Literally had never heard the turn of phrase that way, but a quick Wiki search tells me it’s another form of “highway robbery”! Neato.
So today I’m delving back into one of my few published worlds, because I miss these characters and they deserve more page time. Soren Avalon, digital supervillain, and his significant other, Officer Jake Harker. (Yes, Jake knows Soren’s a bad guy. It’s…complicated.) A little longer than it should have been. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.
“I’m telling you, it’s a bad idea.” Jake shook his head, glaring at the young man across the table from him. “It’s too obvious.”
Soren tapped a message back through his newest toy: text-to-voice software that actually sounded a bit like him, before all the smoke had killed his voice. <It’s the only way I’m going to be able to lure Inferno out. You know she’s too clever for half of the stunts I’d pull.>
“Yeah, I remember how she proved that all too well.” He scratched his head, grumbling under his breath. “Tell you what. I’ll keep the forces away from the community center and let you have your showdown, but in return, you have to fix your voice-box software thing. It’s creepy.”
<I appreciate the sentiment that my original voice is “creepy.”>
“It doesn’t sound natural, Soren. It sounds like a digital demon.”
Soren snickered. <Counteroffer. You keep the cops away from the center, and I agree to keep the bedroom window closed at night.>
“It’s December, Soren. I shouldn’t have to ask you to keep the window closed. It’s snowing, for God’s sake.”
<I have a perfectly good reason to want the windows open.>
“You haven’t had smoke nightmares in almost a year.” Soren peered at him over his glasses, and Jake sighed. “I refuse to believe that a window alone is solving your PTSD nightmares.”
<Do you have a better offer?>
“How about I don’t call off the cops, and you do your digital shenanigans from home, where I can actually keep an eye on both you and the police scanner?”
<Highway robbery. There is literally no benefit in that for me.>
“Not pissing off your boyfriend isn’t a benefit?”
<I’ve already told you why I can’t do this digitally this time. She’s pushed too far. She knows too much, and I need to nip this fire in the bud before she comes to burn down your house as well.>
“I don’t think even Inferno’s stupid enough to burn down a cop’s house.”
<I wouldn’t test her.> Soren sighed and leaned back in his chair, drumming his fingers on the table top. <If I stay here, we run the risk of her coming directly to me, which we’ve both said isn’t optimal. I appreciate your concern, Jake, but…> He didn’t know how to finish that thought.
“Don’t go out, and I won’t make Cincinnati chili for a month.”
<I shouldn’t have to bribe you to agree to cook real food.>
“And I let you top.”
Soren’s eyes widened at that. <For the month?>
Jake nodded. “It may be highway robbery, but it’s my final offer.”
<I start to see how the cop begins to find villainy sexy.> Soren leaned over to seal the agreement with a kiss, mouthing a single word against Jake’s lips.