Don't Look Down

By: Suzanne Enoch
Chapter One

Devonshire,England

Wednesday,1:51 a.m.

Headlights blazing, a car slowed at the turn-off to the main house, hesitated, then accelerated down the

road and into the dark again.

"Tourists," Samantha Jellicoe muttered, straightening from her crouch and watching the headlights

disappear around the bend. The passersby, both native British and general fame-hunters on vacation,

concentrated so much attention on the tall, ornate gates behind her and the barely visible estate house

beyond that she could probably stand on her head and juggle and they still wouldn't notice her there in

the shrubbery.

Tempting as scaring the shit out of some amateur paparazzi might be,notbeing seen was kind of the

point at the moment. With another glance along the dark roadway, Samantha backed up into the middle

of it and took a run at the wall, shoving her toes into a chink in the mortar halfway up and using that for

leverage to clamber to the narrow and nicely finished top of the stone.

When she did a burglary, she actually preferred disconnecting the gate alarms and simply going in from

the ground, but she happened to know that these gates had embedded wires running through buried

pipelines out to the guard house on the north side of theDevonshireproperty. To deactivate the gates she

would have to cut the power to the entire house, which would set off the battery-backed perimeter

alarms.

With a slight grin she dropped to the lawn inside. "Not bad," she murmured to herself. Next she had to

navigate past motion detectors and digital video recorders, plus the half-dozen security guards who

patrolled the area around the house. Fortunately tonight was breezy, so the motion detectors would be

overloaded and the guards tired of monitoring and resetting them. It was always better to go into a

property on a windy night, though January in centralEnglandmeant the windchill took the temperature

down to somewhere around freezing.

Pulling a pair of pruners—which doubled as wire cutters— from her pocket, she lopped off a large leafy

elm branch. Hefting it, she made her way along the wall to the nearest of the cameras mounted at regular

intervals along the perimeter. Maybe her solution to the problem of the digital cameras was simplistic, but

hell, she knew from experience that sometimes low-tech was the best way to beat the most complex of

systems. Besides, she could see the headline: CHICK WITH STICK BEATS COUNTRY'S MOST

SOPHISTICATED ALARM SYSTEM. Neaner, neaner.

Swinging the branch, she thudded it across the side and front of the camera, waited a few seconds, then

did it again. Matching her pummeling to the rhythm of the wind, she smacked the side and the lens a few

more times, then hauled back and slammed the casing hard with the thicker part of the branch. The

camera jolted sideways, giving whoever was monitoring it a great view of a west wing chimney. After a

few more swings, she flung the branch over the outside wall and made her way toward the house.

Somebody would probably be out in a few minutes to reset the camera, but by then she'd be inside.

Hauling ass out was a lot easier than sneaking into a place. Samantha drew a breath and headed east

along the base of the house until she reached the slightly offset wall that designated the kitchen. Kudos to

whichever aristocrat five hundred years ago had decided that the kitchen was too dangerous to be set

fully into the main house.

The window frames on the ground floor were wired to the alarm system, and the glass was pressure

sensitive. No punching through to get in, unless she wanted to wake up everybody in residence. Of

course, no one wasinresidence, except for staff and security, but they could phone the police as easily as

anybody else.

Making sure the pruners were secure in her pocket, she set a foot onto the narrow window ledge and

boosted herself up. A few more careful footholds and she stood on top of the kitchen roof. Fifteen feet

up and over, the library balcony beckoned to her.

Unslinging the rope she carried from over her shoulder, she pulled the primers free and tied one side of

the handle tight. On her first toss, it landed on the balcony, and she tugged on the rope to make certain

the pruners were wedged tightly between the stone balustrades.

Her heart hammering with a welcome rush of adrenaline, Samantha wrapped her hands into the rope,

then stepped off the kitchen roof. For a moment she hung there, swinging slowly back and forth in midair.

Once she was certain the rope wouldn't give, she twined her legs into it and shimmied up to the balcony.

God, that had been simple. Frequently, though, nerves were the only thing that divided the shirtless and

smoking thieves who appeared onCopsfrom the ones nobody ever caught. Nerves and a well-made

piece of gardening equipment. Totally worth the eighteen pounds she'd paid for it at the local nursery.

Hauling herself over the railing, she detached the pruners from the rope, tucking both back where they

belonged. The full-length glass doors leading into the library were closed and locked, but they didn't

worry her. They were wired, of course, but not pressure sensitive. Up this high, they would catch the

evening easterly breezes and set off the alarms every five minutes. Nobody wanted to deal with that, even

at the expense of inferior security.

She unwound the length of copper wire that braceleted her left wrist, tore off two pieces of duct tape

from the miniroll in her pocket, and carefully inserted one end under each door to intercept and bypass

the electrical circuit. That done, it was simple to pick the lock and shove open the doors in near total

silence. "Piece of cake," she murmured, hopping down the shallow step and into the room.

The overhead lights flipped on, glaringly bright. Instinctively, Samantha dove sideways, crouching into

the remains of the shadows.Shit. The servants all should have been in bed, and the owner was inLondon

.

"This is interesting," a cool male voice drawled in a cultured, slightly faded British accent.

She lowered her shoulders. "What the fuck are you doing here?" she asked, stepping back into the

middle of the room and trying to pretend that she hadn't nearly peed her pants. Despite her nearly

foolproof, personally acquired information, obviously the ownerwasn'tinLondon.

He stepped away from the light switch. "I live here. Lose your key?"

For a moment Samantha just looked at him. Tall, dark-haired and dreamy, even in jeans and a

sweatshirt Richard Addison resembled every young lady's wet dream. And that didn't take into account

the fact that he was a multibillion-aire, or that he did athletic stuff like ski and play polo for recreation. "I

was practicing," she retorted, blowing out her breath. "How did you know I was coming in this way?"

"I've been watching you out the windows for half an hour. You're very stealthy."

"Now you're just being a smart ass."

He nodded, grinning. "Probably."

"And you have not been here for half an hour, because I hid out by the front gate for forty minutes while

some skank pretended to have a flat tire."

"How do you know she was pretending?"

"Because she had a camera with a big-ass telephoto lens in her toolbox." She cocked her head at him,

assessing his expression. He was damned hard to read; he concealed his emotions for a living. "I bet you

got here about five minutes ago, while I was climbing the kitchen wall."

Rick cleared his throat. "Regardless of when I arrived, this is still the second time I've caught you

breaking into one of my properties, Samantha."

So she'd been right about his arrival time. Annoyed as she was at being caught, she had to admit to a

certain satisfaction that at the moment this billionaire wet dream belonged to her. "I wasn't trying to steal

anything this time. Don't get bent out of shape."

"I'm not bent at all. An explanation, however, would be nice."

With a shrug she brushed past him, heading through the middle of the enormous library for the hall door.

"I spent three hours today listening to John Harding complain about all the lowlifes and good-for-nothings

who want to steal his art collection." She snorted. "As if any self-respecting thief would want his

half-assed Russian miniatures. At least he used to collect silver crucifixes."

Bare feet padded behind her. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Samantha, but I thought you were going into the

business of helping peopleprotecttheir valuables. After all, as I recall, your last robbery ended in a large