Authors: Jessica Caryn
Cover Design by Cover Couture (
Lukiyanova Natalia / frenta /
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2016 Jessica Caryn. All rights reserved
The wind became a whirlwind of dust and dollar bills.
The gray clouds shifted and blotted out the sun.
A storm was coming.
My eyes darted to the ridge.
Billy was on the move.
My side hurt.
I put my hand over the gunshot wound.
The blood seeped through my fingers.
I was tired. So damn tired.
“Lower your weapon!”
“Put the gun down!”
I ignored the FBI agents and kept my gun on Scott.
His gun was on me and his men lay dead at his feet.
I couldn’t let Scott live.
Billy wouldn’t stand a chance.
I could feel the bullet in my shoulder.
It was lodged against my collar bone.
It didn’t hurt as much but my aim would be off.
The agents shouted at us.
I heard the fear in their voices.
They were right to be afraid.
I was quicker than them.
It didn’t matter because this is how it ends.
Scott should want to shoot it out.
I counted on him to be emotional.
In that second I knew it was time.
I winked at Scott.
I saw the anger in his eyes and he flinched.
I shot him dead.
The agents shot me from behind.
I collapsed on the ground.
I turned my head.
Billy made it to the top.
Ramsey pulled him over the ridge.
I would’ve smiled if I could.
The pain was insane.
I deserved to die but it was worth it.
I rested my head to find comfort in the bloody dirt.
The dust turned the color of wet red clay.
I thought it was beautiful.
I felt warm and the pain was dull.
I couldn’t see a damn thing.
Death would be swift.
I would go peaceful.
I closed my eyes.
My final thoughts, Billy had to get his shit together.
He didn’t have a choice.
I wouldn’t be there to save him next time.
I didn’t want Ramsey to miss me.
Well, he could but not too much.
I didn’t need his forgiveness.
I left him. It would hurt.
Ramsey would have to get over it.
I wouldn’t be around.
He needed someone.
She could help ease the pain.
She better be strong an independent.
But not an outlaw like me.
It was time for Ramsey to go legit.
I wanted him to do the stuff we talked about.
I was dying and I still felt jealous
Yeah, this is how I was when it came to him.
No one would love Ramsey like I did.
She better come damn close.
I tried to cough out blood and lost my breath.
I let go and gave in.
The light left my eyes.
In that final breath, I was alone.
Three months before…
Eastern Oklahoma, near the Kiamichi Mountains
I sipped my coffee. It was after sunrise. I told Miles I would be in early. He kept the place open twenty four hours. I liked the late shift but I always caught the sun rise. Ramsey said I was a before dusk and after dawn woman. The memory made the coffee taste bitter. I dumped it in the sink and then washed out the cup. I glanced out the window and smiled. It was beautiful here. I rented the place from Miss Sue. Her cabin and cottages were popular with couples. The mountains, woods, and location close to
was the perfect romantic retreat. I came here when I was still hurt and upset. This is where I found my peace. The place was three hours from Oklahoma City and nine hours from New Orleans. No one bothered me here and it was a safe distance from Ramsey. I sighed and then put on my boots. It was time for work. I grabbed the keys, left the cottage, and closed the door behind me. The fresh mountain air was crisp. I walked across the small wooden porch and down the stone steps. I loved the silence. I went over to the rusty pick-up truck. Good ole Betsy. She got me around. Hell I was grateful. I got in, started her up, and pulled off the gravel onto the road. The short drive on the secluded road was my favorite. The mountains came into view as I drove the truck around the circular garden by the main entrance. I waved to Miss Sue. She was with a couple. I saw the binder in her hand. They would love it here.
I glanced at the time.
I wouldn’t be late for work.
I didn’t need the money.
But it felt good to keep busy.
I pulled into the parking lot thirty minutes later. For Miles and Miles Diner was named after the owner and his son. I parked and got out of the truck. I pushed down the old stiff lock. The rusted hinge creaked as the door closed. I would buy a new truck soon. Betsy was on her last days. I went inside. The diner had a classic feel but wasn’t over the top retro. The modern edge and classic details made For Miles and Miles a favorite place in the area. The breakfast crowd was calmer. The truckers were exhausted; they struggled to stay awake but rushed to eat with hopes of a few hours of sleep before another run. They were paid when the load was delivered. An empty truck meant it wasn’t a cash run. The rush would be on for the next one. It was long hours with little sleep. This was their price and sacrifice. It kept them away from the loving arms of family.
I spoke to the girls as I walked past. They worked the truck stop across the highway. We didn’t treat them different. Their money was the same. They had to be drug free which meant not high when they came in. They used the road side bathroom to clean up. If they had a rough night, we’d help the best we could. The ladies room inside had supplies and the things a woman needed. Miles paid a doctor to come out once a week and see about the girls. He lost his daughter to a lifestyle she chose. I think he cared for the girls to help repair his shattered heart.
I saw Mallory and Shawna on shift.
I walked to the tiny break room.
I went to my locker and opened it.
We didn’t lock up our things.
There was no need.
The girls were honest.
I put on my apron and pulled my hair into a ponytail.
I left the break room and stopped in the kitchen.
I smiled. Miles stood on the industrial size mat in front of the grill. I watched him cook.
“Morning little Miss.”
He motioned to the plate of food on the counter.
I walked over, grabbed a fork, and started eating.
“Uh huh, I know you don’t eat like you should.”
“I don’t have an appetite.”
“You’ve taught yourself to survive on less.”
He said. “You’re living this way by choice now.
I ate my food in humble silence. Miles cooked and put the plated orders up in the window for the girls to pick up. He was right. The money I had didn’t change my mindset. I still lived as if I didn’t have a dime.
The last job I pulled paid well.
I was a criminal.
I didn’t know how to be anything else. I told Miles after he hired me. He wasn’t surprised. He noticed how I let the girls split all the tips and I didn’t mind lending them money. He didn’t judge but he told me the past would come. When it did I would have to fess up or give the devil his due. I could change my future by living right. He treated me like family and I was grateful.
I finished eating and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Thanks Miles.” I washed my hands.
“You’re welcome.” He smile was warm.
I tied my apron tighter and started my shift.
The morning went quick.
I thought there were advantages to the early shift.
I decided to make myself a steak dinner. I would stop at the grocery store. I should get a nice bottle of wine. The lunch crowd was a bit louder. We kept the rowdy guys in line. I didn’t have to hurt anyone too bad. Miles and Junior were no nonsense men. Things were handled quickly between the two. I glanced at my phone. I still hadn’t heard from Billy. It’s been a few days. I would give him until tomorrow. Cindy asked if I could cover her section for a quick cigarette break. I told her no problem. I know Mallory and Shawna told her no. They wanted her to keep up the pace. I knew she wasn’t a slacker. Cindy was a person who cared too much. She was the type of person that would hear you out and sympathize.
The cigarette breaks gave Cindy time to focus on her. Hey, we pick our poison. I wasn’t one to judge. I had a bad habit I couldn’t get rid of. The pain was still there. I pushed Ramsey out of mind.
I worked the table and checked on Cindy’s section.
I heard a loud of burst of laughter.
I glanced over my shoulder.
Mallory slapped a guy’s hand.
He tugged her apron
She pushed him away.
The men laughed again.
My phone vibrated.
I took it out of my apron and glanced at the display.
It was Billy.
The men at Mallory’s table would have to wait.
I smiled at my customers and walked to the back.
I answered the phone.
“Where are you?”
“Hey, I messed up…” He said.
The phone went silent.
Miles and Junior looked at me.
I turned around and whispered.
“Billy fucking say something!”
“Hi, you must be his sister.”
“Who is this?”
“I’m Billy’s second chance.”
“He doesn’t need your help.”
“He stole from my boss.”
I took a deep breath.
“Name your price.”
“Your cut from the last job is a start.”
“Fuck you, what did he steal?”
The man gave me the name of the painting and info on how to confirm it was destroyed. He said it wasn’t stored properly. I put my head against the wall. I didn’t need him to finish. I knew the money I had wouldn’t be enough. My heart was heavy.
I thought I had a chance at a good life.
“Big sister?” The man asked. “Are you there?”
“Yes. I’ll bring the money. All of it.”
I felt numb as I listened to his instructions.
I wrote down the meeting place on my notepad.
“I don’t need to tell you...”
“I’ll come alone.”
“We’re both criminals. We can be civilized.”
He laughed. “You have thirty six hours to get here.”
The call ended. I wiped my eyes.
I turned around.
Junior left and went out back to clean.
Miles crossed his arms. “Don’t do this.”
“Billy is all I got.” I said softly. “Besides y’all.”
I gave him a weak smile.
He shook his head.
“You have enough money for a fresh start. You said if Billy came out of prison and went back to stealing you were done with him.” Miles stared at me.
“There’s a fine line between support and enabling.”
He saw the look on my face. “Oh hell!”
He motioned for me to come on.
I rushed to him.
Miles hugged me and wiped my tears.
“I was doing well.” I sniffed.
“Yes and I’m proud of you.”
He kissed my forehead.
“Billy will have to be a man, with or without you.”
“I can’t teach him that.”
“He's well into his twenties and his luck will run out." Miles said. “I know you’ll go see about him but make it back this way to see me, Alright?”
“I will.” I kissed his cheek.
“I said stop!” Mallory yelled. “Get off me!”
Miles glanced out the pick-up window.
He reached under the counter for his baseball bat.
“I’ll take care of it.” I said.
“Last one for the road?”
“Yes, For Miles and Miles.” I smiled.
“Don’t tear up the place.” He told me.
“Go on and get out of here.”
I heard the emotion in his voice.
I hugged him one last time and then left the kitchen. Mallory struggled with a guy in one of the booths. He teased her and then squeezed her butt. I went over and pulled Mallory out of the booth. His buddy tried to get up. I kicked him in the chest. I grabbed a plate and hit his friend in the face. Their friend in the corner by the window put up his hands. I guess he was the nice one. The guy with the free hands took a swing at me. Cute. I elbowed him in the face, grabbed a fork, and stuck it through his hand.