This was meant to be submitted to a contest. But I misread the deadline and missed it by 12 hours! *The prompt was 'steampunk romance' and the suggested length was less than 1,000 words. I have a much longer version, a 'director's cut' if you will, that needs some polishing but I'll get it posted here eventually too. And yes, it is steampunk, its supposed to be full of cliche' and corniness. Enjoy
I implore you for comments and critiques.
With a powerful shove Andrea Cunningham was hurled from the airship. Her auburn curls whipped around her face as she fell. The emptiness beneath her feet drove her heart into her throat until her hand caught the edge of the gaping hole in the ship's hull. From the corner of her eye she saw the monocled man jump from the ship past her, parachute in hand. That instinctive glance was her downfall. She lost her grip and fell screaming vainly into the rush of the buffeting wind.
With a jolt that wrenched her shoulder a firm hand grasped hers and her descent stopped. Looking up she saw the dark locks and amber eyes of Mr. Hawkins, his entire body dangling from the ship, secured only by his robotic arm.
What had started as an innocent attempt to seduce and steal a pocket watch from a one armed man had landed her in the middle of a terrorist plot. Mr. Hawkins, fortunately for her, had proved more formidable with one arm than most men with two, owing a great deal of that to the marvelous brass and steel prosthetic that now anchored them to the ship. In the mere hour they had known each other she had saved his life once and now Hawkins had saved her twice. With surprising strength he pulled her up and allowed her to climb back into the aircraft, where she in turn helped him aboard.
They both quickly rushed to the bomb secured below the helm. Inspecting it closely, Hawkins looked up at her. “I'm afraid it’s no use Miss Cunningham, there’s not time. Without that key, yours will be the last face I look upon on this earth.* Though I couldn't wish for a finer sight.”
Andrea's heart fluttered childishly. She smiled slyly back at Hawkins and reached into her waistcoat pocket. “You mean this key?”
Hawkins' eyes widened. Being an expert pickpocket, not to mention escape artist did have its perks despite being wanted in several countries.
“What can I say, I'm a girl that likes shiny things,” she reached down and gently touched his mechanical arm.
Moments later the blinking lights and meters on the device dimmed and both Hawkins and Andrea breathed a sigh of relief. Turning to face her Hawkins drew Andrea close.
“Your an amazing woman Miss Cunningham, despite the bounty placed on you,” his tender voice was nearly a whisper and she felt her cheeks flush. “Would a woman like you ever be able to...”
“...land this boat on her own?”
“What!” Andrea exclaimed stepping away.
“Well I can't simply let them escape like that,” Hawkins appeared baffled, nearly offended at her resistance. He walked quickly to the gaping hole blasted in the wall and looked after the escaping terrorists.
“I'm sure you can manage, and the port will radio in to help you, I have no doubt.”
Speechless Andrea could do little more than watch.
“It was a pleasure Miss Cunningham,” Hawkins' adjusted his spectacles as he stood with heels on the edge.* “I do hope we meet again.”
He winked at her then jumped back from the ship and plummeted after the criminals below. Andrea rushed to the edge and watched him fall, watched him wait till the very last moment before opening his chute.
Her grimace of fury slowly softened as she pulled a gold object from her pocket. Mr. Hawkins’ pocket watch was indeed a fine specimen, and would fetch a handsome price.
Pulling the watch chain out fully, Andrea found a cord affixed to the watch chain.* It certainly had not been there when she had slid the watch from Mr. Hawkins pocket. Attached to the cord was a small card which read:
New Portland Square, September 15th 7 pm.
The dimples in her cheeks emerged as she grinned and tapped the card against her hand. It was a trap of course, Mr. Hawkins obviously worked for Her Majesties service. But the only thing that could be more exciting that escaping such a trap would be the chance of finding that it wasn't one. Besides, New Portland was lovely in the fall.
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