Kindle Price: $0.99
Length: 236 pages
3.8 (24 reviews)
Reformed car thief Leah Ryan is trouble. She is turning over a new leaf, but needs a job fast. She’s a natural at stealing cars. What better job for her than Repo Chick?
When Leah stumbles onto a sex ring during a routine repo job, her distrust of law enforcement and all things authority leads her to enlist the help of a few friends from her shady past.
A past she promised herself she’d never return to.
They fired me. I wasn’t surprised. Just pissed off. There was nobody to pick me up. I didn’t have enough money for a cab and no busses ran through the small town I live in. I couldn’t get to work. So they fired me.
I had to find a job. Fast. If worse came to worst, I’d work in a bar. It was quick cash and I was fast. I’d worked in my father’s bar slinging drinks, a dark and gloomy pub where mostly Scots and Irish gathered, before I could legally serve booze. When I was even younger, I worked in the back mopping and doing dishes.
But I really didn’t want to work in a bar, I was thinking as I finished my tenth rep of bicep curls on my right arm. I don’t play well with others, so I don’t go to the gym. I have free weights and a weight machine in my spare bedroom.
I began working my left arm and I steamed as I thought about the repo man driving my car away. For a moment, I could smell his spicy scent. I closed my eyes and breathed in. It had been a while since a man had affected me the way he had, on a completely animal level. When I’d first laid eyes on him standing there in the dark, logic told me to prepare to fight, while my body had reacted to him in a different way. I opened my eyes. A lustful way. Just thinking of him caused an ache deep in the pit of my abdomen.
I gave my head a little shake. I needed a job more than I needed a roll in the hay. No matter how hot and wild that roll could be. My lips curved up in a smile. What had the name of the repossession company been? Something with a ‘P’ in it. Parker Repossession Services. That was it. I wondered how much a vehicle recovery agent made. By the time I was finished lifting weights I’d decided that I’d pay Mr. Parker a little visit.
* * *
“No. Absolutely not,” Parker said, shaking his head. It turned out that Mr. Yummy actually owned the business. “It’s too dangerous for a woman.” His square jaw was set, his almond eyes steady.
I let out a harsh laugh. “Mr. Parker. Do I look like a shrinking violet to you?”
His gaze moved over me and something in my chest fluttered. I caught his scent on the breeze. Woodsy. Spicy and woodsy, like a forest after a summer rain.
He crossed his arms over his chest. “You’re obviously fit but it’s a tough job.”
“I can do this job. I’ve worked construction the last four baking summers and freezing winters. I can handle it.”
“Look, Ms. Ryan. Lots of things can happen out there. You can get raped, beat up. Anything.”
I looked up at the dark, gathering clouds. “Do you read the papers or watch the news? Because women get raped and beat up walking to their cars, or even in their own homes.”
He stared at me but still said nothing. He knew I was right.
“I’ve worked almost exclusively with men the last four years, Mr. Parker. I assure you, I’m prepared. I’m strong, and I know how to fight.”
This was true. In the places I’d been in you had to know how to fight. It didn’t matter that you were female. There were just too many mean people out there. You had to know how to defend yourself. I’d become a skilled street fighter and kick boxer by the time I was fifteen. I wasn’t kidding when I said I know how to take care of myself.
“Mr. Parker. I was fired from my job because I had no way to get to work. I’m in debt up to my eyeballs, and if I don’t find a job quick, I’m going to be living on the streets pretty soon. Just try me out. If it doesn’t work, you can let me go. I promise you, I can do this. I won’t let you down.”
He tilted his head, thinking. His eyes narrowed and his gaze went right through me. For one crazy moment, I pictured myself walking over to him and running my tongue over those kissable lips. I gave my head a mental shake.
“Please,” I said, so low even I could barely hear it. I guess he did, because his eyes softened. “All right.” He threw his arms in the air. “Okay. I’ll hire you. You’ll have to do exactly what I say. No exceptions. Otherwise, you could put us both in jeopardy.”
I nodded. “No problem.”
“I hope not.”
* * *
When I got home, Frank, who lifted his orange head from his paw, blinked at me, and lowered his head again, greeted me. Frank’s a laid-back kind of cat. I poured some kitty treats into his self-feeding dish, and he jumped off the chair and padded over, pausing to stretch his legs behind him. It had been a trying day of sleeping for him.
I peeked into the fridge. A brick of sharp cheddar sat on the top shelf where I’d left it two nights ago. There were two slices left of a loaf of bread, six bottles of beer and a few sodas. I looked in my cupboards. Various boxes of crackers sat on the shelf. I like crackers. Especially with cheese. A box of extra-sugary cereal, my secret shame, and two cans of mushroom soup. I hadn’t been shopping in a while. I grabbed one of the boxes of crackers and the brick of cheese, and after inspecting the cheese for anything green or furry, I grabbed my sharpest small knife and headed to the living room.
I flipped channels but found nothing that interested me. So I turned off the T.V. and punched the button to turn on my stereo. Billy Joel sang about it still being rock and roll to him. I could dig it.
After wolfing down several crackers with cheese, I showered again. It was the kind of day you take two or three showers just to get the sweat off you for a while. I let the cool water beat over my hot skin and thought of Callahan Parker’s face. I could look at that face for a very long time without ever getting tired of seeing it. He wasn’t movie star handsome. His nose was slightly cooked, like it had been broken at least once. He was sexy in a rugged way. I got the feeling he’d been around the block a few times.
I moved my soapy hands over my breasts and my nipples tingled. I closed my eyes and thought of Callahan’s mouth moving over them, his tongue flicking across them. Then gave myself a mental head-shake. Cool it, girl. You’ve got bigger fish to fry.
When I stepped out of the shower to dry off, Frank was lying on the bath mat waiting for me. This was a ritual for us. In the fall and winter, when I didn’t have to worry about giving either of us heat stroke, I’d blow-dry my own hair, and then him.
It had started with me trying to show him that the hair dryer was nothing to be afraid of. That it was just loud. As it turned out, he loved the heat it provided, and now I had a monster of my own creation on my hands. He rolls around, luxuriating in the heat of the dryer, and he sits by my feet each day and complains loudly if I forget to blow-dry him. Right now it was far too hot.
I towel-dried my short, black hair and finger-brushed it. I used to have long hair, but it’s not conducive to construction work, so I’ve kept it cut into a sleek bob for several years now. I rarely wear make-up in the summer time. My skin is tanned a deep, golden brown from doing road construction, and my brown eyes are fringed in thick black lashes. My mother used to tell me that I’m naturally pretty and that I should count myself lucky. I know that if she were still around she’d also tell me that I should let my hair grow, get a desk job and wear dresses and high heels. That’s the way she was before she left us. I’d imagine it’s the way she still is to this day.
At eight o’clock there was a knock at my door. Callahan was just on time. He cut an impressive figure as he stood in my doorway. His dark hair was damp and I wasn’t sure if it was still wet from having been just washed or if it was sweat. He had a five o’clock shadow and he wore a black t-shirt and cargo shorts. The t-shirt clung nicely to his chest. I tried not to drool.
I was dressed much the same, but wore a black tank top and cut-offs. It was a steamy evening. The temperature had dropped to the mid-eighties.
“Mr. Parker,” I said. “Just on time.”
“Call me Cal. When someone calls me Mr. Parker it reminds me of a teacher in high school I couldn’t stand. He used to always call people by their surnames.”
I nodded. “I’ve had a few of those, too.” Mostly in juvenile detention, mind you. But I definitely knew the type.
Cal’s gaze skimmed my legs, but he soon looked away, shoving his hands in the pockets of his shorts. He cleared his throat. “Okay, let’s go.”
We walked to the black tow truck I’d seen the night before. It had tinted windows. I supposed this was prudent, as I’m sure one doesn’t make many friends in the auto recovery business.
“Nice ride,” I said.
“Yeah, not too shabby. At home I have a brand spankity new Land Rover.”
“Oooh. Did you steal it?”
“Actually, yes, I did. It was one of my repos. Got it pretty cheap at auction. I liked it so I watched out for it. Just knew it had to be mine.” He flashed me a grin.
I felt a little dizzy. Mercy. That grin could be the death of me. “Do you always get what you want?”
He considered this as we got into his truck, and then nodded. “Yeah, pretty much. You ready to go steal some cars?” He turned the key in the ignition. It purred to life. I was certain that he was used to things purring under his touch.
I took a deep breath and tried not to be so aware of sitting beside him in such close proximity. Damn his delicious, woodsy scent. “You bet.”
We were both quiet as we rode to our destination. My nerves were on edge, anticipating the night’s events. It had been a long time since I’d even entertained the idea of stealing a car. I’d put those urges on a shelf long ago. And now, in one day, I was going to have to purposely call on those old skills again. Nevertheless, I had to make a living. I had a ton of bills to pay. Hopefully my car thieving talent wasn’t too rusty.
We pulled into the parking lot of St. Mary’s church, an enormous, gorgeous grey brick that had been built in the mid-eighteen hundreds. The same could be said of most of the homes on this particular street. It was an older part of the area that we’d called ‘snob hill’ growing up.
Callahan pressed the speed dial on his cell phone. “What’s the good word?”
I watched him, wondering who he was speaking to.
He ended the call and put his cell back into his coat pocket.
“That was Will. The guy you saw sitting in the truck this morning. He’s following the target from work so that we’re sure about when he’ll be rolling by here.”
I made a tsk tsk sound with my tongue. “There are stalking laws in the state of New York, you know.”
“Hey, recovery agents need to employ a host of … creative methods of recovery. Often times we need to follow people, get their routines down. You want the recovery to go as smoothly as possible.”
“Did you follow me around?”
“A little.” He grinned. “You didn’t seem to be very dangerous.”
There was that grin again. I felt a little light-headed. “You don’t know me yet.”
“Well, let’s hope you’ve got a backbone, lady, because in this job, you’re going to need it.”
“Don’t you worry about me. You just teach me the basics and I’ll be just fine.”
“Good. First, a recovery agent should never work alone if he … or she, can help it. It can be a dangerous job, like I told you earlier.” He leaned over his wheel and watched the left side of the street. “Our target should be coming around the corner any minute.”
“Oh, Will and I have this skill down to an art. He watches the target for days, getting their routine down pat. People are pretty predictable. They’re comfortable with their patterns, which is good for people like Will and me.” He winked.
I looked around up and down the street which was flanked with old mansions. Most of the homes were Victorians, though there were some Greek Revivals and a couple of Gothics. “Doesn’t seem to be the kind of place where someone wouldn’t be able to make their car payment. Most of these folk could probably easily buy any vehicle they’d like in cash.”
“Well, yeah. Most of them can. However, even the rich can have money problems. It isn’t difficult to live beyond your means. Especially if money is new to you. These places aren’t cheap to keep. Heap on top of that vacations and whatever other toys they have.” He snapped his fingers. “Suddenly you’ve got a bit of a cash flow problem.”
I nodded. I’d never really considered that, never having had a lot of money to play with. My parents are Scottish immigrants who ran an Irish pub. We never had much, but we did okay financially.
“Doesn’t look like the kind of place where a disgruntled vehicle owner would come at you with guns blazing.”
Callahan chuckled, shaking his head. “You’ve got a lot to learn about people.” He turned his head back to the street. “Here he comes. The man of the hour.” He smiled as he pulled out of the church parking lot. We waited until the pearl-white Lexus S.U.V passed us, then followed it as it headed up the hill. It turned into the driveway of a gigantic, grey Gothic style house. Callahan parked against the curb directly across the street. He reached into the backseat and came back with a small black box that looked like a television remote.
“I was here earlier in the week with a box that’s basically like this one. When the target opened his garage door, the box scanned the code, enabling me to program the code into this little baby so we can use it to open the door and get to the vehicle. We do the same thing with his car and house alarms.”
I knew what it was. I’d seen them before. I nodded just the same. I shifted in my seat and began rubbing a knot that was quickly developing at the back of my neck.
I followed his eyes to the man in the Lexus who was in the process of pointing his remote at his garage door.
“I suppose knocking on the door and asking nicely for the car keys doesn’t usually work.”
“Not usually, no. Why don’t you go on up there and ask him yourself?”
“This is definitely not legal. You actually get away with this stuff?”
“The line between right and wrong has always been a tad blurry for me. Like I said, you’ve gotta be creative in this business. Willing to take risks. So if you have some ethical issue with this, you’d better bail now.” He watched me for a moment. “Or if you don’t want to know, don’t ask. Or look the other way. Whatever helps you sleep at night Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies, sweets.”
Seemed simple enough. However, I’m a voraciously curious person. So there’s no way I’m not going to ask questions. Besides, I needed this job.
“Don’t call me ‘sweets’.”
The Lexus disappeared into the garage. We both knew that the man would go directly through a door that led inside his house. Fancy shmancy. Lucky bugger. I was beginning to feel a petty kind of glee at the prospect of stealing this man’s vehicle.
Callahan waited a few minutes before heading toward the house. The place was surrounded by an intricate wrought iron fence and guarded by two stone gargoyles. There were no doors blocking entry to the estate. Callahan didn’t hesitate in pulling into the driveway, which seemed to stretch out for miles.
“Holy shit,” was all I could think of to say. I’d walked or driven by this house countless times and had always wondered what lay beyond the scowling gargoyles.
I really liked those gargoyles, and had on many occasions wondered how feasible it would be to steal them. I’d never had a vehicle that was big enough. I suppose I could have hit up a couple of friends who had criminal tendencies, of which I’d had several growing up, but I had no place to put the gargoyles. Still, I vowed that some day I’d have a couple of those babies of my own. It was a dream of mine.
Callahan used his handy little remote to open the garage, then turned the tow truck around and smoothly backed up to the Lexus. The tow truck was equipped with an automatic tow lowering system which allowed us to stay within the safety of the truck. It slid under the target vehicle and had clamps which gripped the tires. Although I’m not one to duck and run, I also don’t go looking for trouble. So I’m very much in favor of this particular system.
As we drove out of the garage, I turned to watch the door just in time to see Mr. Target coming through it, wielding a golf club and screaming like a girl. He’d had just enough time to get out of his suit and into his silk pajamas and plaid slippers before he realized that someone was driving his Lexus out of the garage.
I couldn’t help laughing. “You’d better move it before he does some damage to his nice, shiny car.”
“Are you kidding? He’d sooner clobber himself than put a single scratch on this thing.” Callahan pointed the remote toward the garage door, closing it on the man.
“Thank God you closed the door before he could come charging down the driveway at us in his slippers. That wouldn’t have been pretty.” The image made me smile.
“Wait for it.” Callahan glanced in the rear-view mirror as we made our way toward the entrance. I watched in my side mirror.
Sure enough, the man flew out of the front door and down the stairs, pajamas billowing. He was still waving the golf club in the air and screaming something incoherent as we turned out of the estate and onto the road. I turned and watched him out the back window and was amazed at the behavior of the rich. The man jumped up and down like a three-year-old having a tantrum. He then switched to a kind of stomping jog on the spot while throwing his golf club across his lawn and punching himself in the head.
“Oh, how undignified,” I said. “I wonder what his friends at the country club would say if they saw him now, doing that jig in his slippers and jammies while his Lexus is being repossessed.”
“Any of his buddies would be doing the exact same jig. Only they might be wearing a different style of jammies, and perhaps the slippers would have a paisley pattern on them.”
“Do any of them ever come after you in another vehicle?”
“Sure.” His smile was broad. “That’s all part of the fun.”
I laughed. He was right. This was more fun than I’d legally had since … well, ever.
But then, I’d always liked stealing cars. Just didn’t like the price of getting caught.