Someone was tapping her head and it was starting to annoy her. It was an incessant tapping, a tapping that never changed in rhythm or strength. It was irritating how even the beat was. But it was effective if it was meant to wake her up.
Raven growled as she came awake, lifting her head from the maps that were spread out over her desk. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep, but she had been so tired.
Aven was perched on the edge of her desk beside her. He was the one who was tapping the top of her head. He raised an eyebrow as she came awake and reached out with her teeth to try to bite his finger. He was, however, faster than a sleepy Raven.
“What was all that tapping for?” she groused. “I was sleeping.”
“So you were,” he said evenly. “For a solid hour.”
“Well, you weren’t the one who was awake for two hours during the day. While I bathed, you slept. That’s not really fair.”
He shrugged. “You’re the one who decided to bathe during the morning when the other Thief Lords would be asleep.”
She muttered under her breath as she reorganized her maps and got a grip on her emotions. Taking a few deep breaths, she calmed herself down and settled her hands on top of her desk.
“All right, Aven, what did you wake me up for?”
“The cat burglars are back.”
“Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” she demanded, coming fully awake. “Send them in already.”
Again with that lifted eyebrow. He could really be annoying sometimes. But at least the man jumped off of the desk and left to fetch the burglars. While she waited, she ran her fingers through her short hair. It would need to be cut soon again. It was amazing how fast hair grew. She liked to keep it short, so monthly trims were a necessity. Actually, Aven could do with a good clipping, too.
She didn’t have to wait too long for the burglars and Aven to return. The burglars lined up before her in front of the desk and Aven took his customary place beside her.
“Well?” Raven asked.
“The lord and mistress were asleep,” one of the burglars, a fifteen-year-old girl, said. “We had no trouble getting in or out.”
“Excellent, Adry. What else?”
The other burglars seemed to be following the girl, so she went on. If no one else wanted to talk, she would gladly take the credit. After all, she was a female cat burglar. She was a rare breed in Needle City. Raven had come close to being one, but she never managed to be as light on her feet was Aven was.
“Interestingly, the little Lady Caidy was sleeping in her father’s sitting room. Lord Sarlik was fast asleep in his bed. We had no trouble poking through her room for the jewel setting.”
“Did you find it?”
Adry shook her head. “No, Thief Lord. She has a number of jewel boxes. It could be in any one of them. It could also be somewhere else.”
“Unlikely,” Raven said. “That jewel setting was her mother’s. Lady Elysia was a sorceress of some renown. I understand it was her childhood jewel setting. She had learned from her mother and then from a school the magicians founded. She was quite sought out for her potions. Lady Elysia gave Caidy the jewel setting when she died. It was Caidy’s inheritance from her mother. I highly doubt it would be anywhere but in the girl’s bedchamber.” She waved her hand. “But don’t worry about it. I will find it and steal it. All I need now from you is a map of the manor.”
Adry bowed her head. “Of course, Raven. We will have it ready for you by the end of the night.”
Raven nodded and dismissed them. “Good work, Adry. The three of you see Aven later about your pay.”
The burglars bowed their heads in thanks and left as quietly as they had come in.
Raven looked up at Aven to get a sense for what he thought. “It’s interesting that a daughter should sleep in her father’s room.”
“Very,” he said slowly. “I wonder if she’ll do the same in two nights’ time.”
“That would definitely make things easier,” Raven remarked. “But the odds of that are slim.”
Aven nodded in agreement. “Still, that would make this an easy job.”
Raven chuckled and shuffled her papers to tease out the reports she was still supposed to be looking over.