I stole his car love at.., p.1
I Stole His Car (Love at First Crime Book 1), page 1
I Stole His Car
Love at First Crime #1
By Jessica Frances
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2017 Jessica Frances
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
Cover Design by MGBookcovers
Editing by C&D Editing
Dedicated to my granddad,
An absolute gentleman who is missed every day.
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I Stole His Car (Love at First Crime, #1)
She stole his car, so he stole her heart…
I saw something I never should have seen.
I took something they wanted back.
I was desperate.
So, I did something I never would have normally done.
I stole a car.
Not just any car.
Now I have no choice but to trust him.
Only he can help me get out of this mess.
Then, when we both become hunted,
And when feelings begin to complicate things,
Can I still count on his protection?
Can I trust what is happening between us to be real?
Because, as some people say: there is nothing quite like love at first … crime.
I glance around myself nervously, anxious over being out in public and worried that someone is watching me. I feel scrutinized, my entire body one tense ball of stress.
Even though it is almost May, the weather is a little on the warmer side than what is average for Chicago, meaning I should still be wrapped up in warm clothes. However, I’m sweating badly and feel overheated as adrenaline pumps through my body.
I have never done anything illegal in my life. I have never even returned a library book late. Okay, I also don’t think I ever borrowed a library book, but still! No criminal record, nothing in my life needing to be covered up. I not only have a clean record, but an equally clean conscience.
Because, now I am contemplating stealing a car as a means of escaping the hell I find myself trapped in. And given my lack of criminal history, how exactly am I supposed to steal a car? I doubt there is a book labeled Stealing Cars for Dummies. Even if there is a book that helpful, I certainly can’t afford it in my current situation.
But, I’m stuck. In my attempt to remain hidden and safe, I can’t keep travelling everywhere on foot, constantly dodging into alleyways and crouching behind parked cars. Any sort of public transportation I have attempted has been a bust. I have been to several different bus and train stations, only to find familiar faces searching for me. Not to mention all the cameras they have in those places. It is way too easy to track me. Hoping I can simply be lucky enough not to be seen is a sure way to get caught.
I can’t go home. Ideally, I would have some friends my ex-boyfriend Brian doesn’t know about, or long-lost family with a safe house that is off the grid, but I don’t.
In fact, I have no one I can rely on. And that is entirely my own fault.
I have been too wrapped up in myself to even consider branching out enough to make more connections. What twenty-four-year-old resides in one of the most populated cities in America yet has no close friends? Me, apparently. The few I have, who aren’t just friends through Brian, I only speak to via chatrooms and email. I should probably have some sort of physical friendship to show for in my life that wasn’t gained purely because of my boyfriend.
Regrettably, the only thing likely considered normal for a twenty-four-year-old, which I did have up until recently, was a boyfriend. Three days ago, though, I discovered that was anything but normal.
So, now I’m a twenty-four-year-old woman on the run, who has no home she can go to and no friends or family to rely on.
What the hell am I supposed to do? I’m not sure I am skillful enough to survive on the run, and I certainly am not capable to handle the information I found out about Brian. But I have to at least try. Therefore, I need transportation that isn’t traceable to me.
I glance around the quiet parking lot in front of me. There are many parked cars. Plus, the immediate area and the main street leading past isn’t busy. There is only one reason people are parking here at seven-thirty on a Wednesday night—the strip joint open across the road.
From where I am crouching, I can see anyone approaching. The too small parking lot on the side of that building is full. All the other buildings, plus this side of the street are closed for the night. Therefore, this is an ideal place to steal a car. And chances are, the car I steal will have an owner who will be occupied for a while, giving me more time to get away.
It isn’t like I haven’t tried to avoid this. Public transport is out, I don’t have enough money for a taxi, and my own vehicle is stranded at a police station that I can’t go back to since they definitely have cameras there, and no doubt it is being monitored for any sign of me. I did attempt to hitchhike. The vehicle that stopped happened to be a rundown looking van. The creepy guy who eyed me up and down several times before smirking and offering me a lift set off several internal alarm bells. Safe to say, I declined his offer.
So, here I am, in a deserted parking lot, looking at a bunch of cars, and wondering if I can possibly steal one.
Morally, I can get past it, purely because of my dire situation. Desperate times call for desperate measures. If I ever get out of my shitty situation, I will write the person an apology note and a check for whatever inconvenience I have caused them.
My issue now is that I have no idea how to break into a car. Where do I even begin?
In the back of my mind, I suddenly hear a soft bass pumping through me, driving up my adrenaline. It matches my heartbeat. I can’t tell if it is helping or hindering my ability to think.
If I can’t do this delicately, then maybe I need to just bite the bullet and smash a window. There most likely isn’t going to be an alarm on the older cars. Besides, I’m in a less than stellar neighborhood. I bet car alarms are a dime a dozen in Englewood. Especially if I wait for the sun to set, which should be less than an hour away now.
Then the music in my mind changes to something softer. I don’t understand why that is. In fact, why the hell do I have music playing in my mind at all? Sure, I love music, but I have never had unfamiliar tunes stuck in my head before.
I’m embarrassingly slow to notice that the music is real, and not a figment of my crazy brain.
I guess I’m not yet losing my mind, just brain cells.
Not sure if this is a good idea or not, but drawn to the music, I make my way slowly through the parked cars, keeping low to the ground and checking the entrance of the strip joint every few steps to make sure no one is approaching.
By the time I reach the car where the music is coming from, no one has exited the building and the stillness in the air helps me believe I’m alone out here.
I have been trying to psych myself up to steal a car in this area for at least half an hour. This car was already here when I arrived, so where is the owner? Did they just forget to do something as normal as take their keys out of the ignition?
It’s like they want it to be stolen.
Could this be a trap? Some sort of awful TV show where you are caught committing a crime on camera?
Certainly no one is stupid enough to leave their car like this, not in this neighborhood, or anywhere in this day and age. Am I just seriously this lucky? Does the world feel a little bad about the shit hand it just dealt me, so it is trying to make it up to me by gift wrapping this car for me?
I would be an idiot to walk away from this, right?
In fact, I might be doing this person a favor by taking their car. They can learn a seriously valuable lesson from this. Don’t leave your keys in the car and your window down!
The music changes again, this one to something grungy.
I wipe my sweaty palms on my jeans. It is time to make a decision.
My hand shakes as I reach for the door handle, darting a glance inside the car and finding it a little messy.
There is a large tartan rug bunched up on the passenger seat, hanging halfway onto the floor, a few books and pencils on the backseat, and a backpack on the driver’s seat, with a half-eaten sandwich sitting on top. Not exactly what I expected to see inside a nice car. Then again, if the owner is on the younger side, then perhaps that might explain why they are stupid enough to leave their car unlocked, with keys inside, and an open window alerting passersby to their idiocy.
I touch the door handle and take a deep breath, trying to calm myself as I glance over the hood of the car and see a man approaching. He looks like one of Brian’s friends. I could be wrong, since I only see him for a few milliseconds before I duck down.
Fear is a powerful motivator that propels me into action.
I rip open the door, throw the bag and the sandwich haphazardly onto the backseat, and plonk myself down heavily, causing the car to rock. I turn the keys to get the engine running and, within seconds of opening the door, I am exiting the parking lot and making my way out onto the road, heading in the opposite direction of the man who looks too familiar.
I have met a lot of Brian’s friends over the years, and not once did I feel the need to fear any of them. But now I know better.
For one brief moment, I breathe in the cooling air that hits my face and feel a second of relief.
I did it. I not only got away from Brian’s man, but I’m out on the open road. My chances of escape just improved.
Then, the next second, I realize that I fucked up.
Massively fucked up.
Epically fucked up.
Have I ever done something so stupid before in my life? Well, besides deciding that dating Brian was a good idea, that is.
Because, I haven’t just stolen a car, but I have also kidnapped a child!
Under all that tartan, lying next to me, is a young boy!
He pushes his arms out of the blanket, surprising the hell out of me and almost forcing me to swerve off the road. I’m even more shocked to see him staring at me in curiosity instead of fear.
I open my mouth a few times to speak, but no words come out. I want to assure him that he’s safe, that I’m not a bad person, and this is all just a crazy misunderstanding. Unfortunately, my voice has momentarily deserted me. All I can manage to do is turn the music down low. Music that I am slow to realize this kid must have turned on.
He was obviously already in the car when I walked into that parking lot. He likely decided he wanted to listen to the radio, which is why I never heard the music earlier.
How could I be so stupid?
Finally, he nods, seemingly coming to some sort of conclusion about me.
“You are in so much trouble,” the kid tells me on a smile, clearly not at all concerned that I kidnapped him.
He pulls himself up into the seat better, his butt no longer hanging off the edge as he must have been seated in a position only a child could find comfortable. Then he shoves down the blanket that was covering him completely until it is by his feet.
“What are you doing in here?” I finally manage to squeak out.
“Me? What are you doing in here? And where are you taking me?” He crosses his arms over his small chest.
I again glance over his small stature, his messy dark curls, and innocent baby blue eyes. “I asked you first!” I cry, trying to collect my scattering thoughts.
What am I supposed to do? I can’t kidnap a kid! Stealing a car is one thing; taking a child is a line I cannot ever cross.
“Well, I was supposed to be doing my homework,” he answers, shrugging one shoulder. “I decided I was due for a nap.”
“Do you know how dangerous that is? You can’t leave your windows down and sit in a car alone in that neighborhood!”
“Why?” He sounds genuinely confused by this.
“Why? Why?” Okay, I sound hysterical now. Time to tone it down. “I think where we are right now is proof of why that is a terrible thing.”
“Where we are? You mean, because we’re near Hamilton Park?”
“What?” I wonder over his reference before shaking my head. I need to get back on track. “No! I mean, because I am a stranger and I’m alone in a car with you.”
“Oh. Are you here to hurt me, then?” Again, he doesn’t sound scared. I wonder if there is something wrong with him. What child wouldn’t be terrified right now? Does this happen often enough that he considers it normal?
“No! Of course I’m not going to hurt you!” I assure him as I try to stop myself from pulling my hair out. What am I going to do now?
With my window down, the air is cold, but I’m afraid to wind it back up since I’m pretty sure the only thing keeping me from panicking completely is the air pummeling my face. It feels a little like I’m being slapped. Without it, I fear I will faint, freak out, or just stop breathing altogether.
Also, I haven’t bathed in several days. I’m certain I don’t smell well.
“Then, what is the big deal? I mean, you’re pretty small. I could fight you.” He says this cockily.
My mouth drops open. “I’m sorry, but you’re a child. A child could not beat me.” I sound indignant and know part of the reason is because I have seen kids these days. Some of them are built like tanks, while I am scrawny and weigh less than a hundred and twenty pounds. I would be no match for those kids.
This kid, though, looks like he is short and definitely scraggy. I’m sure I could take him. I think …
Oh shit, what if even this small child could beat me? What hope do I have against Brian if I can’t even make this kid muster up any sort of fear when I have accidentally kidnapped him?
“I definitely could beat you in a fight. You want to see?” he offers coolly, maybe even sounding a little excited. I guess he’s confident. No one is excited if they think they are going to lose.
“No!” I shout as my mind scrambles again.
I consider what my options are. They do not look good.
I have to turn back. I have to take this kid back … Back where? What was he doing alone in a car at night, anyway?
“Whatever,” he mumbles, crossing his arms over his chest. “So, what do you want with Zander’s car, anyway?”
“Who is Zander?” I ask as my mind races. I can’t take him back to an empty parking lot. He wasn’t under supervision there, and a child needs someone looking out for them, especially close to nighttime in a not-so-safe neighborhood.
“He’s my brother.”
“And how old is your brother?” I think of an equally scrawny boy, older than this kid by only a couple years. I’m certain, having zero knowledge or care about cars, that this one is a nice car. How did his brother afford it
“He’s old.” He pulls a face while I consider what age this kid thinks is old. When I wave my hand for him to continue, he rolls his eyes at me. “He’s twenty-eight.” He pulls a face like he can’t even believe people can be so old.
This surprises me, since I expected much younger, and it annoys me because twenty-eight is not old.
“How old are you?” I enquire, already guessing his age to be around ten.
“Twelve, almost thirteen!” He sounds a little proud about that.
I suppose he’s likely small for his age, or I’m just way off since I don’t spend any time around children.
“You have a big family?”
“No.” He looks down at his lap now, his once calm features twisting as a cloud settles over him.
Okay, not sure what that is about.
“And this Zander just left you alone for you to do your homework?” I ask to confirm.
Where are his parents? Do they know of their sons’ whereabouts?
“Yeah, he usually does that. I don’t like to go in there.” The dark cloud remains over him, and his eyes almost look watery.
Is he going to cry? Shit, what can of worms have I opened now?
Can I really blame him? The only place open in that area is the strip joint, which is no place for a twelve-year-old. Besides, I’m positive it would be illegal to allow him entry.
“Well, I think your brother sounds like a right tool-bag,” I say, unwilling to use a swear word in front of him. Tool-bag is appropriate language for a twelve-year-old, right?
The kid smiles at me, his hunched shoulders straightening a little. “Yeah, he is a tool-bag. A big, giant, pain-in-the-ass tool-bag.”
Okay, is ass a swear word? Where are the rules on this written?
“I take it you don’t like him much, then?” I mumble, aimlessly driving around. I don’t know this area very well, add in my jumbled thoughts and I’m completely lost. How can I return the kid if I don’t even know where I am going?
Shit, can I mess this up any more than I already have? What is wrong with me?
by Jessica Frances / Paranormal / Science Fiction / Romance have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes