A remote villa at the sea is an interesting challenge for a skilled thief in the first place. But if the landlord belongs to a worldwide-operating crime syndicate, it’s not advisable to get caught. Sadly, Jo learns about this too late—such just happens to a loser.

So she finds herself in a cell with a lot of time to contemplate her own life and how she arrived in her current situation. Will that give her a clue on how to escape?

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Cover Art by Carmen Waters

“Hey!” I heard behind me as I was running up the secret stairs. Damn, damn, damn! The lock on the second floor appeared incredibly tricky to me, while I already heard the coughing breath of my pursuer behind me, believed I felt it on my neck. Yet it could only have been the blink of an eye, then I was out in the hallway. And now? Girl, think, you know the layout!

As I was already spotted, I no longer had to worry about that. Any window would be fine, but it should face the sea and not the courtyard. No. The seaside windows were all trellised. I needed an open one, and those all faced the courtyard. My pursuer didn’t give me time to think. Okay, the first bedroom, balcony door, out. Looking up—wetness in my face. Well, it had to do. I climbed the railing, briefly fought for balance, bent my knee—when my pursuer was about to grab me, I jumped.

With one hand, I got hold of the rain gutter. The sheet gave in, but wasn’t torn apart. Lucky me, I was an easy girl! Before my body could swing back into the guard’s reach, I was pulling myself up. Single-handed pull-ups under slippery gutters are not my favorite, I decided, while a cold gush of water from the gutter soaked my leotard. The second hand, and up!

Now I had almost reached the roof, only the shingles were wet and slippery, too. In dry weather, I’d simply walk up, but in this rain, my ballet shoes didn’t provide enough support. This wouldn’t be better barefoot, either, I told myself, and dropped on the roof. Now I’d have to crawl.

I had just finished the first two rows of shingles when an ugly whipping sound pierced the rain’s prattle. The shingle next to my right hand suddenly showed a dent. I looked back. Down in the yard stood two guards. One held a rifle to his shoulder and aimed in my direction. Crap!

Resigned, I let myself slowly slide back. The rifle was simply convincing.

They patiently watched me letting myself down from the gutter, briefly swinging, then dropping on the balcony. My pursuer waited for me with drawn pistol. His grinning became wider and wider while his glance wandered across my body. I looked down. Yes—soaked like this, the leotard didn’t hide anything. As I didn’t wear anything underneath, there wasn’t much left to his fantasy.

“Unshaved, eh?”

To answer that question was pointless. I instead watched the tasteful furnishing of the bedroom behind him, while storm and rain continued to tear at me. There were mirror-covered wardrobes on both sides, a gigantic bed with a mirror on the ceiling and a large make-up table. The cold marble floor didn’t entirely fit in—a carpet would have been nicer. Speaking of cold—this balcony wasn’t very comfortable.
Finally, the guy showed a little sympathy and made a few backward steps. “Come in.”

I followed obediently and examined him. He was one head taller than me, had broad shoulders, strong arms, and no beer belly—if not for the ugly grin in his beard, on another occasion this guy might have caught my interest.

“Go ahead.” The pistol barrel waved toward the door. I contemplated my odds of taking him down and then searching another exit. No—too many people with guns knowing about me and too few exits. I’d surely manage this one, but perhaps not the next or the next-but-one—and then they’d be warned about my martial arts skills, and another attempt would be disproportionately more difficult. To take his gun and shoot the others down was out of the question. I had never killed, and it should remain that way. I burgle, I steal, and, if necessary I’ll knock someone out, but vandalism and lasting injuries are not my style.

The rifleman and his companion were already waiting for us in the main hall. They were standing in a puddle on the marble floor. Their dark-clouded faces told of a bad mood. This mood slightly improved on my sight.

“What are you bringing there?” the rifleman asked. “A wet kitten, eh?”

All three laughed. I had intended to keep three steps distance, but Beard pushed me forward into Rifle’s arms, who caught me and briefly held me, whereby his hands accidentally rested on my tits. Once he had tested how I reacted to that—namely, not at all—he pushed me away.

“So, now tell us. How did you get in?”

I gave him a friendly smile. “I can’t give away all my tricks.”

“Yes, you can.” I didn’t see the third man’s blow coming, but no mortal could have dodged it anyway. With his brass knuckles, he hit my right kidney area, and then I only saw stars.

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