There came the clickety clack, clickety clack of a horse’s hooves on cobblestone. The noise so loud and slow and steady and rhythmic. I held my breath and squeezed my eyes shut as if it could make me disappear. To be found would be the death of me. And I was not ready to die.

If I had known it was his, I wouldn’t have taken it. Now I was hid in a darkened corner on a putrid, dirty street, listening to death inch closer with a clickety clack, clickety clack, the fear evaporating like steam from my skin.

He’d killed for less. Done away with a dozen men or more for the smallest of infractions. Chopped a man’s head clean off for a too small portion of stew in the pub, ran another through the heart with his sword for soiling his boots. He’d drowned young master Liam in a barrel of beer for daring to make eyes at his woman. And here I’d taken the most precious thing of all from the most dangerous man on the streets.

Such a fool, I was.

I held the brooch between my fingers, like a talisman. I squeezed my fingers so tightly around it I could feel it digging its way through my skin, the precious stones pricking at my fingers like scorpions stinging stinging. How was I to know it was the last thing she had given him before she’d flung herself into the river, her dress laden with stones? Why would we have left such a precious thing in such a way as for me to come and take it?

The pawn shop owner’s eyes had widened in horror when he’d looked through his jeweler’s glass.

“Where did you get this!” he’d gasped, flinging it back at me, not even waiting for my answer before throwing me out of his store. It was only the third time I was being pushed out through a pawnshop’s door that I’d found out whose it was. My fingers had gone numb, when I’d heard. My heart had clenched. I knew I was done for.

I wanted to put it back. But it was too late. He’d been asking around, and those who’d seen me try to pawn it were only happy enough to ingratiate themselves to him. Now, a lesson would be taught.

A tear escaped my eye and ran away down my cheek as I shivered there in the shadows. I listened to my breath, ragged and shallow, a melody in time with the clickety clack, clickety clack of my death coming towards me.

I could feel him drawing closer, the smell of his horse drifting into my nose, the sharp snort of its breath, the heat of them both inching nearer.

Clickety clack. Clickety clack.

And then, as I sensed the shadow towering over my quivering body, came the very worst sound of all.

Silence.

 

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