Grumpily, Donna rolled over in bed. “Guway,” she muttered.
“Donna, wake up! We’ve got a problem.”
With a sigh, she fumbled for the light switch, blinking against the sudden brightness. “Beth? What are you doing here so late?”
“Like I said, we’ve got a problem. Do you remember that phone call you made to Ferne’s attorney?”
“Well, when we told Ferne what was going on. she suspected Allan might have the phones bugged…”
“So you’re saying–”
There was the sound of a door slamming downstairs.
“He’s coming tonight,” Beth confirmed grimly.
Donna bit back a curse and rolled out of bed, turning off the light as she did so. She crouched beside the bed.
“You should have left the light on. You won’t be able to see him in this.”
“Yes, but he won’t be able to see me either, and he’s got a gun if I remember correctly.”
There was the sound of a doorknob turning.
“I can’t believe no one else hears that!” Donna whispered incredulously. “Ferne must hire heavy sleepers! Either that or they’re in on it, or drugged!”
“I’m going for help.”
“How can you?”
“Donna, just trust me.”
There was the brief squeal of the handlink, then Donna knew she was alone.
“Al! Get Sam over to Ferne’s house NOW!”
“But, Beth, if I do that he’s sure to guess–”
“I don’t care! Gardener is there *now*! I think Donna’s life is a little more important than whether she and Sam know about each other.”
Al nodded. “You’re right. But you’d better come with me.”
“But you were saying about Sam–”
“Sam can’t see you unless I’m touching you, and for once in my life, I promise not to. That way you can pop in and out to keep an eye on Donna and I can stay with Sam to make sure he gets there in time.
Beth nodded. “All right.”
“Sam! Boy, am I glad you’re up!”
Sam glanced up from the newspaper he had been reading. “I couldn’t sleep. What are you doing here this late?”
“We’ve got to get over to Ferne’s house, NOW!”
Sam’s brow furrowed in puzzlement. “I thought you said she was supposed to get killed tomorrow.”
“Well, now Ziggy’s saying tonight, and unless you get over there, Miss Marshall may not survive the night!”
Sam was quickly donning Jack’s jacket. “May not?”
“Well, it may depend on whether or not Allan Gardener knows Tae Kwan Do.”
“Why should that make any difference this time? It never made it harder for Ziggy to calculate the odds before.”
“I’m not talking about you.”
“SAM! We don’t have time for a bunch of questions!”
“All right! I’m leaving.”
“Ferne, don’t try to hide from me. I know you’re in here.” As her eyes adjusted once again to the darkness, Donna began to make out Allan’s shape in the room.
“How did you get in?” she demanded, wishing that she had a talent for ventriloquism.
“You gave me the security code, don’t you remember, ‘darling’? Besides, this is going to me my house soon.”
“Over my dead body!”
Allan laughed softly. “Exactly.”
“You’re not going to get away with this, Allan. Greg Baldwin knows I was planning to take you out of my will. He’ll figure it out!”
“That’s a risk I’ll have to take. I know I should’ve got you before you made that unfortunate phone call, but I didn’t expect you to make it so soon. Well, Daddy used to say, it’s almost always carelessness that gets you caught.”
Donna groped for a weapon, but the dark floor was frustratingly bare. “I promise you, I won’t give in without a fight!”
Allan laughed. “Good! I was afraid you’d plead for your life. This will be much more fun.”
He was standing directly on the other side of the bed from her. Donna flattened herself against the floor and rolled carefully under the bed. She fixed her eyes on the black leather shoes directly across from her line of sight. If she could somehow get him to fall long enough for her to get out of the room…
With trembling fingers, she reached out and pulled gently on one of his shoelaces. It came untied easily, without any indication from Allan that he had felt anything. Slowly, being careful not to brush her hand against his leg, she untied the other shoe.
I never thought a grade school prank would be so useful, she reflected ironically, amused despite the tension. She fought to keep her fingers steady as she carefully tied the laces of the two shoes together.
Well, here goes nothing. Quietly and carefully, she rolled out from under the bed once again. A slight glimmer of moonlight was visible through the open bathroom door behind her.
“Ferne, you know I”m going to find you. Why don’t you just make it easier on yourself and come out?”
“Not a chance,” she muttered. Taking a deep breath, she lunged for the bathroom. The movement caught the assassin’s attention and he started to run towards her, only to be felled by his own shoes. He fired. The bullet imbedded it self in the door, just as Donna slammed it shut behind herself. Her heart racing, she locked the door and flipped on the light switch to look frantically around herself for a weapon or escape. The window was covered with iron bars to keep people out. Unfortunately, they were also keeping her in.
On the other side of the door, she could hear her would-be killer struggling with his shoes. Soon he would be coming for her again, and he still had his gun, to shoot first the lock, and then her. Her eyes fell on a pair of hair scissors.
Startled, Donna whirled to see Beth standing behind her. “Where did you go?” she demanded.
“Jack’s on his way.”
“What? But how? He can’t see–”
“Look, just try to hold him off for a few more minutes. Jack’ll be here soon, I promise.”
Their eyes met. Donna desperately wanted to ask Beth about the things the police chief had told her, but knew this was NOT the time.
“Do you think you can?” Beth asked.
Donna nodded and picked up the scissors. “No damsels in distress, remember?”
Beth smiled. “I’ll be right back.”
“I have to, Donna! I promise, I’ll be back.”
With a few quick taps on the handlink, she was gone again.
Sam spun the steering wheel, causing the car to make an abrupt turn. Horns blared all around him.
“Go check on Ferne!” he barked at Al, his eyes focused grimly on the road ahead of him.
“Are you kidding? And risk you getting lost before you get to her?”
“Al, for all I know, she may already be dead!”
“No, she’s fine. Scared, but fine.” He chuckled, much to Sam’s amazement. “She tied his shoelaces together!”
“Al, that doesn’t stop a gun!”
“No, but it gave her time to get out of the room. She’s trapped in the bathroom, but I think she can hold him off for a while. At least until you get there.”
“How do you know all this?” Sam asked, turning to Al.
Suddenly, the car veered into oncoming traffic. “SAM! Pay attention! Ask questions later!”
Back in his own lane, Sam nodded. “Okay, just one thing.”
“Give me anything you’ve got on my chances of actually stopping this guy.”
“You’re not going to chicken out if they’re bad, are you?” Al asked incredulously.
“No, I just want to know what I’m up against.”
Al poked at the handlink. “Fifty-fifty.”
Sam frowned. “Are you sure?”
“I don’t understand. Ziggy’s usually a lot more specific.”
“Yeah, well this has been a rather…volatile Leap. Here’s her street!”
Once again Sam pulled a sharp turn. “How’s she doing now?”
There was a sharp blast as a bullet ripped through the lock on the bathroom door. Donna pulled back instinctively. The door crept open and she backed away from the opening. The gun entered first, followed by Allan’s hands. As soon as she could see the hand holding the gun, Donna plunged the scissors into the back of it.
Allan howled, dropping the gun. She doeve for it, but he quickly kicked it out of her reach and lurched in the same direction. Seizing the opportunity, she bolted through the open door, through the bedroom and out onto the landing. Beth suddenly appeared beside her.
“I wish you wouldn’t do that!” Donna scolded in a whisper. “I’m scared enough as it is!”
“Ferne!” Allan’s voice roared behind her. She whirled abruptly.
He was standing in the doorway, the hand she had stabbed wrapped in a strip of cloth and held against his chest, the other pointing the gun at her head. His face was clouded with anger.
“Don’t move, unless you want to die sooner.”