Legal Theft Flash Fiction: Still Breathing (798 words)

“I think he’s waiting for you.” Looking out the window, Aymee leaned her head to one side to see around the lead lattice and catch Damion’s slow pace beside the green square. Rising behind him, the interlocking stairs and porches and porticos were sprinkled with lazy walkers. But they came and went, or relaxed in the benches around the square. He had stayed on his feet, and stayed in the square for the last half hour.

Leonne didn’t lift her head from the short stack of reports in front of her. “He can do what he likes,” she said. “We have other things that need our attention.”

Aymee looked back, to see her, eyebrows raised, nodding pointedly toward the chair opposite her. Sighing, and smiling, she set her back against the window ledge and crossed her arms. “You work too much,” she said.

“You work too much,” Leonne said, reflecting the smile right back to her. “I think this is all fun. I play too much.”

Aymee laughed at her.

“Sit down,” Leonne told her. “Momma’s gonna have your hide if you don’t have advice to give her this afternoon.”

“It doesn’t much matter. I’m never actually going to do her job. And she never listens, does she?” Aymee asked.

“Right,” Leonne said, already turned back to her papers. “That’s why I said ‘advice.'”

“Does Papa ever listen to you?” Aymee asked.

Leonne didn’t lift her head, but her eyes went still immediately. She blinked once, then set her jaw and looked up with the kind of guarded honesty that Aymee was more used to seeing across a council table. “He’s a Clan Lord,” she said. “I’m only the future Clan Lady. He told me once that he was going to keep breathing until I was finally smarter than him. He’s still breathing. It obviously hasn’t happened yet.”

“So,” Aymee said slowly, and slid into the chair across from her. She set her arms on the table top and leaned toward her sister. “You could do something else important for a future Clan Lady…”

Leonne’s eyes narrowed, even as a smile crept back onto her face. “If you say anything about the cute boy out the window…”

“You’re calling him cute now?” Aymee asked innocently.

Leonne dropped her head back, almost groaned. “Yes,” she admitted. “He’s adorable.”

“I’m sorry,” Aymee said. “Why aren’t you jumping out the window right now? Am I… am I in the way?” She started to scoot her chair back.

Leonne glared at her, and pointed down to the pages spread on the table. “I like this,” she said again. “He can keep waiting.”

“No, no,” Aymee said. She put her hand on top of the pages, watched Leonne and angled her fingers to make sure she was covering the line that Leonne was reading. “This is important.”

“Sure…” Leonne said.

“Go ahead,” Aymee said. “Ask Papa what life would have been like without Momma there to help him. Without her doing her job, so he could do his. It will be a pain like a needle to the bone, if you have to watch over Clan without someone here to keep the island in order for you.”

“Yes, it’s important,” Leonne said. “But Papa’s still breathing, remember?”

“I hear that falling in love at a funeral is frowned upon,” Aymee said.

Leonne shook her head, and looked back at her papers. “I wasn’t planning on falling in love with him,” she murmured.

“All right,” Aymee said. “It’s very frowned upon to have a funeral and a wedding on the same day.”

Leonne ignored her. Flipping over the top report, she shuffled it to the bottom of the stack and kept reading. She rested her forehead on her fingers, as if her hand block Aymee from sight.

“Worse form to have a joint wedding and funeral, really,” Aymee continued. “The body laid out on one side, while the couple dances on the other, and half the guests are laughing and half of them are crying, and they’re all cursing the wedding with all their black clothes, and the Warrant cursing the funeral with their games.”

“I’d better not do that then,” Leonne murmured.

“No,” Aymee said. “You’d better jump out that window.”

“I have time,” Leonne said.

“Papa won’t live forever, whatever he says he’ll do,” Aymee said. Leonne flicked her one quick glare, catching the insult so fast Aymee had to bite down on a grin.

“It doesn’t matter when he passes Clan to me,” Leonne said. “I have time.” She bent her head forward again, shoulders hunched toward the pages. “I have you.” She ran her fingers into her hair, holding it out of her way while she read.

And Aymee watched the top of her head, lips gently shut, blinking slowly.

My friend, Kate is a thief! She stole the first line of this piece for a work of fiction on her blog. Be sure to stop by and see who was waiting around in her world.

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