Home > Bad Boy Blues

Bad Boy Blues
Author: Saffron A. Kent

There’s a line in the town I live in.

It’s invisible, this line. It’s also paper-thin and razor-sharp.

But it’s there.

For about nineteen years, I’ve lived on one side of it. On the south side. It’s the side with hardworking and honest people, but we don’t have a lot of money. We have run-down buildings and shabby front yards and houses that creak and shake in a strong wind.

The north side is that of the rich and the powerful. It’s the side with big houses, mowed lawns and expensive cars.

It’s the side I absolutely hate for a variety of reasons. But I’m not getting into that right now.

I have a mission, a very important mission.

For the past six months, I’ve been living on the topmost corner of the north side. Not by choice, mind you. But by circumstance.

I’ve been calling an estate called The Pleiades my home.

It’s named after the constellation of seven stars up in the sky. Probably because the palace-like mansion that sits on this estate has seven towers.

And tonight, my mission is to break into it. The mansion, I mean.

Well, to be honest, if you know the code of the service entrance, is it really breaking and entering?

I don’t think so.

It’s more like punching in the code and entering. Something I do every day.

The only difference is that every day I do it in broad daylight. But right now, I’m doing it under cover of darkness with my stealth mode on.

I’m wearing my black shorts, paired with a black hoodie that covers my bright blue hair, and quiet leather boots.

I’m like the night: dark and silent. Oh and hot. Temperature-wise.

Another thing to know about our town is that it’s always hot. It’s always muggy and humid. Summer is our perpetual weather, even in winter. Weirdly, The Pleiades is the hottest spot of all.

I’m sweating with all the black stuff that I have on. But it could also be the nervousness. It’s not every night that I punch in the code and enter like this.

But desperate times, desperate measures.

Not to mention, I can’t shake off the feeling that I’m being watched.

Stopping at the service entrance with my hand poised at the keypad, I look around for probably the tenth time since I headed out for my mission. But there’s no one there. The night’s dark and the lush grounds are quiet and lonesome.

Maybe paranoia comes with doing kinda shady stuff.

Sighing and turning back around, I hit the keys and enter the code. When the automatic door clicks open, I enter the small lobby-like thingy that has the stairs going down to the basement. To the servant’s wing.

Slowly, I climb down, avoiding the stairs that creak lest I wake up the night staff who are probably sleeping in the on-call rooms.

I reach the landing that gives way to a wide hallway, which is illuminated by tiny nightlights. Rooms flank it on either side. On-call rooms for the sleeping staff, the staff room where we have meetings and breaks, the head housekeeper’s office.

I walk slowly and without making a sound until I reach the other side of the hallway. There’s another staircase that takes us to the first floor. Again, I avoid the creaking ones as I climb up.

My destination is tower three, located all the way in the east.

It takes me about seven minutes to journey through all the rooms and passages on the first floor: the ballroom, the rose room, the yellow sitting room, the private dining room and whatnot.

Then I come upon the sprawling stairs that will take me to tower three, where the guest wing is. As I climb up yet again, I thrust my hands in my pockets to see if I still have my weapon.

Yup, it’s there.

I feel the edges of the pouch and smile in the darkness.

Now that I’m so close to my destination, I can’t wait. I literally can’t wait.

My feet are faster and my breaths are coming out in pants. I’m swimming in adrenaline. I feel alive. Like I have more than one life in me. More than one heart and two sets of lungs.

Calm down, Cleo.

I can’t slip up now and have someone bust me. Not when I’m so close to my goal.

Finally, finally, after all the traveling and walking and climbing, I reach it. The exact guest room I was looking for.

“Okay.” I puff out a breath and glance from side to side. “You’re so dead, you fucker.”

I fish the keys that will get me into the room out from my pocket.

The tiny silver-colored key.

Okay, so yeah, this might be a little against the law. Like, maybe ten percent against it.

The keys in my pocket don’t belong to me. I swiped them from Mrs. Stewart, the head housekeeper’s, office right after my shift ended.

But hey, I plan to give them back tomorrow so this is more like borrowing. I’ll have to, actually; she’s weird about keys. But that’s beside the point.

The point is that I’m not a thief; I’m a borrower.

Biting my lip, I insert the key in the lock and it turns easily. The click that comes as I open the door is loud. Or maybe it sounds that way to me and I swallow, freezing in my spot.

God, please. I’m so close.

I need to do this. This needs to happen. This is my only chance.

Glancing up and down the darkened hallway once again, I count the seconds but nothing stirs. The mansion is still asleep and quiet, much like the night outside. There isn’t any indication of movements from the inside either. Meaning he’s asleep too. Totally oblivious of what’s going to happen to him.

Opening the door only far enough so I can fit through, I creep inside. The room is cool, courtesy of the AC. The night lamp is on and it throws the sleeping body on the bed into light.

Mr. Grayson.

A fifty-year-old guest who flew out to see the famous apple orchards of The Pleiades and take the grand tour of towers six and seven. They are more like a museum and are open for public display.

Yeah, The Pleiades is kind of a big deal for our town.

Half of it is preserved, and privileged people from all over the world come to see the beautiful architecture of it. Throw in a world-famous golf course or two and they’re happy as a peach. I hear that the tour alone costs more than what I make in a year working on the cleaning staff.

The other half of this mansion is where the Princes live, the oldest family of this town. In fact, they are the founders of this town with a line.

They built The Pleiades a long time ago and have lived here for centuries.

A guy once lived here too.

A guy with jet black hair and jet black eyes. A guy I haven’t seen in three years, ever since he abruptly went away.

A guy I don’t like to think about.

Anyway, enough history lesson. It’s showtime.

I’ve been in this guest room a hundred times before so I know where everything is. Namely, the closet that holds my prize.

Softly, I tiptoe toward it, keeping my eyes on the sleeping man. He hasn’t stirred yet. Probably drunk off his ass.

I open the closet door and there it is: his freshly-pressed suit for tomorrow.

I wish I could fist-pump right now but that might be too risky. So I fish out my weapon, the itch powder, and open the lapels of his suit jacket. Glancing at Mr. Grayson one last time, I sprinkle the powder all over the fabric, especially on his pants.

He’s so not going to know what hit him.

Biting my lip once again, I try to keep my gleeful laughter under wraps. I’m not out of the woods yet. I need to get back to my cottage undetected or Mrs. Stewart will wake up to the best news ever: Cleopatra Paige was finally caught breaking a rule and it’s time to fire her.

She’s not a huge fan of me or my blue hair or my blue lipstick or my leather boots. Basically, she hates my guts and she won’t hesitate to fire me if I step even one toe out of line. And right now, I’m so far past the line that I can’t even see it.

With my mission completed, I creep back out of Mr. Grayson’s room and shut the door quietly. Then, I’m retracing my steps, climbing down, walking, traveling all the way back to the servant’s wing.

With any luck, I’ll be back in my cottage before the clock strikes midnight and when I come to work tomorrow, Mr. Grayson will be reduced to a monkey who scratches his own balls.

You’re awesome, Cleo. You’re fucking awesome.

I grin.

Just as I’m about to step on the stairs that will take me up to the service entrance, I hear a rustle behind me and my name is whisper-shouted.

“Cleo!”

I gasp and my fingers fumble on the wooden bannister.

“Cleo.”

I scrunch my eyes closed and bow my head. Sighing, I face the caller. It’s Maggie, the head cook.

She has her arms akimbo and her lips pursed as she watches me with accusing eyes. “What did you do?”

“Nothing.”

She looks me up and down, probably noticing my stealth mode and somehow, her gaze falls on the pockets of my hoodie. “What do you have in there?"

I pat them and realize there’s a bulge where I stuck the itch powder and the key in. “Nothing,” I repeat.

Even I don’t believe myself, and I’m an excellent liar.

“Give it here.”

Time to up my game.

“Maggie, there’s nothing in my pockets, okay? I came in because I thought I left my phone in the staff room. But I didn’t. So yeah. Nothing in my pockets. Not up to any mischief or anything.”

I spread my palms in mock surrender as I finish my nonchalant speech.

Maggie watches me for a beat. Her stare is making me nervous, or rather more nervous than I already was.

“I watched you grow up, you know. I know when you’re lying, Cleopatra Paige.”

“I’m not –”

“Come on. Let’s go to the kitchen.”

With that, she turns to her right and walks into the hallway that breaks off right before the stairs where I’m standing.

Damn it.

Not exactly what I had in mind when I broke into the mansion tonight. Whipping off my hood so my long, wavy hair can breathe, I follow her.

The kitchen at The Pleiades can probably fit the cottage that I live in three times over. It’s a large circular room with industrial lights and steel countertops. It’s more or less like the kitchen of a very posh restaurant, complete with a walk-in freezer and high-end grills and whatnot.

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