Piece of Cake
The sounds from the other room made it clear no one was paying attention. He had some time before his absence would be missed. He slipped cautiously up the corridor, making no sound as he moved. He was trained. He pulled off dozen of missions just like this, under worse conditions. He knew exactly what he was doing. Nobody would even suspect him. In and out, it was a piece of cake.
A sudden burst of laughter made him stop dead in his tracks. His heart hammering in his chest, he waited for things to settle back down. On one hand, the laughter was a good sign. Absorbed in their stories, they wouldn't come looking for him, but his presence would eventually be missed. He'd worry about that later. His destination waited just a few feet away.
The room was dark but he didn't risk a light. He was taking too many chances as it was, trying a stunt like this when any minute someone could walk through the door and catch him red-handed. He had enough light to work with. He knew where he was going and moved in stealth, finding the equipment he needed, never making a sound. Under a glass cover, the object was waiting, calling to him, daring him to make his move. Silently, he lifted the cover and worked quickly, separating what he wanted and setting it aside.
It was finished. He had what he came for. All he had to do was replace the cover and make his escape before he was caught. If his presence were discovered there would be repercussions. Those in the other room wouldn't take lightly to what he had done.
Carefully, he picked up the cover and replaced it as he found it. It clicked slightly as it came into contact with the glass base but that couldn't be helped. It was too faint a sound to travel very far. With any luck he had pulled off another brilliant maneuver. Grasping the object of his pilferage tightly, he gathered himself to make a dash for safety.
There was a quiet click and the room was engulfed in light. For a second, all he could see were stars as his eyes adjusted to the light. He'd been caught. Nothing could save him now, cornered with the very object he's almost gotten away with.
“Harriman Nelson! What do you think you're doing? Dinner is in less than an hour and here you are stealing a slice of cake! You know that cake's for dessert!” The outraged voice of his dear little sister Edith chided, with one hand on the light switch, even as the two men behind her fought not to laugh.
“It's just a small piece of cake, kitten. Besides I was hungry,” Harry Nelson said with an almost plaintive whine to his voice. That did it. The brunet and blond behind his sister both doubled over in laughter.
“But Harry don't you like my lasagna?” Harry's little sister gazed up at her big brother, her blue eyes wide, her bottom lip quivering at the prospect her brother might not like her cooking. She’d invited her brother, Lee, and Chip to dinner since they were in town. And now here her brother was, about to ruin her dinner by stealing a piece of her made-from-scratch-chocolate cake with the homemade butter-cream frosting. It was enough to make any girl pout.
Looking at his baby sister's sad blue eyes, Harry couldn't go through with it. Telling his growling stomach to shut up, he sat the small plate and its cargo of dark chocolate cake and creamy white icing on the counter by the covered cake plate. “Of course I like your lasagna, kitten.” Harry wasn't lying. His sister was an excellent cook, it was just the fact that his last meal had been several hours ago and the smell of the lasagna baking in the oven and the overtones of the still warm cake were driving Harry crazy. With everybody visiting in the other room, he thought he could use the excuse of getting something from the guest room; snatch a piece of cake and no one would be wiser.
“Then wait for dinner like the rest of us mere mortals,” Edith replied and headed for the oven to attend to the task that brought her into the kitchen to start with: checking on the aforementioned lasagna. As she lifted the fragrant dish out of the oven, she found her brother practically hovering over her shoulder. She flashed a toned-down version of the burn-through-bulkheads-glare at her brother.
“Are you really that hungry?” she asked. Harry ducked his head and glanced at his sister through lowered lashes. If it worked for Lee...
Edith laughed and shook her head. Men! Didn't matter how many stars they wore, or how expensive their toys were, they were still just little boys. “Call your officers in here to set the table then. We'll eat early, if you can't wait.”
Nelson addressed his officers still chortling in the living room. “Would you gentlemen like to set the table?” he asked warmly, his tone, while not menacing, clearly demanded attention.
Lee and Chip automatically snapped to attention, reverting to first-year plebes. “Yes, sir, right away sir,” they intoned together and marched into the kitchen with perfect cadence.
As they passed their commanding officer, Nelson chuckled. “At ease, you two clowns,” he said and the two relaxed as they were handed plates, glasses and utensils by their hostess. “Let's just get the table set with a minimum amount of giggling, shall we?” Nelson asked.
Chip was setting the plates down as Lee spoke up. “No problem sir. Should be a piece of cake.”
Nelson closed his eyes. He was never going to live this down.