Photo credit: Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

Prompt:  A picture is worth a thousand words.  Construct a story around
Walter Richard Sickert’s Monington Crescent
Genre:  Any
Word Count:  1234
Deadline:  Thursday, May 12, 2011, 4:30pm EST


By Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw

Under cover of darkness, I crawl up the pitched roof to the padlocked attic skylight.  With a practiced hand, I slip the hinge pins and raise the polycarbonate bubble, sliding my slender frame through the narrow opening.  Hanging onto the inside edge with one hand, I look down in the gloom and see that the attic floor is only a few inches from my feet.  I let go… landing on the balls of my feet and bending at the knees to soften the impact.

I kneel in the near pitch-black attic for several moments, my eyes adjusting.  My heart rate picks up a bit as the silent litany runs through my head… no motion sensors (cats)… the carpeted areas have pressure pads… contact switch in the study doorway, but not on the picture frame… disarm button for the safe is in lower left desk drawer, behind the jellybeans… remember Veronica… you’re a ghost.

The condo is empty.  Still; I do not want to make any unnecessary noise.  I quietly make my way to the door, which opens onto a winding stairway, leading down to the second floor.  Mindful of the pressure pads, I place my feet on either side of the treads and move slowly down the stairs.  Stopping at the bottom, I peer around the corner into the hallway… it is empty.  A lamp on a small corner table at the end of the hall provides ample illumination.  Hugging the south wall, careful to step only on the bare hardwood floor, I make my way to the study.

Kneeling, with pick in hand, I have the door unlocked in six seconds flat.  Bypassing the contact switch set in the lower edge of the doorframe, I enter the dimly-lit study, closing the door behind me.  Moving to the large teak/rosewood desk, I slide the bottom-left drawer open and disarm the safe’s alarm.  Popping a couple grape jellybeans in my mouth, I turn my attention to Sickert’s Femme de Lettres, hanging on the wall behind the desk.  Shining a hooded penlight behind the frame, I ascertain there are no surprises there.

Swinging the frame back on its hinges, I study the black AMSEC wall safe for a few moments.  Damn!  I silently curse Serena… you said it had a digital electronic lock!  Armed with my “little black box”, even the most sophisticated digital locks are embarrassingly easy to open.  Fortunately, I came prepared.  Sighing, I pull the Littman electronic stethoscope out of my waist pack and set to work on the dial combination.

Six minutes later, the safe door swings open.  Pushing aside a sheaf of papers, I reach in and pull out an 8×10 black tri-fold coin portfolio.  Setting it on the desk and folding back the cover, I am struck by the warm glow… forty coins… 20 and 40 franc gold Napoleons, minted over the period of Bonaparte’s reign… all uncirculated.  And, I might add… all stolen from a very dear friend of mine.  Madame de Villiers will be most pleased to have these returned.

I unzip the soft leather jacket and the front of the black bodysuit underneath.  Sliding the portfolio into an inside pocket, I zip it back up.  Closing the safe, I set things as they were before and exit the study, removing the bypass once the door is closed and locked again.

As I make my way back up the hall, I suddenly realize that a light is coming from the partially opened master bedroom door.  I freeze… there was no light on before… I would have noticed it!  My heartbeat doubles, but I force myself to remain calm… taking slow, measured breaths… let’s not panic, girl.  I stand and wait… nothing… waiting longer… still nothing.

Curiosity has me now.  I edge closer to the doorway… slowly…peering around the edge of the door… the room is only partially lit… a small lamp on a side table giving a soft glow to the room…large four poster bed… quilted white comforter… and… a woman sitting on the opposite edge of the bed, facing away from the door… completely naked.  I stop.  I stare.  She remains motionless.     

It is dead quiet in the room… I swear that I can hear the woman’s heartbeat.  She has medium length reddish-brown hair, fair skin… and a backside I could stare at for hours… the swell of her left breast, partially hidden in shadow… waistline dips in… rounded hips… the cleft of her bum drawing my eye… she belongs in a painting.  The woman speaks…

“You’re quite good, you know.  But for one thing, you would have gotten out completely undetected.”  I stand silent… waiting.

The small crescent-shaped scar and tiny mole below her left shoulder blade brings back the memory of the first time I saw the woman.  It was in a conditioning class at Refine Method, over on the Upper Eastside.  She had been in front of me on the workout floor, chatting up an older woman.  It had been over a year since I had picked a mark at Refine, so I had felt safe in returning there.  The woman was breathtakingly beautiful, and I knew then that our paths were destined to cross again.

“Don’t you want to know what your mistake was?”  Finding my voice… “Yes… please tell me… what was my mistake?” I ask, moving further into the room.

“Make love to me, and I’ll tell you.” the woman replies, turning to face me, and moving up on the bed.  The look on her face is serious, but… for just a second, and then it is gone … a bare sliver of a smile.

I look over at her for several moments, and then begin disrobing… shedding the jacket… unzipping the bodysuit… slipping it off of my shoulders and sliding it down my torso and over my hips… heeling the black Reeboks off… the bodysuit slithers down my legs and I step out of it… clothing a puddle of black fabric at my feet.

I walk around to her side of the bed and stop… naked, save for my “signature” purple Victoria’s Secret cotton bikini panties.  The woman motions that I should remove them as well.  I slide the panties over my hips, stepping out of them as I climb up on the bed. She lies back on the pillows and I straddle her midsection, the heat from my sex spreading across her firm belly.  My desire flames and I lower my mouth to hers, the soft warmth of her lips melding to mine.


Some time later… drained and sated… we lay in the afterglow… bodies shiny with a patina of sweat… the scent of our passions filling the room.

I sit up on one elbow and trace my finger lightly around her swollen nipple… a soft moan escapes her lips.  My hand moves down to the rise of her mons…

“So… are you going to tell me my mistake now… lover!”

Serena sits up in bed and laughs, her hazel eyes alive with mischief.  “You didn’t make one, Veronica… not a single one.  I cheated… I set a motion detector in the hall.”  “Why, you…” I start, ready to pounce…

My lover, and partner in crime for the last six months, raises her hands…

“Save that for later, baby girl… we need to blow this scene before the owners come back.  Their flight landed twenty minutes ago.”




About VeronicaThePajamaThief

Bio: Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw Born in Lisboa, Portugal to parents of Portuguese/Russian descent, Veronica Marie and her wife, Christina Anne, call the Pacific Northwest home, where the couple are “still very much on honeymoon!” When not teaching and finishing her own studies for a Masters in Sociology, Veronica writes fiction, primarily noir - "I love dark!". Her long fascination with noir fiction prompted Veronica to try her own hand at writing fiction several years ago. She has been published in Pulp Metal Magazine, The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology, the horror anthology 100 Horrors, from Cruentus Libri Press, Nightfalls: an End of the World anthology, Drunk On The Moon 2: A Roman Dalton anthology and Gloves Off: Near To the Knuckle's debut anthology. Veronica has also appeared in the inaugural issue of Literary Orphans magazine and her horror/urban fantasy short story SOUL TAKER was recently chosen for inclusion in Lily Childs' february femmes fatales, an urban fantasy/horror anthology. Veronica counts among her mentors - Carole A Parker, Lily Childs, Paul D Brazill, Richard Godwin, Joyce Juzwik and Vicki Abelson. She is currently working on the third draft of her first novel – a memoir – as well the second draft of her first fiction novel, a fantasy novel and the publication of a collection of her flash fiction and short stories. Lily's The Feardom and Vicki Abelson's Women Who Write Facebook writing group have both been a tremendous source of support and inspiration for Veronica. Veronica’s writings can be found athttp://veronicathepajamathief.blogspot.com/ andhttp://veronicathepajamathiefwritespoetry.blogspot.com/, andhttps://veronicathepajamathief.wordpress.com/
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  2. Beach Bum says:

    Well done, this was simply smoking hot! I’m a big fan of the show “Burn Notice” and I got that same vibe reading your story.

    I actually read it right before Blogger went down and was worried I’d never get the chance to comment.

    • @Beach Bum – Wow! I am a bit overwhelmed by your comment…. Thank you so much!!

      I do not watch much television… FoodNetwork and DVDs, but I have seen Burn Notice several times while visiting a friend (which I may begin adding to my DVD collection)… you pay me a generous compliment indeed, kind sir!

      Thank you very much. I am just on my way to read your story now.

  3. Joyce Juzwik says:

    This was such a ‘grabber’! I found myself inching closer and closer to the screen as the tension builds. It’s like you’re there as a shadow, watching and waiting. Then the story twists and turns and twists again, and the uncertainty of it all begins to see the light of day. Then the ending brings uncertainty again, but it’s the delightful kind at that point. Well done.

    • Thank you, Joyce… I am so glad you enjoyed the turns. When I started the story, the idea was that Veronica would encounter the owner (crumple and toss in wastebasket), then I thought… “okay, the owner… but let’s introduce an element of sex”… see if we can keep from being predictable (crumple and toss in wastebasket-word count was shooting up)… then, I thought… “no, not owner… my mentor, who sneaked in the condo ahead of me… but don’t reveal identity until the end.

      I know we are “liberal” with the word count, but for the time being anyway… I am trying to discipline myself and stay close to the count. It is pretty much a certainty though, that I will go over at some point… haha!

      I am thrilled that you enjoyed my little tale, Joyce… your comments always make my day.

  4. L Turner says:

    Very well written! ‘Popping a couple grape jellybeans in my mouth’ this line really started to humanize the character for me and I was truly hooked from there. I definitely, did not see the last scene coming and great use of the prompt. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you very much, L. (claps hands) I am so glad you like that line. You know… I was completely done with the story and had printed out what I thought was the final draft – I like to hold the paper and read it out loud… sort of a final proofing…actually hearing the words. Anyway, I came to that paragraph and read it… Veronica didn’t sound right… kind of still and mechanical.

      Mindful,that at this point, my word count was 1233 and I really wanted to stay under, so… I went back to the top and started reading again… came to the “litany running through my head…” Jellybeans! It just popped out… and, as you see..

      I am glad the last scene caught you off guard. Having my ghost (cat burglar) mentor and lover in the story was not in the original outline. I am glad I changed the story.

  5. barbara says:

    I was wondering how you were going to work in the Mornington Crescent painting! I think your approach was quite brilliant, and the sex scene was very well done, I thought. I loved the twist ending; it made me speculate on what other sorts of role-playing the couple participates in.

  6. Thank you very much, Barbara! I am very flattered…. and pleased that you enjoyed the story.

    Since my knowledge of painting is about on par with my knowledge of nuclear fusion, I decided the best way I could use the prompt was to “recreate” the scene in the painting, in my story. I already had a “ghost” story in mind for the challenge, so the prompt worked out nicely.

    I am glad you liked the ending. Veronica first met Serena when she inadvertently walked in on a job Serena was pulling. The attraction was mutual and immediate, so the older woman took Veronica in and mentored her in the “fine art” of cat burglary. I am currently working on a “prequel” to a story I wrote about the two women, and this story here will actually be a “chapter” in the prequel, about Veronica’s apprenticeship.

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