"Jason?" he heard Sharon call out.
He opened the passenger door, she fell into his arms.
"My head's spinning. Where are we?"
He helped her to a picnic table while explaining she was only a few feet from plummeting to their death. "I had to shoot one of the men. He's dead."
She hugged him. "You saved my life."
"I've got the other man tied up. We're somewhere in the mountains. We've got to go for help. I just hope Melissa is safe. Since I know which floor she's hiding on, I think I better go. One of us will have to stay to make sure Cummings doesn't get away and to let the police know what happened. I'll call them when I get to a phone. My cell phone is gone, somewhere in the dirt. No time to look for it now. Will you be all right alone?"
"Yes. Save Melissa."
Jason gave her the gun. "Here, take it. I don't think Cummings can get loose, but if he does, you'll have protection."
He kissed her, jumped in his SUV and sped out of the clearing. He stopped at a convenience store at the bottom of the hill, punched in the numbers at a public phone, and explained what happened in the mountains. Jason forgot to tell the emergency operator that he was on his way to the BMC. His thoughts were on Melissa.
As he drove into the parking lot, Jason glanced at his clock on the dashboard: 8:10. The security guard had left for the day. He ran up to the front doors, scanned the lock with his badge, then propped the doors open so the police could get in. He would call them after he found Melissa. The hall lights were on. The blackout was over. He ran around the building to the shipping department and went in through the unlocked door. He took the elevator to the fifth floor. Watching for Lawson, he rushed through the hallway and began searching the rooms. At one of the last rooms along the hallway, he opened the door and looked in. He saw one of the boxes move.
He called out to her. "Melissa. It's Jason."
She raised her arm. "I knew you were going to come for me." She rushed to him and put her arms around his waist. "I was scared. It was so dark. I was afraid those awful men would come back"
He took her hand. "Come on, we'll leave the building, get you to safety."
Rushing out of the room, they nearly bumped into Moran. He shoved a gun out in front of him and pointed toward the elevator. "Don't try anything. I'll shoot if I have to."
When they entered room E310, Lawson looked surprised to see Jason. "I see you've escaped again, but your luck's run out. You and the girl are going to die now."
Jason stepped in front of Melissa. "You're going to shoot us? How do you explain that to the police?"
"I won't have to--your bodies will be far removed from the BMC. It won't take much insight for the police to determine you killed the girl, then shot yourself--remorse for your lecherous behavior. The gun will be in your hand."
Melissa screamed. Jason comforted her with an arm around her shoulder. Jason had to keep Lawson talking to give him time to think. "Don't you want to know what happened up in the mountains?"
"No. I don't have time for your lies. Somehow, you managed to escape Gladstone and Cummings, but they have Adler, and when they kill her, they'll come back here for you. Except you'll be dead." Lawson motioned to Moran. "Shoot them!"
Moran aimed the gun at Jason. Melissa ran toward the door. Lawson grabbed her before she could open it. As Moran swiveled his gun arm at Melissa, Jason leaped on him. Both men fell to the floor struggling for the gun. It popped out of Moran's hand and slid across the room. Jason and Moran scurried across the floor to get it. While they wrestled to get the gun, Jason called out to Melissa, "Melissa! Run to a phone and call 911." She tried to get away, but Lawson's grip on her arm was too strong.
Wrestling free of Moran, Jason got up, punched Lawson in the gut with a left hook, then a hard right sent the director to the floor. "Go!" Jason yelled to Melissa. She ran out of the room. Jason stood in front of the doorway, feet wide apart and held his hands in front of him, blocking Moran's path.
Moran grabbed the gun and leveled it at Jason. "Get away from the door."
"Shoot him!" Lawson bellowed, picking himself up off the floor. "And get that girl." Moran fired a round at Jason.
Jason winced as he felt pain in his left side. He looked down and saw blood seeping from his shirt. He could feel the pressure build up in his chest. Anger. He wouldn't restrain it. In one last burst of energy, he lunged at Moran, knocking him off his feet. He pasted Moran's jaw with a hard right, then grappled the gun from Moran's grip.
Grabbing a towel at the sink, Jason staggered to a chair, pressed the towel against the wound. He felt himself breathing hard, sweating profusely. "Both of you, down on the floor." He motioned with the gun. "You're staying here until the police arrive."
Lawson didn't miss the desperation in Jason's voice. "Give me the gun," he said. "You wouldn't shoot us, you're a peaceful man. You'll bleed to death before anyone comes. I'll take care of that wound."
"Don't move," Jason said, wincing. He wiped his forehead with his gun hand, then watched Lawson and Moran. His eyes fluttered, on the verge of closing. Take it easy, he told himself, squelching the panic he felt rising up in his chest. He thought of Sharon and heard her soothing voice in his mind "Balance. Keep your balance." Feeling drowsy, he shook his head. He felt himself losing consciousness.