In a split second that seems to occur in slow motion, Phoebe pivots around facing the sudden movement. Her semi automatic roars forth thunder and lightening amid Sarah's banshee wail of terror and the shatter of a full length gilded mirror across the room. Dom's swift dive forward might well be the envy of any professional baseball player sliding home on his stomach, his arms outstretched. His hands grab Sarah's ankles and push her off her feet, propelling her body sideways and down, out of Phoebe's homicidal grip. Phoebe is only slightly thrown off balance as she stops Dom cold with one heavily booted shove to the back of his head. He slumps face down on the carpet, momentarily stunned. Sarah skitters behind a leather sofa for protection, sobbing hysterically. The gunshot destroys her previous bravado.

That was unwise,” Phoebe tells Dom in a tone that could freeze fire. “Misguidedly noble, but unwise. That was a very pricey antique mirror. My brother will not be a happy camper.”

She stands with one foot on Dom's back, with both hands gripping the weapon, as she points it at his head. She turns toward Sarah's hidden position.

Now then, Blondie. Let's discuss a trade. This dumb ox's life, for my brother's whereabouts, and he had better have my present!”

Sarah tries to say something, but she can't stop crying. Phoebe rolls her eyes in irritation. “Stop snivelling, you're not making any sense.”

Dom shifts his head painfully sideways on the floor, so he can interpret for his friend. “She says that she can call Sammie. Jeff is with her.”

Fine, do that then,” she says to Sarah, ignoring Dom as though he has become a cockroach beneath her foot.

Sarah crab-crawls on all fours across a seemingly insurmountable distance, to her clutch purse, where it fell during Phoebe's attack. She dumps everything out on the carpet and grabs her cell phone. With trembling fingers, she punches Sammie's speed dial number. It goes straight to voice mail. She takes a long deep shuddering breath, and tries to speak as clearly as she can.

S ... Sammie, if you're there, pick up. It's urgent. Dom and I are in Jeff's apartment, and Phoebe shot at Dom! She'll kill him if she doesn't reach Jeff. She's all bent out of shape about not getting a present.”

Sarah hangs up and kneels on the floor, staring at her phone, willing it to ring. When it does ring five minutes later, it startles her, so she screams and drops it. She dives for it and answers, checking the caller ID to make sure it isn't someone else who could tie up the line. Luckily, it is indeed from Sammie's phone.

Hello? Sammie?”

No, it's Jeff. Let me speak to Phoebe.” The commanding tone to his voice brooks no discussion. Sarah silently stands up and takes the phone over to the other woman.

Hey! Where are ...” Phoebe begins, but is cut off by a stream of very loud, and very belligerent cursing.

The young woman bites her bottom lip and looks chastened. Her shoulders slump in defeat as she silently steps back from Dom, and puts the safety on her weapon. After a long pause of listening, she speaks into the phone in a petulant voice, obviously defending her actions.

I came to your apartment expecting you and my present to be here, just to find Nancy Drew and the dumbest one of the Hardy boys snooping around. I didn't know who they were, and I wasn't taking any chances. Oh by the way, that stupid mirror I always hated took a bullet for one of your 'innocent bystanders'. It deserved what it got. It made me look fat.”

As Phoebe paces back and forth between the living room and dining room talking to Jeff, Sarah goes back to her purse and puts her stuff back inside. When Phoebe's back is turned, Dom quick-strides over to Sarah, grabs her hand, and makes a bee line for the elevator door, which is standing inexplicably open. They run inside just to be pushed back into the room by a very burly man dressed in a black suit, straight out of a Science Fiction movie. Dom and Sarah gape astounded, as a similarly dressed man brings up the rear, shoving Melissa ahead of him. Her fingers are laced behind the back of her head, and she's looking more furious than frightened. Phoebe turns toward the elevator and allows a slow smile to creep across her pale face.

Oh good, my present is here – finally.”

The End

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