Siege (The Warrior Chronicles, 5)(8)

By: K.F. Breene







3





Marc rose slowly, peering over the hedge. Ten feet in front of him, sitting next to an open window, sat a freshly baked, golden-crusted, beautiful pie. Steam wafted invitingly, daring him to come closer and have a taste.

He licked his lips.

A head popped up over the fence on the other side of the yard. Leilius scanned the empty space in front of him before dropping back down.

Marc rolled his eyes. They were supposed to be working together to steal this pie. Without speaking, they had to sneak into the yard, steal the pie out from under the fiercest, most observant cook in the whole city, and bring it back without getting caught. Somehow, being good at this was supposed to make it easier to read the Shumas, who rarely spoke in battle.

Eloise seeing them, and accosting them later, would count as getting caught. She couldn’t run with her bad knee and excess weight, but she didn’t have to. One word to Marc’s or Leilius’ parents, or even to one of the other women, and they’d be as good as dead. Or worse. Shitting liquid for a month was not on his wish list.

Marc shivered as he glanced at the open window in time to see Eloise’s large bust. His legs went limp, dropping him down to the dirt. She had been bending to put another pie in the window. If he had been in sight, she would’ve noticed him. The woman was too observant by half.

How the hell were they going to do this?

Marc rose up again, finding Leilius across the yard looking in his direction.

He lifted his eyebrows and widened his eyes. Well? What should we do now?

Leilius lifted his eyebrows, brought an open hand up, and shook everything.

That wasn’t even sign language. It was gobbledygook. Couldn’t Marc have been paired with Xavier or someone who always took charge? It would’ve made things so much easier.

Marc shook his head and mouthed, “What?”

Leilius stared at him. He scrunched his brow and put a hand to his ear.

“I can’t yell it, you freaking idiot,” Marc muttered. He glanced at the window. Empty apart from the two pies. They needed to hurry. Eloise only let her baked goods rest for a short time before she took them away in anticipation of serving them to the ladies’ luncheon.

Marc waved Leilius toward the open window before he dropped back down and started creeping closer. He’d follow the hedge until it met the wall, then he’d climb over, out of sight, and continue close to the ground until he was under the window. After that, it was lift, snatch, and run. Easy.

A queasy feeling swirled Marc’s stomach. He hoped timing was going to be on his side.

At the wall he peered over the hedge again. Seeing the way was clear, he scrambled over as quickly and quietly as possible. The branches bent and cracked. What was once a trimmed rectangle turned into a haphazard spray of green, the ends at all different angles.

Now he really couldn’t get caught.

A large thump came from the other side of the yard. Leilius scrambled toward the wall before bending down to check his leg. He must’ve caught it on the wooden fence.

He was their best spy?

Staying low, Marc half crawled before hunching under the window. Leilius met him there a moment later before nodding in acknowledgement and sliding down to his butt. Leilius put his palms toward the air and shrugged in a now what? type of way.

Marc pointed at him then pointed upward. You go.

Leilius waved his hands in front of him while vehemently shaking his head. He pointed to his eyes, and then ran his finger through the air, indicating he’d be lookout.

Of course he would, the coward.

Knowing they didn’t have time to debate it, and also that Leilius was as stubborn as a mule, Marc took a deep breath and turned so he was facing the house. Slowly, a fraction at a time, he rose. His legs started to burn almost immediately. Sweat dribbled down his forehead. He neared the ledge and paused, his knees shaking. Now or never.

As his eyes cleared the ledge, he saw a round face in the window staring at him.

“What are you doing, Marc?” Eloise asked in a deceptively calm voice. It was the voice someone who had a blade to his throat might use.

“Oh shit!”

Without thinking, only knowing he needed to complete the mission, he snatched the pie off the ledge and spun around. His legs pumped of their own volition, his feet slapping the ground in a harmony with Leilius’ panicked, harried breathing.

He reached the hedge and dove over, clearing it with room to spare. He landed on his side. The pie bounced out of his hands and tumbled onto the ground.

Leilius jumped over the hedge after him as Marc scrambled up and scraped the pie contents back into the ceramic dish.

“It’s ruined!” Leilius accused.

“No one said it had to be edible. We just had to get it.”

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