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Long dark brown hair tumbled from the solid black helmet, leather gloved hands hooking it on the back bar on the large motorcycle. Something was definitely off. Mariah Peyton moved toward the gas pump, one finger raised to her lips as she met the wide blue eyes watching her from the back seat of the car on the other side of the filling island.

She sighed thickly. Her hand went to the heavy zipper down the front of the black jacket, lowering it slowly and reaching inside as she approached the driver of the car. She tapped lightly on the window, a brightly deceptive smile on her face. Wide brown eyes surrounded by a cloud of dark brown and they fell all over themselves. Men were such gullible creatures. She leaned over a little, a view of the low front of her top momentarily distracting him as he wound the window down.

He froze in place when the familiar sound clicked in his ear.

“You know what that sound is?” She asked quietly, accepting his slow, resigned nod. “Hands on the wheel…does he have a gun, elf?” She saw the redhead nod rapidly. “Lift it out…very slowly…it’s cold and I don’t want to slip on this trigger…cheap gun…empty it onto the seat…is there another one?”

“He went inside to pay,” Eloise said softly.

“Unlock her door,” Mariah ordered, the click barely heard in the bustle around the gas pumps. “Wrap up in the blanket, elf, we need to hide that red. Stand over by my bike,” she said with a nod at the blanket the woman lifted from inside when she climbed from the back seat. “You…turn the car off…hand me the keys, nice and slow…” leather clad fingers wrapped around the jangling keys. “Good boy…now…pop the trunk.”

Mariah stepped back from the door, opening it and watching the main entrance to the quickie mart.

“No…don’t even open your mouth…I’m not interested,” she said simply, nudging him carefully with the gun in her palm. “I have a license for this…I bet you don’t have one for yours……now…get into the trunk…please…no noise…”

She closed the trunk and let it latch, dropping to her heels and using her finger nail to release the air from the tire near her. She stood up and moved to Eloise.

“Are you okay? Can you see inside the window? Which one is his partner?” Mariah followed her gaze.

“I’m much better now, thank you. He’s wearing the grey sweatshirt thing…they thought they would get money if…if they took me,” she only had one of the red gloves, both hands holding the heavy blanket tightly closed.

“There’s another helmet inside the case on the back of my bike…get it out and put it on…hide that hair,” Mariah suggested, leaning casually against the gas pump, her gaze never leaving the partner. “Do you know if he has a gun?” She sighed when the redhead nodded.

Mariah stepped up when the other man approached the car, her smile bright and voice light. “He said he had to go to the restroom…” she took a step toward him, letting him see the gun. “Now…no moves…” her hand patted his sides and back, the gun pulled free and dropped into the car after flicking the safety in place. “Let’s join your friend…”

“This isn’t your…” He swore when she brought her free hand up and grabbed his ear.

“No noise. I’ve had a long, long day…and I’m tired and I’m cranky.” She opened the trunk of the car, gesturing once and offering one arched eyebrow when he hesitated for only a moment. She slammed it down, replacing her gun in the holster and latching it in place. She moved efficiently, emptying the two guns onto the seat, raising the window and locking the car doors.

Mariah moved to her bike, straddling it and helping the redhead get on behind her. She had her phone out, tapping in 9-1-1 and handing it to the woman behind her who removed the helmet and accepted the phone.

“I’ll take you back…tell them we left the keys to the car on the gas pump and we’ll be…where ever you need to be returned to,” Mariah said tiredly.

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