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by Lois Greiman


Swift Torree smiled as she swung her beaded reticule in time to her lively stride. It was a braw day in New Town. The bluebells were just beginning to bloom, the apple blossoms smelled like a wee bit of heaven, and the sun had made a rare spring appearance, sparkling on Edinburgh like firelight on brilliants. Stilling her tiny purse so as to avoid striking any oncoming pedestrians, she tucked it tight between her arm and her well-dressed ribcage. Today she wore a walking gown of pink muslin decorated with intricate embroidered flowers she had stitched herself. It was, after all, the details that separated the middling pickpocket from the truly gifted. And she was gifted.

Her pert little sleeves were capped at her shoulders then hugged her arms all the way to her knuckles, making it frightfully simple to slip recently purloined items from her hand into hiding. Her straw chapeau was wide-brimmed enough to conceal her face, and her undergarments were nonexistent; she was all for keeping up appearances, but why bother with frills no mark would ever have a chance to appreciate.

Besides it was a warm April day and…

Ho there. A likely looking couple had just turned the corner onto Princes Street and was strolling toward her. The woman was small, plump and cute as a kitten. The man was tall and fit, which was rather a disappointment, for though Swift’s name was aptly given, it spoke more of her dexterity than fleetness of foot. Just then, however, the gentleman glanced into the lady’s upturned face, and in that instant Swift recognized his expression: Adoration. Fascination. And maybe…if her luck held…maybe a smidgen of obsession.

Swift smiled to herself. Fifteen feet separated her from them, and there was no easier mark in the world than a man in love. It addled his thinking, slowed his reflexes, lightened his mood.

And this one…this one kept his wallet in his breast pocket. How very kind of him. Oh, and the lady, paragon of generosity that she was, seemed to be wearing a diamond bracelet. What a big-hearted lass. That little bauble would go a far ways toward Tavis’s education.

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