Empty Bargains [Jason McCann]

"I have nothing else to offer you," Markus barked through gritted teeth, his fists clenched hard at his sides.

Jason shook his head, chuckling. "I only want one thing, and it's in this room," he sneered.

My brother took a step closer to me, trying to push me toward the door. Jason's eyes flashed over and caught mine, a glint in his eye while a shiver went down my spine.

"What do you want?" Markus asked, impatient.

Jason's head nodded in my direction. I froze and the room fell deafeningly silent.

"I want her."


2. ~9.04~

    Tyler snagged a kiss from me as I swept past him, buzzing about our room to get dressed.  I had twenty minutes until we left, and I’d been napping most of the day.  My feet padded against the wood floor, my hands sifting through stacks of folded clothes to pull together an outfit.

    Tyler stood next to the bed, hands in the pockets of dark jeans resting low on his hips.  He wore a light jacket, the hood pressed lazily against the back of his neck.  I tossed my shirt at him after tugging it off, then pulled on a navy long sleeve as Tyler threw my worn shirt into the laundry pile.  I did the same with my sweatpants, trading them for a pair of dark skinny jeans.  When I turned back to Tyler he was holding out a pair of black combat boots, and I smiled.

    “You know me too well,” I laughed, taking them from him and sliding the boots on.

    He kissed my forehead as I began lacing them up.  “I make a point of trying.”

    I rolled my eyes, pecking his lips again before standing and jumping a bit, testing out the shoes.  “Great,” I said, turning back to Tyler.  “Let’s head.”

    My legs moved forward, taking me to the door, but a hand stopped me.  Tyler grabbed my forearm, sliding his hand down to lace our fingers.  He pulled me back to him, holding me to his chest in a tight embrace.  I hugged him back, breathing in his scent.

    “I have something for you,” he mumbled into my hair.  Tyler pulled back, reaching around behind him.  When his hand came back around, my eyes went wide.

    “You’re giving me a gun?” I asked sharply, confused more than anything.  The guys hadn’t wanted me to use a gun if I didn’t have to; I’d never been in a situation I’d needed one before.  Of course I knew how to shoot and how the gun worked, but actually using one for something like this was a foreign concept.

    Tyler nodded.  “I am.”  He pressed it into my hand and looked into my eyes with his dark ones.  “If I’m not around to help you, this will.  I won’t lit you leave here without it.”

    I looked down at the weapon, then slowly reached back to tuck it in the back of the waistband of my jeans.  Nodding, I hugged Tyler again.  His arms slipped around my shoulders gently, and I sighed.

    “I’m not going to get hurt,” I told him.  “It’s not going to happen.  I promise.”

    He smiled and kissed my nose.  “I know.”




    A short time later, I was kissing Tyler goodbye as he and Sam took off to get closer.  The door of the land rover closed, leaving Markus at the wheel, me in the passenger’s seat, and Emmett in the middle row of the car.  My hand drifted to the gun tucked uncomfortably in the back of my waistband and my heartbeat fluttered a bit.  I was nervous, but I was excited.  This was the first run dealing with Jason they’d even let me come on.

    Markus cleared his throat, turning his head to me.  “Sam is going to shoot me a message with what he can see, and if it’s clear, you and I are moving around back to where they’re at.  As soon as we head up to the warehouse, I’m going to tell Emmett to bring the car around.  Tyler will stand guard while we gather what we can, and hopefully everything will go great.”

    I took a deep breath, looking out the windshield of the car.  The skyline was dark, almost pitch black.  We were pretty far out of the city or suburbs, but a few businesses were clustered around Jason’s place.  A post office was directly across the street from the Land Rover, closed by this time of night and lit only by a small outside lamp.  Small shops were connected all the way down the block, and a few streets down was a clearing that I knew held Jason’s house and warehouse.

    I watched the clock.  It was a quarter ’til two in the morning, five minutes after we sent out Tyler and Sam.  My foot began to tap, whether from anticipation or nerves, I didn’t know.  Six more minutes passed, and I swore I almost died from the wait.  Then, Markus’ phone finally buzzed.

    “They’re right up behind the warehouse,” he mumbled, reading from the cell.  “Someone’s watching the door, but not doing a great job; there are a few hiding spots along the building, but we’ve still got to be careful since it’s almost right up next to the house.  I’ll let Emmett know we’re close.”

    I nodding, tapping my fingers against the gun again before following Markus and getting out of the Land Rover.  He took of into a light jog and I trailed him, weaving between buildings and avoiding street lamps.  We stayed close to the storefronts, dark clothes blending in.  My feet slowed as Markus’ did, knowing he must’ve spotted Sam and Tyler.

    My eyes found them a few seconds later, huddled behind a delivery truck from a packaging business.  They waved us over, and I followed Markus’ lead again.  My feet barely made a sound on the concrete of the street, then into the grass, then next to Tyler and Sam.  Tyler wrapped his arm around my shoulders as we crouched with them, between to slabs of cement among many protruding from Jason’s warehouse.

    “He’s on the other side,” Sam told Markus, pointing to the right.  “He’s got a gun, but he’s almost asleep.  We have to get the weapon away from him fast.  One shot, and Jason will be out here faster than we can get away.”

    Markus nodded.  “Which side of the wall is he closer to?  Near or far?”

    “Near,” Tyler answered.  “Makes our job a lot easier.”

    Markus and Sam shared a look.  “You two stay back, just in case things get out of hand,” Markus spoke softly.  “Sam and I will take care of this guy.”

    Sam nodded.  They always agreed with each other; my brother was Markus’ right hand man.  And usually I agreed with Sam, whether I wanted to admit it or not.  Tyler’s arm squeezed my shoulders and I looked up at him, nodding.

    And just like that, Markus and Sam were gone without a sound.  I waited anxiously—runs always managed to kick up my adrenaline.  My heart pounded as I heard strangled grunts and sounds of struggle.  I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath.  As soon as I heard a body land on the ground with a thud, I nearly leapt from my crouch to move toward the side of the warehouse.

    Markus and Sam came into view, a young kid sprawled out on the ground at their feet.  A handgun was nestled between Sam’s fingers.  I stared at him, my chest squeezing at the sight.  Beside the already forming bruise on his cheek, the weapon seemed to fit his stature.  It was unnerving; even though I had one concealed in my waistband, I wasn’t used to seeing any of us standing over an unconscious body with a gun.

    “What part of ‘stay back’ did you not understand?” Sam hissed at me, tossing the gun to the side in the grass.

    I rolled my eyes as I felt Tyler coming up behind me.  “He’s right, Phoebe.  You’ve never been on one a Jason run.  It’s a whole different deal, and it’s a lot more dangerous.”

    I turned to glare at Tyler.  “Stop babying me and open the door.”

    I ignored all of the boys as Markus ran around to where we’d been to get the bolt cutters he’d dragged along.  When he returned and busted the heavy-duty padlock on the door, my heart rate kicked up.  Sam pulled the door open as Markus tossed the tool to the side.  Inside was only lit by a small fluorescent light, and shadows were cast by the metal door we’d propped open.  I followed the boys into the warehouse, my eyes trailing up and down the walls and floors made of complete linoleum.  It was an odd choice, but the daunting stock in front of us took away from that aspect.

    My eyes caught first a large pile of marijuana, about my height and several feet deep.  I almost gagged at the sight of it, thinking of how much I hated the smell.  Shifting my gaze a bit, I spotted another pile just like it, sitting over in the corner.  The actual room wasn’t too big, for the size of the warehouse frame.  I could see a far wall with a set of doors placed in the middle of the section, about fifty feet away with a chain looped through the handles.  The ceiling was about fifteen feet high, still small for what it’d looked like from the outside.

    “Damn,” Sam breathed beside me.  “So this is where all our pot is going?”

    Markus gestured back to Tyler.  “Go check on Jason’s guy, make sure he doesn’t wake up.”  He turned to me.  “Phoebe, go get the bolt cutters, we’ll need them again.”

    I nodded, following Tyler out the door and into the night.  It was cold, but not biting just yet.  Tyler moved over the boy Markus and Sam had knocked out, lifting his eyelids and examining him as I reached down into the grass for the bolt cutters.

    “He’s out cold,” Tyler mumbled, standing and leaning against the outside wall.  The dim light above us on the overhand flickered, casting shadows on his face.  “They roughed him up pretty good.”

    I nodded.  “That’s what we do best, though, right?”

    He snorted.  “Yeah.  You’re right.”

    I smiled at him, then walked back into the building.  Markus and Sam were at the back of the room, prying at the chain and trying the door hinges.  I strode up to them and lifted the large tool in my hands.

    “Stand back, this thing might snap it,” I warned, placing the mouth on the smallest part of the chain.  They stepped back as I squeezed as hard as I could, and it gave way beneath me.  The small link clattered to the floor and the chain’s ends dropped, dragging the rest of it down too.

    Markus wasted no time throwing the doors open, revealing a pitch black expanse in front of us.  I felt Sam move beside me, hand rubbing against the wall for a light switch.  I did the same, and found one first.  Flipping it on, I squinted into the suddenly bright light.  When my eyes adjusted, Markus and Sam were shuffling through desks placed along a wall about ten feet away.  I moved to one next to Sam, following his lead and opening the first set of drawers.

    Inside was a dark duffel bag, resting in a drawer about a foot deep.  I pulled it out and dropped it onto the surface of the desk.  My fingers fumbled for the zipper running across the top—my adrenaline was pumping like crazy.  It always happened when I was on runs, especially when stakes were higher.  When I finally unzipped the bag, my eyes went wide.

    “Holy shit,” I whispered, forcing my hands into the duffel filled to the brim with stacks of hundred-dollar bills.  “Markus, Sam!  Come look at this.”

    They were at my side within a second, cursing under their breath and patting me on the back.  “Way to go, Little L,” Markus laughed, zipping the bag up again and tossing it over his shoulder.

    “There’s more where that came from,” Sam said to my left.  He was crouched at a lower drawer, holding an unzipped bag of the same contents.  He let out an incredulous laugh, throwing the duffel onto his back.

    I opened the remaining two drawers of the desk, pulling out bags of money and slinging them on my shoulders.  Following Sam, I jogged out of the room and toward the door.

    “Wait,” Markus’ voice stopped us.  He threw an empty duffel bag at both us, the same type as the ones we held.  “Fill up as much weed as you can fit.  With all this money and a little bit of marijuana, we’ll be living great for weeks.”

    I nodded and reached for a bundle of marijuana, setting the bag on the ground to fill it as well as I could.  By the time I’d filled the duffel, it held eight packages.  All of it in one place was sickening, but I knew this was how we survived.

    “Let’s go,” Markus said quickly, leading us to the door leading outside.  “We’re done.”

    I caught up to him quickly, pulling the warehouse door shut after we’d all gone through.  Markus had picked up his pace, sprinting away with Sam hot on his tail.  I glanced over to Tyler, who gave me a reassuring smile and took off with me.  The wind blew over my head, cool against my skin.  My feet patted against the asphalt, no longer having to stay stealthy but still quiet.  The duffel bag bumped uncomfortably against my back, but I endured it down the block.

    Emmett had pulled up to the corner, throwing the Rover’s door open for us and running around to the drivers side to allow us to dive in and go.  I heaved the door shut behind me, forcing myself into the seat between Tyler and the door.  Letting out a long and shaking sigh, I pulled the duffel around to my lap and rested my head on Tyler’s shoulder.  He kissed the top of my head, a reassuring gesture.

    As the Land Rover sped away, Emmett slowly began to laugh.  Markus shook his head, joining in.  Then Tyler, clapping his hand on Sam’s shoulder.

    “Can’t believe we did it,” my brother chuckled, nudging Tyler’s shoulder.  He looked around Tyler to me, patting my knee.  “Welcome to the world, Little L.  You just made it through a Jason McCann run.”

    I smiled widely, not caring about the feeling of the gun in my waistband pressing against my back as I leaned into the seat.  I threw my head back and joined in on the laughter.

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