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Heartbreaking Impasse of a Grey Evening, Final Part

Bitter Breakthrough

Fast-forward four years later…

As the cab branched off into Oakland Road, I turned to my right to glance at Grace. Her face bore a distant look, her eyes fixed straight ahead. Just a few hundred meters and I would have her all to myself, and by heck I’d make her talk. This time round, I’d have the whole gang by their throats, I’d make them pay. I owed one man my freedom, and that was Baker the investigator. He had almost worked himself to death digging for clues and trying to hunt for elusive evidence; and together with Jack Albert, they succeeded to punch holes into the evidence presented by the state. Three years after I went to prison, Albert had been able to prove that all the evidence against me had been planted.

Baker had been loyal enough with me since during his first visit in prison. He had discovered that Felix had flown out of the country after learning that Kruger was back from France with a price tag on Felix’s head. Baker had then done an intensive investigation into the jewel store murder and had managed to find two eye witnesses who maintained they had seen a tall heavily-built man in a blue D.V. Electricians apron ‘repairing’ the building’s power circuit system in the electricity supply box. The box was fixed in the wall inside a very narrow control room where the exhibition room connected with an insurance company building. Between the outer door and the supply box was a gate split into two halves; the lower half was wide open while the upper half was closed. The two witnesses were a man his wife who were walking along the building veranda when coincidentally, the woman dropped her pulse precisely at the entrance to the narrow control room. She turned a step back bent forward to pick it: that allowed her to catch a glimpse of the repair man unscrewing the box trough the inner open half door.

She didn’t think anything about him until she and her husband found the insurance company doors had just been closed, so they stopped to hail a taxi; but before one arrived, the ‘repair man’ came out, locked the control room and went into a waiting Chevy.

The Chevy resembled the one owned by Felix.

After confirming that D.V. Electricians hadn’t authorized the ‘repair’, Baker had then found out that the bogus repair man had interfered with both the alarm system and the surveillance cameras electronic circuit. Search for the Chevy had been fruitless. Despite the fact that the forensic report said that the gunshot wounds on the shop attendant had been caused by the bullets from the handgun that bore my fingerprints, I still felt that Baker could do more to find out what had really happened, and I literally begged him to give it a shot. Attempts to have the police surrender the handgun had been futile until three years later when Albert—persuaded by Kruger—managed to get a court order which compelled the forces to surrender the firearm for further scrutiny. It took so long since the forensic doctor had suffered a car accident and had gone into a prolonged coma. When he recovered, his mental health was so frail that his personal doctor forbade anyone from pestering his patient with questions until he was healthy and fit enough for cross-examination. It turned out that the bullets inside the handgun didn’t match the ones found in the body. That meant there had been two identical guns, and the one that had been used for murder was still at large. That was how I came out of that prison a free man. Kruger sent a driver to collect me and when I arrived in his office, he rose from his desk, came to me and embraced me—a rare gesture from him. He apologized at length for putting me through a such a harrowing predicament but I told him it was fine, I had had enough time to think and strategize on my one mission: to find Felix and destroy him and his pathetic gang of misfits. That would be a win-win for me and Kruger—after all he had got me out of jail. All I needed was to be away from that city; away from my old life, and away from Kruger. I just didn’t care any longer about his enticing offers; from now on, I was committing myself to finding those who had sent me to prison.

Surprisingly, Kruger agreed with my decision. “Do that and I will make sure your life changes forever,” he said. You have my full support, financially and otherwise.” He produced his check-book, wrote me a blank and handed it to me. “Fill in a sensible figure; go hunt the bastards and come back. This company needs you, but you may take as much time as you want. Good luck”

“Well, well,” I said to myself. “This guy rocks!” Aloud I said “Thank you sir, I appreciate everything you did for me. It’s my turn now”

I left Kruger’s office feeling on top of the world. For some time, I decided, I’d push everyone to the back of my mind, and go on a mind-blowing holiday.

… That I did, of course. I flew south to the exotic islands on Mexico’s Caribbean coast north of Cancún and whiled away the days, living as I wanted—courtesy of Kruger. From walking barefoot on sandy beaches to swimming; dining daily beneath a star-lit sky to lazing in the fabulous hotel rooms, this was the least I could do to erase the bitter years of prison.

When I figured I had had enough solace and relaxation, I traveled back to fulfill my mission and got a modest cabin in Oakland Place—ten miles away from the city—and concentrated on Felix and his gang. However, eight months passed and I became convinced Felix was out of the country. Then one evening, I received a call from Ed. He asked me to meet him in the city; adding that he had found something he felt I should have a look at, so I took a cab and got going. It was dark when I arrived and a storm was gathering. It was just when the cab entered the city that I found Grace Derrick.

The Heartbreaking Impasse

Presently, the cab stopped and Grace and I got out into the cool 4th street. Oakland Palms was a settlement built on a hill overlooking the city; and normally at this time if the evening, a thousand oaks stood silhouetted against the multicolored city lights. I walked Grace down the deserted road lined with palms until we came to a small cabin. The rain had stopped; and there was a fresh smell of clean humid air in the quiet estate.

“Here we are,” I said. “Welcome home.”

“Thanks,” she said in a small voice.

The cabin interior was warm. It was a modest living room made up of a three-seater leather covered couch, a tiny table with two high-backed chairs in a corner, a small book case and a liquor cabinet. I brewed some coffee and handed her a cup which she took and placed on the small table. Her lips trembled and she turned away.

“Well Grace? Start talking.”

Suddenly, she burst into tears and started sobbing heavily. I didn’t do anything to comfort her; I let her weep.

“They threatened to kill me ….” she said wiping her cheeks.

“Who is ‘they’?” I asked, watching her closely.

“Felix and his gang. When I ignored their threat, they killed my twin sister …” she started sobbing again, this time with bitterness in it.

“Wo, wo, not so fast,” I retorted. “What did they want from you?”

“To incriminate you and say all sorts of lies to have you jailed,” she sobbed, wiping tears off her face unsuccessfully. “I lived for three years with it on my conscience … knowing I had literally pushed you into prison.”

I walked over and hugged her, patted her back until she was calm.

“It wasn’t you, okay? Hush, relax. Sorry about your sister—I didn’t know you had one. Everybody thought it was you. How come no-one knew you had a twin sister?”

“She had just arrived from the UK. They murdered her! They … they kidnapped me and took me out of town; I didn’t even bury my sister.”

“Where have you been for all that time?”

“They took me across the border and put me through hell. I finally gave up and accepted to never return; that was what they wanted. Felix handed me over to work in a casino owned by their friends and instructed them to keep an eye on me and make sure I didn’t escape. Since they needed my accounting skills, they embraced the proposal. For four years I have been held hostage! Four bloody years!” Her voice was shrill with hate.

“Go on please.”

“It appears Felix has just found out that I stole back the … photos of him and Mrs. Kruger from you.”

I stared at her. “It was you? That night … yellow sedan, of course it was you!”

“Yes,” she said, looking embarrassed. “I paid someone to do it, but I just couldn’t afford to face Kruger and tell him I had shot them. The truth is that I wanted to use them to—” she hesitated.

“Well?”

“… To force Mrs. Kruger to leave me alone. She hated me so much and wanted to throw me out of the company; so I had to stop her. Now this afternoon Felix had me brought here to force me to surrender the snaps. I met him in that hotel room and he told me to go down across the street and buy him the evening paper plus some phone credit. That was when I saw you in that cab; under the street light you face was clearly visible. I saw you staring at me and I knew you’d follow me. I also knew Felix was watching from the hotel window, so I couldn’t start anything suspicious. I feared he had someone else watching me.”

“Any reason why Kruger’s wife hated you?”

“She was jealous of the respect and trust bestowed on me by her husband.”

“Where are the photos? Were you going to give them to Felix?”

“They are n a safe deposit box ten miles north of here. I think he wants to use them to blackmail Kruger’s wife”

“Blackmail? I thought they were lovers,” I said.

“I thought so too; it appears the relationship didn’t last.” She looked at me, her expression getting soft. “Dan, I am so glad that you are free. You don’t know how much I prayed and hoped you’d be set free; now that you are here I know you will set me free too.”

I looked at her. Her face resumed its original beauty, her eyes softened and her lips curved into a smile. I wrapped my arms around her and held her close.

“How free do you want to become?” I asked her, feeling an amazing calm with her so close.

“Free from them, free from guilt and free from anger,” she replied, pressing her head into my chest. Right then, I could have given my all to remain in that pose forever.

“Dan… what shall we do now?”

“Right now? I’ll treat you to a nice dinner,” I replied, letting go of her. I picked my jacket and hat. “Let’s go, Grace.” I gave her my arm.

“That sounds nice!” she grinned, lighting up her face in a teen-like flamboyance.

I grinned back and led her out of the cabin.

Seeking For Prey

When we came back from a lively dinner, I put a call through to Ed. He answered anxiously, wondering aloud what had happened to me. I told him I had rushed to take care of an emergency and I’d be with him in the morning and he said tomorrow would be okay. I faced Grace.

“I am going after Felix, and I am leaving you here,” I told her.

“What!” she said sharply. “I am going with you, Dan; whatever you will do I will help you do it!”

“It can be dangerous, Grace!” I said, pulling out Felix’s gun and inspecting it. “If something happens to you …”

“I am coming with you, Mr. Morgan!” she shot back. Looking at her, I could see there was no way I was going to convince her. She put her hand into her jeans pocket and produced a key. “This is for the box containing those photos.”

“Fine, Pretty. Be my guest. Let’s go and kick some butt.”

After that conversation, I crossed the street and approached the small brick building with a neon sign proclaiming ‘MILES RENT A CAR: 24-hour Service’. I pushed the glass door and entered into a small office where a slim man was sitting at a desk listening to pop, a smoldering cigar between his thin lips. He straightened when he saw me and smiled, sticking his cigar into a worn-out ashtray.

“Good evening, sir. Herman is the name,” he said with a thick Spanish accent. “How can I be of service to you?”

I told him I needed a car. He took me outside and showed me six available vehicles; and after examining them, I settled for one convenient-looking black Ford Mustang. I paid for it and pocketed a receipt.

“I know you: you live across the street, don’t you?” he said, lighting another fat cigar. “Care to smoke one of these? These are the best of Havana, and still fresh.”

“Some other night; I’ve got to take care of urgent business right away, thank you.” I said, taking the keys from him. Grace came over and got into the car beside me. As I drove out of the parking lot, Herman puffed at his cigar and waved to me and I started accelerating down the street.

It took us thirty minutes to reach Springs Highway and five to reach the restaurant where Felix had a room. I parked the car opposite the street, opened the glove compartment and fished out a pair of glasses, a fake blond mustache and a thick blond wig. I put these on with precision that seemed to amaze Grace.

“Well, I can readily swear I am with a stranger!” she exclaimed, staring at me.

“I will go in there and find out whether he is still in the hotel. Wait for me here. Call me in case of anything.”

I crossed the street and entered the restaurant. The sleepy-looking receptionist gave me a bored look and ignored me. I hurried up the stairs, entered the dining room and approached the counter. The cashier raised his eyebrows at me.

“Evening,” I said, giving him my most charming smile. “I am looking for a pal of mine; a tall heavily-built man, around thirty-five and graying around the temples, room 22, I guess. Could he have checked out already? I lost my phone, can’t contact him.”

He consulted a register. “Mr. Williams? He is in there.”

I thanked him and headed for the corridor. The door to room 22 was open just a crack and there were voices of men speaking. I paused to listen.

“C’mon, Rob!” said a gruff voice. “We will never ship it in time! I say to hell with the bitch, let’s get the ball rolling!”

“Damn it to hell!” cursed Felix. “That woman is with Morgan now, obviously spilling the beans! I won’t have ’em put me in the can!”

There was hesitation, then the voice of the one probably named Rob spoke: “Hush, Felix, the lady doesn’t know where we live. The only address she can submit to the authorities is that of the casino, and if the idiots get busted, it’s their funeral.”

“I could have persuaded Elena to give me one of her husband’s trucks; all I needed were those damn photos!” said Felix with exasperation.

“Yada yada … stop it!” barked the gruff voice. “So much for the champion; getting tapped on the head by a useless private dick! Well, we gotta move now, the cargo needs to hit the road before daylight!”

“Billy is right,” said Rob with a soothing voice. “Morgan is a coward; see—he ran away with his lady. Kruger’s truck could have bypassed police barriers but … too bad. Let’s go, shall we? I ain’t losing fourteen million dollars in one god-damned night.”

I turned and walked down swiftly, down the stairs to the street. When I reached the car, Grace asked anxiously: “What happened?”

“They will be coming down any time from now,” I replied starting the engine, and then went on to inform her of what I had overheard. She listened intently. “They are transporting some illegal expensive load; and were hoping to get a truck from Elena Kruger with the help of your precious snaps”

“Oh, so that is it! Well, he is not getting the photos from me.”

I kept my eyes glued to the entrance of the restaurant. We didn’t have to wait for long: Felix appeared accompanied by his two accomplices. They entered a grey saloon car and started driving down the street. After giving them a brief head start, I stepped on the gas pedal and eased the Ford into the street after them, allowing three cars between us.

The traffic was not as dense; we drove on for several minutes and branched off into the four-lane highway heading out to the northern suburbs. Grace’s presence gave me a feeling of calm, a fact that I found strange.

Ahead of us, vehicles made a long trail of red and orange lights, stretching out downhill and up the hilly suburbs in the distance. Street lamps drew out a geometrical pattern of symmetry: any other day would have been fabulous with Grace and I heading north into the enchanting night life. Not so tonight; Felix and his team had to go down … after that we would have all the time in the word … probably …

We drove downhill, rose uphill and continued for another ten miles or so before Felix’s car branched off to the left. They hadn’t shown any signs of suspicion so far, so we followed them into a narrow road that served a line of factory buildings on either side. This was a semi-industrial estate that supplied the city with wooden tiles and soap. Ahead, brake lights flashed red as the grey saloon slowed down in front of a huge iron gate. I maintained my speed and turned to glance at Grace.

“Bend low,” I said. “Stay out of view while we pass their vehicle.”

The gate opened just in time allowing us a fair momentary view of the compound as we drove past. Above the gate was a neon sign “HOME MUM’S DETERGENTS”. It seemed to be a private warehouse with a spacious parking area in the front yard; I counted up to four white vans parked, all bearing the detergent brand. All this took a split second to absorb. I drove a few blocks down the road and made a u-turn, but I didn’t approach the warehouse—I parked a safe distance away and killed the engine.

“I bet this is the location I was told Felix was offloading Kruger’s stolen merchandise,” I said.

“And I bet they will attempt to transport it away in those vans,” she replied.

“Good guesswork, Pretty,” I smiled at her. “Only that I doubt Kruger has anything to do with whatever is in those vans.”

“If they feared police interception, it sure must be illegal stuff,” she said, her eyes fixed on the dark silhouette of the warehouse. “Are we going to follow them once they come out of that building?”

I looked at her dark profile. “That wouldn’t be a nice idea. They will be extra careful once they come out, and will surely detect us.”

“So you mean …”

“Yes, I am going in there.” I turned up my collar and pulled out the gun.

Grace grabbed my sleeve. “What? Don’t you think it will be dangerous?” she asked with urgency in her voice.

“Don’t you worry about me, I’ll be fine. If I don’t come back or put a call you in twenty minutes, call the police.”

“How will you sneak in? That place seems pretty secure!”

“I am gonna give it a try.” I opened the car door and walked to the gate. Just as I thought, it was not locked from the inside. It took me utmost patience and skill to open the gate without making it creak. I peered inside: there was no-one in the yard. Using the parked vans as cover, I walked silently past each of them up to where I had a fair view of the front door of the building. Then I saw a man come out and pause in the yard to light a cigarette; he then advanced towards one of the vans. I tiptoed around the vehicle and paused to spy on him: he was sliding back the side door of one the vans. As he bent to pick one of the boxes stacked inside, I sneaked up on him from behind and crushed the butt of my gun on his head: he fell down limp. I dragged him and laid him behind the van then came back and shone my phone flashlight on the stacks of detergent cartons placed in the van. Glancing back hurriedly to make sure no-one was coming, I ripped off one of the cartons. Inside I found white compact powder packed in white plastic bags. I didn’t need to taste it to know what it was; years of experience with drug traffickers had trained me to know how cocaine looked and felt like.

I dialed Grace’s number. “Call the police.” I said in an undertone. “Tell them there is dope here enough to buy off the entire city.” Before she could react, I hung up and approached the warehouse with gun drawn.

Felix’s voice called out from inside. “Hey Rob! What’s taking you so damn long? This stuff must travel tonight!”

“No it won’t, Felix,” I called back, entering the warehouse. Felix and another short man were squatting on the floor packing more small bags into detergent cartons. When they saw me, they froze and went white. “You see, the police are crazy about dope, and they might object if you ferry it away all by yourself.”

“Dan?” Felix’s voice was barely more than a whisper. “How did you find us?”

“Easy. I tracked down your filthy stench of betrayal and followed it.” I said and pointed the gun at him. “Get on your feet, you two—slowly, with your hands up.”

Just then, the door to an inner room opened and Billy appeared with gun in hand. Before he could fire, I swung mine and slammed a bullet through his upper arm and a second in his leg. He went down howling like a wounded hound. All this took a second while remaining keen on Felix.

“Look, Dan, don’t do this. You and I have been buddies for ages, we can work it out! I have money—”

“You think this is about the money, Felix?” I shot back furiously. “I went to prison for the crime you committed. Now it’s payback time. You see, I didn’t know you could kill, I really don’t know you at all.”

His lips trembled. “I did it, but I’ll make it up to you!”

“Exactly. You’re going to prison—”

A hard, cold feeling at the back of my neck stopped me short. A soft voice said behind me: “Drop the gun, dick.”

I hesitated and looked at Felix, who grinned evilly at me. “That was a nice try, Dan. Okay, shoot him, Rob!”

“Put the gun down, dick. Slowly.” I bent and placed the gun on the floor then straightened up again, raising my hands. As rob’s gun sounded the click of the hammer, a loud deafening bang sounded from the yard: Rob went down with a thud. As Felix’s hand jumped into his hip pocket, I bent, grabbed my gun and shot him twice in his legs and once in his arm, shattering bones. Down he went, contorted in agony. The short man kneeled and raised his arms high, trembling like a leaf in the storm. Grace entered the room, a handgun smoking in her hands. She looked startled. “I couldn’t let him kill you, Dan.”

“Thank you, Grace. You have saved my life.” I put my arms around her; she shuddered and dropped the gun.

“I was afraid you might be in trouble. I found the gun in the van,” she said.

Just then, police sirens came wailing into the compound; there was a screeching sound as cars halted in the yard. The booming voice of the chief of police Peter Hans barked out: “Morgan! What’s happening?”

“Hey Chief, you got yourself a nice team of dope pushers,” I said with a grin. “All yours. You might want to slap a murder rap on the real killer of Kruger’s store attendant, the poor bastard doesn’t object too much now.”

Hans looked at the men writhing on the floor with disgust and bawled at his men: “Hey, clear this mess! And careful with those things!” He peered curiously at me, “What the heck do you mean?” he demanded.

I fished out a digital recorder from my pocket. “Here,” I said, handing it to him. “Amuse your ears.”

He took it from me, and just then recognized Grace.

“Whaa … Unbelievable! This surely can’t be Miss Derrick?” he exclaimed with horror.

“Could be her clone,” I retorted. “Let’s save her story for your R&R. Take care of those vans; they have enough cocaine to explode a city. Someone might get tempted to run away with it and save you the trouble.”

He glared at me. “You have a foul mouth, Morgan. Nevertheless, you have just delivered the city and State from the threat of its freedom and health.”

“I’ll share the praise with Miss Derrick, thank you. Look Chief, do us a favor: it’s past midnight; we need to grab some sleep. We will pay you a visit tomorrow morning to record a statement, right?”

“Right, agreed, and thanks. Will you need an escort?” he asked.

“No thanks, you know why I want to avoid police cars for the rest of my life,” I said with a wink as I led Grace out of the compound.

Beyond Freedom

The morning sun made the day look so beautiful as Grace and I entered Kruger’s office. Kruger jumped for joy when he saw us. “I couldn’t believe it when I was told! Grace is alive!” He hugged us both.

“It’s over, Mr. Kruger.” I said. “Felix was using your trucks to smuggle illegal merchandise across the border, blackmailing your wife to make sure he was protected.”

“But what about their relationship?” he asked, visibly confused.

“Five years ago, Felix was teaching your wife how to drive, remember? She got excited and went out late one afternoon, driving around the estate. A child suddenly dashed into the road and she knocked her over. Too scared to act, Felix took over the wheel and drove the car away before any eye witnesses could appear. The child later died in hospital. One year later when Felix started his illegal trade, it dawned on him that he could use your wife to his advantage. He started seducing her, hoping he could win her heart but she resisted his charms till he began blackmailing her. She was too afraid of going to jail so under pressure, she considered giving in to his demands. In order to persuade her further and to carry out his misdeeds, he had you followed and spied; ultimately he and his gang came up with yet another idea: if they kidnapped you, your wife would finally succumb to their wishes. Their plan was to be carried out the night they found me in your garden. However, they bolted since they couldn’t tell whether I was alone or not.

“You see, when you started suspecting your wife, you became cold to her and exceedingly warm to Grace; so she became jealous and angry at Grace and gave her a hard time. That was when Grace had the photos taken but she couldn’t gather enough courage to use them against your wife. Before long, Felix managed to use force on Grace and took the photos with him, but later Grace recovered the photos from me when your wife threatened to throw her out of the company.

“Grace was pressured to incriminate me for the murder of your shop attendant. When her twin sister arrived in the city, Felix had her killed by a hit-and-run vehicle, which was later reported stolen. Hans found fingerprints that match Billy’s. While everybody believed Grace was dead, Felix and his gang took the opportunity to kidnap her and had her trafficked across the border where she lived under surveillance for four years before Felix ran out of cocaine supply. He needed secure transportation and since only your trucks can bypass police barriers, he decided to persuade your wife to authorize the transportation—but she refused. Just then, Allan—the man whom Grace had hired to take the photos from Ed’s shop—contacted Felix and told him the truth, hoping to get money from him. He was found last week in a ditch, shot through the head.

“Later, Felix brought Grace to the city, ready to persuade her to surrender the photos—which he hoped to use against your wife to get the truck. He badly needed to have the drugs flown out of the country.” Kruger sat and listened to me with amazement as I told him how I had found grace by sheer luck. When I was done talking, he remained staring at me for a long moment.

“When did you find out all this?” he asked with astonishment.

“I took me long to put the pieces together, but ultimately, with the help of Baker I did it.” Kruger picked the phone and pressed a button. “Come in please,” he said and replaced the receiver. A door opened and his wife came in. She was around 5 feet 4, elegant-looking woman with a mane of rich red hair and attractive facial features. The eyeglasses made her look professional and business-like. There was high class written all over her.

“Listen, Elena, Felix wanted to use some evidence against you, but Grace stopped him,” Kruger said, smiling thinly at her. “She came to give it to you.” He turned to Grace and gestured towards his wife. Grace handed the envelope to Elena, who peered inside and suddenly went white with embarrassment.

“I haven’t seen those photos, and don’t want to. You may destroy them at your own pleasure,” said Kruger.

“Nothing happened, Kelly, I swear to God,” she said with a pleading voice.

“I know, Elena, Mr. Morgan has confirmed it to me. He and Grace have done a superb job.” Elena looked at Grace, who smiled back at her. She walked over and embraced Grace. “Thank you. I am sorry I misjudged you, Grace.” She came over and shook my arm. “I appreciate your help in recovering my freedom,” she said.

“Not just yours, Mrs. Kruger, all of us are free now.”

Kruger hugged his wife, then went over to his desk and produced a bunch of keys which he handed to me. “There, the keys to your villa as I promised.”

I stared at the keys. “Mr. Kruger … I can’t accept it, it’s too much!”

He sat down and frowned. “There is something you need to know, son,” he said wearily. “I man saved my life a long time ago when I was a young man. More than that, he mentored me for some years till I became what I am today. I owe it to him. He was later involved in a road accident and before he died, he told me one word …”

“Who was he?” I asked, frowning.

“He was Jeremy Morgan, your father.”

That shocked me. My father was Kruger’s mentor? I was ten when he passed away.

“What did he tell you?” I demanded, feeling tightness in my chest.

“He told me to watch over his son. What I am giving you is for him; I wouldn’t be who I am without him.”

Elena listened with amazement, obviously hearing it for the first time. Grace watched with wide surprised eyes as Kruger produced a photo and handed it to me. It was the doll-house I owned as a kid. I felt tears burn my eyes.

“He gave me this photo. And the villa I built for you resembles it.”

I was overwhelmed, and couldn’t speak.

Elena broke the silence. “That was so noble of you, Kelly. I am so proud of you!”

Grace came over and hugged me. “Congrats, Dan,” she said. I held her tight.

Kruger smiled at his wife. “Well, these two deserve a break, don’t they?” he said.

Elena nodded. “Indeed,” she replied.

“Thank you Mr. Kruger, it’s all I can say.”

“You earned it, son.” He turned to Grace. “Do you want your old job back?”

“Definitely, sir, thank you!” she said with open, honest delight.

“Welcome to the company, Grace,” said Elena with a smile.

“Thank you Mrs. Kruger! I promise to work diligently.”

“I know you will, child,” said Kruger. “I am sorry for the loss of your sister.”

“Thanks, Mr. Kruger. You have been a real father to me,” said Grace.

“Okay, go on, both of you, I’ll see you one week from now!”

As I went out of that office, holding Grace’s arm, I was really on top of the world, and looking at her, I could see she was feeling the same. We paused outside the office and exchanged a long passionate kiss.

“I love you, Grace,” I said, looking down at her shining face. She pulled down my head and kissed me again. “I know, you dope. Why has it taken you so long to admit it?”

“At least I do now.” I grinned.

“I love you too, Dan. You are … different.”

“I know, Pretty. It’s just you and me now—just you and me.”

Behind us, the office door opened and Mr. and Mrs. Kruger appeared. They looked at us and laughed.

“You two suit each other,” said Kruger. “A blind person can see that.”

I turned at winked at him. “Glad to hear that, dad.”

The End


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