“We should quit while we’re ahead.” Nicole examines a lock of her hair. She wants to grow it long, but the ends keep splitting. “We have enough to live comfortably for the rest of our lives.”
“What about inflation?” Josh says.
“Inflation?” She rolls her eyes. “Who have you been talking to?” Josh isn’t dumb, but she wouldn’t call him smart either. He never reads and spends hours on his phone, playing video games.
“I heard it on the news. Interest rates are going up.” He looks into her eyes. “Come on, Nicole.”
“Okay.” She sighs. “One more job and then Mexico. Remember? That was our plan.”
The robbery gang is his friends but her idea. Trust me, she’d said. I have it all worked out. They started with convenience stores and moved on to bigger targets. Their last job, a Walmart, brought $200,000. They have ten times that stashed away.
“Plans change, Babe.” Josh grins. “Me and the boys are still having fun. We’re not ready to quit.”
The grin ticks her off. If not for her, all of them would be stuck in dead-end jobs. And now Josh is telling her what’s what? He cares more about his buddies than about her, and she’s getting tired of it.
“This one’s all yours. You pick the target. You make the plan.”
“The new SuperStore,” he says.
“You’ve been thinking about this for a while.”
A bigger grin. “Since it opened. We need you to drive. They got security cameras all over the parking lot. We don’t wanna be TV stars.”
The cameras strike Nicole as a good reason to find another target. Plus, they have a process. She makes the plan and the guys carry it out. Just because it’s his plan… Still, she lets him talk her into it. She’s going to be making her own plans, and his will fit in nicely.
D-Day. Nicole and Josh drive her car to a fast food place a couple blocks from the target. His buddies follow in a junker, recently purchased with cash and still bearing dealer plates. All four leave in the junker, Nicole driving.
“Game on.” Josh massages her shoulder. “Relax, Babe. You’re gonna be great.”
She parks in front of an appliance chain with no cameras in its lot. The guys get out and amble over to the SuperStore. She takes out her new phone, a burner Josh bought while casing the SuperStore, and waits. Time crawls. Finally, Josh texts two numbers, a six and a ten. They’ll make their move in six minutes. She should be positioned by the back door, ready to pick them up, in ten. She waits three minutes then dials 911.
Five more minutes pass before the cops arrive. When they run inside, Nicole drives around back–just in case. No one is there, and she keeps going. Her nerves are shot, so she goes back to the appliance store and looks at refrigerators until she’s calmed down.
When Nicole gets back to get her car, Josh and the guys are sitting inside, eating. She stops dead.
“Thank heaven. I’m so glad to see you. The police came. You weren’t where you said you’d be. I was so scared.” She knows she’s babbling, but she can’t stop. How the hell, she wonders, did the cops miss them?
“Get in.” Josh reaches over and opens the passenger door.
“What happened? How’d you get away?”
“Nothing to get away from.” He passes her a wrapped sandwich. “I got you chicken. It seems appropriate.”
“I was right to be scared.”
Ignoring her, he tells his buddies to take the junker and go. “I’ll be in touch.”
They leave, and he holds up his phone. “I linked our phones.” He shows her the screen. “You dialed 911. I pulled the plug.”
“We need to quit. I was trying to scare you off.” It’s lame but the best she can come up with.
“We’re hitting the Superstore day after tomorrow–same plan. You’re driving.”
“You don’t think the cops will be keeping an eye out?’
“Because there was a false alarm today? I don’t think so, and you better hope not.” He gives her a long hard look. “The guys and I talked. If it goes wrong, there’s a hit out on you. Trust me.”
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