"Thieves are experts at disappearing. They enter lives and vanish just as quickly. Sometimes their existence is impossible to prove. Sometimes they are impossible to catch. In those case, they are not thieves, they are ghosts." -Sydney Lyons
Thirty-Nine December. Christmas Eve.
December. Christmas Eve.
I stand in the park that's located three blocks from the boarding that Sydney and I went to as teens. I lean against a large tree or some sort. It might be maple. Could be oak. I'm not sure, I'm no tree expert.
It's cold enough out here that I can see my breath, yet I left my jacket out in the car. Snow coats the ground like a white blanket, though none falls from the sky despite the clouds above.
I lean against the tree, eyes roaming the empty park. I'm too early for Sydney. Our meeting isn't for another twenty minutes, but I'll probably see her in ten. I wanted to leave early though. I wanted the peaceful feeling the park always brings. The last two months have been pretty crazy, I need some calm.
I don't know my sister as well as I thought. She arrives fifteen minutes early. I smile over at her and wave. She smiles a little in response, but doesn't wave. Her eyes scan the area, searching for anyone who might have followed me. Once she's satisfied that there is no one else around, she walks over to the tree and embraces me.
"Good to see you again, Bon," she says with a grin. I nod in agreement and ask her how she's been.
She gives me her usual, vague answer, but a mischievous glint in her eyes makes me think she's hiding something. I don't pursue it. She asks about how the team and I've been.
"We're doing alright. Things have been busier than ever lately. Ben and Kat plan to marry sometime in the spring. They'll probably end up eloping in Vegas then counting cards to pay for the wedding. It's not illegal, either."
"Highly frowned upon, though. It's probably safer to screw with the government than it is to screw with the Vegas casinos."
"Probably," I agree. "However, it's probably safer to screw with the casinos than it is to screw with Signor Russo and we've already done that."
She sighs, but chooses not to argue with me. "How're things with you and Jon?"
I shrug. "We're a couple. We fight, we argue, we work things out and the cycle starts all over again. It's hard to stay mad at each other for very long. We work too well together. Besides, he's figured out that if he just looks at me with those damn gorgeous eyes that I cave."
She chuckles. "Has it really taken this long for him to notice? Face it, sis, you've always caved for those eyes."
"True. So how's your love life?"
"Existent," she answers, refusing to elaborate on it. I'm happy that she's dating someone, but I want details! However, I know she won't give them to me until things are serious. Even then she'll be wary of giving me any information, afraid of what I'll do with it. (A reasonable fear, I'll admit.)
We continue discussing normal things and eventually exchange our Christmas gifts. Sydney's gift is the one thing I always make sure to acquire legally. I know she appreciates the effort.
This year, I bought her a new laptop using the money from my job at The Attic. I know she needs one and this is the best one money can buy. Plus, Max and I tweaked it a little bit, so it's pretty secure.
She has two gifts for me. The first is a book on wedding planning at which I roll my eyes. She grins and mutters something about how it'll be useful someday. The second causes me to gasp when I open it. It's a silver cross that our great-grandmother stole from a rich British gentleman. The family was certain it had been lost years ago.
"How did you…?"
She smiles at me. "The last time we went and saw her before she died, she gave me the cross. She said it was the one thing she didn't want the family to find. I don't know why she gave me the necklace, but I can't keep it."
"Thank you, Syd." I hug her again.
"No problem, Bon."
I put the necklace on, slipping it beneath my shirt and feeling the cool metal rest against my skin. "You should come tomorrow. You deserve to be there just as much as the rest of us."
On that note, we separate and head off back to where we came from. I go meet up with Jon at our hotel. The rest of the team is spending Christmas wherever they choose. We're going to meet up January 3rd at midnight in Australia. Until then, Jon and I are on our own and plan to make the most of that.
Christmas at Grandma's is amazing and most of the family is here. Uncle Vince and my now Uncle Adrian are here. I congratulate them on their recent marriage and wish them plenty of luck. Mom and Dad rejoice in the fact that both Jon and I are still alive. Sydney collects her money from the bet on when Jon and I would get together. The family acts like no one has ever been mad at her. I told her she deserves to be here. Aunt Rita's pretty angry about how long it took me to get Max back, but Max is just thrilled that I'm actually here. Lexi looks even bigger than she did when I borrowed her for that museum con. Of course she would, I realize. Shockingly enough, that job was over a year ago. I can't believe it. Jessica is glad to see that I'm coming to Christmas again, though she informs me that she will no longer allow me to borrow her daughter for work. I understand and let her know that I shouldn't even need to borrow Lexi again.
When Jon and I leave, I try to remember the last time our family's felt so close. If I'm not mistaken, it was the Christmas that I met Jon. The memory makes me smile, causing Jon to ask about my expression. I tell him what I'm thinking about. He smiles.
"That was a great Christmas, indeed."
"I love you," I say. It slips out without thought and feels completely natural. It's the first time I've said it. It scares me that I've let it slip out, but I don't regret it.
His smile broadens. "I love you, too, Bon. You know that, though. You've always known, haven't you?"
I shake my head. "No. I haven't. We're both pretty oblivious, remember?"
"That we are," he responds before falling silent. I glance over at him, sensing that something is wrong. Sure enough, his eyes look pained.
"What's the matter?"
His smile returns, but this time it's sad. "I mean it, you know. I love you and I know that you mean it. You love me, but I don't know if that's enough to keep you around. It wasn't before. I don't know if you're going to stay. I don't know and I don't like not knowing, so I suppose I'll ask. Will you stay?"
My own smile returns, entirely happy. I was afraid he would be concerned about something more problematic. This is simple, despite that not too long ago it was one of the most difficult decision I've ever had to make. "Jon, I was happy leading a normal life. I really did enjoy it, but I was happier as a thief. Always have been. I don't know if it's the life or if it's you or if it's the team or some crazy combination of the three, but I'm happiest here, where I've always been. I'm staying until the day that I die."
His happy smile returns and I'm glad I could bring him comfort with that at least. He kisses me as we walk down the sidewalk back to our hotel and I kiss back.
"You're right, Jon. I do mean it. I love you."
As we head back to our hotel on the happiest day of the year hands clasp tightly together, I know one thing for certain. This is where I belong. This is where I have always belonged. This is where I will always belong. I'm meant to be with Jon heading off on some crazy adventure. I'm meant to walk off into the sunset and vanish for unknown periods of time. This is the life I was born to live.
"We get in, we get out, we don't leave a trace. Like a ghost, we vanish into the night." -William Lyons
This is the final chapter of Ghost, I am both happy and sad to say.
Thanks to everyone who read and everyone who reviewed.
Fun fact: Every chapter title of the story is a noun.
Sequel? Probably not. If I chose to do one, it won't be until November of next year for NaNo and it will be more of a side story. It will be in Sydney's POV and another undecided character, but I have so much other stuff to work on that I probably won't do this. Sorry.