Tina spotted the black purse from almost 100 feet away. She glanced around quickly. The tail of a plane moving past the window held her eye for a moment. She started moving closer to the purse, eyeing the crowd as she did. She stopped, waiting breathlessly, estimating that it would take three long strides to grab the purse and sprint away. Her nerves were tingling. The hair was standing up at the back of her neck. She took a deep breath and started forward. A firm grasp on her wrist stopped her.
“That’s bait, honey and you’re the rat. Check out the crowd,” a female voice said in Tina’s ear. Tina looked at the blonde first, classifying her with one glance. She was mid 30's, bleached blonde hair, over tanned, with just the right amount of makeup. She seemed to be an over the hill model. Tina turned and looked at the crowd. The woman was right, two men in jogging suits and short hair, one woman with a large purse and tennis shoes, another man in a bad suit coat who looked totally geeky. They were cops for sure.
“Thanks,” Tina mumbled.
“No problem. They are part of an airport sting to catch thieves. You would have been number three for the day.”
“So why’d you stop me?”
“I need a favor from you. Actually I’m doing you a favor.”
“I ran away when I was sixteen. Since then anybody who was doing me a favor,” Tina made quotation marks in the air with her fingers, “wanted to get into my pants.”
“Well I’m no exception. How old are you?”
“Eighteen, nearly nineteen. In case you are interest, I just had a miscarriage. The official cause was malnutrition. Now can I go?”
“You look much younger. Are you milking?” the woman stopped and studied Tina breathlessly.
“Yes,” Tina said suspiciously.
“Oh my god,” she gushed suddenly with a big smile. “Then you’ve got to come with me,” the woman said in a gusty voice.
“Like hell,” Tina said sarcastically.
“How would you like to make a thousand dollars?”
“Not the way you want it.”
“No,” Tina said uncertainly.
“Ten thousand for one night’s work. That’s as high as I can go.”
“What the fuck? What do I have to do?” Tina asked. She took a seat on a wooden bench. “One night, I don’t get beat up and I don’t end up in Bagdad?”
“Absolutely not,” the woman laughed. “You would be the guest at a woman’s club.”
“How would you pay me?”
“Cashiers check. It can’t be cancelled.”
“Now, if you like. But I’d stick with you until the party.”
“What if I ran?”
“I’m a lawyer. I’d find you.”
“You’re a lawyer!” Tina gasped.
“That’s how I knew about the sting,” the woman laughed. “But that doesn’t change our deal. There are some very important women at this party. Judges, senators, the works. I’m the least of them.”
“Wow,” Tina said, thinking quickly. “Ok,” Tina said, swallowing nervously. Her eyes grew big as the woman handed her the check. She shook it and looked at the bank. The woman helped her open her first bank account.