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When they step onto the parking lot, Alec stops. His grip tightens on Cassie’s wrist and he points to a place on the other side of the lot. “See the pickup parked over there?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You know whose pickup it is?” A scowl forms on Alec’s face.

“I have no idea.”

Alec spits out, “That’s the Winston brother’s truck. They’re the bastards who cut my tire and keyed my car. They weren’t in the restaurant, so where are they?”

“Maybe they parked their truck here and went off with someone else.”

Alec pulls Cassie along. “I have an idea. Follow me.”

Cassie resists. “Wait Alec. You told me earlier they’re dangerous. Why do you want to start something with them now?”

“I also told you they already started something, whether I wanted to participate or not. It’s time for some payback, and it starts tonight. If you don’t want to come, here are the car keys. You can wait for me there.”

Alec remains low and moves across the parking lot, maneuvering between parked cars and out of the light as much as possible. For a moment Cassie hesitates, but then follows behind.

Still a distance from the pickup, Alec glances toward the restaurant entrance. And then to the pickup. And back to the restaurant. He dashes between vehicles, in a serpentine movement, to the other side of the lot.

Reaching the side of the truck opposite the restaurant, in a dark secluded corner of the lot, Alec squats down and retrieves two small pieces of gravel. Duck walking to the front of the truck, he reaches down and gropes for the tire valve stem and removes the cap. He wedges the piece of gravel into the stem valve, which creates a hissing sound as the air in the tire slowly escapes. When the piece of gravel is firmly in place, he moves to the rear tire and repeats the operation.

Alec whispers to Cassie, “Do you hear the air? Put your head down here and listen.”

Cassie bends down. “Yeah. I hear it.”

“It’s going to take a while, but eventually both of these tires will be flat as a pancake and they only have one spare in the back of their truck. Bastards.”

Alec stands and pokes his head around the tailgate to steal a glimpse at the restaurant. “I don’t see anybody.”

Squatting down again, he visually inspects the surface of the lot.

“What are you looking for?” Cassie asks.

“A rock. One with sharp edges.”

Cassie scours another area of the lot with better lighting and finds a good size rock. She holds up her discovery. “Like this one?”

“Just like that.”

Kneeling alongside the truck, still hidden from view, Alec gouges a deep fissure in the paint, from the headlights to the rear bumper. When finished, he throws the rock into the woods and wipes his hands on his jeans. But he remains in place, motionless.

Cassie says, “What are we waiting for? Let’s get out of here. We’re going to get caught.”

“Do you have a piece of paper and a pen?”

Cassie removes her purse from her shoulder. “I might have something in here.”

As she digs through her purse, she comes across her “kit” wrapped in a scarf and glances up at Alec, but he’s watching the front of the restaurant and doesn’t notice. She pushes it to the side and continues searching.

“Will these do?” Cassie presents a Bic pen and a receipt from the QuikTrip.

“Yeah, that’s perfect.”

Alec takes the pen and receipt and scribbles out this note:

Nice truck, assholes. You two punks need to be on the lookout. You never know when you might be caught alone some night.

He places the note under the windshield wiper on the driver’s side.

“Let’s get out of here.”

Staying low, while weaving between parked cars, they arrive back at the Trans Am and climb inside. Alec instructs Cassie to lock her door and once they’ve determined it’s safe, they both burst out laughing at what they’ve pulled off.

Cassie inhales deeply and says, “Man that was fun. My heart is pounding. I haven’t—“

Alec catches his breath. “The fear of getting caught is half the fun. You think they’ll be surprised when they see what we’ve done?”

Cassie’s eyes widen. “What we’ve done? I didn’t do anything. You did all of it.”

“You found the rock. It’s your receipt and your pen. You’re as much in this as I am.”

Cassie freezes and her face whitens. “Is that them?”

“Where?” Alec’s eyes dart around the lot.

“Over by the truck.”

Alec peers out the window and sees two men standing next to the pickup, smoking cigarettes and chatting.

“Shit yeah, it’s them. Let’s get the hell out of here.”