Coming out of the ground was like making my way up from a grave I'd never intended to stay in. It had always been like that for as long as I could remember, my heart succumbing to a thrilled flutter within the cage of my chest the moment the sun touched my skin.

Part of me floated up high, dancing the way [that] the electricity danced in the windows above the streets. I was a tiny ballerina, made of light. And that was the part of me they never saw, despite how they watched me––as if I were something beautiful.

And maybe it was for the best. After all, that way they'd turn their backs on me too soon, ensuring that their eyes would never linger long enough to notice my hands, slipping into their pockets.

By then, it'd be too late anyway. Their wallets already on my fingertips; tugging them discreetly up and into the disguise of my fist, I would slip away from the unsuspecting civilian, like a vague, tiny dream. Nothing they would ever remember––so I got away with it every time.

Yeah. Every time.

Until him.


Never mind that I shouldn't have even been there in the first place––pickings had been awfully scarce lately and I was getting as desperate as I was emaciated. It was gross, really. If you've ever seen anyone who's emaciated, you know what I'm talking about. Your upper body is reduced to an almost skeletal-looking state, the absence of fat and muscle tone often obvious in your facial features. Veins float to the surface of your skin––which is now thin and dry, feeling like paper in some places––and if you look at them long enough, they start to pulse and bulge, as if threatening to break free of your body altogether.

You'd think their faces would be the worst of them, thin and drawn, gaunt lines expressing an awful hopelessness. Their eyes bug out at you, sockets sunken and bruised.

But no. It's their breath that's the worst. You might think I stink, with my unwashed clothes and matted hair, but the breath of a starving man? Swear to God, if suffering had a smell ..

Hence my venture into this uncharted territory.

It was a small joint, the bar. Nothing too fancy and yet also nothing to sneeze at, especially if you were someone in my situation. Which is, if you haven't already caught on, pretty fucking poor––and I wish it were only in the financial sense. Putting that aside, though, along with my misgivings about the idea, this setting was any player's wet dream. Crowded and dark, illuminated only by the flicker of the overhead lights; bodies grinding and rubbing against one another. What a beautiful plethora of distractions .. whatever plethora meant.

Chewing on the ends of my jacket sleeves, I began to assess the environment, manuvering my way through the gyrating masses with a lack of ease that wasn't entirely feigned. Almost everyone here was taller than my five feet four inches. Once upon a time, I'd thought my meager height and lithe, almost curvacaeous build a nuisance, but these days, I recognized it for the godsend it was, enabling me to fit into places that people of average stature couldn't.

Eventually I came upon the bar and hoisted myself up onto a stool, nervous and excited at once. If my fanning had been correct and I was very, very careful, I could spend the next few weeks taking it easy. Maybe stay home and call it a vacation. In fact, the more I thought about it, the more the idea appealed and the faster my blood began to flow. Hmm ..

I was still sitting there, grinning like an idiot at my supposed good fortune, when I spun on my stool and saw him.


Next Chapter: Sixteen-year-old Elisha meets him––Col. Maddox Lynch. There's beer, clumsiness, military insignias and .. le gasp, kissing!?

Stay tuned for this abrupt goodness and more! Also, please don't forget to review, whether it's to fangirl incoherently or to offer constructive criticism. Both make my heart go thump-thump-thump. Plus, they keep me writing(; ٩(×̯×)۶