• It had started off like any old vacation. My family (my mother, father, brother and I) had arranged for a summer vacation in a place we hadn’t known much about. The old vacation spots were becoming bland and boring and we wanted to do something new. We randomly picked a spot, so random in fact that I couldn’t remember the name of it. I think it was in Mexico; I say this because the sun was always shinning and the streets and city was filled with such culture I wanted to spin around and smile, I loved learning about new cultures and seeing it first hand made my chest swell with anticipation.

    And naturally my father wouldn’t leave without his tag-along best friend Randy Hullinger. Because of this my mother brought along Natalie Jones and I brought along my boyfriend of two years Chris Johnson. We all pitched in and bought a little summer home — temporarily of course — and moved in for the summer. We’d been there only a few weeks when it happened.

    I’m usually a really deep sleeper, but when I fell asleep that night in the floor where I’d chosen to sleep next to Chris I felt water drip onto a fabric surface, kind of like rain on an umbrella. I lifted my head, my eyes clear, as I looked straight up into the face of Derek Miller. I sat up on my elbows, afraid to wake Chris beside me or my parents in the room next to ours.

    “Derek?” I hissed in the dark, pushing myself up on my knees and looking up at him. “What the heck are you doing here?” We hadn’t told anyone we were coming here and seeing him here was making me worry. If someone saw me sleeping with Chris in the floor of some Mexican apartment then I would defiantly be labeled a whore.

    “I’m sorry!” he hissed back, backing up as I became aware of the sounds, “I didn’t know it was your house!” He turned to run when he ran into another body. The first body fell over and landed on his back cussing as he sat back up. He was a tanned skinned boy, maybe a Mexican or maybe just someone with a good tan, with a bright blue hat on his head. He stared at me for a moment before trying to jump up. But Chris was quicker. I don’t know if he’d been asleep the whole time or if he’d just woken up but he tackled the guy when he got to his feet, Derek long gone by now.

    They wrestled around and Randy and my dad showed up, the whole battle lasted about ten minutes. Mom, Natalie my brother and I being rushed to another room where we locked the windows and doors as the guys wrestled the would-be-thief into a chair and tied him up. We all did rock paper scissors to determine who would watch over said thief until the cops arrived. Town was about thirty minutes away and the nearest police station was three days away; that’s how long it’d take for the police to show up. I came out the loser and was forced to spend the next three days with him.

    Thief was all he would let me call him. “Call me what I am, for I am nothing more.” He would say, always with the same damn cocky smile, when I asked him what his real name was. His hands were tied together behind his back and then tied to the chair. He had ropes tied tightly against his chest and a collar around his neck, which we used when he had to go to the bathroom, but only the boys were allowed to take him…for obvious reasons. I fed him, washed his face and gave him things to drink all day until my parents or Chris came back, who then would take over the watch after I had a couple hours of sleep. We were mostly silent, me reading and Thief sleeping or sighing. Sometimes if he was good and behaved I would read aloud to him, he really liked Sarah Desson and Lady Gaga music.

    The night of the first day I’d been trying on clothes and showing them to mom, I wanted to look cute and go on a date with Chris the next day and Thief had thought it cute to throw in his two cents. These pair of pants made my hips curvy, that shirt made me look like a man, this color made my hair look like s**t. On and on and on he threw things at me as I stepped out of the hallway and into the living room where mom and Natalie were staying during their watch. I didn’t know why, but I went with Thief’s choices. a*****e or not, he was still a guy and thought like one, he had to be spot on for something’s…right?

    I walked inside on the second day and Thief was whistling a tune when I walked in the door. Chris had decided he didn’t want to go out on the town. He wasn’t feeling very well, making jokes about the water supply. I’d been out all day long along with my parents and their friend, but I was the first back and when I walked in Thief had an upset look in his eyes. “Something wrong?” I asked as I sat my shopping bag down, and pulling off my hat. “You look like someone just spit in your face and pissed in your cheerios.”

    He glanced at me. “Your boy.” He said. “He’s an a**.” That made me angry, I pulled up a chair and refused to give him food and water until he told me why he had decided to tell me his thoughts on Chris… that, and I wanted to punish him for saying it. Who strangely wasn’t there? I ended up getting mad at Thief and running off, going to my room to find that it was a mess. In the floor I found a pair of earrings and a bra that wasn’t mine and I pushed them away.

    There were two things in my head: 1. They were not mine, but someone else’s, or 2. They were hints to a night better than I’d hoped. But the first option seemed more believable, I shook my head and went back to the living room, no way he’d do that to me. I sat with Thief, pouring everything out to him, about the bra and earrings I had found and that Chris wasn’t home on watch like I thought he said he’d be.

    “To bad.” He said softly, his eyes on the ground. “I really would have liked to have seen him try and defend himself against that evidence, the a**.”

    “You’re a beast.” I snapped without thinking. I was tired and through with him.

    “And you’re a beauty…we make a good love story don’t we?” he grinned, his eyes shining.

    I rolled my eyes but couldn’t help a blush; it was a good pun, and a great love story. I sat back in my chair and we talked about things, why he broke in my house, what would become of him when the cops came and what he would do in prison.

    “Oh, I wont be going to jail.” He said, leaning back a little as I gave him water. He sounded so damn sure of himself it made me sick to my stomach. Half of me didn’t want him to go; he was a great listener and even though he told me things that I didn’t want to know—but needed to hear. But the other part of me was still angry what he said about Chris and the fact he tried to steal from us. That was about the time when Chris walked in and started going ballistic.

    Chris and I fought for what seemed hours, screaming and shouting at one another from across the room as Thief just sat there, watching Chris with eyes that I couldn’t read. Chris was accusing me of cheating on him with Thief and decided that he wasn’t going to sleep under the same roof as a whore. He gathered his things and left, which left me crying in a heap in front of Thief who was silent all night.

    On the morning of the third day I woke to see a note in Thief’s chair. Everyone in the house was in an uproar; he had vanished in the night just like a phantom. I opened the note and read as the reality sunk in.

    This beast has over stayed his welcome in your castle and has taken leave. But not without a little present to you. Go into your room and on your bed you’ll find a dress I ‘liberated', from somewhere. Judge me if you will, I am what I am. I told that whore of a man, that you used to call your own, that if he even dared to show his face today I would gut him in his sleep. Also, those were prostitutes he was bringing home, which is illegal. Wouldn’t that be ironic beauty? A Thief turning in a pimp to the police? Ha-ha. I also want to say thank you for staying beside me even when you didn’t want to. For keeping me company and for showing the softer side of myself. Now don’t cry beauty, I haven’t exactly left yet. I’ll be keeping something for memories though.
    Yours always,
    ♥ Thief.

    I jumped to my feet and ran to my room where the window was open, unlike how I’d left it the day before. On my bed was a dress like what he spoke but I paid it little to no mind. I went to the window and looked across the garden to see a man standing with an expensive looking camera pointed at me. There was a snap as the camera held still for a moment and then was lowered, revealing Thief’s face. I tried to shout for him to wait but he was already running away. I jumped over the side of the railing and chased him all the way into town, him always just a little ways ahead of me.

    It’s when we reached the town that I really lost him. It was similar to rush hour traffic back home but in a crowded market place with people, animals, children, baskets and items instead of cars. He weaved expertly through the throng of people, leaving me behind to try and catch my breath. I turned a corner and ran smack into Chad Lewis, ‘Where the hell had he come from?’ I thought to myself as he helped me up.

    “What’s the rush Britt?” He asked as he took me by the shoulders, steadying me so I didn’t fall into the stone walkway.

    “A boy in a blue hat…. help me look for him!” I was frantically looking around; worried the cops would catch him. Chad agreed to help me look and together we ran into Derek in a clothing shop. Derek looked at me awkwardly, I hadn’t seen him since the night he and Thief broke in and it seemed like he didn’t want to be to close. We talked him into going with us to look for Thief and he lead us straight to a park.

    “This is his thinking spot.” Derek said as he looked around. “If he was going to hide or be looked for…he’d come here for sure.” We looked about and I realized why he’d come here. It was secluded and yet everything was connected to it sort of like a plaza; the sun was beating down on us like whips and I was still searching for the blue hat, well aware he could have taken it off or given it to someone else, but I had a feeling he wanted me to find him.

    I caught sight of the blue hat coming out of a shop, he looked directly at me and kissed two of his fingers and made a peace sign before clutching a folder to his chest and running away. I don’t know why I was trying so hard to catch him, hell, I didn’t even know what I’d say if I could catch him. I followed him up and down stairs, through alleyways and around a fountain or two until finally he led me into a shop I recognized when I walked in.

    It was a clothing shop and as soon as you walked in the door there was a full-length mirror that you could see yourself in from across the room. I walked over to it and looked myself over; I looked like a total wreck. My hair was tangled and messy from running; my face was flushed red and sticky with sweat, I moved my hair out of my face and closed my eyes, trying not to cry from frustration and defeat when I felt someone put a hat on my head and push it so it covered my vision as I opened my eyes again.

    “I don’t see how it can end like this,” I sniffled, “You broke into my house intent to steal my things, but you were caught.” I stopped and tried to control my self. “And somehow you… you stole my heart…”

    He was quiet for a while before saying; “I tried to make it so you wouldn’t cry, Beauty.” Thief’s voice was soft and light, like he was disappointed and sad. “This is how we both knew it’d end; you’re a good girl. I’m a thief. You’re a beauty and I’m….” he sighed, I could feel the smile through his words but it was like his hand on the hat was a spell holding me tightly to my place. “A beast.”

    But my mouth was working just fine. “But your not—!”

    “Yes. I. Am.” He said sternly, shutting me up as if on cue. I felt his hand slide the hat back and down the length of my hair, his other hand coming around my waist and locking with the other. I could see his eyes staring into mine with the help of the mirror. “We will meet again Beauty.” He leaned in closer to my ear and finally turned me around, hugging me tightly. “But I’ll keep something in memory of you…” he pulled back from the warm hug and kissed me. He held it for only a moment before tugging the hat down and dropping something on the floor in front of me.

    I realized what his kiss was like: a soft warm summer breeze you wish could last forever, but it only last a few seconds. I looked to the floor and noticed a picture of myself. The picture was of me the day I arrived in the town, I remember I had sat by the fountain and had just looked around at everything. The picture was from my left side, I was looking straight ahead, and my sunglasses perched up on my head as a breeze was blowing my hair. It was an amazing picture. I flipped it over and there was a doodle of a peace sign with beautiful handwriting: Picture 1 of 2 (for memories.)