ALL THAT GLITTERS

Is there a perfect crime? One that involves jewels worth millions while a black-tie ball is happening just down the avenue in Paris? Take a look at how the Jet-Set operates in Lance Avery Morgan’s latest chapter excerpt from the hit book The Society Chronicles.

There are only two kinds of freedom in the world; the freedom of the rich and powerful, and the freedom of the artist and the monk who renounces possessions. Anais Nin

Earlier that afternoon, in between dressing and drinks, Sabrina made a trip by herself to the hotel’s management offices downstairs from her two-bedroom suite. She never dressed in the same room in which she slept.

“Madam, this is the Hotel Le Fleur. We have the trust of the kings and queens and sheiks who stay with us, so you must not worry,” said the head of hotel security that sniffed dismissively to the American lady, like any self-respecting, culturally superior Frenchman would do.

“Crime simply does not occur here, because we take every precaution to protect our guests and their property,” he scoffed, when Sabrina requested that he add extra guards for the three nights her gala weekend.

Oh I can’t wait for this smarmy little jerk to get his comeuppance, she thought, smiling.

“Merci, Monsieur Arnaud. I will leave the safety and security of my guests in your capable hands.” She later retold that same afternoon’s conversation to the events manager, throwing in that she was happy that the liability for billionaires’ possessions was not hers to bear while they stayed at the hotel.

For years, Sabrina had been hooked on heist movies– especially the ones with gorgeous aristocratic protagonists like Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in To Catch a Thief and the titillating The Thomas Crown Affair, but the ones that amused her most recently were the Ocean’s 11 series, in which George Clooney captains a high tech crew aided by outlandish gadgets to achieve their break-ins, thievery and narrow escapes, when she could successfully lift millions with the aid of shaving cream and a yoga mat.

Sabrina knew that she was above suspicion now, as always. In a way, this was business as usual for Sabrina Goodfriend, just on a more thrilling scale a she slipped out of her own party before Joshua drunkenly crawled on stage.

Sabrina’s entire preparation for the job of stealing millions of dollars worth of jewels for kicks was now focused on controlling the surveillance room, which housed the intricate video camera network. Completely planned in advance, she did this quickly by “accidentally” opening the door on her first evening in residence, and posing as a tipsy and clueless British guest of the hotel, chatting up the poorly paid guards who had the boring job of keeping an eye on the monitors. Again, Sabrina had the luck of the Irish.

Located on the second floor above the thumping Brazilian-themed hotel bar, the graveyard shift was manned by two sleepy, middle-aged guards, whose eyeballs were mostly glued to the screen showing a club jam-packed with flailing legs and breasts of every nationality.

Sabrina then paid two sexy former rogue female cops 5000 Euros a pop (through a third party), to lure the hapless video security observers out of the room and onto the dance floor below. It wasn’t difficult. The cover story to anyone who inquired was that the women were employed by the hotel’s corporate headquarters and they were in to bust a lucrative insider’s pick pocketing ring which required extra hands on deck to catch them. Sounded plausible.

“We only need you to join us in the club for forty minutes,” the prettier one, Emilie, said to the young men, flashing her fake ID and even faker Swiss-made rack. The men were proud to be trusted, and more importantly, they couldn’t wait to rush down there and mix it up with all that inebriated flesh. Her partner in crime, Anastasia, smiled coyly, moving into action.

The vixens did their job to perfection and all four were brushing among the crowds by the dance floor in the club, Carimbo by 1:30 AM.

Perched in the Hotel Le Fleur’s stairwell, dressed in black workout clothes and a curly black wig she had stashed, Sabrina carried a slim, tightly rolled yoga mat by its strap over her shoulder. Over that was a white cashmere robe and large jewelry roll-up pouch inside. Under her other arm she carried an exercise ball on which she could boost herself.

Earlier in the day she had lifted a generic computerized room key from Housekeeping during their shift change, which was her entry into all door locks.

When she got the all-clear sign of a forehead rubbing from Emilie at the bar that she watched on the monitor, Sabrina slipped on the slimmest of black gloves, walked up the stairwell, opened the 8th floor door, and approached the hallway security camera from behind. She balanced on the exercise ball, squirted thick white shaving cream on the lens, and proceeded to her target and then went into action.

Sabrina allowed herself up to four minutes per room, tops. Her first target was Room 821, where Craig and Heidi Sheldon (of the Palm Beach Sheldon’s) were staying. The wife had massively expensive taste but wasn’t the brightest bulb on the porch. Heidi was a bit of a ditz – easily flustered, indecisive and perpetually tardy – so she was unlikely to take time to re-stash the remnants of her collection in the hotel safe before rushing to change in between parties. Few were that thorough and Sabrina counted on that laziness of the guests.

Earlier, it was all rushing about at the Sheldon’s room. “Come on, Heidi. You look gorgeous. We’re late already,” said the exasperated husband.

Please, sweetie? I’ll be quick. I promise. I have the key,” she said and spun around. As he waited impatiently for his wife in the lobby bar while she changed outfits and jewels, Craig called his mistress, who was happy to be interrupted getting a French manicure back in Palm Beach, and help her wealthy and generous lover pass the time waiting for his wife. Those paws needed buffing.

Sabrina ignored the Ne Pas Perturber sign on the door, slipped into 821, unrolled the yoga mat, spotted the magnificent $2.75 Harry Winston pink sapphire and diamond drop necklace on the table next to the discarded Valentino and silver Gucci shoes, all tossed aside in a rush. Earlier that evening, Heidi spent two hours dressing, and then completely changed her mind on her way to the elevator, leaving the outfit and jewels in a pile on the ottoman.

Sabrina left 821 in two minutes and forty-three seconds, a record, and completed the entire job of clearing out several guest’s rooms in forty two minutes, including wiping the camera lenses to avoid suspicion and giving the all-clear to Emilie as she walked by the bar. She also called in a bomb threat from an untraceable disposable cell phone she bought at the airport upon arrival, to keep the hotel off their game… and as a little something extra for Monsieur Arnaud. The hotel was in chaos.

While escaping a side door among the bomb scare panic, Sabrina stashed over $10 million of precious gems in a different hotel down the street where she “checked in” under another name, mussed up the bed, re-dressed, and hurried back to the party in time for the spectacular fireworks show at 3 AM.

No rest for the weary, however. When she returned to the Le Fleur after her gala’s final fireworks exploded and goodbyes were made, all Sabrina wanted to do was bathe quickly, put on her best negligee, and crawl into her luxurious bed knowing that the news of the burglaries and the bomb’s false alarm was about to reach a fevered pitch.

If only it was that easy.