|Steal My Heart
Author: Bad Faery PM
In a fit of generosity, Plunkett allows a noble lady he's robbing to keep her mother's necklace only to find that she's stolen something that belongs to him.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Belle - Chapters: 11 - Words: 19,393 - Reviews: 47 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 23 - Updated: 03-14-13 - Published: 02-09-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8993097
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Macleane stared at him defiantly, daring him to say a single word as he dumped the bags full of metal trash onto the floor. He'd been a fool to trust Macleane, to think that he was somehow better than the rest of his breed. He was just like the rest- spoiled, selfish, and thoughtless. Belle was the only exception, and if his partner's actions had only hurt him, he might have borne it more gracefully.
Instead, Macleane had gambled away Belle's future as well as Plunkett's own, and for that he'd never forgive the man. Rising to his feet, he took a moment to relish the way his partner- former partner- shied back before slamming his fist into his face, needing to leave the rooms before he lost his mind and killed the fucking bastard.
He staggered off into the gathering dusk, Macleane's words still ringing in his ears. Every penny of his carefully-hoarded stash was gone, wasted by his partner on clothes and gambling. The money that would have guaranteed a good life in America for him and Belle was gone, and he had nothing to offer her.
He'd ruined her in every sense of the word. Last night, the thought that they might have started a baby had been a pleasant one. What did it matter if they'd anticipated their wedding vows by a month or so? By the time she started showing they'd be married and in America, starting a new life together. Now that dream had shattered, and society would tear her apart if Belle found herself carrying a street rat's bastard.
Even if she still permitted him to steal her away, they'd be right back where he'd started- homeless and penniless. She'd suffer like Mary had, and he would not allow it. Belle trusted him to defend and provide for her, and he would not let her down.
Raking his hands through his hair, he lashed out, kicking the stone wall as hard as he could, the pain in his foot doing nothing to distract him from the agony burning in his chest. Every one of his carefully-constructed plans was falling apart due to Macleane's fucking selfishness, and he wished he'd hit his partner a few more times when he'd had the chance.
"Fuck!" he hissed, sinking down the wall with his face in his hands. He had to think. He was an intelligent man, the brains of their operation. There had to be an answer. He needed money, a substantial amount in a single heist, and Macleane couldn't be involved. If he never saw his partner again, it would be too soon for him. Let him play the gentleman highwayman and moon after Rebecca. Plunkett had more urgent considerations.
He'd had the right idea at the beginning. Macleane's pox-ridden paramour was the richest woman in England. The mistake he'd made was in assuming she and her guests wore their wealth. Tonight she was celebrating being able to hold onto her new husband for a full two months. He'd arrange a distraction at the front, slip in the back, and make off with enough to get him and Belle settled. They'd leave in the morning.
It was a riskier proposition than he liked. Robbing a guarded vault was a far cry from holding up a few carriages or helping himself to a bookseller's wares, but he had no choice. If he and Belle were going to make their escape, this had to be done.
Thus married to his cause, Plunkett returned to the rooms, discovering that Macleane was already gone. He headed straight for his workshop, assembling what he'd need for the night's activities. The distraction would have to be big but ultimately harmless since Belle would be in attendance. A loud smoke bomb or three spiked with something sufficiently noisome with a delayed fuse would do handsomely. Even so, he'd warn her to stay to the center of the room.
He barely finished in time, and when he made it to the estate, the party was already in full swing. Taking a chance, he planted a bomb by each entrance before setting any of the fuses, wanting them to detonate as close to simultaneously as he could arrange.
Somehow, no one noticed his activities, and emboldened by his success he slipped through the servant's entrance and joined the party, counting off the seconds in his head. He still had three minutes and twenty seconds before he needed to be in position, plenty of time to grab a glass of champagne for Belle.
As he moved through the crowd, Plunkett could feel Macleane's eyes upon him, and he studiously ignored his former partner, intent on Belle. He finally got close enough to speak to her through her circle of admirers, and he offered the glass with a deferential bow. "Lady Isabelle."
She took it, her blue eyes searching his face, and he tried to communicate everything he felt with the brief glimpse they were allowed. I love you. I'll come for you. I won't let you down. As she took the glass from his hand, he stumbled forward clumsily, putting his mouth near her ear. "Stay away from the doors."
"Will?" her concerned whisper was lost in the cacophony of hoots and jibes that his clumsiness earned him, and he ducked his head apologetically, wishing there was a way he could explain himself.
Time was ticking away, and Plunkett didn't let himself look back as he slipped out of the ballroom. No one stopped a servant with a mission, and he held his head high, walking the halls like he owned them as he moved deeper into the house, taking his position in a shadowed alcove.
In thirty seconds the bombs would detonate, the guards would rush to see what was happening, and he'd be left alone to help himself to as much as he could carry. It would work. It had to work.
He closed his eyes and concentrated on the memory of Belle's face smiling at him in the moonlight, drowsy and sated. She was worth any risk. He touched her lock of hair for luck, reminding himself that it was their future at stake. This had to work. Counting down the remaining time, he allowed himself a small smile at the resounding boom of the smoke bombs, loud enough to rattle the chandeliers. Shrinking back further into his alcove, he slipped on his mask and waited for the guards' ringing steps to pass him as they headed for the ballroom, then he moved quickly down the corridor.
The dead end gave him little room to maneuver, but he didn't need much. There were locks on the door, but to his trained eye they were hardly more impressive than the one that had failed to prevent him from robbing the bookseller. Lock-pick at the ready, Plunkett went to work, nudging each tumbler into position with a quietly satisfying click until the door swung open on its well-oiled hinges.
With a fierce grin of satisfaction, he shoved it open, rising from his crouch to enter when a sound behind him suddenly caught his attention. Turning on his heel, he discovered that not every guard had gone to investigate the disturbance, and he saw the glint of a pistol in the dim light.
Forgoing his own gun, Plunkett rushed the man, clamping his hand over the guard's mouth as he bore him back to the floor. Any noise they made would bring reinforcements, and he didn't like the odds of fighting his way through a corridor filled with guards.
With his free hand, he groped for the man's wrist, trying first to ensure that his gun wasn't pointed at him and second to force him to drop it. Gritting his teeth, he managed to wrench the man's hand above his head, twisting his wrist in hopes of forcing him to loosen his grip. Before he could succeed, the bastard sunk his teeth into the flesh of his hand and brought his head up sharply into Plunkett's nose.
He hissed a curse as he felt something break, hot blood trickling over his upper lip and the guard took advantage of his distraction to heave him off, bringing the pistol around.
"Fuck!" He slammed his foot into the guard's knee, and the shot went wide, chipping the stone near his head. Jumping to his feet, he grabbed the gun and brought the butt down onto the guard's head, knocking him out cold, but the damage was done. Plunkett could already hear the sound of charging feet coming his way, and he cast a frantic look around, knowing he was caught.
He couldn't simply do nothing, so he ripped off his mask and sprinted back the way he'd come, shouting "Thief!" at the top of his lungs, hoping to create enough confusion that he had a prayer of getting away in the aftermath.
"Someone's robbing the vault!" he announced as soon as he saw the four approaching guards, jerking his thumb over his shoulder to indicate the way he'd come, and three of them ran right past him to ensure the safety of the treasures. The fourth grabbed him by his collar, shoving him into the stone wall.
"And what were you doing there?" he questioned, thrusting his hand into Plunkett's coat. He'd find no valuables, but the mask and sufficient weaponry to take over a small country would be enough to condemn him.
"Delivering a message," he snapped back, aiming for Macleane's haughty 'how dare you question me, peasant?' tone.
Apparently, he wasn't as good at it as Macleane. "Really?" the guard smirked, withdrawing his hand with Plunkett's mask clasped in it. "And what were you doing with this? Warding off frostbite?"
The other guards were returning, and he didn't have room or time to grab his gun. Instead, Plunkett crashed his forehead into the other man's temple, stunning him long enough to squirm out of his hold, and ran.
He felt the shot before he heard it, the bullet tearing through the meat of his calf, and he managed two more steps before his leg gave out, his head slamming into the stone floor as he fell.
"Fuck!" he swore, having just enough time to reflect that as last words went, his left something to be desired before everything went black.