I sat down and looked over at Stormy and Cait. Really, the guy actually existed.“So, Stormy, where you from?”
“Bridgeport. I run a bank.” He answered, and I about choked. I think my whole body shivered.
“Wh-which bank?” I stammered. Plumbobs, please tell me not First National.
“Landgraab’s First National.” I almost died at his answer. I looked over at Cait, who seemed giddy at his response. “Cait tells me your a writer?”
I didn’t hear him at first. Blood rushed from my face. I went pale white. What the hell was going on? I stammered at first then I slyly threw on a smile, though it wasn’t the ear to ear smile I usually sport. “Um, yeah I – uh, yup.”
Way to play cool dummy.
I excused myself after admitting that I was a writer. I headed upstairs and went immediately online. I dug into everything I knew. I researched Landgraab. I researched Stormy Rain – real name, Travis Stormy Rain, but he only goes by Stormy (apparently).
I continued to dig into the wee hours until I felt so exhausted that the words on the screen jumbled up.
In the morning I heard sirens out in the front yard. Lots of them. I heard the door being pounded on and yelling from someone. They were calling. . . They were screaming my name, why my name?
I ran downstairs and opened the door. “R.J.?” I asked. I was bewildered at R.J and her husband standing there.
“There’s been a bank robbery in Bridgeport.” She whispered. “I don’t know what else to do, hun, but I have to take you in.”
“Why?” I asked. I was shocked. I told her just twelve hours ago what had happened to me. I told her about the men that abducted me. I told them what I had said, and then it hit me. I told the men about Landgraab, great.I sent two mad men off to rob a bank – ME!
And what’s worse is that Stormy and Cait ran downstairs as R.J. slid cuffs on my wrists.
“What’s going on?” Cait asked. She looked horrified. “R.J. what are you doing to Orange?”
“She’s being arrested.” R.J. told her flat out before whispering to me, “Sorry, but I have to.”
“What? Why?” Cait was on the verge of tears and Stormy just looked even more horrified.
“She’s wanted for questioning in a bank robbery.”
Stormy walked up and cleared his throat, “Uh, wh-wh-which bank?” He asked. I could see his eyes just whiten, and his color leave his face.
Plumbobs, don’t tell him R.J. Shit, don’t tell him.
“Landgraab First National in Bridgeport sir. And you are?”
The color left his face. His eyes widen with terror. His bank – yup, I was arrested for knocking up his bank. Shit, I would never find a place to live after this.
I was taken into the cruiser and driven to the police station. R.J. and her husband Chris took me into interrogation and sat me down. Chris took off my handcuffs. “Sorry, we had to do that to you. It was the only way.” He told me.
I looked at both of them. “Only way for what?”
R.J. took a deep breath.“The bank was robbed yesterday, Orange. However, you have an alibi – us. But here’s the catch, the men that did it – are planning on robbing two more, or that’s what our sources say. They placed this in the hallway of the bank like some kind of call sign.” R.J. put down an orange diamond cut shape stone. I almost pissed myself there.
Orange Plumbob – yup – my name.
“We need you to help us catch these guys. We need you to tell them the next location.”
I vomited, right there in the interrogation room. I was a writer, not an undercover agent of any kind. And now R.J. and Chris were wanting me to go in and become a mastermind bank robber. I shook my head. “And what about Cait and Stormy, what are they going to think?” I asked. “And the others, Sam, Emma?”
“Look, I’m not gonna lie. Cait probably hates you. A lot of people think you are responsible. It’s in the papers. But, we need you.”
I nodded. “Okay, what do you need me to do?” Hell might as well do it, I have nothing else to lose.
R.J. threw a file down on the table next to the orange diamond – I refuse to call it a stupid plumbob, though secretly I wanted to keep it. “Do you remember Julia? From the bar?”
I looked at the picture in the file and back up to her. I nodded. “Yea, she’s the one I did that shot with. The shot that got me the courage to go on the table.”
I saw Chris’ smile widen. Oh plumbobs he’s probably picturing me – without clothes on a table DANCING!
“Chris!” R.J. Shouted, thankfully I wasn’t the only one who noticed his grin.
Chris looked up at her and cleared his throat and his thoughts. Men.
“Okay, Orange. Julia works for these assholes. She’s my secret informant. Go to her and she’ll set you up with her boss. You tell them they did good work. Make them believe your coming in to stake a claim on the money.” Julia said after glaring at her husband.
“Then get them to choose another bank. Let me know. Then we’ll set a trap for them.”
“And if they find out I’m the spy?” I asked.
Chris put a hand on my shoulder, “That’s the risk you are just gonna have to take. Julia does it every day.”
“Why didn’t Julia tell you about the robbery last night – seems to me she isn’t that much of a good informant.”
“She was with us, and had no idea.” Julia spoke. “I arrested her last night myself, after she tried to hit up a liquor store.”
I looked baffle. So she didn’t know about last night’s heist. “What makes you think if she didn’t know about last night, that she’ll know about the next robbery?”
“You.” R.J. and Chris both said together.
I spent the night in a holding cell. Chris said it was for “my own good.” I didn’t buy it. I wanted to be home, then again, I thought about Cait and Stormy. Shit! I HAD NO HOME!
So, I just laid there in the holding cell, looking at all the graffiti on the wall. Funny, what people do in their spare time – write on walls. Really? My mind wondered to the past, to Ryan – UHG WHY! I didn’t need to think about that asshole. Yet, laying here on a freaking holding cell reminded me of all the times I found him in one – like that last time. The idiot.
I called Julia the next day after being released. (Thankfully I collected phone numbers at the bar when I met everyone.) “Hey, it’s Orange.” I said just as she answered.
“Hey, R.J. told me you’d be looking for me.”
“Yea, what else did she mention?”
“That your a bank robber.” Julia stiffened a laugh. “Just kidding. But the boys are happy. They got a lot of dough. So, what’s the next hit?”
I took out the paper and looked at the few names of the few local banks around town. “It says SV Credit Union and Sims One on the list.”
“Ooooh! I’ll talk to my boss, Perrin. See what he thinks about heisting them. I’ll also tell them that you hidthe rest of your money there.”
I rolled my eyes. “Gee thanks. You know I never actually robbed a bank. I wrote a novel, and it somehow got leaked – well part of it anyway.”
“Let me guess – Cait.”
“Yeah, how’d you know?”
“Cause she’s a snoop. It’s why Em hates her. It’s why Cheyanne can’t stand her. You know she once spread a rumor about Cheyanne so horrible that she almost had to move. The whole town thought she was this evil bitch of a woman that stole a lot more than another woman’s man. Gah, I can’t stand Cait myself, but I’m nice to her – especially when she’s the one paying for drinks.”
I laughed. “Yea, that is the best.”
Just as we were talking Cheyanne walked past me across the street. “Speaking of Cheyanne, guess who’s around the police station?” I asked.
“Oooh! Go talk to her. Maybe she’ll understand your predicament. Anyways, I gotta run. Perrin is calling me back to bed.”
“Sleeping with the boss? Does R.J. know?”
“Yup. Look talk to you later when I’m not at Per’s.” We both hung up and I ran across the street.
“CHEYANNE!” I yelled. I was waving and everything. She saw me, but didn’t smile. She must be a paper reader, cause she didn’t appear to be happy to see me.
She didn’t smile and her voice was gruff with attitude when she spoke, “Orange.”
“You heard, huh?” I asked, even though I totally knew the answer. “Look, it’s not what you think. I didn’t rob any bank. This whole thing is getting out of hand. First my novel gets leaked, then I get kidnapped, and then. . . this.” I sobbed like a little kid.
Cheyanne didn’t take pitty. “It seems to me you’re learning about your new found best friend Cait. I know Em tried to warn you.”
“She did. But Cait seemed so nice – and sometimes she really is. Gah! Why did I ever move to this hellhole!!!”
Because Ryan would never find you here, duh.True, running here was the safest thing to get away from that creep. He’d never find me here in Sunset Valley.
“I’m sorry bout the mess your in, but just so you know I’m happy you moved here. At least it takes all the eyes off of me.” She didn’t sound like she was joking. “Cait hit me pretty hard in the rumor tree, I’ve never been so shunned in my life. My few friends know the truth.”
“Then why did you come out drinking with Cait and I?”
Cheyanne smiled, “Because I wanted to meet the next of Cait’s victims.”
I nodded. Guess there’s more to Cait than I ever wanted to know. Who was this Cait Styx? Why was she so ruthless to her friends – scratch that – she doesn’t have friends. Not real friends anyway. Damn, what would that be like?Maybe what she needs is friendship. Maybe she needs to be shown that friends are important rather than the crazy gossip mill she likes so much.
I headed back to Cait’s and wasn’t surprised all my stuff was in luggage out on the lawn. I sighed. Cait had kicked me out. “Now what?” I asked myself. I knew I had choices. I could go to R.J.’s, Emma’s, or even Sammy’s.
I whipped out my phone and called Sammy. “Cait kicked me out.”
“Yeah I figured.” Sammy responded. “I have an extra bed if you need it hun.”
“Thanks. I was hoping you’d say that. Thanks for being my friend, I think you, R.J. and Julia are the only ones in this town that believes me.”
“I’ve read part of that manuscript, I know you’d never do that hun. Now, come by, we’ll have a couple of beers and maybe a shot or two.”
I grabbed my duffle bag and turned to head off Cait’s property when I saw him. Great, just great, when my life couldn’t possibly get any worse, he had to find me.
“Orange.” He smiled. “It’s about time I found you.”
“You sonabitch, how’d the hell did you find me Ryan?” I wanted to yell, but my voice trembled past a certain octave. I tried to keep calm. I wanted to run into Cait’s house and scream and hide.
“The newspaper.” He answered before he opened his arms up to me. “You gonna give me a hug?”
“No.” I almost laughed, yet I was too scared to. “Get away from me you asshole! I told you, I don’t ever want to see you again!”
He stepped closer to me and grabbed my arm. “You are coming home with me.”
“No. I. Am. Not!” I tried to remove my hand from his. “GET OFF OF ME!” I yelled.
He grabbed me closer to his body. Damn, why’d he have to smell so damn good?He bent to my ear. “Get in the car sweet cheeks, before I make you.”
My body shivered. He didn’t let go. I wasn’t going to leave. “Get off of me Ryan. I’m not going anywhere with you. Now – OFF!” I yelled and pushed.
He yanked me hard towards the car. “GET IN THE CAR ORANGE!”
“HEY! What the hell is going on!” I heard a male’s voice behind me call out. Stormy – please be Stormy. “GET YOUR HAND OFF HER!”
“It’s none of your damn business! This is between Orange and me.” Ryan snapped back.
“The hell it is. She’s already told you to get your hands off of her!” Stormy pulled me into his arms, yanking me out of Ryan’s.
“This isn’t over Orange. You will come back home with me.” He turned and walked back to the car.
“Thank you.” I mumbled in Ryan’s chest. I started to cry and surprisingly he soothed me. I continued to mumble my thanks.
“It’s okay.” He whispered. “Who was that jerk?”
“My ex. He’s the reason I ran to Sunset Valley. I didn’t think he’d ever find me here, but I guess I was wrong.” I cried in his arms. “That stupid paper and . . . I can’t believe the mess my manuscript caused.”
Stormy’s body tensed. “What manuscript?”
I backed up and looked at him. “I didn’t do what the papers said I did, Stormy.” Then I told him everything that went on. Whether he believed me or not, I’m not sure. He just stared at me blankly.
“Why my bank?” He asked after what seemed like eternity. “Out of all the banks, why choose mine?”
“It’s where Ryan works. He’s a security guard there.”
Stormy went from being to non-emotional to pissed off in a heartbeat. “THAT ASSHOLE WORKS AT MY BANK!”
I nodded and watched as immediately Stormy took out his cell phone. “Yea, I want you to fire. . . “
“Ryan Austin.” I replied to his unspoken question.
“Ryan Austin in security. . . I don’t give a rat’s if he’s a good employee. I want him fired. I want his locker cleared out by tonight . . . He was apart of last nights robbery . . . No, you don’t get to know how I know Robby. Just do the firing . . .Thank you.” He closed the phone and stuck his hand out. “Now, why don’t you come in and we’ll see what we can do about Cait.”
I took his hand and I have never been so happy in my life. Finally someone stood up for me against perfect sweet little Ryan.
“NO!” Cait yelled after Stormy talked to her for over an hour about me staying there. They were fighting and I was sitting there at the top of the stairs.
“Cait, be reasonable. Your the one that said she was your best friend!”
“SHE ROBBED A BANK! YOUR BANK!” Cait yelled.
“No, she did not. She was kidnapped after youreleased her manuscript. And I don’t even want to know why you would betray her like that after all she did for you.”
For her? What the hell have I done for her?
“Wh-wh-what? I didn’t – Stormy I never would betray anyone’s trust like that.” Cait cried. “I can’t believe this is happening again. Why does everyone think I do. . . This.”
HUH? If she didn’t then who did?
I tip-toed down the stairs and looked at Cait. “Then if you didn’t then who did? Your the only person that used my laptop.”
“Believe me, if I knew, then I’d tell you. Orange, your my only friend. I’d never intentionally hurt you. I never intentionally hurt anyone. They all blame me though.”
I wanted to cry. This poor woman. I did believe her, and I have no idea why. I ran to her and gave her a huge hug. “I’m sorry Cait.”
“I am too.” She sniffled a cry. “Look, stay here and we’ll try to fix this.”
Yet that night when I woke up I realized something. I wasn’t in my bed. I felt vibrations under my body. It was so dark. I tried to get up – but. . . OW! I tried to stretched – but – OW, what the hell was that? Tire Iron? Shit! HOLY HELL I’M IN A TRUNK!