Deany and Amber can't find the way back to her house.

Deany lightly grasped hold of Amber's tiny hand and laughed affably as they strode away from the trees.  The rain continued to wash away the scenery around them.  It was late, and dark, and the town was asleep.  Deany warily spotted a couple of far-off lanterns inside homes up the hill, where Amber lived. 

She continued merrily rambling on about cupcakes and unicorns while inside Deany's head, a much more frightening dialog took place between two opposing forces within him.  Anger welled up hot, making everything he saw tinted red and vibrate just a little; he was so stupid for allowing his greed to get the better of him and getting himself caught!  For months he had outsmarted the unsuspecting citizens, the authorities, and various security measures, and finally he stood to be brought to justice by a damned toddler?!  Things had to be done.

He had to think.

He veered off toward the ocean wall, a walkway with a stone fence atop a thirty-foot drop into the surging waves below.  The storm had stirred up a lot of tidal energy and Deany could hear the violent crashes of each wave as they collided with the wall, and he and the girl had yet to come within sight of the walkway.  The rain pelted his neck and coursed down his back and under his tunic.  He kept his face down and flipped his hood over his head.  He was sure no one was about, but caution dictated he take no chances.  Actions were about to be taken, irrevocable actions, and he no one could see him tonight and possibly remember him in the upcoming days.

No one.

Suddenly Amber's rambling ceased and she became aware of her surroundings, "Hey, dis not the way back home!"

Inside Deany's head, one of the voices, the strong, angry one, screamed at him, Shut up!  Shut up!  Shut up!  Stuff a damned rag in that brat's mouth if that what it takes to keep her quiet, but for God's sake SHUT HER UP!

But aloud Deany said, calmly, almost whimsically, "We're not going back the way we came, little one.  We're going someplace NEW!"

Amber's little moon face looked up at Deany with the utmost trust, "Oooh, is it pwetty?"

Deany smiled, rain ran down his face and into his teeth as he said, "The most beautiful sight in the whole world."

Amber giggled and clapped, her excitement peaking.

Deany brought her along the path for another minute, until the trees parted and the walkway sat before them, the thundering ocean beyond, crashing in the darkness.  Deany felt Amber's little hand tighten inside his, and though he would prefer digging for pearls in an outhouse than to hold a child he nonetheless plucked the trembling little girl up by her armpits and hoisted her as high as he could reach over his head.  She squealed with joy and he told her, "Don't be frightened.  Come with me.  I'll show you something amazing."

He set her down at his side and though she looked skeptically toward the rumbling sea in the darkness beyond the wall , she relented, "Okay, less go see!"

Again Deany's teeth shown as his lips parted in an evil grin.  He whispered happily, "Let's go."

It was less than twenty paces to the wall, but for Deany it took all night to finally get there.  As they approached, Amber's fear took over and she tugged at his hand with all her might.  When he looked down at her face, it was contorted in terror.  She shook her head over and over, "I don't wanna, I don't wanna!  Lemme go home!"

That damnable screeching was going to get him caught.  Deany's head swiveled from side to side as he searched the rain for someone he knew would be approaching him and the girl at any moment.

He and Amber were alone.

He knelt down on one knee to level his eyes to hers.  He altered his smile to one he hoped was one of trust and leaned into the wiggling girl in a friendly manner, "I swear we'll only be here a minute, but you will never see the sea so angry as you will tonight."

Amber stopped fighting and stared dubiously up at Deany, the trust returning to her gaze ever so slightly, "Nevah?"

Deany shook his head and said, "It's a once-in-a-lifetime sight, all right."

She was close, but still she hesitated.  Deany wanted nothing more than to snatch her up and toss the little brat into the raging tide, but he used the last of his restraint to smile calmly and tell her, "Only for a moment, then we'll get you back home."

The amazing things about children is how trusting they are, and how easily they can be swayed.  Amber smiled and gripped Deany's hand with acceptance.  She nodded, "Okay."

Deany brought her to the wall and picked her up.  "It's okay, I've got you," he told her when she balked, "isn't it beautiful?  Look closer.  Don't be afraid..."

The End

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