He's Already Here
Yes, this is a cliffhanger but a new chapter will be forthcoming.
“This guy is always two steps ahead,” Lucas mutters to himself. “Who would help him? Why? What do they stand to gain?”
Because he prides himself in being a good and fair employer, he truly doesn’t understand why anyone who works for him would want to betray him. Worst of all, why would they choose to do it in such a hateful and inconceivable manner?
Why not go after his money or all the skeletons collecting dust in his closet?
These are all questions he’s asked himself a thousand times over. He’s pondered over it with Seth and Tawny -- mentioned it to the detective, although she’d shot his theory down with no hesitation whatsoever. Yet, the proof is here in his hands.
“Call the detective,” Lucas tells Seth.
“I already have. She was unavailable but she always returns my calls. In the mean time, I think it’s best if both of you left.”
“You’re not backing out now, are you?” Lucas asks. “If he comes, this could be our only chance...”
“We aren’t prepared for him to show up today, if he does,” Seth counters. “Alaine is here,” he reminds Lucas. “You think she’ll leave without you?
That last question makes him pause to think rationally. Only then do the pieces fall into place in Lucs’s mind. That call about Erin Sanders had been a ploy to ensure that he was back at the office when security is the middle of a shift change.
Lucas swear softly.
“He’s already here,” he announces to Seth as he paces across to the bathroom door and knocks. “Don’t ask me how I know, just trust me and call the police.”
“Baby, may I come in?” he calls to Alaine. “We need to leave, now.”
“I’ll be right out,” she responds over the sound of the dryer. “One minute.”
Hearing the tremor in her voice, he tries the door knob but finds it locked.
“Unlock the door,” Lucas suggests, using a gentle tone in an attempt to cajole her out of hiding. “I know you’re scared but it’s safer if we get out now. Please, Ali. He has access to the building. I don’t mean to frighten you any further but he could already be here.”
With his back turned to the rest of the office, Lucas misses the scene as it begins to unfold.
Movement catches Seth’s eye from the door. He turns to see Lucas’ assistant walking in with wide, teary eyes and a pale face. Behind her is Angus. Her captor shoves her aside forcefully. She lands hard on the floor smacking her chin and drawing a mouthful of blood.
Seth barely has time to react. In a split second after noting the pistol in Angus’ hand, he runs through the options in his mind. His own gun is holstered. By the time he reaches for it, Angus would have already likely gotten a shot off. Most probably at him, rather than at Lucas, to ensure that any threat is neutralized. That will leave both Lucas and Alaine vulnerable.
His only option is to give them a fighting chance. He can give Lucas the chance to keep her safe, which is the goal. That’s always been the goal. They’ve discussed this. Always choose Alaine.
“Get down,” Seth shouts as Angus raises his gun.
At his frenzied command, Lucas begins to turn around and becomes aware of the situation developing around him.
Seth dives across the room, placing himself between Lucas and a bullet. He grabs the lapels of Lucas’ jacket to drag him down to floor but all his breath leaves him in a whoosh.
The force of the bullet streaking fire in his back pitches him forward, sending him flying into the wall. His temple cracks against the edge before he crumples to the floor, leaving Lucas defenseless.
The idea of grabbing the gun out of Seth’s holster crosses Lucas’ mind but he gauges that he doesn’t have enough time.
“Stay in there,” he hears himself yell to Alaine.
By what miracle he dodges the second bullet fired from Angus’ gun, Lucas can’t be sure. All he knows is, in that millisecond, when the gun goes off, pain explodes in his shoulder, and he experiences a burst of gratitude that he has the chance to charge their attacker. Ignoring the agony, he throws all his weight into the punch to Angus’ face and gains the upper hand, landing a few more that connect firmly with their intended target.
Angus stumbles, but his frame is built like a mountain to withstand whatever Lucas throws his way. He is taller, wider, heavier, stronger, bigger in the ways that count at this moment and will not be easily subdued. Lucas struggles valiantly.
“Come out, Alaine,” Angus orders Alaine and Lucas cries out to her to remain in her hiding spot in the bathroom.
“He dies,” Angus adds. “He dies if you don’t.”
Hopefully, Lucas prays, Alaine listens to him instead. If he can just keep Angus occupied, security is bound to make it up here at some point. He struggles valiantly, aiming for the gun in Angus’ hand, but the five inches in height that Angus has on him, makes it an impossible feat.
Angus stretches his hand toward the sky and brings a firm elbow down on to Lucas’ wounded shoulder. Maybe it’s the adrenaline and the fact that he has to keep Alaine safe that keeps Lucas from feeling the impact of the blow. Or maybe it’s that his ruined shoulder is already aching fiercely.
In his periphery he catches the bathroom door slipping open.
“No,” he grits between his teeth as he tries to force Angus back.
He sees Alaine’s small frame appear hesitantly in the doorway to take in the scene before her.
Lucas fighting for both their lives.
Her eyes shift to Seth, lying prone on the floor with his eyes closed and she watches in shock as his blood pools at her feet.
“Get his gun, Ali,” Lucas pleads in a fight that takes all his strength to focus and not get distracted by her distress and his pain.
“Alaine,” he calls again to get her attention. “Get Seth’s gun,” he grunts still holding on to the feeble supremacy he has over the fight - the supremacy that he is slowly losing. “Run Alaine,” he begs instead but she continues to stand there, frozen in time.
“Alaine, please,” he begs.
Maybe it’s his begging that jolts her into action but she dives towards Seth, reaching under his body to dig for the gun.
“I’m sorry,” Alaine croaks to his unmoving form as she unclips the gun at his side.
She grabs hold of it and swings around to aim the weapon at Angus. Her right had trembles so she tries to steady it with her equally unsteady left.
Seeing her that way makes Angus chuckle. In one swift move, he wraps his arm around Lucas’ neck, maneuvers his body around to pull Lucas’s back to his chest.
“Let him go,” Alaine cries. “Please, let him go. I’ll do whatever you want if you let him go.”
Her pleading for the life of another man only fuels Angus’ rage. He squeezes his arm wrapped around Lucas’ neck tighter.
“Or how about I just kill him now,” he threatens.
Lucas forces one word beyond his constricted airways.
“Go,” he begs Alaine again.
Using all the physical force he has left in him, he drives Angus back hard into the glass wall of his door behind them to buy her some time to escape. The grip around Lucas’ neck loosens giving him enough room to attack again. He breaks out of Angus’ hold and immediately goes on the offense.
“Go Alaine. Run,” he orders.
It’s not Alaine who listens. Mrs. Sheffield is the one whose scattered wit returns and grabs the opportunity to flee.
While Lucas succeeds in his effort to move a mountain, the window of opportunity for Alaine to escape closes as he stumbles and loses his hold on Angus. He swings wildly, a punch that connects too softly with Angus’ face. The blow is enough to leave a mark, but not enough to topple him and leaves Lucas’ body open for the chance Angus seizes to get off one more shot.
Realizing what is going to happen, Alaine beats Angus to it and presses the trigger first. Nothing happens. All she hears is a soft click. She looks frantically between the gun in her hand and Angus as she tries to understand what she did wrong and tries it again.
The fact that she did it all stuns Angus.
She’d tried to kill him for another man.
A sneer contorts his features into something grotesque as he aims his own weapon and fires again.
The smell of gun powder is poignant. The sound of the bullet as it leaves the chamber of the gun is loud and painful on the ears but not nearly as much as the scream from Alaine’s throat.
Lucas hears it and knows that he’d failed her. Worse is the searing in his chest. It feels like he’d been branded from the inside. Lucas groans and clutches the place at the front of his clothes where the blood oozes out of the hole in his body. The life in him starts to fade as he crumples to the floor fighting to breathe.
Forgetting about Angus, Alaine rushes to her knees by his side. She lifts his limp body in her arms and bawls her anguish as she presses her hand to the bloody wound in a futile attempt to stymie the crimson flow.
Lucas forces his eyes open to look at her.
Why didn’t you run? he wants to ask. Why did you stay? But whatever is keeping him tethered to this world begins to break and he can feel himself going. All he wants to do is to keep looking at her face, if it’s the last thing he has to see.
Her fingers close around his hand but pain and weakness keeps him from returning that simple gesture they’ve shared countless times.
“I’m sorry,” Lucas works up the energy to cry softly.
Why had he chosen those words?
If there is anything he would like her to know before he dies it’s that he loves her. He tries to get them out. Alas, the words are nothing but a gurgle in his throat as tears form in his eyes.
He’s dying. He’ll never see her again. He’d failed her.
Even with his vision, blurred and fading with spots of darkness, Lucas can see Angus enjoying the carnage left in his wake. He wishes, prays for the strength or for someone to save Alaine the way he hadn’t been able to.
When Angus takes a step in her direction, Lucas whimpers weakly.
Alaine continues to act as if the man who’d just ended her world is no longer in the room. She pretends he doesn’t see him hobbling towards her as her grip on Lucas tightens.
“Stay with me, baby,” She pleads as Lucas’ eyes close. “Please open your eyes, Lucas. No. stay. stay. stay,“she cries. “Look at me, baby.”
Lucas forces his eyelids to obey.
“Don’t go,” she begs. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. Don’t leave me. I love you...Somebody help!!!” she tries to scream, but the sound is nothing more than a hoarse, pitiful cry.
“Slut,” Angus mutters, disgusted by her behaviour. “Get away from him,” he commands. He grunts and grips his ribs with the effort it takes to lean down and close his arms around her.
Lucas had gotten in a few good punches. Who knew Lucas Bright could actually put up a fight? That caught him completely off-guard and even now the areas where Lucas’ fists had connected continue to throb painfully. He might have even succeeded in cracking a rib or two.
He doesn’t anticipate the fight in Alaine either, as she whirls around on him like something feral and untamed that lives in the wild and claws at his face while crying out for Lucas.
He had intended to do the right thing. To make this easier for her. But tired of her insolence and whoring and crying over this piece of shit - a piece of shit dying by his hand - Angus grows impatient. He’s wasted too much time here already.
His window to escape is closing. Fisting his large hand, he swings, catching Alaine in the temple. She goes limp and he makes the attempt to catch her. Then he goes ahead with his plan. He reaches for the syringe in his pocket and pushes the needle into her neck to keep her sedated and paralyzed until he is ready for her. How he wishes he could do what he wants with her right now, with Lucas Bright’s blood spilling bright red to stain his expensive suit.
“You think you’re so smart,” Angus mutters as he lifts Alaine’s limp form. “But I get her. I’ve won.”
He’d told them he would have her.
The last thing that Lucas sees on his last breath, as darkness closes in and life leaves his body, is the woman he loves hoisted up and dumped into a large bin.
Angus drags the heavy green contraption behind him out in the hall limping all the way. Knowing that he’d lost a lot of time in that battle, he makes his way as quickly as he can to the stairwell. The pain in his side as he pushes the exit open makes him grunt but he presses on.
Hopefully, the janitor’s uniform belonging to the cleaners employed here will be enough to divert attention from him. He’ll just look like another employee trying to escape from a nut with a gun that he knows how to use.
By now, the floor is empty of Lucas’ employees fleeing from gunfire. Not one of them had remained to defend him and that knowledge fills Angus with a sense of satisfaction. He ambles down the stairs as quickly as his gimp and the weight he’s lugging behind him will let him.
The feel of freedom makes him sweat. There’s only a few floors standing in the way of him and his new life with Alaine. All he has to do is make outside and to the dumpster near the construction site not too far away. The trip down is tiring, however, with the constant stabbing in his side.
When Angus makes it down the final flight of stairs, his face falls as he comes into contact with a wall rather than a door leading outside to the streets. Rather, the exit looms over a heavy metal door that leads back to the lobby and the sea of police officers who have most likely already descended on the building.
His pulse starts to race as he tries to remember what Natasha had told him.
Had she given him the wrong information? Had the bitch betrayed him?
He knew he should have killed her.
Climbing back up feels like too much of a great task. He takes a few seconds to wipe the sweat of his brow and make himself look like another hapless employee.
He reaches for the door handle, yanking it open and comes face to face with Tawny’s gun.
She looks at the bin behind him, then the gun in his hand, aims her weapon and fires.