It looked like the other houses in the area – big, over-the-top, and modern with a twist. Like some sort of Hollywood setting, though it was really in a somewhat smaller city near the coast.
But it wasn’t the house he was here for. Rather, it was what was inside.
CB climbed the steps cautiously, glancing at the dark windows, then quickly disabled the security. It was a standard model. A really sad, and kind of boring, attempt to keep the house safe. Whoever lived here should consider upgrading… Not that that would have helped them tonight.
He opened the door, noting the slight squeak that indicated it needed grease. Not that he was in the doorhinge-greasing business. But it did make things easier when people weren’t lazy and kept them oiled and quiet. He shrugged it aside. That didn’t matter, either. He could handle a few squeaky hinges.
He crept through the dark house quietly, noting the nice furniture, and the fact that it was all somewhat…impersonal. Like this was a person’s vacation home, not a place they lived every day. That was a good sign.
He moved through the living room slowly and confidently, more confident that someone was unlikely to even be home, seeing as it was the middle of February and most of the vacationers had gone back to their other houses long ago. He steadily worked his way to the stairs, careful not to make any noise as he entered the kitchen.
That was, of course, the very moment his evening had to go south. Because the house wasn’t empty.
He froze for a split second as the light flickered on, before ducking behind the nearest counter. He listened as a pair of footsteps entered the kitchen. One person, fairly light, their heels echoing on the tile floor as they walked in and stopped, just beyond the door. CB held his breath. So long as he was quiet now there was a still good chance that this new arrival wouldn’t notice him. He just had to stay low, pay attention, and stick to the plan.
Apparently, though, the plan and him were not on the same page tonight because it wasn’t two seconds before he heard, “You know… hiding behind counters really doesn’t help. Unless we were both four… but I grew out of hide and seek a long time ago.”
But that voice… it wasn’t exactly what he was expecting. It was female, sure, and quiet, nothing new there, but it was also strangely calm. Far from the usual panic and/or screaming that he had come to expect (and actually rather enjoyed) this voice sounded almost amused.
Whoever she was, though, she was here and that could only mean trouble. He tensed, cursing under his breath, though he was quickly able to get himself under control. It was true that jobs were harder when discovered, but they weren’t impossible. Still, for this job… whatever, he would handle it.
Because he needed to get this right.
He stood up slowly, hands slightly raised, an easy smile on his face. “Alright, you got me,” he said, turning to face the new arrival.
It was a girl, probably in her twenties, brown hair, brown eyes, the former swept up into a messy ponytail that had come slightly undone, leaving dark strands trailing across her shoulders. She was standing in the doorway, feet firmly planted, a bored expression on her face. Like she couldn’t be more bored by the fact that she just found a strange intruder in her kitchen in the middle of the night.
He smiled. This was going to be fun.
“Well, well, what have got here?” he asked, letting his hands drop a bit.
New girl just smiled back, which was cool and all, he was glad to know his charm was working, but then she reached behind her, hands moving quickly and easily, like she’d done it a million times, and removed a pistol from the back of her waistband. “What you ‘have here’ is the resident of this particular house. And you’re trespassing.”
Well, that was certainly a genius statement right there. “Oh, am I? I have to say, wasn’t quite aware of that.” He moved around the counter, leaning back against the other side, arms crossed. “Good to know, I suppose.”
The girl didn’t react, just leaned back against the counter on her own side, gun still firmly held in her hands. It didn’t look like she planned to be going anywhere any time soon. “Who sent you?”
“Sent?” He glanced around at the kitchen, which was even more impressive in the light – sleek, modern fixtures, gleaming in the harsh glow of the fluorescents. “I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.” He ran his hand across the marble countertop behind him, noting the smooth finish. CB knew from experience that he could make quite the profit off of any one of the fixtures surrounding him. Shoot, just the cabinets themselves would be worth the hijacking. He briefly considered coming back and taking a few of these pretties with him, but he quickly shoved that thought aside. He was after a much bigger prize tonight, and nothing was going to stop him. Especially not crazy vacationers who didn’t know the difference between summer and winter, let alone when to stick their nose into something where it doesn’t belong and when to just stay the heck away.
She was about to regret not knowing that difference.
New girl shrugged, lifting her gun a little higher. It was a nice model, new, with good reload. One of his favorites, actually. “Oh, you don’t have to tell me. You can tell the police. That’s fine,” she drawled, sounding almost bored with these proceedings. “I have to say, though, whoever sent you must have been desperate. You don’t look old enough to know what you’re doing… barely old enough to be out of highschool.”
He was pretty sure his eyebrows just shot up. “Hey now, I take offense at that. Does this,” he asked, waving up and down in front of himself, “look like the face of a teenager to you? I think not. Much too fantastic for that.”
“Oh, you’re right,” she said in an apologetic tone and that really did not go with the smirk on her face. “I’m sorry. I should have known you were younger. Junior high, then?” She hefted her gun, setting her sights right at his forehead.
He gaped at her for a second, partly because she had a gun aimed at his head (the girl was gutsy, he’d give her that) and partly for the sheer audacity that was that statement. “Oh, poor girl,” he chuckled, shaking his head and addressing the ceiling. “She must be totally blind. I feel so bad for the poor lass, unable to see all this awesomeness.”
The tip of girlie’s gun moved up and down as she searched for a new target – guess she just couldn’t bear the thought of destroying this beautiful face either – finally stilling as she settled on his knees. Her voice was deathly cool as she shifted into a firing stance, her movements calm, easy, like she’d done them much too many times before. “Disabling shot. But less paperwork and such than other areas.” She shrugged, rolling her neck till it popped, glancing up at him with one eye as she kept the weapon firmly pointed at his legs. “Sorry about this, but I haven’t got time.”
This piece was written in conjunction with a friend of mine, Miranda Marie. Check out her book Azalei’s Riders on Amazon.