Home > Cruel Paradise (Beautifully Cruel #2)

Cruel Paradise (Beautifully Cruel #2)
Author: J.T. Geissinger







“This is literally the worst idea you’ve ever had.”

“I think it’s genius.”

Watching me with pursed lips and her arms folded over her chest in disapproval as I clumsily attempt to pick the lock, Fin snorts. “Yes, but you were dropped on your head a lot as a baby.”

“Will you be quiet? I’m almost in.”

“In jail, you mean. Incarcerated. Because in ten more seconds, I’m going to call the cops on you myself. You’re completely inept at breaking and entering. Especially the breaking part. I could die of old age before you’re finished.”

Standing six feet tall, with blonde hair that hangs halfway to her waist and a figure that stops men dead in their tracks, my best friend is as pretty as she is impatient. She’s also funny, whip smart, and an excellent thief, which is why I brought her with me tonight.

One needs a trusted accomplice when stealing two thousand boxes of diapers.

For moral support, if nothing else.

Not that she’s giving it to me.

Sighing, she says, “You’re a hot mess, girlfriend. I’ve seen better Dumpster fires.”

“If you’d shut up a minute, I could concentrate!”

She checks her watch, pressing a dial to illuminate the face, and impatiently starts counting seconds. “Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven.”

“It’s a friggin’ padlock, and I’m using a friggin’ bobby pin! Gimme a break!”

“No excuses. I could’ve had it open a year ago. Six. Five. Four. Three.”

I give up, stand straight, and glare at her through the shadows. “Fine. You win. Tyrant.”

She slings the backpack off her shoulders, unzips it, removes a bolt cutter, and hands it to me with a smile. “Do you think you can cut through the chain yourself, princess, or will you need help with that, too?”

“Remind me to put hair remover in your shampoo bottle when we get home.”

I turn back to the lock. The bolt cutters efficiently snap through the metal links of the chain, and the chain slithers to the ground with the lock still attached at one end.

Fin holds out her hand. I pass her the bolt cutters. Back into her pack they go, then she pulls open the heavy door of the warehouse. We slip inside silently, take a moment to let our eyes adjust to the gloom, then locate what we came for.

Fully loaded and ready for tomorrow’s trip to the distribution center, the delivery truck sits at the far end of the loading dock’s bay.

We head toward it at an unhurried trot, our footsteps echoing off the high ceiling’s exposed rafters.

I say, “You’re sure you can get that thing started?”

She scoffs. “How dare you.”

“And you’re sure Max disabled the cameras and silent alarm?”

I’m not looking at Fin, but I swear I hear her eyes roll. “Yes, grandma. I’m positive. I should’ve made you pop a Xanax before we left.”

“But then I wouldn’t have been able to drive.”

“I hate to break it to you, but I’m driving.”

“You drive as well as you cook. I’m driving.”

“Excuse me, Martha Stewart, but not everyone has the cooking gene.”

“There’s no such thing as a cooking gene.”

“There totally is. You’re Italian. It’s in your DNA.”

“Ha! Maybe if you tried using the stove instead of a blowtorch to heat your food, you wouldn’t have so many problems.”

Fin waves a dismissive hand in the air, ending the conversation. She hates to be reminded of that time she set fire to the kitchen cooking stir fry with a metalworking tool.

When we get to the truck, we encounter the minor issue of the doors being locked. Fin uses the bolt cutters to smash the driver’s window, and the problem is solved. We climb inside.

She takes all of five seconds to hotwire it, the showoff.

When the engine roars to life with a satisfying belch from the tailpipe, I say, “Wait!”

Startled, she glances at me. “What?”

“I’m supposed to be driving.”

“Too bad, so sad, possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

“How is that cliché applicable in this situation?”

She smiles. “My butt is already in possession of the driver’s seat. Besides, someone needs to roll up that…” She pauses, then says, “Oh.”

Her deflated tone makes my spinal nerves tingle. “Oh? What oh?”

“That oh.” She points beyond the windshield to the huge rolling metal door through which the delivery trucks enter and exit the bay.

That it’s closed isn’t the problem. The problem is the big steel locks anchored to the cement floor on either side at the bottom.

I stare at the locks, flabbergasted. “Shit!”

She says drily, “Well put, Shakespeare.”

“I thought Max took care of security?”

“Those locks must be brand new. That door was supposed to be able to be manually opened from the inside when the security system went down.”

“So what do we do? There’s no way the bolt cutters can get through metal that thick.”

Fin peers at the door for a moment. “Pray for a miracle?”

I throw my hands in the air. “Pray? Criminal masterminds don’t rely on a supreme being to get them out of tight spots! They go to plan B!” I pause. “What’s plan B?”

At least she has the decency to look sheepish. “We don’t have one.”

I groan. “No backup plan again? We’re terrible at this!”

She says defensively, “We’re not that bad.” Then, under her breath: “At least I know how to hotwire a vehicle.”

I stare at the door in frustration for several seconds, then pronounce, “Oh, screw it. We’ll improvise.”

She hoots. “Improvise? The last time you used that word, I ended up dangling from a sixth story hotel window.”

“You lived.”

“You do recall that the building was engulfed in flames at the time? And I was naked?”

I ignore her. “Just floor it. Petal to the metal. We’ll probably be able to smash through.”

She turns to me with arched brows. “Probably?”

I try to make my nod look firm and convincing. “This is a class seven rig with almost five hundred horse power. She’ll get it done.” I think for a moment. “Or we’ll die in a fiery explosion. Either way, it’ll be awesome.”

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