Friday, May 18, 2012

S4: Chapter 07: Crossfire

Ryan watched as Stefanie headed into the school. He’d made her late for the bus this morning by burning her toast and insisting on making her something else. But he would never let her day begin without the jump start of breakfast no matter how much her smart mouth griped.

He cranked the throttle to his second love and moved slowly through the front parking lot waiting until she was inside. As he started for the curb, a familiar voice stopped him in his tracks and he turned to the anxious face of Erica Stanton waving her arms frantically for him to stop.
He turned back around and parked his bike. Kicking the stand down he leaned off the side wondering what she could want to talk about now. Stefanie was doing better. She was participating in class and showing up on time, most days. She had even stopped hanging out behind the Onestop with the rest of the underage drinkers and smokers as he’d asked. “Dr. Stanton,” he nodded tossing her a cordial but impatient smile. He had no time for pleasantries considering the last interaction he’d had with her she was making Stefanie panic and brought back the nightmares he’d struggled to rid her of. “What can I do for you?”
“Well it’s about your Step-sister.”
“I figured as much.” He narrowed his gaze towards her and peeked over her shoulder noticing his sister had stopped in the hall and was watching their exchange. She’d dragged herself slowly towards the doors again, stepping out into the parking lot she waited. “What do you want?” He pulled up from the motorcycle and started towards the building to check on her; stopping midway at Erica’s next words.
“I know.”
He turned to face her moving slowly to the spot she stood and shook his head looking down at her through hooded eyes, “You know what?”
“I know what you and Stefanie did Ryan. I spoke with a neighbor to see if she had any idea where Mr. and Mrs. Brooks may have gone and you know what? She had a pretty interesting story to tell. Seems she never saw either of them leave their house and for over a week she wondered if they were possibly dead inside. She remembers hearing strange sounds like gunshots and she also recalls several vehicles parked outside of the Brooks’ residence at odd hours of the night for an extended period shortly before their disappearance.”
“Let me guess, Mrs. Cransfield?” Ryan asked cleverly masking the fact that he would have or should have known who Erica was referring to. “Would it surprise you to know she’s taking meds for early onset dementia and is known around the neighborhood as the Crazy Cat Lady? She once told me a small green man landed in her front yard, stole her lawn gnome and it was my job to arrest him. Not only that, she’s made several public records to the police about a series of crimes committed to her cats that turned out to be her snatching handfuls of fur from their bodies and gluing them to her walls.”
“Well I’ve had a friend of mine check the passenger manifests for all flights around the time frame Stefanie claims her parents abandoned her and there are no records of an Eddie or Sandra Brooks boarding any flights leaving this city.”
“And? Eddie worked at a used car lot, when he worked. He’s had several Junkers one of which is no longer parked outside his trailer. Besides I couldn’t see my mother ever boarding a plane for anything. The woman had an unhealthy fear of heights. It took her a while to get over the elevation of the stairs at her home.”
“Have you heard from them?” He shrugged and shook his head no. “And you don’t find that a little unusual?”
“No, I find that a huge relief. They’ve left Stefanie in my care and she’s the only one that concerns me. I don’t know why it bothers you but I do remember you telling me that you’d sent numerous correspondences to them once before to meet with you about my sister they never responded to. What makes you think they’d call to check on her well being now?”
“Right. It all seems a little too clean don’t you think?”
Ryan scoffed. A watery laugh sounded from his throat and he pressed a little closer towards the irritatingly nosy guidance counselor. “I don’t know what exactly you’re getting at, but I do know if you keep pressing my sister I’m gonna lose my patience with you.”
“Are you threatening me?”
He glanced behind him and noticed Stefanie was sitting on the bench just outside of the principal’s office waiting and hoping nothing was wrong. Her leg was shaking rapidly and she was chewing the nails on her left hand anxiously.
“Actually Dr. Stanton, I’m reminding you that I’m a federal agent and you just admitted to committing a crime to me. Now if you and your friend aren’t interested in serving 5 to 10 in a federal prison for peeking at manifests that are not made public record for reasons of National security, I suggest you back off. Otherwise, I’m gonna have to make a very informative phone call to my Director and notify him of the terrorist threat you pose.” He leaned closer ensuring his words were met with the sincerity he meant behind them. “I love my sister dearly and I will do whatever I have to in order to protect her.” Erica’s eyes widened in panic hearing him and she swallowed hard as he turned his back to her and started for the building.
Closing in on Stefanie, he smiled at his little sister flashing back to the day he first met her. Reaching his hand for hers he pulled her to her feet and poked a finger into her belly. “Let’s get out of here.”
“But what about school?” she looked at him a little confused. Always a stickler for her being on time and paying attention while in class, she couldn’t believe her ears. Was he really telling her to ditch?
“I’m giving you permission to bum today. If you’re feeling stressed out I’d rather you be someplace where your anxiety won’t peak.”
She grabbed her Bookbag and rushed after him. “So where are we going?”
“Anywhere your heart desires.”
“Hmm…Ocean Shores. I want to spend the day at the beach but I need to grab my swimsuit first.”
“You want me to drive all the way out to the Shore? You know I have work today right?”
“You said anywhere I wanted!”
“True, I did say that didn’t I? Alright, we’ll go. I can drop you home to grab your stuff. I just have to make a quick stop at the bank and then we can have a little ‘us’ time ok? Spend the rest of the day babe watching.”
“Um, ew?”
He chuckled and tossed his arm over her neck pulling her into his chest as they walked the rest of the way to the parking lot. She threw her bag onto her shoulders and hopped on behind him. Her arms hugged Ryan closer and she rested her head against his shoulder as he sped up just a little. Stopping in front of his apartment building, Stefanie hopped off and he watched and waited for her to get inside before waving her goodbye and starting towards the bank.
“Good morning Sir, welcome to First National Credit, are you making a deposit or withdrawal?”
“Withdrawal please,” he handed the teller his ID and withdrawal slip and eyed the security cameras swiveling around their motorized heads. He recognized the make as the First Detection brand; supposedly the highest tech of high tech criminal detection software. The camera was said to be able to spot crime before it happened by identifying possible threats and alerting the authorities by sending a computerized image to their facial recognition software. If a match was made, a silent alarm was sounded and a response team would arrive soon thereafter.
“And how would you like that?”
“Uh…surprise me,” he smiled at the busty brunette as she counted out a series of fifties, twenties and tens to complete his transaction. “You’re new here huh?”
“What makes you think that?”
“Because I’ve been a customer here since I was in blues and I’d remember if I ever saw your gorgeous face before. How long have you been working the counter?”
“Uh just over two months.” She smiled as she continued counting through the twenties trying her best not to be distracted.
“You like it?”
“I didn’t at first but it’s growing on me. It’s much better than the window.”
“Awesome, that’ll give me more reasons to come inside now.”
Slipping the bills into an envelope she handed him his money and ID back. “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”
“Yeah, you can give me your phone number; it’ll ensure I keep this smile on my lips until my head hits my pillow tonight.” He winked and flashed her his toothiest grin.
She giggled and brushed a tuft of hair behind her ear leaning forward on her elbows. “And how do I know you’re not getting this money out for a hot date on the town with someone special?”
“Well you don’t and that’s the exact reason I’m doing it.” He smirked at the disappointed frown on her face and leaned closer towards the glass. “I promised my baby sister I’d take her out and she wants to go to the shore. For me that means a hot day on the beach and maybe combing for shells with her. For her it means hitting up every strip mall on the way coming and going and making me carry her bags as she breaks my bank. But I’m a sucker; I can’t resist seeing her smile.”
“Aw that’s really sweet, Mr. Sharpe. And I’m sure she appreciates it too!”
“Call me Ryan.”
“I would but I’m not supposed to fraternize with bank customers while on the clock,” she whispered scribbling something on a piece of paper and sliding it into his fist.
“Well I won’t tell if you don’t, Brandy.” He winked at her and leaned forward more. His gaze moved briefly to the security cameras again and he noticed they’d stopped rotating and appeared focused on a specific location. Turning towards the front doors he saw them just before they entered inside. “GET DOWN!” he warned Brandy just as the gunmen fired a round into the air.
“Alright this isn’t a drill people! Ass up, face down on the floors NOW!” Firing another shot, the gunman let the small crowd of people know he wasn’t playing games. “This isn’t a fucking game. You don’t own this bank, this isn’t your money but we won’t hesitate to shoot you over it. So if you didn’t wake up this morning and think today would be your last DON’T FUCK WITH US!”
Ryan pinned his back against the wall of the teller booth and watched closely at how the three gunmen systematically entered and each took up a task like a well oiled machine; they were pros. One of them grabbed a chain and locked the front doors of the bank preventing anyone else from entering inside. A second gunman drew the blinds on the numerous plate glass windows to keep people from seeing inside as the one that fired the two shots ushered the crowd of people closer together and checked over the hostages looking for the manager.
“Alright my friend here is coming around with a bag and I want EVERYONE to give up your cell phones as he comes to you. Refusal is a guaranteed bullet through your cranium, get it?”
Ryan slid his badge out of his back pocket and pulled out his cell phone to put it on silent mode. Carefully he slid them under the counter keeping his eyes straight ahead so as not to call attention to himself. He watched the man make his rounds collecting everyone’s personal effects until finally his dark clad form was hovering above him. The masked man moved closer waving the bag and began demanding his phone. “I left it at home.”
“Aye, this guy doesn’t have a phone.”
“Bullshit, pat him down!”
Roughly the gunman pulled him to his feet and went over his attire looking for a phone. Finding only his wallet and recent withdrawal he indicated a negative with a swift gesture across his throat.
The lead gunman moved towards Ryan as the other continued making his rounds. “What’s your name?”
“Well Ryan I’ll be watching you. Any sign of trouble and I won’t bother to ask, I’ll shoot first, got it?” Giving him a once over he grunted and motioned for him to be seated again.
“What are they going to do with us?” Brandy asked huddling closer towards Ryan’s shoulder. “Bank procedure is to give them the money but the manager’s not here! We won’t be able to do that.”
“Just try and remain calm Brandy. I’ll try and figure something out.” He glanced over towards the men and women near the ATMs and wall taking a count. There were twelve not including himself; three robbers each heavily armed and no telling what they had planned.
Ryan sighed as a gunman scooped up one of the tellers and carted him off towards a back office. He blew out a breath and kept watch. It was obvious these men were not here for the money. Locking everyone inside the bank was proof enough of that. And whatever they were after, the safety of these people was not their number one concern. He needed to make a plan, something that would ensure that everyone got out with their lives. But there was a nagging voice in the back of his head that reminded him of an event just like this that didn’t end well and a face that still haunted him.
 April 20, 2006 
Ryan took a seat at the bar and ordered a first round of several drinks for the night. He was happy, he was celebrating and soon he’d have the badge he’d always dreamed of. Disappointed Brett bailed on him at the last minute he wasn’t going to let that ruin his night. He eyed the patrons near him and got lost in the sea of overlapping conversations as he waited for his drinks to arrive.
The music was bumping and vibrated him through his seat. He found it somewhat funny they had the karaoke going considering the singers weren’t able to be heard over the throbbing of music piercing the speakers nearby. The DJ was on fire and he loved it. Instinctively his head began bopping to the sounds as he watched the keep prepare his drink. A pair of girls walked in and moved towards the bar.
They slid into stools near the end and smiled in his direction. The blonde wasn’t much to look at but her brunette friend was stunning. He waved at her but got the returning gesture from the blonde. Damn Brett; he could have sure used his wingman on this one. The friend was a total grenade and like a true pal he knew Brett would have surely thrown himself on it to ensure he got a little action with the hot brunette. Instead he simply nodded and turned back towards the bartender.
“That’ll be twenty,” the keep growled and slid two shots and a bottle of Guinness in front of him. He happily paid and gulped both shots within seconds. Slamming the glasses on the countertop he hissed as the amber liquid burned down his throat warming him to the core.
“Damn and here I thought I was the Champion of shots,” a low sultry voice mused behind him. “You might have me beat if you keep going like that.”
He turned towards the voice with a smile as he took in the appearance of the woman just over his right shoulder. She was wearing a red minidress that clung to her curves like a second skin accentuating her hips and leaving just enough to the imagination that he found himself undressing her with his eyes.
Her hair dangled elegantly around her shoulders framing her face in such a way she appeared angelic. Her pouty lips curled into a smile and the light shade of lipgloss glistened under the club’s neon lights. She was wearing a pair of stilettos that looked deadly if she were to ever use them against someone yet they made her legs appear soft and firm heightening the length they seemed to run up her dress.
“Oh yeah? I’d like to take you up on that,” he smiled before taking a sip of his drink as he watched her slowly slide onto the stool beside him.
“Fine but you’re buying.”
“I don’t have a problem with that. I’m Ryan,” he held his hand out for her and grinned at the touch of her delicate fingers sliding up his palm to greet him.
“Monae, it’s nice to meet you Ryan.” He motioned towards the bartender again and placed an order for another round of shots requesting that he keeps them coming. Grabbing what he could he led Monae to a booth near the back corner and slipped in first.
“So what are you celebrating?” he asked as she moved closer towards him and raised her glass to her lips. He watched as she pulled a small sip into her mouth, her tongue licking across her lips savoring the taste of the strawberry daiquiri she was drinking. Her lips were perfect and the way she sucked on the lower made his mind wander.
“Ah it’s my birthday.”
“And you’re celebrating alone? How tragic.”
“It’s not so bad, sometimes I prefer it. Besides I’m not alone any longer. I have a handsome cop to keep me company.” Her hand slid up his knee but he didn’t flinch. Instead he moved in closer and draped his arm around her neck pulling her closer into his arms.
“What makes you think I’m a cop?”
“You all have that same distinctive scent.”
“Funny!” Ryan looked at her amused and slyly raised his arm to smell himself making her laugh.
“You can’t detect it yourself. But don’t worry it’s not a bad thing.” Her lips curled into a knowing smile as Ryan pressed his face against her neck. She moaned and felt him draw a breath against her a few times, his fingers caressing her cheek.
“You don’t smell so bad yourself,” he whispered and kissed gently the spot he whiffed slowly gliding his tongue over her skin. The scent was light and intoxicating and he found himself moving closer towards her pulse inhaling deeper as he moved. Her hand closed tighter around the thicker part of his thigh and she could feel the evidence of his explorations just beneath her fingertips. He kissed the delicate line of her neck once and pulled away.
“So what are you celebrating?” she asked trailing her fingers over her neck amazed at the tingling she felt under her skin.
“My graduation or promotion rather; I’ve upgraded from local SWAT member to my second year as an agent with the FBI. I’m now an official member of the Special Forces team. That means more hours, more money and more action!”
“Well congratulations, a toast then,” she smiled raising her glass. “To new opportunities, new friends and new beginnings!”
Over the course of the next three hours they sat drinking, talking, flirting and finding a general sense of comfort in each other’s company. Monae giggled at something Ryan said and glanced up at the clock just under the television. She cussed lightly under her breath, downed the last gulp of her drink and slid out of the booth. “Thanks for the drinks but I have to get going. It was nice meeting you Ryan, have a good night.” She started for the door but stopped when she felt Ryan’s hand grip hers.
She turned to look at him with a smile and he eased himself out of the booth dropping a few more bills on the table. “What’s the rush? The birthday girl still has an hour left before the last candle on her cake blows out. How about we spend it licking icing off of each other?”
Monae smiled and Ryan reached up gently caressing her cheek and pulling her gaze back towards his. “You might want to rethink that,” she sighed. “I wouldn’t want you to wake up tomorrow with any regrets.”
“The only regret I’d have is letting you leave here without knowing if I’ll ever see you again. One way or another I’m getting some way of contacting you. Can I have your number at least?”
Noticing a group of men dressed in dark suits entering the front door, Monae turned to Ryan instantly pulling his mouth into hers. Slowly her tongue spread his lips as his hands gripped her tighter pulling her into the semi hard on he was just able to coach down. His teeth raked across her lips and he moaned as her hands came to rest within his hair gently scraping his scalp. When she was finally able to break away he released a breathless sigh and stared at the heaviness of her eyelids her desire triggered. “You could have just said yes,” he smirked.
“Actually I’d like to take you up on your earlier offer of icing that is if it’s still on the table.” Lacing his fingers between hers he tugged her into his chest, grabbed his jacket and led her towards the parking lot.
“Ryan’s still not here?” Yvette sighed dropping onto the cushion and stretching herself across Brett’s lap.
“Nope, he hasn’t called in either,” Dustin confirmed. “Is he gonna get paid for the day?”
“What? I’m just saying he’s not here, not working. Besides I just want to know if this is something I could get away with in the future.”
“No, it’s not so stop planning mid morning dates for you and Mica! Have you tried calling him?”
“I’ve left him about four voicemails, none have been answered or returned,” Victor spoke up. “I’m starting to get worried. He would have called by now if something was up and let us know.”
“Maybe it’s something with Stef,” Brett suggested as he absently massaged Yve’s back and shoulders. “He may have just forgotten to call, I wouldn’t worry just yet. He’s pretty reliable; at least I hope so. I can’t have my best man losing my rings.”
“Not if he wants to live to see us get married. Maybe I should have my Maid of Honor hold on to them.”
“Excuse me, that’s ‘Man’ of Honor,” Victor corrected tossing her a sidelong glance. “I’m not wearing a frilly dress and don’t expect me to carry your train either. In fact you’d better find a gown that doesn’t have one and a bouquet that won’t make me look like a puss while holding it.”
Yvette laughed and blew him a kiss. “Aww but your legs look awesome, there’s nothing wrong with showing them off in a nice dress with a cutoff.”
“Yve, I’m a weapons expert. I know a LOT about a wide range of guns, knives, missiles, you name it. Let’s not poke fun at the man with the guns alright?”
“You might not want to go threatening my future wife either Vic. I kinda love this woman and I don’t take kindly to people who endanger her.”
Victor smiled, “You know I shot you once before Brett, you sure you want another bullet to the ass?” He watched as Yvette rubbed her hands over Brett’s chest as the two carried on. It was nice hearing Brett’s threat even if he was kidding. It assured Victor that his best friend would be in good hands and that was a comforting thought to him.
 July 09, 2007 –
Barely making it up the stairs, Ryan used Monae’s back to close the door behind them as he pressed her against the wooden frame. Clothes paved their way towards the room as they threw off what they were wearing in a lust hungry craze the moment they entered inside. “Ry, Ry wait, you got protection?” she moaned pulling her lips away from his momentarily.
His mind was racing; a condom was the last thing he was thinking about as he nuzzled his face into her neck. Pinned against the door he slowly maneuvered his fingers between her thighs and spread them slowly teasing his way over her sex. He drew lazy circles around her labia as his thumb prodded into her clit. A low moan escaped her mouth as her thighs tensed around his hand with her building orgasm. Monae’s fingernails scraped violently over his shoulder in time with another louder sigh of pleasure.  Her first explosive orgasm thrust forward making her legs weak and caused her to lean into him. “Yeah in my pants downstairs.”
She purred in his ear as he held her against his chest. “Baby you know I’d love to do this without one but…”
“I know, I know.” He moved towards the bedside table and pulled out a rubber waving it victoriously at her before pushing himself against her once more. She slid the plastic wrapper from his hands and ripped into it as he lifted her leg and rubbed himself between her thighs. “Mmm you feel good.”
She slid her hand around his neck and pulled his lips to hers. Her teeth bit lightly into his lower lip as she opened her big brown eyes and looked into his. “Maybe we should move…” Ryan slid his finger over her lips in a “shushing motion” as he devoured them once more. He could feel Monae’s hand glide the rubber over the cap of his cock and down the entire shaft.
Their mouths met softly, teasingly, then slightly more frenetically. Dancing his tongue over hers now, he could taste her cherry flavored lipgloss and moaned as his cock jerked against her damp thigh. He pressed closer into her body; their involuntary sighs becoming more and more audible as she sucked on his tongue. He felt her body palpably heat up in response to his touch. He placed his hands under each rounded orb of her ass and carried her towards the bed.
Without a word he threw her over the edge and hungrily thrust his body into hers. She jerked up and wailed as she felt his stiff cock reach her hilt and pull out again. Her body protested slightly at the invasion at first, shocked at both the depth of his initial stroke and the size as it had before. Ryan grinned and pushed her down into the bed, grabbed her ass and lifted it higher into his pubic bone. He stilled his actions and waited a moment for her to adjust and signal when she was ready. That slow, rhythmic movement of her rear against him called him forward and though her body had relaxed slightly, her slick insides still gripped him like a vice.
Ryan gritted his teeth as every muscle in his body urged him to drive into her and slam his hard shaft into her until they were both gasping and panting for breath. “Ryan yes!” She wailed and he dug his fingers into her hips and plunged deeper between her legs. “Oh God yes!” She began to shiver as her pussy pulsed and contracted over his dick. Her stomach churned and her thighs pulsated with heat as another orgasm ripped through her body nearly deafening him from the screaming. “You feel so good!” She panted as he raised her hips and tossed her onto the bed.

Quickly climbing on top of her he buried himself inside her once more punishing the soft folds between her thighs and smiling every time her screams got louder. He fucked her as hard as he could now; sweat was pouring from his body as he banged the stubborn headboard into the wall and watched the framed pictures obey the commands as well. Her body was wetting him again and he knew she was on the verge of another. Her lip quivered and she closed her teeth over it to dull the wail that would soon follow. Ryan smirked at her and lifted her leg to ram her deeper. “You won’t last doing that Baby,” he warned hoping she’d allow him to hear every moan.
She played the game well; knowing that he’d pummel her harder if she pretended she was not receiving pleasure he always stepped up and showed her just how capable he truly was. He let her finish cumming before pulling out until just the tip spread her soaking pussy lips. She peeked at him through her lashes and sighed. “You suck!” she groaned making him laugh loudly rocking his hips against her. Slowly he moved back another inch and she cried. “Ok, ok I’m sorry. Please?”
He leaned over for a kiss and pulled away before she could steal more than he would allow. Her legs snaked around his back locking him deep between her thighs and he gripped them both and winked at her. In one long, hard, deep stroke Ryan slammed the entire eight-inch length back in and felt her body shudder as her eyes rolled to the back of her head. He felt his heavy balls slap against her ass cheeks as he fucked her into ecstasy.
She held him close and pulling him down towards her this time she kissed him. They shared a lover’s kiss; passionate and wet. She sucked on his tongue as he began to slow fuck her; burying his thick cock deep into her. He clenched his hands around her shoulders and in slow motion rolled his tongue around her mouth hungrily. His thrusts became more urgent; his mouth moved towards her chest. He reached out with his tongue and flicked it over her nipple drawing it into his mouth as it hardened.
“Ride me, baby,” Ryan whispered against her ear. Her hands moved to his waist and he lifted her slightly up helping to elevate her soft, delicate frame atop his. Her legs straddled his thighs and slowly she used her right hand to slide him back between the warm comforts of her slick pussy. “Mmm yeah!” he groaned and threw his head into the pillow as she started moving.  He held her sides tightly with his fingers and lifted her meeting each of her thrusts from underneath as he pumped himself upwards. His hands stayed on her hips, slipping back to grab her ass each time she slowed down. She rested her palms against his chest and flexed her hips as she rocked on top of his cock etching the sounds of her pleasure indelibly into his memory as another orgasm formed within her loins.
Her voice was lost to her pleasure and he continued weakening her with his hips grinding into her wet body. As her climax began to subside she could feel him pause in his thrusting. Ryan grabbed her hips and pulled her down onto him, burying himself inside to her womb. The pulsing of his shaft alerted her that his orgasm was beginning and he cried out to his own pleasure as he filled the rubber safeguard slipping inside her with each thrust. Monae leaned forward onto his chest and rested her head against his as she sucked in a mouthful of air. “I love you Ryan.”
He kissed her deeply and felt her teeth graze the fleshy side of his bottom lip as he pulled away. Ryan rolled out of bed and started for the bathroom to toss away the condom and clean up a little. Smiling at himself listening to her silent sighs of pleasure made his chest swell with pride. Having her in his bed nearly every night of the week lately was definitely a sign that things had changed between them. From the first time he told her he loved her and up to this point he wasn’t a hundred percent clear how she’d felt. But tonight she’d said it back. Tonight she uttered those three precious words that assured him he made her just as happy as she did him.
“So I was thinking, there’s a Bridgeport Kings game this Friday and normally I’d pull my partner along for the ride but I was kinda hoping that maybe you’d like to go with me instead?” he exited the bathroom turning off the lights and smiled seeing her waiting for him. “So what do you think?”
“I think as lovely as it would be I’m gonna be a little busy this Friday.” She snuggled into his arms and rested her head on his chest listening to the steady rhythm of his heart.
“Another assignment with this mysterious job of yours?” He tried but the disappointment didn’t totally vanish from his voice as he asked the question. She lifted her head to look at him and instantly regretted it. The look of sorrow in his eyes was enough to drown her in her own guilt.
“Look Ryan, I…”
“It’s ok. You don’t have to explain to me again why you can’t explain to me. I’ve heard the song and dance enough times to know the routine by heart. I just wish you trusted me a little more.” He flicked off the light and turned over to sleep.
“Alright listen up! I want everyone to get against the back wall, keep your heads down and your mouths shut and you might make it to see tomorrow.”
As one of the gunmen corralled everyone into one area, Ryan watched and listened to the conversation taking place between whom he believed to be the leader and a third man. “The manager’s not here, we’re not gonna be able to get into the vault. It was locked before lunch and he decided apparently to go see his girlfriend according to the asshole I got in his office.”
“You bring the tools?”
“Yeah I got the C4 and a wide range of detonators but there’s no way I can control the blast radius or be able to determine the amount of damage it would cause to the shit inside.”
“And the door? Can it be cracked?”
“NO NAMES!” the man growled and pulled the gunmen away from the hostages a little more. Ryan scooted over slightly to maintain hearing range as the two continued arguing.
“Our safecracker said that he can’t get into that particular brand; something about a double bolted entry design and high security locking mechanism.”
“Can you center the blast away from the boxes?”
“I’m sure I can but…”
“Listen, there’s no telling how far the debris will fly. We could be buried beneath the rubble. This bank was built with some highly volatile material. Who’s to say that shit doesn’t ignite after the initial blast and wipe us all out?”
“I don’t think I was clear the first time I said it. They’ve changed the fucking vault door from the last time we were in here and we need to get inside. There is no fucking way this mission is failing because we won’t have another shot at this. Set the charges, blow the lock.”
“Stupid move,” Ryan scoffed and shook his head.
“Who the fuck asked you?” the man asked lifting his weapon to strike him.
“Wait!” the lead robber growled. “Bring him over here. What do you know about this vault?”
“I know that if you try and blast through it, it’s going to release a set of steel rods that will ensure it remains sealed tight until a team of professionals with specially designed cutting tools can get to it. I also know that what your friend is saying is true. If you blast through those locks this place is gonna light up brighter than the Christmas tree in Times Square. But, there’s another option.”
“I’m listening,” the man growled leaning closer to Ryan so that the barrel of his gun was aimed near his face.
“Let me crack it.”
“You must be off your meds if you think I’m gonna trust you. Get him back over there!”
“Fine. But when that C4 detonates and that back room becomes a liquid ball of flames, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
The man thought over his options and a frustrated sigh parted his lips as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “You sure you can crack it?”
“It sounds like a Jango 4280 with glass relock. Works off a pin and bolt system that pinches down each barrel if tampered with. It just so happens that I’ve recently cracked one not too long ago; yeah I can crack it. I’ll just need a few things.”
“Like what?”
“Well a guarantee for one that no one in here will get hurt. There’s a back office that serves as a counting room. It has one door, no windows and isn’t wired for communications. Round up everyone and lock them inside there; out of your way. These people aren’t your main concern and as long as they remain unharmed I’ll get you what you need. The second I’ll need a screwdriver in order to get into the electronic box these bank safes are usually attached to. I have to be able to turn off the initial spark before I can start cracking it to ensure the vault doesn’t go into its secondary defenses.”
“And who the hell are you to demand anything?”
“The man that can promise you that you’ll get what you came for without making a lot of noise.”
Checking over the faces of the hostages the leader nodded slightly and instructed one of the men to round up the hostages once again and move them to the counting room. Inching closer towards Ryan the man shook his gun in his face. “You talk a good game and it worked for you, for now. But if you’re just jerking my chain, if I don’t get what I want I’m putting a bullet in everyone’s head saving you for last so you’ll die knowing they were killed because of you. Now get to work.”
Stefanie glanced up at the clock. Three hours had passed since Ryan dropped her off and still no sign of him. She paced around her bedroom and sighed. “This isn’t like him!” She tried several times to reach him on his cell and each time the call went directly to voicemail. After leaving him what she believed to be the 12th message she gave up. He wouldn’t have forgotten about her. Maybe he was stuck in trafficMaybe there was an accident and he stopped to help.
The thought made her smile. He was always the Good Samaritan; always stopping to offer his assistance whenever he could. But still, he would have called. He made it a point to let her know where he was and what was happening so she didn’t worry. “Damn.” Moving towards her bedside table she grabbed the house phone, punched in Brett’s number and waited. After three rings he picked up. “Hey Brett it’s Stef, is Ryan with you? He hasn’t called and he was supposed to be back by now.”
Brett pulled up from the couch hearing the panic in her voice. Noticing the time he knew she should have still been in school but the call originated from Ryan’s apartment. “No Stefanie I haven’t seen him all day. We kinda thought he was home with you. Did something happen?” He listened as she explained the faceoff at school and how he was going to take her to the beach mentioning briefly the fact that he had to stop off at the bank.
I’m so worried about him. He hasn’t called and it’s been over three hours now. He would have called. You don’t think…
“I’m sure he’s fine Stef. I’ll see if I can find him and I’ll call when I know something alright? For now try and get your mind off of it and don’t leave the apartment.” She agreed and he hung up growling lightly as he realized something more could have befallen his best friend.
He turned to look at Yvette and explained what Stefanie told him. “Well where does he bank?”
“First National Credit. It’s the credit union that services mostly police officers and other law enforcement agencies as well as other government occupations, teachers, council, postal and some nursing specialties. He’s had the same account since we were in the academy together.”
“It wouldn’t happen to be the First National Credit that local police have surrounded at this moment because of a robbery would it?” Dustin projected the news bulletin on the television so everyone could see.
“Police are not sure what exactly is taking place
inside but they are certain that three men
entered into this First National Credit location
over three hours ago. The blinds have been
drawn and from what we understand the
doors are secured from the inside.
Authorities are making every effort to
contact the men inside and hopefully end this
stand-off with no bloodshed.
Be sure to stay tuned to Channel 7 Action
News Live for an update. Back to you Chuck.
Victor blinked at the screen and shook his head. “If anyone were to get themselves jammed up doing a normal every day event it WOULD be Ry.”
“We have to get down there.”
“SWAT’s already on it Boss,” Dustin continued as he tracked the response teams and events happening down at the bank.
“That’s Ryan in there. There’s no way we’re leaving this in the hands of SWAT. Gear up, we’re going!”
– July 13, 2007 
Ryan blew a breath into his hands to check that it was minty and rubbed a hand through his hair. With the misfortune of a bank robbery and new case, he was unable to go to the baseball game as he’d originally planned. But that didn’t matter at this point. It cleared up his schedule a little and he could see Monae earlier than expected. Knocking once on her door, he waited for her to answer. Not hearing a response he tried the handle and to his surprise it pushed open. “Hello?”
Slowly he eased through the expensively furnished apartment seeking her out moving quicker as he heard her humming just one room away. “Mon…” His eyes widened in surprise at the objects lying around the room. Piles and piles of money were strewn over the coffee table and floor. Money wrappers with the FNC bank stamp logo were torn and tossed about and a large automatic weapon rested on one of the chairs to the right of the room. “What the hell is this!?”
Monae pulled up from the floor putting her hands up gently as she eased towards him. Fear was laced within her features at the sight of him standing in her living room. “Ryan I can explain.”
“Explain? Explain why I’m staring at…it was you? You robbed First National? Monae what the fuck?”
“Ryan please, just calm down. I know what this looks like but…”
“But what? What Monae? Are you going to try and tell me that I’m not looking at evidence that could have your ass sitting behind bars for at least twenty in a FEDERAL prison? Do you realize one of the guards was shot and is fighting for his life right now at Baptist Medical? That’s easily an attempted murder charge Monae!”
“I wanted to tell you but I was scared. But there’s so much more to this than what you think.”
“What do I think? That the girl I’ve been dating is a fucking armed bank robber? FUCK ME!” He slammed his fist into the wall knocking a picture to the floor and watched it shatter to pieces at his feet. “I’m a fucking federal agent Monae! What the fuck am I supposed to do about this? Goddamn it!” He fell onto the empty chair and dropped his head into his hands thinking over his possible options. If he turned her in he was the big hero cracking a major case so early in his career and getting a possible promotion. But he loved her; completely, utterly, hopelessly loved her there was no way he could watch her rot in jail for the rest of her life.
“Ry?” Monae whispered crawling towards him. She rested her hand on his knee waiting for him to look at her before continuing. “I didn’t choose this life. I’m sorry that this is happening I really am but I can’t go to prison. This wasn’t my fault I swear.”
“Then whose is it Monae? In the eyes of the law, possession being nine-tenths I just caught you red-handed. Is ballistics going to match that gun to the shooting? Are your prints on it? Do you see what I’m getting at?”
She nodded her head as tears began falling. Weeping uncontrollably her shoulders started to shake. “It’s not my gun, it’s his! He fired it! He robbed that bank! And he threatened to kill my mother if I didn’t help!”
“Who?” She ignored his question and fell over to the floor pulling her legs into her chest as she sobbed into her arms. “Monae who threatened you?”
“Antonio Cortez.”
“The Cuban mob guy? How do you know him?” Again his question fell on deaf ears. Ryan moved to the floor beside her and shook her to gain her attention. “Monae how do you know him?”
“He’s my boyfriend.”
The words shocked him and he took a step back and looked down at her crying eyes as he tried to grasp what she said. “Boyfriend? What the fuck does that mean? Then what does that make me?” Thinking back to the day he met her he ran a hand through his hair. “No, no, no, the bar; what…was this all a setup from the start? You used me Monae? What was I supposed to fall in love with you and look the other way when you needed me to?”
“NO! No that’s not what happened!”
“THEN WHAT HAPPENED!?” He gripped her wrists tight in his hands and shook her once again as her crying got louder. Her eyes were red and swollen and her makeup was smudging her cheeks. All the stress and pain she was holding in over the course of the last 18 months was finally coming out in a rushed torrent that she had no control over. “Enough with the tears Monae I want answers right now or I swear the next sound you’ll hear is me calling in your arrest!”
She pulled away and rubbed her wrists as she tried to straighten herself enough to answer him. Running a shaky hand over her face she wiped away a few stray tears and looked up at him. “I’ve known Antonio Cortez since I was a little girl. He worked beside my father doing…whatever they did. After he died Tony became the man and he and I…I was young and dumb and didn’t realize how truly scary he was until it was too late. By then I was too deep in the shit to dig my way out and he was too paranoid to let me just be. When I started talking about leaving him, leaving the life and trying to live a normal, happy existence he got…mean, cruel, possessive. The first thing he did was threaten to kill everyone I knew and loved if I ever walked out on him. My mom was a pillar within the family and there was no way she was ever going to leave her home, so I stayed. Then the beatings started. After he’d had his way with me, possessing me in every way he could think of he made sure I knew how low I was. That I was his girl and only his and if I ever so much as looked at another guy well…”
She pushed up against the couch and drew her legs into her chest as she continued. Fanning her gaze over the large sum of money on the table she sighed. “He tried to get me hooked on coke so that I was dependent on him. And it worked for a year until I almost OD’d then he tried to beat me sober and make me think it was all my fault that I got hooked on that shit in the first place. After a while he and his crew started doing odd jobs to keep the cash flowing outside of their drug trade. Little jewel heists and robberies that netted a nice sum of money. When he needed someone that was good at not only planning and safecracking but getting into places his scary ass thugs were unable to I was the perfect candidate.”
“Appearing frail and unassuming I could ‘convince’ guards to give up plans to their buildings that provided us the layout of security, this and that. I didn’t want to do this, any of this Ry. But Mama got sick and that’s what brought me here today. She’s in a hospital somewhere and I can’t see her without Tony’s permission. He’s making sure she’s taken care of but that treatment would cease if I ever crossed him and he’s made sure I know that!”
“The day I met you I snuck out of the house. I didn’t want to be around him anymore on what was supposed to be MY birthday and watch him do lines off the whores he’d hired for ‘entertainment’ and then berate everyone in his drunken, belligerent state. I never intended to meet you and I wasn’t using you or even planning to keep seeing you but, you were different. You were the first guy I’d ever met that didn’t look at me with fear because I was ‘Tony’s girl’. You saw me and that was huge! You made me feel like the only girl in the world! The only one that mattered to you and…and I fell in love with you Ryan. What happens with Tony isn’t real; it’s not me it’s…I don’t want to be that girl anymore but I can’t let my Mother die!”
Ryan looked over the room again and took in the sobbing mess the woman he loved had become. He gripped her hands and pulled her gently towards him until her head rested against his chest. “Shh, don’t worry, we’ll figure something out.”
The team arrived on the scene and bypassed the yellow tape the local PD was using to keep the onlookers back. There were police vehicles of all types already on the scene including the large SWAT van parked across from the 7-11 blocking off the connecting street and rerouting traffic down Bentley. Flashing her badge briefly towards a member of the SWAT team, he pointed Yvette towards the on-site Sarge and she hurried forward. “Sergeant Fromptonburg?”
“Great, just what we need. Lemme guess this is your case and you want us to kindly back off and let you deal with it? Just like the FBI. Always stepping in once the hard work is over, right boys?” he looked around and received agreeable cheers from several members of SWAT as well as a few stray officers standing beside him. “Well me and my guys ain’t going nowhere but if you want I’ll be more than happy to let you watch that is if you return the favor.” He eyed her and sucked on his teeth before turning his attention back to the blueprints on the hood of his police cruiser.
“Excuse me Sergeant; while it might impress some of your good ol’boys and even your parents that you’ve worked in conjunction with the Bureau once before, I’m not so moved. And I’m sure it was your outstanding track record and go-getter attitude that perhaps became the reason you are passed over for Captain so many times. As far as I’m concerned you can run across to the Starbucks and grab yourself a Double Mocha Frappuccino or you can stand here with your gun out looking authoritative all you want. I have an agent inside and I’ll be damned if I let your ego cost him his life. While I was going to offer you an olive branch and work with you, I’m instead telling you that if you get in my way, I’ll shove my gun so far up your ass they’ll be cleaning you off the streetlamps for months. We’re taking point, have your men stand down!”
Victor moved towards the front with Brett and Dustin headed towards the SWAT’s mobile control vehicle to set up shop. “Boss can you read me?”
“Loud and clear.” Yvette moved around the locals as Vic setup his M107 Barrett Long Range sniper rifle over the hood of one of the police cars. “We got eyes inside?”
Working on it now. If Ryan left his phone on, which I’m almost certain he did, then I’m gonna try and activate the frequency flooder or as I like to call it the R3boo7eR.
“The what?”
You know, it’s that program I was working on before you did a Claude Rains. It’s on your phone as well as Brett’s now. Anyway what it does is allows me to take control of your mobile device, activate your GPS and even hot-sync it to any other electronic gadget in the area that runs off Bluetooth. It gives me eyes and ears through the onboard cam and speakers.
“You mean it lets you spy on the spies.”
In a sense; but you can’t disappear on me again…unless of course you lose your phone.
“Good. Keep me updated I think Vic is getting an itchy trigger finger.”
After rallying everyone inside the counting room, Ryan moved towards a dimly lit area near the vault and pulled back the cover of a large silver box marked “Lighting and Alarm Systems” to reveal a series of fuses and controls. With screwdriver in hand he pulled out several tiny screws opening a smaller metal box inside filled with multiple colored wires.
He noticed a small pack of C4 beneath the drill and palmed it. Sliding it up his sleeve, he hid it within his armpit and continued searching the bag scooping up a blasting fuse cap as well. He pulled the wire cutters out of the toolbag the thieves brought with them and unsheathed a blue wire exposing the copper beneath. Twisting it with another he heard a pop within the fault doors and smiled, marking the frequency from the control box on the back of his hand. One of the gunmen came into the room behind him and stood dangerously close with his weapon at the ready watching his progress. “Just another five minutes and I’ll have you inside. You can go tell your boss. ”
He worked diligently on the door for a few minutes, marking the clicks he heard until he received the full 5 digit combination. The guarding gunman whistled to the others, “Yo we’re in!”
The leader rushed over and smiled. “Alright, maybe you weren’t as useless as I thought you were. You saved yourself a bullet and as far as job applications go, I’m impressed, what’s your name again?”
“Ok Ryan go with Two to the counting room and keep behaving you’ll get out of here soon. As for you,” he nodded towards the third gunman, “Start working on those boxes.”
Ryan walked slowly towards the counting room in front of his escort, his eyes roaming the rooms on the way. He spotted his cellphone and badge and stopped. Coughing he pointed towards the water cooler. “I just want to grab a drink if that’s ok?”
“Make it quick.”
He moved over to the fountain and began pouring himself a drink. Taking one sip, Ryan checked over his shoulder using his peripherals for what the gunman was doing. He waited until his attention turned and scooped up his phone and badge quickly as he made his way back to the hall. “Thanks.”
The man shoved him inside brusquely and shut the door. Ryan listened for his retreating footsteps and moved to the center of the room. “Alright I need everyone to listen and pay close attention, my name is Ryan, I’m a Federal Agent and I’m gonna need everyone’s cooperation so that we get out of here safely.”
“Ryan!” Brandy moved towards him and everyone else stopped their conversations relieved to see that he had returned unharmed. “Everyone thought they were torturing you. We overheard one of the men talking about how they were planning to take out the witnesses; we didn’t quite know what that meant. What happened?”
“I opened the vault for them.” He took stock of the room and made count again noticing the teller they’d taken earlier had been thrown in here with the rest; everyone was accounted for. “Are you alright? Anyone hurt? What’s up with that guy?” He pointed towards a young man huddled in the corner with his face still planted on the ground.
“We’re all fine, he’s fine; he’s been that way since they put us back here. I think he’s praying but I can’t really make out what he’s mumbling. What do you mean you opened the vault? You can do that?”
“There’s a lot I can do,” he smirked. “But right now my only concern is getting everyone out of here alive.” Ryan took his phone out of sleep mode and watched as a red beacon centered on the screen. “Yo Dust is that you?”
Who else would it be? Damn man it’s good to hear your voice. How’s it looking in there?”
“Three gunmen each armed with M16s, glocks and enough ammo to hold up a 12-hour standoff at least. They have a boatload of plastic explosives but I’ve got the hostages in the back right room. It’s thirteen of us in here and so far everyone’s remained unharmed. These guys aren’t after the money though. They wanted in the vault to get to the safety deposit boxes.”
I’ve conferenced you in on the comms, Boss you there?”
I read him. I’m glad you’re ok Ryan. Stefanie called us and told us where you’d gone.
“Thanks. How is she?”
She’s fine. Brett spoke with her and let her know not to worry. How’s rescue looking? Should we come in?”
“No, I will need you at the backside of the lot though. I’m about to get the hostages out of here before those men realize they are about a minute away from being locked inside that vault. Dustin mark this down, f109.3, t23.”
What is that?”
“The frequency I pulled off the alarm system. Can you trigger it?”
I’m gonna pretend as though you weren’t purposely insulting my skills and just smile and nod. Just say when.”
“Alright wait for my mark.” He moved to the back wall and placed the C4 and pushed the blasting cap inside. “Ok I need everyone to grab whatever they can carry and pile it against the back wall. Move quickly so we can get everyone out.” The hostages all cooperated piling the furniture in front of the plastic explosive. “Great now get down against the door and huddle up. When I light this there will be a small shockwave but the radius shouldn’t be too damaging.”
“Wait this is crazy! You told those men setting those things off would cause the entire room to incinerate and now you want to blow us up?”
“I know what I said but I also know what I’m doing. The furniture in here will soften the area of effect and as long we’re all far enough away from the blast we won’t have anything to worry about, just trust me ok? Now please join the others. Dust, you ready?”
“Hit it.” Ryan lit the fuse and ran towards the crouching group. The vault doors shut just as a loud explosion rocked the building and the small room opened up to a giant hole just in the back wall. When the smoke cleared the furniture lay in pieces throughout the room and there was a clearing where Victor and Brett appeared.
With the help of a few members of the SWAT team, they cleared away large portions of the wall and helped usher the hostages out through the small opening.
“Great job Ryan.”
“Yeah and if everything went off as planned I got the badguys locked up in the vault.”
Handing him his guns and gear, he and Yvette moved quietly back out to the main hall. Ryan took lead and Brett came out behind him. Peering around the corner and checking for the all clear he motioned with four fingers and Victor came up and around him crouching in the cutoff before the vault room.
Just as he turned around to give the signal to advance gunfire sounded and he dove out of the line of fire behind the teller’s booth. “Come and get some!” one of the men yelled as both Ryan and Brett each ducked behind various other objects.
Yvette hopped over the side of a half wall and joined Victor behind the teller’s booth. “Dust you see how many?”
Sec, swinging the camera around now.” Commandeering the First Defense cameras, Dustin turned them on the firing men towards the back end of the hall. “Two. I have one just over Ryan and Brett’s right shoulders behind the row of ATMs and one near the manager’s office hiding in the doorway pressed against the wall.
“I’ll get the one near Brett and me, Boss you get our backs.”
“Let’s do this.” Nodding to Victor the second Ryan took off they pulled up from their position to lay down cover fire on the two men near the office. A scream confirmed one had been hit and the loud pop beside Brett led her to believe Ryan had got his man.
“We’re coming out! Please don’t shoot anymore!”
“Throw down your weapons and come out with your hands up!” Victor instructed. Yve and Ryan held their cover as Brett and Victor cuffed the two men and lead them outside.
“Ryan!” he turned just in time to catch the blazing brunette in his arms as she jumped joyously. Her lips fell on his quickly and he wrapped her tight against his chest. She moved her mouth over his pausing just once to take a breath.
He smiled against her lips and pulled away gently brushing her hair from her face. “Is this your way of saying thank you? Because I think I could get used to this.”
“That number in your pocket,” she smiled as she pulled away. “You’d better put it to use.” Brandy turned hearing her name and waved at a coworker steadily flagging her down. She smiled at Ryan and he watched as she wiggled off towards her friends.
Moving back towards the SWAT van Ryan stopped Victor from pushing one of the masked men into the back. Snatching the mask off of them, they glared at each of them. “Where’s the other one?”
“You’re a fucking cop?”
Recognizing the voice as the leader, Ryan leaned forward and grinned, “No I’m a fucking FED. Where’s your third?”
“Inside the fucking vault where you left him!”
“Nice work Dust, we didn’t lock them all in but we got one of them.”
“You think it was an accident we came here? Pfft think again.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“I ain’t sayin’ nothing else until I speak to my lawyer!”

After securing them in the SWAT van, Ryan quickly browsed through the items the men brought with them. A small pad caught his eye. Recognizing the name from one of their earlier encounters with the Company he promptly realized what they had been after. “Boss, Boss!” He stuck the sheet of paper into Yvette’s face pointed towards the name and box number on the pad. “You’re never gonna believe what they wanted!”

 January 12, 2008 –

The trial had concluded and everyone received the maximum punishments possible for their involvement with the 2007 robbery of First National Credit. Antonio Cortez and the other four men with him that day were behind bars, the guard that was injured made a full recovery and the Cuban Mafia hit a wall with one of their heads being carted off to prison. And although not all of the money had been recovered enough of it was reclaimed to put a happy ending to the story. Well almost a happy ending.

Ryan rushed back to Monae’s apartment after the trial concluded. She’d been a cooperating witness for the prosecution and received immunity for her role in the crime. Though he had a small hand in her freedom, he was happy she was able to separate herself from the abuse she’d suffered for so long. Not only that, she stopped him from beating Cortez to death the day of his arrest. It was her face and her voice that pulled him back to grace as his fists pounded into her abuser. And now, now they could be together and she could be fearless and happy with him. He entered into the small apartment she had in the center of downtown and called for her. When she didn’t respond he moved on to the living and sighed seeing a handwritten note left on the coffee table addressed to him.

By the time you read this, I will already be gone.
I love you Ryan, I always will but there’s no way I can stick around here
with Tony’s guys looking for me after testifying. I wish things were different
I wish that I had met you before any of this started and that you and I
could be together. But I know how you must see me now and what
you must think about the woman you had in your bed. I never at
any point meant to hurt you or betray your trust I just wanted
to be happy. And even in its briefest of moments I had that
with you. You showed me that there are so many other ways,
better options and different paths that I could choose. Because
of you, I know the error of my ways and will no longer be controlled
by fear. Because of you I can walk with my head high and know that
for a small moment in time, I was truly loved. I hope one day our
paths will cross again. And I wish you the best of luck with your
career and hope you get everything your heart desires.
With Love Always,
**Author's note: Monae appears courtesy of Qui as part of her latest story: Spanish Rose
After the season finale airs here on Wordpress, Season 5 will premiere on a new blog! So check for the latest updates there! Thank you.**

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