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31

I grabbed Theo, pulling him by the hand. Get up, I said to Maggie and Bernard. Were getting out of here.

Whats wrong? Maggie hissed as I half pushed them toward the back of the bar, where a white-banistered staircase went up and away. To where I didnt know, except that it was away from those two guys.

I had no idea who they were. I had no idea what made me run from them, other than the yelling in my head and Carlos fearful expression.

Theo clearly thought I was losing it. Uh he said. What are we doing?

Just take your bag and go upstairs, please. Theres something wrong with those guys, the ones who just came into the hotel. I dont know why, but I feel like weve got to get away from them.

I looked back and saw them. They looked directly at us, walked directly toward us. They glanced around like animals sizing up territory, then looked back, at me.

Bernard, climbing the stairs, saw them, too. Izzy, if youre scared of those guys, Theo and I can handle them.

Theo stopped and glanced over my shoulder. Hell, yeah, we can. Why did he sound sort of gleeful about it, as if hed like to get in a fight with them? Such a twenty-two-year-old.

Just get up the stairs. Please!

They did as I asked-Maggie, then Bernard, then me and Theo. When Bernard and Maggie were about to the top, I heard Theo say, Whoa.

I looked back at the guys. They were moving toward us. And I saw then that they were both reaching into their jackets and holding guns.

Move, Theo said. Apparently, his gleeful thoughts of a fun-filled rumble had ended at the site of weaponry.

But if that moment was scary, it was even worse when we saw one guy extract the gun from his jacket and aim it at us.


Keep moving! I yelled at Maggie and Bernard.

Maggie stopped at the top of the stairs, her hand on her hip. What is going on?

Go, go, go! Theo bellowed. When he added, Theyve got guns, Maggie spun and took off running, Bernard right behind her. Id never seen a big man move as fast as he did.

At the top of the stairs, there was another restaurant/bar. But it was closed. I remembered the meeting rooms where Carlo had taken me on the other side of the same floor.

Come on, you guys. I pushed the doors and hurried into the empty restaurant, headed for the other side of the hotel. I gestured for the group to follow me.

Whats going on? Maggie said again.

Dont ask, just run. Bernard said. I liked the guy more and more all the time.

We ran around tables and through a door.

Damn, Theo said.

We were in a kitchen.

Were trapped, Maggie said.

From the restaurant, we heard footsteps and the sound of tables being shoved aside.

There. Theo pointed to a door next to shelving that held bowls, mixers, pots and plates.

He tried it. The door swung open into the other side of the hotel where the meeting rooms were. We went through it.

Elevators, I said, pointing, hoping the guys following us didnt know the hotel, that maybe it would take them a moment to find that back door from the kitchen.

Bernard banged on the elevator button. What floor?

Six, Maggie said. She turned to me. What is happening, Iz?

I think we should get our stuff from the room, and I think we should get out of here.

Who are those guys? Theo said.

I looked at him and all I could say was, Im so sorry I got you into this. Ill explain.

He shrugged a little. The kid could roll with anything.

But why wasnt the elevator coming? Bernard punched a meaty finger at the button again.

We heard the sound of footsteps. Its them, Bernard said.

The elevator opened then and Bernard shoved us all in. I hit the button for the fourth floor.

Six! Maggie said.

Well go to four and take the stairs, so they dont know what floor were going to.

Good idea.

Lets just get out of here fast.

Are you sure? Maggie said. I mean, did they really have

They really had guns, Theo said, and were really getting the heck out of here.

Maggie frowned and looked at Bernard, who nodded at her.

Once in our room, Maggie and I grabbed our suitcases and shoved everything in them.

When we opened the door, Bernard and Theo were standing in the hallway, looking up and down.

We havent seen anyone. Theo took my arm. Are you okay?

Im not entirely sure.

We ran to the elevator, once again pounding on the button. Finally one came. And then we heard a dinging sound. Another elevator had arrived at our floor. Bernard corralled the group to the back of our elevator, and as the doors closed, we watched, horrified, as the men burst out of the other elevator and sprinted toward our room.

And then we saw, right before the elevator closed, a door in the hallway being thrown open with force, cracking the first guy hard in the face. He gave a strangled, surprised cry and his hand flew to his face. The guy behind him knocked into him, and they both crumpled to the floor.


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