hamilton, and Miles, 16, and 11:17, on the appropriate lines. The 11:17 was the "Time In."
Frost and Renny signed in and they crossed the tile mosaic floor to a bank of brass elevators. A man in jeans was polishing the brass, and Kaitlyn stared at her neat brown Amalfi shoes while they waited-it.
seemed a long time-for the elevator.
Once inside, Gabriel pushed a large black button for floor sixteen. The button stuck. The elevator started, slowly, and with a wheeze.
Renny was snickering and Frost let out a torrent of gasping giggles.
"Do you know what I signed for my name?" Renny asked, banging the elevator door. "I signed Jimi Hendrix. And I put for the company, Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe. Get it? Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe for a law firm!"
"And I put Ima Pseudonym," Frost said, tittering.
Kaitlyn's heart gave a violent thud and began racing. She stared at them, appalled. They looked normal now: Frost's hair was pulled back elegantly and she was wearing only one earring in each ear and Renny could have been a junior accountant. But underneath they were still the same raving loonies.
"Are you guys nuts?" she hissed. "If that guard takes a look at that sheet-oh, God, or if the next person who signs in just glances up-we are dead. Dead. How could you do such a thing?"
Renny just waved a hand at her, weak with laughter. Frost sneered.
Kait turned to Gabriel to share her horror. It was a reflex-she should have known better. However horrified he might have been a minute ago, he now shrugged and flashed a quick, mocking smile.
"Good one," he said to Renny.
"I knew you had a sense of humor," Frost purred, running a silvery fingernail up Gabriel's gray wool sleeve. She ran it all the way to his crisp white collar, then toyed with the dark hair behind his ear.
Kaitlyn gave her a blistering glare through narrowed eyes. Then she stared at the elevator buttons, fuming silently. She didn't like this job. She still hadn't been told what they were doing-what can you burglarize in a law firm? She didn't even know what psychic powers Frost and Renny had. And now she had to worry about what other insane things they might decide to do.
The elevator doors opened.
"What a dump," Renny said, and snickered. Gabriel cast an appreciative look around. The walls were paneled in some beautiful reddish gold wood and the floor was dark green marble. Through glass doors Kait could see what looked like a conference room.
Gabriel glanced at the map Joyce had given him. "Now we go right."
They passed rest room doors-even those looked opulent-and entered a hallway with dark green carpeting. They stopped when they came to a set of doors blocking their way. The doors were very big and heavy; they looked like metal, but when Kaitlyn touched one it was wood. And locked.
"This is it," Gabriel said. "Okay, Renny."
But Renny was gone. Frost, standing a little way
Dack, said, "He had to go to the little boys' room." She was struggling to keep a straight face.
Kaitlyn clenched her fists. She'd seen the graffiti at the Institute; she could just bet what he was doing in there. "Now what?" she snarled at Gabriel. "Look, are you going in there to get him, or am I?"
Gabriel ignored her, but she could see the tightness of his jaw. He started toward the bathroom, but at that moment Renny came out, his face the picture of innocence.
"I would have thought," Gabriel said without looking at Kait, "that you'd be happy if we screwed this up.
After all, you're not really one of us ... are you?"
Kaitlyn felt chilled. "I am, even if you don't believe it," she said, working to put sincerity in her voice.
"And maybe I don't like stealing things, but I don't want to get caught and sent to jail, either." As Renny approached, walking cockily, she added in an undertone, "I don't even know why we brought him."
"Then watch and see," Gabriel said tersely. "Renny, this is it. From here on you need a security pass."
The device on the wall looked vaguely familiar. It was like the machines at the gas station that you slide a credit card through to charge gas automatically.
"Yeah, magnetic," Renny muttered. He pushed his glasses back with an index finger on the nosepiece and ran a hand over the security pass reader. "Anybody looking?" he said.
"No, but do it fast," Gabriel replied.
Renny stroked the device again and again. His face was wrinkled up, monkeylike. Kaitlyn chewed her lip and watched the central area from which they'd just come. Anybody stepping out of an elevator would see them.
"There you are, baby," Renny whispered suddenly. And the right hand door swung open.
So now Kaitlyn knew. Renny had PK, psychokinesis; he could move objects by power of mind alone.
Including the little mechanisms inside security pass readers, apparently.
Just like Lewis, Kaitlyn thought. I wonder if there's something about short guys.
The door closed behind them when they went through.
Gabriel led them quickly down the hallway. On the left other hallways branched away; on the right were secretaries' carrels with computers on the desks. Behind the carrels were office doors, with names on brass nameplates beside them. Kaitlyn saw one nameplate that said WAR ROOM.
Maybe law is more exciting than I thought.
They came to another set of the big doors and Renny dealt with them in the same way. They walked down another hallway.
The farther they got into private territory, the more frightened Kait was. If anyone caught them here, they would have some explaining to do. Joyce hadn't given them any advice about that-Kaitlyn had the sick feeling that Gabriel might be expected to use his power.
"What are we looking for, anyway?" Kait whispered to Gabriel between her teeth. "I mean, have they got the Mona Lisa here or something?"
"Keep your stupid mouth shut. Anyone walking up one of those hallways could hear us."
Kaitlyn was stunned into silence. Gabriel had never spoken to her like that before. And he hadn't said a word about Renny and Frost doing really dangerous things.
She blinked and set her teeth, determined not to speak again, no matter what.
"This is it," Gabriel said at last. The nameplate on the door said E. Marshall Winston. "Locked," Gabriel said. "Renny, open it. Everybody else keep your eyes out. If anybody sees us here, we've had it."
Kaitlyn stared down the hall until she saw red afterimages. She was sweating onto her white silk blouse.Then she heard a snap and the door opened."Frost, keep watching out. Renny, come with me."Kaitlyn felt sure Gabriel wanted her to keep watching, too, but couldn't bring himself to name her. She followed Renny into the dark office. Gabriel was pulling the shades, cutting out the night."She said Mr. Z thought it would probably be in the file cabinet-I guess that's this." He went over to a wooden credenza with file drawers built in. "Locked."Renny took care of that, while Gabriel shone a penlight on the drawers. Kaitlyn's heart was thumping, quick and hard. She was watching a crime being committed-a serious, major crime. And if they got caught, she was as guilty as any of the others.Renny stepped back and Gabriel pulled the top file drawer out. Then he cursed softly, closed it, and pulled out the lower one.It was crammed with hanging files in green folders,each one neatly labeled. Kaitlyn watched the penlight illuminate labels: Taggart and Altshuld-Reorganization. Star Systematics-Merger. Slater Inc.- Liquidation. TCW-Refinancing."Yes!" Gabriel whispered. He pulled out the thick hanging file that said TCW.Inside were a lot of manila folders. Gabriel began going through them deftly. It all seemed to be paper, mostly white paper covered with courier type, a few booklets with paper as thin as Bible pages.In a strange way, Kaitlyn felt relieved. It didn't seem so wrong to steal paper, even if it was important paper. It wasn't like taking money or jewels.Gabriel's breath hissed out.He was peering into a manila envelope. He pulled out the papers inside it, scattering them on the credenza's flat top, and shone the light on them.Kaitlyn squinted, trying to make out what they were. They looked like certificates or something, heavy blue-gray paper, with a fancy border around the edges.Then her eyes focused on tiny words Gabriel was tracing with his finger. Pay to Bearer . . .Oh, my God.Kaitlyn stood paralyzed, the print swimming before her eyes. She kept staring at the number on the bond, sure it couldn't be right, but it kept saying the same thing.U.S. $1,000,000.One million dollars.And there were lots of the things. A pile of them.Gabriel was flipping through, counting under his breath. "Twenty," he said at last. "That's right." He gathered the bonds up in his hands and caressed them. He was wearing the same expression Kaitlyn had seenwhen they toured Mr. Z's mansion. Like Scrooge counting his gold pieces.Kaitlyn forgot her vow not to speak. "We're stealing twenty million dollars?" she whispered."A drop in the bucket," Gabriel said, and caressed the bonds again. Then he straightened up and began to briskly put the other folders back into the drawer, "We don't want a custodian or somebody to see anything's wrong tonight. Not until we get out of the building."When the drawer was shut, he put the manila envelope inside his jacket. "Let's go."Nobody was in the hall and they passed the first set of doors safely. From this side, the doors just pushed open. Kaitlyn didn't know whether to be nauseated or relieved. They were committing a felony.Gabriel was walking around with twenty million stolen dollars against his chest. And the horrible thing was that they were getting away with it.Of course, on the brighter side, they were getting away with it. Kaitlyn wasn't going to jail.That was when the two men stepped out of an office in front of them.Kaitlyn's heart jumped into her mouth and then burst. Her feet were rooted to the floor and her hands and arms were numb. Her chest was squeezed so tightly that there was no room for her lungs to breathe.Still, at first she thought the men wouldn't look her way. They did. Then she thought they wouldn't keep looking, wouldn't stare-because surely she was frightened enough, she'd been punished enough already.She wanted nothing to do with a life of crime.But the men kept looking, and then the men were walking toward Kaitlyn's group. And then their mouths were moving. That was all Kaitlyn could takein at first, that the mouths were moving. She couldn't hear what they were saying, everybody seemed to be underwater or in a dream.But a minute later her mind ran it all back for her, sharp and clear. "What are you doing here? You're not interns."And there was suspicion in the voices, or at least a sense of wrongness. And Kaitlyn knew that if somebody didn't come up with something quick, that suspicion was going to harden and gel and they'd be trapped like flies in amber.Think, girl. Think, think.But for once, absolutely nothing came to her. Her quick brain was useless. All she could think of was the lump under Gabriel's black-flecked gray jacket, which was starting to look as big as an elephant inside a boa constrictor.That was when Frost stepped in.She moved forward in a slithery, silky way totally at odds with her brown suit. Kaitlyn saw her smile at the two men and take their hands.God, not now, Kaitlyn thought. Flirting won't stop them. But this passed in a flash, because Frost was talking, and not in a sexy way, but bright and cheerful."You must be-Jim and Chris," she said, hanging on to their hands like somebody at a tea party. "My uncle told me about you. You're in the corporate group, right?"The two men looked at her, then at each other."We're just looking around. I'm thinking of coming here in a few years, and these are my friends. My uncle said it would be all right, and he gave me his security pass.""Your uncle?" one of the men said, not as sharp as before, but bewildered."Mr. Morshower. He's a senior partner-but you know him, because he knows you. Why don't you call him at home and check it out? He'll tell you everything's okay.""Oh, Sam," one of the young men said weakly. Funny that Kaitlyn had suddenly realized they were young. "I mean, Mr. Morshower." He threw a look at the other young man and said, "We won't bother him.""No, no. I insist," Frost said. "Please call him." She actually picked up a phone from one of the secretaries' desks."That's all right," said the second young man. He looked unhappy. For the first time Kaitlyn was able to look at them as people. One had brown hair and one had black hair, but they were both wearing white shirts and striped ties knotted all the way up, even at this hour, and they both looked pale and somewhat harassed."Are you sure?" Frost asked, sounding disappointed. She put the phone back. The young men gave wry, watery smiles."Can you find your way out?" they asked, and Frost said of course, they could. Kaitlyn hardly dared to say anything, but she managed to smile at them as she walked past, and back down the hall, and toward the elevators.Her chest was squeezed again, but this time the pressure was from inside. She was so bursting with laughter that she could hardly contain it until they were in the elevator.Then they were all laughing, howling, shrieking, almost falling down. Renny did fall down, drumming his heels on the elevator floor. They were insane. Kaitlyn very nearly kissed Frost."But how did you know?" she said. "Did Joyce tell you?""No, no." Frost tossed her ash blond head impatiently. "I got it from them. I could've done it just from a piece of their clothing or one of those stupid fat silver pens they had in their pockets.""Those were Montblanc pens. And they weren't silver, they were platinum," Gabriel said quietly, and then they all had to be quiet because they'd reached the lobby. Frost swerved toward the red-coated guard to sign out, but Gabriel pushed her past him and into the street. The guard looked after them, came to the door."Step on it," Kait said to Gabriel as they scrambled into Joyce's car."It's called psychometry," Frost said to Kait after another period of hilarity. Gabriel was driving wildly through the streets of San Francisco.Kaitlyn had heard of psychometry. You could tell a person's whole history by handling a personal object."But why did you pick Mr. Morshower?""Because I could tell they were afraid of him. They were supposed to have something-a merger agreement?-sent to his client by the FedEx deadline today and they haven't done it."Frost reeled the words off glibly, but Kaitlyn could tell she wasn't really interested anymore. And the resourcefulness and sanity that seemed to have taken her over during the crisis was fading. The inner fogginess was coming back. It was as if intelligence were a tool this girl used, and then threw away when it wasn't needed anymore.That put a damper on Kaitlyn's excitement. For a while it had made her breathless, but now . . .We really are crooks, she thought with a mental sigh.And she was afraid of Frost's powers. Anybody who could find out that much about you with a touch was dangerous. Frost had already touched Kait when they were in the backseat of Joyce's car. Had she found anything out?Must not have, Kaitlyn concluded, or Joyce wouldn't have sent me. Maybe it helps that I've developed shields in the web. But I'll have to be careful-one false step and . . ."Just try not to get a ticket," she said to Gabriel, who was rounding a corner wildly.He didn't answer. Great. He wasn't speaking to her again."Did I pass?" Kait asked Joyce.Joyce looked at her, going through all the signs of being startled."What do you mean?""It was a test, wasn't it? So, did I pass or fail? I didn't do much."They were sitting up in Joyce's room, drinking herbal tea in the wee hours of the morning. Renny and Frost had gone upstairs to drink something stronger, and Gabriel had gone with them, never glancing at Kait."Yes, it was a test," Joyce said at last. "The money will come in handy, but mostly I had to make sure that you were really one of us. Now you're a full member of the team-and if you ever think of crossing us, remember that you've participated in a felony. The police take a dim view of that."She took a sip of tea and mused briefly. "You and Gabriel passed," she added. "As for Frost and Renny...""They did most of the work.""But from what you've said, they also did a lot of stupid things." For a moment Kait thought Joyce was going to go on, to confide in her. But then Joyce stood up and said shortly, "We'll stick to other kinds of jobs from now on. Long distance, maybe. Mac is good at that.""Is he?" Kait asked innocently. "What's his power? I don't know what he or Bri do."