The last pin in the lock slid into place and the door fell open. Niamh slipped the lockpicks into her apron pocket and checked the hall one last time. Pushing the cleaning cart before her, she entered the room and locked the door behind her. The opulent space was even more overwhelming than she had expected after seeing the rest of the mansion.
She didn’t have time to dwell though. It wouldn’t be long before someone came looking for her, and not even maids were supposed to be in this part of the house.
The room was gloomy, velvet curtains reminiscent of bygone eras blocking most of the afternoon sun. Most of the light came from the reflection of the sunlight on the many mirrors that dominated the room. The walls were painted a crimson red, and mahogany trim weighed down the space. Bringing the cart with her, Niamh crossed the thick carpet. Her target was mounted on the opposite wall between two bookcases laden with dusty tomes.
She stood before it and grimaced. A massive full-length mirror with a garish face painted on it as if haunted by the long dead owner of the mausoleum was the perfect cover. No matter which part of the mirror you looked at, it seemed as though the painted features were overlaid on your own. No one would want to look too closely at it, therefore no one would notice the tiny hinges on one side.
She did her best to avoid her reflection as she searched for the catch she knew was there. Her gloved fingers slid into a groove and the mirror eased away from the wall with a hiss of air. Niamh gathered her tools from the cart where they had been hidden underneath the various cleaning supplies.
Two minutes. That was the most time she would have inside before the alarms would go off. As long as she didn’t do something foolish and set them off sooner. Taking a deep breath, she stepped through the mirror, the clock in her head already spiraling down the seconds.
The inner space was larger than she had expected, circular and full of yet more mirrors. From every angle, her own reflection glared back at her.
Then they flashed and the twenty different versions of her were replaced by twenty separate images, other tableaus she recognized from around the property.
“Magic mirrors, my hat,” she muttered under her breath. The monitors were an eerie reminder of who was in charge of this place.
She took another step into the room and froze. Clenching her eyes shut, she swallowed hard. She must not get distracted. The pedestal in the center of the room held her final objective, but she had to finish the rest of the plan first.
She turned, only opening her eyes once the alluring lights were in her peripheral vision. The console that controlled all of the monitors was easy to find, and the password she had been given worked. Not that she wouldn’t have been able to guess it, having seen the display. A child would have known it.
Niamh plugged in the thumb drive and made sure the program loaded. He had promised it would only take forty-five seconds and she hoped he was right. Time was running out. She hefted the drill and checked the compass on her watch. North was the only external wall in this room and therefore her only hope of getting out of her without getting caught. Using all her willpower to ignore the glistening object on the pedestal, she crawled under the workbench and found the panel. The heavy duty drill made short work of the screws holding it in place, and she set it aside. Changing the bit on the drill she set it against the mortar between the stones. An old window had been covered over when the room had been reconfigured, but it was impossible to make new mortar match the old, and it hadn’t taken her long to notice the discrepancy on her first day as a maid. Niamh leaned her weight against the drill as best she could in the cramped space. The mirror door sucked shut and sealed itself as she made the first hole. She repositioned the drill and pressed down on it, the vibrations ricocheting through her arms and down her spine. Her head collided with the wall as the foot-long bit slid out into the air on the other side. She reversed it, barely hearing the ping of the program on the thumb drive as it completed its job. One more hole. She’d never be able to smash through the stone with only two holes.
The alarm went off before she was finished. Scrambling out from under the desk, she ran to the console and yanked the thumb drive out of the dock. Shoving it into her pocket, she spun around to face the pedestal. No time to admire it. She swung the drill at the glass, sending shards flying across the room. A second alarm joined the first. She grabbed the object and dove feet first toward the opening. She shoved the item into her sweater, then unclipped the carabiner from her waist. The brace for the desk would have to do as she didn’t have time to find something more solid. Her feet smashed against the stones that had been loosened.
She plunged out into the bright sunlight, bouncing off the side of the house in her rushed descent.
The car was where he said it would be. She slid into the back seat and unzipped her sweater.
A diamond, the size and color of the most tempting apple, lay in her hand. And it was all hers.