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Connie Herbert slipped the badge between the seat and the armrest, cleared her throat, and pulled at her neck gaiter. They had a job to do, and if she was lucky, no one in Gabriel’s Crest would find out who she was. Not even Mary–the third Mary of Mary’s Meat Shop–who might remember something of Connie’s eyes. Or the eyes that she shared with so many of the women in her family.
“What’s bugging you, Herbert?”
Connie looked over at Mateo at the wheel of the pickup truck. “You think we’ve got the wrong ant hill?” They’d worked a hundred of these parties together over the last twenty years, cleaning up before anyone thought to get their hands dirty on substances the Feds wouldn’t know what to do with. If anyone knew something was wrong, though, with the party or anything else, it would be Mateo.
“So, I think we’ve got the wrong party, confreres,” Kyle said. Except for the way he spoke, he could have easily been mistaken for a bored farm kid from some town thirty miles away but seemingly in the same corn field. Fresh out of college, he landed on their team. “I mean, this rural setting just jeopardizes their contraband commerce.”
Mateo turned toward the back seat. “Small towns like this, they thrive on local legends. Best business is where they believe in what they’re buying.”
“You’d know first hand, small town boy like you, Kyle,” Connie said. Her voice wavered, and she cleared her throat. “Can’t get this dirt road dust out of my lungs.”
“You never get used to that, do you, big city gal like you?” Mateo shook his head at her.
Connie tried not to think about what that meant. Like her, he was from Chicago. She let it lie at that. He was, for all intents and purposes, family to her, like so many on the teams she’d worked on had become. But she couldn’t help thinking about where she came from, if not directly. Story was that her grandmother and great aunt had lived in some small town like this, though Connie’s dad never let slip the name of the place. Connie’s grandfather had gone off under “mysterious circumstances,” that long phrase that sounded like a magic spell. Some commotion around her grandmother’s sister, too. Her dad was so young when they pulled up stakes that he hardly remembered either of them. “Look, I doubt it’s really what they say it is, Kyle. It’s just a name. It’s just a marketing gimmick.”
“Then why are we carrying a metric crap ton of antivenom in the cooler, Connie?” Katie pulled her medic’s bag into her lap. “Did you fall for the marketing gimmick too? Because that’s going to do a giant load of bull plop for anyone who uses it, if I’m getting the big picture right on this.”
“Look,” Connie said to the team. “Here’s the thing. We get in, we get the stuff, and we get out before the Feds get here–especially before the Feds get here. Then we find out who’s making the stuff in the first place. But we worry about that later.” She pulled gloves over her long fingers. “If we’re lucky, we do this quietly.”
“If we’re lucky,” Katie said, her medic’s bag in hand.
If they were lucky, no one in that raucous, dressed-up crowd would know what they were doing.
If Connie was lucky, no one would know what she was doing, in the crowd or in the cab of the pickup. If she was lucky, no one would see who she was.
Or, she shuddered, what.
Read Part 3 over at Impossible Me!