“Jack of Diamonds and Queen of Hearts” (Romance/Crime, 1000 words)

This is a short story from a friend of mine, which won first prize in the contest. It’s a good, slow build with a number of heartwarming turns.

Allison M. Dellinger, PharmD

The sticker in the front window boasted of a high-end security system, but the back door slid open soundlessly beneath his gloved hands. He smiled a bit ruefully at that as he stepped inside. The owners of the house (and all the nice things within) had left hours before for an evening on the town, leaving all in the charge of an elderly babysitter, now asleep on the couch in front of a muted TV.

The man in black shut the door and crept down a hall littered with hazards common to any household with children – stray Legos, baby toys that sang and shouted the alphabet when touched, and tiny trucks that might send one’s feet flying if trod on.

He eased most carefully past the doors to the children’s bedrooms. In his experience, kids were worse than cats and almost as bad as dogs for rousing a sleeping…

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