It had been more than fifteen years now, so he guessed he could call himself a professional. A professional pickpocket.
He still had it. That thought. It slithered in as his hands sneaked out the object of interest from people’s pockets or bags or whatever. That thought. What would happen if he got caught?
He had been caught. Of course, he had been caught. Everybody would get caught doing something if they did it long enough. And after that, if they continued, they might just get to be good enough that they wouldn’t get caught again. But if the punishment was terrifying enough, they’d either stop doing it all together or they’d always have that thought, at least when doing a challenging job.
So here he was—on a train, bumbling its way across the border. He was headed for France. Paris. He had just finished a job there and was on his way to Germany when he was called and told to go back to Paris with the artifact in his possession.
That thought again.
This request was off. Somewhere deep in the pit of his stomach, restlessness stirred every time he thought about it. So maybe he should just stop thinking about it? Stop thinking why the transfer was in Paris and not Germany as first agreed upon.
That thought. What would happen if he got caught with an incunabula worth seventeen thousand euros he had just stolen not a hundred miles from his current location less than twenty-four hours earlier? Probably a lot more than when he got caught by the guy who had sent him on this job in the first place. The guy who was the reason for that thought. The guy who knew how to punish an eleven-year-old pickpocket caught on the grounds of a traveling family fair.
Well, he and his dad hadn’t traveled with the fair—they’d just followed a few of them all over the states and scammed and picked pockets and tried to keep away from anything resembling authority.
He didn’t think he had ever been so scared in his short life, and at that point he had been pretty sure his life wasn’t going to be much longer than another twenty minutes.