“I think that’s up to Frank and Marka,” Tom said.
“I hadn’t thought that far. I hate to take him back to the tiny apartment,” Marka said.
“Kenny told me that one of the villas is empty right now. The new residents won’t be moving in for a month. If you don’t mind camping with secondhand furniture, he and the maintenance crew can get stuff and furnish it for you and move your stuff,” James told them.
“James, that would be wonderful. Tell Kenny thank you.” Marka kissed his cheek.
“You got it. What are best friends for?”
Marka took him in her arms, holding him close. “You’re the best friend ever. You helped save his life today. Thank you.” She kissed both his cheeks and planted a lingering one on his forehead. “Thank you.” She burst into tears, her hand over her mouth.
Paula enfolded her in her arms and the two women cried while the men looked on.
“I’ll never understand why they’re crying now,” Tom said quietly. “The worst part is over.”
James grinned, shaking his head. “I dunno, man. But does it matter?”
“No.” Tom laughed.
The two men went outside for James to make his phone call and Tom to get a smoke. When they came back in, the women were dry eyed and smiling. Rochelle had helped to calm them down. She offered to drive Marka to the facility to get her things for the night.
“Oh, my car!” Marka suddenly remember that it was still in Canton at the courthouse.
“Give me your keys, sugar. I’ll have a friend of mine help me get it back here.”
“Thank you so much, Rochelle! You’re a wonderful friend too. I don’t know how to thank you.”
“You invite me to the wedding.” She smirked.
“Better yet, you’ll be the maid of honor. We haven’t set a date yet. We aren’t even officially engaged.”
“You will be. You give that man a chance to heal up. You’ll be engaged all over the place.”
When Marka got back to the hospital, Frank was in his room. He was asleep when she came in, but woke while she was getting ready for bed. He held out his hand to her.
“Hey, babe. I’m glad you’re back.”
“Like you wouldn’t believe. You know what’s amazing? I don’t feel her in my head anymore. All this time, she’s been there—all these years. I remembered what really happened that day. I made all the plans, I oversaw it all, but Liz wanted to be involved. I told her I had it under control, but she insisted that Shay wanted her to.”
“You know he didn’t.”
“I know that now. At the time, I assumed she was telling the truth.”
“So, she’s the one who set up Clay and the others.”
“Yes. I still don’t know who she’s working with. I never knew that. But I remember that now. I also know where they took me for three days and what they did.” He shuddered, going pale. “I hope one day I can forget that. No one should have done to them what they did to me. Not even the Devil himself deserves that. It’s amazing I came back with any mind at all.”
“You don’t have to talk about this right now, Frank.”
“No, but I will one day. I’ll tell you everything. I just wanted you to know that I remember.”
“I’m glad.” She cuddled up next to him.
“I remember something else,” he said, his voice deepening.
“Yeah, what’s that?”
“I remember what it’s like to make love to you. To hold you and kiss you and make you scream.” His lips brushed hers.
The door burst open and Colonel Shay marched in with Clark behind him. “Frank, glad to see you’re on the mend.”
“Who let you in?”
“I let myself in. You gonna throw me out?”
Frank laughed as Shay shadowboxed. Marka hadn’t noticed before, but most of the Colonel’s bulk was solid muscle. He wasn’t in uniform. He and Clark wore civilian clothing and looked oddly uncomfortable. Clark handed Marka a bouquet of flowers and he handed Frank a small package. When he opened it, Frank found a PlayStation Portable and a variety of games. Frank laughed, holding up the PSP like a badge of honor.
“You remembered! I remembered!”
“That’s what friends are for, Frank. We used to share one when we were working together,” Clark explained. “Frank held the record for lamest score possible in Grand Theft Auto.”
“Untrue, that was Phil. Mine was second lowest.” His eyes saddened. “Is he okay?”
“He will be, in time,” Shay replied, his voice soft. “He’s in the psych ward at the V.A. Hospital. I wanted to pick Marka’s brain in a few days, have you do a consult with the doctors there.”
“You know I’ll do anything to help him. He came through for me when I needed him most. Liz and her goons would have killed me otherwise.”
“He’s not gonna do time?” Frank sounded worried.
“No. We all know Liz did something to him, just like she did you.”
© Dellani Oakes