Read Thief: The Scarab Beetle Series: #1 (The Academy) Online

Authors: C. L. Stone

Tags: #spy, #spy romance, #romantic suspense, #The Academy, #coming of age, #new adult, #contemporary romance

Thief: The Scarab Beetle Series: #1 (The Academy)

BOOK: Thief: The Scarab Beetle Series: #1 (The Academy)
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Table of Contents

The Academy - Thief (The Academy - Scarab Beetle Series, #1)

I AM A THIEF

BETTER THAN A CARDBOARD BOX

THE PRICE OF A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

HARD BARGAIN

THE TYPE OF GROUP THAT REQUIRES A THIEF

COREY

RAVEN

AXEL

PIECES OF A PUZZLE

SOCIALITE

A JOB OFFER IS A JOB OFFER

BULLYING

HOW TO ASK A BOY FOR HELP

THE FIERCE BEAR

INSIDE THE ACADEMY

A SUSPECT’S FRIEND IS A LEAD

SPIES LIKE US

BRANDON

UGLY ANGER

DESOLATE

CAT AND MOUSE

COALTAR

SAILBOATS

THIEF VS. THIEF

TRUTH AND HOT POCKETS

A FINE LINE BETWEEN SNOOPING AND SPYING

THE WORST DRUG DEALER EVER

THE REAL KATE

THE REAL BLAKE

DELIVERANCE

MARC

PIRATES

WHATEVER SIDE YOU’RE ON, YOU’RE RIGHT

PROFESSIONALS

GONE

CAN NEVER GO HOME AGAIN

~A~

MISSING

FIGHT, FAINT, FIGHT

“I don’t know what you want me to do,” I said, but my voice was nearly gone, thick with the fear that he was way too close and seemed to think he knew what I wanted. I didn’t want him to know he was right. I don’t know why. My pride was too strong. I’d been this way for so long, I didn’t know how to give in. I didn’t know how to trust.

He opened his mouth, like he wanted to say something else but stopped, and his eyes drifted down to my mouth and held. My breath caught in my throat.

Before I could think to even push him off, his mouth claimed me. He kissed me hard enough that my head pressed back into the wall. His hands slid back to cup around my jaw to keep me from pulling away. His lips pressed down, mouth parted.

I kissed him back. I don’t know what came over me, but I wanted to feel those promises. I wanted to believe, for the moment, that maybe I could just let go, like he said, and trust that I could be accepted for who I was. Was I just like him? Could I be like that? Could I find a place just for me among these guys and waltz in and be with them? I opened my mouth, inviting him in, just a little.

Like opening the gates, his mouth claimed me again. In every possible place I could think to hide, he found me. My mind blanked out. I didn’t have room for anything else other than him and his kiss that told me everything would be all right. His kiss sank into me over and over again. Lips pressed against mine, tugging at my skin, at heart strings, at my core.

When he finally released my mouth so I could breathe, his lips trailed over my face, across my eyes and my brows.

“Why did it have to be you?” He breathed out as he whispered against my face. “I was hunting a thief, and I found a beautiful wreck.”

T
he
A
cademy

The Scarab Beetle Series

T
hief

Book One

Written by C. L. Stone

Published by

Arcato Publishing

Copyright © 2014 C. L. Stone

http://clstonebooks.com

Published by Arcato Publishing

http://www.arcatopublishing.com

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1481814915

ISBN-13: 978-1481814911

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.

From The Academy Series

––––––––

The Ghost Bird Series

Introductions

First Days

Friends vs. Family

Forgiveness and Permission

Drop of Doubt

––––––––

The Scarab Beetle Series

Thief

Liar

––––––––

Other Books By C. L. Stone

Smoking Gun

Spice God

Thank you for downloading this book. Keep in touch with the author to find out about special releases and upcoming events, including spoilers, author chats and swag.

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F
or that group that found me when I was lost

For feeding candy canes to lions

For believing in a complete stranger

For showing a young girl how to trust

For the very first Academy members

I AM A THIEF

––––––––

M
en are brilliantly stupid.

For one thing, guys carry the most cash with them anywhere. Didn’t anyone ever tell them cash was dead?

I nestled myself in one of the side branches of Citadel Mall. I picked my way through a Claire’s but the lights were too bright reflecting off the sparkling plastic and crystals of the teeny bopper jewelry and handbags. I ducked into a shoe store where the lighting was dimmer and the window wasn’t as obstructed. Waiting was the hardest part.

My favorite place to find dumb guys with lots of cash was the mall. Always fairly crowded on a weekend; I could count on at least a couple of twenties for every wallet I temporarily borrowed.

I never kept all of it. Forty to sixty dollars at the most. Not enough to bother reporting to the cops. I didn’t mess with credit cards, or bother with selling ID cards. That’s the kind of crazy stuff that gets you sent to prison. I always left the wallets and the rest of the leftovers tucked away in the food court and on benches where management would see it and find the owner. That way, the people wouldn’t have to get new ID, which is a huge hassle.

And they never suspected a thing. All they saw when I accidentally bumped into them was batting eyelashes and as much cleavage as I could muster the absurdity to expose without dry heaving.

It was even better if one of them had a girlfriend on his arm, because the girl would smack the tar out of him, causing an even better distraction with his head turned the other way. Too bad the next place they walked into where she gave him the doe-eyes to buy her yet-another-pair-of-shoes, he’d be out of a wallet, and she’d be on to the next boy toy.

If I could easily distract a guy when he had a decent girl hanging off his arm, he probably deserved to get his wallet picked and the girl was better off. Loyalty was a big deal to me.

This Saturday had, so far, been a bit of a letdown. Only two hits for me, and I only got forty between them. I handled the cash inside my pocket. The money felt like it was burning between my fingers, partially from the guilt. I wanted to release it, but I’d worked hard for it, and didn’t want to let it go.

Forty dollars wouldn’t be enough to cover the rent for next week, let alone food. I only had about an hour or two left before ...

A target came into view, walking around the corner. He was alone, and wore a dark red jacket. It was kind of early in the fall for it, but I wasn’t going to start complaining; no wallet bulge in his pants pockets and jacket picking was easy. Easier still when he shoved his hands in his jean pockets, and the jacket bulged out on the sides, making my job even easier.

I waited, watching from inside the shoe store, pretending to study pairs of spiky slut shoes. When he stopped and hovered in front of the cookie shop, I figured it was as good a time as any.

I left the shoe store, taking the long way around the corridor, keeping to the middle potted plants, benches and other mall shin-splitters between us. I looped around casually, moving toward the cookie stand.

My Doc Martin boots and jeans were casual enough to blend in and be forgettable later. I tugged the hem of my white tank top lower down my body, exposing just a slip of the gray material of the bra underneath; I’d give him a bonus for being an easy target.

I steadied my pace, trying to give him room and without staring; a skill I’d perfected. I aimed for the right pocket, which was hanging slightly lower than the other, hopefully the sign of a full wallet. If I was wrong, there wasn’t much chance I’d get the other one without attracting notice. Dipping into an empty pocket is a lost target.

I stalled as he bought his cookie, watching to make sure I’d been right about the pocket with the wallet. Sure enough, his hand reached in and pulled it out to pay the teenager behind the counter. I stopped and bent over to tie my boot, another stalling tactic, following him by watching out of the corner of my eye to where he stood off between two stores, digging the cookie out of the bag and stuffing it into his mouth. He was at least a couple of heads taller than I was. Not a problem, but I preferred people more my height, which made picking more natural. He had a wide jawbone and deep-set eyes. He was looking curiously around, as if trying to pick out which direction he wanted to go next.

He caught my eye briefly on his glance around and I froze. I’d learned early on if I looked at the face, it became harder to make the move.

This was a real person. I was a thief.

I usually picked a scruffier type that didn’t look like a nice person. With the jacket, however, he was too easy a target to miss, and I was out of time to pick another.

I spotted the closest trash bin and waited him out.

It didn’t take the guy long to finish his cookie. He aimed for the trash bin I’d picked out.

I started walking, pretending to decide not to buy a cookie. From my pocket, I dug out a crumpled piece of paper to throw away.

The next few moments slowed for me, as it did every time. My heart thundered. I questioned again for the millionth time why I did this.

I prayed I wouldn’t get caught and that if I did, this guy wasn’t the type who would beat me to a pulp.

With every step I took closer, I thought about changing my mind and running away. This was wrong. I was a criminal. Every wallet I took added up into some kind of unseen karma debt, and one day I’d strike out big time.

Except my brother and I wouldn’t have a roof over our heads if I gave up now.

One more. I promised myself this would be the last. I’d find a good job soon. We just needed to scrape by this week.

I focused on the jacket.

I aimed, and increased my pace to match his stride.

Bump.

My left hand brushed against his jacket at the heavy pocket.

My right hand released the trash, tossing it away. I caught the strap of my tank top that slid down my shoulder. Practiced moves I’d done dozens of times.

Big brown eyes flashed, focusing on my face. Instead of lowering to my breasts, they remained, studying.

That alone caught me off guard. Targets never did that. Not holding my gaze for so long, as if he was disinterested in the body and instead wanted to see the person. See
me
.

At least his eyes were up instead of down at waist level. It was enough. My hand was already in his pocket, curled around the leather wallet, lifting. All I had to do was blush and apologize, tuck the wallet under my arm and out of sight and turn ...

"Hey! You! Girl!"

The shout was so desperate, so commanding, my whole body started to quake and I stopped. My target and I broke our locked gazes and sought out the voice.

It came from across the corridor at the pretzel shop. A guy behind the counter wearing a folded paper hat and blue and white print apron stared us both down.

And pointed right at me.

"Come here," he shouted, in a tone that had my knees jolting into motion. The power was undeniable.

But I was clutching a wallet that didn't belong to me. Rattled now, I realized too late that I had hesitated. I returned my focus again on the target, meeting cool, brown eyes. Eyes that lowered down to my hand that was holding his wallet between us.

I popped my mouth into an innocent ‘o’ shape. "You dropped this,” I said in a quiet voice, holding up the wallet toward him.

My target frowned. He tugged the wallet from my hand and shoved it back into his pocket, zipping it up. I turned away quickly. My mind whirled, trying to figure out the closest exit. I needed to get out of there before he put two and two together and ...

"Girl!" The guy shouted again from behind the counter. He whistled, a sharp, high pitch, snapped his fingers and pointed again. "You. The pretty one with the brown hair."

I scoffed, turning around and spotting the guy focused on me again. He was drawing so much attention that I wouldn't be able to make another target here for hours, if not for days. I glared at him, and closed the distance to his pretzel stand. Maybe if I ate his stupid sample pretzels, he’d stop drawing attention to me.

"What?" I seethed.

When I finally met his gaze, my body froze.

Two different colored eyes blinked back at me. That made me think perhaps I was dreaming. One blue and one green. That didn’t seem possible.

BOOK: Thief: The Scarab Beetle Series: #1 (The Academy)
13.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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