Lizzy’s dress was slowly becoming heavier and heavier as the night wore on. It was no illusion born of fatigue. Her gown was literally getting heavier from all of money and jewels she was nicking off of people at the ball.
She had stolen an invitation and this ridiculous gown that afternoon and barely had time to do her hair and lace up the corset before the dancing begun. Lizzy was more used to pirating on the open seas in her little ship Longbourn, but with all of these nobles gathered in one place, she couldn’t resist. So many riches to be earned in just a few hour’s work. And there was food and merriment to be had! Lizzy had not had enough of either pleasures in the last few years. Perhaps she could woo a handsome noble, get whisked away for some inappropriate frivolity, and steal his wallet while he was unawares. Lizzy smiled to herself wickedly, unable think of a better way to spend the evening.
She was just tucking a pocketwatch into her cleavage when she spotted him across the room. Tall, dark, and handsome, the man looked utterly bored by the proceedings. That meant that he was both vulnerable to her charms and had enough money to find a ball dull. He was the perfect candidate.
Lizzy flicked open her fan and casually strolled over to where he was glowering in the corner. She fluttered both the fan and her eyelashes in the demure manner she had often observed of the women of the court. “Excuse me, sir, but have we met before?”
He glared at her for a second and immediately looked past her. “I do not believe that we have.”
She bristled. “Then I must have been mistaken. I confused you for a gentleman that was once in my acquaintance.”
His gaze returned to Lizzy at the word gentleman and he looked startled. Then he blinked and hesitated. At that moment the music changed to a waltz, and Lizzy was surprised when he held out a hand. “My apologies, madam. Would you care to dance?”
Lizzy took his hand and let him lead her to the dance floor. He was a confident lead that was easy to follow, and Lizzy found herself getting swept up in the music and the strong line of his jaw. It wasn’t until halfway through the song that she remembered she should be trying to pickpocket him.
“You are such a good dancer, sir,” Lizzy gushed, placing her hand on his chest to search for a wallet or watch. Nothing there. Dammit.
“It is easy when my partner is so graceful,” he replied smoothly.
She would have been flattered if she hadn’t know intuitively that he said things like that to all the women he danced with. Lizzy let her hand run down to his waist and hoped that he kept his valuables there. “You make me feel graceful, sir,” Lizzy whispered. “You are so strong and manly.” She knew she was laying it on thick, but she had to have some excuse for her blatant groping.
Luckily, this man was an arrogant prick. He preened under her compliment. But her search for valuables was unsuccessful and Lizzy had to put her hand back in his or else risk utter impropriety. The song was ending and all Lizzy had gained was a few breathless moments and the chance to touch the strong muscles of a stuck-up aristocrat.
As the band played their final notes and the crowd politely clapped, the man took both of Lizzy’s hands in his own and gently kissed her knuckles. “This was a pleasure,” he said, his eyes strangely dancing with mirth. “I won’t soon forget the opportunity to dance with you, Captain.”
Lizzy didn’t have a chance to register what the man had said before he pulled his sword from the scabbard hanging at his hip and lifted it up into the air. As if they had been waiting for his cue, several dozen men from the crowded ballroom lifted their swords as well and screamed in unison. Her dance partner jumped on the banquet table next to them and bellowed, his low voice echoing on the ballroom’s marble walls.
“Good evening, lords and ladies! Give up all of your valuables and no one gets hurt! Fight back, and you will have to deal with the fearsome Captain Darcy and his crew!” The men cheered again, and all around the room Lizzy saw people reach into their purses for their gold and jewels. Lizzy bent down to grab the dagger strapped to her thigh, but before she could straighten up again, a strong hand was around her wrist. She looked up to see Captain Darcy glaring at her in a disapproving manner one usually reserved for children.
“Tut tut, Captain Bennet. What did I say about fighting back?” He pulled the dagger out of her hand and tossed it on the floor. Captain Darcy smirked and reached into her dress pocket to pull out the heavy purse she had swiped not twenty minutes ago. “And what is this?” His smile grew. “I would like to have all you pilfered tonight, Captain.”
Lizzy grumbled as she slowly and carefully emptied her pockets of the valuables she had acquired. “How did you know?” she asked.
Captain Darcy pulled out a particularly stunning bracelet and smiled greedily. “Your efforts to pick my pocket were amateur. And I saw a Wanted poster last year.” He tapped his temple. “I never forget a face.”
His men worked quickly looting the room and making their way towards the door. Captain Darcy filled his pockets with her stolen goods and offered her a solemn, low bow. “Until we meet again, Captain Bennet. Perhaps next time you will think a little bigger.” He turned away and strode through the ballroom, the crowds parting as he passed. When he and his men exited the room, the music started once again and the guests began buzzing with fear and excitement.
Lizzy bent down to retrieve her dagger, a favorite gift from a beloved father. As she tucked it back into its sheath, she grit her teeth and made a silent vow. She would be seeking revenge on the arrogant Captain Darcy if it was the last thing she would do.