Short Story: Jewels or Information

In this story, I experimented with writing a story with a serious tone but that came off as humorous. I’d like to think I succeeded.

Hope you enjoy it 🙂

Jewels or Information

God, I need a win today, the girl thought, staring at the glass without really seeing her reflection.

As if on cue, the lock to her apartment door trembled. The lady let the lock pick work in peace, waiting until she finally heard the click of success and her door swinging open to turn away from the mirror.

The girl stared at the man in her apartment.

The man stared back.

The girl was naked.

There was no fear on the girl’s face, only casual defiance. A smile crept across her face and the hairs on the back of his neck rose. He glanced at her body, assured himself she wasn’t armed, and forced his gaze back onto her pale face, wondering at here confidence. His gaze slipped to a mirror behind her and no part of her body was left to his imagination.

Neither moved, and it grew less and less certain who was the predator and who was the startled prey.

“I could have sworn I locked that door,” the girl said. The last time she’d closed it, she’d wanted to keep her failures out. Now she was almost pleased to see it open.

The man slid the leather wallet he was holding into his pocket, though it was an empty gesture. If the girl had any brains at all she could figure out what materials a thief would require to break through a locked door of this caliber.

“Excuse me?” the girl asked, her tone like a whip. It was one thing to be an atrocious lock pick, it was another to try to pass it off as if he hadn’t floundered around her doorknob for five minutes before getting the tumblers out of the way.

The thief flinched. “Lady Casara, I assume?”

The girl rolled her eyes, grabbing a shift from a nearby chair and tugging it over her head. “You would be correct.”

The thief squirmed, uncertain as to how the girl in front of him putting on clothes could possibly make the situation more awkward than it was when she was naked. However, he felt inexplicably ashamed, as if he had failed a test.

Well, of course, he thought, I got caught.

The girl kept staring at him, her eyes an unnerving smoky blue. Her skin, so light that he wondered if her blood was red or white, made her eyes glow unnaturally bright.

Impossibly, the thief started blushing. He’d never been this mortified in his life. She should be yelling at him. She should be calling for guards. She should at least have the decency to look surprised when a man dressed in all black came through her front door and found her naked, pondering herself in the mirror.

“Didn’t anyone ever tell you that the Lady Casara never leaves her rooms?”

The thief seemed to have forgotten how to use his tongue. “I-I assumed—with the royal festivals—that everyone—that the rumors—”

“I live in an apartment in the city, a mile from the palace. I’ve lived here for four years. You think anyone expects me to show up for anything anymore?”

The thief looked around the apartment. It was luxurious but melancholy—the gold of the molding and the fine silk of her chairs were muted by the shadows of the room. Two large floor-to-ceiling windows were covered with thick, grey curtains, allowing light only through a thinner section near the ceiling. There were other rooms, of course, this was the penthouse, but it seemed a very small place to live and never leave.

“Was it the sapphires or the pearls?”

“What?”

Her eyes narrowed at the breach of ceremony he executed in forgetting her royal title. Separated from the palace or not, she still had the king’s blood in her veins. The thief wasn’t especially worried about it. If he were to be arrested, it would be for larger issues than the dropping of “My Lady” at the end of a question.

“Which did you come to relieve me of? My sapphires or my pearls? Because, between you and me, the sapphires are too well cut to pass off as anything but mine and the pearls are so large any pawn broker worth half the hair on his head would accuse you of trying to rip him off with pastes. You really should have considered these things before you broke into my apartment.”

No mention of the immensity of the oversight that was the robbee being in the apartment during the robbery.

“It was the pearls.”

She raised a blonde eyebrow, so pale that the gesture was more conveyed by the shadows from the crinkling skin than the visibility of her brow.

“Some people know the value of looking the other way,” he felt the need to add.

“And hoping the person they sell it to is stupid enough to fall for the same deception?”

The thief (though he wondered if he should stop considering that his profession with the way this job was going) nodded.

Lady Casara strode over to an ornate jewelry chest, long white-blonde hair shifting around her as she retrieved the infamous necklace. “You’d only be perpetuating the cycle.” She held the pearls out to the thief.

He took them into his gloved hand, the pearls starkly white against the black leather. He wondered if you could even tell when she was wearing them against her pale skin.

“They’re pastes?” he asked.

“Of course,” Lady Casara said. “But not if I pretend otherwise.”

The thief considered the pearls in his hand. Knowing the truth didn’t change their value; it was as she said, as long as the people who should believe believed, the pearls were as real as God.

Mentally, he counted how many steps it would take to get him out of the apartment and free of the building. Probably too many, but it seemed idiotic to consider this mission a failure as he held his quarry in his hand.

“I’ll be wanting those back.” Casara fixed him with a pointed look.

“How would you get them back if I didn’t hand them to you?” the thief asked, baring his threat.

She laughed delicately. “Clothing isn’t weaponry, dear thief. Just because I’m wearing my shift doesn’t mean I don’t have the power to stop you.”

“Is that why you were naked?”

“To prove my strength, just in case an impressively stupid thief stumbled upon me? No. I did not bare myself just for that possibility.”

The rebuke landed dead center and embedded itself in his pride. He winced. “May I ask why, then?”

“What are you now, a thief of jewels or information?”

Curiosity flared in the thief. He needed to make sense of this encounter, in the vain hope that in recollection, today wouldn’t be has horrible as it felt at the present. “I guess I’ll try my hand at information.”

“Since you’ve failed so spectacularly at the other discipline? Unfortunately, you don’t have the skill to pick either type of lock.” She turned away from him, picking up a book off a couch and placing it on a nearby table, acting for all the world as if she were alone in her apartment.

Pride. It wasn’t just that there was no fear—there was no doubt, no uncertainty, nothing but pride and confidence in her being. Was it the beauty of her body or the power of her title? Which one should he flatter to get the answer he wished?

She’d put on clothes, so he guessed that door was closed. He went for politeness. “Why were you naked, My Lady?” He dropped into an exaggerated bow, unable to keep the sarcasm out of the dramatic flick of his wrist.

Casara regarded the man before her, stripped of his pride and his dignity. She thought of the plans that had failed today, of the guilt and hate he was distracting her from. “Today didn’t go as planned. I’m sure you know the feeling. Don’t tell me you won’t torture yourself with your flaws when you get home tonight?”

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