Chapter 1

Victoria Harwood walked down the hall of the 30th floor of Nakatomi Plaza. Her heels clicked against the floor as she stepped into the atrium where the rest of her co-workers were having a good time. She said co-workers, but really Victoria was just an intern. At nineteen years old, Victoria had needed a temporary job while she was in her first year at college; her parents had known someone and so she had ended up with a job at Nakatomi.

She passed on a glass of champagne and worked her way down the short steps to the fountain. It had been almost a year since she had begun work at Nakatomi and she enjoyed the job; everyone she had met was pleasant enough. She worked directly under a woman named Holly Gennero. Miss Gennero was a kind boss and had been a great help her first few weeks on the job; she hadn't understood how anything worked but Miss Gennero had been kind enough to show her around and help her to get acquainted with the building.

"Hello Miss Gennero!" She called, waving to the brunette woman as she walked past.

"Hello Victoria. Are you enjoying yourself?" Holly stopped where she stood, holding papers.

"Oh I can help you with that!" Victoria stood up and took half the papers from her boss. "I'm having an OK time; I swear I've felt a few wandering hands but other than that it hasn't been bad."

Holly shook her head smiling; she could understand why the girl was getting felt up at a Christmas party; all that alcohol combined with dirty men seeing a beautiful young woman? Holly was disgusted by her co-workers, but not surprised. "You looked a little lonely over there by yourself." She pointed out.

"Well I don't have a date and everyone seems to be pretty busy but it's alright." Victoria shrugged her shoulders and set the papers down near the fax machine. None of these guys are my type anyway. "There you go."


Victoria turned around and walked down the hallway. She saw Holly's office door open and peeked inside. Mr. Takagi, Ellis, and another man were inside. She heard Takagi introduce him as John McClane; so this was Holly's husband. She rushed back to the fax room to tell her about it.

"Hey Holly, you're husband's here." Holly turned around surprised.

"Is he?" She tried to hide the excitement in her voice.

Victoria smiled knowingly. "I can finish up here; you go get him."

Holly smiled her thanks and rushed out of the room. Victoria turned to the fax machine and finished sending off the papers. She grabbed the file folder of original documents and walked them back to Holly's now empty office. She had seen that Miss Gennero and Mr. McClane were in Ellis' bathroom further down the hall.

She set the folder down on Holly's desk and left the office, closing the door behind her. Victoria walked back outside to the atrium and again shook her head at the offer of champagne. She hated the watered down stuff they were serving. Besides, she wasn't legally allowed to drink. Not that that's stopped you before.

Victoria leaned against a wall and crossed her arms over her chest. She was rather bored here; none of the guys were her type and besides, most of them had brought dates to the party. She began listening to the conversation of a few guys from her office. One of them was complaining about leaving his girlfriend's gift down in the lobby.

"And I've left her present down at the front-desk. It was delivered earlier but I haven't had time to go get it."

"I can get it Eric." Victoria walked up to her co-worker and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Could you? I can keep her distracted and it'd be perfect!"

"No problem."

"Thanks Victoria."

Eric smiled broadly at her before walking across the room to his long-time girlfriend who the gift would be for.

Victoria smiled and decided to take the stairs down to the lobby; even though it'd be a long walk in her heels she would enjoy the peace-and-quiet. She walked down the thirty flights of stairs and came out of the elevator hallway; she rounded the corner into the lobby of the building and stopped.

Out of the corner of her eye she could see someone on the floor, and a man putting on a grey jacket. There was another man standing in her peripheral vision, leaning over something. A tall man stood in front of her in a long grey coat; he was at the door. He slid something over the console at the entrance and it beeped before he turned around.

"Hello." He said, taken by surprise.

The man leaning over stood up and turned to see her. She backed up a step. She definitely saw someone on the floor from and the man at the lobby controls wasn't familiar to her.

The Black man grabbed her arm while slinging a black bag over his shoulder; the white man in the building uniform sat down, unconcerned. The man in the grey coat stood there, staring.

"Not so rough Theo." The man holding her shoved her forward towards the man in the coat. She stumbled a little in her heels.

"Hello." He said again, with a small smile.

Victoria heard a slight German accent in his rich velvety speech. He was tall and attractive with brown smoothly combed back hair and a well-groomed brown beard. He wore a black suit, under the grey coat.

"Who are you?" She asked, standing up straight.

The man raised a brow. "My name is Hans Gruber." He took a step forward until he was in front of her; he held out his hand. "It is a pleasure to meet you Miss…?"

She stared at his hand for a second before her eyes flitted back to his face. "Harwood." She said in a clipped tone, staring him in the eyes. She noticed they were a beautiful hazel color.

Mentally she berated herself. It was not acceptable for her to be thinking of anything about this man as attractive or beautiful. But – she couldn't help but think – he was better looking than anyone at the office party.

"Miss Harwood…" He played with her last name on his lips. She thought he seemed slightly annoyed that she didn't give him her first name as well.

He smiled before saying, "Won't you please join us?" He grabbed her arm, not waiting for an answer and guided her over to the service elevator.

It already held some of his men; how many of them were there? She looked around her, frightened. They were all wielding machine guns and looked professional.

"Don't worry Miss Harwood; stick with me and no harm will come to you." Hans smiled predatorily.

Victoria reeled back but he kept a firm grip on her arm.

"That is no way to treat a captor Miss Harwood."

"And are you my captor?" She asked, looking down at his grip on her wrist.

Hans smiled. The elevator dinged and the doors opened; they were on the thirtieth floor. This was where the Christmas party was. She was about to open her mouth and say something when Hans placed a hand over her mouth. She looked at him, venom in her expression. He merely smiled and led her out of the elevator, after his men.

They were silent as they filed out until bullets were sprayed into the air and the screams began. The men were wrangling the people into the atrium where they could be looked after. Two men broke off and went down the office hallway to search for others.

Victoria looked at her co-workers, frightened. Not one of them stepped forward to help her. They looked at her and their eyes moved past. Hans had removed his hand from her mouth but he still kept a grip on her arm. He looked down at her frightened expression and smiled sardonically.

"Like I said earlier Miss Harwood; stick with me and no harm will come to you." He laughed as he looked out at the small crowd of screaming, frightened people.

"You're insane." She said, fear gripping her spine like ice.

"Insane?" He looked at her, pondering. "No; but genius is often mistaken for insanity Miss Harwood."

He pulled her over to a corner and sat her down; he pulled his coat off in one fluid motion that had Victoria in a tizzy. She had never seen someone taking off their coat look graceful and…predatory. It was almost like he was a jungle cat the way he moved and held himself with grace and poise.

"Be a darling and hold this for me will you?"

Hans handed her the coat and moved to stand at the top of the short steps leading down to the fountain.

What the hell have I gotten myself into? This is the last time I do anything for anyone!