The rain of bullets finally stopped. But the quiet that followed was, in a way, more disturbing than the noise of gunfire.
Footsteps. Their pursuers were moving up the stairs.
Miguel took a step back from the glass windows, which led to the balcony, raised his gun and fired. One. Two. Three. Shouts welled up in the hallway outside. He kicked the glass down, leaving an opening for just a single person to pass through. He went out first. Then, he turned and offered a hand out for his companion. Without a moment’s hesitation, she took it and stepped over the broken glass.
“We’ll have to jump over to the other side,” Miguel told Kim.
“What?” Kim stared at the balcony of the next room. It was five feet away. “Are you crazy? No,” she said.
“Yes,” he insisted. “I’ll go first. Then, you jump. I’ll catch you.”
Somewhere behind them, a door was being forced open. There was a scream from one of the tenants and then a harsh shout. The muffled sound of a blunt object hitting something soft. More footsteps.
Miguel was raising himself up on the ledge. He swung his arm back and forth before he leapt and caught the ledge of the other side with both hands. For a moment, he hung suspended some twenty feet above the ground. Then, he pulled himself up easily and made it safely on the balcony.
Next was Kim. She stared nervously at the ground and sure death if he missed.
“Come on,” Miguel said, holding out his arms.
Reluctantly, she stood up on trembling legs.
“Don’t look down,” he advised.
“Easy for you to say,” she muttered as she assumed the best position to make a huge leap. “If my underwear turns you on, that’s your problem.”
And then she jumped.
Miguel caught her, issuing a grunt as soon as he felt her weight tug at his arms. One of her hands started to slip out of his. Kim let out a tiny scream.
“I got you,” he said through gritted teeth. Using his legs to anchor himself, he slowly pulled her up.
“Oh god, I’m going to die,” Kim kept whispering as she tried to get a foothold. The high heels made it difficult.
“Shut up. You’re okay,” he told her in a harsh tone. “Put your foot over there,” he said, indicating the protruding decorative carving in the corner.
Kim did as told. Then, she used this to push herself up at the same time that Miguel pulled. The ordeal lasted for about a minute. Afterward, Kim sat awkwardly on the ledge with Miguel facing her, his hands still around her waist. They took a moment to catch their breaths, steady their pulse rates.
Then Miguel looked up, grinning. “I never figured you for white lace.”
Kim merely glared down at him and said, “Oh, shut up.”
In a moment, Miguel was alert once more, taking out his gun from his coat pocket. He cautiously walked over to the glass window, checked the room. The window was unlocked. He saw a middle-aged woman, crouched near her bed, hands to her head and eyes squeezed shut. She must have heard the shooting.
“Please, please,” she kept saying.
Miguel glanced back at Kim and mouthed for her to follow him. She did, gingerly sidestepping the lady on the floor. They made their way like this into the room and then across it to the door. Miguel then motioned for her to stay behind cover as he carefully opened the door just a crack.
The first thing he saw was an overwhelming black color – suits. Mr. Lee's men. They were in the process of breaking open the door to the next room where he and Kim just came from. The elevators were on the opposite side of the hallway. And beside it, the stairway.
“We can make a run for it,” he said, turning to Kim. Then he looked down at her feet. “Take those off,” he ordered.
“But they’re Prada,” she protested.
“For god’s sake,” he started.
“Fine, dammit!” Kim whispered harshly as she took off first one and then the other. But instead of completely discarding them, she held them close to her chest.
Miguel rolled his eyes.
Mr. Lee’s men finally succeeded in breaking the door open. The moment they did, the gunfire began once more. The lady on the floor started crying. Both Miguel and Kim ignored her as they waited until the men stopped shooting and filed inside the room to check for dead bodies.
As soon as the last one disappeared inside, Miguel pushed the door wide open and stepped out, his gun at the ready. Seeing that the hallway leading to the elevator was clear, he grabbed Kim’s arm, whispering lowly, “Run.”
The whole thing went by in a blur.
Kim went stumbling along, conscious only of Miguel’s back before her and Mr. Lee’s men behind them. Her knees were water. She felt faint, a looseness to the bowels. She was certain her brain was detached from her body. She did what she was told, allowed herself to be herded down the stairwell, pulled, pushed into a car.
It all happened at once. No sequence. One minute, Miguel was slowly backing the car up. No hurry. Wouldn’t want to get the attention of passing pedestrians or worse, any extra men that Mr. Lee placed outside to keep a look out for just this kind of thing. And then the next instant, Miguel was shouting for her to “Get down!”
A shot rang out. Kim ducked as Miguel stepped on the gas and accelerated. The inertia forced her back against the seat. She looked up then and saw a single man, wearing a suit, calmly kneeling down. He was holding something up in front of him. Her eyes widened as soon as she saw that the black thing was actually a gun and it was pointed straight at her.
Miguel reached across with his gun and fired at the man. Kim covered her ears as shots were returned. Now there were yells, shouts. Pedestrians scattering on the street in panic. Squeal of breaks as cars pulled up, drivers ducking down out of sight. There was a great blaring of horns, a momentary traffic jam at the corner, then more screams and shrieked curses.
Miguel stopped firing and now had his eyes straight on the road. Kim looked back. She saw more black suits emerge from the hotel. She thought she saw two cars pull up but Miguel made a quick turn just then at a smaller street, out of sight. He did not let up on their speed and secretly, Kim was relieved. Never mind if he was driving like a maniac.
It was only when they emerged out of the city’s general hubbub into a quieter neighbourhood that Kim began to think they might actually make it.
“You hurt?” Miguel asked.
“I’m fine,” she answered. “You?”
He breathed sharply through his teeth. “The son of a bitch got me.”
“What?” Kim said in alarm, glancing at him. She immediately saw the dark stain on his left shoulder.