"Don't blame 'er, sweet'eart," one of the men delivered a sharp tap to Sparrowhawk's rear end. "You set off a silent alarm the moment you opened that safe. She's just a bonus."
The girls were silent, as the car drove them from the suburbs into the city, eventually stopping under a towering partment block. Waved out by the goons, they moved obediently to the lift, aware that while the men's guns could no longer be seen, they remained trained on them. Crossing the foyer, they were herded into the lift, and one of the men pressed the button for the penthouse.
"The boss at least has a sense of occasion," Ms. Madison managed a smile. "I suppose this is the end of the line."
"You got it, sister," another of the men managed his best impression of an American gangster. "After this it's the 'igh jump for both of yer."
"You know," Sparrowhawk observed offensively, "you really sound stupid."
The man hit her, with no discernible effect on Sparrowhawk, except to cause her mouth to curl in a rather worrying smile. The tension in the lift was palpable. And even worse than the usual tension in lifts. Ms. Madison worried that the girl in leather might do something foolish all the way to the top, smiling with relief as the door opened into the luxurious penthouse that was Stannard's lair. The man himself was waiting to greet them.
"Lynette," he shook his head. "And I really thought I might be able to trust you. "I'm disappointed, I suppose you know that."
"That's rich," Ms. Madison raised her head proudly. "Coming from a con-man, like you."
"Con-man," Sparrowhawk shook her head. "Lynette, this guy's more than just that. He's an all round piece of scum - I've stood in better."
"And the ever-predictable Sparrowhak," Stannard shook his head. "I thought masks and costumes went out with the 1960s. You know, I spotted you weeks ago. I've been waiting for you to make your move on that office. My men were just round the corner, waiting for the alarm."
"Well, that 'ld be 'cause they're yellow," Sparrowhawk's tone remained offensive. Ms. Madison had to marvel at the cool insolence of her fellow captive.
"No," Stannard shook his head, as one of his goons made to hit Sparrowhawk. "No violence, not yet."
"Don't like to see it yourself, huh?" Ms. Madison winced, as Sparrowhawk spoke again. "Well, what 're you going to do with us? Are you going to have your boys take us someplace and kill us? After all, now that we've seen those papers, you can't let us go, can you?"
"Take you somewhere?" Stannard shook his head. "I'd love to, but I know that you'd probably escape. Here, tenty floors up, there's no escape." Reaching into his desk, he extracted a gun. "I'm very much afraid I'll have to kill you myself."