After half an hour of aimless driving, the air hadn’t cooled at all. The faux-velvet seats had become uncomfortably sticky, so they decided to park and stretch their legs for a bit. Seeking solace from the heat, they chose a spot under the shade of a tree with long, low-hanging branches that reached out over the street like protective arms.
Across the road from them, surrounded by a tenfoot white wall that stretched farther than Bree could see, was the Kansas City Country Club. The landscaping outside was immaculate, everything bright green and evenly trimmed, bushes rounded into perfect spheres. Every now and then a car would drive up to the lone valet attendant. The people getting out of the cars were dressed up, the men in expensive looking suits, cuff links, and pocket squares, the women decked out in jewelry and brand-name handbags. A big, golden Mercedes came up the driveway. A car like that had never once stopped to pick Bree up when she was
“I bet that Mercedes has some pretty sweet AC,” Bree said.
“I bet,” Leila said. She wiped at the sweat on her forehead. “It looks like there’s some kind of event going on.”
The sun was still high, the sunset a couple of hours away. Bree felt her shirt stick to her lower back.
“Yeah . . .” Bree said, her voice trailing off. “You think they’d mind if we borrowed it for a little while?”
Leila turned to Bree, arching one eyebrow. “It would be nice to drive around with some airconditioning for a bit. Why? Your soul getting itchy again?”
They watched the valet attendant get into the car, drive about fifty feet up the driveway, and turn into the parking lot that was hidden from view. After a few moments he reappeared, trotting back to the entrance, waiting for the next car to show up. He left the keys of the Mercedes on a hook next to about two dozen other sets of luxury-car keys.
“We’ll just borrow it for an hour,” Bree said. “They won’t even notice it’s gone.”
“I’m not so sure about that. Rich people have a weird sixth sense about their belongings.”
“It’ll just be a few quick laps on the highway.”
“Quick because there’ll be someone chasing us?”
“No one will be chasing us.”
“I know,” Leila said. “I’m stalling because I’m nervous.”
“Hey, I’m not gonna deny you the right to be nervous. But once you’ve dealt with your nerves, I think you know what we have to do.”
“What do we say if someone catches us?”
“That we were dying of heat stroke and it was a medical emergency,” Bree said.
Leila paused. “Then we’ll come right back and leave it exactly where it was before?”
“Same parking spot.”
Another car was coming up the street, likely headed for the club. The girls looked at each other, grinning like madmen. Bree could feel her heartbeat speed up.
Bree opened the door. “Come on, we’ll grab the keys when the valet’s parking this car.”
Leila took a few deep breaths, as if she was about to try swimming a long distance underwater. “Seize the Tuesday,” she said.
They jogged across the street and hid behind the outer wall of the country club. When they heard the valet start pulling the car around, they left their cover and walked quickly up the driveway. The keys were hanging unprotected, as tempting as pies cooling on windowsills. Bree reached them first, grabbing the set with that recognizable Mercedes symbol glinting silver in the sunlight. It was almost disappointingly easy.
“Just act like you belong here,” Bree said as they walked into the parking lot. “The best ID in the world is a smile and a wave.”
The weight of the keys in her hand already felt so gratifying, more than her entire duffel bag of stolen goods had. She couldn’t wait to get into the car, to start the engine, to drive around and pretend that cold air had been their only motivation.
“Can I help you guys?”
The valet appeared up ahead, a couple of rows over. He wasn’t badlooking, Bree thought to herself. He was goofy in his valet’s vest, his white button-down shirt more shoved into his pants than patiently tucked. He had the kind of facial hair that can’t quite yet be more than scruff. “We just need to get something out of the car,” Bree said, not slowing down.
The valet squinted at them, noticing the keys in Bree’s hand. She closed her fist tightly against them, as if he might try to take them away from her forcefully. She wondered if they could outrun him.
“Oh,” he said, starting to walk in their direction.
“Are, uh, are you guys club members?”
“My parents just forgot something,” Bree said, pointing vaguely in the direction of the golden Mercedes. Leila followed Bree’s lead, but the valet kept walking toward them, as if he meant to cut them off. He’d pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. “Okay,” he said, but it was clear that he wasn’t going to leave them.
Shit, Bree thought, sensing an impassable obstacle. Then she remembered how easy it had been to just walk away with all they’d stolen at the convenience store, how that guy pumping his gas had looked at them. The Mercedes was only about three cars away now, close enough that the remote would have no trouble unlocking the doors. She met the valet’s gaze, searching his rather pretty eyes for something besides suspicion.
“Can I ask you a question?” she said, stepping right up to him.
“Um,” he said. They were standing by the Mercedes now. The valet’s gaze went from the car, to Leila, to Bree, who was now less than an arm’s length away.
“When was the last time you felt really alive?”
Without another word, Bree put her hand on his waist and pulled herself toward him. She kissed him with abandon. Despite what had happened, Bree still believed in reckless kisses. She pulled back and couldn’t help but laugh at the dazed look in the valet’s eyes.
“Whoa,” he said.