I’m in the process of tearing this apart. Still, I’ve posted the original few hundreds words. Anything over 1000+ is considered self-published and could potentially ruin a future publishing contract. Thanks for understanding.
11:45 PM, August 11, 1996
The still silence of the night is my addiction. There’s no better drug on earth. It’s an incredible feeling to know I’m the only one awake. The only person stirring among peaceful, darkened homes. Alone in the dark I am free. Alive. Invincible. Nothing can touch me.
The crescendo of my cell phone sliced through the warm summer night. Checking the caller ID I muttered, “Damn. Not now.” I pressed TALK. “Hey, Nay. Whassup?”
“Where are you?”
Standing in the middle of Timber Point, a gated community with million dollar homes, my eyes slid to a contemporary house fronted with glass and stucco. “Home. Why?”
“Shawnee Daniels, don’t you lie to me. Christopher just drove by your house and your car’s gone.”
Damn. “You checking up on me?”
“That’s not the point. You’re out catting again. Aren’t you?”
“No I’m not catting again. Geesh. I ran to the store for kitty litter.” Not that it’s any of your business, I wanted to add. “Did you want something, Nadine? Or did you just call to harp on me?”
Her tone softened. “I’m calling because I care about you, Shawnee. You promised you were done with that life. It’s not like you need the money anymore, anyway. Turn around and go home. Please.”
“First of all, I do need the money. You know as well as I do Ed won’t give me a dime of my inheritance. And second– Ah, forget it. I’m hanging up now.”
“So you are catting again. I knew it.”
“I don’t want to hear it. You’re breaking the law. I have a good mind to turn you in myself.”
This was so not how I’d envisioned this call going. “Nay, I’m beat. I’m hanging up before one of us says something we can’t take back.”
“Goodnight.” I stuffed my cell in the front pocket of my skin-tight black stretchy jeans and thought, she really knows how to kill a mood. I shook my head, trying to erase the last few seconds of my life.
A dark-haired man rushed out of the contemporary and into an ebony van, parked in the carport, and started the engine. That was my cue to hide behind the nearest tree. I checked my watch as he drove off. Twelve-oh-five a.m.
Even though I’d cased this property for several nights the homeowner’s schedule was hard to nail down. He’d left at all hours of the night and didn’t return until the early morning. And sometimes not alone. Being Sunday night, the last hoopla before the work week, I figured he went clubbing. He was a bachelor, I pieced together. Probably needed to scratch an itch. Typical man.
I climbed the wrought iron gate, jumped off the top monogrammed crest and landed hard on the tarred drive. My knees barely had time to absorb the blow when I heard stomping of many feet heading in my direction. I bolted for the catwalk in time to see a pack of Dobermans charging straight at me. Long, white canines snapped at my feet as I pulled myself up the railing and then sprinted along the wooden slats.
Where the hell did they come from?
During my reconnaissance I never once saw Dobermans. Okay, maybe one. Not a pack. And not loose on the grounds at midnight. New additions, perhaps. Which made me wonder what the guy was hiding. What he had inside the house that was so valuable he went to these lengths to protect it.
If I wasn’t about to become dog food this notion probably would have excited me more.
Vibrations shook the catwalk.
Glancing over my shoulder I saw two attack dogs in the lead. Sleek muscles flexed with their fast-moving gait. Their short fudge-colored hair hackled and their lips flapped with the force of their stride. With one foot set in front of the other I moved cat-like, my arms extended out, poised on the three-inch railing like a balance beam. The dogs bared their teeth, lips curled, snarling. Sharp claws scratched and clawed at the baluster rods, their massive paws trying to knock me off.
My chest heaved in and out as my gaze shifted behind to the little darlings craving cat for their midnight snack, hoping my incredible grace and speed served me well. In other words, that I could outrun a pack of hungry Dobies. Perhaps a bit optimistic on my part. Nonetheless, I turned back to my mark, inhaled a deep breath and narrowed my concentration on a wide ash tree with long, thick branches hooding the main entrance.
The dogs barked, jumped, banged against the railing, white foam dripping off razor-sharp teeth.
Being an animal lover, I didn’t want to mace them. My mentor, Bo Adams– an aging cat burglar with severe arthritis in his knees who took care of me when I lived on the streets– would’ve had my burgling credentials revoked if he could see me now. A cat burglar not wanting to harm dogs that are glaring at her like she’s a damn pork chop. Unbelievable, he’d say. Bo taught me how to survive, taught me the tricks of the trade. And he never asked for anything in return, unlike my foster fathers.
I blocked out all distractions, kept my eyes fixed on the tree all the way to the end. The limbs closest to the catwalk seemed plenty strong to hold my one-hundred-and-twenty-five-pound weight, so I lunged for the massive branch. Caught it with my fingertips, swung my legs over and pulled up to a sitting position. Then my job got a lot easier. I scrambled down to the end of the branch and hopped on the roof, above the main entrance. Thrust out my chest and flung my arms up in a V.
“Ah-ha-ha. . . Victory.”