Greetings, folks. This week (and probably next week, as well) I’m posting sample chapters from my books. First up, is “Allan & Mac”, from the Valentine Apart series. This is a series that focuses on the lives of the people in Val’s life (I’m speaking of Val from the Valentine series). Each book will focus on one or more characters; telling stories about their lives before they met Val, and what led them to become part of the criminal underworld known as the Syndicate. So, here is Chapter One from “Allan & Mac”. Enjoy.
What’s in the Trunk?
The dark blue Dodge Challenger pulled over and parked in front of an abandoned lot, covered with overgrown shrubs and bushes. The driver changed gears and put the car in “park”, shut the car off and pulled the key out of the ignition. She sighed. It was hot, and her air conditioner had stopped working weeks ago. She knew she needed to get it fixed; she’d been busy lately. It was quiet. Without the sound of the engine to muffle it, she could hear the thumping from the trunk a little louder now. She sighed, and used her index finger to trace the circular shape of her steering wheel. She began to hum a little tune she had just made up. She glanced over her shoulder, towards the trunk. She sucked her teeth, unbuckled her seat belt, and climbed out of the car. She slowly walked around the car, to the trunk. She slid the key into the lock on the trunk, and lifted it open. She stood with one hand on the lid of the trunk, and the other in the back pocket of her blue jeans. “I’m pretty sure we had an agreement,” she said, looking down at the contents of the trunk.
Inside the trunk, was a middle-aged man in a navy blue suit and tie. His hands and feet were bound with duck tape. He looked up at her through a pair of narrow gray eyes.
“We agreed,” she continued, “You would be quiet. I don’t think that’s asking very much, do you? So, are you going to be quiet, or are you going to force me to make a mess back here?”
The man nodded quickly. His mouth had a single strip of duck tape across it. She smiled, briefly. “Good boy,” she said. Then she slammed the trunk shut, and got back inside her car. Before driving away, she tilted her head to one side and cracked her neck. Then, she cleared her throat, and drove away.
A man in a button-down plaid shirt and jeans stepped outside of a deli, and stood on the sidewalk. He watched a dark blue Dodge Challenger pull up in front of him. He leaned down and smiled at the driver. “Hey, Mac,” he said.
The woman in the driver’s seat leaned across the passenger seat just enough for him to see her. “Hey, Allan,” she said. “Sorry I’m late.”
“No worries,” Allan said. He stepped up and opened the door, and climbed into the passenger’s seat, just as Mac sat up straight. “Busy day?”
“Sort of,” Mac said. “I had this thing I had to take care of.”
There was a soft thump from within the trunk.
Both Allan and Mac turned in their seats and looked back at the trunk.
“This freaking guy,” Mac whispered.
Allan chuckled and shook his head. “There’s a paint store down the street,” he said. “It’s been closed for a couple of months now. They have a parking lot in the back. Drive there and park behind the store.”
Mac nodded, and drove down the street. She had no trouble finding the paint store , located next to a struggling Chinese restaurant. There was a driveway beside the store, an she pulled up to it, and drove into the parking lot. The only thing there was a dumpster. She parked her car and shut the engine off. Then she and Allan climber out of the car, and walked around to the rear. Allan opened the trunk. He reached in, and ripped the tape off of the man’s mouth. “Hey there,” he said. “How’s it going?”
“You better let me go, you asshole!” the man in the suit shouted.
Allan and Mac turned to one another in surprise, then Allan slammed the trunk shut, and sighed. “Give him a minute,” he said. “He’s just worked up. He needs a minute.” Mac nodded her head. Allan looked up towards the sky, and watched the clouds as they slowly passed by. Then he looked down at the trunk, and opened it again. “You just met me,” he said. “So I don’t know why the hell you’re mad at me. So, let’s start over, yes? What did you do?”
“What are you talking about?” the man asked. “I didn’t do anything!”
“Well, you must have done something,” Allan said, running his fingers through his dark blond hair. “My sister isn’t in the habit of picking up random people and stuffing them into the trunk of her car for no apparent reason.”
Mac giggled to herself. “That would be kind of funny, though,” she said.
Allan smiled at her, then returned to the man in the trunk. “So, what did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything!” the man yelled. “And you’d better—-”
Allan slammed the trunk shut again. He and Mac stood in silence for a few seconds. They could hear the man cursing and yelling inside the trunk. Mac folded her arms and tapped her foot. Allan studied the palm of his hand. “We’ll just give him another minute,” Allan said, calmly. “I’m hungry. Aren’t you hungry?”
Mac cocked an eyebrow. “Actually, yes, I am,” she said. “Now that you mention it. I could eat. I could go for a taco.”
“That is so weird!” Allan said. “I was just thinking the same thing. I haven’t had a taco in about a month now.” He opened the trunk again. “What’s your name, buddy?”
“Kirk,” the man said.
“Well, Kirk,” Allan began, “Let’s try this again. What did you do?”
Kirk’s face was turning red. “Look, pal, you’ve got five seconds to—”
Allan slammed the trunk shut, and sighed heavily. He turned to Mac. “So, do you want Qdoba or Chipotle?”
“I could go for Taco Bell,” Mac said, brushing away a lock of dark blond hair that had fallen across her face. “I know you’re trying to go for something authentic, but I’m partial to my Americanized tacos.”
Allan nodded. “I get it,” he said. He opened the trunk again, this time, more swiftly than before. “Look Kirk, I can do this all day. I don’t want to, because I’m hungry and I want tacos. So, just tell me what you did.”
“He embezzled funds from his financial firm,” Mac said with a weary sigh. “Sorry, but I really want tacos now, and Kirk’s wasting our time.”
There were beads of sweat on Kirk’s forehead. “How did you find out about that?” he asked nervously.
“Well, I didn’t find out about it,” Mac said. “The person who discovered what you had done contacted me and requested my services. It was Doug, your partner slash brother-in-law. He’s very upset with you.”
“Shame on you Kirk,” Allan said.
“I was only borrowing the money,” Kirk said, quickly. “I was going to give it back.”
“Lies, lies,” Allan said.
Mac sighed and shook her head. “Look, Doug wants his money back,” she said. “And if he can’t get it back, well, you’re already in the trunk, so you can probably see where this is going. That means we solve this problem one of two ways. One, is you return the funds you stole—-all of it—-and move out of the state. The other, is I pop you right here. Now, I’m all for quick and simple solutions. But, if I shoot you, I’ll have to get my trunk cleaned for the umpteenth time this year. I really don’t want to do that, Kirk.”
“Although your car could use a good cleaning,” Allan said, quietly. Mac nudged him with her elbow.
“You…you wouldn’t kill me,” Kirk said, trying his best to sound confident.
“She would,” Allan said.
“I will,” Mac said. “So, what’s it gonna be, Kirk? Are you going to return the money and move, or am I going to have to mess my trunk up?”
Kirk’s eyes rolled back and forth between Allan and Mac.
Allan looked over at his sister. “Have you tried that new quesarito thing at Taco Bell?” he asked. “I heard it’s pretty good.”
“Oh yeah?” Mac said. “I might try that.” She looked down at Kirk. “Let’s go Kirk!”
“Okay!” Kirk shouted. “I have the money in an account at Chase. I’ll give it back.”
“And move out of New York,” Mac added.
“What?” Kirk said.
“And move out of New York,” Mac repeated.
Kirk blinked at her. “But, I can’t—-”
“There’s a place out on Long Island where we could dump him,” Allan said. “Plus there’s a really nice car wash nearby. They do interiors. They’re great at getting out stains.”
“Okay!” Kirk said. “I’ll move! I’ll move!”
Both Allan and Mac smiled. “Good boy,” Mac said. Allan closed the trunk, and the two of them got back into the car.
“That went well,” Mac said, as she started the car.
“Are we going to drive him to Taco Bell with us?” Allan asked.
Mac shrugged her shoulders. “I guess.”
Allan leaned forward in his seat. “Mackenzie?”
Mac groaned. “Fine,” she said. “We’ll take him to the bank first. But then I want tacos.”
“Okay,” Allan said.
“And a Mexican pizza.”
“And a Mountain Dew Baja Blast.”
“And maybe some of those mini Cinnabon balls they have now. Have you had those yet? Those things are awesome.”
“Please drive, Mac.”
“Okay. Sorry. I get excited about food.”
Mac drove to the rear parking lot of a grocery store, where she and Allan got out of the car and untied Kirk, and allowed him to ride in the front passenger’s seat. Allan sat behind him, and reminded him not to do anything stupid. Their next stop was a local branch of Chase Bank. They parked a block away from the bank, and before getting out of the car, Mac gave Kirk a few instructions.
“I’m going inside with you, Kirk,” she said. “All you’re going to do, is withdraw the money you have stolen. I know the amount, so please don’t try anything that will force me to shoot you later on. You’ll withdraw the money, and put it inside a black bag. It’s under your seat.”
Kirk nodded and reached under his seat, and retrieved a small black duffle bag. He gripped it tightly as Mac continued.
“Relax,” Mac said. “You look too goddamn nervous. This isn’t a robbery, after all. You’re giving back the money you stole. Then, we’ll take you home, and you’ll move out of New York. If I see you around the Big Apple, I will put a bullet in your ass. Understood?”
Kirk nodded his head quickly. “Yeah, sure, okay,” he said.
Mac smiled. “Good boy,” she said. “Let’s go.”
The two of them got out of the car and entered the bank, while Allan waited outside. Kirk tried to smile as he approached the next available teller and informed her, he needed to make a large cash withdrawal. The bank’s manager was called over to handle the transaction. Twenty minutes later, Mac escorted Kirk out of the bank and back to her car. She even opened the door for him. Once he was inside, she climbed into the driver’s seat, started the car and pulled off.
“Two hundred thousand,” Mac said. “You stole two hundred thousand from a company your brother-in-law founded. He was nice enough to give your sorry ass a job, too. You really do suck, Kirk.”
Kirk rolled his eyes and looked away.
“What was the money for?” Allan asked. “Gambling debt? Prostitutes? Smack?”
Mac cocked an eyebrow. “Smack?”
“Drugs,” Allan clarified.
“It’s personal,” Kirk said.
“Well, whatever the reason, you had no business stealing that money,” Mac said.
Kirk glared at her. “Who the hell are you to lecture me?” he snapped. “You’re a hit man!”
“Woman,” Mac corrected. “I’m a hit woman. And who am I? I’m the one with the loaded gun. I’m the one who’s going to shoot you if you don’t honor our agreement. So, shove it!”
Mac pulled up in front of a house in Manhasset, where she snatched the black bag from Kirk, and gestured towards the house. “It’s been a pleasure,” she said. “Get out of my car, and get out of New York.” Kirk muttered something inaudible under his breath as he opened the door and climbed out of the car. As soon as he closed the door, the Challenger sped away. Kirk stood on the sidewalk for a moment, looking up at the front door to his two-story house. The lights were on; his wife was home. He wondered if she knew….
Allan sat across from his sister inside Taco Bell, watching her tilt her head to one side in order to eat one of three tacos. And this was after the Mexican Pizza.
“I had fun with you today,” Mac said, chewing up and swallowing a mouth full of taco. “We should do jobs together more often.”
“Yeah, we should,” Allan said, taking a bite of one of his own tacos. “Say, how did you grab Kirk in the first place?”
Mac picked up a napkin and wiped the side of her mouth. “I was pretending to dig through my trunk,” she said. “I was bending over and he was staring at my butt. Then I looked up at him and smiled, and waved him over. As soon as he was close enough, I used the butt of my gun to knock him out. He fell into my trunk, and later, I taped him up.”
“Wow,” Allan said. “There were a lot of butts in your story.”
Mac giggled. “Yeah, yeah there were.” She began to eat another taco.
“You know,” Allan began, “if you keep eating like that, you’re gonna get fat. And you of all people do not want to get fat.”
Mac paused, taco in hand. “Why’s that?”
Allan smirked at her. “Because of the obvious nickname,” he said. “You’ll be bigger. Big Mac.”
Mac narrowed her eyes at him.
End of Sample