Welcome to the website of author Allie Quinn! She also writes paranormal and suspense as Allie Harrison! Want to learn more about her titles? Check out her books to learn more.
Check out Allie Harrison’s latest release and enjoy Chapter One free:
Ellie Westfall shifted from one foot to the other, doing her best not to appear impatient. More than anything, she hated coming into the bank. The ATM was so much more convenient, but since the supermarket announced credit and debit card numbers used there had been hacked, she requested a new card. So until she got it, which could take a week, she was stuck monitoring her own account for fraudulent activity, and standing in line at this damn bank. She glanced out the large window at the front of the building and sighed.
Dealing with customers all day had taught her she should at least look patient, but that didn’t help the fact that she needed to be at work in the next thirteen minutes. Her chances of being on time were dwindling with each passing moment, and the line of customers remained at a standstill.
At least she was off tomorrow, and perhaps she and Raylan could check out the apple festival. She glanced down at her son, rocking impatiently beside her. Raylan’s small hand in hers was a bit sweaty, but she liked the feel of his little-boy fingers. Besides, the sweat told her there was no fever for which she was grateful. When he’d told her he didn’t feel well the previous evening, she’d spent yet another sleepless night watching over him, looking for the first sign of labored breathing. This morning, fatigue enfolded her like a heavy, dense fog, but she had to push through it. Sandy, her boss, was kind and understanding enough to let Ellie start her shift after she dropped Raylan off at pre-school that morning, but she couldn’t afford to miss another day of work.
“Do you think this line is ever going to move?”
It was the guy behind them who spoke, the guy who had said, “Hi, there,” when he got into line behind them. Ellie had smiled then ignored him. Sometimes she just got tired of tourists flirting with her as they so often did at work. Working at a coffee shop, she dealt with both worlds—the town regulars and the out-of-towners. The tourists were worse. On many occasions, she’d make a coffee for a tourist, they’d notice her deep red hair, and then they’d offer an unsolicited comment. This guy, with his cargo shorts, Bermuda shirt, unshaven look, and socks with sandals, was definitely a tourist. Besides, with her job, she pretty well knew all the regulars, and this guy wasn’t one of them.
She glanced at her watch again, then down at Raylan. “We’re going to have to hurry, or you’ll be late for school.”
She could feel the guy in line watching her again, then he spoke.
“Hey, maybe after we finally get waited on in here and you get the boy to school, we could go grab a cup of coffee together. I hear there’s a great little coffee shop down the street called Lotta Latte.”
The next bank customer in line was called and Ellie took a single step forward. “No, but thank you. I have to get to work.” Besides, if he came into the Lotta Latte for a cup of java, she’d be serving it to him. She turned her attention away and looked down at her son. “Hey, buddy.” He looked up at her with huge hazel eyes that looked too large for his face. “We’re going to have to skip this. We’ll get money to get orange juice and supper later, or maybe I’ll have enough from the tip jar. Right now I need to get you to school or we’re both going to be late.”
“Okay,” he said again.
With his hand still tucked in hers, she turned to leave the small space designated: “Form Line Here.”
The explosive sounds of shots rang through the lobby. Startled, Ellie, her ears ringing, instinctively ducked to the floor, dragging Raylan with her. She pulled him into her arms, and laid over him, shielding him with her own body. She worked to breathe past the sudden lump of cold panic paralyzing her. She prayed, begging whoever was listening to keep them safe, to get them out alive—to get Raylan out alive. A scare as sudden and terrifying as this could send Raylan into a breathing spasm. Thanks to his asthma, he had spasms all the time, some of which devolved into full-blown attacks, even when he wasn’t scared.
“Get on the floor! Get on the floor! Everybody keep your head down, do what we say and no one gets hurt! Try anything stupid, and it will be the last thing you ever do!”
His voice was deep and authoritative. And terrifying. Ellie didn’t doubt he meant every word. Her heart raced but she tried to remain calm, and she had to keep Raylan calm to ward off any asthma symptoms. An asthma attack was one of the worst case scenarios—right up there with getting shot by the bank robbers. She held on to him tightly, gazing down into his frightened face. His hopeful expression was a trait he’d inherited from his father.
“Are you okay, buddy?” she whispered.
He nodded. “What’s happening, Mommy?” He stared at her, seeking reassurance.
“Stay quiet. It’s going to be okay,” she said. “We’ll stay down and do what he says.”
Raylan pressed closer. Ellie turned her head, glancing up and catching sight of one of the robbers—a tall man wearing coveralls, his face was hidden behind the triangle of red bandana. If he hadn’t been carrying a real gun, Ellie might have laughed at his comical portrayal of a cocky bank robber in an old western movie.
“Shut up!” the red bandana robber said to a whimpering woman nearby.
The voice of a second robber came to her from over her shoulder. “Put all the money in this and don’t even think about hitting any of the alarms!” His gruff, urgent order was to the cashiers, who were most likely terrified and eager to do whatever he asked.
Ellie heard movement, but couldn’t see what was happening from her position.
“Shhh. It’ll be okay, just stay against me. I won’t let them hurt you.” Ellie hoped to hell they didn’t hurt anyone, but she was prepared to defend Raylan with her life.
There was something to be said about absolute trust and unconditional love, for she actually felt him relax against her, as if because Mommy said, then it must be so.
For the next several moments, she foolishly thought everything would be fine. The robbers—and the best she could guess without raising her head and looking around, there were three or four of them—seemed to be content having their demands met. She’d only heard two speak, but there was too much movement and tension for only two. From what she could see, none of the bank customers moved. And from the sounds of shuffling bags and drawers opening and closing behind her, the cashiers were doing as instructed.
Because she faced the front doors and windows she saw several police cars screech to a halt in the parking lot, their lights flashing, their sirens suddenly cutting through the silence in the bank. Ellie’s heart skipped. No, they didn’t need the police. If the police didn’t interfere, those men could take the money and leave. In and out, no one hurt. No one dead.
The police would never let the robbers leave. The police would corner them and raise within them a desperate fear. Cornered animals always struck out to injure, to deal a blow just to get away. Bile burned in Ellie’s throat. She tightened her hold on Raylan.
“Mom, I can’t breathe.”
His words shook her. Oh, please not now. She gasped and looked down at him, quickly realizing he couldn’t breathe, not because of his asthma, but because she was squeezing him too tightly.
She forced herself to relax, but only a little.
“The police are here,” one of the masked men called to the others.
“Right on schedule,” another answered.
That was strange. Not only did he sound as if he expected them to arrive before they could get away with the money, but that he wanted them here. Was he that eager to kill someone?
“Get all these people up against the wall.”
“Get up! Get up!”
The masked men, guns pointed, herded people like cattle, their voices raised and gruff. They directed all of the hostages to the far side of the room. Ellie had no choice but to get up and move with them. It allowed her to see there were, indeed, four robbers. She kept Raylan tucked against her. She paused, only a millisecond, and studied the closest robber. His gaze met hers.
She saw clarity in his green eyes, a defining intensity that left her hot and cold at the same time. With his chin pointed down, his eyes pierced her upward. He studied her for a complete ten seconds, and she couldn’t help but think he mentally undressed her and took a quick peek into her soul.
“What are you looking at?” His voice carried over the tense heaviness in the room.
She fought off a chill. “I’ve never seen a gun before, not for real.” It wasn’t exactly a lie. She had, in fact, seen a gun before. However, during the previous seconds while he held her gaze captive, she never once looked down at the gun in his hand. She peered at him, seeking something distinctive, some distinguishing characteristic about him she could tell the police. She backed away from his gun and moved as he directed. Terror held her so tightly, she couldn’t think coherently enough to make her body do what it needed to do. She knew talking to him, even meeting his green-eyed gaze, was probably akin to looking into the eyes of a wild dog, something it would take as a challenge.
“Want to see what one can do?” He lifted the gun.
To her horror, he pointed it at Raylan. Instinct took over and she shoved her son behind her. “No.” She tried to keep from stumbling over her own two feet in her effort to follow the others and do her best to become invisible.
“Mommy…” Raylan whined.
“It’ll be okay, honey, just stay close to me.” It was Raylan who kept her grounded. She had no choice but to be brave and remain composed to protect him. She couldn’t huddle in the corner, close her eyes, and cry until the ordeal was over.
The robber with green eyes stared at her for another long moment. “No more talking.” Then he moved to a woman who remained on the floor crying, coaxing her with the pointed gun to follow the others.
Once she and Raylan were seated against the wall with all the other hostages, customers and bank employees, Ellie breathed easier, though the tightness in her chest made each breath hurt. Raylan pressed his little body against her, and she held him closer. From her position along the far wall, she saw the bags the robbers placed near the door. The four robbers were all dressed alike in coveralls and some sort of mask. The bank wasn’t very big so it probably didn’t hold millions of dollars, but it still had enough cash to fill five bags.
One robber, the one with the brilliant green eyes, walked past the wall of hostages, sitting backs against the wall, lined up like ducks in a shooting gallery. “Which of you triggered the silent alarm that brought the police?”
His gaze fell on each person as he stepped down the line of sitting ducks. “Oh, come on,” he said. His light-hearted easy coaxing sounded false and out of place with the tension of the room. “Fess up. Don’t make me shoot anyone.”
Ellie, still working to breathe and keep her heart rate steady, did her best to stay calm for Raylan’s sake. Robbing the bank at gunpoint in the middle of the morning was, quite obviously, an arrogant and bold move. Surely these men wouldn’t shoot anyone, not her, in front of her own son? This couldn’t be happening. She had to be sleeping, enduring a terrible, too-real dream. And yet, she could not wake from the nightmare.
That flashing green-eyed gaze met hers, and she had a brief moment to think no, please don’t pick me. Please don’t orphan my son. Please don’t shoot me in front of him.
Her thoughts were replaced by sheer icy horror. He grabbed the arm not holding Raylan and hauled her to her feet.
She only had time for a simple, “No…Please…”
Raylan launched himself at her legs, almost toppling her backward. “No, Mommy! No! You leave my mommy alone!” he screamed in a shrill voice she’d never even heard before.
“Why don’t you leave her alone?” Another voice joined the fray.
It was the man in the Bermuda shirt who’d asked her out for coffee. His bravery was commendable, but stupid.
“Why don’t you sit down?” One of the robbers shoved him back onto the floor with the others, and pointed a gun at him. The stupidly brave man offered no more assistance.
Ellie felt cold metal touch the side of her throat just beneath her chin. Her legs threatened to buckle beneath her. Her breath caught. “Please don’t do this. I’m all my son has.” She was uncertain whether she was going to faint or throw up. Her legs shook.
A second robber pulled Raylan away from her legs, and Raylan became a wild child in the arms of the masked man. Kicking, screaming, and twisting—he was almost more than the robber could handle.
The robber’s words were warm against her face. “It’s up to whoever pulled the alarm. I wonder if he can live with knowing he killed you.”
Ellie stared at all the other ducks against the wall, all of them looking as terrified as she felt. “Please,” she begged, her voice a wobbly, hollow sound.
To add to the fear already chewing her insides, Raylan, trapped in the arms of the second robber, began gasping for air.