Her heels clattered like gunshots on the linoleum. Nora glanced over her shoulder as she bolted. Leo/Nestor sprawled across the vinyl seats, both hands clutching at his face. Quinn pointed at her, shouting.
In that instant, she slammed into a man so large that she felt like she hit a wall. In a single motion he twisted both her arms behind her and shoved her to the floor so fast she didn't see his face. Nora screamed as she felt his knee on her back, crushing the air from her lungs. "Help me!"
The few passengers in the departure lounge leered at her, wide-eyed with horror and curiosity, but no one moved to help.
"Someone. Please! Call the police," she gasped.
Something hard wrapped around her wrists and cinched tight with a cruel crrrrrrick. The man hauled her to her feet and shoved her at an armed guard running toward them from the security gates. The guard caught her by the shoulder and the other man bent to pick up his cap.
A security cap.
"Oh, thank God!" she sobbed. "You're security. You have to help me."
"This way," said the armed guard. He wasn't as big as the man who threw her on the ground, but he kept a hand on the pistol at his side as he pushed her toward the security gates.
"You can undo this thing around my hands." Nora turned to the big guard. "I'm sorry I ran into you. I was just trying to get away from those men and I wasn't watching where I was running. They know things about me. I think they're dangerous."
"The men you just attacked?" the armed guard snorted.
"You assaulted one of them with a bottle."
"No! I didn't assault him." The pit of Nora's stomach froze. "I mean...I hit him, but...he was..."
"In here." The armed guard opened the door to a small room, barren except for a table and two chairs. "Sit there." He pushed her into one of the chairs, then left her with the big guard, who stood like a mountain in front of the door.
"I know how this must seem, but I didn't assault anyone."
"Not what it looked like to me." He spoke without looking at her.
The door opened and a tired looking man in a blue suit entered. "You may go, officer Clark."
The new man spoke with a French accent. He tapped at the screen of a tablet computer as he sat down across from her. She waited for him to say something. Her head throbbed. She wondered if she hit it on the floor.
"Mademoiselle..." he looked over his tablet, "Klein?"
"I am Captain Renard, Chief of Heathrow security."
"I would shake your hand, but I'm inconvenienced by this," she wiggled so he could see her wrists, "plastic cable tie."
"An unfortunate necessity."
"I promise I'm not going to hurt anyone."
"But you already have."
"I told the guards, that man is dangerous. I had to get away from him."
"Let us start with the facts, then we shall establish who is dangerous." He tapped on his tablet again. "You are booked on Alitalia flight 205 to Rome."
"No, I'm flying on British Airways. To Nairobi."
"Do not lie to me, Mademoiselle. Your booking information, it is all here and it says to me you purchased your business-class ticket to Rome only three days ago. You even requested a window seat." He held up the tablet.
"But that's not..." she struggled to think through the pounding in her head. "Those men. They've changed something. Changed the computer."
He set aside his computer and put both hands on the table like a gambler laying out cards. "I assure you, Mademoiselle Klein, Heathrow airport takes her computer security very seriously. It is not a simple matter to access ticketing information and make changes such as you suggest."
"Of course it's not simple, but they did something to change my information."
"Where is your boarding pass?"
"I dropped it out there when I ran into Officer Concrete."
"You are traveling on business?"
"Then a phone call to your employer will confirm your destination and perhaps shed light upon your situation."
"Good idea. I work for..."
"We have the contact information on record, and my assistant is calling as we speak."
"You purchased your ticket with a corporate credit card."
"Oh," Nora wanted to sink into the ground, "right."
"I have been reviewing the camera footage." He nodded at his computer. "You hit the man in the face with a bottle."
"I told you, he's dangerous."
"I see." He tapped on the tablet again, then turned it so she could see. "This dangerous man, he seems to care for you."
On the screen, she watched herself slide off the chair where she had been reading her book. Leo caught her before she hit the floor and held her in his arms. He exchanged words with someone who came running up. "Quinn. He sent Quinn to get the juice," she mumbled.
"You know these men?"
"I thought he..." She watched Leo place her gently on one of the vinyl benches and hold her hand.
"It's not possible," she whispered. The room felt like it was contracting, squeezing in on her. "He's dead."
"Listen to me." Nora looked into Renard's tired eyes. "He's going to kill someone."