Title: Stolen Art
Author: Ruth Silver
Published: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Lazy Day Publishing
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Sixteen-year-old Madeline has been living on the streets, refusing to be part of the foster system. Biding her time until she’s eighteen, with little to no money, she takes on a heist in hopes of making ends meet. What could possibly go wrong?
Getting caught is just the beginning of Madeline’s adventure as she meets Weston and discovers the secret of where she came from. A dark and sinister past begins to emerge, and forces Madeline to come face to face with the unexpected.
Is it possible that she isn’t who she thought she was? What happens when she is has to accept the reality of what is actually real?
I shift my weight on the balls of my feet. Leaning against a lamppost, I blend into my surroundings. My silhouette cascades across the prestigious hotel. The only light that is visible outside is right in front of me. My focus is on the building across the street, not the hotel but the museum’s side door. The museum is heavily guarded, but it doesn’t scare me. I watch the guard rotation, study it. I wait for the precise moment. Besides, I’m not alone in planning the job. This one hadn’t even been my idea. I stare up above, watch the bulb sizzle and die. The corners of my lips curve upwards in a smile. A distant bell chimes from the clock tower. It is six o’clock.
I have exactly six minutes.
Blending into the night, black on black, my clothes make me invisible in the darkness. I try the side door to the museum. As planned, it has been left unlocked. With a hint of a nod, I slip inside and let the door close behind me.
Black gloves cover my fingers. They match my attire. A mask covers around my eyes. It reminds me of the comic Cat Woman. I stalk quietly up the back stairs to the third floor. What I want isn’t behind glass, yet. It is supposed to be put on display Wednesday. That’s why I’m here now, Monday night, doing the heist before the ribbon ceremony and the unveiling of the valuable Chagall. I have no time to waste, and now I’m down to four minutes. It will take me two minutes just to leave the museum. Cutting it close is an understatement.
My heart pounds in my chest. I ignore the ache in my stomach. I live off adrenaline.
Although only sixteen, I’ve spent much of my life on my own, making ends meet. Most of the time I’d been too young for an actual job. At twelve, a bakery owner had taken pity on me. He’d given me work until he caught me stealing baked goods. Earning three dollars an hour under the table hadn’t been worth it; it didn’t pay for my own food, let alone a place to sleep. This is the job. The one that will help me survive for the next six months. I’ll be rolling in dough if it all works out. And it is going to. Nothing will stand in my way.
Wooden crates line the back room. My feet shuffle along the cement floor. Pushing open the lid, I peer down to examine the Chagall. It isn’t what I expect. A silver heart shaped locket with a starburst in the center is etched with dragonflies along the edges. My gloved hand grazes over the small piece of jewelry. This isn’t what I’d come here for. I move the crate to the side, pushing open another lid.
I chew my bottom lip; my eyes dart back to the locket. No one will miss it. I slip it out of the box and around my neck. It takes a moment to clasp the matching silver chain. The chain and locket slide down my shirt, hidden. I now have one less minute. I’m running out of time, all for some stupid locket.
I set the crate lid on the floor and pull out the bright painting. The precious rarity that I came here to borrow. That’s what I call it: borrowing. It’s hard to feel sorry for people that have it all, especially priceless antiques and artifacts.
Gripping what I came here for, I leave the crate open and scurry down the back staircase.
I’m running out of time. My mental clock screams that I have less than a minute until the alarm will be triggered. My partner has done all the legwork. I don’t know who he is. It doesn’t matter.
They found me, knew of my skills, and requested my expertise. I hadn’t done it for the money.
Not for the ‘I’m going to get rich’ scenario. I’d have a hell of a time selling a Chagall, even on the black market. No, this job is about paying for food and giving me a roof over my head and heat this winter. Something I’ve craved for the past four years.
My feet slam against the stairs. I hear the squeak of the metal door opening, and heavy boots pound the concrete. I move faster. The echo of walky-talkies envelope the enclosed stairwell. Security is coming. I can see the exit door and hold my breath as I slam it open. What I don’t expect is a half dozen cops, guns drawn, facing me.
“Stop right there! BPD!” a burly officer on the right shouts. “Put your hands up!”
My eyes dart from the left to the far right. There is no escape. I look across the street. The lamppost light flickers back on. I’ve made it out in under six minutes. I’ve been set up.