Once I know they’re in the back, I reach over to the desk where Tessa pulled out the safety deposit box keys. I pull key number 425 out of my pocket and use it and the deposit keys to open the dual lock.
Opening the box, I don’t take a second to look at the contents. I take out the single small yellow envelope and silently close the box again.
It takes me thirty seconds, tops, and I’ve got the keys back inside the drawer, with no one the wiser. Just as the drawer rolls shut, I turn to see Nick standing there with Brian.
For a second, I see something flash in Nick’s eyes, and I think I’m busted.
“We good?” I ask, nodding at the bags of money on the dolly behind them.
“Yeah. Piece of cake,” Brian says, pushing the dolly out of the vault.
Nick grips his gun tighter, and my fingers start to tingle.
“Less than two minutes,” I say, reminding him we’re running out of time. Nick nods in acknowledgement and makes his way out of the vault behind Brian.
Just as I exit the vault, I lean over and hit the button for the police. Remember when I said criminals always play up to the job, never after? This is where my plan begins.
Brian wheels the cash out of the lobby and down the small hallway. Nick and I walk over to Paul, letting him know it’s done, so we can get the fuck out of here.
Just as I walk over, I can feel the shift in Nick. He’s just fucked up both of our plans.
Before I can blink, he’s over by Tessa and pulling her up by her hair off the floor.
“Put her down!” I shout through the room, my voice echoing off the marble. I raise my gun pointing it as his head, but he pulls Tessa closer, putting his own gun to her head.
“What do you say you tell me what was in that box, Sparrow.”
I finally make myself look at Tessa, her gold eyes terrified. I see the look on her face as she realizes who we are.
“Nick, what the fuck are you doing! Let’s go, man!” Paul shouts, clearly wanting to get the fuck out of here like Nick should, too.
“Not until pretty boy gives up what he’s really after. Because it wasn’t this piece of ass. Was it?”
He’s got his gun pressed against her head, and tears are streaming down her face. She’s terrified, and she hasn’t spoken a word. My heart is nearly beating out of my chest, but my gun is straight and my aim unwavering.
“Don’t make me do it, Nick. Let her go. Now.” I don’t want to have to kill him like this, but I will.
“Nick?” Harper says from the floor, but he doesn’t turn to acknowledge her. He shoves his gun harder against Tessa’s temple.
“You tell me what was in that box, or she’s dead. I don’t give two shits about killing this bitch.”
Rage boils inside me, but I take a breath and calm myself.
“Close your eyes, little fox.” She looks at me for a half second before doing as I ask. In that quick look, I see that the trust is still there. She may not know what’s going on, but she trusts me.
“Maybe you should close yours,” Nick says, pulling his trigger.
There’s a moment of complete silence after the sound rings out, before all the women start screaming.
The sound of a second bullet reverberates around us as I pull my trigger and land a shot right between Nick’s eyes.
Before a heartbeat has passed, I’m there in front of him, catching Tessa and holding her face to get her to look at me.
“Look at me, baby. Tessa! Open your eyes.”
She opens them, looking at me and blinking rapidly. Her ears are probably ringing from the blank going off, and I’m sure she can’t hear what I’m saying. I replaced everyone’s gun but mine with blanks, knowing some stupid shit might happen.
I pick her up and throw her over my shoulder. I turn back to look at Paul.
“Stick to the plan!” I shout at him, and he bolts out the door.
Running behind him with Tessa over my shoulder, I make my way out of the bay door in time to see three of my guys loading up the cash as the other two wait with the van.
I slip off to the right and out the side door of the bay before they spot me. Once I’m outside, I see an unmarked car waiting for me. The guys have their money, so they won’t wait around, and I hear the sirens already on their way.
I open the driver side door and help Tessa in and over to the passenger seat. When she’s there and finally looks at me, I take off my mask and reach for her.
I feel the sting of her hand across my face, and though I know I deserve it, it doesn’t make it any easier.
Reaching into the console, I pull out the insurance I had Sal drop in here for me.
“Just relax, little fox. I’ll explain everything soon enough.”
I see the shock hit her eyes when she realizes what I’ve just done, and she looks down to see the needle in her arm.
“It will be easier this way, Tessa. I promise. I love you, baby. Just sleep.”
“You have no idea how happy I am to see you,” I say, looking up at Dimitri, who’s standing in the doorway to his private plane. “I didn’t think you’d make the trip. I was sure I’d be having a layover somewhere to meet you.”
Dimitri just shoots me a cocky grin. “It’s my little ‘fuck you’ to the FBI, even if they never even know it. Also, I’m a little anxious to get my hands on the package.”
He steps back from the doorway, revealing a tall thin man behind him. “Get their bags. We need to get out of here.” The thin man, who looks to be in his late forties and is dressed in a relaxed suit, darts down the stairs, going straight for my vehicle.