~Who's Child Is This?~

"No. We cannot keep her. Put her back where you found her, Scott." Sean Ambrose ordered Scott Summers, who is uncomfortably trying to balance the soft bundle in his arms.

"But, Sean." Ethan Hunt protested, looking into the baby's icy ocean blue eyes, while holding the basket she was found in. "We can't just leave her here. She'll die!" Even though these two, Sean Ambrose and Ethan Hunt, have different last names and different looks, they are actually twins––with Sean older by minutes. They did share the same last name––Evans––until one day they got sick of it and changed it into two different names. Of course, they do have some resemblance, even if Sean spent most of his life in Scotland and has a heavy British accent, while Ethan spent most of his life in Washington. They both have dark brown hair, dark eyes, and very handsome. In fact, all six of them are. They are all very handsome, very charming, and very good-humored. They even apologize in the middle of the jewelry store for the people's inconvenience. Oops, you guys don't know that yet.

"Yeah, Sean. You don't really mean we have to put her back into the dump, do you?" Hugh Stamp demanded as pushed his sun-bleached blonde hair out of his eyes. "I bet she isn't even three months old." He exclaimed in his luscious Australian accent, tickling the baby's chin. She smiled, revealing one tooth.

You may think these six young gentlemen found the baby while strolling home from an elegant late night party or something, but––you are wrong.

These six gentlemen––Sean Ambrose, Ethan Hunt, Hugh Stamp, Scott Summers, Neo Anderson, and "Dr." David Poole––have just made their escape from the jewelry store in downtown Los Angeles. Their 21st––at least––success in robbing jewelry stores. They call themselves––The Darins. You probably think they kill and rob and do all sorts of bad things, right? Well, you are wrong again. They have done nothing bad––yet––but rob stores. They are robbers, not bloody murders. Of course, they all do have guns, but that was for self-defense. They haven't tried to shoot anyone, except shooting in the air or missing the person on purpose, just to scare the heck out of them. They help the poor out sometimes.

Right now, every one of them are very amused at the tiny bundle, except Sean, that was now laying comfortably in Ethan's arms. They fretted over her as if they were the expectant fathers. He cuddled her closer to his chest protectively.

"Ethan's right, you know," David remarked, as amused at the baby as the rest. "We can't just leave her…"

"It just drooled on me!" Neo's squawking interrupted David. "Is that bad?" He looked panicked for a second.

"God, Neo!" Ethan scolded, giving the baby back to Scott. "This baby is not an alien!" He brushed the wasps of reddish-gold curls from her head into the little pink cap she had on. "Who would leave such beautiful creature in the dump?" He murmured.

"I don't think she is pretty." Sean stated indignantly. "Besides, she bit me with that one teeth when I reached down." He added huffily.

"Smart kid." Hugh remarked, grinning. Just then, he tensed. "You guys. The police…he is heading this way!" He turned and hissed at Scott. "Put that baby somewhere."

"Where?" Scott's dark eyes looked bewildered. "Here." He thrusted the baby at Hugh.

"No. Not me. Put her somewhere else!" Hugh tried to shove her back.

It was too late. The police saw them and called, "Have you gentlemen happen to see several men headed this way? They had robbed the downtown jewelry store." Then, he stopped and stared at the bundle that is now in Hugh's stiff arms. "It that a baby? She is such a sweetheart. May I hold her?" He cooed. "I just adore babies. Is she teething yet? What's her name?"

"Nicole!" Scott burst out. And the same time, Neo stammered,


The police looked puzzled. David cleared his throat and jumped in, "Um…officer, her name happens to be Nicole…ahhh…Shannons." He took a deep breath.

"What does the 'A' stand for?" The officer pressed.

"Um…A?" David darted Ethan a look.

"Yeah, you said her name was Nicole A. Shannons." The police looked suspicious. Ethan coughed and cleared his throat.

"The 'A'? It stands for…uh…Alicia." He ended, proud of himself.

The officer looked pleased. "Ahhhhh…a beautiful name for a beautiful baby." He handed the baby back to the pack of robbers and Hugh cradled her protectively closer to his chest. For the split second, Hugh had a mischievous glint in his laughing and dancing emerald green eyes.

"Here, Nicky. Your daddy misses you soooo much." He cooed and purred. At that moment, Hugh shoved baby Nicole into Sean's panicking arms.

Sean was ready to pass out when the baby was shoved at him. He almost dropped her while making a big scene trying to balance her on his hips. He was the only one in the whole group that was not fond of kids, especially babies. Maybe we should get to know the robbers more.

Lets start with the twins, both 37. Sean and Ethan came from a good family and grew up to be successful agents, except for the fact that they soon got fed up with been a Mr. Perfect and wanted to live a life of excitement. They got together with their friends and got into robbing the stores. Both men were hard muscled and almost six feet tall. Ethan has the clearest and bluest, icy crystal blue eyes that absolutely sucks people in, while Sean had soft and most of the time, gruff dark eyes. Ethan was the good-natured and gentler of the two. And Sean is the sterner, firmer, and more difficult between them. They complemented each other on just about everything. Ethan was sneakier and slyer. Sean was stronger and more evil. Both men sly and evil in the hilarious way. Ethan was better navigator. Sean was a better leader. Ethan has more knowledge. And Sean has more common sense. Ethan took comfort in the company of men, talked easily with them, and enjoyed a good laugh. Sean was partial to solitude––a man of few words––but in there were strength in those long silences and great meaning in those short sentences. What one lacked the other had. This gang would have two leaders, but they would lead as one. They made a hilarious team together.

Now, let us get to Hugh. He wasn't as old as the twins, but was still a tall and distinguished man. He was an expert hijacker before he partnered up with the gang. He mainly hijacks planes and was the expert hijacker of the gang. He can get the motor of any kind of transportation going without a key and he can break in without out a scratch. Before he hijacked transportation, he baby-sitted his landlord's kids to pay for his rent. He has sun bleached blonde hair that was practically always neatly combed and warm, trusting, emerald green eyes.

Doctor David Poole VDM was a doctor before he was dragged into this unhealthy business. His major status was considering with medical cause. He came from a big family, so anything about babies and kids, you can ask him. He has golden wheat colored hair and ocean blue eyes with a swirl of sea green in them. Added on with determined jaw, quiet a few girls had fallen for him.

Neo, 37, famous for computer hacking in the team, was one of the youngest team members. His job in the team was mostly hacking into confidential stuff or to decode the password that gets them into banks. Of course, he doesn't do that for a job. He was a computer technician. In the robbers' word, a computer freak. His dark hair and smiling dark midnight blue eyes can win anybody that looks deep into it.

So in this team, we have two experienced agents, an expert hijacker, a doctor, and a computer freak hacker technician. But besides that, we also have a lawyer. His name happens to be Scott. Also known for the lawyer that can argue about a single boring case the longest. He came from a ranch with lots of animals. His deep chocolate brown hair is a perfect match to his equally lashes and dark eyes that held a glint of mischievous laughter in them.

Back to the scene of crime, now that the officer had left, he left the agents as puzzled as ever. "So what are we doing with her." Sean demanded.

"I know. Since we can't take care of her properly, let's put her on someone's doorstep. That way, she will get taken care of." Scott suggested. Since there was no other solutions. It was decided. On the note card that had placed in the basket with the baby, it said:

Dear house owner,

My name is Nicole Alicia Shannons. I am three months old. I was placed in your care as the legal guardians. Thank you.

It was not until fourteen years later, before the robbers and Nicole met again…maybe by fate, maybe by luck….

~Reunion at Tiffany's~

It was late in the afternoon. A very pretty teenage girl about the age of fourteen hurried through the leaf covered sidewalk. She had been in the library secretly studying Italian. Her creamy fair skin was a perfect match to her rich strawberry blonde hair. Her sparkling crystal ocean blue eyes was brought out by an old light blue shirt. Wearing old, second handed, or clothes bought at a thrift store was not a surprise to her––since Bill and Emily, her legal guardians, had never bought clothes for her before. But it was not the clothes that made her pretty. She was naturally lovely even though she was dressed in a shabby shirt much too large for her and a pair of pants that just about swept the whole town's streets. She looks like almost nothing in the big, baggy clothes––since her family often have the habit of starving her. Her name happens to be Nicole Alicia Shannons. And if you think she is living happily with her family––she is not.

Nicole took a deep breath and then turned the doorknob, preparing herself for another hard evening. She cringed as the door squeaked loud enough to be heard over the whole house. She tiptoed into the dimly lighted room and tried to sneak into her room.

Too late. Bill Rogers' voice thundered as the whole house shook from it. "Nicole! Where have you been?! Why hasn't dinner been started! Your mother had a hard morning, you should have been home earlier to help her!" With no warning, the big man struck Nicole hard with the flat of his hand, a full blow that sent her spinning across the room and crashed into the coffee table. She crumpled to the floor. "You fool! Studying Italian, indeed! You really think you can master a language that even your smart, good-looking brother can't? You are nothing but a nobody!" The blow had split Nicole's lips, and blood oozed from the cut. A thin trickle of blood making its way down Nicole's chin. "I'm going to have to teach you a lesson! A lesson that you'll never forget!" With two long strides, he crossed the room and aimed a kick at her with his heavy boots. But she had enough experience to roll away to avoid the full force of the blow.

Not that it help, soon Nathan, Nicole's drop dead gorgeous brother with his baby blue eyes and blonde hair, wondered into the living room, eating an apple.

"Nate, clear the table." His father commanded. Nathan brushed the cups and magazines off the table with a sweep of his arm and Bill roughly dragged Nicole to the table. And while Nathan pressed his sister down firmly on the coffee table with his big hands, Bill took his belt down at his daughter's slim body––full force––over and over again. And not just the belt, the buckle as well. Trying to keep from crying out, Nicole bit her lips her lips so hard that she drew blood. The bitter-sweet taste of the blood filled her mouth.

Finally, Bill threw the belt down in exhaustion and frustration. "Nathan, take your sister back to her room and lock her in there. For disobeying my order, she shall have no dinner tonight nor breakfast and lunch tomorrow." He gasped for breath.

Nathan threw his limp little sister over his shoulder and strode upstairs into the room farthest from the hallway on the second floor. As he got there, he opened the door to the room and dumped her on the bed. She curled up on the bed, in case her brother decides to take a few swats at her himself, which he usually does. But instead of doing that, Nathan just drew the key from his pocket and locked her inside her room.

As soon as the lock clicked into place, Nicole slowly pulled herself from the bed and looked into the mirror. She shuddered. The girl in the mirror is definitely not her. The girl was too skinny. There was a huge dark bruise on her cheek and the blood oozing from her lips hasn't stopped. There was a dark circle around her eyes from staying up late to do all the jobs Emily or any member of the family refuse and didn't want to do. Slowly, painfully, she lifted her shirt over her head. Reluctant to look, she peeked at the wounds on her back. Most of the welts were bruised and in dark colors. There were a few exceptions to a few welts that were bloody and cutted deep into the flesh from the belt. Ever so slowly, she took out the tube of medicine that she had managed to smuggle into the house and squirted some on her fingers. She gasped and almost passed out as the medicine touched her skin and pain shot through her body and her nerves.

"Oh, Lord. How long is this going to last?" She whispered. "How long and I going to keep living without really knowing who I am and who I really belong to?"

"Okay. The coast is clear. Let's go!" The command rang out as six unusually charming and handsome young men all wearing black suits and sunglasses stepped out of the trailer and headed for the Tiffany's, the famous jewelry store. Their hair were neatly combed, their suits crisply pressed and their shoes' polish shined. They were The Darins––as gorgeous as ever even after fourteen years. But before they can set a foot in Tiffany's, a gigantic explosion rang out behind them.

"Holy macaroni!" Neo ripped off his sunglasses he stared at the huge explosion. Debris flew everywhere, showering around them. "The trailer! All my movie star posters are in there! And Nicole Kidman's!" He wailed. All the robbers lost their "Too Cool" act as they stared at their newly bought trailer––now in pieces. But just at that time another similar trailer that belongs to Bill Rogers came slowly into the parking lot. The large driver poked his head out of the window and grumbled, "Freaks! Bombed their own trailer." He told his wife as he parked the trailer right in front of the store and headed up to Tiffany's.

Nicole flinched as her father stuck his head out the window and bellowed, "Freaks!" And Emily, a totally spoiled rotten mom managed to squealed––at a time like this, "Oh, Bill, are you really going to get me a diamond? Can we get the biggest in the store?" For the time been, Nicole decided that if she hide in a corner, Bill, Emily, or Nathan wouldn't notice her. Maybe she would be beaten around if she was lucky today.

The robbers came to their senses, they have to act quickly. The police would be here in a matter of minutes. If they were to rob the jewelry store, they have to do it now. Tripping over their own foot, they raced into the store. That was their first mistake––racing into the store. The second mistake was that the first thing they shouted out was, "Everybody freeze!" Aiming their gun at the owner. Unfortunately, the owner and the manager were well prepared ever since the bombing alarmed their store. Before the robbers knew what was coming at them, they were the targets of the storeowner, manager, and all the assistance and cashiers. Dodging and scrambling out of the store, the robbers most tripped over the three dead bodies of the Rogers family.

Racing outside, they jumped into the first thing they found. The Rogers' trailer. Hugh and Scott slammed into the front seat and Hugh started the car without the keys while Scott continued shooting at the store.

Nicole's eyes widened as she gaped at the attractive men that had just flipped through the car window in a midair somersault. She pressed even tighter and farther into the dark corner. The car suddenly rumbled smoothly as the engines came alive. Terrified, Nicole watched as the trailer pulled out of the parking lot and ran crazily down the street, causing car screeching to a stop, some slamming into each other.

"Well, got away that time." A man with golden-wheat colored hair said easily and good naturally, as if the incident that just happened happens every day. He sat in the computer chair, leaned back in relaxation, and crisscrossed his legs on the office table.

"Yeah, barely made it." An especially good-looking man strode to the refrigerator––where Nicole was cringing between it and the wall, praying that he wouldn't see her. Guess God received the message too late. His hand froze on the refrigerator handle. His dark eyebrows shot up and his crystal blue eyes widened. "Well, look what we've got here." He whistled. "I guess we did win something today. A princess that came along with the carriage." He smiled gently at her. And for the first time, Neo and Sean turned their attention to Ethan. And David took his foot down from the table as Ethan coaxed Nicole to come out.

"Come on, little lady, we won't bite. We won't hurt you." He assured her. Nicole nearly passed out as the four men lined up in a row, staring at her with their amusing, laughing eyes, taking in everything––including her cuts and bruises. She looked down at her feet, too ashamed to look up. She knew her appearance is not a pretty sight. Too skinny, too shabby, and too many bruises and cuts filled her body.

"Look up at people, little gal. You must never look down. You must look up and let the people know that they couldn't look down at you. You have nothing to be ashamed of, anyway, with those strawberry-blonde locks and those sparkling blue eyes of yours." David gently scolded.

All the men studied her again. There was something about her quiet shyness that appealed to all the men. But still, there seems to be something really familiar about her. Almost like they have met before. And as they stared into her attractive pretty face, despite of the cuts and bruises, they felt something stirred up deep inside of them. Like their souls were pulling out deep from their body. Something in her face that brought emotion and sensation into their already full of spiritual feeling. As if they had found something that they had lost a very long time ago. And just remember what it was. Except the fact that they don't know what it was.

"Before you say anything, missy." Sean ordered. "Tell us your name. And what are you doing in this trailer?"

"Sean, calm down. She's only a kid." Neo's eyes shined amusingly at her.

Nicole felt a tad better as she replied, tossing her blonde hair behind her shoulders, "My name is Nicole Alicia Shannons."

~It Was You?~

Nicole panicked as the robbers shot looks of shock, despair, surprise, and passion around to each other. Before she could run or crumple to the floor, Ethan spoke slowly, almost mechanically, "What's your name again?" He asked, dazed.

Nicole couldn't decide whether to repeat it or not, Sean snapped, "Speak up, missy!"

Nicole froze, then stammered, "N-Nicole Alicia Shannons."

"It was her." David whispered. "It was her we rescued fourteen year ago?"

Except for Sean, all the other robbers are shocked. He took one huge stride toward Nicole, took hold of her shoulders and hollered in her face, "What kind of nonsense are you talking about?! You are not Nicole Shannons! Blasted it, girl, if I find you lying, god help me, you are going to be more than sorry!" He let go of her and his fist came slamming down on the table. If they were shocked then, the robbers were even more stunned now. For Nicole came flying down at Sean's knee with a cry, "For the love of God, please don't hit me!" Her sweet, charming Irish accent mixed with a stronger British accent became stronger then usual. She continued to blabber, "He did it to me because I didn't defend for myself! I had just escape from that environment, you are not going to hit me! I won't let you!" With that last defiance phrase, she flung herself on the couch and started sobbing uncontrollably. It wrenched the robbers heart to hear the soul-wrenching sobs.

The trailer was quiet noisy now, with one of the robbers hollering at Sean, one just figuring out what was happening, and the other one muttering to himself, added on to the sobbing that Nicole was trying to muffle with no success.

"That was the most absurd and sickening scene I've ever seen." Neo muttered to himself.

"Sean! I never knew you were the most stupid, the most selfish, and the most disgusting creep, jerk, moron, idiot, you name it! That is you." Ethan wiggled his finger under his twin's nose. Sean looked mad enough to kill everyone, now.

"Oh my Lord," David whispered, stunned. "That's why she was so sensitive and scared. She was abused."

To his amazement, even though it was only a whisper that he said it in, the whole room became silent. Everyone was staring at the helpless young girl sprawled out on the couch, with tears streaming down her face. The tension was so thick that you can cut it with a knife.

David marched over to the couch and sat at the little room, beside the young helpless girl. "Nicole," He began gently. "We may be robbers, but we aren't bloody murders. We won't hurt you––ever." He added firmly and laid a hand on her back. To his surprise, Nicole jerked and exclaimed, "Ow!" Then her voice was weak before she passed out. "Please, I'm okay. Please don't…"

"David! What did you do!?" Ethan looks as stricken as David and the rest.

"She's okay, Mr. Overprotective!" David tried to say smoothly, though his heart was pounding in his chest and blood were pounding in his ears so loud that he was sure that the whole trailer could hear it. Ever so slowly, he gently pulled her shirt upward until her whole back showed.

"Oh, my Lord. Oh, God Almighty," He whispered. His eyes were closed against the terrible sight. His hand went unconsciously to his mouth to hold back a gasp. All the robbers inched forward and got a glimpse as well, before Dr. David went into action and ushered them away from his patient and called for Hugh to stop the car. After the car stopped, he shooed the robbers out of the car to tell Hugh what happened, leaving himself privately with Nicole.

Her wounds were so bad that there wasn't very much he could do for her, except that put disinfectant on it and bandage her whole back. The bruises and cut on her back had infected, leaving her once smooth, creamy, and tender back a painful look. After clipping his little doctor bag together, David stared into the girl's face.

"You'll be alright, Nicole." He whispered lovingly. "Both physically and emotionally. We will all see to that."

Meanwhile, outside the trailer, Hugh and Scott were amazed as well as worried.

"Is it really her?" Hugh asked, as dazed and feeling as dreamy as the rest of the robbers.

"Seriously, guys." Scott echoed. "You guys aren't just looking for some fun, teasing me around, right?" He looked a little suspicious as will as uncertain.

"We are serious." Neo insisted. "And you guys should have seen her back." He shook his head. "It was worse than…I don't know what. It is so terrible. They abused her. I wonder how she is doing?"

As if he could read his mind, David stepped out of the trailer and jogged down the steps over to them.

"She's fine. Just one thing, fellows. We have gain back her confidant and secure feeling. She trusts no one right now." David shook his head sadly. None of them knew the truth. Instead of just a meeting, it was love as first sight.

~A Time To Heal~

Nicole woke up the next morning to the gentle chirping of birds by her window…and someone burning the eggs.

Where am I? She wondered groggily. And why is Nathan fixing the eggs. She blinked. Who the heck is that blonde dude? And why isn't he wearing anything? Just then, he happened to turn, catching her gawking at him. He grinned easily, as if not wearing a shirt and a pair of slack was everyday routines––which, it was. Amusement shone from his mischievous dancing green eyes. He wiped his greasy hands on his boxers and strolled over to her after he put the eggs out of fire with the lid. She pulled her covers up to her chin and fixed him with a defiant look.

"Hey. We missed each other yesterday. Name is Hugh. Hugh Stamp, professional hijacker." He drawled lazily. Nicole wasn't sure, but pulled her hands out from her blankets and shook his big hands with her small ones.

As Nicole remembered what had happened yesterday, she bolted upright, having the thought of getting out of bed. She winced at the pain that is surging through her back. She was surprised at the crackle of bandage on her back. Shocked that somebody had bandaged her back without her knowing, she leaped out of bed, took a step, and tripped over a body after giving it a good kick. The figure gave a grunt. For the first time, she noticed the whole trailer was filled with lumps on the floor. Not a single space to walk. The figure under her moaned, then out popped a tired, scowling Neo from under the sleeping bag. His face softened as he saw her clumsily struggling to get up, only to flop over another bundle. That bundle stirred and the handsome face of Ethan revealed. Soon, a trailer filled with bodies simply dress like Hugh appeared.

He sat up. "Morning, Sugar." Ethan gave her a tired and gentle smile.

"How are you feeling this morning, Princess? OW!" The doctor's messy golden head immerged from under the small coffee table and gave its side a good whack as he tried to sit up. From across the room, Nicole could hear a voice mumbling an order.

"Hugh, go put a pair of slacks and a shirt on. We have a young lady in the trailer. Besides, none of us wants see your hairy leg and chest." Hugh glared at the good-natured face of a young man and whipped off the towel he had tied over his boxers. He stormed over to his sleeping bag and pulled on his black slacks and black office shirt.

"Did I smell something burning?" Neo sniffed the air.

"For the love of God! The eggs!" Hugh's blonde head poked through the stiff collar of the shirt and ran for the eggs. "No good. I put the fire out, but I guess I forgot to turn the burner off." He said after he tried to get the blackened eggs off the pan. "Permanently stuck on the pan." He added, dumping the whole pan of eggs…including the pan, into the garbage.

Nicole shook her head as she went and retrieved the hot pan from the garbage. And with what to be more confident around these fun, loving, and somewhat amusing robbers, she queried,

"Did you oil the pan before you dumped the eggs in?" She cocked her pretty face sideways, looking as cute as ever.

"What?" Hugh looked completely confused. Nicole looked at the other robbers, just getting out of their sleeping bag.

"Don't look at us." Ethan told her dryly. "He's the only one that can cook."

"Yeah, we've being surviving his either burned, or not cooked enough food for the past few years. I'd give anything for a woman's meal, specially my mother's." David added, somewhat wryly.

"Miracle we all survived." Scott remarked innocently, laying his pillow neatly on top of his sleeping bag under David's careful inspection. "I would be getting a lot of money now if I had sue him for food poisoning."

"Fine. Complain about the good, old Hugh. If it wasn't for him, you'd all either starve, or get caught by the police while buying your meal." He crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Anyone wants to have a turn trying to cook up breakfast? Because I think that I have just been laid off…or quitted." He added

Before anyone could say another word, there was suddenly a loud yell, "Run for your lives!" Everyone jumped about a mile high up into the air. Ethan's coffee went sloshing out of his cup. Then, Nicole noticed there was still one lump on the emerald green carpet. That "one lump" happens to be Sean.

Nicole, ignoring Sean, was now by the stove, cracking eggs and lining slices of bacon on the sputtering pan. During her days slaving around the kitchen while Emily talks on the phone, having her friends over for tea and gossip, or flirt with salesmen, paperboy, and police that come by, Nicole had became quite efficient in the kitchen. Now, under the robbers' perplexed gaze, she expertly flipped an egg into the air and caught it on its way down.

"My angel! My savior! My duchess! My queen!" Scott gushed as the savory smell of bacon wavered from the hot plate that Nicole had set before him. After they, including Sean, had settled down on the table, Ethan said grace. Nicole's eyes grew wilder and wilder with astonishment. The men were all eating like they haven't ate in their entire life! After just five minutes––maximum––plates asking for seconds were held up. Soon, all the men were arguing over who should get the last egg.

At last, when everyone had their full share and the dishes were done, they all went to the living room and sat down.

"So, Nicole. We should make a formal introduction. And then, tell us about yourself." Neo requested. The introduction went quickly and the robbers told her about fourteen years ago.

"Well," Nicole began to tell her story. "As you guys have told me, I was placed by the doorstep of Bill and Emily Rogers. I grew up being abused. Not too bad." She added hastily when she heard several cuss words.

"Honestly, how bad did they treat you?" Hugh asked, trying not to show his fury through his voice. Nicole didn't meet his eyes.

"Nicole." Ethan prodded. The robbers were surprised to see that his eyes were really angry. Hardly Ethan-like.

"Well, I was hit at least once a day. Really bad. And they starved me most of the time." Nicole murmured, tears brimming under her long lashes as she thought about her life. "By the way, did they let you have their trailer? Where are they?"

"They are dead." Neo told her quietly. "That day at Tiffany's. They were killed by the store managers." Nicole gasped.

"Nicole, when is your birthday?" David was desperate to change the subject, away from her life.

Nicole shook her tears away and tried to look different from the way she's feeling. "December 24." She replied. Still looking as pale as chalk.

"You're a Christmas baby!" Neo exclaimed. Imagining her wearing an angel's outfit.

For the first time, some of the robbers seems to notice when she was wearing.

"Guys, remember what we were planning on doing today?" Ethan's eyes darted another meaning to his buddies. "We needed to go shopping?" He added helpfully, hoping that they would get the message.

Hugh was the first to get his message. "Sure. We needed some food supplies." He agreed, which was true. Six hungry robbers can eat up a lot.

"Nicole, why don't you stay in bed today? You know, sort of rest up?" David used his best doctor's order.

"Fine." She needed time to herself anyway.

"Okay, Neo go after her shoes. Hugh, you got the groceries. Scott you go after some cute teenager's shirts and tops. Sean and I will go and get her some flare jeans and whatever they call those pants. David, can you go and get her some, um…you know, young lady's necessities." Ethan's face turned red as all the robbers stared at him, completely lost.

David, however, took the news extraordinary well. "You mean lingerie?" He asked, biting into an apple, while all the other guys turned redder then ever. "An apple away keeps the doctor away. But if the doctor is cute, the heck with the fruit." He quoted. "That's me. A cute doc."

Ethan groaned. "Don't make me say that word." He pleaded. "Just do the best you can, okay? I mean, the worst you can get is letting people think you're gay." David stopped chewing. Ethan hurried on, "Just kidding. But, that's what those cashier ladies are for. Go ask them."

They split up, each one not knowing what lies ahead of them. During the whole expedition trip of shopping, only Hugh had little trouble.

"Excuse me, ma'am." Scott's confused. "Aren't these a little too small for the kids?" They were standing in the kids and infant's section and Scott was holding up a very small pink shirt with a lamb on it and ears on the hood––infant's size.

"Well, sir. Depends on how old your little girl is." She told him good naturally. "How old is she?'

"My little g-girl?" Scott stuttered. "She's uh…around fourteen."

"Oh! Then you should be shopping in the Junior's section." The clerk looked surprised, but with her help, Scott made a big selection of tops and shirts. Plenty of them with lambs or teddy bears on them.

"I don't see it." Ethan muttered as he pawed through the rack of pants that hung on the men's section. "And besides, aren't these a bit big for her." He added, thinking of her slim waist and hips. "Sean? Sean?" He looked around, where Sean was a minute ago. Then, he saw Sean hurry through the clothes. He was holding up a pair of men's working overalls.

"Are these it?" He asked, sounding bored. His eyes were amused under the pair of sunglasses.

"May I help you gentlemen?" A woman came by and asked.

"Yes, we're searching for some jeans." Ethan told her.

"For who?"

"Oh, yeah." Ethan blushed. "For––"

"For a fourteen-year old girl." Sean glared at his brother.

"Ah, yes. Right this way." She led them to the Junior's section. "And here you are."

"Oh, my lord." Ethan gasped. While Sean ripped off his sunglasses, "For the love of God. How are we ever going to select anything?!" Pants, overall, jeans, all different size, different design, different material, different designer, different everything! Ethan groaned for the second time and this time, Sean joined him.

Neo had some trouble from the very beginning. He couldn't decide which pair of shoes to get. In the end, under the saleswoman's eager prodding. Neo got every pair he thought she would like and need. The cashier rang up the price––$257.68.

David almost died as he stepped through the lingerie corner. Several women had already cast him curious, suspicious, and even evil glares. Some of them had even told him if he meant no good, they are going to call the manager. The woman in charge wasn't any better.

"How may I help you?" She asked him frostily. "Are you buying this for your––"

"Daughter." He quickly finished for her. Did I just say that out loud? He wondered aghast. He just wanted to finish quickly and as painless as possible, which, by the way, was impossible.

"What's her size?" The woman inquired. David turned red under her hawk-like gaze.

"I don't know!" He blurted out, almost ready to pass out. His face a deep crimson as he sped out of the section as quickly and with as much dignity left in him.

The result of the shopping? Nicole peeked into the shopping bags that piled in the small trailer behind the curtain. The robbers had hung a thick curtain between the bed and the living room to give her more privacy. Shirts, pants, shoes, with weird designs and colors. Worse of all, the size. At the bottom of the bag, there was a smaller bag with a few 45d lingerie in them. From this episode, the robbers learned that you have to let a teen girl shop for her own clothes. It doesn't come out of book. But with the money returned from the clothing, Nicole bought so much clothes that she couldn't wear all of them once in two years!

~Lyle Van de Groot ~

During her days living with the robbers, Nicole was finally living a real life with real adventures! The robbers are so thoughtful that it's hard to believe that anyone could be this thoughtful––much less––men. They spoil her like their own. They pamper her as if she was their own blood kin. But no matter how they much they spoil her, she is not spoiled. Instead, she is as innocent and as sweet and fresh as ever. They don't look down on her because she was a different sex or because she was younger, instead, they treated her like she belongs here––not just a shadow floating around. But most of all, the robbers love her very, very, much. So much that no one could love anyone more. She's finally receiving the love that she had lacked during her younger years. Even Sean loves her. He still acts like he doesn't like her, though it was easy to see that he cared for her as much as the other robbers do. He is the kind of man that acts rough and tough on the outside with a heart of gold on the inside.

Nicole was humming happily as she washed the dishes and dried the frying pan. She was on her knees, her head in the cupboard, trying to shove the pan where it belongs when a musing voice rang out from right behind her.

"Is this where the famous Darins live?"

Nicole was so startled that the hand where the pan was tightly held went flying backward. Bonk! Thump! That's all Nicole managed, and needed, to hear with her head inside the cupboard.

"Dear Lord!" She pulled her head out of the cupboard and looked back just in time to see a young man sit up, rubbing his forehead, which was red. "I am so sorry!" She gasped, scrambling to her feet and running over to the young man.

"I'm fine." He shook his head and gave a smile. "Name is Lyle Van de Groot." He stuck out his hand. "Nice meeting you, Miss…"

"Nicole. Nicole Shannons." Nicole still looked concerned. "Are you sure you are alright?"

"Nah, I'll be fine." He waved it off. "Don't worry about it."

"Are you here to see someone?" Nicole inquired. "Nobody lives here, except––" Lyle interrupted.

"I'm here to see the Darins. Don't they live here?" Lyle looked doubtful. "You see, I have a real important meeting with them. I am…I was a news reporter."

"Ah, I see." Nicole replied. Her brain was churning. Did the police and CIA send this man to capture and find out where the Darins are? Does he mean harm? Should I tell him that the Darins doesn't live here? Is he just lying?

"Well, you see." Nicole decided to be on the safe side. "The Darins lived here two days ago, but sold the trailer to me." She lied.

"Nicky," Lyle looked over at her. "I know the Darins live here. They told me. We have an appointment today."

"Exactly what do you want?" Nicole ignored the nickname and demanded. "They don't arrange appointments. Got that?"

"Well…" Lyle was at the lost of words. This girl was not easy to lie to. She was like a tigress more than ready to protect the ones she loves. But he was lucky, at that very moment, the Darins trouped into the trailer.

"Who the hell are you?" Neo said frostily. Lyle turned around.

"Why! I'll be! It's Lyle van de Groot!" Ethan exclaimed. Before Nicole knew what was happening, all the robbers were whooping and clapping each other on the back.

"Man! I lost my job about a week ago." Lyle admitted. "I was wondering…" He scratched his head, looking embarrassed. "Would you let me join you guys. I really have no choice anymore."

The robbers looked at each other. Nicole could tell they had one of those silent conversations with their eyes. After about five whole minutes of silence, David spoke up.

"We'll be happy to have you." That was the eighth member of The Darins.

~A Rainy Day~

It had been five months ever since Nicole came to live with them. The robbers robbed a lot of places, easy to say, even Lyle was doing pretty well. The Darins had robbed jewelry stores, banks, high quality department stores, and even several gas stations when they were too bored. They have traveled around California and were now approaching Hollywood.

"We need to go shopping." Hugh remarked thoughtfully, looking into an almost empty refrigerator. "Anyone want to come with me?" Everybody volunteered. They had all been locked up in the trailer for almost four days, now and were eager to get out of the trailer.

"I'll stay and watched the trailer." Nicole offered.

When the robbers left, Nicole started cleaning the trailer, throwing away all the trash and debris.

As she walked past Sean's office desk, Nicole knocked over a stack of papers.

"Oops." She murmured, hurrying to put the papers back. But as she set the papers on his desk, she noticed a certain one. She read it and gasped. She read it again and stood there, dazed.

Nicole was so lost in thought that she did not hear Sean approach nor his shadow over her. Her back was to the door, for she had reached across Sean's desk to look at the papers. Nicole squeaked out in terror as an ironlike hand gripped her wrist.

"Oh!" Fear surged through her as he whirled her around to face him. "So you are into my papers now, are you? You deceiving little mink. I should have known better than to leave you alone in the room with them. Drop it."

But Nicole refused, too paralyzed in the thought of a robbery in Hollywood. Sean tried to retrieve his paper with his free hand, but he didn't want to rip it.

"Drop it!" He ordered savagely, and when Nicole again refused he pulled her over to the door and kicked it shut with his foot.

It was a rule that the door remains open always when anyone is in the same room with her. It was only proper. Where were the robbers now?

"Let me go!"

Sean brought his hand down on hers several times, slapping it sharply until Nicole cried out in pain and released the paper, which fell to the floor. Nicole stood nursing her poor hand as her body shook with fear for the first time with Sean. Hastily, Sean picked up his paper. Then, perceiving that Nicole was about to flee, he grabbed her again. This time he pulled her by her wrist across the room and sat her down hard in a chair.

"What have you seen?"


"Do you expect me to believe that? You lied!"

Sean took Nicole by the shoulder and shook her. "You little fool! This is far more than a prank! My life is on stake here. If you had read the letter, you would have known that by now! Did you read it? I want the truth. And if I think you're lying, I won't be easy on you, Nicole, I mean it. Try me if you will, but you'll be sorry if you do."

Nicole believed him. Sean's face was so livid with anger and his eyes were blazing. He still gripped her shoulders. He would know if she lied, he always did. He was so angry, Nicole believed him capable of anything.

"Yes," She said shakily.

"Yes, what?"

"Yes, sir, I read it."

"And did you understand what you read?"

She nodded her head yes. Her heart was hammering inside of her.

"Do you know how despicable a sneak is?"

Sean released her and stepped back to survey her, standing with one hand in his slack pocket, the letter half crumpled in the other hand. He was coatless, and Nicole could see the rise and fall of his chest that was heaving in anger. Tall and lanky and broad shoulders, still tanned from his trip, his dark good looks spoiled by his anger.

"Answer me!" He snapped.

"Yes, sir."

"What have Hugh taught you in these last few weeks about decency and honor? Nothing?"

"I thought––"

"You thought what? Thought I would be hung from the highest tree? Would that please you? I know you hate me, so perhaps it would. Now you are going to report me."

"Oh no, Mr. Ambrose…" Nicole started to get up.

"Sit down!" He snapped. "You will not leave that chair until I settle this and decide what is to be done with you."

"I won't report you…sir. I wouldn't tell a soul. Why do you think so little of me?" Sean could hear the hurt in Nicole's voice.

"Because I know how little you think of me." He started to pace the floor, once, twice, three times, in front of her. She watched him, seeing him as for the first time. He casted her a dark look and continued to pace.

"David wouldn't like it if the door is shut."

"That door stay shut until I deal with you."

"Ethan might beat you up."

"Be quiet!"

"You don't really want to rob Hollywood, do you? What are you going to rob? Actors?"

He stopped pacing and glared at her. Then he pulled her to her feet, gripping her shoulders again.

"Please let me go. You are hurting me."

He realized he was and released her. "You had no right to go into my papers. I have got a good mind to thrash you."

An that moment, the robbers came into the trailer, laughing and slapping each others' back. Their foot halt in mid air as they noticed the little episode in the room.

Something in Nicole finally snapped. This man had always hated her, after all she had went through to please him. She's had enough.

"You have always said that." She drawled boldly. "But, you have never tried it." She lifted her face up proudly. "Why don't you try it."

A stinging slap came across her face, for Sean had never been taunted before. The anger was just too much to be contained. Gasps could be heard all around her room. Ethan knew from Nicole's past that she could have ducked that slap easily. But why she didn't, he has no clue. She didn't even flinch after she was struck nor did she wince under Sean's look of death. With one last look at Sean, a look that was filled with no granting pardon, Nicole bolted from the room. The trailer shook as the door slammed and Nicole fled into the pouring rainstorm.

"Sean." Ethan said in a hushed tone. "What have you done?"

Nicole sat in the rain, under a tree, the worst place to be when there was a thunder storm. But she didn't care. The wind was howling around her, messing up her hair. Water was running down her face. She couldn't tell whether it was rain or tears or both. Lightning streaked above her, lightening up the whole city.

"Hey, Nicky." A voice came from behind her. Nicole remained silent as Ethan sat down beside her, under the tree. They both sat in silent for a long time.

"You know Sean didn't mean that." Ethan said quietly, after about fifteen minutes.

"I don't know that." Nicole said sharply. "I do know that he doesn't like me at all."

"He loves you, Nicole." Ethan corrected helplessly. "He loves you more than anyone of us put together."

"Action speaks louder than words." Nicole replied curtly. They sat in silence once again.

"Why doesn't he like me?" Nicole wondered. She didn't know she had spoken out loud until Ethan replied sternly.

"He loves you very much."

"Oh yeah!" Nicole's head snapped around to face Ethan. "You know as well as I do that Sean's shows nothing about how much he loves me! You know that! So stop saying that!"

"Nicole." Ethan said sadly. "Have you ever known me to be wrong?" That startled Nicole. She thought hard, but she seriously couldn't think of one thing that Ethan said that was wrong.

"No." She said sullenly. "But there is always a first."

"Nicole," he sighed. "How am I going to get in your stubborn head that Sean loves you?"

"You can't."

"I'll bet you 1 million dollars that someday, Sean will prove that he loves you."

"Deal." She said simply.

"Well, that wasn't much of a progress I am making." Ethan gave up. "Let's go back."

"I'm not going."

"But you have to. Where are you going to go?" Ethan's voice echoed though the thunderstorm.

"To hell." Came the reply. "Why do you think I am sitting under a tree!?"

Ethan was about to scold her for using such language, but then, with a flash of lightning, he saw something in her eyes. Her eyes said clearly that she would want nothing more than to go back with him, but there were pride and hopelessness in her eyes. Ethan knew that unless something makes her go back, begging would not work. So instead of asking her to come back, Ethan made the decision of picking her up and dragging her back to the trailer.

"Put me down!" Ethan could hear Nicole's scream in his ears.

"I can't!" He yelled back. "How am I going to get my million dollars if you don't come home with me?

Home…The word rang in Nicole's ears. Home…I don't have a home. Neither of them noticed a dark shadow lurking behind the tree they were sitting under.

"Nicole, You are coming home with me whether you like it or not!" The shadow heard Ethan call. It made a dash in front of Ethan. If he had any doubt that the young lady was Nicole Shannons, it's all gone now.

"Halt!" It yelled.

"What the––!" Ethan didn't get to finish. His jaw was cut as the shadow did an uppercut. Nicole dropped from Ethan's grasp to wet ground. The lightning flashed. Nicole gave a gasp, then a scream. Under the lighting, like a statue, stood Bill Rogers.

~Bill Rogers Strikes Back~

Nicole's scream brought all the robbers out of the trailer. They all saw Bill aim a kick at Ethan. Then, to their horror, Bill Rogers lashed out at Nicole as he dragged her away.

"Nicole!" The robbers ran after the pair. But none of them were fast enough for Sean. Within a second, Sean had ran the distance of 100 feet and caught up to Bill.

"You son of a *****!" He hollered, jerking Nicole away from Bill. "You have treated Nicole as bad as a ******* piece of ****! And wasn't that enough?!"

Bill turned his attention on Sean. "Well, who do we have here?" He growled. "A Prince Charming here to rescue a poor orphan girl! You *******! She is mine and I will do whatever I like with her!"

"Not if I still alive, you son of a *****!" The fight was on.

After fifteen minutes, both of them were beaten up pretty bad. But Bill had the advantage. He was more stockier and much more bigger. Sean whipped out his pistol and aimed it a Bill. With a laugh, Bill kicked the gun away from him. He gave a snarl as he advanced toward Sean, ready to finish him off.

All of them heard the wail of serene from a police car. Bill froze. Sean took this advantage and made a grab for his gun. As the police car parked, Sean's pistol went off. And as the police opened the doors to their car, Bill's body fell onto the ground. As the police ran out of the car toward Sean, they could hear Sean shout,

"Run! Go! I'll handle this! Go!" If the robbers weren't running and dragging Nicole with them, Nicole would have stayed right by Sean or collapsed on the ground. But they ran. They ran and ran and ran. And they never turned back.

~Nicole's Plan~

"You guys, you have to eat something." Nicole coaxed. It was the day after Sean was arrested. All the robbers were seriously under depression. Nicole felt really bad also, but nothing like Ethan. He was worse then devastated, he was half dead, as far as Nicole could tell.

She took a deep breath and said, "I'll tell you what, you guys, I'll go pay Sean a visit."

"But Nicole, you can't. They'll get you." Hugh protested.

"Well, what am I suppose to do? Sit around and mope? Wish as hard as I can that he'll walk through the door?" Nicole took a deep breath. "It doesn't work that way. Since you guys are all half dead, I'll have to do it."

Nicole's heart lurched as she saw her old buddy. "Hey Sean." She exclaimed softly over the jail bars. "How are you doing?" The jailer hadn't wanted to let her pass, afraid that she was going to do something unacceptable. But she reluctantly released her flirtation and charm and he was persuaded, blowing her a kiss as she walked down the aisle. She winked back at him and batted her eyelashes, a sugary smile pasted on her face, and felt sick inside.

Now that Sean was standing right in front of her she didn't regret for one moment of what she had done. Sean, though, was in a terrible state. He looks terrible. His hair was mussed and his handsome face was drawn. He needed to shave bad. And there were big dark circles around his eyes. Nicole could smell brandy on his breath. His white shirt was dirty and the sleeves were rolled up. There was something even worse in his eyes and his tone of voice. There was no hope in them. It was even worse of what he had said at the end of their visit.

"Nicole," He said so quietly that she had to strain to hear. "You guys had better find yourself a new leader." He inaudible voice was breaking and thick. "Cause I'm going to be here for a long time." The sentence ended in a whisper and Nicole could see a film of tears swimming in her protector's eyes, and the sight rattled her. In all the months she'd lived with them, she'd never seen Sean cry.

"No Sean." Nicole pleaded, her heart determined as she knew what she had to do. "I'm going to bail you out of here. You can't give up. Where is the old Sean I knew that was as stubborn as a mule?" Her chin jutted out. "This is temporary, I can promise you that. Mark my word for it."

"I'm going to get Sean out of jail." Nicole heard her own voice say that evening as all the robbers went back to moping around the living room. "I'm going to stay in jail in his place." After she got back from the jail, Nicole knew what she had to do. She had to get Sean out of jail. But that means she had to sacrifice herself. If she switch places with him, it means she would be the one that the officers and police would find. They would put her into an orphanage. Then, it's the end to her life with the robbers. Forever. Forever ending to the happy times they had together. No more talking and laughing and joking. No more love, once again. Worse of all, no more robbers. Instead, she would be working as hard as she had ever worked in the orphanage. Scrubbing her fingers raw from the floor and pots. But the robbers would be united once again, with or without her. She couldn't let herself be the one to separate the robbers––because of her protection. There's no backing out.

"No." David said fiercely. "Read my lips. N-O, no."

"I'm afraid someone has to go get him out, but it won't be you. I'm going alone." Ethan said quietly.

Nicole snorted. "You are not."

"We are going alone. But, thanks for your offer." Hugh also added.

"I'm not offering." Nicole stated simply. "I'm going."

"We can't spare you, angel." Ethan said.

"Mmph, we can't spare you."

"Nicky, I refuse to let you go. You don't deserve it." Lyle tried to sound stern.

"What are you going to do then? Tie me up?" Nicole's part Irish temper flared as she thought of what had happened. "I will go. Wasn't it my fault that he is in jail? Isn't it me that came along as a baby and then a teen and messed up your lives? Isn't it all my doing?" Nicole felt tears brimming out of her blue eyes like waterfall. "It's all my fault. Everything. He was trying to save me from my stepdad. If he hadn't, I would have been dead by now, but he had. Now, he is getting heavy penalty because he killed him. For me. My protection."

Hugh got out of his chair so quickly that he knocked it over. "It is not your fault! Get that senseless idea out of your mind right now." Using the advantage of his height, he scowled down at Nicole, with fire burning in his eyes.

Nicole didn't even finch under Hugh's explosion. Even though Hugh never, ever gets mad. She shook Hugh's steel grip off her shoulders. "Now. All of you listen to me. Don't make me regret all my life for something I needed to do but didn't do." She began clearly and pointedly. "I will go. Whether you like it or not. " Her chin jutted out. "And what is more, if you don't promise right now that I'm going, I will do it myself." Her eyes blazed a challenge to all onlookers.

"But it's jailbreak you are talking about." Scott stated helplessly. Scott had never seen Nicole look so strong and beautiful before. She positively glowed through the twilight from the determination of protecting the ones she loved.

"That is life. If I perish, I perish." Nicole quoted simply from the Book of Ester.

~Because of Love~

Nicole strode into the prison for the third time. This time she was wearing a large overcoat. Her hat covered her face.

"Hey, Peter." She gushed to the young man leaning with his feet stretched on the office table. His coppery red hair was always messy. "I am sooo glad to see you!" She purred, deepening her accent for charm. "I'm sorry I could let you see my face, I have a bruise on my nose. Hit by a baseball. It's so swollen that it's embarrassing. I don't want you to get the wrong impression of me."

The poor young man practically dead right at the spot as she gave him a white crescent moon smile, he didn't even care that he can't see her face, only her lips.

"H-hi, Nicole." He stammered happily. "I missed you. I th-thought about you all day yesterday."

"So did I." Nicole cooed, rolling her eyes heavenward behind her sunglasses. "Mind if I step in to visit my father today? Inside the jail room? I have something I must tell him in private. You know, father and daughter talk?" She cocked her head, under the hat.

"With the old bear?" He gave a sharp bark of laugh. "He's doing fine, so I guess it's okay––since we are close friends." He grinned at her. Nicole almost threw up. "Gave the captain a hard time yesterday. Trying to ask him where the rest of the gang is." He continued lazily in his southern drawl. "That old fool. Tested the captain's patience. Almost got the crap beaten out of him." He spited on the dirt floor. Nicole almost looked up and gave him a disgusted look and a rude retort. Without replying, she stepped through the barred door and sashayed in front of Sean's cell. Peter opened the door and waited for her to go in.

"I'll give ya five minutes. Don't want to get myself fired." He stomped back to his post. Nicole got into action.

"Here put these on." She hissed at Sean. She ripped off her––actually Sean's––overcoat and hat. "The hat will over your face, just strode out as if you were me. Don't run! I'll be fine here." She told him in a whisper, ignoring the cold fingers of fear that is squeezing her heart. "Go, right now! Before he comes in and sees me. I'm a blonde, you have dark hair. Peter may be slow witted, but he's not dumb." Nicole's heart was thumping so hard that she could hear the blood pumping in her ears. She was sure that Sean and even Peter could hear it.

"Nicole––" Sean started to say he wasn't going to let her do this, but she interrupted him. "Ethan and Lyle are waiting outside. The time is limited and is our enemy. Go." She shoved Sean out of the cell, he had no choice but to walk to the door or the jailhouse. But, before he strode away, he gave her a look tenderness in the depths of his eyes and Nicole's heart hurt so much for the robber that she had loved so much that she almost died from the pain. The look was filled with so much love, so much emotion, and so much gratitude, that Nicole knew she would never forget that look for the rest of her life.

"I'll be back for you." She barely heard him as he walked out.

"Bye, Nicole darling. I'll see you next time, my little cupcake." She heard Peter call behind Sean. There wouldn't be a next time, Peter dear. She thought bitterly. And from where she was standing, she saw Sean gave him a wave without turning back. She was left alone once again. She was still looking at his broad back as he walked out of the jail door. Out of her life. Forever.

~Hearts in Pain~

"You are wearing my patience thin, young lady! I am asking you this for the last time––where is Sean Ambrose? Where are the Darins?!" Captain Doyle's voice boomed down the hall. All the secretaries and assistance flinched.

"She's in deep trouble, that poor girl." Holly, the captain's personal assistance said sympathetically.

"She brought it all on herself if you ask me." Replied Joan, the hasty tongued secretary.

"But, Joan. She's done nothing wrong. I read her file. All she did was get the ones she love out of jail. So that was a wrong thing to do, but have you ever seen another teenager use her own life to save another that meant so much to her?" Holly said in her gentle voice softly.

"Don't be so soft hearted. By doing a jailbreak, she would have gotten a much harder penalty. Good thing she's a juvenile. If she is bailing people out of jail at this age, wonder what she's going to be doing when she gets older." Joan snapped back sharply.

"But she's only a kid!"

"That's why Captain Doyle is only going to––"

"I will thrash you with my bare hands if you tire my patience any longer!" They both heard the roar of rage.

"––thrash her. If you ask me," Joan said hotly. "She's going on the right track of getting a fine thrashing. Captain's used to thrashing teenagers this age. He said that's the way to teach the juvenile prisoners that couldn't go to jail yet, a fine thrashing before he sends them on their way. Why, some manage to come along everyday!"

"Don't be so haughty, Joan." Holly pleaded. "I've seen a teenaged boy that Captain Doyle had thrashed with his bare hands. The poor boy couldn't sit on his bottom for weeks. Just because––" They heard chairs crash and tables overturn on the floor. "That's it, you little whippersnapper!" The heard the thundering of Captain Doyle. "I'll going to thrash you so hard that you couldn't even walk!" He must have caught her, for that noise went on for fifteen minutes, before suddenly the captain's head poked out of his office.

"Ladies, I don't think we are going to get any information out of her. Sign her up for an orphanage." He smirked. "Sign her up for a boys orphanage. No, sign her up for Glover's Orphanage for Boys. Heard that their housemother needs a young female assistance. She'll get use to it, that little ragamuffin. As wild as a wildcat. Wouldn't be surprise if she was raised by men."

Nicole threw her head back with determination as she followed Chris Glover, the superintendent of Glover's Orphanage for Boys. But her feelings told her otherwise. She was shaking from horror inside. Darn that Captain Doyle! Getting his rage out on her by sending her to a boy's orphanage. Beside, Chris Glover was a nightmare. He would be what you called evilly handsome in a mysterious, moody way––with dark hair combed neatly and a bluish-gray suit. On top of that, he hardly ever talks. Extra mysterious, maybe even a little evil.

Nicole gave a squeak of alarm as a rat scurried away under her foot. Mr. Glover stopped and gave her a dark look, then continued up the stairs and motioned her to follow him.

At last, they reached a room in the attic in the far end of the hall. Nicole sank down gratefully on the dusty bed. Mr. Glover silently watching her by the doorway. His eyes following her every move.

"Um?" Nicole scowled. "Aren't you going to leave?"

Mr. Glover cast her sullen look. Then opened the door and left. Nicole, then, relaxed for the first time after Bill Rogers showed up.

"Well. The robbers are okay. I will be okay. Everything is fine." Nicole tried to convince herself. "Everything is normal, back to the usual routine."

~Kidnapped by Love~

An attractive young woman stood in front of her window, staring out at the moon. She was beautiful, despite of her rough clothing. Natural beauty shone from the moonlight. She was now almost eighteen. She was Nicole Alicia Shannons.

It had been more than three years ever since she had been in the orphanage. She had been helping out with the housemother for three years. Three years, Nicole thought. I wonder if the Darins still remembers me. I miss them so bad. Sean does love me, like Ethan said. She smiled as she thought, I own Ethan one million dollars.

She turned and undressed for bed. She had to say, the housemother wasn't that bad. Mrs. Amelia was nice enough to buy her a decent nightgown for her birthday. It was made of satin and lace. She snuggled into her bed and fell asleep, like the other night when she was working hard. She slipped into her little realm and dreamed.

At the stroke of midnight, Nicole woke up, startled. There was a noise outside of the window. She gasped as a shadow flew across it. It wasn't a bird. It was a person.

She stepped out of her bed and walked silently to her window. She opened it. Within a second, her lips were covered and she was swept off her feet. She tried to scream, but her voice died in her throat. The person picked her up and began to slide down the ten stories from the cable wire. Nicole could only hold on to her assailant's neck for support of being afraid that she would fall. The wind blew her hair as she held on. The moonlight shone brightly for her to see where they are going.

When they slid off the cable wire, she was placed on a horse in front of the invader and they rode. Away from the city, away from everything she had…again.

It was morning. Nicole's eyes flattered open. She must have doze off. She was lying in a patch of warm, green, soft grass. She gingerly sat up.

"Told you I'll be back for you." A deep, rich, Scottish accented voice said from behind her. Nicole turned around.

"Sean!" She gave a cry. She threw her arms around him.

"Remember us?" Another voice came from behind her. She unlocked herself from Sean and looked back. There, strolling away from the large ranch- styled house, were Lyle, Scott, Hugh, Ethan, David, and Neo, in a line walking toward her.

"Lyle! Ethan!"

"Before you hug us, Sugar." Lyle stopped. "You know what took us so long? We––"

"––just got out of jail. We turned ourselves in, because we didn't want to live in a world of crime anymore. A better world for you, if you are going to live with us, we didn't want you to keep running away from the cops." Ethan finished. "So sorry if it took us so long. But that judge sentenced us to three years in jail. As soon as we are out, Sean went for you. We are washing our hand on the robbing business."

"No more robbing?" Nicole echoed with disbelief.

"Yep." Scott replied. "It's over. We are settling down."

"And we were hoping that you didn't mind been plucked out of the orphanage to settle down with us." Hugh put his arms around her.

"By the way," Ethan added. "You owe me a million dollars."

Nicole laughed. "I have noticed that. I knew you wouldn't forget." She stopped laughing. "Would you guys please show me where my room is? What are you guys trying to do? I am still in my nightgown."

All of them laughed and walked back to the house. Nicole walked after them. She stopped and took a deep breath of fresh air. She focused on the ranch house. She was home.

The End