My time as a thief ended as abruptly as they gun-shot that signaled its' end.
"If you don't hurry up, I'll leave you!" A tall, auburn haired boy called out, walking backwards down the street with a goofy grin on his face.
"Rylan, we both know you'll never leave me." His companion, a slender, green-eyed young woman answered.
They laughed together as Gwyn caught up to him, holding out a hand which he took automatically.
"If we're late to pick up Teddy, I'm blaming you." Rylan added, but Gwyn wasn't fazed by his teasing. She was happy to be walking beside of him on such a beautiful summer day. Ever since he'd gone off to college moments like this were rare. She had to soak in the time she had with him, knowing he was too busy to be by her side constantly.
She'd be headed off to her own college in the fall and their time together would be further shortened. Rylan glanced down at her, obviously seeing the concern written across her face.
"Do you have plans tonight?" He asked with his usual crooked smile.
"Of course not." Gwyn answered, half-surprised that he'd asked. He knew she worked during the day and saved her nights for spending time at home with Teddy.
"How about we go out? Just the two of us?" He watched her shyly, and laughed when she nodded once in agreement. "Then it's a plan!" He swooped down and kissed her lightly on the lips.
Gwyn's cheeks turned a bright pink, even though he'd kissed her like this many times before. While five years had gone by, their relationship was going just as strong as when it'd begun. Gwyn couldn't imagine being with someone else.
"Should we take a cab?" Gwyn asked to change the subject. "It would be faster."
"We'll be fine." He lifted her hand and winked down at her. "I like walking with you like this. Teddy will understand if we take our time."
Ever since Rylan's leg had recovered he'd made it a priority to walk every day. He'd spent countless hours in physical therapy so that he could regain the strength he'd lost. His improvement hadn't been immediate, but over time the changes were significant. The limp his doctors had feared would last a lifetime was no longer apparent, though he still had limits on how far he could walk.
Gwyn wondered if his leg was hurting him now, but he didn't show it, just like he rarely showed pain. After they'd left Doctor Smith's home, he'd taken charge of their family, becoming the rock they could lean on.
When Rylan caught her staring at him she glanced away shyly. She didn't like him knowing that she worried about him. The first week he'd left for college had almost killed her, and she hated how he'd forced himself to come home every weekend for her benefit.
"Speaking of Teddy..." Rylan said, staring forward.
Gwyn glanced ahead, surprised that they'd already made it to Teddy's school. Today was his last exam before summer break, and Rylan had offered to take them both out to lunch. However, the scene in front of her was not what she expected to see.
Teddy was standing near the front gate of his school, his arms around a petite blonde. Just as Gwyn turned to look at him he leaned down and kissed the girl on the cheek.
Before she could stop herself, Gwyn began to laugh. Rylan joined in, and by the time Teddy had seen them it was too late. His face turned a dark shade of red and he automatically jumped away from the girl he was standing with. He stuttered a goodbye before racing over to join his sister.
"I...I can explain." He stammered, brushing his long black curls out of his eyes.
"I think we can figure it out ourselves." Gwyn joked, raising her eyebrow at him. "So, what's her name?"
"Don't worry about it." Teddy answered, sticking up his chin stubbornly. He turned to Rylan, his eyes begging for help. "It's been awhile, Ry." His expression asked for a change of subject.
"You're not getting out of this that easily." Rylan joked, hitting him in the shoulder playfully. "Only thirteen and already getting the girls. I'm impressed."
"Gwyn's first kiss was when she was thirteen." Teddy replied, crossing his arms stubbornly. "Don't you remember that?"
"Okay, I get it!" Rylan grinned, waving his hand in defeat. "Truce."
It only took them a few minutes to return Teddy to his normally cheerful self. Rylan was even able to pry out more information about the mysterious blonde, which Teddy had apparently been crushing on for the whole year.
"Look at you, all grown up." Gwyn teased, sneaking her arm around her brothers. He glared down at her, but didn't pull away.
"So, what would you like for lunch?" Rylan asked, smiling brightly. He always lit up like this when they were all together.
None of them wanted to admit it, but they were all becoming too busy for one another. Making time to hang out was a struggle that they'd all begun to hate. Rylan was entering his final year of college, and his workload was hard to manage. Gwyn had spent the fall applying to colleges and maintaing her nearly perfect GPA, while also juggling being the president of her student body. Even Teddy, who was still in middle school was always busy training for his soccer team.
Every day it grew harder and harder to stay as close as they used to be. Their family was slowly growing apart, and there was little they could do to stop it. Each of them was finding their own path, and the more they discovered about themselves, the harder it was to come home.
Rylan tried to ignore the obvious signs, and Teddy was too young to really understand what was happening. Gwyn, however, had already been coming to terms with the change for months.
A part of her blamed Robert and Sophie, even though she knew that was unfair.
Rylan paused in the middle of the sidewalk and glanced up at the tall building to his right. Gwyn followed his gaze and she smiled as she recognized their apartment building. She'd been so lost in thought she hadn't even registered where they'd been walking.
"Home sweet home." Rylan said with a sigh. It'd been almost a month since he'd been back.
Gwyn nodded, feeling an immense wave of sadness rush over her. Even after all this time, she still didn't feel like that apartment was home. They'd moved in after Rylan had turned eighteen and received a generous trust fund from his father. Dr. Smith had helped them to create identities for their new lives, which were still working flawlessly.
"Five years." She whispered, remembering their old home as clearly as if she'd been there yesterday. She still missed it more than anyone knew. She missed her old bedroom, and playing in the yard with Teddy. She missed eating dinner together as a family, and movie nights.
More than anything, she missed Sophie and Robert.
They'd spent years pretending the hole wasn't there, but Gwyn had never been the kind of person who ignored things right in front of her.
"Where do you think she is right now?" Teddy asked from beside her. His face was serious, but sad at the same time.
"I don't know." Gwyn answered, her eyes turning to the blue sky.
Everything had ended so fast back then. One minute they'd all been together at their old home, and the next they'd all had to go into hiding. Within twenty-four hours their world had gone crashing down. The place they'd called home had gone up in flames, and suddenly Cleo and Max were on the news being arrested for numerous crimes.
Their lives went from stable to chaotic, and there was nothing they could do about it. The changes were so sudden none of them knew how to handle the news. Should they be happy that Cleo wouldn't decide their future? Should they be scared of her lashing out again?
They'd had so many questions back then, but none of them had been answered in the last five years.
Dr. Smith hadn't told them anything about the night Robert and Sophie vanished. The only information they'd been able to find came from a news story about three cops being injured in a shooting. The police had been patrolling an abandoned warehouse where known fugitives were hiding when they were fired upon. The gunmen were taken out immediately, but the fate of the two criminals was still a mystery.
At least, it was still a mystery to the police.
"If I had to guess, I'd say Sophie's probably in Paris. I hear it's lovely there this time of year."
Both Teddy and Gwyn turned to Rylan with shocked expressions. "She called you?" They asked in unison.
"I just got off the phone with her this morning." He said, grinning foolishly down at them.
"You could have told us!" Teddy crossed his arms in frustration.
"We've been waiting for her to call for two weeks! You know how worried we get when she changes locations." Gwyn pursed her lips, genuinely annoyed at Rylan.
Two months after the chaos ended, Sophie made a discrete phone call to Dr. Smith. She told them very little about what had happened, or where she was headed. All they knew was that she was on the run from the police, and that she couldn't stay in the country for much longer.
After the initial phone call Sophie checked in at irregular intervals throughout the years. She sent letters every two weeks, always from unknown locations. She spoke very little about what she was doing, but she was always eager to learn about what was happening in their lives.
It was obvious that she missed them, but for their own safety and her own she never visited. Someone had made it clear to her that Agent Marshall, the man in charge of Cleo and Max's case, was still eagerly searching for her.
Gwyn hated that she'd missed Sophie's latest phone call. They didn't have a way to contact her when they wanted to, so her calls were the only chance they got to catch up. Gwyn had been looking forward to hearing from Sophie, and talking to her about her recent concerns.
Despite being thousands of miles away, Sophie had managed to maintain the sisterly bond they'd created while living together.
"I was going to wait until later, but since you're both so angry with me..." Rylan reached in his jeans and pulled out three slips of paper.
Teddy was unfazed by them and continued to pout, but Gwyn's eyes widened in excitement.
"Tickets to Paris?" She squealed, her voice rising. "You know where she's living?"
"Not exactly, but she's agreed to meet us there. She says she feels safe with letting us stay there with her for the summer."
"What...how?" Gwyn was shocked by Rylan's surprise. "It's not safe for her to meet with us! What about Agent Marshall?"
"I was honestly so excited I didn't ask many questions. I'm sure we'll have the whole summer for her to explain." He smiled down at Gwyn, his eyes lighting up. "So, do you like my surprise?" He asked jokingly.
"It's brilliant!" Teddy replied, still as shocked as Gwyn.
"We're going to Paris!" Gwyn whispered, her heart filling with happiness.
Five years was a long time to be separated from loved ones. In those years many events had passed that had changed the three of them. They were older, somewhat wiser, and more independent than they'd been in the past.
However, it didn't feel like they were heading to meet a stranger. Years had passed since they'd last seen Sophie, but the bond they had with her hadn't been broken.
As Gwyn stood staring at the plane tickets in Rylan's hands, she realized this is what it meant to belong to a family. Even if they were separated from one another, it didn't mean that they were alone. Time and distance weren't enough to break them, which gave her immense hope for the future.
Maybe she didn't have to worry so much about their family after all.
The scene Sophie was staring at now felt like a dream. Sunlight filtered into her studio, brushing over the unfinished canvases her students had started that morning. The air from outside the building swept in, causing her long strands of hair to dance against her face.
She glanced up at the cotton-like clouds that dotted the skyline, and then down at the groups of teenagers hanging out in the courtyard below. There wasn't a soul around her that wasn't smiling on such a relaxing and beautiful day. From her perch next to the window, she felt like she could stay here forever.
Sophie brushed her paint-covered hands against her apron, noticing how they looked stained with the variety of blues she'd been working with. By now, she was used to always being covered in paint. Her students even had a running joke about it.
When another gust of wind blew her hair back into her face, Sophie reached behind her to tie back her long black hair into a tight bun. Now that she'd grown it out long again, she missed how short it used to be. Long hair was rarely worth the hassle of maintaining it, especially when she had to worry about dying it every few weeks.
Reaching towards the radio sitting next to her desk she turned up the music. She recognized the song immediately, having heard it a number of times before. Next week would mark her third year in France, and she was already familiar with the culture around her.
Five years she'd been forced to keep moving from location to location, always changing her appearance and name. It felt like she'd never stopped running, even after all these years.
Quiet moments like this were always times for her to reflect on the past. Memories from her life back in the States hadn't faded but grown stronger with time. That phase in her life was a transition from the mundane to the extraordinary. She'd had no idea when she was in college that one day she'd become a thief on the run.
At least, a retired thief. Since leaving the States, Sophie hadn't even considered stealing again. The rush of adrenaline was a good memory, but not one which she was eager to relive. She'd had more than her share of action while working under Cleo.
Her relaxed smile faded when she thought of her former boss. Even after all this time the woman's memory caused a shiver to run down Sophie's body. Cleo and Max had brought Sophie as close as she was willing to get to death.
She reached up to her ear that was partially covered by her hair. Her eyes closed as she touched the small hole that was now located there.
The sound of the gunshot that almost killed her was still vivid in her memory. She clenched her eyes shut as a wave of memories from that night flew back to her.
Bright lights filtered around them. Both Sophie and Robert were blinded momentarily, long enough to be disoriented when the first shot rang out in the silence.
They'd been walking out of the warehouse hand-in-hand. Nothing about their position was aggressive or threatening. The police had no reason to fire, and Robert immediately shoved Sophie behind him in the confusion.
Loud shouts filled the clearing. The police were screaming at people that neither of them could see.
"What's happening?" Sophie shouted, her hands tightening around Robert's just as another gunshot rang out.
Robert jumped back, shouting in pain. Sophie turned to look at him, and she only saw blood. His left hand, the one not holding to her own was covered with blood. He'd been holding it over his eyes to see clearly, but now it was disfigured and shaking.
"Damn it!" He shouted, his face contorting with pain. Sophie reached for him, but he shoved her backwards.
Another gun shot broke through the shouts, and Sophie froze in panic. She felt the bullet whizz by her head, and heard someone screaming in her ear. It took her one disorienting moment to realize she was the one screaming because of the searing pain that pulsed from her ear.
Robert was staring at her with wide eyes, filled with panic.
Sophie couldn't think clearly. The clearing was now filled with dozens of gunshots, all being fired in various directions. Men were shouting orders, or screaming in pain. Nothing made sense.
"Follow me." His voice was just above a whisper, and Sophie wondered how she heard it. She allowed him to drag her forward, her mind too far gone to argue.
Lights flashed around them, more gunshots followed their escape, and when they found the edge of the forest Robert toppled forward to the ground. A red stain appeared on his right side, and gradually it grew larger and darker.
"Robert." Sophie whispered, her eyes filling with tears. "They're going to kill us."
"No, they're not." He answered with cold determination. While he was on the ground he reached into his pocket and threw his phone back into the clearing where the police were distracted with another threat. No one had noticed their disappearance, which gave Sophie all the courage she needed to pulled herself together.
She ditched her phone along with his, and turned back to help him to his feet. Robert was clutching his side in pain, but he could still walk.
"Are we really doing this?" She asked as they stumbled deeper into the forest. "Are we really running away?"
Robert didn't stop walking, but he flashed her a serious look. "Don't run if it's not what you want. If you think we should turn ourselves in we can, at the safest opportunity. Whoever was shooting at us back there was obviously not the police, and I'm willing to bet they're connected with Cleo and Max."
"They'd rather us be dead than testify against them." Sophie guessed, clenching her jaw in fear.
"Their orders were definitely not to keep us alive." He winced once when his side brushed against a tree limb.
"Running away..." Sophie mused, her heart racing. "Could we do it?"
She couldn't help but see this as their last chance. They'd been given the opportunity to escape from the police together, and though the road ahead was dangerous, it was still in sight.
"Do you know what that means?" He asked calmly. "It means leaving behind the kids, your belongings, and maybe even this country. Marshall will want any weapon he has against Cleo and Max, and we happen to be that weapon. The evidence with us on board is overwhelming, which means he'll chase us until we're caught."
"He doesn't need us though. Diana has all the evidence of their crimes in the past, and Luke can personally testify to their present cruelty. After they're convicted, he'll have no reason to find us."
"Marshall might have taken over a decade to bring down Cleo and Max, but he was persistent during all that time. He's not the kind of person who's thrown off the hunt easily." Robert sounded so exhausted she couldn't argue with him anymore. "If we decide to run from the police, we give up everything. To make this decision, you have to understand that."
"I do." She answered, and as her heart clenched she knew that she did understand.
She thought of Gwyn, Rylan, and Teddy, and realized they were her last and only reason for not wanting to escape. She'd already given up her life as Sophia Parker months ago, and the world considered her dead.
The kids were her only connection to her old life, and it felt impossible to let them go.
Robert understood what she was thinking, and he tightened his grip on her hand.
"No matter what we decide, we cannot protect the kids. Maybe one day if we do escape we can find them again."
Sophie bit her lip, knowing she'd already come up with her decision.
A few months ago Robert had offered her the chance at a new life as a thief. Now, after everything had collapsed, he was offering her another new beginning. A beginning that was more terrifying than the one before it, because there were no promises it would work out.
Despite having no assurances of the future, Sophie felt in her heart that any path she chose with him would be the right one. She trusted Robert to see her out of this mess, and she knew he trusted her.
"Let's go." Sophie led him forward now, her green eyes determined.
Robert's lips curled into a brief smile as he followed after her.
They disappeared into the shadows of the forest, and the rest was simply history.
"Ce que j' fais là moi. Je sais pas. Je voulais juste marcher tout droit. Ce que j' fais là moi. Je sais pas. Je pense à toi depuis mille ans."
The music of Raphaël Haroche spun around the room, and Sophie had unconsciously begun to hum along.
It was another gust of wind that called her back to reality by causing a stack of envelopes to fall to the ground before her.
Sophie sighed, reaching down to reorganize the mess. The stack consisted of essays she'd been grading since the following day. As an art teacher, she rarely gave out written assignments, but yesterday had been one of those occasions. Her teenagers hadn't been pleased, but she was eager to read what they had to say about the essay topic.
She'd never considered teaching before coming to France. It was a pure accident that she became interested in it three years ago, when she'd been taking an art class while temporarily residing in the city of Lille.
Painting and teaching everyday was the most perfect career Sophie could've chosen. It helped that the backdrop for her new life was Paris, the city she'd always dreamed of visiting.
Her eyes caught on a cream envelope that was jutting out from the stack of essays. Sophie's breath caught when she remembered what it was.
Pulling out the envelope, she carefully held it in her hands.
There was no return address for the letter, but by the slanted, small writing, she knew who'd sent it. In the past, she'd seen the writing a few times before, and remembered it because of the significance of the individual in her life.
"Luke." She whispered with the same heavy sigh that she'd used when the letter had been sent to her a month before. She'd been living in Paris for almost a year, the longest she'd ever stayed in one place since leaving the States. Over the last five years she'd had no contact with Luke, and had no idea how the letter came to her now.
However, knowing Luke's, or rather Diana's connections, it wasn't as surprising that he'd known she was staying in Paris.
Sophie considered putting the letter to the side, just like she'd done every time she'd seen in before. Years had passed, but she still found it impossible to forgive Luke for what he'd done. The betrayal had cut too deep.
Her last memories of him weren't from the dingy hotel where she'd hunted him down with Robert. They were of him being handcuffed and led to testify against Cleo and Max during their separate trials. It was hard to avoid seeing him in the news, with the magnitude of the trials themselves.
Max and Cleo had never been in the public eye, but the public certainly knew who they were by their names. The influence they'd inherited from their families came crashing down as the charges were brought against them. As expected, the two had hired the best lawyers money could buy, but even that wasn't enough.
Diana Apell had submitted records of their transactions in the past, as well as gave names of others who were involved. She knew every location where they'd hidden paintings, and her testimony had led to the search and confiscation of numerous missing works of art. Luke offered even more information about their crimes.
The evidence gathered by Marshall's team dealt Cleo and Max the kind of blow they never expected. Luke and Diana's sacrifice came at a heavy price. They lost everything they had. For Diana it was her empire and influence, and for Luke it was his freedom.
Luke received a twenty-year sentence for the extent of his crimes, and Diana received fifteen. While she had more charges than Luke, she'd been able to cut a deal with the prosecution for reduced time.
Cleo and Max, having gone through months of trials, received five years each. The unfairness of the verdict was discussed for almost a year after the decision was made. Their influence again had trumped Marshall's best efforts against them. Some said it was a miracle they received as much as five years.
Sophie had moved on from her disappointment in their punishment. From what she'd gathered, the two of them would never recover from this blow anyway. Their influence with others in their circle was dead, and almost two-thirds of their property had been confiscated during the extent of the investigation. They would not be able to reinvent their old business under the watchful eyes of the police.
Now, five years later, everything had ended. Sophie's life as a thief was over, and the fear of being caught by Marshall was gradually lessoning by the day. She knew she should've begun to forgive Luke for the past, but it was difficult.
As she ran her hand over the letter something shifted in her heart. Before she could hesitate she lifted the seal, and pulled out the smooth paper inside.
Her eyes ran over the letter quickly, absorbing it all at once. Reading what Luke had wrote was like listening to him speak, and for a moment she was transported to the past. She pictured herself sitting next to him on the steps of Cleo's house, trying to figure him out for the first time.
When she thought of him like that, he returned to being the innocent friend she'd once known and loved.
Luke's letter was short, but filled with emotion. She could feel his calm sadness and regret, and for the first time began to understand him. He asked about how she was, and wished that she was doing well. He spoke about how he was glad she hadn't gotten caught, and how he understood his mistakes. He apologized throughout the letter, asking her to someday forgive him for lying and using her.
The more she read, the harder it was to hate him. Luke had lost everything by turning himself into the police. When he got out of prison he would be approaching forty, having wasted the best years of his life in prison.
It was hard to hate some who had given up so much. It was even harder to be angry when she could look around her and see how satisfied she was with her new life. She was living a dream, and without Luke's decision in the past, she couldn't begin to consider where she'd be now.
Sophie gently folded the letter back into the envelope. Her heart was heavy after reading it, just like she'd known it would be. Every reminder of the past was hard to accept now that she was so far away from that time.
"It's too beautiful a day for you to be sighing so much." A deep voice said from the doorway of her studio.
Sophie smiled before she turned to him, already knowing who it was.
As Robert weaved through the scattered canvases towards her, Sophie was reminded of the day they first met. She could clearly see him as he was back then, and how much he'd changed over the years.
His face was still boyishly young, and his eyes were just as dark blue as she remembered them from the first time she saw him. His golden curls had been died brown, and were shorter than they'd been in the past. The years had been good to him, and Sophie silently marveled at his handsome face.
One thing about him had significantly changed from the past. When they'd first met his smile had been fake, plastered on to deceive others. Now, his smile reached his eyes with a sincerity she'd learned to adore.
"Well, look who finally showed up." Sophie hid her smile, attempting to remain stern. "Took you long enough to visit." She tapped her chin thoughtfully, her eyes narrowed. "How long has it been? A few weeks?"
Robert stopped in front of her, his eyes flashing with humor. He took her hands in his as he sat down on the windowsill beside her.
"One week, three days, six hours, and thirty-seven minutes to the dot." He replied seriously, placing a hand over his chest. "My heart hasn't let me forget it."
Sophie rolled her eyes, pulling her hand away from him. "Oh, I'm sure it hasn't."
Robert feigned a wince. "I can't believe you don't trust me."
"It's hard to trust someone who's never here." Sophie sighed again, and allowed him to recapture her hand. Her eyes fell to his left palm, where the gunshot wound to his hand had left an ugly scar. His nerves had also been damaged by the bullet, making it nearly impossible to work with.
While he never complained about it, Sophie saw it as a constant reminder of the past.
She reached up to touch his face, and he reflexively learned down to kiss her lightly on the lips. "I've missed you." She whispered softly.
Over the years Robert had been Sophie's rock to lean on. He'd become her guide on how to live as a run away, and his hidden funds had supported them as they escaped to different countries. Robert's connections had also helped in creating new identities for themselves in each of the locations they'd chosen to hide.
Without him, Sophie wouldn't have been able to last so long. He made life thrilling, even while they were under the threat of being found. He made her feel safe, and always knew how to wipe away her fears. Best of all, he could make her laugh, and she gravitated to his warmth. They'd gone from lovers to best friends, and while they weren't immune to arguments, they knew how to work out their issues.
It had been a gamble to trust him in the beginning, but he proved everyday that he could be the support she needed.
"Next time I'm taking you with me." He replied, kissing her again. "You won't believe how boring the trip was this time."
"By boring, you mean they wouldn't let you do what you wanted." Sophie pulled away for a moment.
When they'd decided to make a permanent home in Paris, Robert had found work immediately. The connections he'd forged while working for Cleo had been the means for every opportunity they'd been given over the years, including this one.
Surprisingly enough, Robert's past as a thief was exactly what his new boss was looking for. His new job was working for the Louvre, the most renowned museum in the world. His official job description was working to improve museum security. The task his boss had secretly assigned him to do was track down missing pieces of art around the country, and recovering them.
Sophie knew it was exactly the kind of work Robert loved, and the kind he was good at. He knew how to think like a thief, which is exactly what led him to succeed.
The only negative part of the job was the extensive traveling. He would be away for weeks at a time, which was initially hard to come to terms with after being with him constantly for the last few years.
"You know me so well, Mrs. Locksley." Robert shook his head, and chuckled.
"Well, Mr. Locksley, it's kind of my job." She winked up at him.
Sophie secretly loved it when he called her Mrs. Locksley. According to their official file, they were a married couple that had traveled here from Canada. They'd never had a ceremony, but Sophie accepted the fact that they were married. Wedding days were in every girl's imagination, but she would trade a dress and cake for a lifetime with the man she loved any day.
Robert glanced out of the window at the courtyard below them. A ray of sunlight hit his face, and for a moment she couldn't make out his features, just like the day they'd first met.
"I was thinking I would make it up to you." He began suddenly, turning back to her. "Being away so long."
"Oh, really." She answered.
"The kids will be visiting soon, and when they get here we'll have very little...alone time."
"Uh huh." Her eyebrow raised.
"So let's go on an adventure, just the two of us."
"I don't know if I'm in the condition to go on an adventure." She narrowed her eyes suspiciously, wondering what crazy idea he had planned next. "School doesn't end for another few weeks. I have responsibilities here."
"So what? So do I." He lifted her hand and his eyes flashed with amusement. "Please."
He leaned down and kissed her bulging belly gently.
"I want to take my wife and my child on an adventure. I have it all planned out." His voice rose in excitement.
Sophie rolled her eyes, knowing she didn't have a choice anymore. When Robert got an idea in his head, it would be impossible to change his mind.
She placed her hand on her stomach, smiling when she thought of the child hidden deep inside her.
"Will it be baby friendly?" She asked in defeat. "No skydiving, or cliff diving, or whatever you used to be into."
Robert's expression turned serious in a flash. "Of course not." He knelt down beside of her, a hand still on her stomach. "I may love doing those things, but you know what?" His smile turned soft. "I love being a father more."
"Since you're such an amazing father, you shouldn't have any problem with telling me what the adventure is."
Robert stood, shaking his head as he lifted her to her feet. "Not a chance."
"Come on!" She complained, placing her hands on her hips.
"The best things in life are a surprise." He reminded her.
Even though she was annoyed at his argument, she had to agree with him. The best moments of her life had always been a surprise, like meeting him, becoming a thief, falling in love, or creating a family. Everything had been unexpected, in the most perfect way.
She hadn't known she would abandon everything to become a thief, or that she would build a family with a group of strangers she'd known for only a few weeks. She didn't know she'd end up falling in love and running away with a criminal, or that she'd end up starting her own family with him.
Most of all, she didn't know that having taken such a strange and tangled path, she would end up in the exact place she'd always wanted to be.
Her dream five years ago had been simple. She'd wanted to live her life doing what she was happy with. Now, she was living that dream. Every morning she woke up and was able to paint to her heart's content. She was able to share her passion with others, and live in the city she adored, with the man she loved.
She hadn't taken the conventional path to her dream, and there had been moments along the way where she'd thought she'd failed. It had been a long, hard journey to where she was at now. She'd been threatened, shot at, and pushed forward by fear, but all of that was in the past.
She'd reached her destination, but she knew that was only the beginning of the real adventure.
No matter how happy she was with this life, it wasn't a happily ever-after. She was still in partial hiding, meaning she couldn't see Gwyn, Rylan, and Teddy as much as she wanted. She couldn't welcome them into her life like she wanted to, and could only support them at a distance. The life they lived before could not be recreated, despite how much she wished it could be.
There were still times when she missed Luke, and times she relived her fear of Cleo and Max coming after her. Sometimes it was all too easy to be lonely, and sometimes it was impossible to forget the mistakes of her past.
These were her challenge for the future. She would have to work on them, finding ways to come to terms with the realities facing her. There was no doubt in her mind that she could do it.
The life she'd managed to create was something to be proud of, even with the flaws. Surrounding her were so many vibrant colors, that came in the shades of family, friends, love, work, and art. Shades she hadn't known before, but shades that Robert had brought into her life by inviting her into his world.
When Sophie's eyes met Robert's, her lips curled into a bright smile. She couldn't imagine being happier than this moment.
"Are you ready?" He asked, squeezing her hand tightly and motioning to the door.
"Yeah." She answered, her green eyes shining with determination. "I think I am."
Ready for new challenges, new opportunities, and new beginnings.
I would like to start off thanking everyone who has continually supported my story. Honestly, reviews give me the inspiration to write. It's wonderful to know that people care enough about your work to want to comment on it. Thank you so much to everyone who's ever left a review.
I'm not sure how many people that have read this story have read my other works, but I would love feedback if you have. I wanted to change up my writing style this time, and I hope that means I improved!
I'm not a perfect writer, so if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to message me and I'll get back to you :) In a few weeks I'll begin editing, and any suggestions would be appreciated!
I like sharing my inspirations, and for this specific story I have a couple of sources. (All music) The following songs helped me a lot during the last few months: "Run" by Snow Patrol, "Pull my heart away" by Jack Penate, "Comes and goes" by Greg Laswell, "Shake it out" by Florence and The Machine, "Walking" by The Dodos, and "Fight Song" by The Republic Tigers.
Please look forward to my next work:)
As always, Quix