Funny Romance Adventure

It took all of...oh, forty seconds, give or take, for Jen to peel herself from the security guard's stilted flirtation, tuck the bag of smoke bombs under a bench near the entrance, pull the fake watch onto her wrist, slip into a side hallway to tear off the outer skirts of her gown, trip the fire alarms, and return to the ballroom. 

She wove her way through the baffled partygoers in their various 21st-century ideas of "ballgowns". None cast more than a glance in her direction, most too busy cramming for the door as alarms overhead proclaimed what must certainly be their imminent doom.

That doom was a farce, of course, but she didn't need to tell them that. She had a good deal more fun watching the women—and some men—try their best to faint into someone's arms in front of the still-running camera crews. The theatrics didn’t help much with an orderly evacuation; the drama value seemed a higher priority to these folk. Apparently, people who paid thousands of dollars just to look at some art and eat undersized hors d’oeuvres craved attention over their own well-being. Shocking.

As Jen reached the back of the ballroom, she gave a lazy side glance to ensure no one was watching—they weren't, thanks to the aforementioned fainting spells—and ducked into the back hallway. The exhibit room lay just beyond. While all entrances to the room were supposed to automatically lock when the alarms came on, Jen hadn't found it difficult at all to section off the signals exuded by the smoke alarms, and as such, only the ballroom and entrance hall had received the messages they were supposed to receive.

She slipped into the art-filled room. It was dim, with no decor but a few velvet ropes and six pedestals stiffly perched on their respective portion of the floor. The entry ticket had mentioned some pieces of art, an ancient artifact, and a historic something-or-other, but Jen walked straight over to a pedestal in the left corner without looking at any of them. On it lay a watch—rather nondescript; not even particularly expensive-looking—with a plaque that said muffled words about some important person. Jen didn't quite care. She knew it was the watch she had been hired to find, the one that looked almost identical to the fake on her own wrist.

Sidestepping a velvet rope around the pedestal, she undid the duplicate watch and held it up next to the priceless historical wonder. Both carried a brown leather band, slightly scuffed, with an emotional inscription on the back and those dratted roman numerals lining the clock face. Her duplicate was noticeably lighter, but she would be long gone before such a thing was found by anyone. Satisfied, she reached out a silk-gloved hand toward the watch.

Then she paused.

She felt something cold tap the back of her head.


Jen ducked, spinning while snatching and yanking at the arm that held the gun. Off-balance, her attacker stumbled forward but stopped before he could crash into the pedestal and its contents, instead turning back to her just in time for her to get a jab into his diaphragm. He gasped, and she grabbed his chin, yanking him up to look at her.

She, too, gasped then.

"...Jared?" she choked.

Suddenly, all their "random" encounters made a lot more sense.

The handsome not-quite stranger's eyes widened, and he stiffened momentarily in her grip. Then he cursed. "Of course. Of course." He tried to twist out of her grip, and she shoved him down further. He grabbed her hand and twisted it, forcing her to let go. As he backed up, she pulled her own gun from a holster on her leg.

He cursed again, seeing it, then he raised his arms and one of those sarcastic heart-melting smirks hit his face. "So, Tiffany—still out on your tour of the world, huh? Innocent little Colorado girl who's always wanted to see the big city?"

"I can't—you are kidding. My story was better than yours. At least I didn't play the ‘traveling home for a funeral’ card. I mean, what kind of sick—"

"You're going to berate me about my morals while standing here with a gun in one hand and the other literal inches away from stealing a couple-million-dollar watch?" He raised a brow.

She snorted. "Oh, yeah, so why do you happen to be here? Just dropping in, right? A casual visit to an art show before you go pick up flowers for dear old Papa?"

"You—" He cut himself off and cocked his head. The alarms still blared, but she heard shouting start to pick up outside. She glanced back; the door was closed. When she looked back at "Jared", she was met, yet again, with the barrel of his gun.

"Sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I did think we had a spark there." He kept the gun trained on her as he reached backward. He was close to the pedestal, she realized, just as he snatched the watch from its constraints.

Another alarm started to call out, and Jen sighed. "You do realize that we both have less time now, right?"

He chuckled, lifting the watch to look at it. "In theory, yes. But now I have someone so lovely to steal the attention away from me."

Jen huffed out a fake chuckle of her own. "Charming. Like you think I'm going to let you leave with that."

"You're not." With the hand still holding the watch, he reached up and cocked his gun. "Which is why, sadly, you won't be able to finish your grand world tour."

She took a few slow steps toward him, placing the barrel of her own gun against his ribs. "You are cute, aren't you?" He glanced down at the gun. "Not very smart, though—you should've stayed at Papa’s. The moment your finger tightens, I shoot you, and we both go down. If you wait, they come, and we still both go down."

He pondered on this a moment. The room was starting to grow hazy; a few of Jen's bags filled with smoke bombs, laid carefully around the building, did wonders for the fake fire she set up as a distraction. They also, unfortunately, signified a lengthy passage of time that Jen hadn’t accounted for in her plans. She would be surprised if they had more than a minute before "help" arrived to arrest them.

“So…” he began, “when we saw each other on the subway, it wasn’t really ‘fate’ bringing us together, was it?”

“Are you insane?” Jen dug the gun further into his ribs. “Make your choice, ‘Jared’. We both are captured, or we work together and get out of here.”

“And your name isn’t really Tiffany, is it?”

She stared at him.

"And—you know, I'm betting that whole sob story you made up about your—"

“Give me the watch.”

“—ex-boyfriend was a lie, too, wasn't it?”

Jen growled.

“You seemed nicer on the plane.”

“I'm this close to shooting you.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.” Jared grinned. “I mean, you said it yourself—they’re coming. Gunshots aren’t going to help either of us now.”

She spat, "I beg to differ. I would feel much, much happier if I shot you right now."

"Isn't that just—"

More yells cut through his idiocy. Then footsteps, overshadowed by those squealing alarms. Jen lunged forward, ducking under his gun and diving for the watch. Her fingers grasped it before he spun away, but she tripped him. Clattering across the floor, the watch danced out of both their reaches.

Jen leaped past him, "accidentally" stepping on his fingers in the process, and snatched the watch from the ground moments before Jared threw himself at her and the door smashed open.

Both of them spun as a few baffled firefighters and even more policemen tore into the room. It seemed they'd discovered the true source of the "fire". Jen slipped the watch into a nondescript fold in her gown and stood.

“Show me your hands!” someone yelled through the mist-filled room.

Jen set her gun down and raised her arms, cursing Jared and herself and her employers and this whole ridiculous job. Then she felt something—Jared’s gun—press into her back. The small weight in her pocket lifted as he took the watch.

“Don’t worry, officers.” His voice cut through their commands. “I’ve apprehended the criminal.”

Jen froze. The room froze. The alarms still pummelled the walls, but they bashed into a firm wall of silence. This was most certainly not where the situation was supposed to go.

She waited in breathless confusion as Jared announced his credentials and flashed a badge, then handed her over to be cuffed. She was jostled from the exhibit room into the smoke-filled ballroom, through the entryway, and outside. The front steps and gated pathway were blocked off, but crowds clogged the area outside, both former partygoers and shoving onlookers.

As she was ushered closer to the police cars near the sectioned-off crowd, Jen’s eyes caught on an over-dramatic woman near the front who fanned herself whilst blowing great sobs into a tuxedoed man’s coat.

Snagging a stray bit of theatrical advice from the woman, she wavered in her steps. 

“I—I don’t…” Jen began, then she fainted—quite fabulously, she thought—into the officer who held her, shoving him a couple paces toward the crowd and into Jared.

She “came to” moments later in both their arms, then stumbled again, dropping something into the straps on her heels before righting herself. She apologized profusely. The officer glared. Jared hid a smirk. 

After pushing her against a cop car and listing off her rights, the officer handed Jen over to Jared, who patted her down, retrieving an assortment of small knives from her gown. Those he observed with a wry tsk before handing them over to one of the men standing behind. When he reached her feet, it took every bit of Jen’s willpower to pull herself back from kicking him. She could only watch as he finished his search, stood up empty-handed, and whispered “nice try” before shoving her into the car.

She waited oh-so patiently in the silence while people buzzed around her for an unnecessarily long amount of time. Then someone slid into the driver's seat, and she wished she could go back to the empty car.

“We really do just keep finding each other, don’t we?” His cheerful voice had lost all trace of authoritative “officer-ness”. "It seems I get the privilege of taking you back."

She scowled at him.

He laughed, returning his gaze to the crowds and shifting the car forward. They worked their way slowly out of the area; the gawkers, it seemed, lost interest quickly, leaving a fairly open pass through which they could escape.

Jared, after a few minutes of this tired pace, asked, “so was the meeting at the bar an accident?"

Jen frowned.

He paused, rubbing his chin. "I mean, the subway was definitely part of the job, timing- and destination-wise. And…I guess I should’ve realized the interview was no coincidence, either…but the bar really was just an innocent venture, on my part, and I just happened to bump into the delightful Tiffany while enjoying a drink.”

Jen didn’t respond.

“And…you know, the park really should’ve tipped me off. I mean, meeting you time and time again could've almost been luck, but that was just one stroke too many." He snorted. "Like, who runs into the same random stranger at a random park in the middle of the day?”

Jen still didn’t respond, instead covertly reaching up and pulling at her hair. As her elaborately done updo—hours of work—fell down around her shoulders, her fingers grasped a bobby pin.

The handcuffs opened easily with a short click drowned out by Jared’s relentless droning.

After a few more moments, he pulled into a thin side street, parked the car on a red-marked curb, and stepped out. Walking around the car, he opened the door and extended a hand to her.

She dropped the cuffs into his waiting grasp. Swinging her legs from the car, she stepped onto the curb and started walking away.

“No ‘thank you for saving my life back there’?” he drawled from behind.

Jen glanced back, jaw dropping. “You’re kidding, right? You were perfectly content to send me to jail and take the fall for the watch that you stole.”

He grinned without a trace of bashfulness. “I hardly think I deserve such criticism—the police will be occupied for quite a while with a lovely, nonexistent criminal named ‘Tiffany’, thanks to me.”

Jen almost replied, but she spotted a man walking across the street glancing toward them, then the car, then back at them. Catching her line of sight, Jared saw him, too.

She scowled as he looked toward her again. “I wish them the best of luck at finding her, then." She took a few steps back. "In the meantime, I hope to never 'accidentally' run into you again."

"I can't say I hope the same," he said with a wink.

She gave him a mock-pitying smile and turned on her heel. For a moment, all she heard were her own footsteps and the distant call of sirens and car horns. Then came a long sigh from behind her, and steps growing quieter, quieter, until they faded into the background of the city.

Jen reached into the hidden fold in her dress, lifting out its contents. The watch—the real one this time—had a small slip of paper taped to its surface. Jen frowned, squinting. 

A number was scrawled on it, along with a shameless "call me (;".

November 08, 2022 03:19

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Noa Gardner
14:49 Feb 28, 2023

I laughed out loud when the message said: "Call me ;)" Such a funny story! Well done!


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Tommy Goround
21:01 Nov 16, 2022

Nice to see a story with action.


Sylvan Turley
23:37 Nov 16, 2022

Thanks! Glad you liked it


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Raelyn Morgan
18:38 Nov 16, 2022

Sylvan Turley- I am a high schooler who is currently doing a project on your short story. I was wondering, what is the title of this story? Thank you so much!!


Sylvan Turley
23:33 Nov 16, 2022

Thanks for reading it! The title right now is “Time and Again” (:


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