Home > Heist Society (Heist Society #1)(13)

Heist Society (Heist Society #1)(13)
Author: Ally Carter

“I didn’t know there were this many math guys,” Hale said as they stepped onto the crowded concourse. Kat cleared her throat. “And women,” he added. “Math women.”

Everywhere Kat looked, she saw men wearing bad suits and name badges, mingling and laughing, oblivious to the slot machines and cocktail waitresses only a floor below. Kat supposed the keynote speaker must be as brilliant and riveting as the rumors said. If you were interested in derivatives, theorems, and polynomials, that is. Kat and Hale followed the crowd into the dim ballroom where the man was lecturing. They found seats in the back row.

“So these are the smartest people in the world, huh?” Hale whispered.

Kat scanned the crowd. “At least one of them is.”

Hale’s gaze was locked on the conference program he held in his hands. “Where is he?”

“By the projector. Fifth row. Center aisle.”

At the front of the room, the professor rambled on in a language that only a few people in the world could truly understand.

“You know”—Hale’s breath was warm against Kat’s ear in the chilly ballroom—“I don’t know that both of us really have to be here. . . .” The slide changed. While hundreds of mathematicians waited with baited breath, the boy beside Kat whispered, “I could go make some calls . . . check on some things. . . .”

“Play some blackjack?”

“Well, when in Rome . . .”

“Rome is tomorrow, babe,” Kat reminded him.

He nodded. “Right.”


“Do you understand any of this?” he said, pointing to the lines and symbols that covered the massive screens.

“Some people understand the value of an education.”

Hale stretched and crossed his legs, then settled his arm around Kat’s shoulders. “That’s sweet, Kat. Maybe later I’ll buy you a university. And an ice cream.”

“I’d settle for the ice cream.”


They stayed in the overly air-conditioned ballroom, listening to the entire first lecture and part of the second. By the time she saw a member of the hotel’s audiovisual staff slink out the back doors, Kat’s hands were frozen and her stomach was growling. So she didn’t think twice about grabbing Hale and slipping through the open door.

While the math genius droned on inside Ballroom B, three teenagers gathered secretly in the empty casino hallway.

No one overheard Hale say, “Hi, Simon.”

“So you tell us, how was the lecture, Simon?” Hale paused and read the name tag of the boy in front of him. “Or is it Henry?”

But the boy just smiled as if he’d been caught—which he had—by two of the few people on earth whose opinions actually mattered to him.

“How’d you find me?” Simon asked. Hale just raised his eyebrows, and Simon muttered, “Never mind.”

Soon the escalator was taking them away from the PhDs and carpeted ballrooms; the silence gave way to ringing machines and screaming tourists. Kat practically had to yell as she asked, “How’s your dad?”

“Retired,” Simon answered. “Again. Florida this time, I think.”

“Retired?” Hale didn’t try to hide his shock. “He’s forty-three.”

“People do crazy things when they hit the prime numbers,” Simon explained with a shrug. He leaned closer.

“He’s actually been consulting with Seabold Security.”

“Judas,” Hale teased.

But Kat barely heard. She was too busy scanning the casino. Tourists in fanny packs sat in rows at slot machines. Waitresses glided through the crowd. It was easy to feel alone there, lost in the chaos. But Kat was a thief. Kat knew better.

She patted the cylindrical case in her hands and looked at the boys beside her. “Let’s go find a blind spot.”

As they walked through the maze of the casino floor, Kat couldn’t help but notice a slight bounce in Simon’s step as he chatted on about the lecture, the advances in technology. The geniuses and legends who’d given talks that morning at breakfast.

“You know you’re smarter than all of them, right?” Hale said flatly. “In fact, if you wanted to prove it . . .” He glanced at the blackjack tables.

Simon shook his head. “I don’t count cards, Hale.”

“Don’t?” Hale smiled. “Or won’t? You know, technically, it’s not illegal.”

“But it’s frowned upon.” Sweat beaded at Simon’s brow. He sounded like someone had just suggested he swim after eating . . . run with scissors. . . . “It is seriously frowned upon.”

They found a table outside, near the edge of the crowded pool, away from cameras and guards.

Simon dragged his chair beneath an umbrella. “I burn,” he explained as Kat took the seat across from him. He took a deep breath, as if working up the courage to ask, “Is it a job?”

Hale stretched out on a lounge chair, his eyes hidden behind dark shades. “More like a favor.”

Simon seemed to deflate, so Kat added, “For now.”

The desert air was dry, but there was no denying the smell of chlorine—and money—as Kat rolled the blueprints out onto the glass tabletop.

Simon leaned over the plans. “Are these the Macaraff 760s?”

“Yep,” Hale answered.

He whistled in the same way Hale sometimes whistled, but Simon’s sounded more like a wounded bird.

“That’s a lot of security. Bank?” he guessed. Kat shook her head. “Government?” Simon guessed again.

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