Cold air blasted her as soon as she opened the door. Her light, sparkly sweater did nothing to keep out the chill. Within seconds, she was shivering. “Why’d you park so far from the entrance? We’re the only ones here.”
He’d parked the car at the very end of the single row of spots in front of the building.
“You’ll see.” He cackled.
Ice ran down her spine, and she turned to see what that eerie laugh was all about. “Why—” She gasped. “What the hell are you doing?” The five guys stood in front of Aaron’s flashy red Mustang, yanking ski masks over their faces. “Guys? W-what’s going on?”
Her mind reeled. What on earth were they doing? Why weren’t they answering her?
“What is happening right now?” she barked as her patience ran thin.
The unease disappeared as shock and dread moved in.
Aaron strode to her. “We’re having some fucking fun,” he said. “This town is so boring I can’t fucking stand it anymore. Time to shake shit up and make our own fun.”
“But…” She took three steps away from them as she shook her head. She couldn’t even find words. “You’re not gonna…” she lowered her voice to a whisper, glancing around the empty lot, “… rob the store, are you?”
He winked, then slid a ski mask over her head. “Like I said. We’re gonna have some fun.”
“No,” she said as she took another step away. “No, wait… Aaron, no. This is crazy. It’s wrong.”
“Knew she’d be a fucking wet blanket,” someone mumbled. Probably Carl.
Aaron stepped into her space and cupped her face between his hands. “Harp, this is no big deal. Just some fun and games.”
“Aaron, it’s a crime.”
Had he lost his mind? Was she dreaming? Stuck in a nightmare?
“Fun and games, Harp. Nothing bad is going to happen. We’ll take a couple of fucking beers and be on our way. The gas station will be out fifty bucks max. What’s the big damn deal?”
“Don’t you trust me?” he asked with a frown.
She scoffed. “Yes, of course. You know I do, but—”
“Then you need to show me.” He pulled a ski mask down over her head before she could react. “Let’s do it.”
He grabbed her hand and towed her toward the door with his buddies laughing and cheering as they followed.
“I really don’t want to do this,” she said as she ran to keep up with him. His crushing grip couldn’t be broken, and she worried he’d pull her shoulder out of the socket if she stopped. Her fingers started to ache from trying to escape his hold. “Aaron,” she whispered with panic in her voice. “Just… let me sit in the car. Please.”
Or run away. Let me run away.
She’d never go back to the car. If he released her, she’d flee and run all the way home.
“Too late,” he said as he pulled the door open.
Carl gave her a shove from behind, making her stumble forward.
Into the store.
“Party time, motherfucker,” Aaron yelled as he entered the store behind her.
Harper stared at her boyfriend as he ran to a shelf and swept random items into a backpack.
Who is this man? Certainly not her boyfriend of the past eleven months.
Her gaze flicked between Aaron’s friends as she tried to keep up with the shocking events. “Stop.” She tried to shout it, but nothing more than a squeak left her throat.
“All right, asshole, open the register nice and slow.”
Open the register.
Her jaw dropped behind the mask as she whipped her gaze around to find Carl standing in front of a trembling gas station attendant. He held a gun to the terrified man, who lifted his hands in the air.
She took a step back on instinct. Where had a gun come from? Had he had it the whole time?
Her eyes locked on the weapon, unable to focus on anything else.
“A g-gun. He has a gun,” she whispered.
“Just a little motivation.”
She jumped and spun to the right to find Aaron standing beside her with a backpack stuffed to the brim.
“Hold this. I’m gonna fill another one.” He thrust the backpack at her, but her arms wouldn’t cooperate, and it crashed to the floor.
“Hey, snap the fuck out of it,” he barked.
She jolted and shook her head, standing with arms limp at her sides.
Aaron growled, then ran down one of the aisles.
“Put the money in the fucking bag.” Carl’s shout had her swinging her gaze to the register again like she was watching a tennis ball cross the net. He stood at the counter, gun trained on the poor man, who shook so hard he dropped a handful of bills as he tried to stuff them in the bag.
“Faster,” Carl shouted.
“Stop,” she whispered again. What the hell was wrong with her voice? Why couldn’t she scream? Why couldn’t she do anything?
Her legs felt like they were attached to two led anvils, rooting her in place. God, what the hell was happening? Would Carl shoot that man if he didn’t move fast enough?