"We gotta go.” Tyre said again as he reached for Serena’s hand and pulled her toward the front door of the apartment.
“What? Why? What’s going on?”
“The guys who tried to grab you. They’re here. We’ve got to get out of here.”
They ran for the door.
Tyre poked his head out into the hall. It was still clear, but he could hear footsteps making their way up the staircase. He glanced at the elevator. The numbers were climbing. The guys must have split up in an attempt to block both exits. But there were only two of them.
He turned toward the emergency stairwell. “Come on. Hurry!”
He and Serena ran, hand in hand, for the emergency stairs. He pushed the door open and the door bar clanged noisily. So much for making a clandestine escape.
He pushed Serena through the doors just as the crown of the tall man’s hair appeared at the top of the stairs and the elevator dinged its arrival. He paused for a fraction of a second, glancing over his shoulder as the elevator doors opened, revealing the shorter assailant from the night before. He wore a baseball cap pulled low, but not low enough to hide the surprise on his face when he caught sight of Tyre. Surprise quickly morphed into a scowl.
Serena was already on the landing below, and he raced to catch up with her.
The door above them clanged open noisily.
Tyre glanced over his shoulder. The tall man leaned over the side of the stair railing. He raised the gun in his hand and pointed it down.
“Go, go, go!” Tyre pushed Serena in front of him with one hand and grabbed the gun tucked into his waistband with the other.
Serena screamed as the sound of the gunshot echoed through the stairwell, but she kept moving down the stairs toward the exit. The shot missed Tyre by several inches.
He let loose a three-round volley of his own and again raced to catch up with Serena.
They reached the ground floor exit door as angry footsteps pounded down the stairs. He’d never been more thankful for having found a parking space on the street right in front of Charley's building, a New York miracle.
He and Serena jumped in the car just as the exit door opened and the two men spilled out.
Tyre kept an eye on the men in the rearview mirror as the Jeep roared away.
“How did they know where to find us?” Serena asked, fighting to catch her breath.
“They must have had someone watching Charley's place. Likely for him, but then we showed up.” He glanced in the mirror again, but he was pretty sure they’d lost the men. For now, at least. He didn’t like that he’d walked Serena so easily into what could have been a trap.
“What now?” Serena asked.
That was a good question. Whoever was after Serena was extremely motivated and more sophisticated than he’d planned for if they had the wherewithal to stake out Charley's place. They were running out of luck and time if they wanted to figure out what this was all about before someone got hurt.
But Serena had mentioned one other link between her and Charley.
“Now, I think it’s time to pay a visit to your favorite professor.”
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