Flames. I used to like fire but recently the darn thing has destroyed my life. Ever since the king decided to burn down our whole town looking for me.
"Picking pockets is more fun than this- what the heck am I wearing?" I grumble loud enough for my older sister Carissa to hear.
"Saren Olivia Rose I swear pull the edges of that skirt down before you show your undergarments to the world." I imitate her words behind her back but pull the disgusting brown skirt down. Frustration fills my throat and I roll my eyes.
"How many times do I have to tell you, it's Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy. Not Saren Olivia Rose." I correct her but she dismisses me with a wave of her hand.
"That's your street name, you'll start going by your full name."
"Oh will I?"
"Yes you will. I don't care if you’re known throughout the towns as the fastest escapee in history we have to go undercover to hide from the King. I don't know what you did to piss him off this time but whatever it was you got our house burnt down." Her tone holds sadness but I'm not dumb enough to miss the underlining hint she gave me. Don't screw up. That's the warning. There are no second chances in the jail we call the castle.
"Escape artists don't share our secrets and we certainly don't get caught. If we do we accept the consequences and understand that it's every man for himself." I call out in anger as I leave the room.
Walking into town makes me feel better and I find myself slipping into old habits. I run straight into a man in fancy clothes.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, really I am," I gush my apologies while straightening his shirt collar. My fingers slip into his shirt pocket out of habit and the pouch of coins lands in my pocket before he can blink.
"Yeah, s'no problem." He looks down and his warm brown eyes gaze straight through my soul. He runs his fingers through his longer length hair before turning away. My jaw drops and he brushes past me through the crowd. His innocence and forgiveness is unbelievable.
"Sir! Sir come back!" I push through the crowd, shocked at my own audacity.
When I reach the man he turns and those brown eyes hit me once again. The beginnings of a beard and mustache linger on his face and I smile a little before pulling myself together.
"You um, you dropped this." I pull the coins from my pocket and hand them to him without breaking eye contact. He smiles and I find myself smiling back at him. He physically relaxes.
"Thank you so much, you're a lifesaver. And to whom do I owe thanks?" Words evade my mind and I fumble about for the right thing to say.
"Ivy, er- Saren," I stumble over words like a four year old. He raises an eyebrow at me.
"Well, which one is it?" His smile is politely curious but not threatening.
"Ivy." My voice is decisive this time and new confidence fills me. He smiles wider.
"Dai." He holds his hand out and I shake it. Nodding a farewell he turns and begins to walk away. Before he gets too far I find words within me.
"Hey Dai," I call. He spins around and raises an eyebrow.
"Next time, keep your money in your shoes." He nods in confusion and I watch him go. Then I turn and sprint through the streets until I reach my new house. I run in and close the door and slide down the wall.
"What's up with you?" Carissa asks and I groan.
"I stole from a man today."
"Okay, well you do that every day." I throw her an amused glance.
"But then I gave his money back." She gasps.
"You're learning! You might actually have a chance at being normal now." I glare at her.
"No, he was...dare I say it, cute." Now she looks at me as if I just grew four extra eyes.
"Oh. My. Goodness. Did those words just come out of your mouth? Am I dreaming? Ivy is that really you?" I let out an exasperated sigh and stand.
"I'm leaving to clear my head," I announce as I open the door and step outside. Closing the door behind me I take a deep breath.
"Hello Ivy." My heart stops and I swallow nervously.
"Sapphire." At his name he frowns a little. I try to hold his gaze but his piercing blue eyes force me to squirm.
"Walk with me." Grudgingly I obey. Walking alongside his six foot figure is intimidating so I try to hold myself taller. We walk past the castle gates and out of the corner of my eye I see a guard walk towards us.
"Guard," I shoot the words at Sapphire and he leans closer. Brushing a loose strand of my dirty blond hair behind my ear he smiles. He presses his lips against my ear.
"We're a happy couple," he mumbles in my ear and I put on a fake smile. Just for kicks I wrap my arms around his neck into a hug. My fingers slip into his shirt and I take his pouch of money.
The guard gets close but then changes his mind and turns away. I pull away and a frown replaces my smile.
"What do you want Saf?" I interrogate and he throws a cocky smile in my direction.
"Why does something have to be wrong? What if I just want to see how you are?" I glare at him.
"You never want to just talk with me." He nods and we walk silently for a few seconds. Just as he opens his mouth to talk I realize what exactly he wants.
"Don't even. I won't do it Saf we've been over it a million times. I will not break into the castle and steal the crown nor will I assassinate the King." Saf sighs in frustration and I look away.
"Why not?" His question is genuine but we've been over this many times before.
"You know why I can't do this. I have people to look after and a whole network of spies to keep quiet about." He raises an eyebrow at me and his fingers brush against my cheek. Understanding flows through me.
"Guard." My horror is evident in my chest and in my posture but Saf remains relaxed. Smiling he pulls me closer and with a tenderness in his eyes he presses his lips to mine. He must be desperate, the guards are getting smarter. They no longer believe the happy couple act so Saf is taking it a step further to try and convince them.
I kiss him back but a second later I feel arms pulling me away. Anger flashes in Saf's eyes and he smacks the hands away pulling me against him.
"Someone tipped them off. I'll hold them off the best I can. Run like an amateur, remember you are a petty thief who has nothing to do with crimes at the castle." I nod as he gives me a cover story. I get jerked out of his arms and I spin around slamming my fist into the guard's jaw. He cries out in pain and I turn around to help Saf. I back against him and he grabs my wrist.
"It's me!" I cry out as his hits the pressure point on my wrist. He lets go but anger flashes in his eyes at me since I ignored his invitation to escape.
Turning so my back is against him I throw a punch at the guard that comes near.
"Duck!" Saf shouts at me and I obey without thought. His guard's punch flies over my head and knocks my guard out.
I reach up and Saf reaches back for me. As he pulls me across his back I kick towards the oncoming guards. When my feet hit the ground I turn to find Saf bound and gagged.
"Saf!" I scream as one of the guards rips my hand behind my back. Out of the corner of my eye I see a man rush forward with a horrified look on his face. His brown eyes are filled with confusion as he steps between the guards that hold me and Saf apart.
"Dai? What are you doing here?" I hiss at him but he only stares at the guards that are currently binding my hands together. I stretch my hands out and tense my muscles so they'll tie it looser.
"Do you know this man?" A guard yells at me while jostling me so hard that I practically fall over. I give Dai a pointed look before answering.
"No." I'm doing this to save you! I mentally scream at Dai to save Saf. I can see a plan forming in his mind to save me but that'll only make things worse.
I look at him and then Saf. Saf glares at me and I'd be stupid to miss the warning in his sapphire blue eyes. Dai finally seems to get what I'm asking of him.
"Uh Sir, this is my brother. I'm positive that whatever you're about to charge him with is invalid. I'll just take him and let our father deal with him." Dai turns to the guard, who looks at Saf. He plays the part nicely and hangs his head with fake shame. The guard looks confused.
"You must be mistaken boy; this man is none other than Sapphire Pine. Him and
Miss Olivia Rose are to be take in as criminals." I glare at the guard.
"It's Poison Ivy. Poison Ivy! How many times do I have to tell you people?" I burst and he motions with his hand to stay silent.
"No Sir, you are the mistaken one. This man is none other than my brother Sunil
Oren." Saf cringes at the name but doesn't say anything. I roll my eyes at Dai but keep my mouth shut also. Sunil Oren basically means Sapphire Pine.
The head guard looks between Dai and Saf before finally turning to me. I shrug my shoulders and he frowns.
"You can go free, but next time, stay away from her." Saf shrugs the ropes from his arms and shoves the guards away from him. He walks toward me even though Head guard throws him a serious glare.
"I'll take care of the farm for you and make sure to send some money." He turns and walks with Dai into the crowd. I watch them go in confusion, I don't have a farm. Then it hits me. He was speaking in code. He said he'll take care of my sister and he'll send help as soon as possible.
I get drug through town and into the castle gates. Fighting every step of the way I make the trip last about half the day. Finally we make it to the First Advisor's office. Of average height, the First Advisor peers at me with his unfriendly brown eyes. He points to the chair and I obey with a hateful glare on my face.
"I see you enjoyed your trip." He nods like I already answered.
"It was delightful; I just love being ambushed in the middle of the street and then drug through town all day until I finally get dropped off here." I smile a pleasant grin at him and he frowns.
"Sarcasm doesn't fit you Poison Ivy."
"Neither does that suit but you're still wearing it." I let my smug smile get to him and he squirms a little. He clears his throat.
"Well, onto better news, I'm sure you know why you're here." He looks at the desk that separates the two of us.
"Okay, I'll bite, why am I here?"
"I have a job for you."
"Hmmm yep I think I'll pass." He chuckles.
"You haven't even heard my job offer yet."
"If it gives off the same vibes as your creepy demeanor then I think I can safely say that I'll be fine without it." He glares at me.
"You'd better take me seriously or else."
"Ooh I'm so terrified. Or else what? You'll turn me in? Lock me up? Kill me? I've got a few tricks up my sleeve thank you very much."
"That's why I want you to work for me undercover." That stops me. He can't be serious right? Choosing between him and Saf I think I'll take my chances with Saf's band of misfits.
"If you don't take the job then you can kiss your sister goodbye."
"Yeah? Well I like to play dirty."
"No, you've never played dirty until you've been in a street fight and losing. And I highly doubt that you've ever gotten those girly hands of yours dirty."
"You know there won't be any conflict if you just give in." I scowl.
"Where's the fun in that?" He looks at me as if he has all day and it's my turn to squirm. I have no doubt that he'll shed no tears having my sister executed. I sigh; defeated.
"Okay, what's the job?"
"Perfect!" He shoots from his chair with excitement and I frown; what did I get myself into?
"Um, First Advisor-"
"Call me Riley." His smile is genuine and I don't know what scares me more; the unfriendly First Advisor or the I'm-suddenly-your-best-friend Riley.
"Yeah, okay um, Riley, what exactly is it that you want me to do?" I prod him but he's too caught up in my agreement to help me. He begins to pace and mumble to himself. Sighing and rolling my eyes I lean forward and swipe a bag of coins off the desk.
"My job is for you to go undercover to get more information about the King." I fake a relaxed position and put my feet up onto his desk.
"You're First Advisor, can't you just, oh I don't know walk one door down and say, hey buddy haven't seen you since last night’s feast how you doin'? Oh and by the way, can I ask you a question?" He stops pacing and glares at me. Leaning over the desk he pushes my feet off his desk.
"No I cannot go next door and just ask him personal questions," he scolds and I pretend to look thoughtful for a second.
"That's right, the next door down is the training room sorry my mistake, you'll have to walk just a couple steps farther, I'm sure that won't hurt you." His glare deepens.
"Maybe that suit'll even fit by the end of this whole thing." His face turns bright red and I can't help but snicker. I grab an apple from the bowl on his desk and stand.
"You'll be one size smaller, I'll have one less crime on my hands, it's a win-win for everybody." As I talk I slowly back out of the room. Once I reach the door I stop.
"Now, it's been really nice talking with you and all but I've got to go." I open the door.
"Wait. If you take the job I'll keep you and your friend out of jail." A worried smile grows on his lips as I ponder the choice. Inwardly I glare at him.
I take a bite of the apple.
"I believe we have a deal," I call as I leave the room.
"Tomorrow morning!" He yells from inside his room. I turn and walk backwards.
"Consider it a date."