I’d never had a knife against my throat before.
All my attention was on where the horribly sharp blade kissed my neck. If the guy with the ski-mask behind me pushed any harder, my flesh would part and blood would flow, then my new blouse would be ruined.
Damn, why did I pick today to wear something silk and hard to clean?
With an effort of will, I turned my attention outwards, focusing on the fear on the pretty young bank teller’s face, the quiet sobs of two children hanging on to their mother’s arms, the indecision in the watery eyes of the bank’s superannuated rent-a-cop.
Ski-mask chose that moment to tilt my head back further, pulling me closer to him. So close that his solid erection brushed against the curve of my ass. It seemed that Ski-mask liked me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the security guard finally reach for the gun on his hip; a gun that would soon be pointed my way.
“Don’t,” I shouted.
Ski-mask turned rapidly, pivoting me on his undiminished ardour until I was completely between him and the security guard.
“Touch that gun, old man, and you’ll have the redhead’s blood spurting in your face.”
Now that was a graphic image. Perhaps too graphic to be spontaneous. Was it from a movie or had Ski-mask been practising it in a mirror somewhere?
I wondered briefly if his erection was a spontaneous reaction to my firm form or the product of a fantasy that he’d played out many times. If it was a fantasy, I hoped he was getting hard because I was helpless in his arms and not at the thought of releasing a hot arterial gush from my neck.
The rent-a-cop put his hands in the air, but he couldn’t keep them still. The poor guy looked like he was going to wet himself.
“Take off the gun belt and throw it away, pops. Then sit on your hands. Today ain’t your day to be a hero.”
Ski-mask watched way too many re-runs on TV. Who says “Pops” anymore?
The old man looked embarrassed to be taking off his belt in front of me but he did what he was told. As he settled himself slowly on the floor, back against the bank counter, the second of the three bank robbers vaulted the counter in a graceful arc. Her skin-tight black outfit displayed every detail of her Xena, warrior princess body. Even the clunky utility belt thing around her waist looked like a fashion accessory. The girl looked good. She also looked fierce as hell.
Xena had already shown us that she could be dangerous. She’d taken out the bank manager as soon as she and her two friends had walked into the bank.
It was probably just as well, Mr Martin had seemed to me to be the kind of terminally stupid man who could get people hurt in a situation like this.
I’d come to the bank to meet Mr Martin. He’d told me over the phone that for a customer of my status, by which he meant rich and new in town, he’d handle everything personally. We’d agreed to meet as soon as the bank opened this morning so he could help me set up a safe deposit box. He’d greeted me in the lobby with an overly firm handshake and a smile that got wider as he took in my appearance.
Even as he shook my hand, he was staring at my breasts. I’m small on top so I don’t normally wear a bra. Of course, I don’t normally wear a tailored blouse made with silk so soft that my nipples distort the fabric either.
Martin must have been distracted because he didn’t notice the three large people, dressed in black and wearing ski-masks, entering his bank until they were almost on top of us.
Xena was at the front with the two men flanking her. It looked like an arrangement she was used to. Her breasts are much larger than mine and they had Martin’s full attention. Maybe he didn’t even register the ski-masks
“What do you think you’re doing?” he said as if he was reprimanding a junior member of staff.
He still wasn’t looking Xena in the eye.
“I’m robbing your bank,” Xena said.
When she produced a Tazer, the manager laughed.
“You’re robbing my bank with that?”
Xena closed the distance between them rapidly. Martin looked down to find the Tazer pushed up against his groin. She smiled at him, gave him half a second to understand what would happen next, and then she pressed the button.
He went down fast. The air filled with the smell of singed cloth and urine. Yeuk.
Next thing I knew, Ski-mask had his knife at my neck and everyone froze.
Xena bent over Martin and took some keys off his belt.
“Got them,” she said, “Now round them up.”
The second masked man was carrying a cattle prod. He pressed it against Martin until the guy flopped around on the floor like a landed fish. Then, holding the prod in front of him, he politely asked everyone to move towards the bank counter.
A Tazer, a knife and a cattle prod. Ah, the impact of mandatory minimum sentencing on the Canadian criminal – using a gun during a robbery can lead to some serious time in jail.
Cattle-prod had everyone on the floor with their backs to the bank counter, even the two little kids. They were all looking at me and Ski-mask.
I was looking at Xena. She was terrorising the pretty little bank teller, who was barely half her size. She had one arm draped over the girl’s shoulder, gloved hand resting gently on her breast. With the other hand, she ran the Tazer slowly over the girl’s neck.
When the girl tried to move away, Xena grabbed her hair, yanked her head back and kissed her softly on the mouth.
Damn, that looked hot.
“I’m not going to hurt you, Cher,” Xena said, looking into the bank teller’s eyes, “Not if you’re a good girl. So,” Xena made a show reading the girl’s name tag, “Lisa, are you going to be my good girl?”
Lisa’s voice was ragged with fear. Suddenly the scene didn’t seem hot to me anymore.
“Leave her alone,” I shouted.
Xena flashed a grin at me.
“Jealous, Red? You want to be my good girl too perhaps?”
Then she glanced at ski-mask and said, “Since you can’t control the redhead, even with your big sharp knife, bring her here to me.”
Ski-mask took the knife away from my throat and grabbed me by the hair.
If I was a superhero I’d have chosen that moment to swing my bag up at his head, disarm him and rush to Lisa’s rescue, but I’m not anybody’s idea of a superhero, so I concentrated on moving fast enough to prevent my hair being pulled out and I offered a silent prayer that the first time I had a knife at my throat would also be my last.
Ski-mask slammed me up against the counter.
“Lisa,” Xena said, “I want you to be a good girl for the nasty man with the wickedly sharp knife. Empty the cash out of the teller drawers but leave the bottom layer in place. We don’t want to trigger any alarms.”
Turning to Ski-mask, Xena said, “If lovely little Lisa is a bad girl, cut her face.”
Lisa couldn’t prevent herself from sobbing but she bravely started to stack-up the cash.
“Five minutes left,” cattleprod called out. His voice was flat and emotionless. His eye’s never left the herd of people he was guarding.
“You and me, Red, are going to the Safe Deposit Box room.”
I let myself be led towards the back of the bank. Xena used the keys she’d taken from Martin’s belt to open the steel door to the Safe Deposit Box room and then pushed me into it so hard that I staggered into the opposite wall.
While I was recovering my balance, Xena took a can of spray paint from her belt and covered the lens of the room’s security camera with a layer of dripping black paint.
She pulled off her ski-mask, ran a hand through her short hair and then advanced towards me, grinning.
The fierce beauty of her face pierced my heart again as if I was seeing her for the first time.
No wonder I was in love with her.
I stepped towards her, my arms went up around her neck, her face came down towards mine and we kissed. It was a good kiss. A great kiss. A kiss that set my belly on fire and had me tightening my thighs around hers. It was also a kiss we didn’t have time for. We had less than five minutes left to finish robbing the bank.
I pushed her away from me.
“Cut her face?” I said. “Cut her face! I can’t believe you said that.”
Xena – no, I had to stop calling her that. Her ego was already enormous, knowing that I thought of her as a Xena look-alike would make her unbearable – Naomi just shrugged her shoulders.
“All part of the hard-assed act, Cher. Leon knows that.”
“Truly? Well, Leon, had his hard-on pressed into my ass and a blade against my neck.”
“You can castrate him later. I’ll hold him down for you if you like. Now, let’s do this. Show me where the sugar is.”
I don’t normally do banks. I’m a jewel thief. A very careful, very successful jewel thief. Carl, my idiot, recently dead, brother had stolen my last haul from me. Which was a problem as I already had a buyer who would be very unhappy if the stones didn’t reach him.
“Carl said box 127,” I said.
Naomi used Martin’s keys to unlock the box, then she started opening other boxes at random, dumping the contents on the floor, holding on to any cash she encountered, creating as much mess as possible.
I pulled the little velvet bag out of box 127, checked the contents, and stuffed it deep in my bag. The image of Carl, bleeding out in my arms, pushed its way to the front of my mind.
That was Zach, our man of the cattle-prod.
Naomi pulled me to my feet, kissed me briefly on the lips, mouthed “sorry” at me and then pressed the button on the Tazer she held to my neck.
“Are you OK? I thought she’d killed you.”
The lovely Lisa was leaning over me. I felt like I’d been in one of those Star Trek transporter beams and not yet fully materialised.
“He didn’t cut you?”
It seemed my mouth had offered up the first thought that entered my head. I was glad that it had at least refrained from using Leon’s name.
“No. He had his hands all over me though. Then he grabbed some of the cash and ran out.”
“Some of the cash?”
“Yeah, can you believe they didn’t bring a bag? And look at this place. It’s a complete mess. What a bunch of amateurs. Let me help you up.”
Amateurs. That made me happy. The police would be looking for local yokels without the smarts to plan properly.
I put my arm around Lisa’s shoulders and let her lead me back into the bank. The police arrived just as we made our entrance. There were only two of them. They had their guns out and they looked nervous. One of them turned to face Lisa and me.
“Hey, don’t shoot them.”
Rentacop had climbed to his feet.
“Those girls have been through enough today.”
The younger of the two policemen lowered his gun and came over to help us.
“This woman is hurt.” Lisa said, “You should get her to the hospital. You need to take good care of her. She tried to protect me from those people and look what it got her.”
I decided it would be a good time to faint.
I was strapped to a gurney that was being manhandled out of the bank. I opened my eyes as little as possible and looked around.
On the other side of the street, I saw two men in dark suits. I’d seen them before. I knew I’d be seeing them again. They were the ones who’d shot my brother.
Again the memory of Carl in my arms, blood everywhere.
“I’m sorry, sis. I thought I could handle it. But they found me and they took the key to the box.”
Over the next ten minutes, his last ten minutes, Carl had coughed up his story and his blood. I learned that he’d meant to use the stones to pay off gambling debts and then gotten greedy and demanded more for the stones than he’d originally agreed. He’d left the stones in this hick bank for safekeeping. The guys in suits gut-shot him and dumped him at my door like garbage.
Even as Carl bled out, I’d started to plan. Getting the stones back was part one. Tick, done that.
Now it was time for part two. I opened my eyes fully, made sure the suits had seen me see them and then I waved. By the time people turned to see who I was waving to, the suits had run.
The police questioned me at the hospital. It was clear I wasn’t a suspect. My story checked out. I am rich and I am new in town. I told them that I didn’t think I’d be going back to Mr. Martin’s bank and they all laughed politely. One of them even told me that he admired my bravery.
I asked them if they’d caught the robbers. They told me that they were probably amateurs, possibly from across the border and that they were bound to be caught soon because they were sloppy.
I looked forward to telling Naomi that. Naomi was never ever sloppy.
I spent a week doing normal, unsuspicious, routine things. On the weekend I drove over the border to do a little shopping. It was a well-established pattern for me. Everyone knows I love shopping.
I stayed in a small but upscale hotel in Buffalo. I had a drink at the bar. A man offered to buy me another. I refused and turned to leave. He was so close I had to brush past him on the way out. I saw him leave a little later, after he checked that I’d managed to drop a small velvet bag into his pocket.
I’d been back in my room long enough to check that a large sum had been wired into my Swiss account, grab a shower and change into a wonderfully thick dressing gown when someone knocked on my door.
I smiled. I hadn’t ordered any room service.
Naomi was wearing a hotel maid’s uniform – don’t ask me how she gets this stuff – and was carrying a tray with a bottle of champagne and two glasses.
She walked into the room, tray held high, ass moving like it was on springs, turned to face me, standing one foot in front of the other with her left hip jutting forward and said,
“Well, I’m in the room. How would you like to be serviced?”
Naomi was in the room. In the here and now. In my face without a word of greeting. No comment on the bank robbery. No questions about the men in suits. I loved that about her.
I decided that in my face was exactly where I wanted Naomi to be.
I let the bathrobe pool around my ankles and then stood in front of Naomi.
She held her pose and remained silent, making me make the next move.
“The good thing about room service,” I said, dropping to my knees, “is that I get to eat something fresh and hot without having to dress up.”
Naomi set down the tray and stood with one foot raised on to the little coffee table. The maid’s outfit rode up her long leg, showing that she wasn’t wearing anything underneath it.
I knew an invitation when I saw one. I ran my right hand along the outside of her raised leg and pressed my face against her inner thigh. I extended my tongue and was about to get to work when Naomi pulled my head back by the hair.
“You ready to be my good girl now, Red?”
I almost gave in to the slave-girl-for-the-evening vibe but it’s not in my nature and besides, Naomi looked way too smug.
I knocked Naomi’s leg from under her. She broke her fall but was still a little winded. I scrambled up her until I was sitting on her chest, pinning her arms to the floor with my knees.
“Bitch,” Naomi snarled.
Her eyes softened when she took in the view and widened when I reached behind me and pressed my fingers into her sex.
A few slick seconds later, Naomi had turned her face to one side and was biting her bottom lip.
Naomi pretended to try and throw me off. Pretended just hard enough to let me enjoy the movement of her soft, muscled body. We both knew where it would end.
The champagne was slightly warm when we opened the bottle. We were in the bath, Naomi’s legs wrapped around me, her fingers working my shoulders.
“They were at the bank, watching,” I said. “They know I took the stones.”
“Then maybe they’ll be smart enough to be afraid,” Naomi said, her hand sliding down to hold mine.
“We’re going to do this aren’t we?”
“Kill the people who killed your idiot brother? Of course, we are. That’s how our world works.”
Certainty, strength, loyalty, love. These are the things Naomi brings me. The things I can no longer imagine being without.
“But not tonight, Cher. Tonight is just for us. Now take me to bed.”