Friday, August 22, 2014

"Hustlers" by Claire Chilton (Novella)

Genre:  New Adult Romance

Type of Short Story:  Novella

Summary:  Her first heist was perfect until romance got in the way... 

Ellie Phillips doesn’t want to go to university. She wants to keep running cons with her father and her brother, Jimmy, just like she always has. When she strikes a deal with her dad to run the perfect heist, she bets her future on the result.

All she has to do is dig up the dirt on a shady millionaire. To do so, she needs to get into his hotel and snoop around. Unfortunately, when she runs into the mark’s son, Matt, and falls for him, she lets her guard down and everything starts to spiral out of control...


“We need to talk about you being more responsible.” Ellie Phillips widened her eyes when she heard her father’s voice echo through the Bluetooth device in her ear.

“Is now really the best time to discuss my future?” she asked as she scrambled through the tight space of an air vent. The silver shaft felt claustrophobic as she crawled through it, and every movement caused a metallic thunk to echo down it.

“It’s as good a time as any,” her father said.

She shook her head as she reached the grill at the end of the tunnel. “I really do think this could be a conversation for another day,” she muttered as she reached into the pocket of her black jeans and pulled out a small, electric screwdriver. She began unscrewing the vent.

“You’re eighteen now. It’s time you started thinking about taking on some responsibility. You can’t keep doing cons forever.”

“Why not? You did,” she muttered as she dropped the grill into the office below and then lowered herself out of the crawlspace in the roof and into the room beneath her.


“Nothing,” she mumbled as she dropped through the hole and landed in the middle of an open-plan office. She ducked down, crouching in the dark as she scanned the office with her pulse racing. The room was empty.

“I’d like you to start thinking about your future. I’d like you to start taking on a bit more responsibility.” Her father continued as she narrowed her eyes, checking for shadows moving on the walls. Nothing moved. She breathed a sigh. The alarms in the office were disabled, but she needed to make sure there weren’t any guards wandering around.

“I think you need to stay out of trouble and go to college.”

“What?” She widened her eyes again before lowering her voice to a whisper. “Are you getting senile dementia or something?”

“It’s a perfectly reasonable expectation that a father should have for his daughter.”

She shook her head as she stood up and hurried over to the nearest computer terminal. “Given the current situation, I don’t think it’s a realistic expectation. Is Jimmy ready?”

“I’m ever-ready, sweetheart.” Jimmy’s voice echoed through the Bluetooth.

“You’re up,” she said as she switched on the computer and plugged in the USB. She brushed back a wisp of dark hair that had escaped her ponytail and was tickling her cheek.

“You need to stop being a little criminal and start thinking about your future,” her father said.

“I have a future.” She frowned at the shadows near the door then quickly crouched behind the desk when one of them moved. There was someone else here.

“You can’t con your way through life.”

“Why not? You did,” she whispered, staring at the door.

“Damnit, Ellie! I’m serious.”

“So am I. If you want me to be more responsible, let me manage this job.” She paused for a moment, unsure of why she’d said that. She didn’t really want to manage anything. It was about time she did, but she was reluctant to take on that kind of responsibility. Since she’d turned eighteen, her father had been nagging her to think about the future, and the only future she could envision was one as a hustler, just like her father.

She frowned at the shadows, and her pulse raced as she watched a large guard heading toward the open doorway.

Crap, maybe I should learn to manage breaking and entering first.

She closed her eyes for a second, mentally kicking herself. If he came into the office, he’d find the grate from the air vent on the floor. It wouldn’t take him long to work out she was in here.

“What’s going on?” her father asked.

“I might be busted,” she muttered out of the side of her mouth as the guard stepped into the room. She hitched her breath when he reached for the light switch.

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