This would be the time, she thought to herself. This time she would actually get away.
She was stationed outside of a nearby shop, watching the shop owner sweep the porch. Her parents had given her this job, thinking it might be easy enough for her. Amelia was determined that it would be.
She narrowed her eyes. The shop owner seemed lost in thought, and Amelia knew it was time to strike. Her parents had trained her well. With trembling hands she picked up a large rock and moved her attention to the bakery next to her targeted shop. With a shaky breath, she hurled the stone at the bakery window, ducking down as the sound of smashing glass filled the air. The shop owner darted out of his shop, looking around. When he saw nothing, he quickly hurried into the bakery to see if anyone had been hurt, just as she knew he would. Quick as lightning, she darted across the street, and with practiced hands she scooped up the ring behind the shop counter and burst out the back door.
She let out a sigh of relief: the hardest part was over. Suddenly, she heard a cry from behind. The owner must have seen her come into his shop. Looking around, she picked up a ladder from beside the street and placed it against the shop wall. She began to scramble up it right as the shop owner burst through the back door. She reached the top of the ladder the minute he began climbing, yelling at her to stop.
As if she could stop at this point.
Jumping from roof to roof, she was surprised at how well her pursuer seemed to keep up. It didn’t matter, though. She was confident that she was at an advantage in this race.
She saw the roofs coming to an end nearby. Just at the end was an alley that turned into a wide, crowded street. The conditions couldn’t be more perfect.
Amelia braced herself for the fall as she took a big leap off of the roof.
The man who had been pursuing her let out a cry of concern, which quickly changed to angry shouts as she landed with a roll and took off running.
She tried to hide a smug grin as his screams faded into the background.
The ring jingled in her pocket, and she couldn’t help but feel excited at the prospect of showing her reapings to her parents. The shop owner seemed to have given up on pursuit, and she tried to relax as she rounded the corner onto the wide street. Just as she turned, she saw a group of soldiers rushing right towards her. She quickly turned around and pretended to walk the other way, but it was too late.
“There!” she heard, and she took off running. She had always considered herself to be a quick runner, but the soldiers had been trained to be faster. Just as she tried to turn another corner, she was jerked back, the force causing her to fall back onto her rear. Amelia tried to scramble to her feet, but it was too late. The nearest guard grabbed her arm with a tight fist, causing her to give a growl.
“Whoa, there,” he said.
She felt her anger and frustration bubble over, and spit on the guards’ shoes.
“Hey!” he cried and gave her a good shake.
“You asked for that one, pal,” said the captain. Amelia stiffened at the voice.
Captain Daniels walked over to Amelia, whose eyes she refused to meet. He took her chin roughly and jerked it up. She glared at him, hoping he could sense her disdain for him and his haughtiness.
“I’ll take her from here,” he said.
“You sure? She doesn’t seem to want to go easy.”
“I can take care of her,” he said, taking her arm in an even tighter grip. “You go check with the shop owner and see what she took. I’ll meet you at the station.”
“Yes, sir.” The guard saluted Captain Daniels and marched off with the other soldiers, leaving Amelia and him alone.
He waited a beat before dragging her down the street, ignoring her protests as she was awkwardly caught between walking and running to keep up.
“Do you mind?” she snapped.
He whisked her into an alleyway, shoving her against a wall hard enough to make her groan.
He didn’t seem to hear her. “What did I tell you about stealing? Don’t you realize there’s only so many times I can cover for you before I get caught too?”
She rolled her eyes. “I never asked you to cover for me. I can do this on my own.”
“Yeah, and end up rotting in a jail cell. Seriously, Amelia, I can’t keep risking my neck for you.”
He huffed and glared at her. “Listen, I am just trying to take care of you-“
“Thanks, pal, but I don’t need your help.”
“Why are you so stubborn?”
“Why do you keep trying to control what I do?”
The anger in his eyes flickered for a moment, replaced by something softer. After a minute, he let out a long sigh, running his hands over his face. “This is the last time, Amelia. After this, I will put you in jail without hesitating. Don’t let me see you running from a crime scene ever again.”
Amelia bit the inside of her cheek in thought. “I did do better this time, though. Did you see me jump off the roof of that shack? I just didn’t account for the guard patrols… it’s just my luck that they would come down the street right at that moment.”
“I’m not going to encourage this behavior, so don’t even try it. Now what did you take?”
Amelia dug into her pocket and pulled out a ring with a beautiful stone at the center. “Isn’t it gorgeous?”
He snatched it out of her hands, and shoved it into the pocket of his jacket. “I’ve had enough of gorgeous things. They usually bring too much trouble.” He glanced at her briefly, and then turned away. “Now get out of here.”
“Wait, Jack…” she took a step and placed it on his arm. He froze. “Thank you. As much as I hate to admit it, I really appreciate how you’ve looked out for me. You... you’ve always been a good friend to me.” She stepped closer, putting a hand on his jacket and leaning on her toes to reach up to kiss his cheek. “You’re a better friend than I deserve.”
She saw him gulp, and smiled before turning the other direction and running as fast as she could.
When she was a few blocks away, she stepped into some nearby shade to catch a breath. She pulled out the ring she had taken from his jacket pocket, the jewel gleaming in the sunlight. She twirled it around her finger before shoving it back into her pocket and continuing on her way.
She could hardly hide the smile spreading across her face.
It was just too easy.