Here’s my entry! Caiti gave me the prompt “Those who look for trouble usually find it,” which I wasn’t supposed to use in the actual story. I was given a word limit of 1000 words, which I used all but 2 of (yeah, I got a little wordy). Thanks, Caiti, for my prompt!
And thank you to everyone who participated in this challenge! Check out the other stories!
Also, don’t forget to give comprehensive feedback to at least the person you received a prompt from and the person you gave a prompt to. Feedback is incredibly important for improving our writing. Feel free to comment on the other stories, as well. And, now, I present my story. Let me know what you think!
I never should have walked into the alley that night. It had all the classic signs of danger: deep shadows, grime aplenty, even a yowling cat. Too bad I never listened to my inner sense of warning. Besides, my brother was right behind me when I swerved between the two buildings near the wharf.
Turning, I froze. Where’d he go?
“Carson?” Somehow my whisper sounded like a shout against the dingy buildings.
Swallowing hard, I turned in a circle, calling quietly for him again. What was the point of
having an older brother if he disappeared when you needed him?
And I needed him badly.
Out in the street, footsteps clomped closer. Blarney and his men were drawing closer. Shrinking into the shadows, I tried to control my breathing.
Where could he be?
This whole stupid thing was my fault. And now it looked like I would die alone in an alley, as befitted my recklessness.
But that didn’t mean I wanted to. Biting my lip, I flattened myself against the wall. A low voice rumbled near the entrance to the corridor. Marco, if I figured right. He was the only Italian in the group, though accents were hard to distinguish at such a low volume. Putting a hand over my mouth to block an unintentional squeal, I hugged myself.
“In here, Boss?” Jerry’s grating tone made me wince. “She’s just a little girl. She’d be too scared to go in there.”
“That little girl is far braver than she appears.”
Uh-oh. The big man himself. I should have listened to Carson when he told me to stay away from Blarney.
Stay calm, Tessa.
My cheeks ballooned as I fought to keep my breathing quiet.
“Get in there!” Blarney’s voice rose.
“But, Boss, it’s the Carvers…”
A chill swept through me. Blarney was bad enough. But the Carvers were the true rulers of the wharf. And they were ruthless. Still, Blarney’s men were terrified of them. The problem, of course, was that they scared me, too. I glanced farther down the alley.
“I ain’t goin’ in there, Boss. And if the girl’s as smart as you think, neither would she.”
If Marco refused, the rest of them would, too. I sucked in a little bit of air.
Someone grunted. “Fine. Watch the alley. The rest of you keep searching. I want her found now.”
Steps shuffled away down the street. Maybe I would live, after all. I glanced farther into the alley and my heart rate jumped. Blarney’s men could easily outwait me. Breathing out slowly, I peered toward the street. The shadow of a man extended into the alley.
When the shadow moved, I flattened myself tighter against the wall. Maybe the Carvers weren’t as bad as the stories. I stared at darkness. I’d never actually met a member of the Carver clan. Could I move quietly enough to escape Marco’s notice? I slid one foot over. He didn’t move. I took another step and disturbed a metal can. Wincing, I pulled back against the wall.
Swearing, the Italian glanced into the alley. Moonlight fell on his dark beard and made his right eye glint while his left remained in shadow.
God in Heaven, please help me.
After a moment, he pulled away, and I resumed my trip toward the end of Carver’s Alley. Shadows enveloped me and I pulled my coat close against a sudden chill. A cat dashed in front of me, making me jump. Glancing back, I took a deep breath. When a door squealed, I put fists up. Then someone covered my mouth and dragged me into a building.
The door shut, sealing out all light.
“Tessa, are you insane?”
“Carson?” His gloved hand muffled my words.
He pulled it away, breathing hard. “Why do you always dash into trouble like that?”
Heaving a huge sigh, I stepped back. “Where’d you go?”
A flame hissed to life, and then a red glow emerged in the corner. The lantern showed my brother’s face, more deeply lined than I’d ever seen it. Crates surrounded us and a revolver rested on a box across the room.
I swallowed hard. “Carson, why are you in here?”
His mouth jerked. “We need to get you home, little sister.”
“Don’t call me that!”
He rushed over, putting a finger against his lips. The blue of his eyes deepened. “Do you even realize what you’ve gotten yourself into? They’re still looking for you out there, and being loud could get us both killed.”
Looking down, I rubbed my arms. “Sorry.” But what was going on?
As he herded me toward a hallway, a thump sounded in the alley.
My chest seized. “Carson, what was that?”
Grabbing the revolver, he pushed me away. “Go into the hallway.”
I crouched by the wall. Then running came from farther in the building. I jerked my head up.
“Dillon needs help immediately!”
Who was Dillon? And why did it sound like people were headed this way?
A tall man skidded around the corner and halted. “Who are you?”
I swallowed hard. “Who are you?” My smile wouldn’t have convinced my mostly-blind grandmother.
He drew himself up even taller. “Janson Carver.”
Carson stepped out from the back room and squeezed his eyes shut briefly. “Janson, Blarney’s gang is headed down the alley.”
And here I thought they were too scared. My heart thudded in my chest.
Eyeing me, Janson nodded. “You’re the boss, Dillon.”
I swung toward him. “What?”
He put a hand up as Janson and several other men raced past us. Then he grasped my shoulders. “We are the Carvers.”
“What?!” I jerked away from him, shaking my head. “That doesn’t make any sense. The Carvers are a vicious wharf gang. You’re my brother. And why did he call you Dillon?”
He stared at the ceiling for a moment. Then, grimacing, he looked at me. “It’s a cover. The Carvers aren’t real.”
I raised my eyebrows. “Then what are they?”