Legal Theft Project: Hope-kerchief

Careful so the guard wouldn’t notice, he tossed his handkerchief over the side of the cart, someone would find it. And someone did. Said someone was pleased with the high quality of the handkerchief and tucked it quite happily into their pocket, pleasantly ignorant of the meaning of the monogram and clueless about any potential kidnapping.

*****

Two weeks later the rescuers finally arrived and defeated the dastardly kidnappers. He was thrilled with the drama of it all and threw himself into the arms of his rescuer. His rescuer held him close, relieved her little brother was alright.

“You had us worried,” she murmured.

“I wasn’t,” he said. He looked up and smiled. “Though I would like my handkerchief back.”

She tilted her head. “Your handkerchief?”

“Of course, the one you used to track me.” He beamed up at his sister.

She closed her eyes for a brief moment. “You dropped your handkerchief while you were being kidnapped?”

One denial could be good fun, the second one was just mean, he rolled his eyes. “Yes. It was the green one with my name on it.”

“Ah.” His sister thought quickly. “Well, we did find that one, however it wasn’t how we tracked you – we – “

“What do you mean – I dropped it so you could find it! I want it back.” Tears were welling in his eyes.

His sister knelt so she was on his level. “I did find it. You were very clever in dropping it, however when I showed it to the bad people who kidnapped you they stole it away from me and it flew over the castle wall. I got really sad. However, I would much rather have you around than your handkerchief, okay? We will get you a new one, just in case, alright?”

Her brother wiped away his tears. “Promise?”

“I promise,” she said. Her little brother held out his arms and she picked him up and carried him to her horse. Making a mental note to buy him as many ‘safety’ handkerchiefs as he wanted.


I stole this first line from a diplomat with a machete. Go see who else found handkerchiefs and hope they had better luck.

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Legal Theft Project: Unspoken

She was barely in the clearing before she started to cry and yell at him. He smiled sheepishly as her long strides ate up the distance and she crushed him into a hug. He hugged her back equally as tight though a little less desperate. Fear never held him for long. Much more slowly, she let the tension seep out of her limbs and she brushed tears from her cheeks.

“You idiot. You scared me.”

He scuffed his foot in the dirt and looked up at her with an apologetic tilt to his shoulders. “Sorry.” He almost said something to lighten the mood, but she looked him in the eyes and he stopped. “Sorry. Really,” he said instead.

She knew he was. She also knew he wouldn’t take it seriously. It was his coping mechanism, however irritating and unhelpful she found it. So she caught all the warnings and dire predictions she wanted to throw at his head and let them drift away unsaid. “It’s okay,” she said. It wasn’t really. But it was as close as she could get to saying she forgave him.


I stole this first line some moons ago from Bek. View the other spoils of thievery here.

Legal Theft Project: Layered Lies

Marnie found me in a corner where I’d begun to collect attention. I tossed her a smile and she shook her head. “You’re incorrigible.”

“You expected something else?”

She pursed her lips, but her eyes were laughing. “Perhaps a dash more polish.”

“I’m only polished when I’m working.” I set my empty champagne flute on a passing tray and rolled up the sleeves of my shirt to the elbow. Marnie sighed, she’d lent me the designer garment.

“You know I make this look good.”

“I know.” She slipped her arm through mine. “Reyes has been asking about you, actually. You could have a contract with him if you wanted it.” She unconsciously slicked down an errant pleat of her mint dress, one of the designers originals.

I tilted my head in false thought. “You know, I do have a wish to see my face twenty to thirty times life sized.”

The laugh I startled out of her was worth more than any score.

“It shall have to wait, I have many more capers ahead of me before I become a public figure.” Funny, I only noticed how tense I’d been now that I was relaxing. Damn it, I love this kind of party, but I’d been hiding in a corner, drinking champagne.

Marnie smiled. “You alright?”

I shrugged expressively and surveyed the room. “I don’t belong here.”

Marnie looked at me. I’d said it almost absently and half to myself. I skimmed my eyes over Armani suits and Versace dresses, cinema queens and billionaires, the wealthy and the famous, and they brought me both envy and a quiet anger. I know Marnie saw it, she reads people the way I read rooms, intuitively and extremely well.

“Do you want to go?”

I shook my head. “I don’t get to see you or this carnival often enough. It’ll pass.”

A voice spoke up, preceding the click of approaching heels. “Marnie, how are you tonight?”

I didn’t turn. She wasn’t supposed to be here tonight. Marnie replied that she was enjoying herself and I could tell there was a silent exchange where Marnie indicated that I was not bothering her and not to worry everything would be fine, when she ever so slightly faltered, so I turned around so she could introduce me. Whatever name she called me, I didn’t notice or care which man of mystery I was tonight. I gave Bell a gracious nod. I didn’t trust myself to any of the other greetings available. Her disapproval was a frigid living thing and I gave into the dare and met her eyes. It was a mistake. Unable to name the feeling, something vivid and alive, near kin to recognition, but unarticulated jumped between her mismatched eyes and my contact enhanced green ones. All I wanted to do was run, but if I ran, she would chase.

I pulled on every reserved snobbish commentary, every supercilious mannerism, and every lie turned fluid and silver on my tongue. Never has anyone fled so quickly into a defensive conversation. Marnie laid a hand on my arm and drew me away from Bell with a few murmured comments. Bell watched us go for a moment, I could physically feel when she stopped watching us. I wasn’t fooling Marnie, but she let me make my excuses and vanish into the evening.


I’ve been a very selfish thief and not distributing my spoils. This first line was stolen awhile ago, check out what the other thieves divvied up in the corner here.

Legal Theft Project: Seas Full of Starcatchers

Lea’s little sister had spent nine tenths of her life with her head tilted back, sedately keeping a watch on the stars. She would anchor herself with the tops of the kelp beds, like an otter, and float on the swells as she searched for patterns in the sky. Lea had tried floating with her once, looking up at what she thought of as the sky’s scales. It had bored her after a short time and she had gone down to explore the depths.

It wasn’t like her sister was obsessed with humans, like some of their shoal mates. They could read the sky and tell you if a ship was coming, the wind to tell you how far and how fast, all to so they could watch the crews. Lea’s only interest in humans was when they were sinking below the kelp, if they would swim, if they would sink. Their faces when they saw her. The thought made her smile. Lea loved the sea. The sea was mother, home, and mystery all dressed in rippling blue. She spent her time exploring the bright and the dark of the ocean and came up to share her treasures with her little sister. Seren would smile at some of them and go back to looking at the stars while they spoke. Some days it angered Lea that she was less interesting than slow swimming dots on a dark current, but mostly it didn’t. Seren was Seren.

~~~~*~~~~

A slender shadow crossed over Lea and she looked up in surprise at her little sister. Teach me to race? Seren signed. I want to be as fast as you.

Of course, Lea signed back. But why?

Seren worried her lip for a moment. I’d like to be better at it. There is something I want to catch, but I am not fast enough.

Lea could have demanded more. But she liked cutting through the water more than prying secrets out of her sister. Top side, I assume?

Seren grinned.

~~~~*~~~~

“What is it?” Lea asked. The sun had set and the rest of their sisters had swum down to the caves to sleep. Seren was treading water and watching the sky with bright anxious eyes.

Lea asked again when Seren showed no sign of answering her. “Is there something wrong, Seren?”

Seren laughed. “Is change wrong?” She took her eyes off the sky, briefly, to look at her older sister. “The stars haven’t been steady for months. And soon… tonight, I think they are going to come tumbling down. And I want to catch one.”

Seren looked back up to the sky and Lea looked at her. Her little sister was not so little anymore, and if anyone knew the stars, she would be the one. As much as the ocean changed and stayed the same, why couldn’t the sky? She watched the stars as they flickered into view, treading water at her sister’s side. Softly, Lea began to sing. She sang to the stars, lifting her voice gently to the sky. Letting the notes linger as the final stars glimmered in the night sky. She sang, and sang, and then the stars rushed from the sky. Not one after another, but all together like a shoal of fish rushing away from a shark, they stars streaked out of the sky. Lea kept singing as her sister shot out across the water chasing stars. Lea followed more slowly, trying to keep her in sight. She finished the song and struck out after her sister, diving beneath the water to get a clearer view of the ill lit night. Seren was just on the edge of her vision when she leapt out of the waves, reaching for a bright glow. Lea saw her sister glow, and then she did not see her at all.

~~~~*~~~~

Months later, Lea explored a narrow channel between two islands. It was deeper than it looked and the currents were slow but strong. But she was drawn by the faint blue light that shone intermittently near the bottom. She pulled herself down the rocky wall and knelt on the seafloor near the light. She brushed through the sediment until she uncovered a stone about twice the size of her fist. Brushing off some of the hardened muck, she saw a blue shine. She tucked the stone to her chest and kicked herself slowly out of the channel. Once out of the depths, she swam to a rock near the inlet where she and Seren had talked. Slowly, she picked and chipped at the layers of dirt until she uncovered an irregular blue stone, shining star like in her hand. Lea sighed. “Seren, you better not be a rock.”

“Lea, oh Lea, can you hear me?”

Lea almost dropped the rock. She brought the stone close to her face, looking inside the blue for any sign of her sister. “Seren? If you are trapped in this rock, I have no idea how to get you out.”

Seren’s answering laugh definitely came from the rock. “I’m not in the stone, Lea. Look up. Please. Look up.”

Swimming across the sky, body made of stars, was the shape of her sister. Since the stars had fallen, Lea had avoided the surface. The others had told her that the sky held few stars, none of them consistent. “You look great, Seren.”

“It’s good to see you Lea. I’m glad you found another star. I missed you.”

“I missed you too.”

Lea asked her sister about the heavens and Seren asked her about the sea. Both where they wanted to be, they had much to talk about. They both travel, and they both spend periods away. But on the dark of the moon, when the night sky is full of stars, Lea swims to the surface, carrying her treasures, and Seren circles in the sky and they share all the things they have learned and discovered through the fallen star Lea wears around her neck.


I’m a thief! I stole this first line from Gwen. See what she wrote, and then check out the entire ring of star thieves.

Legal Theft Project: Capes and Pride

More than anything, Margaret wanted her son to be a good man. Just for today. She was sure there were things she would want as much or more than that in time. Life was fluid like that. But just for today there was absolutely nothing she could possibly want more. After all, if her son turned out not to be a good man, then her daughter was going to destroy large swaths of the city and that would lead to wanted posters, rising rent prices, insurance problems, and conversations full of sublimated bitterness held in small dingy rooms with horrid lighting. Of course it was likely that no matter what decisions were made, her children were going to be in trouble. That was what happened when your daughter started down the road to super villainy and your son became a caped crusader. So she didn’t care if her son was a good hero. She just wanted him to reach out to his sister and talk to her. Most of this would have been taken care of by now if her bone headed children had simply talked. About any of it. Maybe. Well, it was the last chance before her daughter destroyed the city. The first muffled explosion sounded in the distance.

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I am a thief! I stole this first line from Bek. Check out the ring of thievery here.

Legal Theft Project: Strive

Adam had turned coming home from work into a secret race. He changed into worn jeans and a faded grey band t-shirt he’d bought during his last long term under cover op. He secured his workout bag on his back. He looked like an average, if attractive, man and would have been completely unremarkable if he hadn’t been standing on an upper city rooftop in the mid afternoon. Even then, most people would have had to think twice before realizing it was odd for him to be stretching on an industrial building’s roof. Fortunately people rarely looked up. So they were not suddenly afflicted with heart attacks when he vaulted from the factory roof onto the wall of the next building and from there to a third building’s fire escape. He swung on from there, pushing himself over rooftops and off ledges. Running a path known to few and visible to even less.

Breathing easily and sweating hard, he checked his time when he reached his front door. Not his best. The construction on 5th had slowed him down. He let himself in. His sister was at the table cleaning her guns. He wondered if his sister knew about his secret striving to arrive home before her on any day they both had work.  Closing the door behind him, he decided it would probably never occur to her that he might be competing. Plus, he probably wouldn’t know what to do if he did manage it.

She looked up. “Adam.” She got a look at his sweat soaked tee. “Have a good run?”

“Yeah. Got a little interesting at the construction over on 5th. Keeps me on my toes.”

“I’ll have to try it.”

“Let me know when you do.” He headed to the shower. One day, one day he’d be home only a minute behind her, instead of five. One day.

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Thievery Abounds! The first line of this piece was stolen from Bek by a whole ring of thieves. Check it out.

Legal Theft Project: Salt, Citrus, and Certain Truths

The hall was wide enough for two fat carriages with drunken drivers to dance past each other comfortably, but the crowd had still slowed to a sluggish crawl as they turned down it. A melding tapestry of bright clothes and dark bodies eddying and swirling through the channel and from archway to doorway and back. Rania took two steps into the swirl and watched them send ripples through the natural curling patterns. Spreading circles of silence, then rustling whispers and second glances. She continued forward and a perfectly straight line opened up before her. She wished it was due to the guards hovering behind her shoulders, their footsteps echoing her own, but they weren’t given as much space as she was. It could have been attributed to her foreign dress, the faint squaring of her shoulders in challenge and power, or any number of small signals that marked her as an invader, a stranger. But they weren’t.

Raven’s wing black hair, grey eyes, and skin the rich brown of ripe dates, not too unusual among the similarly dark complexions surrounding her, but the combination marked her as of the family who owned this hall, this isle, and the ships that harbored there. They saw a lost heir. She saw strangers who were not strange enough.

Rania’s smooth strides had carried her from the hall. She smiled, thinking of the people in it as birds in an elaborate cage, still silent though the danger or darkness had passed. She entered the garden and breathed deep. Jasmine, citrus, and salt burned deep into her lungs and stuck near her heart with the burn of memory. She walked slowly down the path, breathing it in, feeling a sense of home seep through her skin. Let it wash over her with the rush of waves that formed a gentle background to every hour of the day. Walking past lush hedges and bold blooms, under the spreading branches of old twisting orange trees, she felt safe.

She let her breath out and sat on the wide tiled rim of a squat fountain. It was only the eye of the storm. She needed to deal with her feelings. Terre was right, her normal coping mechanisms weren’t going to work here. She closed her eyes and felt her anger batter against the base of her throat. It was familiar and she twisted it and twined it into a tapestry, contained, but purposeful and wrapped it around her fear, worry, and loss. But… it wasn’t just her own pain she was carrying. No. She knew all too well what her brother would be carrying and knowing it, she carried his pain as well.

She couldn’t afford for it to weigh her down, so she faced it. Edan’s face formed in her mind, so similar to … -She imagined him finding out the events of the last weeks and the shock and rage that made his face a battlefield. But she knew that pain was in three parts. The deepest hurt would settle deep in his heart. The aching of absence and loss that woke one up in the middle of the night with a tear streaked face and little explanation. Everyone excused that pain, pretended to ignore it when it showed. But with Edan, only those who shared his blood would see it.

The second pain straightened his spine, lurked in his eyes and the set of his shoulders. The ghost of the boy in a dark hold shielding his younger siblings would be crying out that he had failed them, that he had failed to protect his family, and demand he save them. Now. Anyway, anyhow.

But the ache and the cry were never be seen behind the tempest of her brother’s rage. Fear and failure turned to kindling for the hot lick of his wrath and he would not rest, think, or breathe until his family was safe and the heads of those that harmed them were sitting on pikes. He would descend upon this isle in a rain of angry swords and everything would drown in the grief and rage and pain.

This was truth.

Rania breathed deep, matching the rhythm of the distant waves until the borrowed anger had ebbed and she set it aside. The music of the fountain brought her back to herself and she rose with a sweep of her skirts. Now that she was thinking more clearly, her priorities were rather simple: stay near her sister, and learn everything she could. Thamina didn’t need to be coddled, but they each drew strength from the continued presence of the other. As to learning, well, nothing was out of the question, the isle, its politic, its people, the past, the rigging of its ships, the way it smelled during and after a storm. She would absorb it all, one question at a time. And when her brother’s did arrive, she would put it to use. Till then, she would take a page from her sister’s book and be slightly less combative. There was no purpose to wasting her energy.

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I stole the first line of this piece from Gwen over at ApprenticeNeverMaster. So did a few others. Check here for the whole ring of thieves. I also borrowed a character [Edan] from Kid over at TheGateintheWood.

Legal Theft Project: Weathering the Storms

“It’s raining,” Katja said. Seva threw the curtains open anyway and glared at the sleeting rain.

“It’s been raining for three days,” Seva said.

“And may rain for another three,” Katja replied. She capped her pen and looked up from her notes. The oil lamp on her desk couldn’t lift the oppressive gloom. Seva paced from the window to the desk and back again. Katja did not know what to say. They were trapped and the rain forced them to feel it. The storm brewing inside the library walls contained more violence than the drops outside. Something had to break before she and her sister started burning the place down. Her eye caught on the map cases in the corner, left over from when the chateau was a retreat for hunters instead of a gilded cage for wild princesses. Seva kept pacing and started eyeing the armchairs as if determining which one would make the largest pile of splinters.

Katja pulled out the maps. Sorting through them she found a basic map of her uncle’s lands. She smiled very slowly. With teeth. “Seva, we need counters.”

Seva nearly pounced on the desk. “Why?”

“Because we’re going to stage an assault on our dear uncle’s home estate with our angry rebel army and burn it to the ground. But to do that, we need the armies.”

Seva’s teeth flashed in a matching grin to Katja’s. “I know just the thing,” she said and raced off to gather the troops. Katja weighed down the map corners. They were going to beat this storm. And the next one. And the next. And the next.

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I stole this first line from Gwen. Rain seems to be a theme this week. Check out the circle of thieves.

Legal Theft Project: Crushes and Con Artists

“Whatever it is you’re thinking of doing to try and help me, don’t.” Lore directed the sotto voce comment at her brother without looking at him. Leon grinned and stuck his hands in his pockets. Detective Skyll got into his car and drove away.

“I didn’t say anything,” Leon said as Lore turned toward him. “I even refrained from picking his pocket.”

“And you’ll continue to refrain from picking his pocket, getting yourself arrested, and generally sticking your nose in any kind of relationship I may or may not have with Detective Skyll.” Lore looked away from the departing car and headed to her own.

Leon fell into step beside her. “But you want there to be a relationship.”

Lore took a deep breath, let it out, and unlocked her door. “I think he’s cute and a cop.” She got into the car and her brother slipped into the passenger seat. She ignored her brother’s curious look as she started the car towards home.

“You going to see him again?” It sounded like a casually interested question; Leon was never a casually interested person.

Lore shot her brother a warning look. “I’ve gotten used to the ability to not lie about my life and don’t feel inclined to get involved with anyone where I would have to do so. Cops are definitely not on the list of people I can be honest with.”

“That doesn’t prohibit you from looking.” Leon pointed out reasonably. “Or dating, plenty of dates are based solely around lies. I didn’t feel the urge to punch him in the face.”

Lore laughed. “No sudden upwelling of brotherly protective urges?”

Leon shrugged one shoulder and made a face.

“That’s probably for the best, his face would have hurt your fist.” She looked at her brother. “You liked him.”

“Liked him?” Leon looked at his sister in genuine shock, then he shuddered. “No.”

Lore punched his shoulder. “Not like that.” She sighed, but she was smiling. “We’ve established that our tastes are very opposite when it comes to men. I meant you have a matchmaking gleam in your eye and I want it to go away.”

“I want you to be happy and have fun. You don’t have enough fun.” He said simply and slouched back in his seat.

Touched, Lore didn’t say anything for a moment. “I have fun. I would own fewer shoes if I didn’t have fun.” She pulled into the parking garage and parked.

Leon shrugged. “Just curious. Though if you ever want me to pick his pocket…”

Lore rolled her eyes. “You’ll be the first and only person I call.”

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I stole the first line of this piece from Bek. And what a wonderful line it is. I can’t wait to see her original fiction. Check out our wonderful ring of thieves here.

Legal Theft Project: Because Reasons

There was no good reason to throw the hammer at the wall, but it suddenly occurred to Ennalie that she had never done it before. She hefted it, drew back, chucked it at the wall, and only then did it occur to her that there could be reasons not to throw the hammer at the wall. Thwump. Like the creation of holes. Which was probably why she had never done it before. She blinked at it until her brother stuck his head into her room. He looked at her. Looked at the wall. Looked at the hammer stuck in the wall. Looked back at her.

“Enna? Everything okay?”

“Yeah, I’d just never done that before.” The words fell flat after she said them.

His eyes flicked between the hammer and her, then he eased into the room and clicked the door shut behind him. He sank down on the edge of the bed, and surveyed the open tool kit, the empty shelves, and the boxes on the floor. Then he looked at Ennalie’s hands holding onto the edge of the bed.

“I’ve never coated myself in duct tape. The potential pain just doesn’t seem like the experiment would be worth it.”

A small smile tilted Ennalie’s mouth. “But you have climbed into a large bucket and gotten stuck, explored the attic and fallen through the ceiling, ventured into the thicket at the park thus startling a den of foxes…”

“Ah.”

Kaye put his hand over one of his sister’s as they looked at the chaos in the room. “Somehow I doubt that ignoring immediate consequences will illuminate potential ones any more clearly or make them less scary.”

“Oh, that’s not quite why.” Ennalie twisted her hand so she was holding her brother’s palm to palm. “I wanted you to remember that this was my room and not steal it.”

Kaye pursed his lips. “I am rather forgetful.” He turned and looked at her. “We’d better go put a hole in my wall so I think of you when I see it. Just to be sure.”

Ennalie grinned and jumped up to grab the hammer.

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This first line was stolen from Gwen at ApprenticeNeverMaster. Check out her blog tomorrow for the original fiction.