“Be careful. Little girls go missing every day,” Monte adds, and my eyes shoot to his. He’s smiling like he didn’t just threaten to kill me.
No one would know if I went missing and the thought hits me hard and fast. Monte knows that he’s the only person who would notice. Some people around the warehouse might ask where I went, but he could tell them I quit. No one would be the wiser and I would just be gone.
I fight back the tears that want to break free because I’m scared of what might happen. I swallow the lump that’s forming in my throat as I think about Warren still out there wanting to find me. He wouldn’t kill me, but he’d keep me as his toy to do whatever it was he wanted. Men like him and Monte enjoy seeing fear in others’ eyes and tears are even better. I’m not going to give him the satisfaction and I square my shoulders to give myself strength.
This is all a reminder of how alone I really am and that’s what has me wanting to cry. I’ve felt more alone these past few months than I ever have before. I’ve always been alone, but this is different now because I was forced into it. It’s a product of growing up with a mom who was never home. I never knew where she went or when she would come back. Then one day she didn’t.
It took me over three weeks to finally come to terms with it and I never filed a missing persons report. I was scared I’d get taken away, so I kept on paying the bills, which I’d been doing since I was thirteen and got my first job at a convenience store. From there I worked odd jobs until I landed in the mailroom of Warren’s company.
I worked hard to move up quickly. When I look back I don’t know if it was because I did a good job or if it was because Warren had taken notice of me. I went from a nobody in the mailroom to his assistant. I told myself it was because I worked hard, but the reality is it was too fast to have been anything other than his decision.
Like Monte, he hadn’t told me all the details of what the job entailed. If I had known me being on my back was going to be part of the deal I would have quit the first day.
I jerk back from my thoughts when the bags of money hit the floor, ready to go. “I’ll walk you out,” Joe says, wheeling them out. I follow him as he lifts them into one of the company’s vans before shutting the doors.
“I like you, Jules. Be smart like Monte said and don’t get any ideas. I don’t want to pack you inside of a suitcase next.” He winks at me before he turns and goes back into the warehouse.
Joe always made me wary, but I didn’t think he was capable of something so dark. Holy hell.
I see Monte watching me with his phone in his hand and he nods for me to get moving. My hands shake as I get into the van and I close my eyes as I try to pull it together. I look down to my purse with my keys in it. I’ll go to the bank and drop the money. Then I’ll get out of here as fast as I can. I need to be quick because I want as much time as I can to get myself out of the city before they realize I’m not coming back. I need to go by my tiny studio to grab the stash of money I have hidden away. It isn’t much, but I need all I can get. I’m not touching this money because I don’t want to give them a reason to come looking for me.
At least that’s what I pray.
“We’re in position, Coop,” Track says in my ear and I give the signal that we’re good to go.
I look around and see that the bank parking lot is normal for evening as they get ready to close. Track and Jonas are sitting in an unmarked sedan across the street in a mechanic’s lot. There are so many cars over there and the one they’re in blends so well I have to look hard to see them. Behind me, Levi and Walsh are sitting inside the diner having a cup of coffee in a booth at the window. They’ve got a perfect view of anyone coming or going and will be able to give us a heads-up if there’s a problem.
The five of us are a band of brothers that grew up together. I wouldn’t say we were the worst kids on the block, but we weren’t choir boys either. This is our hometown and we know every inch of it like the backs of our hands. I was best man in Track’s wedding, and Walsh’s little girl is my goddaughter. Jonas and I have matching tattoos, and Levi is like the annoying little brother I pick on all the time but won’t let anyone else talk shit to. To say we’re tight is an understatement and I trust these guys with my life. Good thing, too, because they’re going to be on the line shortly.