Writing Challenge: Heist

Twitter Prompt

Once upon a time (about a month and a half ago), I saw a tweet. This tweet, actually. And then I said, “I’m so writing that.” And then Mreauow joined in, and it turned into a writing challenge, and then the tweeter — @Making_Pots, said she wanted to see these flash pieces that we were writing off this impromptu prompt. Just as a quick caveat — I’m not impressed with mine. Give me a minute and I’ll tell you the struggles.

  1. I’m a procrastinator. I didn’t even start until a few days ago.
  2. Sure. Give them backstory. Oh, look. It’s not a flash piece anymore. It’s not even a short story anymore. In fact…
  3. THIS IS THE BACKSTORY FOR THE REAL STORY. *headdesk*
  4. This new pairing… I didn’t give them backstory, but, okay, see, I apparently can’t do a flash or short to save my life anymore. *sigh*
  5. I actually really hate the end of this, and I want to take the time to make this right, but right now isn’t it because it’s due… um… kinda right now.
  6. I now have now one, but two, new “longer than flash, probably longer than short stories” books to write because this and the “backstory” both need to be expanded on.

Anyway: The story is below. If you like it and/or want to see more fun stuff like this from Becca and I, feel free to contact us on our blogs through the “contact” screen, or on Twitter — @AuthorMilliGib & @Mreauow!

***

Finna tucked a lock of raven hair into the blonde wig, straightened the diamond choker around her neck, and pulled the little peacock mask down.

“You look great, Finna,” her brother’s voice scratched in her ear.

“I always do,” she said with a smile.

“Let’s do this.” Brian muttered something else, but Finna didn’t catch what.

Finna nodded, then stepped out of the bathroom. Her jewel-toned gown sparkled in the twinkle lights twisted around the indoor trellises. Heads turned as she worked through the crowd toward the wall display. Too many had come just to see the Genesis Scroll.scroll

The heist would have to come later. She’d hoped there would be enough people around that no-one would notice her slipping the scroll from the display, but there were simply too many eyes on it. In the meantime, it was worth it to gather all the intel she could on the arboretum. Sure, she’d studied the blueprints and security schematics, but that didn’t mean she knew the best way through the building.

She stood at the edge of the crowd gathered around it.

“Beautiful,” someone whispered.

She glanced at the man standing next to her. He had a nice profile — sharp cheekbones accented by the edges of his Phantom of the Opera mask. Damn it, if she weren’t there on a job… “Are you a collector?” she asked.

“No. But I still appreciate beauty in all its forms.” He turned his gaze on her. “Including women.”

Finna turned to face him. He was standing so close she stepped back and still had to tip her head back to meet his gaze. “I’m short—I get it—but my eyes are still not that low.” His eyes snapped up to hers and she smiled.

“As I said—I appreciate beauty in all its forms.” He held his hand out. “I’m Jackson.”

She placed her hand in his. “Neela.”

He brought her knuckles to his lips. “Beautiful name.” He glanced at the scroll. “What do you know about it?”

“I like it. Mom picked a good name when she named me.”

“I meant the scroll.”

“Of course you did.” She smiled again. “And I know plenty.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Nah.” She turned away and headed for the table of drinks and hors d’oeuvres. He followed her. “I wasn’t aware that coming to a party meant being stalked as soon as I stepped foot inside.”

“Oh, come now. How else is a man supposed to get to know a woman?”

“Give a woman your credit card and see what she buys with it.”

Jackson laughed a deep belly laugh. Finna walked away again, this time with a glass of champagne.

“Neela…”

She ignored him. If she didn’t, she’d end up finding a corner to fuck him in. The richness of his voice paired with the lean, lanky build beneath the tux had her needing something she hadn’t even wanted in more than a year.

Finna disappeared into the crowd, just like her mother had taught her to do, and wandered around the arboretum, learning which halls were monitored and how, what her quickest escape would be once she had the scroll.

***

Jackson watched her disappear into the crowd. The height was right, but her hair was a beautiful honey blonde. And with the damn masks, it was hard to tell. He sighed. No-one would be stupid enough to try stealing the damn thing anyway — it was just a crusty piece of paper that miraculously hadn’t fallen into a pile of dust yet.

People mingled in clusters around the arboretum. The little peacock slipped through one of the main doors and out into the night. He sighed and turned and nearly plowed Tiffany over. “Excuse me,” he said.

“Toby.” Tiffany looked him up and down, licking her lips and smiling.

He tried not to cringe. Whether he was successful, he wasn’t sure. A moment later, he had her in his arms and they were dancing. “I can’t—”

“It’s a beautiful night, and I’m sure I could find a quiet spot for me to get you out of this outfit. What are you supposed to be, anyway?”

He sighed. How the hell had she gotten out of sixth grade, let alone graduated college? “You gave your college professors a lot of lap dances, didn’t you?”

She slapped him and he couldn’t have been happier for it. He barely held back the laugh. Maybe she’d finally get the hint that he wasn’t interested in stupid little girls with no ambition beyond spending all of Daddy’s money.

They bumped into each other again at the scroll.

“Four thousand years old. She bought it for thirty-two-point-seven million two months ago.”

Impressed that she knew even that much, Jackson said, “You’ve done your research.”

“How else do you learn about things than to research them?”

Jackson chuckled. “I’m a… a bit more of a hands-on learner.”

***

There was a rigidity to the way he stood, an efficiency to the way he moved; there were no wasted movements with him. He was also showing more interest in her than every other man at the ball. It was time to find out why, to find out if he was a spy, if he was sent to stop her from stealing the Genesis Scroll, if he was wired. There was only one way to find out. And that was to get him naked.

“Mm. Hands…” She turned to face him and took his hands in hers, studying them. They were rough, a working-man’s hands.  “On.” She stepped in and placed one of his hands on her back, just above her ass, the other on her shoulder.

“Finna…”

“Jackson, was it?” She waited for him to confirm. “I think it’s time we danced.”

“Dance, huh?” He snugged her in nice and tight against his body. He was clearly a man who kept in shape.

“Finna, you need to get out of there.”

“Mhm. It’s another way to get to know a person.”

“Fin, this is bad. Get out. Get the Scroll some other time.”

She ignored Brian. She could take care of herself — she’d been in the industry for years, and she wouldn’t still be alive today if she couldn’t take care of herself.

“He’s Tiff’s top hitter.”

 

Somehow, they ended up naked on the couch in the office.

“So how’d you get an invite?” Jackson asked, adjusting her over him.

Finna traced a line over his chest as she listened to his heart-rate slow. “She’s my sister.”

“Oh.”

“How’d you get an invite?”

Jackson laughed. “I’m supposed to kill you if you show up.”

“I fucking told you to cut out.”

“Oh.” Oh shit, oh shit, oh fuck, oh shit, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck!

“Cut me in on the sale, and I never saw you.”

What? “What’s your price?”

“Freedom from Tiffany and five percent,” Jackson said.

“Only five?” That didn’t sound high enough.

“Freedom from Tiffany is more than enough. She’s a royal bitch.” That was true.

“Bad idea, Finna.”

Finna thought on it a moment. “It’s a deal.”

“God fucking damn it, Fin! No! GET OUT OF THERE!”

“But it may only be five percent of my cut.”

“You can explain it to Dad if you get dead.”

“My main goal is freedom from Tiffany,” he affirmed.

“What’s the plan?” Finna asked.

He laughed again. “It’s a fake.”

“Where’s the real scroll?”

“In the vault.”

“Brian, send Mom in.”

“What?”

“Send Mom in. I need a distraction.”

“You’re already distracted.”

They went back and forth for several minutes before she had Brian convinced, but eventually, she had him on her side.

An hour later, the four of them were sitting around the kitchen table, staring in awe at the Genesis Scroll.

 

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Tuesday Tease: Nerdgasm (Now Available!)

Woohoo!! Nerdgasm is finally available for purcahse on Amazon! (And as soon as I’ve reviewed the proof of the print and made sure it’s all good, that’ll be available, too!)

Nerdgasm FPhD student and part-time waitress Judy loves all things nerdy. Especially that Sherlock Doppelganger who keeps coming into the restaurant she works at. How do you keep it together when someone as sexy as him him calls you ‘darling?’ Still tormented by her abusive ex, Judy isn’t sure she’s built for romance. Is Max’s easy-going and forgiving nature enough to convince Judy to give love another chance

Video game coder and part-time recluse Max promised his family he was getting out and meeting people after his move from London. That pretty waitress is ‘people,’ right? Alone in Ashville after a bad breakup, Max isn’t sure the college town is the right place to be. Are Judy’s bad jokes and geeky passion enough to convince him his heart is in Illinois?

One steamy night together might not be enough.

Welcome to the Hearth and Forge, a farm-to-table restaurant on the edge of Ashville, Illinois. Brigid, Norse goddess of hearth and forge, runs the restaurant. Her husband, Bress, god of harvest and husbandry, runs the farm. They give aid to any who ask for it. Just be careful what you ask for—it may not be what you want. But it will be what you need. With two gods in residence, the Hearth and Forge is a beacon to gods, fairies, demons and other magical creatures as well as humans. It’s a place for good food, great company, and a bit of adventure.

Judy worked her way through the throngs of customers with a grin. Halloween. Costumes. Candy. No holiday compared. Not even Christmas.

She wished she were at home where she could have worn the full Batman costume for all the kids that would knock on the door; it wasn’t right without the cape. Plus, she wouldn’t have to watch Cora stick her butt out in her French maid get-up.

As if on cue, Cora leaned over a table to show off what little cleavage her push-up bra gave her, and stuck her butt out into the aisle right as a group of men in their early twenties neared.

Judy shook her head as she checked on her diners and surveyed the restaurant. Antony was having a grand old time flirting with all the women who came in wearing costumes; the retired Army Colonel enjoyed a good flirt as much as Gabe. Gabe was busy flirting with the table full of old ladies who came in to gossip under the guise of a book club meeting.

With a smile, she turned her attention back to her customers.

She got to the first table and was surprised to see Max. Why do I remember his name? She took a deep breath and put a smile on, hoping it was a friendly smile, and not flirty. Judy Lindholm doesn’t do flirty.

The smile spread to a grin when she saw the mismatched plaid he wore in every layer; yellow plaid dress coat with green-and-red plaid pants, a red-and-black plaid bowtie, and a black and white plaid shirt.

“I see you’ve gone plaid,” she told him with a laugh. “I’m glad you didn’t over-shoot us by a week.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, darling.” He winked up at her and smiled as he set his hat on the seat next to him. “You’re the first to get the joke. Nice job on the Batman costume.”

Judy’s heart hammered in her chest and her cheeks got hot. “Thank you.”

“But no cape?”

She shook her head. “It gets in the way. Looks like I’ll be your waitress again tonight.” She listed the specials, grateful to get it done with no slips of the tongue like the first time he’d come in. “Can I get you anything right away?”

“Seems like a good day for the mutton stew. What do you think?”

“Sounds perfect. What would you like to drink?”

“Just water for now, thank you.”

She stared down at the tablet and tapped in his order. “Sure thing. I’ll have that to you in a minute.”

Judy returned with his water a moment later and set it down. “Your stew should be up in a bit.”

She wanted his stew to take its time being ready, but unfortunately, it was always ready. She felt like she could talk to him for hours on end. That morning, she’d caught herself fantasizing about him. And it hadn’t been a daydream she’d ever share with her mother.

He nodded. As she turned to go back to another table, her knuckles rapped on the glass and knocked it over.

“Whoops.” Max slid to the far end of the bench before the water ran off the edge of the table and righted the glass.

“Oh, crap! I’m so sorry!” Judy tugged the rag free from her belt and got to work trying to stop the flow. Water seeped past her and dripped onto the seat anyway, and Max grabbed a napkin to help soak it up.

“Just a bit of water. No worry.”

Judy glanced around to see who was closest and caught Gabe’s attention. The Latino made his way over and glanced at the table.

“You know, the agua goes in your mouth, not all over the table, right?” he asked with a laugh as he pulled out his own rag. He helped wipe it up, then reached for the glass. “I’ll get a fresh glass for you.”

“Thanks, Gabe.” Judy turned her attention back to Max and chewed on her lip, her brows drawn together. “I’m really sorry.”

“Water dries.” Max smiled, though Judy figured he’d never be back after her fumble.

She sighed. “I’m still sorry.”

They stared at each other for a long moment until Judy felt her cheeks heating up again. Judy ducked her head and turned back to the other table, took their orders, then sought refuge in the break room for a few minutes to re-center herself.

“Stupid, stupid, stupid!”

“Okay, I’ll bite,” Cam, the bartender said, letting the door shut behind him. “Why do you think you’re stupid?”

“The cute guy at table ten—the one who looks like you-know-who? I—”

“Did he insult you? I’ll—”

“No, he didn’t insult me.” Judy made a face. “I knocked his water all over the table.”

“Well, I guess it’s official, then.”

“What is?”

“He’s a Hearth and Forge regular.” Cam shrugged. “Look at the bright side—it wasn’t his food.”

“Yeah, but then we kind of just stared at each other and it was awkward, and I liked it and I hated it, and—”

“Wait, did you say he’s cute?”

Judy stared at the blond. “No?”

“No, no… you did.” The smile spread slowly across Cam’s face. “You think he’s sexy, don’t you? You have a crush on him.”

“No, I don’t.” But she denied it too quickly.

“Yes, you do. You think the guy dressed all weird is cute.”

“He’s not dressed weird, he’s gone plaid.”

Cam stared at her.

“Honestly, haven’t you ever seen Spaceballs?” She shook her head as she continued. “And you have a job to do. Drinks to—I have a job. We have jobs to do. We should do them.”

Cam laughed and gestured to the door. “You go right ahead. I need a smoke break. Go get ‘im, Batgirl!”

Judy rushed past him and back out into the kitchen to check on orders. “Crap,” she muttered when Cam was out of earshot. “I do have a crush.”

Update: Nerdgasm

 

Nerdgasm F

OMG, I’M SO CLOSE!!!

I’m on the final read-through, and then it’s off to formatting for both digital and print copies! Woohoo! Right now, I’m looking at a January 15th release. I’m hoping for a preorder period as well, but I’m not holding my breath on it. (Formatting a novel for the first time, so… we’ll see how it goes?)

Anyway, just thought I’d keep you posted on what’s what! I hope you’re all as excited about this as I am!

Milli Gilbert's Official Blog

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