Andrea Blanche shoved open the coarse wooden door and stepped out into the baking sun, which flowed over her frame like a thousand lanterns flooding a cornered monster in one of those horror stories she'd been told of. She shifted her dark eyes warily from the ladies in flowery, cloud- like dresses holding parasols and lifting their skirts, to the drunk, perverted and smelly men with three-day-scruffed faces surrounding a bar. In two seconds flat she'd confirmed that the coast was clear and there were no officers in sight. Andrea fled from the store she'd just exited, pacing herself yet feeling as if here heart was about to explode within her.

Just don't look guilty, she thought. Easy, right? Il n'est pas as easy as it sounds.

She made her way down the dirt road, pushing past obnoxious children and swerving around horses coming from the other direction; she definitely did not want to get caught; especially not here.

"Hands up, Blange."

Andrea froze in place, coming to a halt so quickly that dust rose up around her as her boots dug into the dry earth. She felt a cold tingling where she knew, from years of experience, that a gun would be jammed into her back at any moment. She curled her hands, wrapped in dirty rags that served as protection for her palms whenever she went raiding in a place that could involve jumping splinter-filled fences, and raised them high in the air.

"C'est Blanche," she muttered as a familiarly-clad policeman secured a hold on her from behind. He was so close that she could smell the tobacco on his breath, and she suddenly wished she'd stolen some along with everything else she'd managed to take.

The officer clapped cuffs around her small wrists and yanked on them a couple of times to show her that they were securely fastened, as a warning not to try to go running off when he let go of them to face her.

Andrea's captor wore a charcoal uniform with pressed pants and shining black boots. His hat was slightly too big for his head, sitting askew atop a neatly cropped mold of short, russet hair. His coat hung unwrinkled below his waist and he wore a buttoned vest of satin. His outfit was so perfectly arranged that no white of his undershirt peeked out from the midnight colors he donned. The man, at more than six feet tall, stood nearly a foot above the tiny lady, yet her eyes showed no fear as she glared up at him with fierce loathing.

"So il est tu, Yukon old pal," Andrea said, sneering at the triumphant officer, who adjusted his badge on the front of his suit.

"Yep," he responded simply in his deep and irritatingly patient voice, "it is. You know what we're gonna do now, right?"

"Rape moi?" Andrea guessed, innocently.

"Not quite," Yukon responded. "Guards, search her."

"I could have figured as much," Blanche muttered, rocking back and forth on her heels as officers surrounded her and began to turn out her pockets. The difficult task of retrieving all stolen items out of the lady's dirt-caked tan trench coat was not a quick one. By the time the guards had searched the majority of Andrea's garments; which consisted of a pair of male trousers several sizes too big, a pair of stolen suede boots (soon taken from her), and an off-white blouse; there was a large pile of stolen trinkets on the ground beside her.

"You little vixen," Yukon commented, surveying the mess on the road. "How many times have I had to take you in for this?"

"Et how many times have I escaped?" Andrea responded calmly, lifting her thick eyebrows.

"Not this time, my love," the man snorted cockily, dusting his hands off and pushing up his hat, which had been slipping over his eyes.

"What est that supposed to mean?" Andrea asked lazily, unfazed. She was answered with a click of Yukon's fingers, which signaled several guards to take hold of her and roughly guide her toward the awaiting carriage. "Je ne suis pas through with you, Cap'n," she spat at Yukon, who hopped onto the front of the buggy next to the driver. Andrea was shoved into the cart, accompanied by three scoffing officers; looking as if they couldn't wait to mock her once they came up with something good enough to throw her way.

At least there's shade, Andrea thought, adjusting her position in the polished seat and crossing her feet, covered in hole-swathed stockings. She glared at the policeman in front of her and gave a sigh of defeat.

The great Andrea Blanche; robber, deceiver, swindler and full-time jail-breaker, never passing up the chance to frustrate the powerful Lucas Yukon of the Oregon Country. For years, Andrea built up her reputation through several encounters with men of authority spanning hundreds of miles, but Yukon was indeed, the most persistent to put her behind bars. Their relationship was based on memories of summers filled with prisons and guns.

Although Andrea was originally from the small town of Toulouse, France, which shown brightly through her dark features, language and hair, she sailed across the ocean at age fourteen to come to a better world, and found herself eight years later in the seat of a carriage surrounded by officers, homeless and stealing every bit of food and clothing she owned. She had learned to live simply and wildly, coming to love the way she survived out each day knowing she had a purpose in the world; to be on wanted posters all over the western territories.

She had the blood of pirates in her but she didn't swing the way of the sea, and she was always cut out to be a cowboy, but didn't meet the male standards. She stood somewhere between those two healthy occupations though never fit in amongst either, becoming a loner for the majority of her life. Andrea knew only one thing for sure that she hardly ever changed her mind about; every damn day was another adventure.

The carriage finally rolled to a stop outside a little police station and Andrea glared at the officers who filed out of the small compartment door one by one. She wriggled her hands down her back and pulled her feet up so that she could bring her cuffed hands under and around them. Successfully, she brought her hands in front of her and was about to hop out of the other side of the carriage and make a break for it, but Yukon swung around the side of the buggy with his classic boyish grin across his thin lips and twinkle of triumph in his piercing blue eyes.

"Not today, Missy," Lucas Yukon grunted. Andrea let out a growl of frustration as Yukon mockingly offered a hand to help her down, but she instead leapt past him to the dirt below. She did not overbalance or stoop but didn't try to run, either. A flash of Lucas's gun warned otherwise.

As Yukon held securely onto Andrea's arm and began to lead her to her new home, the lady muttered under her breath; "You wouldn't dare shoot me."

"I hope I don't have to prove to you otherwise," Yukon returned, raising an eyebrow and pushing the thief ahead of him. The trail to the station was short, but Andrea kept finding goat heads in the dust that stuck to the soles of her feet and bit every time she took a step. She didn't want to lengthen the short journey by stopping to pull weeds off of her socks every thirty seconds, so toughed it out until they reached the wooden porch of the old station.

"Sit down," Yukon instructed after they entered the little building which consisted of three rusted cells, a sinking bench, a desk and a couple of wooden chairs. Andrea took a seat on the edge of the bench that stood against the west wall; adjacent to one of the cells she knew would be hers. She began to inspect her feet and pick out the prickly brown pods.

As Lucas began to write something out at the desk, there was a cough from the cell furthest from where Andrea sat, though she couldn't see who it was. She waited patiently for Yukon to finish his report - probably the hundredth one he'd written on her - and get down to jailing her so she could take a nap.

"C'est Blanche, by le way," Andrea suddenly piped up as Yukon scribbled away.

"Hm?" Yukon inquired, not looking up from the page.

"I told tu before, mais you probably forgot. B-L-A-N-C-H-E. I've seen your other reports. They all read something different. Get my nom right this time," Andrea said. Yukon finished the paperwork and was about to put it away when the lady spoke again. "I didn't break my record."

"Blanche, you stole twenty-four different items today," Yukon sighed, stuffing the page into a drawer.

"That's nothing," she said. "But tu es wrong, at any rate."

"I counted it, myself," Lucas said as he dug into his pocket for a ring of keys, flipping through them to the one that would open the cell closest to the man who had coughed. He shoved the key into the lock and twisted it, which produced a metallic, heavy clinking sound. The door was pulled open and Andrea stood up, offering her hands to the officer.

"So did I," Blanche said as Yukon unlocked her handcuffs.

"I'd be surprised if you could even count to ten in English, Blanche. But there's not much you can suppose an uneducated person such as yourself could know," the man retorted, pushing his hat up. Andrea stepped into the cell which Yukon closed behind her, and she sat down on a lone cot, shoving her thick hair out of her eyes.

"I wouldn't be judging if I were tu," Andrea grumbled. With that said she pulled a rice cake out of her shirt and began to eat it with grating boisterousness.