Stolen Car - PREVIEW

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"Come on!" A low voice rang amidst the shadows of the parking area. The speaker, a blonde teenager, signaled to his companion before running to their target, scampering for cover behind the cars as they avoided the lights and the lone guard in the premises.

Mel crept towards the parked gray Jaguar XKR Portfolio as his partner, Arthur, gazed around with his bonnet on. He pulled out a knife with wires from his jacket, and then caressed the lock on the driver's side before stabbing it with one of the wires.

"We have three minutes! The guard will be here within that time period. Don't let him suspect any movement here!" Arthur whispered.

"Shh! I'm concentrating! I haven't encountered this kind of lock. If I can open this without triggering the alarm for too long, we can get this baby out quietly!" Mel replied.

The anti-burglary alarm beeped for a second, and then stopped as one of the wires slid snugly into the keyhole. A few flicks of Mel's wrists was all it took before the door was unlocked. For a supposedly expensive car, it sure had some flimsy security.

The teenager quickly slipped under the steering wheel, and began the delicate process of hotwiring the ignition. The car's engine purred as its alarm beeped again for another second, before finally deactivating. Mel and Arthur are finally in control.

"There! Let's go!" Mel whispered as Arthur jumped into the Jaguar's passenger side.

The Jaguar crept towards the parking lot's exit, with Mel acknowledging the clueless guard and the receptionists. As the car left the premises, the drum of traffic rang, signaling that they have made it into the expressway. Mission accomplished.

The night was strangely quiet, with the Jaguar's headlights and the moon lighting the way. It was a long, downhill drive along Tagaytay, and the faraway night lights of Metro Manila flickered in its brightest, signaling midnight.

"If Touya sees this baby, he'd be begging for us to give this to him, but no!" Arthur roared with a hearty laugh. "This engine's the smoothest I've heard, and the interior's really classy. The acceleration's good too. I think I want this for myself!"

"Bah. If you're taking this car, then I'll take that Humvee that Touya promised for myself. He said he'll have it customized as a present for our last hit. He promised me an Xbox and a ref along with the Humvee. Of course you'll get the couch you wanted too."

"Okay, okay! You win! We'll take the Humvee!" Arthur grumbled.

Mel took the time to look around him as he drove. At the dashboard were an envelope, a few papers, and a pack of cigarettes. The area around the driver's seat was messy with random stuff. The backseat was cluttered with papers and clothes.

Arthur picked up the calling card lying near the stereo. "Danilo Meneses, company director of Sterling Corporation," Arthur read the card. "Also one of the richest bastards this side of Metro Manila. I hear he was quite the catch. Half the country's female population mourned when he married Karen Salas a few years ago."

"Karen Salas? The newscaster from Money TV?" Mel asked, his eyes not leaving the expressway, as he opened a can of orange juice from his belt bag.

"Yup. She's one hot mama, I'm telling you. She may be seven years older, but she could sure make a man happy. How else would she get Meneses to marry her?"

"She must be his best bed buddy. Or let's give her credit, maybe she's wife material. Or maybe because she's like a mom and Meneses was a babyface."

"Very funny. Hmm, this must be a new car. Meneses must be proud. Lucky for us, though," Arthur said as he ran his hand over the leather seat. He then opened the window and lit a cigarette.

Mel, on the other hand, had fallen in deep thought. The cigarette smoke mixed with the showroom scent of the air-conditioned interior, eliciting a strange, musky feel. The city lights began to flicker from a distance, but his senses were onto something else...

"Hey, is it true that a girl's juice smells like armpits?"

Mel choked on his orange juice upon hearing his partner's sudden query. He eyed Arthur warily as the latter pulled off his bonnet and shook his violet-black hair.

"You know, I read that a girl's lubrication is no different from sweat or tears. It's just a body secretion with a distinct smell. Ever sniffed at a girl's armpits?" Arthur asked as he puffed at the cigarette.

"What the heck are you talking about?!" Mel retorted.

"Lessee, Marie smells like a sweatshop, so screw the thought. Lita smells like baby powder. You're lucky. But Ate Elisa's armpits smell good, like oranges. Kinda strong but sweet-smelling. No wonder that kid likes sniffing her."

"Sniffing? More like planting kiss marks and mashing her and God knows what else. Ever wondered why our ceiling always goes bump-bump-bump whenever Elisa and Nestor are together (bounces on his seat)? And when did you start sniffing armpits anyway?"

"Never mind that. Look, what I'm saying is, this car smells like girl juice, or armpits. Or both. I don't know... Figure it out yourself."

Mel sniffed around him. There was, indeed, the armpit-like scent of a woman's musk, the scent that haunted a man's body as he kissed and touched her while she moaned in his arms, the stream that drenched his loins as he gave and received pleasure while his partner begged for more.

As if to answer Mel's thoughts, one of the pictures from the envelope fell. The picture showed Danilo Meneses with a woman with long black hair. He had one arm around the girl's waist while the latter held several shopping bags. The girl wore plain-looking clothes and a wide cap, but her features were still evident.

"Sheryl Molina, top model of Fleur-de-Lis," Mel said. "Rumor has it that those two are seeing each other. You thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Here's a nice cologne," Arthur replied instead as he pulled his hand off the glove compartment. It was a bottle of Body Shop Cassis Rose, its oils leaking on its spray nozzle. Arthur sprayed the perfume around him and Mel, and then smirked, pleased with his deed.

Mel closed his eyes as he inhaled the perfume, which smelled of diluted roses. Its scent mixed with the scent of the leather, smoke, and juice. The perfume mist clouded the car's interior, enveloping him in an illusory space, where he imagined a scene he would never be invited to witness...

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