Chapter 2

Cassie

Silence fell between them for several minutes, but it seemed like decades. Max looked out the window watching the traffic go by. His shaggy blonde hair fell forward over his face. Max squared his jaw as irritation reflected from his eyes. The silence was driving her nuts; it was even worse than what her other partner had put her through. He’d at least clarified that conversation was off the table. Max just sat there with a sour face and his arms folded across his chest. He is such a baby—pouting because he wasn’t the one driving. It infuriated her to no end. She turned down Main Street heading toward Gaston Bank. If he would not talk to her, then he could sit in the car while she did her normal routine.

“Where are we going?”

Oh, he speaks! she thought, gripping the steering wheel.

“Running two errands I do every day. Have to check up on someone and make sure they are doing okay.”

He nodded his head and went back to staring out the window. She would smack him upside the head if he didn’t stop pouting. The bank came into view and she pulled into the right lane to find a parking spot. She jerked the car to a stop in front of the building. Max looked at the bank then turned towards her. His blue eyes sparkled with interest.

“What kind of errands are you running?” He arched his right eyebrow in curiosity.

She snatched up the paper bag sitting in the dash then kicked open the door to get out.

“Just have to drop this off for a fellow officer.”

Cassie wasn’t going to tell him that Gregory was an ex-officer, but he was a good friend. He just recently got a job as the security guard at her bank, and every day she brought him lunch. The old fool never remembered to pack one and his health was going down the drain. She wasn’t about to leave him on his own after he’d lost his wife. It seemed like only yesterday she’d been at the funeral for Margaret. Gregory hadn’t been the same since that day. He’d become distant from everyone but her. She might have issues making friends with others on the force, let alone anyone outside of it, but she pushed to keep him alive.

The door to the bank opened as she passed through. There were several floors with suites for lawyers, accountants, and other workers on the top levels. The main floor was for the bank and she stood inside peering through the small crowd of people. It wasn’t long before she saw Gregory step out from behind a security door with the manager. They must’ve been back in the vault. His eyes locked on her and a knowing grin spread across his face. Each time she saw him, he looked like he’d aged another year. Today he stood slumped over with a hitch in his step. His short military cut hair looked grayer, bringing out the blue in his eyes.

“Welcome back.”

He reached out and embraced Cassie. She laughed at him for being such a big cuddle bear. Gregory was always one who showed his appreciation with gestures more often than words.

“You seem well. Why are you walking so funny?”

His eyes went to his right leg and shrugged.

“Had a fight with the garden hose yesterday. I won but the damn thing messed up my knee. It will get better, so don’t worry your pretty little head off, missy.”

She laughed. He was the only one who could get away with calling her missy. The playful banter was welcome after the morning she’d had. Cassie looked him up and down then stuck her tongue out at him. Handing over the lunch, she watched him playfully open it up with an ‘Oooo…’ expression on his face.

“I made your favorite—a potato salad sandwich with a side of coleslaw. I even added an apple because Margaret always said you loved those.”

“You are such a good friend, Cass. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

She smiled at him and shrugged.

“So, how are things? I heard you got into a skiff with your partner. How is he doing?” Gregory asked around a mouthful of sandwich.

Cassie scratched behind her head, looking anywhere but his eyes. Her gaze settled on her feet for a few seconds as she pondered her response.

“Richie got put on leave after the gunshot wound. I have a new partner now; his name is Max,” she said nonchalantly.

“Hmmm…”

Gregory eyed her with knitted brows. He shifted his weight then reached out to her, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry your pretty little head off. I have a feeling the right partner will come along to keep you out of trouble. It just takes some time. Besides, I don’t think you and Richie meshed well. He was too old school for your younger mind.”

She looked up into his dark brown eyes and smiled. A sense of peace danced down around her like rain. Gregory always knew what to say to get her out of a depressed mood—it was one of the reasons she made it a habit to come see him as much as possible. She needed his reassurance more than she cared to admit. Sometimes she wondered why she was drawn to him so much. Several people said it was because of his fatherly charm. She couldn’t understand that since she’d grown up without a father in her life. Perhaps that was why she’d always sought Gregory’s approval. He’d been a substitute dad without her realizing it.

“Are you about done in there?”

Gregory looked at the walkie on her shoulder and gave her a mirthful smile.

“He sounds young.”

Cassie glared at him. She reached up to the walkie and turned her chin into it to get a clear response across.

“Be out in a moment—keep your pants on.”

“Fine, hurry up!” Max barked over the walkie.

She rolled her eyes and looked back at Gregory who wore a sheepish grin. He took a big chunk out of the juicy apple, his eyes rolling around in his head as he savored it. Cassie couldn’t help but laugh at the expression on her friend’s face. It was too hilarious.

“Stop, you’re going to make me pee my pants!”

With an evil grin, he playfully waggled his eyebrows. The three tellers, Sally, Tiffany and Brook, stood behind the counter laughing in unison. Cassie looked at the three women and couldn’t help but believe Gregory was in good hands. He always loved making people laugh. She had just turned her attention back to him when the lights flickered. She blinked trying to clear her eyes, but black dots blurred her vision. Gregory looked at her with worry-filled eyes.

“Cass, you okay?”

The room spun, and she fell hard into the vision…

* * * * *

She stood in the middle of the room. Everything was in a foggy haze as people materialized before her. Gregory was gone. The lights continued to flicker off and on, but no one else seemed to notice. Sally, Tiffany, and Brook still stood behind the counter. They were in a circle talking together. Tiffany, with her long blonde hair and sea-green eyes, noticed a customer ready to serve. She turned away from her co-workers as a black-haired man in his mid-twenties stepped up to the counter.

“How can I help you?”

What is going on here? Why am I having this vision? Cassie wondered.

Everything seemed safe, normal. It made little sense. Keys clicked as Tiffany typed at her computer fulfilling the young man’s request. Brook stepped up to the counter to help the next woman in line, whose hair was sandy brown. She seemed normal enough, too. But there was always a purpose for the visions. They didn’t just happen for no reason. Something was coming, something would happen. And it did.

As her eyes drifted to the clock, taking in its time of 9:01a.m., a loud boom filled the room. Five men in black attire slammed open the door behind them as they entered the bank. There were two that stood about 5’8, another two were 6’2, and one was in between at approximately 5’11. They carried large black bags and blocked the doorway so no one could enter or exit. Sally locked eyes on the bizarre scene as she stood frozen behind the counter.

The brunette-haired man who stood at 5’11 stepped forward. He must be the leader. His hand reached inside his coat. In one swift motion he pulled out a handgun and pointed it right in Sally’s face. She gasped in shock as fear overtook her senses. She reached for something under her counter.

“Ah uh, little missy. You best keep your hands where I can see them.”

Sally gulped. One by one she raised her hands to keep them in his sight. The leader smiled with a wicked smirk.

“Now be a dear and fill these bags with all the cash in your till.”

A man with blond hair stepped forward with the bags, dropping them in front of Sally. He stepped back amongst the other four as they, too, pulled out guns then pointed them at the customers.

“Get on your knees, and no one try any funny business!” yelled the man with blond hair.

Cassie watched as they rounded everyone up into a group and forced them to their knees. The four men in black stood behind them brandishing their guns. The leader looked at Tiffany and Brook. He motioned for one of the short men to step forward and collect the two. They were forced to the floor with the rest of the group, leaving poor Sally all by herself at the tills. He pointed his gun at Sally once more and cocked the gun.

“What are you waiting for, missy? I want these bags filled and ready in less than five minutes. You understand?”

“Yes, I understand,” Sally said, stammering with fear.

She snatched up the first bag and pulled open her till. Sally grabbed handfuls of money, forcing it into the open bag. Her hands moved fast trying to get done in time. Once the first till was empty, he forced her on to the next one until the first bag was full. Then he placed the next one in front of her. Cassie watched in silence as each bag got filled and every till stood empty. Her eyes darted to the clock hoping Sally had finished in time. She only had one minute left. Then everything went wrong.

The door to the manager’s office opened and Tim, Gregory’s boss, stepped out. He wore his usual navy blue suit with a white hanky in his right pocket. It looked like he’d just gotten a haircut, for his hair was shorter and he had mousse in it. He only used mousse when his hair was short and tidy. His blue eyes filled with shock at the scene laid out before him.

“What in God’s name is going on here!”

The leader turned towards him with a frown on his face. He walked towards Tim with his teeth grinding together in irritation.

“Apparently you missed one, boys!”

The four men looked at each other as if trying to decide who to blame. Tim raised his hands once he saw the gun pointed at him. The blond-haired leader growled, grabbed Tim by the arm, and forced him onto the floor.

“If you move you die, understand?”

Tim nodded his head as he whimpered. It was hard to see him on his knees. He always seemed so put together. Cassie scanned the crowd once again, realizing that Gregory was still missing. Dread filled her stomach as she understood what the vision was trying to show her. A few seconds later the security door cracked open. Eyes peered out as Gregory scanned the room. He waited for the right moment to strike.

“Is there anyone else in this damn bank I should know about?” the leader yelled, slamming his fist down on the countertop in rage.

“Yeah, me!”

Gregory threw open the door, his gun poised to take out the leader with one shot. His gun went off but the leader ducked behind the front counter as Gregory slipped back behind the protection of the door.

“What the hell are you waiting for, an invitation?” yelled the leader. “Shoot!”

All at once the room filled with the sound of guns going off as they aimed at the security door. After what seemed like eternity silence fell, the captives still cowering on the floor. Cassie’s breath was caught in her throat—waiting to find out if her friend was okay.

The leader stepped out from behind the counter he’d taken refuge behind. He motioned to the masked man that was shorter than the rest. His red hair stood out as he slid against the wall to position himself alongside the closed door. Once in position, he grabbed the door and flung it open. Nothing. Cassie felt a pang in her chest. Gregory couldn’t be dead.

The red-haired man stepped slowly around the door frame with his gun ready. He moved forward into the darkened room. Time stood still until a gunshot rang out again. There was a loud thud as someone fell to the floor.

“I’ve had enough of this shit!” the leader yelled out. He grabbed Tim by the arm, hoisting him to his feet. “You get your ass out here or I’ll put a bullet in this guy’s head.”

She heard footsteps come from the room—anticipation filled her. A figure took shape as a man wearing a black mask stood in the doorway. Cassie gasped, thinking at first that Gregory was dead, then realizing that the man standing before her was a head taller than the one who had entered.

The leader growled in fury.

“You son of a bitch!” the leader screamed. He pointed the gun at the man in the doorway and fired. The other men stood in shock for a second, not grasping what was going on until Gregory ripped the black hood from his head. He lunged behind the counter and took out one of the four men who stood gaping in surprise. However, his victory was short-lived—the leader got him in the chest. Gregory looked surprised as he fell to the floor. Sally screamed as he collapsed next to her with his empty eyes resting on her.

Cassie wanted to run to Gregory to will his wound away. But the gunmen weren’t done yet.

“Now look what you’ve done! You sure made a mess of things.” The leader said glaring at Gregory’s fallen form. He swung around to face Tim. “I suppose we might as well end this.

The leader made a motion with his hand and the others raised their guns. In a matter of seconds gunshots rang out, and one by one, each captive fell to the floor dead. Cassie watched on in horror as blood flooded the floor like water consuming a drowning victim. She wanted to throw up at the sight of such ruthlessness. The lights flickered as tears fell from her eyes. And then she was pulled forward…

* * * * *

Cassie felt like she was falling until she landed in Gregory’s arms. Gasping for air, she steadied herself as she grasped onto his chest.

“Cass, you okay?” Gregory asked with concern.

Her eyes adjusted, and the spinning room slowly stopped. She looked at Gregory’s concerned face. He held her firmly in his grip, trying to keep her from falling over on her butt. She faked a smile through the pain.

“I’m okay. I just need to use the restroom.”

“Okay, I have to go into the security room to check the camera settings, anyway. Promise you will say goodbye in person before you leave.”

“I would never dream of doing anything else.”

Cassie walked away from him as he turned towards the security room. Next time he steps out of that room could well be his last, she thought. Her eyes scanned the room taking in everything once again. It all seemed so peaceful. Her gaze finally rested on the clock—it read 8:56 a.m. Holy shit, there is still time. Dashing to the restroom, a plan formed in her mind. Going up to the mirror she splashed cool water in her face. She looked at her reflection for a few seconds.

“I’ve got only one shot at this.”

Closing her eyes, she prepared herself for what was to come and hoped the odds were in her favor. God, please help me.


Thank you for reading chapter 2 of my Vortex Series: Book 1. Want to keep on reading? Click here for Chapter 3.

Each chapter is released on a month to month basis to my Dragon Ryder VIP Reader List. If you have missed a chapter feel free to check out the Library. The library will list all the available chapters.

Disclaimer: You are reading the first draft of this book. When the book is finished it will go through an extensive edit. It will also have a read through with my beta team. Then once completed ebook copies will get sent out to all members.