Jennifer, Sean, and Maria are jewel thieves—and lovers. When a job gone wrong sees Jennifer in the hands of the FBI, Sean and Maria have to figure out how to break her out. It’s no easy feat, since Jennifer is both their hacker and master planner. But these two thieves will do anything to steal their heart back.
Author: CC Bridges
Release Date: September 28, 2020
Format: ePub, Mobi
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Word Count: 21500
Book Length: Novelette
Sex Content: Non-Explicit
Warning: suicide (mention of), deceased family member, alcoholism, past trauma
CC Bridges © 2020
All Rights Reserved
Whatever happens, no regrets.
Jennifer had only seconds to act. The pounding of footsteps up the stairwell echoed against the walls. This old building had zero insulation. They probably thought they were being quiet, but Jen had good ears and fast hands. Years of experience had her moving before thinking.
One glance at her laptop showed the dual security camera feeds she’d hacked into. Sean hovered above the case of jewels and Maria waited patiently in the getaway car. Jennifer had a second to tab through the rest of the feeds to make sure no police had gotten close to either of them. She entered the kill code to erase the recordings while she still could.
At least they would be safe.
Jennifer touched her fingers to her lips and then the screen, brushing over both Sean and Maria’s faces, imagining the soft feel of the stubble on Sean’s cheeks and the flutter of Maria’s long black eyelashes. She regretted not being able to touch them one more time. Even this warning would have to be abbreviated in case she was overheard.
“I’m about to get busted.” Jennifer never thought she would be the one saying these words. “Get out, now. I’m burning the laptop.” She ripped the headset out of her right ear without waiting for a response. After five years together, she trusted them to listen, still a surprise to her even now to know that she could rely on anyone other than herself. Jennifer slammed the laptop closed and pressed her thumb against the failsafe fingerprint reader she’d installed on the bottom.
She ran out of time. The door behind her cracked under the weight of some asshole cop’s foot as she dropped the laptop onto the floor. At least she hadn’t rented this apartment—she’d never get the deposit back. No, she’d chosen an empty location with good sight lines to the jewelry store and picked the lock on the door.
If this had been a long con, they would have rented an apartment and tried to look like good neighbors. Jennifer had fond memories of jobs where they entrenched themselves, living for months or more in one place until that location felt like home. This job in particular should have been quick, in and out.
Yeah, that turned out well.
The cracked door gave way with a crash, and her once private sanctuary filled with large men in uniform. Jennifer forced down the panic as they surrounded her, black barrels of guns pointed at her. This had happened before, only she hadn’t been the target. “Put your hands in the air!”
Jennifer stood with deliberate caution, keeping her hands in view. Cops would take any excuse to get a shot off, and if she wanted to survive this night, Jen knew she had to play the game. However, the sarcastic little shit inside of her couldn’t resist saying, “Congratulations, you got me.”
Because really? Dozens of armed men for little ole her? Come on.
They didn’t seem impressed, at least no one responded other than to grab her by the shoulders and turn her around to cuff her wrists behind her back. The metal felt familiar on her skin from so much time practicing slipping out of handcuffs. Maybe that skill would come in handy tonight.
More important than slipping her cuffs would be figuring out the man in charge. If she kept her wits about her, Jennifer could think over the pounding of her heart, over the fear that this time she wouldn’t make it out. No, she had to focus. Think. None of these keystone cops were distinguishable from the others. They all wore the same damn blue uniforms with black body armor and helmets. Foot soldiers. She needed a mastermind.
That’s when he walked in. No nondescript body armor for him. He wore a suit, not an expensive one with a label, no, something utilitarian you’d pick up in the mall. Still, she noticed the bulge in the line of his jacket, a clear indication of a weapon. He carried himself like he expected to be obeyed, shoulders back and his jaw clenched. She met his eyes as he stared her down like he cataloged her for evidence, startled by the pale blue of those eyes and the contrast of that with his dark hair.
Funny. In another circumstance she’d consider him hot. Jennifer had always loved the combo of dark hair and light eyes, although his eyes were nowhere near as striking as Maria’s. She swallowed down thoughts of Maria or Sean. If she didn’t keep control of herself, if they guessed that she had partners out there, then the game was as good as lost. This stranger in a suit couldn’t know anything real about her.
When they forced her to walk past him she made sure to throw him a cocky grin.
He didn’t seem affected by it. She didn’t register to him any more than an object. Good to know. He nodded at one of the uniformed men. “Take her in.”
Almost there. Sean stretched out his gloved hand, inches away from flipping the latch on the glass case that held the raw diamonds. They could fence those much easier than already set jewelry. This store had gotten a recent shipment in, ready for custom made engagement rings. Or, Sean’s pockets. “Come to papa.”
Jen’s voice sputtered to life. “Get out, now. I’m burning the laptop.”
Sean reared back, touching his earpiece, the one specially modified by Jen to look like a hearing aid. The motion set him swinging, and he grasped the line from his harness to keep still. Stupid mistake. He could set off the alarm if he kept this up.
“Jen?” He couldn’t have heard her right. Jen, in danger? While Sean currently hung, suspended in midair in the middle of a heist? Something had to be messing with their communications system. “What’s going on?”
“There are about five police cars surrounding the building she’s running recon from.” Maria’s voice came over the comms, quiet and measured. Her soothing tones would normally calm him down, but the content of the words had him freaking out. “Get out of there, Sean. They’re arresting Jennifer.”
Reality crashed down on him. Sean couldn’t deny it any longer. His belly twisted with nausea, not a good thing while suspended over a pressure-sensitive floor. Crap, he hadn’t gotten sick on a job since he was fifteen and running his first con. “I don’t have the diamonds yet.” Even as he blurted it out, Sean damn well knew the diamonds didn’t matter.
“Sean,” Maria snapped. “Forget the stuff. Get out of there. I’ll meet you at rendezvous point B.”
Any other time he’d tease her about that. Which one is B again? He could picture her rolling her eyes and shaking her head in response. But when she thought he wasn’t looking, Maria would curve her lips into a smile. By now Sean knew how much of her past he could bring up, the occasional “Ma’am, yes, ma’am!” would make her grin. Anything regarding the actual Marines made her scowl.
“Roger that,” he replied instead.
Sean took one last look at the case. His fingers itched to liberate those diamonds, and the nasty little thief that lived inside him told him there was plenty of time to grab them and still make it out. He’d stopped listening to that part of his brain after he and Jen got together. It became about more than the thefts, even before they met Maria and incorporated her into their circle.
He hit the retract button on his harness and made a quick ascent up the way he came like a spider dancing on its web. Once at the top, he climbed onto the roof and closed the access point that had made this job look so easy. Jennifer had taken care of the security cameras, but he didn’t know if that was still working considering she was currently getting arrested. Sean pulled his black beanie down to past his ears, glad it concealed his too-bright blond hair.
Damn it, Jennifer! You’re not supposed to be in danger. He unclipped his harness and stashed it in his backpack with the rest of his equipment. Then, Sean went to the edge of the roof and used the drainpipe to scale down about halfway where he could jump onto the fire escape for the building next door. He sped up, ducking through the back streets for as long as he could to stay out of the view of the cops.
When he had to go out onto the main drag, Sean took off his hat and dark jacket, revealing a brightly colored T-shirt. He needed to look like one of the many college students having a night on the town, not a thief. Two blocks down and a nondescript silver Toyota pulled up next to him.
Sean slid into the passenger seat, and they drove off.