Moon In Scorpio

Chapter 12

The room is in semi darkness, the glow from the street offering enough light to make out the furniture but not the details. Switching on her pencil torch, she checks the cabinet holding the jade figures, there is no wiring, no extra security, the room's security obviously considered sufficient. Opening the cabinet she picks up several of the pieces, one at a time and examines them. They look to be well-made and probably valuable pieces, though she's no expert. For the moment she leaves them in place, the jade is heavy and could be easily damaged.

She moves to the Richard Scott hanging on the wall, a quick check for wires or sensors, of which she finds none. Taking the picture down, she removes the frame and unpins the canvas from the frame. She rolls it up and slides it into one of the collapsible tubes in her backpack. The Sarah Goncarova one follows the Scott into a second tube but she ignores the Brian Reed sculpture, it's too big and bulky.

She reaches the door through which she entered three days ago, slowly twists the handle and cracks it open. There is a soft lighting coming from the wall brackets at the far end of the hall by the lift, though the rest of the place seems to be in darkness. She closes her eyes for a moment, remembering the layout of the hall. There was a Jacobean glass fronted cabinet against the wall halfway between this door and the movement sensor to the left of the lift, as long as she keeps close to the wall the cabinet will screen her from the sensor. There had been another glass display cabinet to the right of the door, but she hadn't been able to discern what security measures were installed further along the hallway.

She slips out into the hall, leaving the door open and keeping close to the wall. Reaching the glass cabinet she switches on the pencil torch and shines it through the side. There are a number of books lying open on the bottom of the two shelves, they look like first editions and her heartbeat quickens ... books have always held a special place in her heart. Perhaps it's that that makes her miss the lift doors sliding open at the far end of the hallway or the quietly approaching figure dressed in jeans and black leather jacket.

A barely perceptible scuff of shoe on carpet, a change of air pressure, a glint of reflection in the glass, a well-developed sixth sense ... whatever, something makes her turn her head just in time to see the heavy figure launching himself at her. She twists and ducks, not enough to avoid being knocked backwards into the cabinet, but enough for most of the man's weight to hit her on the shoulder rather than the back.

Both bodies crash into the cabinet, toppling it over and sending it crashing to the floor to shatter into myriad pieces, its contents scattering across the hallway. She feels a sharp pain in her back, a numbing sensation at her shoulder as her assailant's weigh traps it and grinds it into whatever is underneath.

His hands are reaching for her neck but she manages to slap his arms aside, blocks his next punch aimed at her head and has suddenly got purchase with her feet against the wall. She bucks, throws his weight off her even as more pain slices into her back and she strikes out with the edge of her hand. It catches him on the side of the neck, not enough to stop him, but it slows him down momentarily, eyes opening in surprise. It's not much, but it's enough for her to roll away and stumble to her feet. Her assailant is also climbing to his feet, hand held to his neck where her blow had landed, head shaking and eyes slightly unfocused.

It's not much of an opening but it's her only chance, he'll soon overpower her if she doesn't get out of here in the next few minutes. She swings low, brings her right leg up tight against her buttocks and kicks out with all her strength. The kick lands on his femoral nerve point and he lets out a hiss as his leg involuntarily straightens out, the paralysing blow resulting in a terrible burning sensation in his outer thigh.

Knowing she only has a few minutes, Kate runs for the room she entered through, grabs the backpack with the paintings and slips out the window. She finds it difficult to make her way up the rope even with the ascenders. The pain in her back and her mauled shoulder not helping at all, especially when she has to use her right arm, but adrenaline is coursing through her veins and she makes it to the roof.

She has to pause a moment when she reaches the roof to get her breath back, before hauling up the rope and attached climbing aids and dropping them over the parapet onto the roof of the office building next door. She can hear the commotion below now and even thinks she can make out a distant police siren, though it may not be coming this way.

Taking a deep breath, she drops over the side, grabs the rope and slides down to the next building's roof, almost losing her grip on the rope and falling the last few feet. Pulling the rope down after her, she stuffs both it and the items she'd dropped earlier into the backpack, careful to not crush the tubes containing the paintings. Its only then she realises she's lost her cap, probably back in the hallway during the fight. Would the police be able to get DNA off it? Probably. Shit! As far as she knows, her DNA isn't in any data banks, but her mother's could be. Dammitt to hell, why hadn't she scouted the place out like she always does.

With a frustrated groan she moves, crouched, along the roof top till she's at the opposite end of the building. A quick check of the fire escape and she's dropping down onto it, hissing in pain as back and shoulder absorb the landing. She can hear police sirens now, and they are definitely heading in this direction. She has to get out of the area now!

As soon as she's reached ground level, she slings the backpack over her good shoulder, ready to fling it and its incriminating evidence under a car if the need arises. She's not feeling too good now that the adrenalin is wearing off, but she really needs to get back to her bike and get the hell out of here.

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