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By:Amanda Lance

Chapter 1

Did you know that there’s $30 billion in cargo theft every year?

If ya didn’t know, that’s a lotta dough available even for one guy in 365 days. If you know what you’re doing, anyway. That’s one of the main things ’bout a successful heist; everything’s gotta be planned out as much as you can stand it. If you get all the details and the possibilities, plot out all the extras, it makes it a hell of a lot less likely that something will go down that you can’t control.

At least that’s how we usually do it.

Hell, we were usually so organized before a job, we’d been known to practice how things were gonna go down. As much as we all complained ’bout it, though, we all knew it was good once we got in there and everybody knew what they were doing. We were so good that we were at the point where the stupid stuff—the security tryin’ to play hero or an asshole kid with a camera, all the crap that brings other thieves down—didn’t even phase us, wasn’t even an issue. We had backup plans for everything under the sun and planets beyond it. As invisible as we were, though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe we’d gotten too used to plannin’ everything out. And that ’cause we hadn’t really done this one, it was gonna make us vulnerable.

“Y’all know this is probably gonna go bad, don’t ya?”

“Oh, la, la,” Wallace said. “Who knew you were such a negative Nancy?”

I hit him in the shoulder. Hard.

I hated the East coast. Even in the summer, everything looked too yellow and brown, like the inside of some nasty toilet bowl or something. At least in the south, the winters ain’t so bad. At least in the west there’s a lot more green.

“I’m serious. We hardly know the layout of this stop; we ain’t sure ’bout the truck—”

“He’s got a point, Charlie,” Yuri added. “If this truck is as loaded as Wallace says, then it might be worth the risk.”

I made sure he saw I disagreed. “Ain’t nothin’ worth going to prison.”

“Hey, Charlie, hey! If Ben says it’s okay, then it’s okay.”

“Polo’s making more sense than Charlie? Must be a cold day in hell, huh, boys?”

Wallace slapped the wheel and laughed. At the same time, just as Yuri reached over to smack me, I grabbed his wrist and twisted.

“Damn.” I tried not to laugh while he winced.

“Where’s your sense of humor, Hillbilly?”

I leaned back in my seat. “Hard to laugh when we’re all doin’ something stupid.”

Even at night, watching New York pass by from the SUV window didn’t look real appealing. Though, truth be told, I didn’t really know how it could to anybody. And maybe it was just Polo singing to himself “Are we there yet?” but my patience was wearing real thin, and I was on the verge of wanting to hit something.

I blew my smoke in Polo’s face. “Will ya knock that crap off?”

“Yeah,” Yuri said, still rubbing at his wrist. “We’ll be there in a minute.”

A minute. Ha. I shifted in my seat, still feeling uncomfortable even after I did. With every mile, I felt like we were getting closer to somethin’ real bad—a whole lotta trouble.

Whatever it was, it made me uneasy as hell.


The rest stop was packed, and the bad feeling got worse—twisting my stomach into all kinds of knots when I saw how many people were moving around the parking lot and going in and outta the shops by the gas station. Nobody wanted to say it, but I thought we were all thinkin’ it: it ain’t never good to be doing a heist in a busy area—unless it’s an airport or something. But this was different; people notice faces in truck stops.

“This is bull!” We pulled in the back, between a couple of other trucks, but apparently I was the only one who was gonna say it out loud.

“Will you relax?” Wallace laughed and shook his head. “Been awhile since you humped a sheep or something?”

Yuri stopped me before I lunged over the seat. I was gonna stick my thumbs in Wallace’s eyeballs ’til they bled… but I guess I was gettin’ predictable. Either that or Yuri was turning into a mind-reader.

“Hey, man, simmer down.” Yuri was dodging back and forth from me to Wallace like he was trying to figure out if he should let me go or not. Things got real quiet, and I got the sense that Polo was talkin’, but all I could see was The Red and once it got into my ears, I couldn’t hear nothin’ else.

“…we got work to do.” Yuri did that half-laugh he always does when he’s nervous ’bout me punching somebody’s face in. “You can kick his ass later.”