‘Passport and boarding pass, Ma’am?’ said the expressionless security officer.
‘Yes of course. Sorry.’ Désirée fumbled in her handbag for her passport, and then showed it and her boarding pass. She’d let her mind wander as she shuffled along with the other people waiting to pass through the security checkpoint. She pulled herself back to the present as the officer glanced at her, at the passport, and then back at her. With a murmured thanks, the officer handed her documents to her and Désirée put them back into her handbag.
When she got to the conveyor belt, she took off her shoes and placed them in one of the plastic trays along with her handbag and small toiletry kit. She pulled her laptop out of her suitcase’s front pouch and put it in another tray. Finally she placed her weekender suitcase on the conveyor belt behind the plastic trays and pushed everything towards the luggage scanner. Then she took her place behind three other people waiting to go through the metal detector.
Two of them went through quickly enough, but it took the third one three tries; by the time it was Désirée’s turn, she was losing her patience. She muttered something unflattering about stupid Los Angelenos and walked through the metal detector. She would be so glad to get out of here. The weather in Los Angeles was definitely better than Montréal’s weather, especially the first week of March. But she hated the place.
It didn’t matter much, though, she thought to herself. Her boss, Simon, had told her that this would be her last trip to the States for a while. They’d learned all they needed about their biggest US competitor, especially with what she’d gotten on this trip. Now she’d probably be sent somewhere else once her company targeted its next threat.
She smiled as she went to the conveyor belt to pick up her things. Just because she was still new at this job didn’t mean she couldn’t do it well. Nobody’d had the slightest idea she’d managed to find out all that she had. Simon would be pleased; she might even get a promotion. The thought made this miserable trip to this horrible city worthwhile.
Désirée slipped on her shoes and picked up her suitcase and toiletry kit. Then her stomach lurched. Where was her laptop? What the hell had happened to her laptop? She glanced frantically up and down the belt: there was no sign of it. She let out a stream of Québécois French invective as she pushed trays, suitcases and jackets aside to see if the laptop had ended up underneath something. It hadn’t. She rushed up to the nearest security officer.
‘My laptop! It’s been stolen!’
‘All right, step over here, please. We’ll send out word.’ The officer’s tone was not encouraging. And there wasn’t much hope, really. Even with security cameras it would be hard to work out who’d taken the laptop, much less catch the person before he left the airport. And it didn’t help matters that Désirée couldn’t even describe anyone else who’d gone through the metal detector – not even the guy right in front of her. Who pays attention? She prepared herself for a long wait and a lot of paperwork.
As if that wasn’t enough, she knew it was not going to go down well with Simon. She’d heard stories of what happened to people who made a mess of this kind of thing. It was, to say the least, not pretty. She’d landed herself in serious trouble.
A short shuttle ride away, Ray and Tory sat in Ray’s room at the EazyRest Motel. It was a perfect meeting-up spot, and wasn’t expensive. Tory turned the laptop on as Ray started going through the rest of their haul. They were an experienced team. Tory knew how to be just hapless enough to hold up everyone waiting for the metal detector without being obvious. Ray had the quickest hands there were. To them, anything on scanner belts was easy pickings.
‘That thing work, Tory?’
‘Yeah. Damnit, though, it’s password protected.’
‘Whatever. Javier can clean the hard drive. We’ll get plenty for it.’
‘What else’d we get?’
‘Couple hundred bucks, a tablet, and two ‘phones this time.’
For the next few minutes, the two men sorted everything and packed it into the empty suitcase Ray had left in the room. A quick trip to the car to stow it and they’d head back to the airport. They both stopped as they heard the knock on the door. They looked at each other and Ray shrugged. ‘Yeah?’ Tory called out.
‘Housekeeping,’ a voice responded.
They looked around the room. Everything was stowed. Tory walked over and opened the door. The two shots were so quiet that no-one heard them.
Camille surveyed the room in disgust. Amateurs! Hadn’t they ever heard of GPS locators in computers? She couldn’t care less about the other stuff; all she wanted was the laptop. Why the hell Simon had let that rookie do the job was beyond her. Oh, well, Désirée would sweat it out for a while and learn soon enough. Good thing for the company that Simon was a careful man who planned for everything. Camille dropped the gun in her pocket, picked up the laptop, glanced around the room once more and left, closing the door behind her. She felt bad for the real housekeeping staff; they’d have a hell of a mess to clean up later.