Charles Goodacres opened the door when Tom and Susie Goldman arrived. “Been a long time, Tom. To what do we owe this visit?”
Tom smiled. “A mutual friend of ours asked me to take over a task for him.”
Susie, on the other hand, had already rushed over to where Trent held Natalia. “Oh God, this is bad! How long has she been in this state?”
Trent looked up, tears in his eyes. “For three hours.” He choked up and couldn’t say anything more, his love for her showing. His eyes pleading with Susie to break the hold of whatever had imprisoned his dear Natalia.
She ruffled his hair. “Everything will be alright. Bring her in to your living room. I will try to bring her around with music. I can’t promise it will do what it is intended to, but I will try. It all rests with her.”
Trent gently put his arms under Natalia and lifted her, carrying her in to the living room and setting her down on the sofa. He wanted to cry. He wanted his Natalia back. He wanted to be able to propose to her. He wanted her to acknowledge that he was there.
But she couldn’t. She had gone into hiding. Deep inside herself. Where no one could reach her. Not even her beloved Trent.
Susie sat down at the piano and began playing softly. As she played, she watched to see what reaction Natalia gave. Soon enough, Natty began relaxing and emerging from her safe place. As she relaxed, tears began flowing. Throwing her arms around Trent’s neck, she began sobbing loudly.
What seemed to take an eternity ended in just six hours. When she had cried herself out, she emerged from herself and began seeking warmth and security in Trent’s arms. Susie stopped playing music and approached Natalia. “Honey, everything is alright. Nobody can hurt you now. They’re all gone.” She had no idea how true her statement really was.
Trent knelt before Natalia. “I know it might be too soon, Honey, but I was coming home to ask you something very important. Something we had talked about the other day.” She looked at him, her hair a mess, her nerves rattled. “Will you marry me? Please?”
She threw her arms about his neck, hugging him. “You mean you still want me?” Her voice was barely more than a whisper.
He nodded. “Baby, nothing could ever make me not want you. Not even a mean prank. You are my every reason for living. I will never stop loving you.”
Tears welled up in her eyes again. This time, they were tears of joy. “Yes, Trent Darling. Yes, I will marry you.”
Address by address, Mario and Vito went looking for their targets. Each target was marked from their list as it was taken care of. They had gone to opposite ends of the list, each taking half. They had it in mind to meet on the last target.
And they did. They both stepped onto the porch of the last house at the same time. Quick and efficient, they were done in less than five hours.
There would be no bodies. No one would really miss them. Their targets had been trouble makers from the day they had moved to town. Nosing around, robbing small shops, burglarizing homes, assaulting the women in the area…their crimes were numerous. Now, all those crimes would end.
Mario had called Nicky Fiallo, the boss’s right hand, and had arranged for someone to meet him and Vito near the river.At dusk, Fiallo met Vito and Mario at the edge of the river, at the helm of an old steam shovel. the idea was to muscle the car, now filled with bodies, into position under the dock crane, pick it up with the crane, then release it into the river…hoping it would sink near the middle where all the bigger holes on the bottom were.
By pure luck, it happened exactly how they’d planned. No one would find the car in the endless holes of the river. And even if they did, they would never look inside. Hell only divers working on the bridges ever went into the middle of the river on purpose. And even they never dove too deep.
Natalia looked, dazed, at the couple now sitting nearby. She had never met them before and yet, they both seemed to know her family. The man, Tom, was intently talking to Charles Goodacres. Susie, the woman whose music had brought her back out of her shell, was talking to Trent’s mother. Trent, on the other hand was now holding her tight. In his arms, she was safe and secure. No one could hurt her there.
Trent’s mother left momentarily, then returned with a shoe box. She handed it to Susie, who approached Natalia and Trent. she reached toward the table, grabbing the dreaded letter and dog tags. The note that had accompanied them had long since been tossed into the trash, but had done its deed. Now, Susie wanted to do something.
She took the lid off the shoe box and stuck the letter and dog tags inside. She looked at Natalia. “Each of your painful memories, put in this shoe box with this letter. Once they are in there, leave them there and never take them out. These are in the past. Try to leave them there.”
Natalia nodded. “OK.”
Susie looked at Trent. “Did you have a few things you wanted to give her? I think I saw some special gifts in the back of your car…?”
He nodded. “Oh yes. Thanks for reminding me.” He extracted himself from around her and headed toward the door. Natalia, close your eyes. when I come back in, I will have something very special to give you.” He left for what seemed like forever to Natalia, then returned. “Hold out your hands, Baby.”
She held out her hands, expectantly. He placed the huge box of chocolates in them and stepped away. The hand with the flowers, he hid behind his back. “Open your eyes.”
She opened her eyes to find the largest box of chocolates she had ever seen. “Oh God, Trent, thank you so much! Do I really mean this much to you?”
He smiled. “Baby, you mean more than all that to me. There isn’t enough chocolate in the city, let alone the world, to equal what you mean to me.” He presented the flowers to her. “And even flowers aren’t enough to fully reveal the depths of my love. Nor the promise ring.” He produced the ring from his pocket and placed it on her finger. “But they will have to suffice. We will go back and pick out the engagement ring later, when you feel like getting out and exploring again.”
She threw her arms around him again. “Oh, Trent, I love you so much. I don’t know how I will ever be able to show you, but I am going to try.”