Worth fighting for, p.15
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       Worth Fighting For, p.15

         Part #2 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley
 
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  and laying them on the table so I could grease them just in case they were needed tonight. “Have you heard anything from them? What’s Mateo up to?” I asked, glancing sideways at Ed.

  “Still in Mexico,” he answered, shrugging. I’d had a tail on the Salazars, too. Mateo had gone back to the village that he came from in Mexico and was visiting family, from what I’d heard.

  “And Alberto?” I prompted.

  Ed rolled his eyes. “Alberto wouldn’t dare make a move like that. From what I gather, he was the one who sent Mateo away to lie low for a while after the whole rift with you in the club. I don’t think the Salazar camp is united at the moment.”

  “Good. That’s good.”

  Enzo walked over, now fully changed into jeans and a sweatshirt, blowing air into his cupped hands to warm them. “Cold tonight,” he muttered. “You ready? Dodge says I’m with you, and he’s going to take Chase with him.”

  “I just need to change and then I’m ready,” I replied, hastily putting all my stuff back into my bag. I turned to Ed. “Go relieve Spencer at Ellie’s place. I’ll come relieve you once this boost is done.”

  He nodded and turned for the door. “Hope the boost goes well.”

  “It will,” I replied confidently. They always did.

  * * *

  The first and second boosts were an easy grab-and-go. Two beautiful Rolls-Royce Dawns that screamed elegance and money.

  Two down, seven to go.

  We arrived at the third car, a dark blue F-Type Jaguar parked in its driveway, at almost two in the morning.

  “See you back at the warehouse,” I told Enzo, grabbing my bag and checking up and down the street again before I jumped out and jogged toward the car. As I stepped onto the drive, the overhead security light flicked on, shining down on me almost like a spotlight. I froze, my eyes darting around. It was an automatic sensor, but you could never be too careful. Cars parked in private driveways were always more difficult, though not as bad as if I had to break into someone’s garage and get it.

  I looked up at the light; it was just above the garage, within easy reach. These people never think! Rolling my eyes, I pulled my bag from my back and fished out a pair of latex gloves, snapping them on before grabbing a black plastic sack from my bag, too. I headed over to the light, going up on tiptoes as I slipped the black sack over the light. It did the job I was hoping for and diffused most of the light, sending the street back into basic darkness again. Light still shined through the bottom and through the airholes at the top of the bag, but it wouldn’t cast enough glow to show me stealing a precious sports car if anyone looked out their window.

  I grinned back at Enzo, who gave me a thumbs-up, and then headed over to the car. Reaching into my bag again, I got out a booster’s most valuable tool and shoved the thin bar down the side of the window. The lock popped open within a few seconds and I jumped in, cutting the wires on the alarm and resetting it quickly. Once the alarm was taken care of, I jimmied the steering column off and cut the wires, sparking them and breathing a happy sigh as the car purred to life.

  “Piece of cake,” I muttered, pushing it into gear and rolling out of the drive as slowly as I could so as not to arouse suspicion with what was sure to a be a loud, sexy roar of the engine.

  When I got back to the warehouse, I passed Dodger on his way back out again and sent him a wave. He’d obviously just finished delivering a car back here. I pulled up outside one of the containers and climbed out. As I closed the door, a huge white scratch down the side of the car caught my attention.

  “Mother dick!” I muttered, scowling at it. This hadn’t been on the car yesterday morning, I’d scoped it myself for the pack. The stupid-ass owner must have scraped it within the last twenty-four hours. “Ray!” I called, watching him come out of the garage, wiping his hands on a rag. “Fucking big-ass scratch on the side of this one. And before you ask, no, I didn’t do it.”

  His eyes tightened and he walked over to me, bending to run his fingers along the scratch. “Looks like it’s just superficial. I can buff this out, no worries,” he said finally, just as I was starting to worry that we either wouldn’t be able to deliver the full list or would have to deliver this one damaged.

  “Yeah?”

  He nodded and stood. “Yep, no bother. Go get the last one. Dodger is on his last, too.”

  Dodger had more cars than me, but all of his were located closer. Hopefully we’d get done within the next hour, then. “All right, see you in a bit.”

  “Oh, and Kid, try not to scratch the next one,” Ray called, winking at me jokingly before heading into the warehouse to get his repair kit.

  “Hilarious,” I muttered, climbing into the car with Enzo again. My mood was lower now, the high almost entirely worn off. All I wanted was to be done so I could go check and make sure Ellie was all right.

  My fourth acquisition was going to be trickier. It was in a private underground parking lot of a luxury apartment building. There were cameras on the entrance and exit barriers, and only owners were allowed to park there. Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to get my hands on a building pass. Anything was possible with the right amount of cash thrown at it.

  When I spotted the car I was here for, my hands twitched with excitement. A brand-new Audi R8 V10 Plus Coupe, red with black trim. It was beautiful and less than a week old—$180,000 of car just sat there, ripe for the picking. A little excited grunt escaped my throat as I walked over to it, my eyes darting left and right to make sure I was alone.

  Seeing no one around, I got to work and had the door open and the alarm reset in less than a minute. When I got the steering column off and sparked the wires, anticipating that growl of the engine, nothing happened. I frowned, trying again. Nothing. My eyes widened as I slumped down in the seat and ran my hand under the dash, looking for the kill switch. A lot of nice cars had them. A kill switch was essentially just a little switch that prevented the gas from getting to the engine. I wouldn’t be able to take this one if I couldn’t find it. This hadn’t been in my briefing package.

  When my search returned nothing, I concluded it had to be under the hood. Popping the hood, I slid out of the car, making sure the lot was still clear. Grabbing my flashlight from my bag, I yanked the hood up and ran my hand over the inside of the chassis. Got it! I pressed the switch and let the hood down easy. Kill switches were remarkably effective, so long as you kept them out of sight.

  I grinned and headed back to the driver’s side, shutting the door quietly and sparking the wires again, laughing as the car started up. Tossing my bag on the passenger seat, I tugged my baseball cap lower and drove toward the barrier, pulling my fake security pass from my pocket. One quick swipe and the yellow-and-black barrier rose.

  Although everything in me wanted to celebrate, I kept my head down and my face tilted away from the camera as I eased out onto the street. When I was on the main road and home free, I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as I decided to see how fast this baby could go. I depressed the gas harder, really letting go. There was no one around, so the road was deserted.

  The journey to the warehouse in one of these babies was exhilarating, like there was a demon under the hood, trying to escape every time I touched the gas. I decided on the short drive back that I was going to buy myself one of these.

  It didn’t take long to finish up once I was back. After I settled up with everyone and paid them their nightly boost fee, Chase, Enzo, and Dodger each drove a truck to the rendezvous point to meet with the client. Ray was going to follow them and bring them all back here again to collect their own cars. I myself had something else planned for the rest of the night. No sleep for me.

  * * *

  “Hey. How’d the boost go?” Ed asked when I went to relieve him on stakeout duty.

  “Without a hitch, as usual,” I replied, shrugging. I motioned toward Ellie’s house with my chin. “Any problems?” I asked, glancing into his car, seeing an iPad and a couple of magazines piled on his seat an
d empty candy wrappers dotted over the floor of the passenger side.

  “Not a one. She’s been inside all night, all of them have. Her friend, the smokin’ hot blonde one, came over for a while, but she left around eleven. Lights have been off for the last couple of hours.” He yawned and checked his watch before reaching for a can of soda and taking a swig of it.

  Nodding, I took hold of the handle and opened the car door. “Okay, thanks. You can go for the night and just take my car back to the warehouse.”

  Ed climbed out of the car, stretching his back and groaning. “Someone taking you off tomorrow, or do you want me to arrange it?” he asked, and then pointed to his iPad. “Pass me that, would ya?”

  “Spencer is coming back to relieve me,” I replied, passing him his tablet before taking up his spot in the car. I hated that the seat still retained the warmth from his ass.

  He patted the window frame and stood. “All right. Have fun.”

  As his taillights disappeared into the darkness of the night, I turned my attention to Ellie’s house, scooting down in the seat to get more comfortable, and picked up the energy drink I’d brought with me. The house was indeed quiet. No lights on, no signs of life. My mind wandered to Ellie and what she was doing inside. Was she sleeping soundly or tossing and turning, worrying about her mother? Was she talking in her sleep? Was she cuddled up next to her fiancé or was he not a snuggling type of guy? I sighed, wishing I were him, wishing she were mine and that I were huddled against the warmth of her body in her hot-pink bedroom rather than sitting in the cold, uncomfortable car. My life fucking sucked.

  CHAPTER 17

  ELLIE

  TODAY WAS TOBY’S last day here with me in New York. He didn’t want to go, and I didn’t want him to, but he’d only managed to arrange a week’s worth of cover at the pub. It had been great having him here; he took my mind—well, all of our minds—off the horrible situation we were in. Having him here to support me relieved some of the pressure.

  Of course, he’d managed to charm my nana to the point where she was baking his favorite foods every day, and he even managed to bring my sister out of her shell by teaching her some rhyming slang. Toby had a heart of gold, and I absolutely did not want to watch him jet off and leave me.

  During the limited downtime we’d had since the funeral, we’d tried to show him some of the sights. Monday we’d gone to the Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Central Park. Yesterday we’d caught a Broadway show. Today was the big one, though, the one he was really looking forward to—Lady Liberty. When given the choice of all the things he could do while here, he put that at the absolute top of his list. Not because it was a historical landmark or anything like that; no, it was because the Ghostbusters had made the thing come to life with pink slime and walk through the streets to the tune of “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” I was engaged to a geek.

  It was early by the time we arrived at Battery Park and stood in the security line waiting for the ferry to start operating for the day. Unfortunately, because we hadn’t booked weeks in advance, we couldn’t go into the crown, but Toby was still as giddy as a child waiting in line to meet a department store Santa.

  “Queue selfie,” Toby said, whipping out his phone. “I’m gonna send this to my mum, she’ll be well jel.”

  I smiled and leaned in next to him, sticking out my tongue at the last second and giggling when he poked me in the side with one finger. He draped his arm across my shoulder and looked out over the water. “This is great. I’m gutted that this is my last day, I don’t want to leave you.” He turned back to me, his mouth turning down in a frown as he pulled me closer to his body.

  “I don’t want you to leave, either,” I mumbled, pressing my face into the side of his neck and breathing him in. His flight was at six p.m., and he had to be there a couple of hours before, so we only had a few hours left together. I was making them all count.

  Once the ferry opened, the line moved pretty quickly and we were over at the island in no time. Toby got more and more excited as time passed; his little face lit up when we approached the statue and he shielded his eyes, leaning back to look all the way to the top. We took no end of selfies. After an age of exploring and just sitting and appreciating the vast beauty of the statue, Toby started humming the theme song from Ghostbusters, and the forty-or-so-year-old man next to him with the expensive camera hanging around his neck laughed and hummed along, too.

  It was official: Toby could make friends anywhere, without even saying a word.

  “How many times you seen the Statue of Liberty, then? Bet you’re bored of it, aren’t you?” Toby asked, leaning his head on my shoulder, his arms wrapped around my tummy as he pressed against my back.

  I smiled. “Lots and lots,” I replied, turning in his arms so we were face-to-face. “But I can honestly say I’ve never enjoyed it as much as today.” Seeing it through his eyes, how excited and impressed he was, it made me appreciate it on a whole new level.

  When my stomach growled, ruining the sweet moment, he grinned. “How about we raid the gift shop and then go get some lunch? Can’t ’ave you getting hangry, can I?”

  I nodded. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.”

  “Sweetheart, I’ve seen it. It was truly terrifying.”

  Once loaded up with snow globes that he’d never be able to get home in one piece, key rings, bottle openers, and notebooks decorated with Lady Liberty, we hopped back on a ferry and over to the mainland. I led him to a great pizza restaurant I knew and came to often with Stacey.

  As soon as we stepped into the restaurant, my mouth was watering at all the delicious smells wafting through the air. It was just before twelve and the place was heaving with people already. I took Toby’s hand, tugging him to the counter so we could order. His eyes widened as he looked at all the precooked pizzas in the glass case under the heat lamp.

  “Bloody ’ell, they’re ruddy ’uge!”

  I laughed and sidestepped when the person in front of me turned, carrying his food. “What do you want?” I asked Toby before turning my attention to the young pimple-faced server. “Hi, can I get a slice of pepperoni and a Diet Coke?” I turned to Toby, waiting for him to add his order.

  “Same, thanks,” he muttered, watching the server put two ginormous slices of pizza into the oven to reheat, before turning to make our drinks. When the hot slices were laid onto paper plates and pushed toward us, the pure want in Toby’s eyes made me smile.

  “I’ll get these, I got loads of dollars left to use,” Toby said, waving me off when I dug in my purse to get some money out. I smiled at Toby and picked up the two plates of food, being careful that the flimsy paper plates didn’t bend as I walked to an empty booth at the back of the restaurant.

  I slid in, the plastic-covered cushion squeaking under my behind. Moments later Toby came over with the two drinks, pushing one to me as he sat down on the opposite side. “You been in ’ere before?” he asked, tugging his plate toward him.

  I nodded, picking up my drink and taking a pull on the straw. “Yeah, Stacey and I used to come in here when we were shopping and stuff.”

  Toby nodded absentmindedly, his hand reaching out to the napkin dispenser and moving it, looking behind it, a frown on his face. “Where’s the cutlery?”

  I grinned and shook my head. “You’re in New York, you have to eat like one of us. Pick it up, you pansy.”

  His frown deepened. Toby’s mama raised him right, and I’d never seen him eat pizza without a knife and fork. “Really?” He picked up his pizza with one hand and it immediately flopped over, drooping toward the plate. He frowned, using his other hand to straighten it so he could take a bite from the end.

  “You British people suck at pizza,” I joked, winking at him. “Fold it.” I picked up my slice, folding the two sides together and taking a rather large bite, the greasy cheese hitting my tongue and making me groan in appreciation.

  He grunted. “American weirdos.
He did as I did, folding his slice and taking a massive bite, his eyes closing as he savored the flavor. I smiled, chewing slowly, glancing around at the busyness of the place. “It’s official, New York ’as ruined me for English pizzas. From now on all pizzas will be compared to this,” Toby announced, instantly taking another huge bite. “It’s so good,” he muttered, his mouth still full as his shoulders sagged in appreciation.

  “Much better than that gross pie and mash with the green stuff you Londoners call good food,” I agreed. I’d never seen the attraction to the pie and mash shop that Toby raved about—the mash was stodgy and had no butter, the pie was all flat and had a weird pastry, and to top it off, they covered the whole thing in some sort of strange parsley sauce that they called liquor. If that didn’t turn your stomach, most people then added vinegar to their food, too. Disgusting.

  “Oi, don’t knock the pie ’n’ mash shops,” Toby replied, raising one eyebrow in playful reprimand.

  I grinned and chewed in silence, and then the conversation turned to the inevitable—him going home. We’d both been ignoring it all morning.

  “Ellie, I’m really sorry I can’t stay longer. I feel like a right muppet going ’ome and leaving you on your own,” he said, taking a large bite of his pizza.

  “I’m not alone, I’ll be fine. Promise.”

  He nodded, setting down the crust of his pizza and sitting back to rub his stomach in appreciation. “So ’ow long do you reckon you’ll need to be ’ere? Should I start planning another flight over and arranging cover for in a couple of weeks’ time, or do you think you’ll be ’ome by then?” he asked, watching me carefully.

  I wasn’t sure we were ready to talk about this, or that we were ready to deal with it once we said the words.

  “I’m not sure. Toby, I...” I swallowed and dropped my eyes to
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