Hey, everyone! Welcome to "Take the Heat"!
Disclaimer: I don't own Big Time Rush. I just borrow James and Katie and put them in as many bizarre situations that I can come up with. I also don't own Dodge Challengers, or anything affiliated with them. Everything mentioned that has to do with them belongs to, well, not me.
Warnings: Strong language, mentions of violence, mentions and uses of firearms, and crime families. Also, and I say this in pretty much every story, there's a very good chance the rating will get bumped up from T to M. But I'll let you guys know if and when that'll happen :)
A/N: If you've read my stories, you know my A/Ns usually drag on longer than the actual chapters, and this one probably isn't going to be an exception. You can blame Justin Bieber for this story. It's because of his song "As Long As You Love Me" that I came up with the idea in the first place. I heard that song on the radio one day, and I really loved the idea for the song, and I wanted to do something with it. As a result, the concept for this story was created. I owe a lot to Jatieluv for this story. We tried a few different variations of this idea, and came up with a couple of good ones, so some of the stuff - different characters and bits and pieces of plots - is definitely more hers than mine, so I'm giving her a lot of credit for this story. I also want to thank Dana2184 for putting up with my constant teasing when it comes to my stories. She's always willing to listen to me ramble on and on about my story ideas and she always gives me her honest opinion on them, so thank you, sweetie!
The inspiration for the mob families in this came from the 1920s mobs, such as Al Capone's gang. Obviously the story takes place in present day, but there'll probably be throwbacks to the '20s throughout the story.
Well, kudos to those who managed to get through the A/N!
Enjoy the first chapter! :)
Chapter One: Masquerade Crashers
She was beautiful.
That was the first thing that came to mind as I walked towards the black Dodge Challenger. My dad had bought it for me as a thank you gift for helping him out of a tight jam. It helps to have friends on the police force when you're in the kind of business we're in.
"She's got a built in state of the art sound system," Dad said in satisfaction as I circled the car, examining every inch of the exterior as best I could, even though it was late October and mid-evening – therefore, dark. The lights that lined the driveway up to our mansion glinted off the black finish and the wheels. "Leather seats, a Mopar Pistol Grip Shifter, and some kind of hands-free cell phone device. There's a lot more, but I can't remember it all." He tossed the car's booklet to me, and I caught it neatly.
"Thank you so much!" I beamed at him. "Seriously, you didn't have to get me this. You'd get me out of jail in a heartbeat. I got you out in two heartbeats."
He chuckled. "It's no problem. You saved my ass. Oh, here's the key. The car can start via the remote control as well for a faster getaway, which I know you'll need before long."
I nodded. Being forced to peel away from the curb was another hazard of the business we're in. It's why having a state-of-the-art car is always a necessity, not just a luxury.
"Plus, consider it a consolation gift."
I looked at him questioningly. "Don't you mean prize?"
He shook his head. "No. I mean to make up for the Mustang that the Knights blew up."
My jaw clenched slightly. My dad had gotten me a Mustang convertible for my twentieth birthday, and the Knights had let us know their opinion about it by blowing it up two days later.
Of course, they gave their son, Kendall, the same car for his birthday, so we responded likewise.
They're still pissed at us. How do they think we feel?
"Ah," I said through gritted teeth. "That wasn't your fault. I don't think they make bomb-resistant cars."
"I still feel bad about it."
"We got our revenge, though." I smiled in grim satisfaction.
He nodded. "That we did."
I eyed the car. She was so gorgeous. I couldn't wait to take her out for a long drive, out past Cherry Lake. I bet she handled smoothly on the highway. I was looking forward to getting her up to seventy miles per hour.
I ran my hand over the hood, admiring the smooth finish. Stunning.
"It feels like you," Dad said to me. "It has you written all over it, doesn't it?"
I nodded. "She really does. Damn." I unlocked the doors and slid into the driver's seat. I caressed the steering wheel and the dashboard, before placing my hand on the shifter. I swished around in the seat so that I was facing the front, and I adjusted the seat to my liking.
"Good, I'm glad," Dad said brightly. "And here, this comes with the car." He placed a simple black masquerade mask in my hand.
I stared at it. "They were giving out masquerade masks at the car dealership?"
I raised my eyebrow at him. "There's a catch, isn't there? Or a payoff?"
He shuffled his feet awkwardly. "It's just…well…tonight is the Knights' annual Halloween masked ball."
"Uh huh…And I'm holding a masquerade mask…Please tell me you're not going to try to do what I think you're going to try to do…"
He winced. "I have to get it back!"
"Oh, sure, let's break into the Knight estate, rummage through their two-hundred rooms, and find a silver bracelet from 1925!"
"Sarcasm doesn't become you," he said mildly.
"It's the only night when we can get away with it! They have at least two-hundred guests coming, people from all over and out of town. Everyone will be masked. No one will recognize us!"
"Don't you need an invitation?" I prodded him. "I'm sure they'll have guards at the door to keep people like, oh, say – us – out."
"We have invitations! Two of them to be exact."
I rubbed my temples with my fingertips. "Who are they addressed to?"
"Alexander Parker II and Alexander Parker III."
I groaned. "The Parkers? Really? As in Parker Resources?"
"The one and only."
"How the hell did you get their invitation?"
"Simple. I did them a favor, and asked for their invitations in return. They didn't mind, they already had another party that they were planning on attending."
"Yippee for them."
"So, I RSVPed the Knights from the elder Alexander's phone."
"And when was this?"
He looked down at the ground and clasped his hands behind his back nervously.
"Last week?! Are you nuts?! You let this sit for a whole week without telling me that you wanted us to break into a mansion that makes Fort Knox look like it has the protection of a fast food restaurant?!"
"See, I knew you'd react like this. That's why I didn't tell you."
"You mean, you knew I'd react and point out all the flaws in your plan."
"Exactly. And that'd be a mood killer."
"Do you hear yourself when you speak?" I was out of the car by this point, pacing up and down the length of the Challenger, breathing heavily. A thought crossed my mind, and I rounded on him. "Does Mom and Shane know?"
"Um…well…they will when we get back from the party…"
I face-palmed. "Unbelievable. Isn't there a Mrs. Parker or something?"
"Where is she?"
"Well, her name isn't Mrs. Parker anymore."
"What's her name now?"
"Oh man…" I heaved out another breath. "Okay, fine. I'll do it. But I'm not happy about this, just so you know. In fact, I'm really, really pissed off. Oh, and if you get us killed or held hostage, I'm never talking to you again."
"Fair enough," he agreed, beaming at me.
"Are we riding together?"
"Nope. We might need separate escapes. And no one knows the Challenger yet, so they won't get suspicious."
"True…" He had a point.
"So, what's the plan?" I continued on, finally halting in front of him.
"I'm going to leave right away, and tell them you've been held up with business. I'll mingle, and once you arrive, which should be a half hour or so after me, I'll go look for the bracelet. Your job is to distract everyone from my absence. Be charming. Dance with girls. Make small talk with the men. If anyone notices my disappearance, tell them I have a horrid sense of direction and that I probably got lost on the way to the bathroom. If people begin to get really suspicious, use the fake-texting trick, where you pretend to receive a text from me, announcing that I'm on my way back."
I nodded. "Okay, sounds simple enough."
"Do you know where the bracelet is?"
"Yes. I have an inside source that says that it's kept in a safe in their parlor." He grinned. "And you know how good I am at safecracking."
It was true – he was one of the best. He had attempted to teach me, but I hadn't quite picked up on it. I could do it, but you'd better hope that there wasn't a bomb in there that needed to be deactivated quickly, because it would take me a couple days to get into the safe.
"Okay. So, you're about to leave?"
"Yes. So you get inside and get changed. It's a dressy event, so put on something nice." He indicated his black suit. "Maybe something like this."
"Sounds good. Good luck."
"And good luck to you. Text me when you get there. We should meet up for a few minutes for appearances' sake, and then I'll head off. Oh, and remember to be armed, just in case." He passed me my invitation, before walking towards the garage, where his dark silver Lamborghini was parked. It was fairly new. In fact, this was the first time he had taken it out of the garage to drive it somewhere with a destination in mind. That was another problem with our business – we constantly had to buy new cars, or else get plain ones and change the license plates out every few days, if we wanted to remain undercover. As a result, we had a garage lined with Ferraris and Porsches, surrounded by Toyota Priuses and Ford Explorers.
I watched as he reached the garage, and began making my way back up to the house. The Knights weren't by any extent wealthier or more powerful than we were. In fact, our protection was probably even tighter than theirs was, and their guards would put the Buckingham Palace guards to shame. Both of our houses resembled small palaces, sitting more or less on opposite sides of town, in equally wealthy, upper class neighborhoods.
I made my way up to my room. Once I had locked myself inside, I crossed to my window, just in time to see the taillights of the Lamborghini disappear at the gate and make a sharp right turn.
With a resigned sigh to tonight's fate, I walked over to my closet and quickly located a black suit and a small gun that I could easily tuck into the waistband of my pants.
Twenty minutes later I was ready. I snuck out of the house so that my mom and younger brother didn't get suspicious – neither of them would actually approve of us stealing the bracelet out of the Knights' house, even though they'd done it to us on countless occasions – and went down to the Challenger. I slid into it, feeling like James Bond – who I'm pretty sure I'm named after, though neither of my parents will admit to it – started the car, buckled up my seatbelt, and made a wide U-turn so that I could pull straight out of the long driveway.
By this point, you're probably wondering what business my dad and I are in. If you are, I'll give it to you straight - you've heard of the gangsters from the '20s, such as Al Capone, right? Well, we're just like them, only modern. The Knights are a mob family too, our rivals.
They didn't used to be.
Our two families have been in the mob business since the prohibition of the 1920s. In fact, family legend states that we were in the business a good forty years before the prohibition act was put in place. Anyway, the Diamonds were some of the first residents of Cherry Lake, Minnesota. In 1919, a moonshiner named Kenneth Knight moved in to town with his family. He and my great grandfather struck up a partnership, and to cement it, his wife gave Kenneth's wife a silver bracelet. The partnership lasted for nine years, during which the Diamonds and Knights ran Cherry Lake. But then, the Knights betrayed us, sold us out to the Stetsons, a new gang family that had just moved in a couple years before.
The partnership was effectively ruined. Furious, my great-grandfather stole the bracelet back. The Knights were outraged, claiming that it had been a friendly gift, not a bribe. My great-grandfather retorted that it lost all friendly values once the Knights had very unfriend-ily sold us out.
To this day, the Diamonds, Knights, and Stetsons control the town, always fighting for power. We back different candidates, support them, finance them, use our influences to get them elected into office, and go from there. It's an open secret, all whispers, no real acknowledgement, that it's always one of our families who run Cherry Lake.
As for the bracelet...the Knights eventually stole it back. So, guess what the Diamonds did. That's right. We stole it again. Back and forth, back and forth, for the past eighty years. The Knights stole it again six months ago, and now my dad and I were on our way to steal it back.
I drove across town, pulling up outside the Knights' mansion fifteen minutes later. I parked and got out of the car, locking it up. I slipped the key into my pants' pocket and pulled out my phone to text my dad: I'm here.
He responded within thirty seconds: I'm over by the food table in the ballroom.
I pocketed my phone, held my mask up to my face, and walked up to the double front doors. Two uniformed security guards stood there, blocking the doors. What a warm welcome.
I showed them my invitation. "I'm Alexander Parker III. I got held up with business, but I believe my dad arrived a little while ago?" Might as well make myself sound convincing.
One of them nodded. "Yes. Go on in."
"Thanks." I walked into the entrance hall and looked around. Very nice…It was all maple wood and crystal chandeliers and paintings of knights. Talk about making a statement.
There were maids stationed by the door who were taking guests' coats and purses. I had one of them direct me towards the ballroom, and I made my way there.
The ballroom looked like something out of a movie, the floor smooth blond wood, the windows floor to ceiling and crystal clear. I felt like I had just stepped into a Disney princess movie.
I saw my dad, a similar mask to mine covering most of his face, at the far end of the room, where a long table piled with food was positioned. I hurried over to him. As I passed by a small group of people, I caught sight of a brunette girl in a red strapless dress and a silver mask. I wasn't sure, but it felt like our eyes locked, and I could have sworn that a spark of fire shot through my body, heating it up.
Trying to shake the moment off, I finally reached my dad.
He smiled when he saw me. "Ah, Alex. Everyone," he indicated the people he was standing with, "this is my son, Alex. Alex, this is…" He proceeded to introduce me to all of them.
We chatted with them for a few minutes, before he excused himself, saying that he had just seen someone he worked with. He hurried off into the crowd of people, disappearing within seconds.
I stayed with the people he had introduced me to for a couple more minutes, before excusing myself as well.
During the next hour, I talked with people, giving them bullshit answers when they asked me questions, and dodged around anyone's inquiries about where my father was. Occasionally people did get a little nosy, in which case I pointed out that there were dozens of men in this room who were dressed exactly like he was, and suggested that they go and find him themselves if they wanted to talk to him so badly.
The third time this happened, I was back at the food table, and in a very bad mood. The music was the ballroom-type that you would expect at an affair like this, and it was beyond boring. People wouldn't leave me alone, and I was about ready to explode.
The couple who had been nagging me about my dad's whereabouts hastened away, looking very offended, but I couldn't even pretend to care.
There was laughter from behind me, and when I turned, I saw that it was the brunette girl that I had locked eyes with before. She had snuck up on me and apparently heard the last part of my conversation with the couple.
"If you were a snake charmer, you'd be dead," she informed me.
I eyed her. "If you were a lion tamer, you'd be lunch."
She grinned widely at me. "Touché."
I nodded and turned back to the food.
"So, who are you?" she asked, leaning against the table, and I took her in. Her dress was bright, short and strapless with a diagonally cut sheer, ruffled hem; glittery heeled sandals the color of dark smoke, and a silver mask. Her deep brown hair fell down her back and over her shoulders in curls, and a bunch of her hair was piled into a bun. A silver necklace, bracelet, and earring set completed the look. There was something familiar about her, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was. I had the weirdest feeling that I had met her before, but I wasn't sure why.
Shaking off the strange feeling, I smiled slowly. "If I told you, I'd end up bitten by the snakes here."
She chuckled. "I like you. You're interesting."
"Thanks. Who're you?"
"If I told you, all the hungry lions would attack me."
I smiled a little. Finally. Some interesting company.
"Anyway," I continued on, "isn't the point of the masked ball to hide your identity?"
"Yeah. That's if you're not famous or important. Apparently, whoever your dad is, he's both."
"Same for you?"
She nodded. "My parents are pretty known in this town."
"I know how that goes. It sucks."
"That it does. So," she turned to me, facing me straight on, "let's make a pact – we stick together tonight, and we don't reveal who we are to each other, letting the other person go incognito."
"Sounds like a plan." I held out my hand, and she shook it.
"Well, until midnight at least," she said wryly.
"Well, everyone's supposed to unmask themselves at midnight." She rolled her eyes. "I think it's some kind of historical tradition. I like to hide out when that happens. At least right now I have some degree of privacy."
"Gotcha." I bit my lip, and pulled out my phone. "I just need to text my dad really quick and see where he is."
"Go for it." She snatched up some kind of shrimp cocktail.
I typed out: We have until midnight – I just found out that we unmask ourselves then. I sent it off and hoped Dad replied quickly.
He did so: I'll work fast. I found the safe and I'm working on the combo now. Hey, maybe you should find the Knights' daughter and charm her, see if you can get the combination out of her ;)
I rolled my eyes. I'd heard about the youngest Knight. I knew she was a couple of years younger than me, although people talked about her like she was thirteen or fourteen. From what I had heard, she was a royal brat, and her father and brother spoiled her rotten.
I glanced around the room. I knew her dad and brother were both tall and dirty blondes, and her mom was around average height and a redhead. The problem was, there were plenty of tall blonde women in the room, and even a few redheads. Yeah, there was no way I would be able to find her without asking someone. I briefly considered asking my companion if she knew where the baby Knight was, but the honest truth was that she seemed like a much better option for company.
"Looking for someone?" the girl asked, nibbling on a mini quiche.
"Nope. No one at all."
"Good." She looked up at me with what I had a feeling was a flirtatious smile. I responded likewise. There was something about her that was magnetic, that sent tremors through my body just by looking at her.
At ten-o-clock, the music stopped abruptly. Everyone looked around, trying to figure out where the sound had gone, but I wasn't complaining. There was about ten seconds of silence, and then a Rihanna song began blasting out.
"They always do this," my companion informed me as she snatched two glasses of wine from a passing waiter. She handed me one. "They torture us with three hours of ballroom music to make the old, snobby rich people happy, and then they turn on the pop music at ten. By that time, the people who would complain have either left, or are too inebriated to care. Check it out." She nodded towards an older woman who looked to be in her sixties or so, if her gray hair was any indication. She was doing some kind of hip shaking dance move, and drunkenly pleading with her husband to party with her.
I clapped my hand over my mouth in amusement. "Oh my God…"
"Right?" she took a sip of her wine. "This is when the party starts getting good. It's like the second half of a wedding reception."
I laughed at her analogy and drank a little bit of my wine. I knew I needed to be careful how much I drank, because there was a good chance that I would need to make a quick getaway, but I'd grown up around alcohol, plus I was 6'1, so a small glass of wine two hours before I left wasn't going to hurt me.
Once I had gotten through most of my wine, I turned to the girl.
"Would you like to dance?"
She smiled widely and set her glass on the table before placing her hand in mine. "I would love to."
I led her onto the dance floor, where people of all ages were now dancing.
I wrapped my arms around her waist, and she slid her arms around my neck, tossing her hair back over her shoulder. She gave me a shimmering smile, perfect white teeth against cherry red lipstick. "So, having fun yet?"
I grinned. "I'm having much more fun than I was an hour ago."
Her smile turned saucy. "Good." She shimmied a little so that my hands slid down to her lower back.
We danced straight through for the next hour and a half. At one point, she pressed her body against mine and let out a low whistle. "Oooh…you're built." She ran her hand over my upper arm. "Make a muscle for me?"
I obeyed, and she squeezed it. "That's hot."
"You think so?"
She nodded. "Very, very hot. I bet your abs are just as good."
I grinned. "Wouldn't you like to know?"
She stood on her tiptoes and leaned forward so that I could feel her breath against my ear. "As a matter of fact," she whispered huskily, "I would."
I inhaled sharply. I was going to guess that she wouldn't normally be this forthcoming if she wasn't wearing a mask. The mask acted as a shield, so that you wouldn't have to look at the face of the person that you're addressing.
But that was okay. It was a good way to get someone thinking about you, and by this point, I knew there was no doubt about it – I'd be thinking about her for a long time after tonight. But it wasn't just what she was saying or how she was moving. We had a connection, blatant chemistry. If we had been at a bar or a club, we probably would have ended up in a bathroom or in my car, ripping each others' clothes off and going at it like a couple of wild animals during mating season.
But we weren't. We were in the middle of a crowded, overheated ballroom with pop music blaring which, yeah, created a club atmosphere, but there was just something about the place that anchored my mind to the knowledge that this was a masquerade ball. In other words, not the place for a hookup, no matter how tempting it was.
But hey, maybe if I was lucky, she wouldn't be a huge supporter of the Knights, and she'd be okay with me being one of their rivals. Then we could get down to business, or at the very least exchange numbers.
I ran my fingers down her spine, over her dress zipper, and she arched a little. I could tell that she could feel the chemistry every bit as much as I could.
But it wasn't just the need to hookup with her that was driving me. There was more to it, much more than just sex. I had been able to tell, even after talking with her for two minutes, that she was unlike any other girl that I had ever met. I wanted to get to know her, find out who she was, what she was about, what she liked and disliked. I wanted to get to know her for her, and I wanted her to get to know me for me, not when we were both hiding behind masks and, in my case, an assumed identity.
At least, the clock struck twelve times, and the music stopped, someone taking the microphone: "All right, ladies and gentlemen! It is that time of night! On the count of three, reveal your face!"
Oh no…I did a quick check of my phone and saw that Dad had texted me seconds before: I'm coming…brace yourself…
That sounded ominous.
Everyone put their fingers on the tips of their masks, ready to lift up and off. My eyes shot to my companion's, and I knew that she was looking back at me, watching me.
Where the hell was my dad?!
Oh man…I was going to have to take my mask off…Why had I gone along with his plan?!
"Three!" I was so going to kill him. I ripped my mask off, just as everyone else, including my companion, did so too.
I wasn't disappointed. She had large, long lashed golden brown eyes, a perfectly straight nose, and high cheekbones.
Her eyes took me in, and she smiled widely, letting me know that she liked what she saw.
The feeling of familiarity was increasing steadily. She reminded me of someone…But who?
She held out her hand. "Let me introduce myself formally. I'm Katie Knight, AKA the baby of the Knight family and the hostess who doesn't want anyone to know who she is. Who are you?"
Oh…fuck! Of all the luck…I had just happened to lock eyes with the baby Knight and had danced and flirted with her?! Just. Fucking. Great.
Before I could answer, the ballroom doors spilled open, and my dad came crashing in, followed by a plethora of security guards. He had gotten himself caught.
"Wait…Isn't that – ?" she frowned for a second, and then her jaw dropped in realization when she realized who my dad was. "That's Jeff Diamond! I don't believe it! What the hell is he doing here?! He wasn't invited!"
"Yeah, and neither was I," I informed her. The moment of truth had arrived.
"Wait – what?" She turned to face me.
"I'm his son. James Diamond, at your service."
All the warmth had gone from her eyes as soon as I said my name, and she looked about ready to push me out a second story window.
Before she could put the plan into action, however, I was moving. I grabbed her arm and hauled her across the room, placing us between my dad and the security guards, effectively blocking them and giving my dad more time to escape.
I pulled my gun out of my waistband and placed it to Katie's temple, my arm wrapping lightly around her neck, giving her enough leeway to breathe. She struggled against me, screaming obscenities at me as she did her very best to pry my arm away from her, to no avail.
"If you shoot me, she dies," I snarled at the security guards.
They hesitated just long enough for me to drag Katie through the crowd. We reached the door and I pulled her through it. She continued to fight me as I locked us into a small room off the entrance hall. I barricaded the door with a chair and found duct tape in the desk drawer. I ripped a long strip off, pushed Katie into another chair, and used the tape to tie her wrists to the chair arms.
"Sorry about this," I told her as I stepped back to admire my handiwork. "It's nothing personal. It's just business."
She spat at me to let me know what she thought of my apology. "You can shove your business up your ass!" she snapped as she struggled against her bonds. "Why don't you just kill me and get it over with?"
"I'm not going to kill you," I told her as I walked over to the window. I unlocked it and opened it. "I was never going to kill you. It was all a bluff. The safety was on the entire time."
"Then – why – ?"
"Like I said, it was a bluff. I'm a lot of things, but I'm not going to kill an innocent girl." I nodded at her. "It was nice meeting you, Katie. Thanks for the dances." And with that goodbye, I climbed out the window and dropped to the ground.
So...what'd you guys think? Did you like it? Did you find it interesting? Is it readable? Feel free (and by feel free, I mean pleeeeaaaassse) to review and let me know what you think :) And if there's any questions, go ahead and ask them. I know the whole concept is probably a little out of place and confusing, so just let me know if there's anything I should explain that I wasn't able to get to :)