*PROJECT ON HOLD INDEFINITELY*
The Borderliners: Betrayal (A Novel)
“You cretins have records!” she hissed through clenched teeth, “If we fuck this up, you will both leave prison with the assistance of a walker.”
God Talia could be a bitch. Adam was thankful that they were at the diner. She couldn’t wail at them here, not if she wanted to continue to plan a felony in this booth. What was it about this place? She must love the shitty food here. How she ate this garbage and maintained that physique, he had no idea.
Why did she have to bring up prison? His thoughts were all over the place. He glanced up at Emmett to see if his face registered any reaction. As usual, his expression was stoic. That bald hulk was 250 pounds of immovable stone. If he had any concerns, they certainly weren’t evident now. Adam couldn’t bear the thought of jail. He survived his latest stint only because he was fortunate enough to be tossed in a cell with Emmett. He had no idea what Emmett had done to earn his reputation with the other inmates, but whatever it was, it was effective. Hell, the prison guards kept their distance from Emmett. Even so, with each passing day their cell became smaller; the minutes passed slower. Adam shuddered at the thought.
“Adam!” Talia’s clearly irritated voice snapped Adam back to the present, “I need you in the here and now. We have 2 days. Do you understand how vital you are to this plan? Our success or failure depends almost solely on whether or not you can follow direction.”
“Toilet” With that, Emmett stood up from their isolated booth and disappeared around the corner. Talia raised her brow and looked at Adam inquisitively. He just shrugged. What could he say? Emmett was just about as talkative as he was emotional. She seemed bothered at first, but ultimately smiled and shook her head.
Seeing the tension fade somewhat, Adam took her slender hand in his and calmly tried again, “I’m just saying, we’d never have to worry about money again if we hit that vault. We could disappear forever.”
Talia rolled her eyes and pulled her hand away. Maybe he should have left it alone. “Adam. I’m going to explain this to you one more time. The bank vault on the main level contains no money. It’s just safe deposit boxes. The cash vault was moved underground decades ago. There is one way in and one way out, a single elevator. If you get on that lift, you are checking yourself into a cell. Period.”
“What if I take you as a shield? No one there can connect me to you. You could be my hostage, my free pass in and out of that vault.” His idea was brilliant. He just couldn’t understand how Talia didn’t see it.
“How do you propose keeping a bank full of people contained while you’re dicking around in the vault? You might as well just call the swat team before you ever enter the building. We have discussed this. I will be running the main window. I am expecting a substantial shipment of cash for the vault just after the bank opens. While I verify it for accuracy on Monday morning, my window will be stocked with 25 times the money the other tellers have at their windows. It’s enough. Listen to me. We do this quietly or we do not do this at all.” Talia insisted.
“No hostages, no vault.” Emmett returned from his abrupt bathroom break. He didn’t have emotions, or much of a vocabulary, but he wasn’t stupid. Besides, Adam trusted Emmett with his life. It was 2 against 1, fine, no vault.
“So we agree? THIS is the plan – we stick to it. Yes?” Talia implored.
“Yes.” The men agreed.
She waved her hand as if to dismiss them. Obediently Adam stood and joined Emmett. Both dropped a few dollars in change on the table, and turned to leave. On his way out, Adam looked over his shoulder at Talia who remained seated. She was absolutely stunning. The rising sun pierced through the window and engulfed her as she sat there plotting. Ironically, she looked like an angel. Each strand of her caramel hair shone like a string of spun gold. It was pulled high and tight now, but when she let it down, it tumbled over her shoulders and flowed to the middle of her back. His mind drifted back to last night; visions of her on her hands and knees before him, back arched at her thin waist, round ass in the air. <you’ll just have to wait until the book comes out for the rest of this flashback>
“Dude, we leaving?” Right, reality. That woman had some kind of power over him. She didn’t even have to return his gaze. By doing nothing special at all she managed to make Adam forget where he was and what he was doing. He quickly collected himself and followed Emmett out the door and to the car.
“You trust her, right?” Oddly enough, it was Emmett who broke the uneasy silence hanging between them in the car.
“Talia? Almost as much as I trust you, Ghost.” Adam used Emmett’s nickname and attempted to make eye contact in order to reassure his friend, but Emmett’s focus was on the road ahead.
“The plan is solid. If she can be trusted, it will actually work.” Emmett spoke from experience. He knew bank robberies; he had successfully executed several. Sure, he got caught once, but that wasn’t the result of any poor planning.
“Even if she’s not what she says she is, she’s too invested. She CAN’T screw us.” Adam assured him. Emmett finally glanced over at Adam. Was that a flicker of doubt, Adam wondered, why is he so paranoid? Of course Talia was trustworthy. Before the men came up with the idea to rob her employer, she was dedicated to her work and good at it too. She refused at first. She needed the job. Of course, Adam was difficult to resist; eventually he wore her down. Nothing positive was keeping them in Yuma anyway. Nobody was going to get hurt. They would take money that the bank certainly didn’t need, bolt to Mexico, build a new life together, and figure the rest out later. Emmett would come along initially, but only until the heat died down. He had his own business to handle.
Emmett returned his concentration to the road. “What’s the first thing you’re going to do when we get there?”
He’s convinced enough to close the topic, Adam thought. “Emmett, my friend, the first thing I plan to do is dive naked into the ocean at dusk.”
“I’ll be sure to miss that.” Emmett retorted, still expressionless.
Back at his apartment, Adam laid awake in bed, mind racing. Emmett and Talia were teaming up against him. His ideas were always so easily dismissed. They wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for him. It was Adam who brought the expert and the insider together, after all. It was his face that would be all over the surveillance cameras come Monday. If he decided to execute his plan to hit the vault, what could they do about it?
He switched on the lamp and reached into his nightstand for a lighter and his old friend, Slug. Man, have I missed you. He packed the small metal contraption with the leftover shake from the bottom of an old bag of weed. Better than nothing. He placed it to his lips, closed his eyes, and lit the opposite end, inhaling deeply.
“Jesus Christ, Talia!” Adam sputtered as he gagged on the cloud of smoke he had been holding in his lungs. She had a bad habit of scaring the shit out of him. She laughed hysterically as Adam struggled to catch his breath. Sitting next to him on the bed, she removed Slug from Adam’s hand.
“You think this is a good idea?” Talia inquired.
“Why not? No matter what happens on Monday, I won’t ever be dropping for my parole officer again.”
“Good point” she replied, promptly lighting a hit for herself, clearing the barrel. Adam knew what was coming and decided to let Talia find out for herself. His laughter reduced him to tears when her eyes began to water and she spit out her lungful of smoke hacking uncontrollably.
“Oh this shit sucks,” Talia giggled, “first thing I do when we get to Mexico is buy you a sticky bag of kind.”
“That’s funny,” Adam replied, “Emmett just asked me about that.”
“About the first thing I’ll do when we get to Mexico.”
“What was your answer?”
Adam turned to her and smiled, “dive naked into the ocean.”
“Ooooh, I like that,” Talia murmured as she stood and removed her top, “can I change mine? I want to swim naked in the ocean with you.”
Adam was mesmerized.
“Well, you could change yours, but then who will get us some decent weed to smoke on the beach?” Adam teased as he reached up and unbuttoned her jeans. He kissed the bare flesh just above her waistband lightly. He tugged softly and left a trail of warm kisses down her long, toned leg as he slowly pulled them down.
“Emmett,” she answered, “we will want to get rid of him before we go for our swim anyway.” She stepped out of her pants and straddled Adam’s lap, now wearing just an angelic white lace bra and matching lace panties. She reached up and pulled the pins that held her hair. Her locks tumbled over her shoulders and down her back. She leaned close and brushed her velvet lips across Adam’s throat.
“Mmmm, baby, what are you doing here anyway? I thought you said…”
“Did you want me to leave?” she whispered seductively into his ear as she began to grind gently against his rising member.
“God no,” Adam sighed.
A blade of sunlight through hastily closed curtains disrupted Adam’s sleep early the next morning. He reached out to find Talia and pull her close to him. He could think of nothing he wanted more than a little morning sex. Unfortunately he found only her empty pillow. He flipped angrily to his back, staring at the ceiling, fury slowly rising within him. Why did she always pull this Houdini bullshit? He slammed his fist to the bed, growled, and audibly yelled, “Fucking Talia!”
“Shit Adam! What the hell?” A startled, and clearly annoyed, voice bellowed back.
She’s still here. “Talia? Where are you?” He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed.
She appeared in the door, still naked from their adventures the night before. She carried a plate of fruit & bagels. “I brought these with me last night. I thought we could have a little breakfast in bed before I take off.” She looked hurt. She sounded pissed.
“I am so sorry. I-I thought … it’s just that I thought you left … without saying goodbye,” Adam stammered, “you tend to disappear…” Why did he have to overreact? Last night was some of the best sex he’d ever had. He didn’t want to taint the memory of their interlude with a fight.
Talia said nothing. She made her way to him, then handed him the food. In silence she walked around the bed toward where her clothes lay in a heap on the floor.
“Talia, don’t go,” Adam pled.
With her foot she kicked her clothes aside and climbed into the empty space next to Adam in bed. “Wasn’t planning on it, at least not until after you share some of that food,” she teased.
He picked up a strawberry and placed it to her mouth. She wrapped her plush lips around it and closed her eyes as she savored a bite. As he watched transfixed, Adam felt a familiar stir. He placed his palm on the back of her head and kissed the strawberry flavor off her lips.
Talia lingered briefly then pulled away. “Eat,” she demanded and handed him a bagel.
“Not what I’m hungry for,” he countered as he ran a finger along her jaw line.
“Are you proposing we have dessert first?” Talia purred. She removed the plate from his lap and turned to place it on the nightstand.
Before she could turn back around, Adam swept her hair aside to expose her delicate neck. She gasped as he left a trail of kisses from the top of her spine down to her shoulder blades. He took her by the shoulders and slowly pivoted Talia until their eyes met.
“I love you, Talia.” Adam whispered as he lowered his eyes. Talia placed a finger under his chin and lifted his head so that their eyes met again.
“I know. I love you too, Adam” she replied softly.
Adam smiled broadly. Get it together, man! Do not cry! He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He knew she was different the moment he laid eyes on her. She was the only woman to whom he’d ever uttered the words “I love you”. He had only known her a couple of months when he first said it. This was the only time she had reciprocated.
“You love me?”
“Of course I love you” Talia replied.
“Since always, stupid.”
“Prove it” Adam dared.
“Mmmm, my pleasure” Talia cooed as she pushed him back onto the bed. She straddled Adam, took both of his hands in hers and pinned them over his head. She kissed his earlobe, gently blowing, sucking, biting. Adam had never felt anything like it. It tickled, but not so he wanted it to stop. The erotic sensation crawled down his body directly to his groin. He wanted her now but was paralyzed by ecstasy. Her lips met his; she kissed him slow and deep. Her pace quickened as passions rose. Soon she was moaning in Adam’s mouth, both of them frenzied and gasping for breath. Adam could wait no longer. <oh, sorry, did I cut that off just when it was getting good?>
Entranced by the events of the day, Adam lingered in the shower. Hot water washed over him as he heard Talia whisper “I love you” over and over in his head. He was lost in his thoughts when the water finally ran cold. He hurried to shut it off and immediately wrapped himself in a towel. He caught his own reflection in the mirror when he stepped out. Before she left, Talia had asked him to make some changes to his appearance.
“We’ve got to rob a bank to get you to cut your hair.” She teased. Then she reached up and played with a blond tendril that stood out against his darker roots. For a moment, she looked troubled as she did it.
“Smile baby. Everything will go our way tomorrow.” He assured her.
“Of course it will.” She smiled unconvincingly and placed her palm on his cheek. She softly kissed his other cheek and solemnly left.
He removed his towel and used it to clear condensation off the mirror. He took in the “old Adam” one more time. He looked older than his 26 years. Stress and the oppressive Arizona sun had taken a toll. His tanned skin did make his eyes sparkle a little brighter though. The ladies loved his baby blues. He’d only ever seen a dentist in jail, so he was lucky that his teeth still appeared white against his sun-kissed lips. Years of physical labor had rewarded him with a toned physique, but at 6 feet and 160 lbs he could stand to gain a little weight.
I’ll do what I can for now, he thought to himself, I’ll get fat in Mexico.
He took the scissors off the bathroom counter and began clipping the natural curls from atop his head. By the time he was done, he was left with a scruffy, uneven mess of short brown hair. He tousled it with gel and made it look passable. Adam plugged in his clippers and prepared to rid his face of its rugged cover. His lack of expertise with a razor was apparent when he attempted to create a straight line between his bare neck and his hair covered chest. By the time it was even he had removed most of the hair from his upper body.
“Jesus, now I look like a choir boy” Adam chuckled. “Well, what the hell, might as well keep going.” Talia is in for a surprise when we get to that beach, he thought as he finished his unplanned manscaping project.
Adam stared at his nearly unrecognizable reflection in the mirror. Initially it invoked a great deal of laughter. However, this cleaned up version of himself did compliment his finer features. His haircut was imperfect but edgy. His shaved face revealed chiseled features. His bare pecs and sculpted abs rippled flawlessly. He decided that Talia would approve. He wished she was still there to see his metamorphosis.
What was it that weighed so heavily on her today? In all of the time he’d known Talia, Adam had never seen her look defeated. She was a fighter. She lost her mother, her champion, when she was just 16. Her father didn’t cope with it well. He didn’t know how to be a mother to a teenage girl. Where her mother was gentle and protective, her father was gruff and honest. He expressed to his daughter frequently his feelings that he wasn’t cut out to be a parent. She was disappointed but not surprised when he disappeared without so much as a note less than 2 years after her mother’s passing. Even when she spoke of her tragic childhood, it was to demonstrate why she was determined to overcome all odds. She was headstrong, never morose. A realization struck him suddenly.
“Oh God, I am an idiot.” Adam uttered to his own reflection. HE was causing her gloom. She was concerned that he, in true Adam-style, would go “wildcard” and ruin her immaculate planning. She really had thought of everything. Hell, she went so far as to provide the gun he would use in the robbery. She must be afraid of the consequences that Adam would put into action if he went off-script. He could barely stand to look at himself any longer. He was sickened that he was causing Talia to suffer any angst. Adam wished he could go to her and make it right, but she insisted they not have contact until their scheduled rendezvous. He would just have to wait and show her. He made a vow then and there…
“I value your love more than I value my own life, Talia Ferro. I will never do anything to make you fall out of love with me. I swear to you, baby. I will stay the course, no vault.”
Well, that’s it, the unedited first chapter. Of course, it will not be exactly the same once the book is completed. I have already incorporated some changes, specifically adding more detail about Talia. Plus, the book will include the censored bits too.
What is Adam’s story? Character Interview: Adam
What is Emmett’s motivation? Letter to a Book Character: Emmett