Food Truck Hero ~ A Love in the City Romance by Dellani Oakes Part 15

“Respectfully, ma’am. You’ve got thirty-eight minutes to get that cash together. And make a helicopter appear.”

“Or I have thirty-eight minutes to get an assault team together.”

“My girlfriend is in there!” I bellowed. I’m big and loud. She might be a cop, and an authority figure, but no f**king way! I wasn’t gonna let her go in, guns blazing, and get Rowena and the others killed. “I can’t let you do that,” I said, taking a step forward.

“Excuse me?”

“My girlfriend is up there. We just started dating. I can’t let you go up there, running amok, maybe getting her killed. You can’t do it.”

“This isn’t your call, Mr. Doyle.”

“Please. Please try something else. For Rowena, Lucy and the others. Please.”

Exhaling slowly, she closed her eyes. “What would you have me do?”

“I don’t know. Not that. Did he ask for cash? Could you fake a wire transfer?”

Her eyes popped open. “Fake a transfer? Are you serious? Insane?”

“Pick one. Surely you’ve got a tech who can do it. He didn’t ask for cash, right? We all heard him. Set up a dummy account, something in the Caymens.”

“Who are you?” Monroe demanded.

“I told you already. Keir….”

“I mean, what do you do for a living, Mr. Doyle? Are you a police officer? Hostage negotiator? Federal agent?”

“I own the food truck….” And I realized her question was purely rhetorical. She knew that. “Condescend all you want, Captain. I’m not stupid. And you’re wasting time. If Rowena, or any of them die, you’ll have a hell of a law suit on your hands. You’re standing here with your thumb up your ass, not even trying.”

Her lips pressed in a firm, angry line. Her nostrils thinned, turning white around the openings. “Get him out of here,” she commanded, pointing at me.

Greg stepped forward, politely taking my elbow. “Come on, Keir. Maybe I could get a coffee?”

I glared at him. He jerked his head toward the doors. I allowed him to escort me to my truck. Outside, I saw Jake talking earnestly to some friends. I knew they were all former military. He had an Army Ranger, two SEALs, an a Marine Recon guy, gathered. Greg led me over.

“I’ll show you the back way in,” Greg said as he walked up. “You got your gear?”

They nodded in unison, showing duffle bags which clanked disturbingly.

“What’s this? What’s going on?” I asked.

No one answered me. I followed as they walked quickly and quietly around the back. Greg led us to the loading dock. His fellow security officers were there, and let us pass. Several of them joined the group. One of them handed me a bullet proof vest.

“Know how to shoot?” he asked me politely.

“Yes. Probably not as good as these guys, but I don’t miss.”

“Ever shot someone?”

“Only with Airsoft.”

“Aim for center of mass, or one of the legs,” he replied, handing me a nine mil.

I did a quick check, saw it was loaded, eyeballed the safety, and followed Jake up the back stairs. I’d already made this trip once today, but I didn’t care. Having no clue what Monroe was doing, I followed my friend as quietly as I could, glad I was wearing my Converse high tops. When we got up to the top of the stairs, I saw that we had a different viewpoint of the floor. The main door of Starke and Howe was directly across from us. The glass doors were shut, but we could see in clearly.

No one was in the front office, but I knew well and good they were in there, and probably watching. I spotted security cameras, swaying slowly back and forth, panning the entrance. Jake slipped through the door with a beanbag gun. With one shot to each camera, he disabled them. The team moved quickly, knowing they probably didn’t have the element of surprise.

One of the men fiddled with the door, getting it to slide open. We entered quickly, looking for trouble. It wasn’t long in coming. Two men popped around the door frames of the front two offices, taking pot shots at us. Jake got one in the chest, knocking him onto his back. The man was wearing a vest, but it took him out of immediate play.

The fellow to my right, whose name I didn’t know, tapped the other guy. His was also a chest shot. I could tell it irked him, but he was trying hard not to kill anyone. I could see the disgust and anger in his face, as he moved to disarm the man and put a zip tie on his wrists and ankles. The first was getting the same treatment.

Somewhat stunned there wasn’t more resistance, I moved warily along. The others had also thought of this, batting it back and forth. There was no need for silence now. The report of weapons was enough of a give.

We met a man in the hallway. He stepped cautiously out of the store room. I recognized him as Arnell, the janitor. I’d met him from his frequent trips to my trailer, on his breaks.

“They’re holed up in Mr. Starke’s office. Back the way you came, take a right instead of a left, cut through the kitchen,” Arnell stated. “Then there’s a second door in the back of my closet. They won’t know about it. It’s not on the blueprints. It’s not locked and you can get to the back easy. It got added a few years ago, Mr. Starke had it put in so I could come and go without having to go through the lobby.”

©2021 Dellani Oakes

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