Legal Theft Project: Worse Days Yet to Come…

His magic had never failed him before, and now a boy was dead. He’d been too late. His protection charm had failed. The protections writ in wood and iron had been no match for the ritual here. The fire burned higher at his back. The light showing the circle, the body of the boy, and the bodies of those who had sacrificed him. At least he’d done that much.

Thus he was dramatically silhouetted in front of the fire and behind the bodies when the guard finally responded to the reports of smoke.

“Drop the weapon! Get on the ground!”

The mage stared for a moment, awed by the universal truth that things could always get worse. Then he muttered a few words and vines burst from his staff to entangle the guards. Cries of “Mage!”, “Demon!”, and “MURDERER!” assaulted him as he wove through the guards to the exit. A few of them got blows through and some of his own blood joined the collection on his clothes. He held back. They were just doing their jobs. He knew what he looked like, and he certainly wasn’t the hero of the piece.

The mage staggered up the stairs to the main floor, across the hall, and out into the garden. Then he ran. Ran through the rows of flowers and hedges. Ran toward the forest beckoning on the other side of the hill. To shelter, to green and growing things, toward life. He got most of the way there and happened to glance back. A figure in gleaming armor with a large sword on his back stood on the garden wall watching him.

The mage gulped and turned back to the forest with all the extra speed he could muster. The day just got worse and worse. Magical reserves all but spent, he made it safely away from the burning house and the horrors and would be heroes it contained. It didn’t matter that he’d tried to stop it. He looked guilty as sin and that was enough. It was only later, holed up in the bole of a hollow tree and miles from any path a horse could walk, that he allowed himself to grieve for the child he’d failed to save.

*****

Hours later, in the room where the bodies had been laid after the search, and before graves could be dug for them. The dead boy sat up and smiled to himself. He hopped down off the table and helped himself to one of the cultists daggers. His smile sharpened and he sauntered from the room. Things were going better than he’d dare hoped.


I am a thief! I stole this first line because someone left a gate open and I couldn’t resist. No really, go see for yourself.

Legal Theft Project: Problems, Perception, and Plausible Deniability

Her problems faded out of sight in the rear-view mirror and she relished the roar of the highway wind. Two bags in the trunk, purse on the passenger seat, and a cola in the cup holder and she was set for hours. When the last of Sin City’s towers vanished in the distance, she let out a long breath and relaxed into her seat. Someone might follow her, but she was back in her element, one she hadn’t known she’d missed. Sun baking her sleek red car, alternate identities stashed in the driver’s side door, and miles and miles of open road in front of her.

Hours later she pulled off the highway to fill up her tank and her stomach. Shouldering her purse, she headed over to the convenience mart next to the pumps. Picking up a handful of granola bars, some fruit, and her favorite candy bar, she scoped for potential problems. Nothing in particular, but when she dug through her purse for loose change, the bracelet she’d left in her luggage gleamed at the bottom of her bag. She looked at it for a moment, certain she wouldn’t have put such a valuable piece in her purse. It would be safer in her luggage. Oh well. She’d probably forgotten.

It wasn’t until it started showing up in her view for the next three days. No matter where she’d left it before. That she started to think it might be odd. But that couldn’t be it. Finally, she just started wearing it. At least that way it couldn’t sneak up on her. It wasn’t like it was a problem.


I have been stolen from. Look for other the first line in other people’s purses, I mean pieces.

Legal Theft Project: Envy in Blue

Blue as skies in summer, pouring out exhaust, and attracting a small crowd, he’d never seen anything like it. He already wanted it gone. His garage didn’t have anything as would come close to those wheels and everyone knew it. The rest of the caravan wasn’t much to look at and the caravan master, Dixon, was the first to pop out of his battered van and head Allison’s way. For his part, Allison kept his arms folded and his face cold as Dixon tromped over.

“Allison.” Dixon bobbed his head respectfully to the man whose domain he’d entered. Allison didn’t acknowledge the greeting, keeping his eyes on the dapper wheels and the crowd swelling around it as the exhaust wisped away.

Dixon soldiered on. “Ah, Sammy’s girl. Elvira. Heck of a car. Heck of a lady.”

Allison turned his head slightly and raised his eyebrow a mere fraction. Dixon swallowed and nodded back toward the car. A mile of leg ending in denim cut offs and hello gorgeous, swung out of the driver side door like sugar in sweet. Her hip pushed the door closed and she leaned against it, pushing her sunglasses on top of her head. He hadn’t figured trouble in a blue jumpsuit into his plans. Oh he wanted her and her car out of his holding and back on the road something fierce. “You brought me trouble, Dixon,” Allison finally said.

Dixon looped his thumbs in his belt. “Got here fastest and safest I’ve ever done. Girl knows her wheels and don’t hesitate on the road. Brought plenty through.”

Allison unfolded his arms. “Any trouble she causes, you cause.”

“No no no. She’s good, but she ain’t mine.” Dixon shook his head. They looked at the woman by the car, answering some of the crowd’s questions, cool as snow in shade. “Sammy handles herself.”

Allison brushed the comment aside, letting Dixon shed the blame and accepting the tacit promise to stay out of the way. “Let’s see what else you brought.”


I’m a thief! I stole this first line from M.D. – take a look at other unique blues at the Legal Theft Project site.

Legal Theft Project: Loopholes

The most irritating aspect of coming back from the dead was that no one believed you hadn’t gone evil. There were other factors of course. Dying in the first place was a pain and a half, manner of resurrection, possible bargains, and loss of property due to being deceased were all difficult, but being attacked on sight because of disbelief and grief was grating. So what if you were in a binding bargain with a demonic power? You weren’t evil, it was just that you had limited options. There were ways out of that. There always were, I mean, demon deal was a loophole out of being dead. Forget other ideas of boundlessness, its loopholes and human stupidity. Though describing the universe as basically one giant loophole recursion into infinity wasn’t a bad way to think about it. But I digress from the point at hand. To sum up: been dead, got better, came back, got attacked, friends threatening to make me dead again.

Lying as bonelessly as possible in an attempt to convince all and sundry that I really did mean to be good and not be perforated with holes leading to a loss of vital fluids was only being so successful. “I swear it’s been hours. Can you at least let me sit up?”

This did not sway the friends who were still threatening me with pointy things.

Benny, who was sitting out all this weirdness with a book, didn’t even look up. “It’s been less than five minutes.” He lifted his head in thought, then looked back down. “I think you were dead longer than that.”

This sparked more conversation between those who were deciding my fate via lethal weapon. I would have sighed, but they may take it as a sign of aggression.


I stole this first line as part of the Legal Theft Project and am very curious to see how everyone else defined ‘dead’. If you are too, click here.

Legal Theft Project: Loopholes

The most irritating aspect of coming back from the dead was that no one believed you hadn’t gone evil. There were other factors of course. Dying in the first place was a pain and a half, manner of resurrection, possible bargains, and loss of property due to being deceased were all difficult, but being attacked on sight because of disbelief and grief was grating. So what if you were in a binding bargain with a demonic power? You weren’t evil, it was just that you had limited options. There were ways out of that. There always were, I mean, demon deal was a loophole out of being dead. Forget other ideas of boundlessness, its loopholes and human stupidity. Though describing the universe as basically one giant loophole recursion into infinity wasn’t a bad way to think about it. But I digress from the point at hand. To sum up: been dead, got better, came back, got attacked, friends threatening to make me dead again.

Lying as bonelessly as possible in an attempt to convince all and sundry that I really did mean to be good and not be perforated with holes leading to a loss of vital fluids was only being so successful. “I swear it’s been hours. Can you at least let me sit up?”

This did not sway the friends who were still threatening me with pointy things.

Benny, who was sitting out all this weirdness with a book, didn’t even look up. “It’s been less than five minutes.” He lifted his head in thought, then looked back down. “I think you were dead longer than that.”

This sparked more conversation between those who were deciding my fate via lethal weapon. I would have sighed, but they may take it as a sign of aggression.


I stole this first line as part of the Legal Theft Project and am very curious to see how everyone else defined ‘dead’. If you are too, click here.

Legal Theft Project: Drifting with Purpose

Aurora stormed back to her lodgings and slammed her door shut. Everything smelled like fish. She smelled like fish. She couldn’t not smell like fish, it was in her clothes, her bloody hair smelled like fish. She was halfway across the world. How did she end up here?

The room seemed to twist slightly, but it couldn’t be because she was sober, damn it. She didn’t conduct business drunk. She took two steps over to low table, yanked out a stick of incense, and fumbled the match to light it twice. Now her room would smell like incense and fish. She plopped down on the cushions that surrounded the table. Cushions in place of wingback chairs, a raised mat for sleeping, a narrow closet for her ever growing collection of clothes in bright silks and embroidered cranes. She looked over into the mirror. The woman in the mirror looked back, her dark eyes a bit wild. She couldn’t place her. Aristocratic bones, dark hair and eyes, tanned skin, eastern dress. No one back home would recognize her.

Here she was, halfway around the world, and for what? Following two men she’d known all of six months across the seas? Running from pirates. Becoming a pirate. What would her parents think?

What would her parents think. She took several deep breaths and managed not to choke on the incense. A bath would help. Several cool drinks of water, and a visit to the baths. She was becoming someone she’d never expected. She weighed the feeling as she shed her clothes. It wasn’t a bad one. It was the expectation of judgement that had her in a breathless panic. Which was ridiculous. She pulled on her bathing robe and belted it as she heard her two roommates return. Now was not the time to discuss her sudden internal crisis with her friends. She shook her head and let her hair hang loose. Friends. The best friends she had. Ever. People who knew her and liked her anyway. They themselves were an odd pair, and the three of them worked well all together. As she started down the back stairs to the bath house, she weighed her friends against the possible recriminations of home. And her friends won. It wasn’t no contest, but it was a very solid lead. She could figure the rest out later. Maybe write her parents. She made a face and shuddered. The dratted honesty of paper. Maybe she owed it to them. She’d think about it when she stopped smelling so much like fish.


I’ve been robbed! The line ‘Everything smelled like fish.’ was stolen and I’ve found it popping up in the lairs of Legal Thieves. Look! They’re right here.

Legal Theft Project: Security Blanket – Part 2

She woke up deliciously warm. She blinked sleepily and held the comforter up to her chin. Soft as a cloud and warm as a bakery at mid morning and twice as cozy, she adored her bed. She’d picked out the delicate violet duvet cover and the soft cream flannel sheets. Rolling over she looked at the narrow window and smiled at the pale rose curtains she’d made herself. She hugged her teddy bear as she gave thanks for another day where she wouldn’t worry about if she would eat, or if she would get too cold, or if… There were too many ifs to list. So many things she did not take for granted, not for one minute. Long sleeved floral pajamas. Slippers to keep her feet warm as she slipped out of bed.

The sun was up and warming the clouds, making the snow piled outside look like a glittering down blanket. Her breath fogged up the window and she drew a star in it. Gliding over to the door, she cracked it open and took a deep breath. The morning smelled of cinnamon rolls, citrus, and pine. She slipped down the stairs and perched on her usual stool.

Her guardian looked over from icing the cinnamon rolls and smiled at her. “You can open your stocking if you like.”

She glanced over at the pretty tree, with its white sparkling lights and elegant decorations, a couple brightly wrapped boxes underneath. Then over at the fireplace where two stockings hung, both pleasingly full. She smiled and shook her head. “I’ll wait for you.” Sitting very politely she watched the progress of icing swirling over cinnamon rolls.

Something festive and orchestral played softly from the hidden speakers. This was only their second Christmas, and it was far more deliberate than that first holiday when she’d snuck in a pint sized tree. He’d blinked, asked her if she wanted to celebrate, and then gone out and bought garland and holly and stockings and candles. The tree was bigger this year, the garland fresh, and all of the uncertainty was banished.

Cinnamon rolls frosted, kitchen tidied, he turned back toward her and smiled. “They need to rest for five minutes.”

The grin took over her face like sunrise and drew some matching warmth out of him. She took down his stocking and he took down hers, and they exchanged. He sat down in his arm chair and she sat on the floor next to the coffee table. He’d gifted her two bottles of good ink, hair ribbons in a cascade of pastel shades, a new pair of sewing scissors, some candies, and a tea cozy shaped like a cat. She’d given him a set of gourmet sea salts, an oven thermometer, a fine ball point pen, an orange, and several smaller exotic fruits. Finally, she gave him a hug. For the first time, she knew they would both be warm that year. And possibly the next year. It was a good thing to count on.


This first line was stolen by a gang of thieves awhile back. So I decided to steal it too. See Part 1 or the other stolen works by clicking the links.

Legal Theft Project: The Tipping Point

She shut the computer with a furious snap. Then, unsatisfied, picked up a throw pillow and hurled it across the room with a scream. One deep breath later and she felt better. In the scheme of things, it didn’t matter who got the credit. The press can laud the jock as often as they want to and cast her as the socialite girlfriend if they felt so inclined. She’d come away with something much more valuable than a headline. “Local Teen Rescues Friends from Homicidal Lunatic” trivialized what they’d been through. What they’d done. What she’d done.

A slow smile crossed her face and the reflection in her Victorian era mirror shivered. She tucked her laptop carefully away in its cubby on her rosewood desk and picked up a small dark iron key ring from a glass bowl. The keys dangled from her fingers as she stepped quickly past the elegant four poster and into her closet. Ignoring racks of shoes and dresses as she clicked open the secret door in the back wall. She listened to make sure her parents were still entertaining friends in the downstairs parlor before placing a key in the hidden lock and sliding the panel door to the side to look at her collection.

Her breath caught for a moment. The shelves held an assortment of beautiful, wicked things. A dark black bottle that seemed to writhe in the light on the top shelf next to an ancient silver amulet. Gems were inlaid around the edges of the amulet, surrounding an inscription in some unknown ancient language. The shelf below held a rabbit’s foot charm and a dagger. The dagger was made of crystal and steel with needles and tubes in a dangerous array both toward the blade and a few curving back toward the hilt. She ran a finger down the blade. It served her well in that place. Even if it made her feel cold inside. Even if her wrist still had faint scars from needles and blades. The third shelf held a battered ring, the inscription incomprehensible, and a crystal ball with hazy images spinning indistinctly through the glass. This was true wealth. This was real. Let the world say what they wanted about the past events. A slow smile crept over her face, and she passed her hand over the crystal ball. It would probably help her in the future. There had to be more. Such beautiful complicated things did not spring up in defiance of all known practices alone. They were wrought, forged, imbued, or cursed.

Maybe she should plan another group trip. Somewhere foreign. Somewhere…. Her eyes drifted back up to the dagger. Somewhere dangerous. Maybe she’d invite her friends.

She closed and locked her cabinet. Sliding the panel back into place, she couldn’t shake the smile. She’d give it a few weeks. This time she wanted to know what she was getting into.


I stole this first line from that diplomatic machete wielder’s “Small Gifts.” Shhhh. Don’t tell, I don’t think the theft has been noticed yet.

Legal Theft Project: Dangerous Fascinations

The Captain’s favorite detective had just staggered out of his office, demanded to speak to Organized Crime’s second most wanted, and declared his last name was Hawthorn, at least today wouldn’t be boring. Well, it was probably going to get her fired as there was no way she could keep her nose away from this delightful little drama, but… wow. The currently declared Hawthorn was bundled into one of the interview rooms while someone got the captain and Piper took advantage of the hubbub to slip into her superior’s office. He was the only damn detective with an office. And thankfully, upset enough to leave his computer on. There had to be fifteen tabs open. Most of them were news sites dealing with the recent arrest of J. Westwood. Except… Piper clicked through a couple tabs. The articles spanned the last five years of public information on her.

You would think that he would be happy about the second most wanted organized criminal getting arrested. Well, perhaps he was. Maybe he was harboring some form of old vendetta and wanted to confront the woman about it. The last tab left her blinking.

Then she let out a low whistle, flipped the tabs back to their original order and left the office. No wonder he had such strong feelings about procedure and source rights.

It used up most of her favors to get a spot, but Piper managed to get into the viewing room for the Detective… Hawthorn and J. Westwood interview. Westwood possessed striking features. A strong face, not beautiful or pretty. It left an impression. She was all ease and confidence. A person who knew what was coming and had accepted the consequences of police hospitality. Piper made a face. The woman would probably be getting book and movie offers by the end of the week. The detective was hesitating in the hallway. He wasn’t going to help the media blitz, tall, dark, handsome, and broody did a leading man make. Piper took a few notes, just for future thought. Finally, the interview room door opened. Westwood looked at the door and remained seated as the detective sat down across from her.

“Hullo, Jess,” he said.

Westwood froze, reexamining the detective’s face, before letting out a long slow breath. Piper was impressed at the lack of swearing. Then again, maybe she hadn’t figured out the history between the two as cleverly as she’d thought.

“This is unexpected,” Westwood said with pointed blandness. She maintained her casual posture, maybe it fooled someone, but it didn’t fool her, and evidently didn’t fool the detective.

“Is it?” The detective’s tone was mild. “Did you really think I’d let you take the fall for them?”

“We’ve all made our choices.” Her arm rested on the table and her gaze was level with a bit of warning.

The detective leaned forward slightly, then clearly thought better of what he was about to say. He ran a hand over his face. “Fine, let’s at least be idiots together.”

Westwood rolled her eyes and glared at him. “No.”

“I’ve already told my captain. Already crossed that bridge.” The detective was relaxing. Clearly he’d made some decision. In contrast, Westwood was finally swearing.

“-damn it, too many people would die, E-” She cut herself off, and rested her head on her hands for a moment. “Caught between two Hawthorns is my least favorite place to be.”

“Worse than prison?” He asked it half as a joke.

“Yes,” Westwood replied seriously. “Prison has easy to identify rules that I could follow and break because I know the consequences. This… this is a leap of faith between realities. Yours, mine, and his, and you know the difficulty I have when my heart’s involved. Especially when it’s involved on both sides.”

The detective let out a short, pithy swear. Westwood chuckled a little. “That the first time the people behind the glass have heard you swear?”

“Not the first.”

“I want a lawyer. I need more time.”

“We’ll see what we can do.” He started to rise, she watched him. He hesitated and a whole conversation passed in looks. Then he left.

Piper upgraded the threat to her future posed by her curiosity from ‘probably fired’ to ‘probably dead in the river at midnight’. She watched Westwood for a moment longer, the woman was recovering her composure at a remarkable speed. But Westwood wasn’t her main concern any more. She had a call to make.

Stepping outside, she leaned against the wall so she had a good view of any eavesdropping locations. She dialed the number she’d only memorized for emergencies, and tapped the back of her heel against the wall.

“Able,” was the terse answer.

“You are a sneaky, underhanded bastard, and you dropped me into an untenable war between at least four strong willed, implacable … well, I would call you all criminals, but considering what I’m doing, maybe we’ll just go with, nope. I don’t have a word for this.”

“Piper,” the voice acknowledged her. “You have eyes on our mess.”

“Yep, very close eyes. Clever of you not to mention who I was watching. It also meant I know they’ve spoken and it was odd. What do you need me to look into, specifically?”

“Lass, if you want out before this gets-”

“You can pay me back by telling me every bloody thing that happened then, and now, and in between. If I end up a casualty, you can put, ‘The damn cat wouldn’t listen’ on my tombstone. Now, what did you need?”

He told her.

“That is a damn odd shopping list. I’ll get it. You owe me a case of Amber Keyes Root Beer and so many explanations. Later, of course. I’m going back to keeping an eye on your boy.”

“Thank you, Piper.”

She blew a loud kiss at the phone and hung up. Life was complicated, deadly, and grand. She skipped a few steps as she headed back into the precinct.


Stole this first line from Kid’s “The First Switch“. I may have stolen one of her characters too….. see if you can spot which one.

Legal Theft Project: Red for the Blood that Covered Them Both

Taryn hesitated on the balls of his feet, wondering how there could be so much hazard in the cut of a smile. The man in red wasn’t even looking at him and Taryn watched in fascination as no one else noticed the warning. With an odd sort of double vision Taryn watched the man in red lean forward. Amicable. Deadly. His hand stilled on the hilt of his blade, at once calm reason and imminent threat. The dual nature invisible to the men he spoke to, and all too clear to Taryn.

In a blink, the curved knife slashed the closest sailor across the face from crown to chin, barely missing the eye, and the man in red smiled as his target swore. The group ebbed away from the man in red, lowly muttered epithets on their tongues as the smiling man flicked the blood from his blade. He asked them a question. The group paled, then vanished like smoke.

The man in red took out a black handkerchief and cleaned his knife before sheathing it and restarting the menacing tattoo of fingers on hilt.

Lazily, he glanced over at Taryn and leaned back against the wall of the building as if to say, What of it?

Taryn flushed, feeling like he’d been found wanting against the strangely weighted mechanics of the man’s eyes. But the hazard vanished from the smile the man in red shot his way as he walked over slowly. It would have been easy to run, but Taryn stayed. Slowly unfreezing from his initial shock.

“You’d be the poor mite then,” said the man in red.

It wasn’t the kind of greeting Taryn had grown to expect. This was better. “I am…”

The man laughed and his smile crinkled up at the corners. Taryn blinked. The odd double vision was back. There was no menace in his laugh, smile, or the creases on his face, but his hand was still tapping the hilt of his knife. Though in a slower cadence.

“Bloody proper manners all over, isn’t it?” He didn’t pause for an answer. “Most call me Blade, little otter. I don’t stand on ceremony.”

“Taryn.” He asked the questions before he thought about it. “Why are you here and why did you hurt those men?”

“I’m one of the Serpent’s dogs and Mercer wanted to wear red bad enough I thought it should go on his face the only way he would get it.” The man called Blade rocked back on his heels and swept his gaze desultorily from Taryn’s ankles to his face. “Red isn’t your color.”

“You’re wearing red,” Taryn said ducking his head a little, but not for long.

“I answer only to your grandfather.” Blade tilted his head. “The reds are his, the blue are his dragon’s, and the greens are you and yours.”

Taryn blinked then looked down at his clothes. “I’m not wearing green.”

Blade shook his head and started walking as he spoke. “Doesn’t mean you aren’t.”

Taryn hurried to keep up. He opened his mouth and Blade cut him off.

“I’m not a smart person to follow around, kid,” the hand not tapping a staccato on his knife waved dismissively to the side. “Too many flailing limbs, not enough…” he grinned, “thought.”

“But you don’t like them either,” Taryn bit his lip at the admission.

“Like?” Blade stopped in his tracks and looked at Taryn in utter bafflement. Taryn shrugged.

“The-the people who act like, like I’m,” he shrugged unable to put it into words, “you aren’t their friend.”

Blade leaned his head back and laughed. The startled laugh of true humor. “Taryn,” he said after a moment to catch his breath, “I don’t have friends.” He only tapped one finger against the knife in an almost absent gesture. “I love my ship. I listen to your grandfather. And I might like you.”

Taryn’s responding smile was surprisingly satisfied. “Then that’s a good reason to follow you around. Nobody else likes me, they’re all too busy plotting things.”

Blade considered a moment, then shrugged. “You look after your own head.” He started walking again. “And be respectful to my ship.” Taryn grinned and trotted after him.


I stole this from an eternal apprentice awhile back. Her piece was easy as a whisper. See what everyone came up with here.