Fighting to be free, p.23
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       Fighting to Be Free, p.23
 

         Part #1 of Fighting to Be Free series by Kirsty Moseley

  Laughing, I followed behind him, turning left at the gates like I was supposed to. He flashed his hazard lights at me as a good-bye as we went in different directions.

  * * *

  The hours passed quickly. Dodger was proving to be a valuable asset. He was a total pro. The only fault I could see was that the dude couldn’t stop talking, but at least he was funny with it.

  Almost done with the boost, Dodger drove to the next location. Shaun sat in the back, still gushing about the Harley-Davidson he’d just driven back to the warehouse. We were down to our last two cars now. Shaun was taking the sleek little red BMW that we were stopped next to, and then Dodger was driving me on to the last boost of the night, the Aston Martin Vanquish.

  I hopped out when he stopped the car, heading over to the BMW, sliding in the bar and popping the lock quickly. Yanking the door open, I leaned in, disabling the alarm and immobilizer before climbing in and sparking the wires to start it up. I pulled out, closing the door as I drove down the road, and stopped a few streets away to swap with Shaun. He skipped to the car, slapping me on the shoulder on the way past, grinning happily.

  As I slid back into the seat of Dodger’s Porsche Boxster, he grinned. “I’m hungry. After I drop you off I think I might stop for a burger or something. Want me to get you anything?” he offered, fiddling with the radio to find some rap station.

  “It’s three thirty in the morning,” I countered, looking at him to see if he’d lost his mind.

  He shrugged unashamedly and rubbed his stomach. “When a boy’s gotta eat, he’s gotta eat.”

  I laughed and shook my head. “Nah, I’m all good, thanks.” He didn’t reply, just mouthed the words to the Missy Elliott song and bobbed his head to the beat.

  Ten minutes later we pulled up at the last car of the night. “Can’t believe we pulled off this boost. This was awesome, and most certainly one for my memoirs,” he joked.

  “Yeah, we make a pretty wicked team,” I agreed, stepping out of the car and into the cold night air. “See you at the warehouse.”

  He nodded. “I’m gonna stop and get food. You sure I can’t tempt you with some grease and animal flesh?” he offered, waggling his eyebrows.

  I grinned and shook my head. “No thanks, man. See ya in a bit.” I strutted off to the car, excited to get the job done. As much as I loved the high, I was tired now. This had been a seriously long night, and all I wanted to do was curl up in my bed and not get up until Monday. That wouldn’t happen, though; I had Ellie’s birthday tomorrow. The thought of her brought an instant smile to my face as I set to work on my last car. Dodger waited until I had it started, then he turned and headed in the direction of the main street, probably to find the nearest open takeout place.

  As I drove down the road, heading toward the warehouse, my cell phone started ringing. I dug it out of my pocket and answered, immediately switching it to speakerphone. “What?” I asked, not really in the mood for pleasantries. I just wanted to get this job done and get home to my bed now.

  “Kid, what time is Shaun back with the beamer? I need to get it loaded onto container three, then it’s good to go,” Ray asked.

  I frowned. I’d given the car to Shaun more than half an hour ago; he should definitely be done by now. “He’s not back?”

  “Back? No. I assumed you two were still picking it up.”

  My hands tightened on the steering wheel. Shaun left before I went to go pick up this car; he should have been back ages ago! “I’ll call him and see what the holdup is,” I suggested, disconnecting the call without waiting for his answer. Dialing Shaun’s cell, I waited. After several rings, it cut to voice mail. I frowned and dialed again.

  When he didn’t answer, I disconnected and threw my phone onto the passenger seat. I pulled over and turned the wheel hard, doing a U-turn and heading back the way I came. It had been a while since I’d left him, but I knew which route he would have taken back to the warehouse.

  After about ten minutes of fast driving, flashing lights appeared up ahead and the breath caught in my throat. I pulled up about a hundred yards away from them and groaned as I took in the scene before me. The beautiful car that I’d boosted less than an hour ago was a total wreck. Another car had hit it from behind, practically lifting the little red sports car up off the ground so that its rear end was perched up on the hood of the other car.

  There was glass everywhere, metal twisted at odd angles. Emergency vehicles were parked around, lights flashing. A fireman was busy cutting the doors off the other car—obviously someone was trapped inside. There was no sign of Shaun.

  FUCK!

  My eyes flitted around quickly, trying to see where he was. He needed to get the hell out of there; it wouldn’t be long before someone ran the plates on the car and realized that the freaking thing was stolen!

  A deliberate tap on my window made me jump. I gulped as I turned toward the window, seeing a Highway Patrol officer standing there, smiling. I silently wondered if I should just floor the accelerator and drive off. But the smile on the guy’s face was friendly. He didn’t look like he knew I was sitting there in over 3,000 pounds of stolen sports car. Forcing myself to remain calm, I pressed the button to roll down the window.

  He leaned on the frame, his eyes scanning over the car appreciatively. “Hi there. Sorry, I can’t let you through; there’s been an accident up ahead. We’re diverting traffic off down another street.”

  I nodded, trying to keep my heart under control when all I wanted to do was scream Shaun’s name so I could find him and get him the hell out of here before they started running plates and stuff on the cars. If Shaun got arrested, then they could look into who he worked for, who he worked with. We would all be screwed tonight if he didn’t keep his mouth shut.

  “Yeah, it looks bad. Are the drivers okay?” I probed, nodding at the wreck. My hands tightened on the wheel as I hoped he would say that Shaun was missing or something. Hit and run. Hit and run. Hit and run. I chanted it over and over in my head, praying for the words to leave his mouth. They didn’t.

  He nodded grimly. “The driver of the front vehicle isn’t too bad, concussion and seat belt damage, I would imagine. He’s with the EMTs on the way to the hospital. The other driver is okay, I think, they just can’t get him out because the doorjambs are bent. They should both be all right, though,” he replied.

  Shaun is with EMTs, injured, on his way to the hospital, and then he’ll be questioned by police …

  My heart sank. “Is there anything I can do?” I asked, noticing how my voice wavered as I spoke. The cop seemed too preoccupied with watching the firemen work to notice my shaky voice, though.

  “No, thank you, sir. We’ve got everything under control,” he assured me.

  My mind was whirling with what needed to happen now. I needed to get the hell away from here, call Brett, and tell him of this new development. He’d call around until he found Shaun in the hospital; then, depending on how much he liked him, he’d either order a hit on him so that he couldn’t incriminate everyone else, or he’d get him a damn good lawyer and have him out of there within a couple of days. It depended on how much Brett trusted Shaun to go down without taking everyone else down with him.

  “Well, I’d better let you get back to it,” I suggested, forcing a smile.

  He stepped back, patting the frame of the door. “You have a good night, sir.”

  Wordlessly, I put the car into drive, turning slowly, not wanting to draw attention to myself. I drove down the road, knowing that Brett was going to go crazy when he found out. I didn’t stop as I pulled out my phone, calling Brett’s number, my eyes flicking in my rearview mirror every couple of seconds to make sure I wasn’t being followed. Brett answered almost immediately.

  “What’s up, Kid? Nearly back?”

  I took a deep breath before I spoke. “Slight problem,” I admitted. “Shaun’s been in a wreck. The car’s totaled, and he’s on his way to the hospital in an ambulance.”

  I
winced as the string of expletives that he let rip rang in my ears. After a full thirty seconds of him shouting words that would make Ellie blush that adorable shade of red, he finally calmed down enough to talk to me. “Where are you?”

  “On my way back. I have the Aston, do you want me to come to the warehouse with it, or are you gonna have the transporter meet me somewhere else?” I asked, not wanting to lead the police back to Brett in case they were following me.

  “I’ll have them come to you. Go to the secondary location and someone will be there to meet you and take the car off your hands.” He sighed. “Kid, you think Shaun will keep his mouth shut?”

  I honestly didn’t know the answer. “You know him better than I do, Brett.”

  He was silent for a minute, obviously thinking through his two options. I kept my eyes on the road, turning off and heading out of the city to our prearranged secondary exchange point. The streets were still deserted; it was almost four in the morning.

  “All right, look, just go to the second drop-off point. Call me when you get there,” Brett instructed, disconnecting the call. He probably had more important people to talk to than me—either his lawyer or the hit man.

  At the location, I pulled into the field we had prearranged as the secondary spot in case things went bad. Turning off the engine, I sat there in the dark, praying that this didn’t come back on me. This was just my luck; I was going straight, and now Shaun was probably going to drop me in it again.

  I called Brett. “Hey, I’m here.”

  “Good. They’ll be there soon. Ray’s bringing your truck.” He took a deep breath. “I’m gonna get Shaun a lawyer and everything will be fine. He’s a loyal worker, I have complete faith that it’ll go smoothly. I have people inside, and he’ll be out quickly. But just in case, you need to get yourself an alibi. Something strong. Make sure it’s not connected to work, or me, in any way. Call that hot little girl of yours that you’re always bragging about.”

  Dread settled in my stomach. Ellie. I was going to have to bring Ellie into this? “Seriously? Can’t you set me up with an alibi or something?”

  He sighed. “You know how this works, Kid. Just get yourself an alibi and lie low for a couple of days. I’ll sort everything out, but the further you stay away from everyone here, the better for you. You need to think of your parole right now, okay?”

  My jaw tightened. I hated the thought of Ellie being anywhere near anything illegal … but I had no one else to ask.

  I slammed my forehead down on the steering wheel and closed my eyes, running through everyone I knew to see if they could give me an alibi instead of Ellie. I even debated going to my mother for help, but she wouldn’t help me anyway, she had no compassion or sense of loyalty. Ten minutes later, a transporter truck pulled into the field. When a guy jumped out and let down the tail ramp, I drove my stolen vehicle in. Once it was settled inside, I hopped out. As I trudged out of the transporter, I was kind of hoping for a meteor to fall from the sky and blast me into oblivion. That would certainly be preferable to having to tell Ellie the truth and beg for her help.

  Ray had pulled up in my truck and was standing against the hood with his arms crossed, a hard expression on his face. The other car in the field was Dodger’s sleek-looking dark blue Boxster.

  I headed toward Ray and shook my head. “This is all shit!” I grunted.

  He nodded and held out a manila envelope, probably full of my fee for the night, plus extra cash because of the size of the job. “Yep, it is. You gonna be okay? Who you calling?” he asked, regarding me curiously.

  I sighed and closed my eyes, not wanting to say it out loud. “Ellie, I guess.”

  He smiled sadly. “If she’s as awesome as you always claim she is, then everything will be fine.”

  Behind me, the transporter pulled away.

  Ray squeezed my shoulder supportively. “If for whatever reason she doesn’t want to do it, then call me. I have a slutty cousin, you could probably pay her to say that you spent the night with her,” he suggested.

  I laughed humorlessly. It would be so much easier to do that, just pretend I’d hooked up with some random girl for the night, but I didn’t want to risk that. Knowing my luck it’d somehow get back to Ellie and she’d think I cheated on her. I didn’t know which was worse, but at least if I went with the truth then I’d have a chance of keeping her.

  “Thanks, Ray. I’d better get going,” I muttered, shoving the envelope into my hoodie pocket. I turned to Dodger and smiled. “It was good to work with you; you did a great job tonight.”

  He smiled and stuck his hand through his open car window. “You too. Kid Cole is just as badass as I’d heard. Looks like the rumors were true. Maybe we could work together again sometime.”

  I shook his hand and laughed. “Maybe. We’ll see what Brett lines up.” Once I’d said good-bye to Ray, I climbed into my truck, twisting the key and making it roar to life. I hated the thought of what I had to do now. Now I had to risk everything, put myself out there, and tell Ellie exactly what type of person she’d been associating with. Not only that, but after I’d told her that I’d been lying to her for the last three months, I’d then need to ask her to help me out of trouble. I looked upward, praying for the meteor, but there was not even a cloud in the sky. Just my fucking luck.

  CHAPTER 21

  I DROVE TO Ellie’s house quickly, parking down the road a little way. Luckily, the street was deserted. My heart was racing as I climbed out of my truck and walked swiftly to the house, stopping off to the side so I could call her. I felt sick doing this. This was the last thing I wanted, I never wanted her anywhere near trouble, yet here I was, bringing it right to her front door.

  Pulling out my phone, I closed my eyes and pressed Call. It rang for a while, and my nerves seemed to double as I chewed on my lip.

  “Jamie?” she croaked groggily.

  I winced. “Uh, yeah, hi,” I mumbled, rubbing my forehead to try to relieve some of the tension headache that was building up.

  She yawned before she spoke again, “Everything okay?”

  Taking a deep breath, I mentally crossed my fingers that someone was watching over me and I wasn’t about to lose the best thing that had ever happened to me. “Actually … no, it’s not. I need to talk to you.”

  “What’s up?” She sounded more awake now.

  I flicked my eyes over to her house. “I need to see you. Can you come down?”

  “Down? You’re outside?” she asked, her voice filled with shock.

  “Yeah.”

  The line disconnected and a minute later the downstairs light turned on before the front door opened. Ellie stepped out, immediately hugging herself against the cold. She was wearing only a tank top and what looked like a pair of my boxer shorts. Her hair was whipping about as she looked around, an adorable little confused expression on her face.

  I stepped out of the shadows and waved her over, wanting a little distance from the house in case her parents heard us talking. She shivered but immediately stepped onto the path, flipping the latch on the door before closing it silently, wincing as the gravel crunched under her bare feet. I shrugged out of my hoodie quickly as she stopped in front of me.

  “What happened?” she asked, smiling gratefully as I slipped the hoodie around her shoulders.

  “I’m in some trouble,” I admitted.

  Her eyes tightened. Even in the dim glow of the streetlight I saw the worry that was etched across her face. “What kind of trouble?”

  I raised one hand and stroked her cheek, memorizing the feel of her soft skin under my fingertips, savoring it in case this was the last time I got to touch her. “There are some things about me that you don’t know.”

  Her eyes darted back to the house as she shifted on her feet nervously. “Come inside, it’s cold out here,” she suggested, pulling the hoodie tighter around her body. She turned to walk away, so I grabbed her hand, making her stop. I couldn’t go inside. Once she found out the truth about me, she
might not want to be near me or something. That, and the fact that when she started screaming at me that I was a worthless liar, it might wake her parents up, and they’d probably call the cops for her. I knew Ruth would for sure.

  “It’s better if we do this outside, Ellie. You’re not going to like what I tell you.” Even I could hear the hopelessness in my voice.

  Her hand tightened on mine as she flinched. “Did you cheat on me? Is that where this conversation is going?” Her voice wavered as she spoke.

  I laughed humorlessly. Clearly she had no idea how crazy I was about her. “No, Ellie. Never.”

  Her eyes fluttered closed as she huffed a sigh of relief. She was probably going to wish that I had cheated on her when I told her what this was really about, that I’d been lying to her for the last three months. “Just tell me, Jamie, you’re scaring me.”

  Fuck. “I just stole a car, and now the cops are probably looking for me. I need an alibi that puts me somewhere else when it all went down,” I whispered, looking at my feet, not wanting to see her expression when she realized what a lowlife I was.

  “You … You stole a car?” she croaked.

  I nodded. “Twenty-five of them, actually,” I added nonchalantly.

  “Jamie, what the fucking hell?!”

  I looked up at her then and saw the expression that I’d never wanted to see on her face. Disappointment, shock, confusion, and horror.

  “I’m not the person you think I am.”

 
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