“We had to divide it up between a lot of people, not just our share. The guys took back their losses when the factories shut down. They only took what was owed to them and enough to cover their families. The rest of the money was split between families in our neighborhood that were affected the same way and then the local owners who were put out of business by Monte’s crew.”
“Seriously?” Her voice is disbelieving and I look over at her and smile.
“Seriously,” I confirm. “We also have a stack that’s going to the local law enforcement and the mayor because we need to grease the wheels, but also because they’re local people too and they put their lives on the line for that piece of shit. It’s not what you’d call legal, but it’s the reason we stole it.”
“Holy shit, you’re like a hot Robin Hood,” she says and then presses her lips together like she shouldn’t have said it.
“No, please. Tell me more about how hot you think I am.” She rolls her eyes as I pull into a fast food drive-through and order about ten things off the menu.
“Shut up,” she says, and I pay for our food and hand her the bags. “Thank you, by the way.”
She hands me a breakfast sandwich and I eat it in three bites as she laughs next to me and eats hers.
“I’m a growing boy.” I shrug and the sound of her laughter makes that funny feeling in my chest happen again.
“So, tell me, Cooper,” she says, taking a sip of her drink. “What are you going to do with your cut of the money?”
“Oh, that’s easy, buttercup,” I answer as I look over at her. “I didn’t take any.”
“You didn’t take any?” I repeat his words, making sure I’m understanding him right. Every man I’ve ever met wants something out of whatever they’re doing and it’s always for their own benefit. There has to be a catch.
“Monte’s dirty hands haven’t touched me yet. He’s either scared of me or biding his time.”
He takes a giant bite of his breakfast sandwich and I do the same to mine as I let his words sink in. I’m trying to wrap my mind around all of this. I’ve met too many shitty men to believe I’ve been kidnapped by one of the good ones. If something is too good to be true, it likely is. I should have remembered that when Monte hired me. I let his grandpa-ish exterior fool me. With Warren I let his family name and fancy suits fool me, too. I couldn’t let his charming persuasiveness get to me, but maybe it’s three strikes and you’re out. I’m playing with fire and I’m going to get burned. I won’t even be one of those girls in a missing persons report because no one would report me missing.
“So you’re doing all this to take him down and he can’t come for your business next?” I hedge, wanting more information. I don’t know why I care because my plan is still escape. What does it matter what Cooper is up to? I’m not sticking around to see if it’s all bullshit or not and I’m hoping to be long gone before Monte gets a chance to find me. It isn’t safe for me to be here even though Cooper said he would protect me.
The problem is too many people know where I am now and things aren’t a secret if even one person knows. I could tell last night a few of the men weren’t happy about me being there, but they didn’t challenge Cooper over it for more than a second. That meant they either respect him or fear him and I’m not sure which one I’m in favor of at the moment.
I should be scared, but for some crazy reason after last night and stealing peeks at Cooper, I’m not afraid of him. All night, every time I opened my eyes I’d see his gaze flick over to me. I was wondering if he was checking on me because he truly cared or he kept waiting for me to make a run for it.
“That’s part of it, yeah. But he fucked with my brothers and their families so that means he fucked with me.”
There’s so much conviction in his words and I don’t understand that kind of loyalty to people, blood related or not. I lived in a world where it was everyone for themselves and when I tried to reach out for help it got me nowhere. Sometimes it made things worse and it’s another reminder that I’m the only one who can save me. No matter how nice Cooper’s words sound about helping others because he wanted to, I’ve heard too many lies planted in hope before. I know Cooper shouldn’t have to pay for the mistakes other men have made, but he kidnapped me and it doesn’t look as though he’s letting me go anytime soon.